Last post on Jan 28, 2013 at 5:55 PM
You are in the Sedans
What is this discussion about?
Audi A8, BMW 7 Series, Jaguar XJ-Series, Lexus LS 460, Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Volkswagen Phaeton, Maserati Quattroporte, Mercedes-Benz CL-Class, Sedan
Let's try to define this forum as being limited to luxury performance vehicles where the mainstream version in a typical configuration has an MSRP of at least $60k.
A luxury vehicle with a base price of $59k qualifies because it would typically be bought with some additional equipment, bringing the MSRP over $60k.
Vehicles like the E, 5, A6, M, or GS, even if available in certain versions over $60k, don't qualify because they are cars from companies that have higher end cars in their lineups.
Jan 25, 2004 (9:37 pm)
Nope, no Bugatti or Lotus. VW has found a money pit with that car, it's overbudget and way behind schedule. The car's outrageous engine and 7-speed SMG/F1 transmission are rumored to be the problem.
Well I've come to the like the Phaeton a good little bit, but I didn't know that massive center console didn't contain a CD player, and I didn't realize that on the A8 either until a few weeks ago. Same thing with Mercedes' CLK and C-Class, still no in-dash CD, stubborness.
I think VW should import a short wheelbase Phaeton and price it around 55K, right on top of the E500/545i/A6 4.2 etc, and keep the lwb model where it is. The car does offer value. I priced one at vw.com and came up with 76K for everything I would want in such a car, way below the S430 4Matic, 745Li, but right about even with a A8L, which begs the question "why" compared to the A8. The 7-Series, LS, and XJ don't have awd, the do-it-all S-Class does, but at a much higher price. The Phaeton W12 is a relative bargain compared the S600 and 760Li, but I predict they'll be precious few buyers at this level (95K) for a VW.
Dare I say it, but VW is taking the 1990 Lexus LS400 route of underpricing the car to get some market share. If the car is a hit I doubt those leases will remain that cheap, but you're the leasing expert, not me.
The dealership experience and VW's reliability are the flies in the buttermilk.
Audi's dealerships are brand new in Chicago, all except one on the near north side of Chicago (Fletcher Jones), VW's by comparison mostly suck big time, but some that carry the Phaeton are new and/or remodeled. I guess what I'm trying to say is that there isn't a compelling reason to pick this car over the Audi if you're a VW/Audi fan. There there are the LS430 and Jaguar XJ8, which cost less in most cases.
Overall I'm pulling for the car and await the sales numbers each month. BTW, there is a pretty good discussion about the Phaeton on the Phaeton board, complete with a VW represenative.
Jan 26, 2004 (6:20 am)
The difference between the Lexus approach and the VW approach is that Lexus allowed the car to be as cheap as $35-36k and you could add your options. But they wouldn't let the car cross around a $42k MSRP (I'm doing this from memory so I may be a bit off vs, actual prices back then) Most of the initial LS400's went in the 38-40k range which was a great bargain. Then of course they pushed the prices up once the car was successful. They never discounted heavily off sticker to get the car moving. This is like budgeting. Better to pick the number you can make and meet or overachieve it rather than put it up high and come down with each quarterly estimate. Of course you have to be realistic about that number you can make. In the lux arena the tendency is to think that something is really wrong when you see something too heavily discounted. Remember - at this stage the perception that something is wrong to a buyer can easily be more important than the reality that the Phaeton is or may be a great car.
#3987 of 24726 Market Update
Jan 26, 2004 (7:10 am)
There are several good articles in this week's edition of Automotive News. However, since I get an online version via a database I only have the headlines and will not have access to the articles until later this week. Perhaps somebody here has read these stories and can fill us in:
1. Boss puts 'buzz' on U.S. luxury leader's to-do list. Lexus will redesign car line by 2007, add performance unit. How high is high enough? How big is too big? Those are the questions facing Lexus Division, which won the best-selling luxury brand title for the fourth straight year in 2003.
2. Acura plays catch-up with awd, 300hp. Acura this fall will equip its flagship RL sedan with all-wheel drive and a 300-hp V-6 engine to challenge luxury rivals who offer rear-drive and V-8s, dealers and analysts say. A hybrid gasoline-electric powertrain also could be part of the package.
3. Cadillac will build ultraluxury sedan. Cadillac has confirmed it will build an ultraluxury sedan, but don't expect to see the car until late in the decade.
4. Escalade to get bigger engine. Cadillac extends high-performance 'V' strategy to big SUV. The Cadillac Escalade luxury SUV will muscle into the fast lane with a V-10 or V-12 engine, possible as early as the 2006 model year.
#3988 of 24726 MB S500 vs. BMW 745Li vs. Lexus LS 430
Jan 26, 2004 (7:22 am)
Okay folks I have been a silent observer of these forums up until now, but I have to raise a question to the expert power posters here:
I am in the market for a new/used high end luxury sedan.
I thought I was sold on the MB S500, however after reading these forums I am a bit hesitant now.
I originally thought I was going to get the BMW 745Li, but now the iDrive system and the horrible press that it has received has caused me some serious concerns related to the car's overall reliability.
I am not a person who turns cars every 3 years. I like to buy one car(for cash, not lease) every 8-10 years.
My biggest concerns in order are:
4.) ease of use
6.) fun to drive
I know it is hard to compare apples to apples with the MB S500 and the BMW 745Li vs. the Lexus 430 given the price difference but try to come up with some comparable data outside of price.
I would also like to hear from prospective owners on dealerships that they found easy to work with, as well as those that offered competitive pricing.
#3989 of 24726 slicker
Jan 26, 2004 (7:46 am)
Actually it is pretty easy to compare the 7, S and LS430. They are different on price but if you load up the LS430 then you are within $2-3k of an S430 with minor options and $5-6k of an S430 normally optioned. From your priority list the LS430 is likely the car for you and the S-class is second. What you can't compare either a 7 series or the LS430 to is the over the top S55amg. But otherwise the cars are very comparable.
MB dealers - seemed fine to me when I shopped in NJ in 2001 but I'd go with an exclusive MB dealer and not one that shares a location with other car models. I shopped at a combo MB/Honda (one building, two showrooms) dealership and an MB exclusive dealership and preferred the latter. Every Lexus dealership I've dealt with in the NY/NJ area pampered you and treated you like royalty. I can't say anything about MB - other than comment on sales since I didn't buy and never dealt with the service dept. At Lexus you always get an RX or ES as a loaner in my experience. At the MB exclusive dealership I would have gotten a C-class and at the combo guy I would have gotten a car from Enterprise. Lastly - I didn't feel MB or Lexus dealers exerted any pressure on the sale. It was always your choice and the dealers praised their cars and the cars of the competing brands. But I was shopping new, not pre-owned.
Jan 26, 2004 (8:27 am)
No question about it. The Lexus is the one for you the way you described your priority. If I could afford any of these cars ( I can't) the LS430 would be my first choice.
Jan 26, 2004 (8:53 am)
Interesting post. I'd say the LS430 is the car for you. Like you, I pay Cash and don't buy often. I have a relatively trouble free 92 LS400 (Until Recently, long story) and purchased a 2002 LS430 in Sept of 2002. Both Lexus cars have been extremely reliable and never have left me stranded. The controls are easy to understand and properly placed. Operating the Navigation System doesn't require a Ph.D. I found the Lexus Console the most practically designed of the bunch.
As for durability. The 92 LS has held up well. I've had minor issues with rattles due to some $0.10 screw missing, and a burnt out tail light at 11 years. That's about it. Of course ALL of these cars require you to follow the maintenance schedule. I've spent around $3,500 in my 12 years of ownership. I could have saved some money by sending the car to independent mechanics, but it's only seen Lexus dealers only.
Where does the Lexus lose? Aesthetics and the fun to drive category. With the exception of the first LS, the latest Lexus offerings are quite bland in design. Every new LS design seems to really make the last model look very outdated. Holding on to my LS430 for 12 years like my LS400 probably won't be possible due to this.
Their aesthetic designs age much faster than MB, due in part to their lack of originality..As for BMW, I think you've heard all the comments about the car being "Bangled." As for "Fun to Drive" the Germans have the edge. The LS430 is very comfortable to drive, and has great straight line acceleration numbers, but the German cars are far more responsive and nimble.
Finally, as for Dealers, I've always found the Lexus dealers (MA) a pleasure to work with. They've handled the extensive post accident repairs on my 1992 LS very well. The Loaner cars are always new, and the sales/service staff very professional. Everything is top notch.
My opinion is that the German cars offer a little more spice, but overall the Lexus Ownership experience cannot be beat.
Hope this helps,
Jan 26, 2004 (10:09 am)
I agree with the others, the LS wins your first 4 priorities, as I think even MB and BMW fans would admit.
#3993 of 24726 A couple other additional bits of information...
Jan 26, 2004 (11:49 am)
I guess my age and a couple other details might help the ongoing recommendations.
By the way, thanks for all your great posts. I appreciate hearing your candid feedback.
I am 31, married with 2 kids. This is why I am looking at a full size sedan.
One other thing I have heard is that Lexus cars in general are referred to as a "poor man's Mercedes". Obviously everyone is going to have their own personal bias, but just wanted to verify that this specific perception is as real where I live as it is in your neck of the woods. (I don't think this point will play a huge factor in my decision, but for some reason this bias keeps coming up).
As an aside, I have test driven the BMW 745Li, but I haven't yet test driven the MB S500 or the Lexus LS430. Sounds by most of the posts so far that I should call my Lexus dealer first before I pick up the phone to my MB dealer.
#3994 of 24726 The poor man's Mercedes
Jan 26, 2004 (12:50 pm)
Everyone I know that has an LS430 can afford an S-600 if they wanted. Some MB lover somewhere started that rumor. There are also MB S500's and SL's in my area that sit on driveways of homes that are half the price of mine. To each his own on how people spend their money.