Last post on May 30, 2013 at 3:26 PM
You are in the Sedans
What is this discussion about?
Lexus GS 430, Acura RL, BMW 5 Series, Volvo S80, Audi A6, Infiniti M35, Infiniti M45, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Cadillac STS, Sedan
Jul 26, 2006 (1:32 pm)
There might be two basic questions one could ask a guy about his car: “What does that car do?” and “What does that car do for you?”
A 1999 Passat was my first German sedan. Even at $24,000 it gave me a taste of German engines and German suspensions/steering/handling. What it did was its modest version of cornering on rails. What it did for me was get me excited about driving in a whole new way. Paid off over 5 years, it went another year (and up to 99K miles) under extended warranty (with one my kids driving it most of its last year -- his first car) before I sold it for $7,000. I still have fond feelings for it.
Next came a 2004 BMW 325i, leased for 2 years. New level of excitement for me. Relative to Passat, it did the German thing better; and for me it was always aesthetically uplifting (to look at or be in) and “made me” want to drive it. In so far as the cliched pop psychology theory of what cars are for American men (an identity item) it was a good feeling I had about myself when driving it.
Recently began leasing an M35. It does many more things than the BMW, but, I’ve discovered, doesn’t do as much for me. The latter is obviously more subjective than the former. It simply has way more luxury amenities and technology. That it doesn’t do as much for me (aesthetic appeal of exterior wore down a bit; pleasure of very good acceleration is diluted some by awareness that it’s coming from gearing that runs it at high rpms rather than from a state of the art engine; cornering/handling/steering a bit too much lighter than the BMW or the Audi A6 S-Line I had considered) is only a matter of taste. I drove a friend’s M35x and it feels like it has a tighter suspension and a tighter hold on the road (inspires more confidence, as is sometimes said) but maybe that’s just “in my mind”.
#7912 of 10339 Re: Two questions [sfcharlie]
Jul 26, 2006 (1:56 pm)
Although I did not move forward with the M35X even after I put a down payment to order one -- I remain somewhat convinced I would be enjoying my M35X "almost as much" as I am enjoying my A6 3.2Q.
Yet, I am wondering if I would be as enthusiastic to dialog about the M35X as I clearly am about the Audi. Your rhetorical (I presume) post seems to indicate you are NOT unhappy with your choice, but it seems to me you probably will not be a repeat buyer for the M "doesn't do as much" for you as you would have expected or hoped (and yes, I agree that is largely subjective.)
Perhaps had I started off with a Japanese car or perhaps if the first car I bought with my own money was Japanese, I would feel different.
My first brand new car, purchased with my own money was in 1977, when I bought a 1978 Audi 5000. Like you, I thought the thing felt like it was on rails.
To this day, nothing has ever duplicated the handling, the "carving" capabilities of a German car -- and lord knows I have test driven enough of them from all over in an attempt to find the holy grail.
In fact, the M35X did come very close to the German feel -- enough so, in fact, that the Germans hopefully bought several copies to see what makes them tick.
Now, the Chrysler 300C AWD wasn't bad, but it wasn't German. The SRX with Magnaride was pretty close too, as a matter of fact. And, even a CTS with a sport suspension and upsized wheels feels like it must've come from across the Atlantic somewhere.
Remember. . .
For all its hopes, dreams, promises and urban renewal, know this:
The world continues to deteriorate.
You are a fluke. . .
Of the universe.
You have no right to be here.
And whether you can hear it or not. . .
The universe is laughing behind your back.
#7913 of 10339 Re: Hope we get some good debate goin' on here. . . [lansdownemike]
Jul 26, 2006 (3:45 pm)
I am a collector of phrases, and yours: "honkingly broad generalizations" is a keeper.
These boards are a target-rich environment for them.
#7914 of 10339 Re: Two questions [sfcharlie]
Jul 26, 2006 (4:00 pm)
Allow me to add a third: "What do you do with the car?"
I really enjoy driving. I enjoy the car too, but driving is the deal. In the best of all worlds I'm driving a good car in a pleasant place. Commuting is how many (most) of us spend the bulk of our driving time, but beyond that are the things that make car possession actually fun. Some are lucky enough to have a fun commute. I'm not.
Point being (yeah, there is one buried in here somewhere), the way a lot of people talk (or post) about cars leads me to believe that the joy of driving, or finding new places, or trying a treasured remote road with a new vehicle, is absent. No one talks about where they've been, how much fun they had during a 800 or 900-mile day, or a particularly fun bit of road -- that sort of thing. As I've said before, I've driven a lot of rental appliances in places I've never been before & thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I'll take an Impala on a new road over an A8 on a commute any day.
I'm left with the impression that the possession of the vehicle is the real deal for many, not the using of it, let alone the taking of it to new places. My put is that actually going somewhere fun or new doesn't show up on most peoples' radars, regardless of American, Asian or European.
But they sure want to talk about having the radar (or nav system, or whatever).
#7915 of 10339 Re: Two questions [sfcharlie]
Jul 26, 2006 (10:35 pm)
sfcharlie - the experience you speak of with your M35 and previous VW and BMW makes me think of my upcoming choices.
Like you, my first foray into German autos was a Passat - a 2000 GLX V6 manual. Looking back now, I really miss what that car offered, but over the short three years of ownership, I was plagued by some annoying electrical issues, and then finally, a need to replace the clutch at just 30k miles (and I've always driven a manual, so I would like to think it was premature wear, and not user error).
Having always owned Japanese vehicles, primarily Hondas, prior to that Passat, I appealed to my wife that that's what we should return to, and so here I am driving a TSX and her an MDX. How much of my appeal was true annoyance with the Passat, and how much was simply the itch for a new car? To be honest, probably 50/50.
Well, I'm looking to replace the TSX, within 6-12 months, with something larger and, preferably, with AWD, which puts me squarely into this LPS segment. And, though my order of preference changes quite often and surely will many times before I make a decision, right now I'm between the M35x and 530xi. Your thoughts on your M35 ownership hit home with me. On paper, the Infiniti has so much going for it, and appeals to me from a rational perspective.
But, when it comes down to it, the BMW is what gets me excited. And that should count for a lot.
#7916 of 10339 Re: Two questions [cdnpinhead]
Jul 27, 2006 (5:23 am)
You may be onto something here. But, then, I reflect on some of the conversations (some real, some virtual) I am aware of and have participated in over the past decade.
I must admit many of the conversations have to do with the possession of the car. But, those who possess Japanese talk about different aspects of ownership than do those who possess European (mostly, but not exclusively German.)
Since I actually know so few people who own American "cars" -- mostly if they own American it is either a Pickup truck or an SUV -- I can't really get a handle on what they talk about beyond the current topic: "third row seating!"
The enjoyment of the car's attributes/features/specifications that make the driving (as opposed to the riding when one is behind the wheel or not behind the wheel) fun do seem to permeate the German car owners conversations and posts.
Perhaps that is because of certain frames of reference. I live in Cincinnati as you know, and were I to regale you with some of the fun times and "new roads" I've had and discovered (the "back roads" between Cincinnati and Columbus or the beautiful drive to Sommerset, Kentucky) perhaps without any frame of reference the experience is simply too personal.
One of my favorite drives of all times is the drive south out of Munich, en route to Garmisch and to the Bavarian Alps. The combination of segments of no speed limit auto-bahning and the rise of the Alps in the closing distance are exhilarating every time I do it. The backroads into a town called Fussen where Mad Ludwig's castle resides are a blast to drive in an Audi A4 or BMW 3 series.
The drive from Luxembourg City to Triere, Germany (the Rome of the North), too, is breathtakingly beautiful.
Around these parts, the drive both south and east into the hills and mountains of West Virginia are a sight and experience to behold. Recently we drove from Cincinnati to Pittsburgh to Morgantown (WV) for a "day trip" because we had heard sleepy Morgantown and its University were one of the best kept secrets in the eastern US. I would agree.
This trip we were in a rented 2006 Cadillac DTS -- which was powerful and comfortable but a huge downer from the perspective of the illusion that you were driving a car that could even hope to be called "responsive."
It had "same day steering" if you get my drift.
The trip from Morgantown back to suburban Pittsburgh was another great road experience (visually) as we decided to avoid all US Interstate highways electing instead to travel on secondary roads.
In this case, I do wish I had been in an A8 (or better, an S8.)
There is a sharp (almost 90 degree) turn near my house -- I have enjoyed "playing with" the effects of air-pressure on the ability to corner. In the case of my 2003 allroad, this could be interpreted two ways: one, I loved to see the differences in handling and ability to negotiate this corner at speed at the four different positions of the air suspension; and, two, I determined with repeated "runs" that Audis (because they are nose heavy) seem to handle best if you follow the directions on the fuel filler door with respect to tire pressure -- BUT, that instead of 36 front, 39 rear, that better turn in and less roll can be had by putting 39 psi in the front and 36 in the rear.
This kind of conversation, perhaps, is -- for some -- a bit too geeky and bit too left brained. But perhaps what I have discovered is that it is unlikely that someone with a Japanese LPS would even engage in thinking about these kind of "adventures" or experiments. My Lexus driving friend was far more interested in seeing how close to 200,000 miles he could get on his car without any major repairs. He made it -- but the car rusted, so he did have to have a full-on repaint to get the body of the car to survive the miles.
He spoke glowingly about how his LS isolated him better than any other car he had ever had -- his former rides were almost always top o' the line Buicks (think Roadmaster, an oxymoron if ever there was one.)
The other Japanese car guy I know is a CEO who basically wants a car that all he ever has to do is put gas in it. He drives like an old lady (no offense) and is about 45 years old. His weapon of choice? Lexus.
I do agree his car is very quiet, just like the 200,000 mile guy said about his.
Both of them wondered out loud why I wanted a "hot rod" station wagon (referring to my allroad with a stick shift.) I never could get them to relate to the "joy of driving."
Just some observations. . . .
#7917 of 10339 The Audi Driving Experience: A Trip to Joy Pt #1
Jul 27, 2006 (8:36 am)
My put is that actually going somewhere fun or new doesn't show up on most peoples' radars, regardless of American, Asian or European.
Well. . .cdnpinhead, how about this for "going somewhere?"
“I thought I was buying a car – what I got was a lifestyle”
On a cold Friday in January, eight excited Cincinnati residents, some of them Audi owners, departed the Cincinnati airport bound for the Holy Land – Inglostadt, Germany – the home of Audi AG, of course.
First stop, Munich – what a fun city, what a great time. Munich is truly a magical worldly city that is incredible to visit and is simultaneously a place in which most Americans would thoroughly enjoy living. Indeed, Munich had each member of our group under her spell – we all still are scheming for a return visit. Three of our group had been to Munich previously – my wife and I have had the great joy of visiting this city over a dozen times within the last few years; and, another member of our group, Mike has been to Munich on two other occasions including Oktoberfest.
We checked into the luxurious five-star Bayerischer Hof, in the center of the walking district of the city – just off the Marienplatz. As it was just after 11 AM Saturday, we could not yet get into our rooms so we all decided to take a brief walk and have some lunch.
We walked the pedestrian only Fussgangerzone to the Glockenspiel, took in the sights, sounds and smells of this grand spectacle and headed for one of the best delicatessens on the Planet – the Alois Dallmayr. The Dallmayer is Germany's most famous delicatessen. After looking at its irresistible array of delicacies from around the world, you will think you have found a Royal Supermarket.
We took a quick tour of this bustling indoor fresh food shop – which in many ways reminds the Frequent Traveler of the fabulous food halls at Harrod’s in London. We then made our way to the second floor restaurant for a delicious meal including fresh green salad, soup, breads and some excellent German white wine.
Recommendation #1: visit and dine at the Dallmayer.
Afterwards, we all took a much-needed 3-hour nap – the key component of our anti-jet-lag regimen –followed by hot showers and even hotter coffee or chocolate or the American standby, Coke. Another walk through the city center: a left, a right and another left turn and we found ourselves at the famous Munich watering hole – the Hofbrauhaus. Inside, we introduced our first-time-to-Munich companions to the Hofbrauhaus tradition of sitting at long picnic tables and drinking beer with total strangers. As usual, when we left the table we had made four new friends, exchanged e-mail addresses and had raised our glasses many times in song. What fun!
Recommendation #2: even if you are not a beer drinker, stop into the Hofbrauhaus for some true Munich hospitality and revelry.
Back to the hotel to freshen up and on to one of the truly spectacular dining experiences you will ever have: an “evening” at the French-German restaurant, Tantris. Our original 8 travelers were joined by Joe and Karen Chadwick (of the NA quattro club-- a.k.a. Audi Car Club of NA -- fame) for an 8 course, four and one half-hour food extravaganza (although it is tempting to call it a food orgy).
If you are contemplating coming to a future Audi Driving Experience in Germany, this is an evening that is absolutely worth every pfennig of the approximately 175 Euro per person tab. No restaurant in Munich even comes close to equaling this place. You will be tempted to use this restaurant as the standard to which you compare all others – no matter in what continent, country or city. It is just that good.
According to two members of our group, Mike and the aforementioned Ms. Chadwick, “ . . .this is the best restaurant in the world!” Possibly. Yet, undoubtedly, Tantris must be one of the best on anybody’s list.
Recommendation #3: when in Munich, do not miss this experience. Save your money, mortgage your house if you have to – but, dine at Tantris.
Sunday morning our group took a three-hour bus tour of Munich, which included stops at the site of the 1972 Olympics and the summer palace Schloss Nymphenburg. Although Nymphenburg is best appreciated in spring and summer, it is still a grand winter spectacle nonetheless. The palace facade is in a restrained baroque style. The palace interior is less restrained, however. Upon entering the main building, you are in the great hall, beautiful with rococo colors and stuccos. There are frescoes depicting incidents from mythology, especially those dealing with the goddess of spring, Flora, and her nymphs – the origin of the palace’s name.
Recommendation #4: take this tour – especially if, like us, you arrive in Munich on Saturday morning and leave for Ingolstadt Monday morning.
Sunday evening, we dined with the quattro club members – in the hotel’s cellar restaurant. We ate and drank traditional German food and beer, which is to say very good (especially the beer), and had a delightful and somewhat rowdy evening with our fellow club members.
Recommendation #5: dine with the club members – and use this event to pick your partner for the upcoming driving experience. Our group chose not to drive with spouses – in hindsight, a wise choice.
Monday morning the bus Audi provided took the 40 members of the quattro club north to the city of Ingolstadt – the Holy Land – home of Audi AG. At Audi Headquarters we enjoyed lunch with Audi executives, the “factory tour,” a visit to the newly opened Audi Museum, and then we capped off our visit with time in the Audi Boutique. One quattro club member, Joe, remarked, “ . . .I thought I was buying a car, what I got was a lifestyle.” A three-hour bus ride on the autobahn south to Seefeld, Austria followed.
Recommendation #6: take the tour, visit the museum and leave the Audi Boutique richer – with your Euros – than you found it.
If there is such a thing as a six-star ski-resort hotel, Audi found it in the hamlet of Seefeld, Austria. The Hotel Alpenkoenig, like Tantris, may just be the standard against which almost all other resort-hotels can be judged. Remarkably, this hotel even offered cosmetic surgery – which is worth mentioning simply because it is novel.
Tuesday morning 7 AM: breakfast in the hotel followed by a one-hour class to introduce the drivers to the theory and terminology that would be used throughout the training. Our instructors presented explanations of oversteer and understeer coupled with graphics depicting the differences between front, rear and all-wheel drive vehicles. Of course we already knew that all-wheel drive is the best configuration and too that the Audi quattro system is the best all-wheel drive.
Continued next post.
#7918 of 10339 The Audi Driving Experience: A Trip to Joy Pt #2
Jul 27, 2006 (8:37 am)
Next, to the cars and almost two days of driving exercises (on ice) – some timed some not – culminating in a competition. The Audi instructors laid out a course on the ice that put together all the elements of each driving exercise into one huge track. Driving skills in braking, steering, power sliding, lane changing, and obstacle avoidance, etc. were all required in this exercise. Orange cones delimited the course, and if a driver hit a cone it was considered a five-second penalty. You can imagine – on a course where a really good time was one minute twenty seconds, a hit of five seconds is unrecoverable – the adrenaline flowed.
For the uninitiated or uniformed – and, several of the spouses of avid quattro club members fall into this category – explanations of the value and sheer enjoyment of this experience, no matter how eloquent, are inadequate. In fact we had four in our group that were – initially – reluctant to take the class, thinking it would be boring or perhaps difficult.
After completing the course, here is what one of those formerly reluctant participants, my wife, had to say:
“I think that the Audi Driving Experience is a remarkable program because it teaches participants to simulate real-life situations and learn how the auto will respond and also how the driver will respond. The instructors become coaches and prepare us to handle these situations in a safe and responsive manner. The course is, in essence, more than a virtual reality tour of the instruction manual that comes with the car - it's reality itself. “
Two other first-time drivers, Dale and Paula were also enthusiastic as you can see in the following note to Karen Chadwick, the top executive of the Audi Club of NA:
“Paula and I wish to thank you for giving us the opportunity to visit Seefeld, Austria and attend the spectacular Audi Driving Experience. It was certainly a treat to have discussions with you and all the friendly people in the quattro club. We both loved the beautiful five-star hotel Audi selected in Seefeld. Audi could not have picked a better place to stay to experience some of the culture in Austria. The dinners were marvelous and the company was even better. We really enjoyed our visit in Munich, Seefeld, and especially the visit to Ingolstadt to take the Audi factory tour. Witnessing the production of an Audi was certainly a wonderful sight to see.
The Audi Driving Experience was no less than the most exhilarating educational experience we have ever had. We enjoyed learning the fundamentals of understeer and oversteer. Learning how to handle the Audi A4s in several adverse situations was an invaluable experience. We were certainly taught by the best in the business.”
Joe and Sherri, A4 owners (and a mini-van) had this to say:
“The time and effort put into organization of the trip were obvious. Things ran very smoothly for such a large group (40 people). We enjoyed the opportunity to meet and socialize with other Audi owners. The driving instruction was first rate. The knowledge and skill of the instructors exceeded our expectations.
The hotel was spectacular in every way: food, scenery, services; and my wife enjoyed her massage and the hotel’s spa. Perhaps the most satisfying, for me, is that Sherri, my wife, now has greater confidence in getting behind the wheel of not only our A4, but our mini-van as well. The potentially life saving information was itself worth the price of the trip.
The Audi driving experience is something that I wish every driver could experience (all other car companies, please listen.)”
Moreover, the statement most often repeated by the participants was, “I think the Audi Driving Experience is a blast!”
We had some incredible surprises including a guest-star visit from legendary Audi racecar driver, Walter Rohrl. What a rush to be given not one but two laps around the ice-course with Rohrl behind the wheel of a turbo-diesel A4 quattro. Wheeeee!
The Audi Driving Experience is incredibly valuable – it could save your life. It is fun – way beyond fun, it is exciting. To borrow from Audi’s advertising campaign, it is the realization of “Joy!”
For even the most jaundiced, disinterested or bored, the experience is an amazing vacation – filled with five+-star dining and lodging in an indescribably beautiful setting (the snow covered mountains of Austria). Add to this the romance of a sleigh ride, camaraderie and top-notch driver education and you have what is most certainly a once in a lifetime experience.
Recommendation #7: do not miss the Audi Driving Experience. Immerse yourself in it and savor every second of the time from the minute you land in Munich to the moment you depart for home. The time goes by so very quickly – hopefully you will find that this experience changes your life. It has changed ours.
Finally, a great big thank you to Karen Chadwick and the Audi Car Club of NA (a.k.a., quattro club of America) for organizing this delightful outing.
o Jody and Mike (A4 owners)
o Dale and Paula (no Audis in their garage -- yet)
o Joe and Sherri (A4 owners)
o Tina and Mark (too many Audis to list)
Trivia: This group has had 31 Audi’s between them, all but three of them quattro’s.
Oh BTW, I like my nav system too!
#7919 of 10339 Re: Two questions [breld]
Jul 27, 2006 (8:55 am)
"But, when it comes down to it, the BMW is what gets me excited. And that should count for a lot."
Based on my recent experience, it should be the deciding variable in the equation. In the weeks and months after you've brought the car home, the memory of the one about which you were most excited will not easily fade. I'd say your excitement is making the decision for you. And you can likely lease the BMW for as good (if not better terms) than with the M35, if you're leasing; or, if you're buying, and if you're hesitating because the BMW costs more, check things on the BMW leasing and prices paid forums. People there can often point you toward possibilties you might not have known.
#7920 of 10339 Re: Two questions [sfcharlie]
Jul 27, 2006 (9:08 am)
A month or so ago, I went to the Infiniti dealer to take another look at the M35x. I take a walk around it, checking out all the angles, and the style and other features start to grow on me. Now, on their used car lot, they happen to have a recent model 530i, and when I see that, it's just an instant gut feel - it just seems to click with me. If it would've been an xi model, I would've been tempted to start talking numbers right away.
So, yeah, to your point, I look back on that visceral feeling I had that day and often think, perhaps it should be as simple as that. What gets your blood pumping? Particularly when you get to the choices in this class, where, to be cliche, there probably are no real "losers."
And regarding the pricing difference between the M and 5, I'm more than happy to go with a lightly used, perhaps certified, 530xi. And that's half the reason I'm waiting several months - not too many of those out there yet.