As reported here on TTAC, Daimler has decided to start selling smaller, more fuel-efficient cars in the United States. For our international friends, the announcement is meaningless. Outside of The Land of the Free, Mercedes is about as exclusive as the YMCA. (In Germany, Mercedes taxis are a ubiquitous reminder that some Daimler-Benz products are more equal than others.) But for American pistonheads brainwashed by pre-90′s Mercedes products and marketing (“Engineered like no other car in the world”), the arrival of a B-segment Merc is the final nail in the coffin of brand idolatry. Which leaves what?
Porsche’s purity disappeared with the Cayenne. BMW’s Ultimate Driving Machine focus is fertig. Cadillac as the standard of the world is kaput. Lincoln has left the building. Lexus is building tuner trash (very good tuner trash) and supercars.
Lower down on the food chain, same devo. Volkswagen’s rep for cheap, reliable transportation (as undeserved as it may have been) is tot. Honda’s rep for engineering excellence, value-for-money and design simplicity has taken a major ding with the Ridgeline and Insight. Toyota’s having “issues.” Subaru built the Tribeca. Etc.
Other than Land Rover, I reckon the only automotive brands that haven’t sullied their good name sit at the very pinnacle of price: Ferrari, Maserati, Bugatti, Bentley, Aston. Or the uber-top: Pagani.
What’s your take? Which car brands are dead to you now? Which are still worth coveting? Which ones are ascendant, which ones descendant?