2013 will bring a new version of the Lexus ES, and we’ve already seen its new mug from photographers in China. Yet even with the new ES in the wings, Lexus is on track to sell 40,000 “lame duck” models, making it the most popular Lexus car and the second most popular Lexus vehicle after the RX350. As a goodbye to the “Lexus Camry,” we took one for a road trip from Northern California to Southern California – a sort of farewell to an important but sometimes misunderstood luxury car.
The good folks who are still convinced that the Japanese car market is closed, can count themselves lucky. Would they have been with me today, they might have doubted their beliefs and strayed from the faith. Today, Lexus finally rolled out its new GS line in Japan. America had already seen it last Summer, and two TTAC testers actually drove the cars.
Today, two straight-laced Lexus executives told reporters in Tokyo that imported cars are so successful that Lexus would like to have some of that success and that they strive to take some of the imports’ growing market share. Kazuo Ohara, Deputy Chief Officer of Toyota`s luxury arm Lexus said: (Read More…)
Are you the King of Spain, the Sultan of Brunai, Jay-Z, or the Russian oil billionaire Roman Abramovich? Check your mailbox. Volkswagen’s Bentley has sent you mail. Bentley wants to grieve with you over the passing of your beloved Maybach brand, and then, in a tasteful way, hopes will be expressed that your next car will be a Bentley.
Do you think that BMW and Mercedes are manly brands? Automotive News [sub] has a different opinion. BMW and Mercedes look childish, the industry rag says. Reason for this decree: The inability of both German luxury brands to show their numbers on time. AN sees two possible explanations for the delay. One explanation “is that the two companies have woefully inadequate sales-tracking software.”
AN does not buy into that one. AN thinks the more likely explanation is a playground showdown, where two boys compare their didis: (Read More…)
Usually, all automakers in the U.S. market report together on the same day of the month. This time it’s different. The world does not know exactly how many cars Americans bought in December and therefore for the year, because Daimler and BMW had not handed in their numbers.
BMW and Mercedes had been in a year-long battle for the luxury crown, a title that oddly enough only has cachet in the otherwise monarchy-averse U.S.A. where kings are used to measure beds and burgers. With annual sales in the quarter million territory, both players would be Mazda-sized, would it not be for the (sometimes doubtful) “luxury” title. (Read More…)
Low cost cars? Who needs them. BMW’s CFO Friedrich Eichiner thinks that the premium segment is where the growth is. Eichiner projects the global auto market to go basically sideways by growing 4 percent in 2012. He expects the premium segment to grow twice as fast at 8 percent. That according to an interview given to Munich’s Süddeutsche Zeitung today. Of course that growth is not spread evenly around the world. Eichiner predicts that the European car market will remain flat this year. Growth potential is seen in the U.S. and China. (Read More…)
If, a few years ago, I would have suggested that the Chinese would buy more Mercedes, BMW and Audi than the Autobahn-addicted Germans, you would have suggested an increase in dosage. But the condition is incurable. China may overtake Germany as the world’s second-largest market for luxury cars, says Bloomberg. The largest market for upscale units remains the U.S. — until further notice. (Read More…)
The Japanese are always worried about what the North Koreans have up their sleeve, but if the writing on the wall were legible, they would be more concerned about what’s going on in the south. If the 2009 Hyundai Genesis was a shot across the bow of Lexus and Infiniti, then the Genesis 5.0 R-spec may be a torpedo hit below the water, and speaking of which, even the Germans should take notice. Of course, we heard this before with the likes of the VW Phaeton, however that model tanked, so is the top-line Genesis biting off more than it can chew? Lets find out.
We’ve been a bit critical of Honda’s advertising recently, and though I’m not a big fan of most of the latest David Puddy (OK, OK, Patrick Warburton) spots, I have to give it up for this one. I’ve wondered about the “cars with bows” ad meme for some time now, and though it was estimated that some 50,000+ vehicles were given as gifts last holiday season, I really can’t wait for the ad theme to die. We all love surprise gifts (especially expensive ones), but shouldn’t the person who will actually be driving the car have some say in what they get? I mean, I’d be grateful if someone bought me a new Lexus RX (a chief perpetrator of this ad meme) out of the blue… but mostly in the “it’s the thought that counts” way. Want to surprise someone with something expensive? Buy them jewelry or a watch. Want to buy someone a car? Make sure you really know exactly what car the giftee wants, and for goodness sake, make sure they drive it and the competition first. Surprises last a few seconds, the right car will delight for years to come.
With luxury brands from Bentley to Maserati building “on-road SUVs” in search of ever-greater profits, Jaguar’s decision to build a traditional station wagon is something of a Connolly leather glove’d slap in the face of the luxury game. That’s right, this isn’t some wobbly, lozenge-shaped crossover, or some garish, blinged-out SUV; it’s just a clean, simple Jag-wagon. Or “XF Sportbrake,” as Auto Motor und Sport insists on calling it. And though it may not be the most practical wagon, with its cargo area apparently styled for slim looks rather than capacity, it will be available with AWD, along with the rest of the XF line. Oh yeah, and a 510 HP XFR wagon should be an option as well… you know, for the journalists. All of which sounds like news to be very thankful for this Thanksgiving. Remember: this could have been a crossover!
Lincoln’s updated look doesn’t seem to have won over too many of the skeptics, but before you make up your mind entirely, do check out these live shots from the LA Auto Show floor. Our man on the ground, Alex Dykes, notes
The interior refinements are welcome, especially as Cadillac has made some improvements to their interiors lately. Lincolns My Touch systems do seem considerably snappier than the previous versions, but we won’t be sure about the reliability until someone at TTAC has one for a week.
It’s no secret that Ferrari has been wrestling with the inevitable conflict between its bellowing V12s and European emission regulations, but that’s not the only challenge facing the Prancing Horse’s powertrain division. Sure, there’s the increasingly-tenuous link between the Scuderia’s Formula One technology and its road cars [sub], but in the short term that actually helps the emissions issue by creating a pretext for bringing KERS to the road (where it otherwise has little role). In fact, the real issue for Ferrari’s powertrain team is not even a “Ferrari issue” at all, but a Maserati issue.
When Infiniti said they were coming out with a new 7-passenger crossover, I, like the rest of the world, was expecting a stretched FX CUV with a V8 option, RWD and optional AWD. While the exterior was first shown off at Pebble Beach, the interior and drivetrain were merely well placed rumors. While Infiniti’s 3.5L V6 was the expected engine choice, the FWD (or optional AWD) CVT transmission was a curveball for sure. While I’ll try to hold my opinions until we can get some behind the wheel time, I am somewhat disapointed by the drivetrain choice. Inside, the JX is far from a disapointment continuing Infiniti’s recent trackrecord of world class cabins. While most of the shapes are familiar to Infiniti owners, many of the controls are new and only the steering wheel seems lifted directly off other Infiniti models. Like most vehicles in this segment, the third row of seats is best left to the small kids of that coworker you really hate.