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What is a Luxury Car?

I'm relatively new to this forum and have not had a chance to look through many of the topics already discussed. If what I bring up here has already been fully discussed, I apologize for taking up your time.

A prominent feature of the Model S is that it is considered by most to be a luxury automobile. What makes a car a luxury car? Is it price, unique features, performance, etc?

The entry "Luxury Vehicle" in Wikipedia presents a good starting point and brings up interesting categories (biased, of course, by the author's view point.) Copied here are three characteristics stated in that article:

(1) "Luxury cars tend to offer a higher degree of comfort than their mainstream counterparts, common amenities include genuine leather upholstery and polished "woodgrain-look" dashboards. Compared to mainstream vehicles, luxury cars have traditionally emphasized comfort and safety. Luxury vehicles are also a status symbol for conspicuous consumption."
(2) "Contemporary luxury cars also offer higher performance and better handling, which is often known as sport luxury. However in Europe, where large-displacement engines are often heavily taxed and many luxury buyers shy away from conspicuous consumption, brands offer buyers the option of removing exterior engine-identifying badges."
(3) "Forbes noted that the reputation of luxury marques enables them to continually introduce many new safety technologies and comfort amenities, such as anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control and DVD entertainment systems, before they trickle down to mass market cars. Numerous "smart car" features are largely only found on luxury cars as of 2009."

To me the most compelling feature of luxury cars is the third one because, as I have always believed, the best way to introduce important new technology into automobiles is through high end vehicles where the new technology is, relative to cost, not as expensive, and the buyer is better able, and willing, to absorb this cost.

From the above article it would appear that the pricing of the Model S is towards the low end of the category. If you consider, as I believe, that the battery comprises fully one half of the cost of the Model S, and this is not really a luxury comfort feature, what makes the Model S a luxury car?

You will understand when you will do a test drive of the Model S. Don't lose too much sleep until then, because you are going to lose a lot afterwards: how to get the $$$ together and then a loooong wait like a little boy for Xmas.

For me what makes the Model S a luxury car is the quiet ride, solid handling from the low center of gravity, and the performance from the electric motor.

Ultra-luxury (at least for me) will come from the premium stereo system (matched by the quiet ride), the air suspension, and the performance sport package.

Luxury brands are also associated with high-touch service and support. When I drop my Audi off for servicing, they hand me the keys to another Audi for the day or, if I prefer to wait, a well-configured business center with complimentary coffee and light breakfast. Yes, this matters to some of us.

Luxury is not about leather seats and wood paneling; anyone can do that (so some, not so well). It's about the quality of engineering, which produces safer cars that perform more enjoyably.

One metric of quality that I wish were generally available is "internal cabin noise level while driving at 60mpg/100kph".

"One metric of quality that I wish were generally available is "internal cabin noise level while driving at 60mpg/100kph""

I agree 100% RB! Hello Consumer Reports, Motor Trend, you listening???

/mph, not mpg, of course.

Asking the question, "What is a luxury automobile?" is a lot like asking the question, "What makes that person sexy?" The answer is point-of-view and will vary considerably from individual to individual.

Most of us who have purchased many automobiles over the years know a luxury car when we see it, even if we don't immediately recognize that maker or know the price. We might not like the design but we still can sense that the fit and finish, the look, the features it provides, the interior accoutrements, the performance, the ride, and other small aspects imply "luxury."

Is the Model S a luxury car? I think it is, and my view has nothing to do with the ratio of the supposed battery cost to the overall cost of the car. It's a luxury vehicle because a close look says "luxury" to me.

On the cabin noise level, there are a lot of things the manufacturer can do to dampen road noise which can make a big difference and is part of why people conceive luxury cars as quiet. Toyota isn't going to invest a lot of time and resources in making a Corolla quiet, but Audi would on an A6+.

On the other hand, in my car (Jetta) I can notice a big difference in road noise just by which tires I select.

The Model S having a very good Cd should have a great start at having a quiet ride

Luxury means different things to each of us.

A luxury car to me is: leather, wood trim, chrome, and a plethora of amenities. Quality, elegance, refinement. Quiet - smooth ride. I think of Jaguar, Lexus, Rolls, Bentley when I define luxury. The Germans interpretation of luxury seems (to me) less 'rich' but does include quality, performance, and longevity.

All cars come with the safety features, advanced technologies, etc. Compare a Corvette or Porsche to an Aston Martin.

luxury = no compromises

Sorry VP, there are ALWAYS compromises.

For me, it's comfort (on long trips), room, reliability, durability. The rest (aside from what's promised in the specifications) is bonus. 0-60 in 4.5 isn't at all needed for me.

Luxury Car = what I can't yet afford

I'm with David70 on this one. It should be reasonably quick, a nice place to spend a few hours if needed. It should be easy to get in and out of too -- I don't want an effort to get to my destination. Good stock stereo, good heat / AC, heated and ventilated seats are nice too.

Yes. A part of the comfort is being easy to get in and out. It's a pain to get out of my current car.

Much of what has become associated with 'luxury' has much more to do with marketing. Does having wood inside my car make it more of a luxury car than the next? I'm told it does, and it looks nice. Does having the leather gathered on my door make it better, or more of a luxury car? I have all of this, it is luxury (or so I'm told) and frankly I've been so completely unsatisfied I can't even begin to tell you.

To some, less is more, and yet it is still luxury. I believe this is the statement the Model S is attempting to make. I've seen the Model S, I've been for a ride in it. I feel it is a luxury car, and I'm the one buying it. When you get right down to it, isn't that all that really matters?

Food for thought and chatter...

http://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/car-and-driver-vehicle-type-guide-bu...

Entry Luxury: A car that offers a full array of luxury features and an outstanding level of refinement, starting at a base price under $40,000. Examples include the Cadillac CTS, Infiniti G37, BMW 3-series, and Lincoln MKZ.

Luxury Car: A car that offers a full array of luxury features and an outstanding level of refinement, starting at a base price over $40,000. Examples include the Bentley Brooklands, BMW 5-series, Mercedes-Benz CL-class, Jaguar XF, Lexus LS460, and Infiniti M45.

brianman -Helpful. Now we just need to define "luxury features"

G37 vs G45 or BMW 3-series vs BMW 5-series... apparently bigger car = luxury?

http://www.cars.com/go/crp/buyingGuides/Story.jsp?section=Luxury&story=l...

Short version...

Premium
- single-zone automatic climate control
- steering wheel audio and cruise controls
- moonroof
- premium upholstery
- power driver seat

Near-Luxury (Premium + ...)
- heated seats
- in-dash CD changer
- leather upholstery
- memory driver's seat
- power passenger seat
- satellite radio

Luxury (Near-Luxury + ...)
- adaptive cruise control
- adaptive suspection
- dual-zone automatic climate control
- genuine trim
- heated steering wheel
- intelligent remote entry
- navigation system
- onboard data processor
- power-adjustable steering column
- power lumbar supports
- premium sound system
- rear-seat accoutrements
- rear sunshades
- remote start
- ventilated/cooled front seats

Ultraluxury (Luxury + ...)
- full leather trim
- massaging seats
- refrigerator
- panoramic moonroof

I just turned in my lease (an Infiniti FX50s) and as far as I was concerned, it was about as luxury as any current gas powered car-SUV (under $100k) goes. Without listing everything here (which you can look up), I will put it fairly simply… the FX50s could literally start and stop itself in bumper to bumper traffic, and maintain traffic speed, without me ever having to take my feet off the floorboards, and I never had to look any farther than my nav screen to see what was behind me, to the side of me, or directly in front of my bumper, EVER!

Add all that in with all the other bells and whistles on almost all top luxury vehicles under $100k, and it was about as serious a luxury vehicle as they get.

I don’t expect the Model S to have all of the same things, however, I am more than willing to trade all the cool stuff that was on my FX50s, for 300 miles of driving for only $8.00 USD, and full use of the HOV lanes whenever I please.

A luxury car personifies elegance, refinement, and most of all comfort. You feel a sense of satisfaction-contentment being surrounded by luxury. Endless techno features or high performance do not define luxury.

The “S” will offer the essentials -It won’t offer everything . I have seen and ridden in an “S” “I was in a luxury car.” The “ 3 luxuries” I most anticipate is a kick ass sound system to compliment my whisper quiet-smooth ride, the fun of driving a revolutionary new car, and no more gasoline – Priceless!

I anticipate the “S” having very good handling but not the best. The “S” was designed primarily for the American market and having a smooth, comfortable, quiet ride is a priority over a higher performance tuned suspension. When Tesla unveils the High Performance “S” it will have firmer sports suspension, perhaps bigger brakes and be less comfort oriented. On aerodynamics, I am personally prefer a great looking car over one that has the lowest cd.

I'm looking at the all luxury features my Jetta TDI has and I am a little amazed at how luxurious it is. But I did my research and came up with that car over all the hybrids.

Now for the Signature S... I think it has the following:

Premium
- single-zone automatic climate control
- steering wheel audio and cruise controls
- power driver seat

Near-Luxury (Premium + ...)
- heated seats
- memory driver's seat (??)
- power passenger seat (??)
- satellite radio

Luxury (Near-Luxury + ...)
- adaptive suspension
- genuine trim
- intelligent remote entry
- navigation system
- onboard data processor
- premium sound system
- remote start

Ultraluxury (Luxury + ...)
- full leather trim (maybe not? knock it down a couple notches)
- panoramic moonroof (optional)

I'm not sure about the seats, though wouldn't mind the extra features there and almost expect them. Many of the interior details are still unknown from my PoV.

Overall, however, I think the Model S still easily fits into the luxury standards.

From what I've gathered so far, everything through your Premium+ category should be standard.

Adaptive suspension - (optional air suspension)
Genuine trim - (probably an option)
Intelligent remote entry - (standard)
Nav system - (optional)
Onboard data processor - (??? whatever that is)
Premium sound system - (premium system will be optional)
Remote start - (Remote climate control s/b standard with wi-fi connection)

Leather trim - (optional)
Pano roof - (optional)

The passenger seat should also automatically move to match the key fob carried by the passenger.

Regarding "remote start"...

I can't recall. Have they talked about remote start, or just pointed out that the engine portion of that technology is irrelevant for an S (because it's instant on)?

I remember my first ride in a Luxury car (1991 Lexus LS 400)...well, I actually drove it as I was a valet at the time. It's funny to me now to think of that car being the first car that I would consider luxury given what I know now. I drove sportscars and other wanna be luxury cars like Lincolns and Caddy's, but nothing compared to this car after being behind the wheel.

Here's my definition of luxury:
1. Quiet interior - I didn't know the car was running after getting in and had to look at the tach. Putting the car into drive was effortless and solid as the gear shifter was solid wood and I could tell just by how it felt. I couldn't actually feel it go into drive so again had to verify on the dash. Letting my foot off of the brake was bliss as there was no movement but a slow push forward. No sounds as the engine reved and no sounds when I drove into a very loud parking garage. And I knew for a fact that at highway speeds there would be no sound.
2. Solid - You know that sound when you close the door on a Porsche? Yeah, I didn't that when I closed the door, but I got it when I drove the car. It felt heavy like quality products are typically heavy, but light and effortless like quality was designed in from the beginning. This all lead to that feeling of solid when you put your foot down on any quality engineered auto. Only this one I felt so much more of it than ever before. Maybe it was the solid wood steering wheel or the extra thick floor mats that has "Lexus" in white stitching. These are the things I remember.
3. Sound system - When I turned on the radio it was tuned to an AM station and faded/balanced to the back right speaker. Oh the humanity. I spent about 5 minutes enjoying Misty Mountain Top in complete bliss. When I returned to the owner I offered the car back to him tuned to the local FM classical station with the sound balanced. It was the first time I had seen a new $50 dollar bill.
4. Design - This one is hard to summarize but I'll say this. Luxury is a vehicle for exquisite design realized through expert craftsmanship with the highest quality materials.

I believe we will get 1-4 above +
1. Environmentally friendly
2. Superb handling/performance
3. Ridiculous cargo space
4. Forward thinking tech features
5. Full marks Safety

to make the Model S the best car for the money in the luxury car market

In Southern California people buy luxury cars for the prestige of owning them and body styling, period. Of course all the features gismos and gadgets need to be there, but they are simply a given for a car in that price range.

A true test of the model S sale ability would be to put it in a row with comparably priced cars and let a group of people who do not know it is electric choose. Would your wife choose the model S alongside a BMW 5 not knowing it is electric? That test alone will tell you how well this car is going to do, because people who buy cars in this price range don't care about the price of gas, they care about "bling".

@jsanok: I think the same holds true in South Florida.

A Sig series or fully loaded 300 will likely be priced between $80K and 90K. In that price range, most buyers are purchasing the car for its unique position among luxury cars—very sexy, very high-tech, and very, very unique. It's sort of like a fine watch—there's no way you can economically justify the purchase, you want it because you want it, and you have the resources to indulge that want. Of course, many purchasers also believe in the future of EVs, want to be green, love the tech, or the performance or any other aspect of the car, but ... you want it because you want it.

I waited 5 months to get a Lexus SC430 back in 2001 (that's the blink of an eye relative to Tesla wait lists :). The SC430 was really quite unique in SoFla when I took delivery. People stopped and asked about the car for many months, and it was fun to see folks crowded around it in a parking lot as I walked out of a store.

I suspect that's going to happen again when I take delivery of my Model S next summer. And I'd be less than honest if I didn't say I'm looking forward to it.

@brianman -- I figured the remote start feature is just there to warm up the interior. Since the S has the ability to remotely set interior temp, I simply ignored the engine part of that feature.

At first I thought this Forum was trivial, but then I actually tried to define a luxury vehicle (for me). It's not that easy. IMO, a luxury vehicle is the opposite of "basic transportation". It's a group of amenities that make a vehicle an environment that you WANT to spend time in.

I've owned the full spectrum of cars. Everything from a 73 Ford Pinto to a 03 Lexus SC430. Luxury vehicles have a combination of comfort, convenience, and some measure of performance. Comfort goes way beyond how I feel in the seat. It's the total ambiance. Sound dampening, high quality audio system, climate controls, smooth suspension system, cabin roominess and passenger comfort, etc. I've driven east coast to west coast (2,600 mi) on two occasions. Believe me, this trip is much more pleasurable in a luxury vehicle.

I'm hoping and wishing for some of this to be standard in the Model S but I'm pretty middle of the middle class and $50k is not much more then what I personally can afford. If I could afford $90k I would have considered the Roadster a while back, but even the Model S is in the upper levels of my price range and beyond it in fact. I am buying this car for the following reasons in order of importance:

1. It's Electric (the plugin Prius and Volt are not electric in my book because it still burns fossil fuels)
2. It's a beautiful car (and I think even the base model will still be)
3. It can accommodate my whole family (I need the +2 and realize that I need to add to the cost of the car for this but I'm hoping it's not more then a $5k bump)
4. It feels like a great deal even if it puts me in a bit of debt for a while and I hope it lasts me many MANY years with it's very few complicated parts that moves the car from point A to B

The most luxery I have ever experienced myself is my 2003 Accord EX V6 w/Leather and Sunroof which I am sure a lot of you guys might laugh at but I'm a very practical guy. I think I'm a "different" kind of Model S reservation holder and very small share holder of TSLA but I'm just as proud and hopeful in this car company and Mr. Musk's vision for the future!


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