NemesisUK

What Makes a Premium Car these days?

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As the title, what defines a premium marque these days? 

Electronic gizmos are "two-a-penny" Sat Nav, Telephony, Multi-media connectivity are cheap and common place.

So what differentiates the common-place from the exclusive?

Styling? Very subjective. 

Exclusivity? What defines exclusive? Cost? Numbers?

An open question ..

 

 

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Hard to repair paint, windscreens that aren't available quickly when cracked, loads of sensors that throw up faults, expensive tyres, expensive servicing, massive depreciation, high Road tax.

:D



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Let's make it easy: The premium brand is a brand succesfuly convices potential customers they have to pay more for better or "better" product.

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11 hours ago, NemesisUK said:

As the title, what defines a premium marque these days? 

Electronic gizmos are "two-a-penny" Sat Nav, Telephony, Multi-media connectivity are cheap and common place.

So what differentiates the common-place from the exclusive?

Styling? Very subjective. 

Exclusivity? What defines exclusive? Cost? Numbers?

An open question ..

 

 

Too answer seriously - yes I know, don't be shocked.  I think ALL modern cars are a luxury. You don't have to go far back to find out how reliable and safe, packed with features even a modern "cheap" car is.

I think premium now is about space,performance, perhaps interior quality and parts that are better spec but unseen, suspension, brakes etc. More power hi-fi.

Whereas in the past you wouldn't have it. Even my sisters i10 1 ltr had a heated steering wheel my rc-f doesn't have.

 

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1 hour ago, Comedian said:

I think premium now is about space,performance, perhaps interior quality and parts that are better spec but unseen, suspension, brakes etc. More power hi-fi.

It is how I would define it and I agree with you, but that is subjective. That is where my disappointment with RC/IS300h came from, it is still well built and reliable, but performance is just a joke when compared to other premium cars, as well 6-Speakers poverty system does not below in any Lexus car. However, that is not how many 300h owners sees it.. and I have caused quite a backlash for pointing that out.

As such I tend to think, that nowadays Premium(or Luxury) cars are more about brand image (as described by @Ben01) then it is about actual features you are getting e.g. well spec'ed Golf will be objectively way more luxury then CT, yet WV is not premium and Lexus is?!

I can go more into subjective features which makes modern car more or less premium for me ... sort of red tapes where car is not premium if it doesn't have it -  the car must be RWD with longitudinally mounted engine, I do not consider any car with inline-4 or FWD layout to be Premium (many would disagree - I heard it is something to do with how FWD cars "pushes from the back"). Other things - has to have leather seats and other premium materials (Alcantra doesn't count) e.g. if it has wood, then it must be real wood, if it has CF then it has to be real CF etc., has to have all adjustment electric, has to be faster then average compact car to 60... probably more.

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Premium to me is about quality of materials/components and build quality.

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46 minutes ago, Linas.P said:

That is where my disappointment with RC/IS300h came from

Really? You never mentioned it......

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Just thought it is my chance to dig dig dig... just in case any 300h owners has forgotten! 😄 

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For me it's about performance, cost, design and materials. E.g a car built with carbon fibre is obviously going to be the "premium" choice over a car made with other materials, which also effects cost. This will probably also make it a hell of a lot more exclusive, and will likely be made be a high end and already "premium" brand. So they're all tied closely together. 

Although you mention styling is very subjective, which I agree with, I do think it has something to do with making a car appear "premium". Even though it may not add much in terms of performance and won't effect the technologies within the vehicle, the styling definitely factors into whether or not the car is heavily sought after imo. 

Think of it like beauty standards outside of the automotive industry: beauty is most definitely subjective to each and every person, yet some individuals are highly regarded as being "beautiful" or "good-looking" because they tick so many people's boxes of what looks good. 

 

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Interesting topic. For the manufacturer reaching the Premium status is like winning a gold medal as you can charge higher prices, achieve higher margins. For the customer buying a premium product - not neccesarily cars - radiates success as you can show all that you can afford it. So, it seems to be about perception and brandimage that can even differ per country or per city..

In the automobile world there are a limited number of producers that truly belong to the premium club as they have proved to be on the forefront of engineering for decades continuously using the best materials and engineering higher quality products than mainstream producers. We all know them, the Germans, Jag, LR/RR, Rolls, Bentley and Lexus( in spite of the incredibly outdated  electronics). But then? any italians? french? hmm not really, Americans? not even the vette in my idea.. And is Audi more premium than Porsche or the other way around? and how long did it Audi take to be accepted as a premium brand? 25 years?

So it could be about history/roots. ( but Alfa has them aplenty but are they premium?). Could be about product quality ( big yes), about desiging the best and not the cheapest solution, about using higher quality materials then really needed, about top chassis development, about architecture. Does exclusivity play a role? BMW is a mass producer but seen as premium.

confusing to say the least. Off topic or maybe not but our vacuumcleaner broke down yesterday ( 20yrs old ) and i am just back from the shops where i found out there are PREMIUM vacuumcleaners!        

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More seriously (but I was dead serious above, about brand positioning and image) IMHO all mentioned traits combine into "exclusivity", maybe into multidimensional space. Of course, relative to "place and time" (aluminium car was someting yesterday, today carbon fibre, tomorrow who knows, nanotubes one?).

So if we list "all what counts": performance, reliability, numbers, style (in public perception), quality of materials, how car is put together, etc etc. and next try to describe them in terms of gaussian curves over the given market, the premium marque is brand with most of the products on most of "traits" curves stay, let's say, higher than one and half (top 15%) or two (top 5%) standard deviations.

Exaple: maybe lexus has some drawbacks in heating steering wheels (so, maybe lexus is not in "top 5%" on the curve "fine gadgets on the steering wheel") or heated seats are common now (means there is no curve and no discuss - if everybody has something, like nice heated seats or common four wheels, there is no point to discuss top percents or sigmas in "heating seats" or "superior number of wheels") or maybe common lexus quality and reliability is not like in 1995, but in many other areas lexus is still pretty top. And probably it is possible to combine all those partial factors into total "premium factor".

On this factor marketing builds the proper brand image and recognition, and monetize them. Or, if marketing is really "good" means evil, they don't need "the factor", only historical impressions and creative marketing. Like Merc last decades, in my very humble opinion. BTW I hope without the hope, the Lexus will not go this way. But maturing of luxury brands and why most of them follow the greedy pattern is an another story.

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5 minutes ago, Ben01 said:

But maturing of luxury brands and why most of them follow the greedy pattern is an another story.

Agree.... however I think Lexus following very same path like Mercedes. In 1989 LS400 was epitome of luxury, quality and examples to this days shows exactly that. However several Lexus models and design decisions nowadays are ... well... just "MEEHHH" - sort of clear indicator Lexus is simply rolling on the past brand image and monetising it. Luckily there are still cars which represents Lexus as Premium brand, but majority of mainstream models in my opinion are on the trend of just using the brand image and selling Toyotas under Lexus badge. 

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2 minutes ago, Linas.P said:

sort of clear indicator Lexus is simply rolling on the past brand image and monetising it

Yeah, for me warning lights were CT and NX. In my mind sin is not exactly "branding toyotas with lexus badges" (like - ES was not a total [censored]), but what and which way exactly Lexus rebranded and delivered. Like IS diesels 😝 or rebranded Prius platform.

IMHO there is still some distance to Merc A-klasse story and beyond (I am looking at you, [censored] CLA). Let's wait for any lexus on Yaris platform, or any "new-IS-copy-of-CLA" (FWD with no performance nor quality at entry (and relatively low) price level) - and I would to drink at "premium brand" funeral.

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16 hours ago, NemesisUK said:

As the title, what defines a premium marque these days? 

Electronic gizmos are "two-a-penny" Sat Nav, Telephony, Multi-media connectivity are cheap and common place.

So what differentiates the common-place from the exclusive?

Styling? Very subjective. 

Exclusivity? What defines exclusive? Cost? Numbers?

An open question ..

 

 

i think its more to do with the brand these days..as you say a corsa, aygo, mondeo, etc.. can be spec'd with pretty much most features/toys you can find in say a BMW/Merc these days. styling is subjective, exclusivity used to make a car premium but again not so much these days as i see more german cars on the road than say a mondeo. does this make the mondeo exclusive in most people eyes? I don't think so.. 

besides your usual exotic cars, Majority will class the top 3 German brands as premium some dont even classify Lexus as premium even though majority of the german car models the mass population go for do not offer anything exclusive when compared to a similar spec'd say a vauxhall, Ford, Renault. most modern cars i have rode in or driven are well built these days it has closed the gap. infact servicing and cost of parts on some models of these so called non premium cars are actually higher than the so called premium ones. 

so its more the Badge on the bonnet than anything these days..

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For me the epitome of luxury was when the LS400 hit our shores, and although the Lexus brand today is considered a luxury car, I don't think it ever managed to get anywhere near that very first flagship.  It was nigh on faultless, I'm not sure that could be said about anything Toyota, or anyone else for that matter have produced since.

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7 minutes ago, The-Acre said:

For me the epitome of luxury was when the LS400 hit our shores, and although the Lexus brand today is considered a luxury car, I don't think it ever managed to get anywhere near that very first flagship.  It was nigh on faultless, I'm not sure that could be said about anything Toyota, or anyone else for that matter have produced since.

I personally cannot complain about either LS500 or LC500, or F-cars, RX is quite nice car, GS450h was great. However, that is very niche - most of the cars sold are NX, CT, IS (I believe in this order as well) and more basic trim levels are not that "Premium". Adjusted for the times we are living in now, you probably right LS400 was unrivalled luxury back then.

@Ben01 what exactly makes Mercedes A-Class worse then CT? At least you can get A45 which is actually quite serious performance car, or from new shape model A250 and A250-4matic are certainly well above CT league. I guess my only issue with Mercedes or any German car is that everything is optional and the difference between basic model and fully loaded one is literally like different car, day and night from completely basic box to completely luxury car.

BTW - when we say Germans "mass produce cars", Lexus mass produce cars as well - it is just UK where Lexus is niche - in states they sell more then BMW or MB, significantly more then Audi. So it is not like Lexus is hand built or something... 

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28 minutes ago, Linas.P said:

I personally cannot complain about either LS500 or LC500, or F-cars, RX is quite nice car, GS450h was great. However, that is very niche - most of the cars sold are NX, CT, IS (I believe in this order as well) and more basic trim levels are not that "Premium". Adjusted for the times we are living in now, you probably right LS400 was unrivalled luxury back then.

@Ben01 what exactly makes Mercedes A-Class worse then CT? At least you can get A45 which is actually quite serious performance car, or from new shape model A250 and A250-4matic are certainly well above CT league. I guess my only issue with Mercedes or any German car is that everything is optional and the difference between basic model and fully loaded one is literally like different car, day and night from completely basic box to completely luxury car.

BTW - when we say Germans "mass produce cars", Lexus mass produce cars as well - it is just UK where Lexus is niche - in states they sell more then BMW or MB, significantly more then Audi. So it is not like Lexus is hand built or something... 

I think the lasting ability was also an important issue when the LS was introduced. I wonder how many modern Lexus models will still drive like new in 20 years time, that to me says luxury coupled with insane attention to detail.

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Don't get me wrong LS400 reliability was "something else".. however, based on Lexus track record and later models (most of which had a lot of electrical systems) I don't see any reason why LC500 wouldn't be just as good 20 years later as is LS400 nowadays. It might be right or might be wrong prediction, but there is nothing to suggest there are any issues with "lasting ability" and that is true for all cars made by Lexus to the day (less IS220d).

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Drive a new Lexus on a regular basis then test the opposition. Some people obviously don't have the chance to do this 😉

It becomes apparent what makes a premium car and Lexus are still bang up there in build quality, reliability and all round exclusiveness. 

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About first LS400, or similar - the dreams and pet projects of zylionaires (it does not matter if a person or investors or strong corpo) are IMHO totaly different in potential and possible execution, than common workhorses of manuafturing and sales (means most of our cars). Toyodas' dreams about luxury brand (Lexus) or supercar icon (LFA), Piech dream about ultimate luxury (Phaeton, next bentleys) or hypercar (Veyron), Dennis and Murray dream about perfect road car (Mclaren F1), etc etc. were always impressive and everlasting, but cost a mountain of coins, and often they are no profitable at all. On the other hand cars designed by marketing, accountants and comittees dreaming about profit only, are mediocre (in their class) all around a world, and this is normal, for toyota/lexus too.

Linas, about A klasse,  I dont compare today A classe with CT, but what was A klasse in '90 and its impact on Mercedes image, perception, etc. Lexus with CT now is not [censored] up'ed like Merc with A-klasse in '90. YET.

9 minutes ago, doog442 said:

It becomes apparent what makes a premium car and Lexus are still bang up there in build quality, reliability and all round exclusiveness.

Yeah, but they always would bang more in performance, gadgets, "emotions". And they try. The world changes, if we like it or not, the solid quality, modest apperance, eternal style, ultimate reliability Lexus succesfully tried in '90 in luxury segment are loosing badly now against "gimmie +100HP" and shouting style "expressing emotions" and "car-as-extension-for-iphone" vision.

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20 minutes ago, doog442 said:

Drive a new Lexus on a regular basis then test the opposition. Some people obviously don't have the chance to do this 😉

It becomes apparent what makes a premium car and Lexus are still bang up there in build quality, reliability and all round exclusiveness. 

Yes Lexus is still there but time does not stand still. Weak points in todayś Lexus are limited engine choice, outdated electronics ( no digital cockpits) and just a very limited range with only a couple of models. Exclusivity is there as people just dont buy the cars in droves..

I drove a new NX for a 24 hr testdrive and it is just not up there with the best of the competition, it feels old. Same for my IS300H, i like it but the competition is lighter and with a wide choice of engines more powerful and then the interior.. very well put together but no match for the best of the competition. I just dont see big improvements in engineering or even design, it just seems to float along without direction and i am afraid Lexus is loosing momentum is standing still whilst others go full speed ahead. Seen the development of the koreans? where will they be in 5 years time? Where is Skoda going? in some markets they are now seen as more premium as VW! Seen the developments at Volvo? Every new car is a hit and btw i do think Volvo could be a real threath to Lexus in Europa as they could appeal to thesame clientele.. 

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1 hour ago, dutchie01 said:

Yes Lexus is still there but time does not stand still. Weak points in todayś Lexus are limited engine choice, outdated electronics ( no digital cockpits) and just a very limited range with only a couple of models. Exclusivity is there as people just dont buy the cars in droves..

I drove a new NX for a 24 hr testdrive and it is just not up there with the best of the competition, it feels old. Same for my IS300H, i like it but the competition is lighter and with a wide choice of engines more powerful and then the interior.. very well put together but no match for the best of the competition. I just dont see big improvements in engineering or even design, it just seems to float along without direction and i am afraid Lexus is loosing momentum is standing still whilst others go full speed ahead. Seen the development of the koreans? where will they be in 5 years time? Where is Skoda going? in some markets they are now seen as more premium as VW! Seen the developments at Volvo? Every new car is a hit and btw i do think Volvo could be a real threath to Lexus in Europa as they could appeal to thesame clientele.. 

Time will tell.  I just hope Volvo improve on my V70.  With only 50k on the clock I've had more go wrong with it than any car since my early Ford's.  Not the engine and transmission or body, which are great, just the extras they add to make it "premium" which are poorly made.

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1 hour ago, Ben01 said:

"gimmie +100HP" and shouting style "expressing emotions" and "car-as-extension-for-iphone" vision.

More like "gimmie +100HP" - "look-a-like"... I really like RC, looks sporty and fast even whilst standing still, get inside and you will be disappointed, not only performance but some bits in interior as well, Lexus sat-nav requires whole different story.

@dutchie01 - I though Lexus F-sport "hybrid-mechanical/digital" classifies as type of "digital cockpit"? That is one part which I actually like in Lexus, for example BMW and MB digital dashboard are simple screens with "toy-like" graphics and makes you feel like playing on computer rather then sitting behind the wheel - not fan of those. But Lexus sat-nav/entertainment system control are arguably one of the most awkward on the market.

Volvo indeed is exactly the type of Lexus competitor - interesting, different, non-german and more exclusive and recently started making cracking cars in Lexus grassroots market - hybrids! I would be worried if I would be Lexus exec. 

From my self I would add that Lexus lacks options and in Premium segment individual options are very important e.g. with BMW or similar you can choose from 10 different wheels designs, many more interior/exterior colours + individual range, more advanced toys like 360 view camera, panoramic sunroofs, digital packs with wi-fi hot-spots etc. This is however both Lexus strong and weak point - Lexus is better equipped standard, but then looses the game on best toys when ti comes to options. My biggest issue is that Lexus generally has all those toys in house RX has 360 cameras, NX has panoramic roof and sometimes even same model has option in specific trim e.g. RC-pre 2018 had ACC/PCS and wood trim in Premier, but there were not options on F-sport, F-sport had dark rose leather seats, but they were not available on Premier! Why? Even the wheels, why not have default wheels as they are, but let Luxury, Premier and F-sport trims to order different design for extra price - why just lock each trim with specific colours and styles?! Makes no sense..

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57 minutes ago, dutchie01 said:

Weak points in today Lexus are limited engine choice

On this point I am exactly opposite, so you could  enlighten me: what is wrong with limited choice of a few good engines, or even - if there is no choice at all, if car is superb? and what is good in zylions options for a dull pathetic car? Is new LS500 worse car than any Skoda Superb, because LS500 has literaly near no option, engine especially, but top Skoda has 6 [censored] engines and 3 transsmisions w/wo AWD, who knows how many trims, and give you "a lot of choices"? Between what and what exactly? Pathetic 1.4 gas and infamous 2.0 diesel?

I don't like an illusion of choice, I like well designed and engineered cars. Old days even common but fair brands had 2-3 engines, manual or auto tranny, two-three, maybe four trim levels, and nobody was hurt. Next cheapest crappiest marques on planet Earth invented (BTW because computerised design and manufacturing make this trick relatively cheap for manufacturers) and started to play on "customer love customizing" note, because their poor ignorant customers love to feelfor a moment they have a freedom of choice of rich people. And they love to pick up "the very best solution", like engineers or designers they never were. But please, could we don't fool ourself? If somebody designs with given resources full new car, with a few options in two years, it is impossible with same resources in same time to deliver 4 "lifting" versions with zylion multiple options, in the same multi-dimensional quality.

Even if we talk on various gadgets (like Linus above) - I prefer full loaded car of course, but to the level trusted manufacturer feels complete and OK in the price tag. Not to the level of porsche, BMW or similar, "everything, and more everything, and 1000 elephants with this" - 100 options and in theory you could put them all into one car, but it cost you kazylion coins, and result car, after half a year delivery, is not reliable at all and is mostly annoying, even if twice loaded than average lexus.

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