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First Drive: 2010 Maybach Zeppelin

For $500,000 you can smell as sweet as a rose.

by on Oct.14, 2009

There'll only be 100 copies made of the 2010 Maybach Zeppelin, which will cost between $450,000 and $605,000.

The Maybach Zeppelin will cost between $450,000 and $605,500. The crystal perfume atomizer is standard, but the iPod cable isn't.

The rich, it’s often said, are different from you and me.  That goes for their cars, as well.  How do you justify spending half a million dollars for an automobile?  Is it the exclusivity?  The unique features?  The cavernous cabins, the horsepower…or something else entirely?

The folks at Maybach have, at various times, argued “all of the above,” when justifying the price tag on their various models, which start at $358,000 for the “base” Maybach 57 sedan, and run all the way up to $1.4 million for the Landaulet, the most exclusive offering for this most exclusive of brands. Now, they’re adding the 2010 Zeppelin, which is just going into a limited production run.

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To get a better sense of the marque’s appeal, we headed over to the lush French Cote d’Azure to spend a few days at the Chateau Saint Martin with an assembly of current and former Maybach owners, and to get a chance to drive the brand’s newest offering.

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Can Maybach Survive?

Despite slump, Daimler claims ultra-lux brand makes money.

by on Oct.14, 2009

Have ultra-luxury cars, like the $500,000 Maybach Zeppelin, lost their cache during this era of frugality?

Have ultra-luxury cars, like the $500,000 Maybach Zeppelin, lost their cache during this era of frugality?

Eight years after the launch of its ultra-luxurious Maybach brand, can Daimler AG afford to keep the lesser-known competitor to Rolls-Royce and Bentley going?

Sales of the super-premium brand have been steadily declining, since shortly after Maybach made its debut, in the 2003 model-year, leading more than a few industry analysts to speculate about its long-term viability.

Company insiders point to the launch of the new 2010 Maybach Zeppelin as a sign of their commitment to the brand, and insist that despite its modest volumes, the premium marque is delivering cash to Daimler’s bottom line.  But whether the company is willing to keep the Maybach brand going indefinitely is a question that is left hanging.

It's Still a Luxury, Though the Subscription is Free!

It's Still a Luxury, Though the Subscription is Free!

It’s been a difficult time for virtually all high-line luxury automakers Maybach officials won’t release sales data for the current year, but they acknowledge that volumes have been on the slide since their record of 500 cars sold shortly after launch.  By 2007 that was down to 400 and, last year, the number tumbled to 300.  But as global brand manager Patrick Marinoff wass quick to point out, Maybach isn’t unique.  Bentley, for example, is likely to finish the year off as much as 40% from its 2007 peak of more than 10,000 vehicles.

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First Look: 2010 Jaguar XJ

Redesigning an icon.

by on Aug.14, 2009

No more playing it safe.  After 40 years, Jaguar is betting it's time for an all-new look for the 2010 XJ sedan.

No more playing it safe. After 40 years, the British maker is betting it's time for an all-new look for the 2010 Jaguar XJ sedan.

Sometimes you just have to start all over again.

That’s a lesson Jaguar learned after the launch of its “all-new” XJ sedan, for 2004.  The flagship saloon car boasted plenty of positive attributes, including a lightweight aluminum chassis, but visually, it looked almost identical to the model it replaced – and fell flat in the competitive premium luxury segment.

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Your automotive source!

The British marque isn’t making that mistake again, not with the upcoming launch of the 2010 Jaguar XJ, which you’re seeing here for the first time.  The new car is more than a flagship for Jaguar, it is an industry icon that could determine the success of a brand that has gone through some radical changes in recent years.

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Cadillac Reveals XTS4 and ATS

Automaker expanding the product envelope.

by on Aug.11, 2009

Carol Browner (right) director of the Office of Energy and Climate Change listens as General Motors Vice President Global Design Ed Welburn gives her a tour of the Cadillac Converj electric luxury coupe.

Carol Browner (right) director of the Office of Energy and Climate Change listens as GM Vice President Global Design Ed Welburn gives her a tour of the Cadillac Converj electric luxury coupe.

Cadillac officials have confirmed plans to add a pair of new products that will expand the brand at its extremes.

The news came at an unusual background briefing as General Motors officials pulled the wraps off a wide variety of future product programs going out to 2011, including two new Caddy models tentatively dubbed the ATS and the XTS4.  They’re a critical part of what the division’s new general manager, Bryan Nesbitt, described as the “reinvention of Cadillac.”

The XTS4 is the much-needed replacement for two existing products, the slow-selling STS and DTS models.  Vaguely reminiscent of the heralded Cadillac Sixteen concept vehicle, the XTS4 will target top-line premium luxury competitors, such as the BMW 7-Series and the Mercedes-Benz S-Class.

The ATS, on the other hand, will slot in below Cadillac’s current entry model, the CTS, and take aim at models like the BMW 3-Series, Audi A4 and Lexus IS.

“The 3-Series is BMW’s bread-and-butter,” noted Nesbitt, in a conversation with TheDetroitBureau.com, and “We’d like to think” the ATS could become the best-seller for Cadillac, once it hits market.

Cadillac of course has tried to enter this market before with the Chevrolet Cavalier-derived Cimarron, and the Opel Omega derived Catera. Now, presumably it will use a compact Opel platform once again for its latest attempt to stop a decades long decline in sales and reputation.

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