Thursday, November 19, 2009

Confident or Sporty, Pick One

I'm currently working on a consulting project for a client that is introducing a brand new entry into what we call the Near Luxury segment. You might know this class as the cars getting whooped by the BMW 3-Series for the past several years.

In the info we got from the manufacturer, it turns out that, while there is a sport suspension option on this car, it is not available with all-wheel drive. I was all set to point out the foolishness in this setup to the client, when I dug into the issue and found out that for rear-drive based entries in this segment, this is pretty much universally true. In fact, the Infiniti G37x coupe that I recently drove lacked paddle shifters because they are only available on the sport package. BMW offers a sport package, but on the AWD models it omits the suspension upgrade. You're out of luck with Mercedes and Lexus, too.

It makes me feel a bit left out, since, quite honestly, if I were to buy a car in this class, I'd want both. I'm actually right in the wheelhouse for this segment, and it's possible my next car will hail from it. Why should I suffer if I want the security of AWD for the snowy Michigan winters, during which I actually change my tires, and the fun of a sport suspension for when I visit Grattan for some laps?

I discussed this with a co-worker, and he insisted that our client should be building cars for the larger market, not me. He's got an excellent point, but it still saddens me. If anyone has feedback on this, though, please comment, since I still feel like the combination works. Do you think they're making a mistake? Do you happen to have inside info that generally AWD on rear-drive platforms is not compatible with the decreased compliance of a sport suspension? Sound off!


mcniadh said...

How about the R32-34 generation Nissan Skylines? The base models were RWD only, while the GT-R were AWD only. In the 1990s JDM, they were still in the near-luxury segment rather than halo supercar of today.

The only other example I could think of is the Holden HSV Coupe 4 version of the base RWD Holden Monaro. I can't think of any USDM examples though, and maybe that's the problem.

Steven said...
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Adena said...

Well, I agree, I think it'd be nice to have both.

As you know, I really don't know much about cars, their options, or how they determine what the "larger market" wants. But, I wonder, what if the "larger market" is for both? It appears it's not an option that is currently available, perhaps that's because car makers haven't given consumers the choice? Clearly at least two of us think it should be, what if others do as well?