Report from Detroit: German Auto Makers Attack Both Ends of Luxury Market

By Christian Stampfer on 15 January 2013
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The BMW M6 Gran Coupé

The BMW M6 Gran Coupé

DETROIT—German automakers announced plans to target both ends of the luxury market by launching new, lower-priced entry-level models which target first-time and less affluent buyers, as well as introducing high-end models.

On Monday, the first day of the 2013 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan, BMW announced the BMW 320i, a new version of its top-selling sports sedan.  The 320i will be priced at $4,000 less than the BMW 328i, currently the least expensive 3er at $37,000.  On the eve of the show, Mercedes-Benz introduced the CLA-Class, a new entry-level sedan below the C-Class and priced just below $30,000.  Next year, Audi will release a new A3, which will be less expensive than Mercedes’ CLA.

While these three vehicles represent the German car industry’s designs on lowering the barrier to entry and putting them in more direct competition with products from Ford, General Motors, and Toyota, this is only half the story.

The two Bavarian carmakers, Audi and BMW, unveiled the sports versions of their four-door coupés. The BMW M6 Gran Coupé and the Audi RS 7 Sportback come standard with  V-8 gasoline engines that develops more than 500 hp. Both models will face strong competition from the Mercedes-Benz CLS 63 AMG, which has been available since 2012.

Audi RS 7 Sportback

Audi RS 7 Sportback

Meanwhile, Zuffenhausen-based Porsche premiered the latest addition to the Cayenne family, the Porsche Cayenne Turbo S. The new SUV is the top model in the Cayenne line with an engine that develops 550 hp (405 kW).  It accelerates from zero to 62 mph (0-100 km/h) in 4.3 seconds, has a maximum speed of 175 mph (280 km/h) and it will cost $146,975 including destination charges.

Audi also introduced the SQ5 3.0 TFSI. The new Q was specially designed for the U.S. market and is the new top model in the Q5 line-up.

(Photos: Accura Media Group)

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