Luxury Car Hot List: Second Quarter 2007

. Sunday, October 21, 2007
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ForbesAutos Top 10 Lists

Luxury Car Hot List: Second Quarter 2007
BMW and Mercedes-Benz models are the most sought after, according to ForbesAutos second-quarter data.
by Jim Henry
Despite steady improvements by American automakers and increasingly competitive Japanese models, German cars still dominate luxury-car shopper's lists. BMW and Mercedes-Benz account for eight of the top 10 luxury and high-interest models that users researched on the site during the second quarter.

"This is the cream of the luxury crop," said George Magliano, director, North American auto industry research for Global Insight, New York. "It's a German-oriented list, but that's the nature of the beast, at this end of the market."

No. 1 on the second-quarter list was the flagship Mercedes-Benz S-Class, which was redesigned last year. Its chief rival, the BMW 7 Series, was No. 3. In between was the slightly smaller and sportier BMW 5 Series.

"Properly bought, these cars are not necessarily all that expensive to own," said Jim Hall, the Southfield, Mich.-based VP of industry analysis for AutoPacific in Tustin, Calif. "The concept is, you get value out of an $80,000 to $90,000 car that holds its value, you get the mileage out of it, and if it fits in with your ownership cycle, it can be a pretty sensible way to buy a car.".

At the entry-level end of the luxury spectrum, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, the BMW 3 Series and the Acura TL popped up in the top 10.

"The C-Class is brand-new, that's got to account for some of the interest," said Wes Brown, one of the principals for Iceology, a research and consulting firm in Los Angeles.

Mercedes-Benz fans have been aware for months that the company launches a redesigned C-Class starting in August.

The TL was the one non-German model on the Top 10 list. That's good news for Acura, which has been laboring for years to position itself as true luxury brand, as opposed to a fancier Honda.
"That would make them extremely happy, to nose your way in between the Mercedeses and the BMWs," Magliano said.

Hall pointed out that BMW has kept up a drumbeat of marketing and advertising to support the 3 Series. The sedan was last redesigned in 2005, but BMW's usual practice is to add different body styles and engines to keep interest fresh.

"They do not 'launch 'em and leave 'em' — that's been a strength of BMW. They launch it, and then they never stop launching it, by the time another re-freshening comes along," Hall said.

For the 2007 model year, the 3 Series got BMW's first turbocharged engines since the 1970s, and the convertible model received the company's first folding hardtop.
Light trucks are conspicuous by their absence on the top 10 list. The luxury segment is not as truck-heavy as the rest of the market, but light trucks account for more than one-quarter of luxury-brand sales, so you would expect to see more trucks on the list besides the BMW X5, at No. 10.
Click here to see a slideshow of the second quarter 2007 Luxury Car Hot List.
Editor's note: Due to changes in the way we gather data for our top 10 quarterly shopper favorites, comparisons with previous lists aren't possible. Starting with the next quarter, we will resume comparisons.