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Cars: Affordable Luxury

Paul A. Eisenstein
From the Print Edition:
Rudy Giuliani, Nov/Dec 01

(continued from page 3)

Even the most avid proponents admit this is a risky strategy, especially since Cadillac plans to redo its entire lineup in the Art & Science mold by mid-decade. CTS will be going up against some of the toughest competition in the auto industry. If the new sedan succeeds, it well may set in motion the GM division's long-awaited revival. If CTS flops, Cadillac's future will be uncertain at best.

The CTS, by the way, will be loaded with an assortment of high-tech features, including an expanded version of the OnStar system. It will offer, among other things, real-time traffic alerts. In-car Internet access is likely to be added. Considering the affordable luxury segment is dominated by young, tech-savvy buyers, such features are becoming as important as wood and leather. The new Jaguar X-Type's climate control, audio and navigation systems can be operated from its touch-screen video display or by voice control. It's the most sophisticated system on any model in the Jaguar lineup. Audi, meanwhile, chose the A4 to debut its new CVT, which will eventually migrate only to the marque's more expensive models.

The bottom line, notes Jacobs, is that the affordable luxury segment offers surprisingly high value -- higher than many top-line models. In Jaguar's case, O'Driscoll admits that this could lead some potential customers to downgrade, from the more expensive S-Type to the new X-Type. The better these products get, the more the substitution. So that's going to raise the bar for the next generation of high-line vehicles, such as the Jaguar XJ, the BMW 5-Series and the Mercedes S-Class. To remain competitive, these offerings will need more than just a fancy hood ornament. They'll have to define the cutting edge of automotive refinement, design and technology. Otherwise, why would you spend the extra money?

Paul A. Eisenstein publishes the auto e-zine, The Car Connection,

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