Compact executive car

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The 2012 BMW 328i 4-door sedan is one example of a compact executive car

Compact executive car is a car classification term applied to premium cars smaller than executive cars. In European classification, compact and subcompact executive cars are part of the D-segment. In North American terms, close equivalents are "compact premium car", "compact luxury car",[1] "entry-level luxury car" and "near-luxury car".[2] Compact executive cars are usually available in saloon, estate, coupé, and cabriolet body styles.

Most entry-level luxury cars are part of D-segment, but some cars like the Ford Taurus, Lincoln MKZ, Buick LaCrosse, Hyundai Azera, Hyundai Genesis, Acura TL and Toyota Avalon are part of E and F-segments despite the prices of D-segment premium and V6 mid-size cars.

History in the United States[edit]

The modern version of this market segment was successfully established in 1950 when "the Nash Rambler was deliberately conceived as a luxury compact rather than an austerity model" and available only as a convertible, with hardtop (no "B-pillar") and station wagon and models added in 1951.[3] By 1959, sales of European small cars and American Motors' Rambler "exploded" with many their buyers having above-average incomes leading commentators to describe "cultural motives behind their preferences" including the owners' "unconcern for symbols of success and importance that testified to the possession of the real thing."[4] Long-time president, chairman, and CEO of General Motors, Alfred P. Sloan, described the rising demand for compact cars was not motivated by economy, but "was essentially a further expression of the customer's desire for variety."[4] By the early-1960s, the market for smaller, more economical cars, "but with more comfort, looks, and luxury" than ordinary compact cars included, among others, the Mercury Comet featuring style and interiors that "sparkle with most of the glamour Americans are accustomed to in their bigger cars."[5] During the late-1960s, buyer preferences fragmented the market, moving to intermediates, personal/specialty, and all-out luxury cars, while the demand slowed for traditional large cars.[6] Increasing fuel prices and competition pushed AMC to "exploit special market segments left untended by the giants.[7] In 1978, "AMC introduced its new Concord luxury compact"[8] "represent[ing] an upgraded, more luxurious, more comfortable, more silent, more opulent automobile."[9] Cadillac continued its sales leadership in the premium market by making changes with the market and introduced the 1982 Cadillac Cimarron, a luxury version of the compact GM J platform.[10] The Cimarron helped to boost the automaker's Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE), but its badge engineering of a front-drive, high-mileage model was evaluated as a low-value proposition in contrast to historic Cadillac luxury.[11]

The 2013 Cadillac ATS 4-door sedan is aimed toward status conscious buyers in North America and China

Today, automakers are responding to changes in the marketplace and in the "mind-set" of consumers looking for status on a budget.[12] Traditional "luxury car makers are gearing up to offer small models that will test whether affluent U.S. car buyers are ready to concede that bigger isn't always better."[13] Facing higher fuel costs and traffic, changes are sweeping through the luxury car market and "Americans are beginning to catch up with global trends."[14]

History in Europe[edit]

Individual markets may also define the particular automobiles that are marketed or perceived to be within the "executive" class.

BMW started its 3 Series in 1975. Nowadays BMW has three compact executive/entry-level luxury models: 1 Series, 2 series and 3 Series. In 1983 Mercedes Benz introduced its 190E "compact executive car.".[15] Contemporary Mercedes-Benz compact executive automobiles are C-class and Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class. Audi introduced its first compact executive automobile at 1966. It was succeeded by Audi 80 at 1972. Contemporary Audi's compact executive models are A3, A4 and A5. The Swedish brand Volvo have such compact executive automobiles as 850, S70 and nowadays Volvo S60. Compact executive models of the second Swedish marque Saab: 99, 90, 900 and contemporary 9-3. The Italian brands Lancia and Alfa Romeo also have compact executive models: Lancia Delta, outdated Alfa Romeo 75, Alfa Romeo 155, 156 and contemporary 159. From 1957 to 1965, BMC offered its luxury compact automobile Wolseley 1500 and Riley 1.5.

History in Japan[edit]

The Japanese luxury automobile market is rather younger than European and American. There are three main premium car brands in Japan: Lexus, Infiniti and Acura which were established at the 1980s and became popular in the US and Europe. The examples of the Japanese compact executive automobiles are Lexus IS, Lexus CT, Infiniti G, Acura CSX, Acura TSX, Acura ILX.

Characteristics[edit]

Dimensionally, compact executive cars are smaller than mid-size/large family cars, and sometimes even smaller than compact cars. Mass market compact cars typically use the economical front wheel drive transverse engine layout, well suited to the inline-4 engine, which also maximizes interior room.[16] Several compact executive cars are rear-wheel drive with longitudinal engines, for improved stability and handling,[16] and in order to accommodate the larger size of higher-performance engines (straight-6, V6, rarely V8), with four-wheel drive often being available.[1] Compact executive cars also tend have more complicated independent suspensions, sportier transmissions, and high revolution engines that may require premium gasoline. The more complex powertrain and mechanical layouts of compact executive cars comes at increased cost and reduced interior passenger and trunk space.

Compact executive cars usually offer the buyer less equipment, interior room or engine horsepower for the money, compared to mass market (non-luxury) cars.[citation needed] However, the material and building quality is higher, there are exclusive features not found on mass market cars, there is better handling and performance, and the nameplate itself is part of the value proposition.[1] Recently, the entry-level luxury segment has been very competitive, and there has been price-overlapping with well-equipped non-luxury cars.[17][18] Today, many compact executive cars particularly emphasize sporty handling.[19][20] This category of vehicle is crucial to luxury marque BMW; BMW 3 Series accounts for up to 40% of the vehicles that BMW sells worldwide.[21]

The Citroën DS5 is an example of a compact executive car from the new premium (Luxury vehicle) sub-brand DS of the French automaker Citroën. The DS5 mixes hatchback and estate styling resembling a shooting-brake.[citation needed]

Other vehicles such as the Lexus ES, Acura TL, Acura TSX, and Chrysler 300 are also considered entry-level luxury in the United States and Canada, being similar in price to the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class.[22] However, the ES and TL are not sold in Europe and do not fall under European luxury classifications. The ES and TL actually began as badge engineered versions of the midsize Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, respectively, retaining the front wheel drive transverse engine layout platform with mass-market cars. The ES and TL are not considered executive cars either, despite similar dimensions, since executive cars usually emphasize higher performance, often being rear-wheel drive with longitudinal engines (the Chrysler 300 and 300C are examples).[19][20] The present iterations of the ES and LaCrosse emphasize "comfortable, reasonably priced luxury",[23] while the TL has recently been targeted at the entry-level luxury sport market.[22]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Cotta, Rick (2008-10-30). "The Consumer Guide to 2008 Premium Compact Cars". Consumer Guide Automotive. Retrieved 2012-04-25. [dead link]
  2. ^ "Best Upscale Midsize Cars - Best Cars & Trucks". U.S. News Rankings and Reviews. Retrieved 10 January 2014. 
  3. ^ Stevenson, Heon (2008). American automobile advertising, 1930-1980: an illustrated history. McFarland. p. 220. ISBN 9780786436859. Retrieved 10 January 2014. 
  4. ^ a b Gartman, David (1994). Auto opium: a social history of American automobile design. Routledge. p. 170. ISBN 9780415105712. Retrieved 10 January 2014. 
  5. ^ Fermoyle, Ken (March 1960). "Comet: Ford's not-quite-so-compact car". Popular Science 176 (2): 118–120. Retrieved 10 January 2014. 
  6. ^ "Family cars: The '69 cars". Popular Mechanics 130 (4): 99. October 1968. Retrieved 10 January 2014. 
  7. ^ "Turnaround at American Motors". Fortune 100: 66–80. 1979. 
  8. ^ Automobile club d'Italia (1978). World Cars 1978. Herald Books. p. 72. ISBN 9780910714105. Retrieved 10 January 2014. 
  9. ^ Lamm, Michael (May 1978). "PM owners report: American Motors Concord". Popular Mechanics 149 (5): 124. Retrieved 10 January 2014. 
  10. ^ Auto Editors of Consumer Guide (26 March 2007). "1980-1989 Cadillac". auto.howstuffworks.com. Retrieved 10 January 2014. 
  11. ^ Lanning, Mike (2000). Delivering Profitable Value: A Revolutionary Framework to Accelerate Growth, Generate Wealth, and Rediscover the Heart of Business. Basic Books. pp. 184–185. ISBN 9780738201627. Retrieved 10 January 2014. 
  12. ^ White, Joseph B. (14 April 2012). "The 'Near Luxury' Car Buyer, Myth or Reality?". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 10 January 2014. 
  13. ^ White, Joseph B. (12 January 2012). "Luxury Car Makers Think Small". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 10 January 2014. 
  14. ^ Eisenstein, Paul A. (24 January 2012). "For many luxury car buyers, small is now beautiful". msnbc.com. Archived from the original on 2 May 2012. Retrieved 10 January 2014. 
  15. ^ Car: The Definitive Visual History of the Automobile. DK Publishing. 2011. p. 15. ISBN 9780756689384. Retrieved 2012-0509-09. 
  16. ^ a b "Benefits of Rear Wheel Drive". Rearwheeldrive.org. Retrieved 10 January 2014. 
  17. ^ "How Mercedes got its groove back". Financialpost.com. 2009-06-06. Retrieved 2009-09-10. [dead link]
  18. ^ Van, Nicolas (2009-06-04). "Luxury makers smash August sales records in Canada". Ottawtizen.com. Retrieved 2009-09-10. [dead link]
  19. ^ a b "2010 Buick LaCrosse CXS vs. 2009 Lexus ES 350 Comparison Test and Video on Inside Line". Edmunds.com. 2009-08-30. Retrieved 2009-09-14. [dead link]
  20. ^ a b "Test Drive: 2009 BMW 328i xDrive". Autos Canada. 9 September 2009. Retrieved 10 January 2014. 
  21. ^ Williams, Paul (17 February 2005). "Retrospective: BMW 3 Series". Autos Canada. Retrieved 10 January 2014. 
  22. ^ a b Bedard, Patrick (June 2009). "2009 Infiniti G37 vs. BMW 328i, Audi A4, and Acura TL- Comparison Tests". Caranddriver.com. Retrieved 10 January 2014. 
  23. ^ "2010 Buick LaCrosse vs. 2009 Lexus ES 350 Comparison Test". chiangmaicarhire.com. 2014-07-31. Retrieved 2009-10-20.