BMW is best at high-end luxury

Rolls Royce | July 2nd, 2015 by 29
2015 rolls royce ghost series II test drive 2 750x500

Most major luxury car manufacturers, be it BMW, Mercedes-Benz or Audi, have another even more luxurious brand under their belts. BMW has Rolls Royce, Audi …

Most major luxury car manufacturers, be it BMW, Mercedes-Benz or Audi, have another even more luxurious brand under their belts. BMW has Rolls Royce, Audi has Bentley (well, technically it’s Volkswagen that owns Bentley) and Mercedes-Benz kind of has Maybach (even though Maybach has been turned into a really high-end trim package). Mercedes now even owns a large portion of Aston Martin and will be sharing various components with the British sports car company.

This got me thinking, is BMW the best at ultra high-end luxury?

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What got me thinking about this was the upcoming Aston Martin DB11. Its interior was just spied a bit and was caught using the same COMMAND controller wheel as the rest of the Mercedes lineup. That seems a bit cheesy, for the premier British sports car maker to be using interior bits stemmed from a German luxury car company that also makes taxis. I feel like it cheapens the brand a little bit and dilutes the image. Yes, it’s still an Aston Martin, but will have an engine from AMG and interior bits from Mercedes? Where’s the Aston Martin-ness? Why buy one over an AMG GT if it’s going to be mostly the same for far more money?

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Audi runs into the same issue with Bentley. The Bentley Continental GT uses the same shift gate as a B6 Audi A4.

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That’s right, the quarter-of-a-million dollar GT car from Crewe, England uses the same shift gate as a 12 year old Audi that can be bought for under $10,000. That has to be a kick in the naughty bits for anyone who just bought a Conti GT. But that’s not all, the 4.0 liter twin-turbo V8 under its hood is the exact same engine used in the Audi S6, S7 and S8. The Audi S6 costs around $70,000, and while that’s not chump change, it’s a helluva lot less than a Bentley. So why spend all of that money on a car that uses a far less expensive Audi engine, despite how good it is, and Audi trim pieces?

Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupé Waterspeed Collection 2014-07 2015-rolls-royce-ghost-series-II-test-drive-20

Admittedly, these cars are very different from their comparatively plebeian roots and BMW isn’t abstained from this either. However, BMW seems to let Rolls Royce do a lot more on its own than the others. You’d be hard pressed to find one piece of BMW gear inside of a new Rolls Royce, aside from maybe the Start/Stop button. The iDrive system may be the same, but at least Rolls has developed a new controller. None of the gauges look similar, the nav screen is placed entirely differently and even the HVAC controls are completely different. Yes, the engine and gearbox are from BMW. But the engine is from ONE other BMW, the 760Li, and that’s a very rare car in and of itself. Plus, Rolls have given the engine a once over, giving it some extra Rolls Royce-iness. The gearbox is used in even entry level BMWs, like the 320i, but it’s the same one used in pretty much every other Bentley or Aston Martin these days anyway.

The point I’m trying to make is that a Bentley’s Audi/Volkswagen roots are apparent when sitting in it and the same will go for Aston Martin. The Rolls Royce’s BMW roots are not. BMW lets Rolls do its own thing and make cars with parts bespoke to only them. So while Bentleys, Aston Martins and Lamborghinis may be incredible cars, they’re much less expensive heritage shines through despite their eye-watering price tags. And if it’s my money, I don’t want to see a 12 year old car’s shift gate in my brand new $250,000 Bentley. BMW seems to realize this better than most.

29 responses to “BMW is best at high-end luxury”

  1. Michael Christopher Frazier IV says:

    Another weird opinion piece missing real comparisons.

  2. Kaisuke971 says:

    This Article feels weird… You either do a real comparison between BMW Group’s high end cars and VW, Daimler’s ones or you don’t. Just avoid… This. It looks like propaganda, guys… Biased is not enough to describe this.

  3. davessworks says:

    Unless Daimler AG (Mercedes) has dramatically increased their ownership stake from the 5% it recently was reported to own I don’t think it’s quite right to state “Mercedes now even owns a large portion of Aston Martin”. In fact, Ford still maintains a larger stake in Aston Martin (at 8%).

    • Kaisuke971 says:

      Btw having an AMG engine is not bad considering Pagani use them

      • Of course not, just when the engine, transmission and interior bits are borrowed from Mercedes, there’s not much Aston Martin left. If just the engine, that’s great because AMG makes some pretty incredible ones, but it seems like AM might be losing some of its charm to the Germans.

        • Kaisuke971 says:

          Yeah i understand. But you kinda see the Mercedes and AM co-work like the Jaguar and Ford one. I don’t think it’s a bad thing actually… Mercedes knows what they are doing, and so does AM. The final result will be very impressive, i don’t think they will not able to balance things.
          If they borrow the finest ones, it could even be a real improvement for AM ! And with the car being hand-built (well, mostly), they will still feel different. Knowing Mercedes and AM, they will manage to make Astons feel different, and still special, in a way only an experienced eye could see the Mercedes touch.
          We saw what happened with Rolls Royce and Bentley, and it seems alright to me, they’ve really helped these brands to regain their prestige, and they now shine like in their best eras.
          So with AM which is not doing bad at all, i can’t wait to see the results :D
          Just hope the engine will sound good, because Huayra and S65… I mean… No.

          • davessworks says:

            Some of AM’s charms are more like deficits. They haven’t kept up with the electronics and control side of things.

          • Kaisuke971 says:

            I’m not sure customers really enjoy it how it does. When you buy your band new Aston martin DB9 you want it to be classy, luxurious, fast, but also practical. McLaren, Ferrari, and even Maserati are trying, so Aston Martin better keep up !

          • davessworks says:

            Very true. I follow this company very closely. I’ve in the market for a Vanquish but it’s not an easy trigger to pull right now.

          • Michael says:

            Financially AM isn’t doing well. So badly in fact that they couldnt afford to get their cars to meet regulations and had to get a crony exemption. The author’s point isn’t that sharing among brands is itself a negative but there is no justification for a Bentley to be utilizing such old equipment from such a low model Audi. As for Merc, they aren’t capable of building vehicles that feel special and haven’t been able to for more than a decade. As for engines, Merc probably produces some of the most reliable engines that exist. Bentley may be in a volume heyday but is far from the pinnacle of its prestige. The GT V8 didn’t help that too much. The point is that while other brands are sharing components to an unjustifiable extent that is akin to GM in the 80’s, BMW has given Rolls a degree of autonomy that has enabled it to utilize the best from BMW but in a way in which isn’t perceptible.

        • davessworks says:

          Don’t forget all the engines in their current models are from Ford.

        • davessworks says:

          The only fundamentally Aston Martin parts on current cars are the frame, the upholstery and the body panels, oh and the exhaust system I suppose. I took a private tour of the factory earlier this year. Fascinating.

        • Tulmax says:

          Hi Nico, in principle I would agree with you… but Kaisuke makes a very good point because AMG engines actually are very good. Besides, no one seems to consider that the Aston V12 is actually two Ford V6’s (as used in the Mondeo ST220, S and X
          type Jags) that were tuned up a bit and stuck together (tied up with some iron wire I guess) which in my mind is completely disgraceful. So anything would be better than that make over solution. Real V12s are one solid piece like Lambo, Ferrari, and… yes.. AMG!

      • davessworks says:

        Agreed.

  4. CDspeed says:

    So buying a Rolls Royce Ghost, that shares parts with the 5-Series is somehow different when Mercedes shares with Aston Martin, or when Audi shares with Bentley? The BMW 3-cylinder engine can be had in a $135,000 i8 or in a Mini Cooper, BMW says they’re dedicated to RWD but slaps FWD from a Mini into the 2-series AT. And isn’t BMW in bed with Toyota over a sports car and fail cell agreement? A German BMW running on Japanese parts from the same company that builds Lexus, who regularly talks trash about BMW. Are we really comfortable with BMW having a sports car that has parts that are related to Toyota, and Lexus? In the end though I like your articles when you think outside the box Nico, it’s fun, not so serious but thought provoking.👍🏼

    • That’s what I’m here for :)

    • davessworks says:

      You have to understand the immense amount of R&D that is brought to bear on advancing automotive technology. The VW group (Ducati, VW, Audi, Bugatti, Skoda, Bentley, Porsche, Lamborghini, MAN, Scania and Neoplan) has the largest R&D budget of all companies in Europe. There’s quite simply no way that a company like Aston Martin can manage without collaborating and sourcing major components such as the drive train, from larger companies.
      Frankly I think Nico has rather missed the point (sorry Nico). You should hear some Aston Martin owners whine about how some year model cars have the Volvo logo stamped into the door hinges (not the best managed sharing of components but nonetheless common place and necessary for the last 20 plus years). And a BMW engine being shared between a MINI and a BMW? Of course. The cost to develop these high performance high efficiency engines necessitates this to recoup the investment costs.

      • Michael says:

        You missed the point. It’s not bad for companies to share tech but when your 170,000USD AM begins to share components that are just visibly yanked from your run of the mill Merc taxi, it’s gone too far.

        • davessworks says:

          I’ve got an idea. When the DB11 is actually released, you point to the components that have obviously been yanked from a taxi and then let’s talk.

      • CDspeed says:

        I do have some understanding, though not being in the industry I will probably never fully grasp it. But do all articles have to be perfect, I like it when an enthusiast throws out an idea, and leaves it open to discussion. It’s the articles where someone is hiding their bias in facts that aren’t correct, but presents it as truth that you have to watch out for. Nico’s articles when he’s expressing an idea, are open ideas with no hidden bias, it’s just out there. So discus, not criticize, I jumped in thinking about how and where BMW shares components, so that’s me getting in on the conversation.

    • Michael says:

      At least it’s the from current 5 and just retired 7 and not an Audi from 2 generations ago.

      • CDspeed says:

        If it isn’t broken why fix it? Maybe these components worked well, and kept them from having to spend more on development, and it’s not like they’re taking them off old Audis. It has happened where some part of certain cars goes on through several generations because they work well, and save development money.

  5. Kaisuke971 says:

    Btw i’m surprised how you didn’t mention that the Continental GT and the Flying Spur ride on the same platform as the VW Phaeton, and that the upcoming Bentayga will do so with the Touareg’s chassis (just like does the Cayenne).

  6. joseph_rma says:

    Rolls definitely does the best job making these ultra expensive hand-bulit machines. It’s direct competitor Bentley too much depends on Volkswagen’s decisions, and while it has a little cheaper basic models, again because of Volkswagen, Rolls is more exclusive. Rolls is Rolls and no more words about that.
    Aston Martin is prestigious British brand which I appreciate much. It has some financial troubles and because of that it’s hard for them to develop a new architecture for future models. There Mercedes jumps in with it’s stakes and parts. You already have argued what is better for Aston Martin, so I won’t trashing words on that one. I would just like Aston Martin to be independent brand, which makes exclusive sports cars, when they overcome “hard” days, without too much “help” of other brands.

  7. Tung says:

    The new Roll will be perfect without the Chrysler inspired headlamp design

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