Why brands shouldn’t waste their money on changing their image

VW_GTI_CDMI’ve worked in the automotive industry for 20 years and since 2006, I’ve been reviewing cars and providing recommendations. I recently had a conversation with a friend who is in the market for a new car. I’ve been helping her buy new cars for 15 years so I know her well. She’s single, 39 years old, highly-educated, professional with a well-paying job and has an active lifestyle. Back in 2008, I recommended the Audi A4. She loved it so much that she leased another one in 2011, but now doesn’t want to lease a thrid one. I recently reviewed the Audi A3 2.0T and initially thought it might be a good fit for her since it’s smaller and more affordable, but the conversation quickly turned to brands and I was surprised how close-minded she was about Lexus or Mercedes-Benz, two luxury brands who have spent millions introducing new product to attract younger buyers. Yes, 39 in the luxury car business is a younger buyer since the average age of most luxury brands is almost 60. 

Friend: Going to go test drive the A3 soon. Would you go with regular 2.0 engine or TDI? Any big benefit to the TDI? Sorry for all the questions – just figured you’ll know more than anyone else.

Me: I had a $34,000 A3 a few weeks ago with the 1.8T and was so disappointed. By comparison, the $30,000 VW GTI I reviewed had more equipment, drove better, was more advanced, more spacious and considerably faster.

You still want to drive a sedan? Aren’t you ready for hatchback or small crossover yet? Especially if your parents come to visit. Just thinking might be time to try something different, maybe even a coupe. Do you ever use that backseat?

Don’t laugh, but the Lexus NX is made for you. So sporty, practical and I’d recommend you buy it, drive it for 5 years then sell it at 50% residual. It’s tailor-made for you, but not available until November. Here’s my video on it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TW27k2M_VdU&list=UUhTkBvbzBN1RvlUDjuYvr-w

Friend: You were just telling me recently how much I would love the A3 were you not?  I thought you drove it and thought it was great? What was different about that one?  I don’t necessarily want to drive a sedan but I kind of need the back seat space due to client meetings, and I prefer how they handle to SUVs or Crossovers. Plus yes I do use the backseat.  That being said I did think the Q3 looked pretty nice online. But I haven’t seen it in person yet – will be going to the dealership soon.

I’d much rather have a coupe (and still love the TT even though it hasn’t been completely remodeled yet) but I don’t think I can do a 2-seater.  It’s been in the back of my mind though. I may look at one of the coupes. Definitely don’t want a Lexus – I really don’t like the brand overall.

I love that line about how much better sedans handle than crossovers, especially from someone who commutes on the freeway to work and rund errands in Orange County at nights and weekends. One of my biggest issues with the cars people buy is that most buy too much car or buy a car for the wrong reason.

Me: Open your mind. Lexus is getting younger. Styling is more aggressive. You watch the video?

When I drove that A3, it was the 2.0T Quattro and pretty loaded. It was closer to $40K. Didn’t think a $34K 1.8T FWD would be such a letdown, but it was.

TT is not practical as your only car. Don’t mess with it. Q3 is Audi’s version of the BMW X1 or Mercedes-Benz GLA and would make a lot of sense for you.

You’re so funny. You like Audi, but won’t consider VW. It’s the same car, same company. Jacque had a Passat and hated it and won’t consider another VW, but loves Audi. There must be some magic potion in those cars that makes females get excited. It’s VW’s luxury division!

Friend:  I never said I wouldn’t consider a VW – I just haven’t yet.  I’ll take a look at them. I just prefer Audi’s styling. Will do some more research. No Lexus for me. Still doesn’t speak to me at all.  Good video though. I’ll look at the VWs and Audis..I just really like the brand!

Me:  I’m a bit surprised at your comment about how sedans handle vs Crossovers. You live in So Cal. You drive on the 405 to work. When was the last time you pushed your A4 to the limits? I’m not being a smartass or trying to be condescending, but you sound like many of my viewers on YouTube. I’m just saying that 99.9% of people in America don’t utilize their vehicle’s potential. The Honda Accord V6 has almost 280 horsepower and handles unbelievably well…..on the track. If you’re talking about sound deadening, leather and wood, well that’s more about the appearance and appointments than how the car drives. The VW GTI “drives” better than most $40,000+ sedans, but people view it as a kid’s car. Not many kids can afford a $28K anything.

Honestly, if I were you, I’d just buy a Porsche Macan and keep it for 10 years. It has 340hp. It looks good. It’s practical. It’s German. Has great resale value. And I will guarantee it will out handle and out drive any sedan under $50K. 

I’m really just trying to help. So glad I still have my ’99 Land Cruiser after driving over 600 cars in the past 8 years. For me, it’s about comfort and reliability.

Good luck and let me know if I can help.

Friend:  First, I haven’t driven that many crossovers, I just like the way compact sedans feel vs crossovers – I like smaller vehicles.  But I was willing to consider a crossover, that’s why I mentioned the Q3.  And you didn’t seem that enthused about it!  I drove a Q5 briefly and that was nice but definitely too big.   I’m not claiming that I use my A4 to its potential but I do like it’s capabilities on the freeway (without traffic) and there is a noticeable difference to other vehicles I have driven.  This is all subjective and I recognize that.  But I like being able to drive it fast and feel good about how it feels.  I’ve driven a lot of different brands and so far really, really like how Audis drive, and their styling. But I don’t really want another A4 so I’m trying to find another option.

I will never drive a Honda because I just don’t like the brand – just my opinion! Subjective, like I said.  I know you love the GTI and I’m sure it’s a great car but to me it’s a guy car, and a young guy at that.  Not me at all, styling wise. I don’t care for MB or Lexus.  I would love a Porsche Macan (or any Porsche) but I’m not spending that kind of money on a car. That thing starts at $50k!   If you know of better options let me know. I’m open to ideas, I just so far haven’t found anything that’s really calling to me, and I need to turn in my lease so I need to figure it out. BTW you didn’t answer my question about TDI vs regular engine if I do go with the Audi.  Any thoughts on that? Thanks for the insight.

The bottom line is that when people watch my videos or read my reviews, 90% have already purchased that vehicle or have already made up their minds to purchase that vehicle and are looking for validation

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