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Auto blogThu, 11 Jul 2013
If you want the best experience possible when buying a new car, then you'd better head down to your local Mercedes-Benz, Infiniti, or Lexus showroom. According a mystery shopper study conducted by the Pied Piper Prospect Satisfaction Index, those three luxury brands ranked highest among the 33 makes surveyed. The highest scoring mainstream brands included GMC, Hyundai, Kia, and Ford.
The study asked 5,203 mystery shoppers about the tactics used by salespeople during their most recent automotive purchases, and found a few interesting parallels along the way. For example, dealers at Infiniti, Land Rover, and Smart leaned heavily on vehicle walk-arounds with potential customers, while Jaguar, Volvo, and Audi were quick to point out exclusive features.
This study contrasts with a similar study conducted by JD Power in 2012. Its Sales Satisfaction Survey listed Mini as the top scorer, while Pied Piper's mystery shoppers ranked the BMW-owned brand below the industry average. Lexus scored highly on both surveys, as did Infiniti and GMC.
Lexus is evidently dead serious about removing some of the starch from its collar, as evidenced by the boldly styled new IS sedan just unveiled here at the Detroit Auto Show. We didn't know what to make of Lexus' entry-level sport sedan when we first saw images of it earlier this week. Dominated by the gaping maw of a spindle grille and flanked by headlamps with Nike swoosh daytime running lamps, the photos showed a distinctive (if not completely cohesive) design. Having now seen the design in the metal, we have to admit it comes together better than it does on screen.
The new model will feature both rear- and all-wheel drive models in both 2.5-liter V6 (IS250) and 3.5-liter V6 (IS350) trims. Lexus also showed an IS300h hybrid model at the reveal, but it is earmarked for Lexus' home market of Japan, along with Europe and other markets. No word yet on why the model probably won't be sold here in North America, but our AutoblogGreen compatriots are looking into it.
Aside from its bold new look front and rear, the IS carries forward a lot of the ideas seen in other newer Lexus models, namely the GS. Hidden beneath the IS' sheetmetal is the multilink rear suspension from the GS, along with its electric power steering setup. The new IS rides atop a three-inch longer wheelbase for better rear seat room, but during our brief time sitting in the car at the press conference melee, it still didn't feel terribly roomy (it rarely does in this class). At least the seatbacks fold 60/40 for the first time for additional utility.
"In the future, out of 100 customers, we want to excite ten of them instead of not offending all 100."
Almost all of the details about the Toyota New Group Architecture (TNGA) strategy have come out since the initiative was first reported on in March of this year, but Autoblog did learn a few new things about it on a recent trip to Japan. Probably the second-most important detail is that each new segment platform will be based around a common hip point to create an "optimal driving position architecture."