Among the many things which I like to do when in the Phoenix area, is to visit the array of car showrooms in the North Scottsdale area that surround the Penske Racing Museum. I am far from alone in putting this on the “things to do” list, by all accounts, as the sales staff in each of the different marques’ display areas are well used to the fact that quite a lot of people who come through their doors have no purchase in mind. This being America, though, they are far from rude or dismissive, with many only too happy to engage in conversation such that, unless they are busy, it can almost be difficult to get away yourself! I managed to include a visit on my last of the most recent (March/April 2014) trip, to have a close inspection of what was on show, and here is what I found:
I really struggle to like Acura. The styling of all their recent cars, whilst toned down a little from a few years back appears almost wilfully ugly. Sales volumes have, I would hope, taught them that abonimations like the ZDX, just don’t sell at all (it has now been put out to pasture having sold fewer than 8000 units in total, a complete and unmitigated disaster despite what the Acura PR spin may try to tell you ) and that if they want to be different, they need to find a better of doing it than with what they have recently attempted. The latest range were all on show, but I did not linger long, as I walked past. The TSX and TL will both be replaced later this year by the new TLX car.
The smaller ILX model is based on the American Civic, and is selling relatively well in Canada, but struggling somewhat to find buyers in America.
It is the CUV models which really keep Acura alive. Both the RDX and larger MDX have been refreshed in the past year or so, and both were much in evidence here.
Aston have quite a number of different models in their range these days, and there were examples of all of them on show: V8/V12 Vantage, DB9, Vanquish and Rapide.
Most recent arrival in Audi’s US range is the A3, offered in saloon guise only for now, until the Cabrio hits the market later in the year, unless you want the hybrid only 5 door hatch. An array of these cars were parked up outside, having just reached the dealership.
The A4 and A5 are now the oldest model in the range and the replacements will start to appear some time in 2015, we are told. The A5 Sportback is not sold in the US, but they do get, albeit with a reduced choice of engines, the other body styles which are familiar to Europeans.
2014 is the last hurrah for the current TT, with the new model due on global sale later in the year.
This S4 looks particularly subtle, with only the badging and slightly flared wheel arches giving away the potency of the mechanicals. My sort of car!
I also have a very soft spot for the R8, and there were a few of these on site.
The showroom also contained an A8L, an A6, a TT-S, A3 and A4 Sedans and the stylish A7
A further array of Audi models were in front of their brand showroom.
Bentleys sell well in this area, and there were lots of new and pre-owned models on display. As is the case elsewhere., it is the Continental based models that are most popular and there were lots of these, from both the first and current generation.
I recall being told on a previous visit that the latest Flying Spur had been well received by the Arizona customer and prospect base. Both generations were in evidence.
There were also a number of Mulsanne cars, along with is predecessor, the Arnage as well as the open topped Azure.
Although the US market gets most of the same BMW models as we see in Europe, the badging of some of them differs. As America starts to shed some of its strongest antipathy to diesels, BMW have followed Audi’s lead in bringing some derv powered models to the US, but what we know as the 320d, for instance, is sold in America as a 328d, the thinking being that the car will sell better with an apparently bigger number in the designation.
There have been plenty of new additions to the range in recent months, with the 2 Series Coupe and 4 Series Coupe and Convertible both only recently offered for sale.
More familiar cars from the range included an array of 3, 5, 6 and Z4 models.
This Alpina B7 was parked up inside the showroom (apologies for the slightly out of focus photo)
The X badged cars were much in evidence. The X1 was slow to reach the States, but is now an established part of the range, joining the X3, X6 and recently refreshed X5. I am no fan of the more brash styling of the last of these, but it seems that this is what many buyers do want, and the car is selling well.
These M3 Convertibles were parked up outside.
Although the Bugatti badging has been in evidence in one of the showrooms, I’ve never seen a Veyron on show until now. This time, there was a SuperSport model occupying pride of place in the front of the showroom that also contained the Lamborghinis.
Not quite so pristine as all the other vehicles on site, but interesting nonetheless was this Chevrolet Pickup.
Whilst I am a huge fan of the Challenger, it would not be on these rims which I think are just way OTT. This was a Challenger 392, a limited edition car produced a year or so ago.
Ferrari and Maserati share a showroom, and the Ferrari side contained examples of the current range: 458 Coupe and Spider, as well as a 599 GTO
There were a number of 458 Italia cars parked up outside, including one in this very unusual aubergine colour.
The California was designed for this market, so it was no surprise to find several of these present.
Among the second hand cars on show were a couple of 599 GTB, a 612 Scaglietti and a number of 360 and 430 models.
There were a couple of the ill-fated Fisker Karma on offer for sale among the second hand machinery. I always thought that this was a strikingly good looking car, so it was such a shame that the technology was not quite developed enough for it to be reliable and that the financial problems brought the firm to its knees a matter of months after production started.
Penske do not have the Ford franchise in North Scottsdale, but in keeping with the theme of performance and sports models, they do always have a few Mustang based cars in the Used Lot, such as this one.
In Europe, Jaguars tend to be seen in sober hues – a mix of silver, grey and black, but the in the US, especially in the Pacific South West, the most popular colour is white. And whilst Europe largely buys diesel engined models, these are not offered to American buyers, who only get petrol models. The long running 5 litre V8 has largely been replaced in the range with the impressive 3 litre supercharged engine. Sales volumes remain low, with Americans not yet entirely convinced that the quality improvements which have been reflected in very high JD Power type survey results in Europe are merited. There were a number of XF, XJ and XK cars on show inside the showroom and out.
I am a real fan of the complete Jaguar range, but my favourite of the range is of course the F Type, and there were several of these displayed, all in convertible format.
There was an XFR-S occupying pride of place inside the showroom.
It was too early in the year to come across a Huracan, so the showroom contained what will doubtless turn out to be one of the last Gallardos and an Aventador.
Outside, I came across a number of Gallardo in Coupe and Spider formats.
The Freelander is badged LR2 in America, and there were lots of these on show.
There were plenty of the latest Range Rover and Range Rover Sport models, too.
Of course the Evoque was not forgotten, and these were around aplenty, as well.
Lotus are not making many cars at all at present, and their cause is not helped by the fact that they only offer the one model in the significant US market. Elise no longer meets federal regulations, so if you want a new Lotus, you have to have an Evora. “Have to have” is not necessarily a hardship, though of course at the Evora’s price point, it has got a formidable rival which features a bit lower down this report.
The Maserati area is just to the left of the main entrance of the Penske site, so these were the first cars I saw. With ranks of both Ghibli and Quattroporte lined up, as is the case at all US dealers, I doubt you will ever see quite so many of these cars in one place unless you were to go to the factory. When you see the two models together, they are easier to tell apart, especially if you can see the extra side window on the larger model, but although the details at the front and back are different, it’s going to take a while before we can be confident of correctly identifying which car it is when you see just one at a quick glance.
Needless to say, there were an array of GranTurismo and GranCabrio cars on show as well.
I am still a big fan of the looks of the previous generation Quattroporte, so it was nice to see one of these.
It was a bit too soon to expect to see a 650S on site, so McLarens were confined to the 12C models, in Coupe and Spider guises.
Much to their chagrin, Penske do not have a Mercedes franchise in Scottsdale, and a rival, located right across the street does, but there were a few used examples out on the forecourt, including an E55 AMG and an SLS and there was an SL63 AMG inside one of the showrooms.
I did walk across the road to see what was in the Mercedes showroom, and the answer is that there was not that much! Mercedes has a vast range, so there can only ever be a representative sample of that on show at any one time, and it is a bit random, I would guess, what is given showroom space on a given day. There were a CLS 63 AMG, SL and SLK sports cars, an E350 Coupe, and each of the SUV/CUV offerings, namely the GLK, ML and GL, as well as the latest E and S Class saloons and some of the last of the W204 C Class models.
Far more cars were parked up outside, including C Class Coupe, rows of E Class models, a lot of MLs, a number of W222 S Classes.
I was half expecting to find examples of MINI 3, as the global press launch had taken place in Puerto Rico some weeks earlier, but as the car has not yet gone on sale in the US, it was not in evidence at all. Instead, there was a bewildering array of all the other models that are available, ranging from the long established 3 door and Cabrio through to Clubman, Countryman, Paceman, Coupe and Roadster.
I did enjoy finding this Moke in the back of the showroom.
The Porsches are displayed right at one end of the long arc of showrooms, and there is always lots inside and out to interest the visitor. I overheard a rather difficult conversation going on inside the showroom where a couple had clearly set their heart on a car with the Porsche badge on it, but seemed completely unaware of how much even an elderly Boxster would cost, and a rather patient salesman was trying to get them to understand that the money they had available was not really going to fund the car of their dreams. There were lots of Boxster and Cayman models, of all generations to have a look at.
Needless to say, there were even more 911 models, including several of the more distinctive and “special” ones, such as the GT3 RS and the GT2.
Scottsdale is prime target market for the larger Panamera and Cayenne and there were plenty of these on display as well, of course.
There were several of these stately machines on show: Ghost and Phantom, the latter in Limousine, Drophead and Coupe format.
The Smart has been available in America for some time, but it remains a very niche choice indeed, with few people convinced that the cars are even safe. Hence almost every display of any size has an example of the Safety Cell, aimed at reassuring buyers. That was the case here, and there were a number of complete cars on show as well.
As ever, the VW showroom contained a nice collection of classic machines, and I always enjoy seeing these. Ostensibly they are all available for sale, if you offer enough money (and there are price tags on most of them) but the fact that they are still the same cars as were present when I first found this dealership some years ago suggests that they are not trying very hard to move them on. My favourite is the Thing (yours for $28,000, potentially), and there are also nice Beetles, Type Karmann Ghia and Type 2 models to see.
Among the current range, the latest Beetle does not seem quite to have captured the American imagination like the first New Beetle did, though it does sell decently enough in both hatch and convertible guises.
The Golf GTi Mark VI was sold in America just as a plain GTi, without reference to the Golf name at all. Golf VII has still not reached America, some eighteen months after going on sale in Europe. It will arrive later in the year as a 2015 model, so the older generation car was still on show.
US Sales of the Chatanooga built Passat have rocketed compared to the previous version, and my own testing has revealed that it is a competent and likeable car if not perhaps quite top of the class.
The CC is seen very much as a different car, as this is less like a Passat in the US than is the case in Europe.
It is the Jetta which is VW’s top seller in America, with TDi versions and a Hybrid available as well as those with petrol power.
This proved an interesting diversion for a good part of an afternoon before I needed to head off to the Sky Harbor for a flight back to Los Angeles. Even so, I was quite surprised when I uploaded the photos to discover that there 320 of them. Testament, for sure, of the variety of cars on show. Well worth a visit for those in the area with an interest in things automotive.