Showing posts with label performance. Show all posts
Showing posts with label performance. Show all posts

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Lexus Pops Its Top

Lexus wants you to “Open It Up” according to their Facebook ad for the launch of the 2010 Lexus IS Convertible. I’m guessing they couldn’t go with “Pop Your Top”, so they found a nice PG-version of the phrase to get people excited about another hardtop folding roof from a luxury manufacturer.

The CRM email piece is a little more understated as it just asks be "Open All Night". Oh wait, that sounds a bit odd too. Regardless of when you open it all up, the new Lexus IS Convertible has arrived.

The email campaign started yesterday and ads for the car appeared on Facebook today. Links from the ads, take you to the Lexus Future Vehicles section. Here there is a limited palette of colors to choose from, four to be exact. A couple videos show some nice beauty shots of the top retracting complete with spa-like music soundtrack. Lastly, a surprise, or at least it was for me, the new convertible is offering a F-Sport package that upgrades the car with many performance features including cross-drilled brakes, performance intake, sway bars and many other enthusiast goodies.

I have to admit, I was taken aback by the F-Sport options. It is obviously Lexus’ answer to the new BMW Performance line that the Bavarians are promoting lately. The package does add an element to the Lexus convertible I was surprised to see Lexus pursue.

The IS is a rather sedate, boring car. I drove a IS350 all-wheel drive for a couple days last year after bringing in my wife’s RX300 for some service at the dealership. The loaner IS I had was nice, but it was typical Lexus. Great materials, decent handling, and a peppy engine, but nothing I’d call out as performance. Sure there is the IS-F M3 fighter, but that seems like a much different beast than the standard issue IS.

The IS convertible just doesn’t strike me as an enthusiast car for Lexus as I’m sure we’ll see tons of real estate agents, scratch that they’re broke, uhm… female doctors driving around in this car. The enthusiast culture of BMW owners is hard enough on us convertible owners (I drive a 2007 BMW 335i convertible), I can’t imagine how unconvincing a F-Sport IS convertible is to the performance crowd. So, it is an interesting product decision and it will be interesting to see if and how Lexus markets the IS beyond the top popping crowd.

I find it odd that they are now heavily promoting this car and still lack a Build & Price feature to configure the vehicle on their website. Plus, driving customers to their Future/Concept website section gives the impression the car is some way off in the future and there is no communication about when to expect the Lexus IS convertible at dealerships.

After some searching, the Lexus IS convertible will enter showrooms in late May and start at $38,490. So, keep your top on until then...

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Cadillac's Reality TV Version of Gran Turismo

I am a performance minded driver. I love watching Top Gear, I watch some racing, follow enthusiast magazine and boards, and I even do performance modifications on my own car. From this foundation, I am a bit of a sucker for performance minded marketing efforts. The latest example in this space is a rather interesting site from Cadillac called The CTS-V Performance Driving Lab.

Cadillac took several drivers to Monticello Motor Club from November 7-9. There drivers were given the opportunity to test the new 556 hp, 0-60 in 3.9 seconds, powerhouse from General Motors. The cool thing is the way Cadillac brought the experience to everyone else by posting everyone’s drive on a website.

Pro driver Andy Pilgrim set a benchmark for the track and then novice track drivers took their tries for the best time. The site shows you three camera angles – cockpit, heads up display, and another showing the turn of the wheel close-up on the brake caliper. You also get to see real-time speed, RPMs, and G-Force numbers. It all gives one the impression of some video game like Gran Turismo. The gauges are real-time too along with a GPS readout in the lower left to see position on the track. All of this is some pretty amazing technology integrated into a great way to showcase the CTS-Vs performance credentials.

But it is it compelling as a marketing tool? I would argue yes and no.

Why Yes?

I can see performance minded consumers checking out a few videos. There are tons of videos all over YouTube showing track times, races, you name it it’s on there. Cadillac did post the Andy Pilgrim video on YouTube, so it is promoting the CTS-V Lab site on YouTube through their MyCadillacStory Channel. I can see why they didn’t just use YouTube as a place to host all the content since most of it is video and it would follow a more natural experience leverging YouTube’s place as where to go for video online. The issue is with all the feedback, real-time data extras that make the experience great and unusual. So, score a big YES for Cadillac on showing how to do real-world performance in an interesting, engaging way on the ‘net.

So Why Yes and No?

It is interesting seeing novice drivers take their shot at the track, but it’s far more interesting to see several experienced drivers compete and show that competition in the way Cadillac so beautifully does in this execution. Plus I think it would be more sought out by performance racing fans that like to see their driver(s) take a stock street legal car for a competitive spin. So, it loses some luster by having novice drivers who are a bit guarded in how the push the performance of the car, as seen in many of the videos. There are just a lot of poor laps on the site, though Cadillac did try to solve this, provided one sees the link for “Fastest Lap Times” that is left dangling from the main navigation.

All in all though I think the site is an interesting take on showcasing a performance car and I commend the team who brought in some nice features and feedback data for true driving fans.