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Up until very recently, the reason that you bought a BMW 3 Series or a Mercedes-Benz C-Class was to prepare you to buy a 5 or an E in a few years. You know, ladders to climb, blowing up to do, de-luxe apartments in the sky to own. These days, according to a new study, that is less and less the case: fewer premium buyers are moving up and more buyers are actually moving down.

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Luxury car sales are off by at least one-third compared to last year's numbers, and the end is probably not in sight. In past recessions, the wealthy have been insulated by their money, but not this time. Real estate and banking are responsible for a large amount of the financial pickle we're in, and as those sectors get walloped by reality, the luxury cars typically purchased by agents, brokers, and bankers are languishing.

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Click the image above for a hi-res gallery of the Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe

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So the Kia VG mule that has kept spy photographers busy the last few weeks has now been given a computer animated face and body. It's a nice looking ride, though has a surprising amount in common with the Hyundai Genesis... which means we also see, well, a lot of other cars in it. But that's not a bad thing, really, because the result is a tasty little creation, especially coming from Kia. The lines are a touch more forceful than those on the Genesis, which goes along with Kia being the sporting

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According to Audi, well, all that "ye olde worlde traditional luxury" stuff is great, but it's not the new hotness. Scott Keogh, marketing head for Audi of America, says that the key now is to combine the values of old European luxury -- high quality and traditional prestige -- with new, West Coast luxury values of "a more casual attitude, a sense of Zen and spirit and those types of things."

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Take Maserati for example. The exotic Italian brand offers potential buyers who take a new Quattroporte for a spin a pair of Bose headphones valued at around $179. Lexus doesn't even bother with a gift -- its dealers straight up offer you a $100 American Express gift card for taking the new IS 350 for a spin. Bentley is a little more subtle in its giving by offering to donate money to the Breast Cancer Alliance if you try their car.

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One of our favorite non-auto-publications-laughably-doing-car-stories, Forbes has just issued its list of the most affordable luxury cars available today. Sound like an oxymoron? Well, it is, sort of, but their point is a logical one. Even the entry-level models from most luxury players are getting the toys from their bigger siblings. And even in cars that don't necessarily have more expensive siblings, they have had to adopt those features to stay competitive. The idea behind the article is to

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The Car Connection spoke to GM vice chairman Bob Lutz at the Chicago Auto Show who told them a bigger, badder Cadillac built on the new Camaro chassis could be in the works. Lutz said the reason Camaro's expected on-sale date was delayed was so that the platform could be better integrated with future products.

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In the event that high gas prices begin hitting even the wealthy, displacement-loving, power-toting blokes among us, BusinessWeek has compiled a list of the top ten most fuel efficient luxury cars. The list, especially when you include the runners-up, is a diverse showing of both automakers and fuel types, with hybrids and diesels finding a place alongside with their gasoline-powered siblings.

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The Cadillac BLS represents many innovations for GM’s luxury brand. It’s not only the first Cadillac designed and built in Europe, but it will also be the first Cadillac available with a diesel engine. Based on the Saab 9-3, Cadillac expects the FWD BLS to make up around 70-percent of its European sales, according to the Detroit News. That may sound like a lot, though Cadillac has just lowered its target volume for sales in Europe from a previously mentioned 20,000 units by 2010 to a

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Jaguar, Ford Motor Co.’s most troubled member in its Premiere Automotive Group (PAG), suffered another setback when its parent company halted the luxury brand’s plans to develop its newest vehicles based on an aluminum architecture. The company had hoped to use this new platform to bolster its image as 'cutting-edge' against such competitors as BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Cost of the new architecture, though, lead to Ford’s decision.

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The new 2006 Buick Lucerne is a very large car, which is a good thing considering it has mighty large shoes to fill. It not only replaces the LeSabre in Buick’s lineup but also pinch hits for the now defunct Park Avenue. This means that the Lucerne’s price cuts a wide swath, with the entry level CX beginning at $25,990 and our range topping CXS tester starting at $34,990.

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