By on October 23, 2009

Supercharged from now on (courtesy:audizine)

After urbane styling and precise road manners  made Audi a real player in the luxury sports sedan market with the late ‘90s A6, the Ingolstadt Werkmeisters took a more conservative route with the third-generation A6. It became larger, more architectural than haute couture, and softer. For 2009, though, Audi decided to give the A6 an adrenaline shot right to the heart: a new engine that transforms this car from wallflower to stealth wildcat.

The current-generation A6’s style has always been understated and very elegant; subtle tweaking makes it look a little more aggressive than last year’s model. Chrome trim accents the A6’s subtle lines, and the looks substantial without being too showy. If the Jaguar’s look evokes Savile Row; the Audi’s evokes Hugo Boss, the real Hugo Boss, not the cheapend t-shirts you get from the emporium a couple streets over from Rodeo Drive.

Hello, helloAudi’s interior decorators have gotten their share of praise over the years; one look at the A6’s interior reveals why. This is an extremely handsome and stylish environment, with flowing shapes and exquisite detailing; look at the chrome strip around the wood trim on the dashboard, or the way the shape of the highly-legible instrument cluster fits within the arc of the three-spoke steering wheel. The interior color scheme was smashing: dark charcoal color on the dash, side panels, and seat bolsters, with Amaretto-colored leather inserts on the seats and door panels, and a matching headliner. The quality of the leather, and some other interior materials, aren’t quite up to snuff compared to the Lexus or BMW, but there’s little to argue about style-wise inside the A6. In fact, BMW were smart, they’d do whatever it takes – stock offerings, pay raises, kidnapping, blackmail, virgin sacrifices, whatever – and hire Audi’s interior stylists tomorrow.

The A6’s driver interface looks mostly solid, but some ergonomic quirks surface, in Audi’s latest attempt to delight and annoy. For instance, if you want to crank up the A/C, you have to use the temperature control to increase and decrease fan speed. Like Jaguar, Audi designers decided to invest some razzle-dazzle in the glovebox door latch, placing an “open/close” switch on the center console. And while all the cars in this test feature pushbutton start, Audi’s system has one button to start the engine and one to stop it. Why?

The A6’s ergonomics are also heavily compromised by their version of IDrive, 2009  audi  a6avant30labeled MMI (Multi-Media Interface), which works no better than BMW’s or Mercedes’, and adds a new level of silliness: no radio controls on the dashboard. To turn the radio on and off and adjust the volume, you use a rotary switch to the right of the shifter, and use the separate large rotary wheel to control inputs, settings and the like. The MMI wheel has menu buttons surrounding it to control navigation and other functions, but as in the BMW, they’re out of the driver’s line of sight, and all feel alike, so you have to take your eyes off the road to use them. As bad as the BMW and Mercedes systems are, at least they leave the basic radio controls on the dash, where God, Krishna, Allah, and Bahá’u’lláh intended them to be.

Hit the ignition switch – the one marked “start,” as opposed to the one marked “off” – and you unlock the A6’s warrior heart. Like the other truly potent engine in this test, the BMW’s twin-turbo six, Audi tuned this new supercharged engine to be a stump-puller – 310 lb/ft of torque at 2500 rpm – and the supercharger system ensures even power delivery throughout the power band. But unlike the BMW, which hits hyperdrive from a standing start, the A6’s engine pulls its punches until 2500 rpm, at which point the blower kicks in, and launches, more like the Millenium Falcon in “Empire Strikes Back” than the original movie.

The sequential-shift six-speed transmission, plays wonderfully with the devilish engine. While supercharger whine, a typical bugaboo on this type of engine, has been massaged into near-nothingness, this engine trumpets its existence louder than the BMW. The numbers show the BMW as slightly faster than the Audi, but if you’re into adolescent bursts of power, this Audi won’t disappoint.

Audi_A6_SedanIt won’t disappoint on a winding road, either. Although the Audi’s front-heavy handling balance makes it feel less eager in tight corners than the BMW, on fast sweepers and the Interstate, the A6 is every bit the Bavarian’s match. The same is true of the A6’s steering, which is quick, accurate and communicative. The A6’s handling capabilities do little to compromise ride quality, which is first-class.The Audi is also a first-class value – the Premium model tested, with navigation, the performance package, heated rear seats, and rear side airbags, stickered at $57,000. Well, a value for this class, if you want to penny pinch, Hyundai just set up shop down the road.

So if the Audi can match the BMW on a performance basis, and best it in the styling and value departments, what’s with the second place finish? The A6’s loss is a narrow one, to be sure, but in subtle ways – the refinement of the powertrain, the quality of the interior materials, and the offbeat, gimmicky ergonomics, to name three – the Audi just doesn’t quite measure up. The Audi feels solid; the BMW feels like it’s been laser-carved straight out of Mount Rushmore.

In other words, the Audi is great to drive, but the BMW’s sublime. Still, greatness is nothing to sneeze at, especially when it’s value-priced, so this rocket-man Audi nabs second place.

Performance: 5/5

So much for the A6’s boring rep – the new supercharnged engine blasts the A6 forward with amazing urgency

Ride: 4/5

Compliant without being harsh

Handling: 4/5

Feels a little larger and ever-so-slightly more ponderous than the BMW

Exterior: 4/5

The best looking of the Germans: stylish in an almost architectural way.

Interior: 4/5

A stylistic knockout; wacky ergonomics and some cheap materials cost the Audi a perfect score.

Fit and finish: 4/5

Certainly well made, but seems more mass-produced than bespoke

Toys: 4/5

This A6 is extremely well equipped, and attractively priced.

Desirability: 4/5

A kick in the pants to drive, with a “yee-haw” factor that’s rare in this class

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85 Comments on “Import Sport Sedan Comparison: Second Place: Audi A6 3.0T...”


  • avatar

    Maybe the “superfluous” Engine Stop button could have been helpful for those driving the runaway Lexus cars? That is, if it actually stops the engine and isn’t locked out while driving.

    Beautiful cars, these Audis, but I feel like the interiors have taken a step back from the previous generations. Too many fussy shapes and textures. Keep is simple but elegant like the exterior.

    I’ve heard that the A6 is relatively noisy inside. Too much road noise. Any thoughts on that?

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    Mike,
    You are wise to point out the useless gimickry of the glovebox opener in the Audi and Jag. In the case of the A6, if the electronics go haywire months after the car is out of warranty (and what are the odds?), the glovebox will not open.

    Which means you can’t get to the manual, which means you can’t figure out how to unlock the gear lever to move the transmission into Neutral. Which means you can’t get it out of your garage without a tow truck yanking it, your expensive new tires screetching in pain the entire way onto the flatbed.

    So not cool.

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    As an A-6 owner, I couldn’t be more pleased with this review. I drove the Beemer before I bought the the Audi, but the Beemer is just such a cliche….which it seems the BMW engineers have overcome.

    Best series of reviews I’ve read in TTAC. Real quality stuff. Thanks.

  • avatar

    Glovebox whoopdey-do and the like:
    Augustine’s Law #405:
    Anything that isn’t in a design won’t break.

    Simplicity.

  • avatar
    hreardon

    As far as the MMI controls go: maybe I’m just a tech geek, but I’ve always found MMI to be supremely easy to understand and work.

    Sure, it operates differently, and there are a few quirks, but to me it works just fine and is fairly intuitive.

    As for the A6 itself, it’s always seemed a bit of Audi’s ignored middle child: it’s there if you want it, but there’s not much to make me want it. Granted, I’m not in the market for an A6esque car (I’m gunning for an S4, which is about the same size as the A6 reviewed here), but the A6 has always been handsome but bland. Doesn’t get my heart a’pumpin.

  • avatar
    twotone

    I’d buy one if it came in RWD.

    Twotone

  • avatar

    I’m with carguy622 on the interior: like that in the A4, it feels cheaper than that of the previous generation. The swath of plastic across the upper IP face and the hard plastic door pulls don’t help.

    The exterior is also a step back from the previous car, with more front overhang that requires the upsized wheels to disguise it. When both cars are equipped with the base wheels and tires, the previous car looks much better.

    Sampled this engine in the new S4. It has power, but no captivating soundtrack, and generally no soul. A step back from the V8 in this regard. But better fuel efficiency.

    Handling–when I drove a 2006, I did find it handled better than I expected, and much as described here.

    But I also found more NVH, especially road noise, than you’ll find in other cars in this class. As a result, the A6 seemed like a cheaper car than the others. (Probably didn’t help that I drove it immediately after driving the then-new 2007 S-Class.)

    Reliability–the current generation car appears to be about average, based on responses to TrueDelta’s Car Reliability Survey. In this it’s a definite improvement over the previous A6.

    We only have a result for the 2006 though. Additional participants needed to cover all years.

    http://www.truedelta.com/car-reliability.php

  • avatar
    highrpm

    Really? A 1-2 finish for BMW and Audi? It’s like I’m in the bathroom, reading Car and Driver.

    These cars are fragile and will break a lot. They will be a hassle to own. Both Audi and BMW.

    Here is what the typical $50k luxury car buyer really thinks when he’s looking at cars:
    1. Do I look good in this car?
    2. Is it better than my neighbor’s/co-worker’s car?
    3. Will it help me to attract the opposite sex?
    4. Can I afford the payment?
    5. Do I have to visit the dealer a lot?
    6. How’s the resale?

    While this car sits, broken, at your local dealer, you will be driving their crappy courtesy car while your Audi is on the hoist, rapidly depreciating! And you’re paying a nice monthly payment for it the whole time…

    The Lex is built better, will not break, and has better resale. It also looks great and is more rare than the ubiquitous Audi and 3-series.

    I hate to say this, but is this comparison the TTAC Jump the Shark moment?

  • avatar
    hreardon

    Michael – which car are you referring to? The A6 prior to the refresh vs. what was reviewed, or the current B8 generation A4 compared to the A6?

    As to the overhang – if you’re talking A6, it would be about the same as before, just ‘disguised’ differently by having a slightly more chiseled front. If you’re talking new A4/S4, the front overhang is actually several inches shorter than before but the overall wheelbase is about the same as the current A6. Audi pushed the engine back a bit.

    On the S4 – I do agree that the loss of the V8′s burble is a disappointment, and it would have been nice for a better exhaust, but the 3.0T in the S4 (which is different than the A6′s 3.0T) is a *great* powerplant and once broken in gets very nice economy as compared to the guzzling V8.

  • avatar
    hreardon

    highrpm:

    Considering most people who buy in this segment lease for 3 – 4 years instead of buy, the pain of out-of-warranty expenses is minimized.

    People have been harping on the reliability issues of German cars for years, and yet people still buy them. If they’re not owning them for the reliability aspect, that leaves only the following reasons:

    1. I look good
    2. It’s just as good, if not better than the neighbors
    3. Chicks dig it
    4. The lease is affordable

  • avatar
    jmo

    Audi’s system has one button to start the engine and one to stop it. Why?

    I’d assume the Audi engineers are a little gun shy about the whole “unintended acceleration” thing.

  • avatar
    jmo

    These cars are fragile and will break a lot.

    “A lot” – well, I think if we look at the numbers it’s the difference between having something go wrong every 10 months vs. having something go wrong every 14 months with a Lexus. You will have a few extra issues over the life of the car but it’s not the end of the world.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    jmo :
    October 23rd, 2009 at 11:52 am

    Audi’s system has one button to start the engine and one to stop it. Why?

    I’d assume the Audi engineers are a little gun shy about the whole “unintended acceleration” thing.

    You know, I hadn’t thought about that!

    +1 on that.

  • avatar
    frizzlefry

    Beautiful cars, these Audis, but I feel like the interiors have taken a step back from the previous generations. Too many fussy shapes and textures. Keep is simple but elegant like the exterior.

    I love the look of the new A6 but I do think that it looks 100% better without a front plate. Where I live we are not required to have one so the A6 looks bad-ass here.

    I own a C5 (2004) A6 S-Line and I really prefer the old interior before MMI. Its almost Saab-like in its simplicity and button layout. The dealership in my city uses the new A6 as its courtasy shuttle and when I had my maintenance performed last time I got picked up/dropped off in one. Did not care for the interior…its not bad and would not stop me from buying a new A6 but I just prefer the old 2004 interior.

    I’ve heard that the A6 is relatively noisy inside. Too much road noise. Any thoughts on that?

    The wind noise in my 2004 is more than you would expect. Engine noise is more instrusive than most but the 2.7T engine sounds nice so I don’t mind. Its sounds especially nice from the outside once its warmed up…the 2.7T turbos sound like Darth Vader breathing once the oil heats up. Better than a supercharger whine for sure.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    People have been harping on the reliability issues of German cars for years, and yet people still buy them.

    People still lease them. I don’t know how often they’re bought new, but it doesn’t seem frequent. That skews things somewhat.

    The people who really have a chip on their shoulders about European cars are people who own them past the warranty period, especially if they’re not the original owners and the car hasn’t been babied. It’s all well and good if you buy the car and treat it wonderfully, but it’s less so if it can’t survive normal North American usage patterns, which are more intensive than the light use that European domestic cars get. Lexuses, statistically, are much more forgiving as they age.

    It’s even worse for BMW: the free scheduled maintenance is not at all suited to the car’s lasting much past the warranty period. Buying an off-lease from ~2001-2003+ is asking for something that will cost money.

    You will have a few extra issues over the life of the car but it’s not the end of the world.

    Define “issues”. My old Mazda and my previous Saab went into the shop pretty much at the same time. The Mazda required new or machined brakes about every time, costing a couple hundred. The Saab required, well, something costing about thousand or more each time. The Honda I have no has gone in for, oil changes aside, a loose piece of carpet trim. Frequency of repair is one thing; TCO is quite another.

    **People lease Lexuses, too, but an off-lease Lexus is probably less likely to be a crushing expense.

  • avatar
    carguy

    Thanks Michael for pointing out the unfathomable direction that Audi has taken with their ergonomics. I looked at an A4 earlier this year and there is a lot to like but the MMI interface is cumbersome, the LCD screen can’t be turned off for night driving and the electronic handbrake is a gimmick. It really gives the impression that it was designed to impress on a test drive rather than work well for daily use.

  • avatar
    saponetta

    I love all this talk about brand new BMW’s and audis on the side of the road with their hoods up and japanese commodity cars that never break. I am very close with a lexus service manager. Trust me, his guys aren’t sitting around performing scheduled service all day. These modern lexus cars are not the original LS. All cars are going to have unexpected service trips. If the japanese cars were pretty, or drove well, or stirred the soul in anyway then the germans would be in big trouble. But they don’t. Those qualities are much harder to build into a car than reliability. It easy to cover everything in wood and leather and equip all the latest high tech gizmos. It hard to add the emotion.

    I’ve been in the highline car business for a long time. Trust me, everyone wants the german car. But the people making a middle class splurge, they are the ones who have objections about reliability. They are coming from a toyota, or honda accord etc. These are the people who end up buying the acura or infiniti. A physician never comes in and tells one of my salesman, “Lets hold off, I still need to go drive the Infiniti”.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    carguy :
    October 23rd, 2009 at 12:15 pm

    Thanks Michael for pointing out the unfathomable direction that Audi has taken with their ergonomics. I looked at an A4 earlier this year and there is a lot to like but the MMI interface is cumbersome, the LCD screen can’t be turned off for night driving and the electronic handbrake is a gimmick. It really gives the impression that it was designed to impress on a test drive rather than work well for daily use.

    It’s not just Audi. Infiniti, Mercedes and BMW have also imbibed the IDrive / MMI / COMAND Kool-Aid. They all suck, but I’d say MMI is the worst of the bunch. I mean, come on – no radio controls on the dash? One knob to turn the radio on and adjust the volume, and another to control things like tuning and tone? Spare me. At least you get used to IDrive.

    Infiniti’s system is actually the easiest to use because it’s in the driver’s line of sight, but the aesthetic effect is disastrous. I read one car mag review that said it looks like an ATM machine.

    If these guys want to see how you integrate a million functions into one package that’s easy to use and attractive, they should take notes from Caddy – the interface on the CTS is great. I love how the screen disappears into the dash until you need it.

  • avatar
    mpresley

    jmo :Audi’s system has one button to start the engine and one to stop it. Why?

    The BMW probably has three. That’s one better, isn’t it?

    http://tiny.cc/VOpOQ

    The 6 has always seemed like an afterthought in the Audi line-up, ever since it morphed from the old 100-200 series. Good to find that they’ve made essential progress. Audi is on a roll across its entire line (sans A3 which is an answer to a question no one in the US is asking), and except for the hard core BMW fans, Audi design will probably seal the deal for buyers in this category. I agree with observations that these cars (really, almost all cars it seems) are becoming needlessly complex, but that’s where we are, today.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    saponetta :
    October 23rd, 2009 at 12:26 pm

    I love all this talk about brand new BMW’s and audis on the side of the road with their hoods up and japanese commodity cars that never break. I am very close with a lexus service manager. Trust me, his guys aren’t sitting around performing scheduled service all day. These modern lexus cars are not the original LS. All cars are going to have unexpected service trips. If the japanese cars were pretty, or drove well, or stirred the soul in anyway then the germans would be in big trouble. But they don’t. Those qualities are much harder to build into a car than reliability. It easy to cover everything in wood and leather and equip all the latest high tech gizmos. It hard to add the emotion.

    Agreed about Lexus, but you disregard Infiniti. Have you driven the Infiniti G? Believe me, that’s a car that makes a STRONG case for itself vis a vis BMW. It’s also about ten grand cheaper than the BMW, and Infinitis are no-shit reliable – check the CR ratings. If the G’s engine, transmission and paddle shifters had been available in the M in this test, I’d probably have placed it much higher – perhaps third or fourth.

    If I were BMW, I’d be looking in my rear view mirrors.

  • avatar
    saponetta

    mpresley,

    When the A3 launched there was no 4 door GTI. After the 4 door GTI came out, Audi offered quattro in the A3. What other 4 door hatch with AWD is available short of the kids cars like the subaru and r32?

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    mpresley :
    October 23rd, 2009 at 12:32 pm

    jmo :Audi’s system has one button to start the engine and one to stop it. Why?

    The BMW probably has three. That’s one better, isn’t it?

    It has one button. The operation depends on whether you have the “comfort access” option or not. If you don’t, then you insert the key fob into a slot in the steering column, and press the start button.

    With the “comfort access” option, you just get into the car and hit the start button.

  • avatar
    saponetta

    freedmike,

    I’ve driven probably a hundred g’s. Which all get airbag lights by the way around 50k miles. I buy tons of them from wholesalers and auctions because every college graduate wants one. Its the only japanese car we actively buy and stock. I think its ugly, gimicky, and rides rough even in the small sedan class. The power and handling are nice, but thats it. The engine sounds like the engineers are tyrying to hard, the throttle response is ludicrously jerky, and the interior is the benchmark in japanese tastless design. Also, the new body style may be the ugliest car on the road. Whats with that chrome spoiler?

  • avatar
    drifter

    Desirability: 4/5

    A kick in the pants to drive, with a “yee-haw” factor that’s rare in this class

    Desirability: 10/5 (for Audi mechanics) with a “yee-haw” factor that’s rare in this class

  • avatar
    Johnny Canada

    The more BMW screws up their cars, the more Audi gets it right.

    If the E61 5 Series BMW scores anything over 2 out of 5 for interior and exterior, TTAC is dead to me.

  • avatar
    frizzlefry

    When the A3 launched there was no 4 door GTI. After the 4 door GTI came out, Audi offered quattro in the A3. What other 4 door hatch with AWD is available short of the kids cars like the subaru and r32?

    IF you load an A3 up with all the options (V6, AWD, S-Line package) it makes sense, cost-wise, compared to the R32. Otherwise, its an overpriced GTI. If the only option you get is AWD, you are basically paying 6-7 grand more than a GTI just to have the AWD, no AWD and its still 3-4 grand more. Not worth it.

  • avatar
    mpresley

    saponetta :mpresley, When the A3 launched there was no 4 door GTI. After the 4 door GTI came out, Audi offered quattro in the A3. What other 4 door hatch with AWD is available short of the kids cars like the subaru and r32?

    I’m not saying the 3 is not a nice car, it’s just not nice for the US–or at least it’s not what most US consumers will buy. I seriously considered one, but went with something larger. That said, I’m not sure it’s really a compelling buy over the GTI, which is really the standard for this type of car.

  • avatar
    BMWfan

    @ Mark MacInnis

    Beemer is the motorcycle. Bimmer is the car.

  • avatar
    tpandw

    This is a great series. I’m not likely to buy any of these (because I can’t afford a $50K car, or at least my wife would not let me afford one), but it’s fun to read Mike’s views of them. I’m glad that the quibbling about which cars belong in this comparo has pretty much gone away. I’d be happy to read reviews of any five or six cars he and TTAC pick out.

  • avatar
    saponetta

    frizzlefry

    If you add autobahn to a 4 door gti you have about the same equipment as an A3 premium with cold weather package. The A3 will still has a little more equipment. There is less than $1000 in price difference between the two. I would say that the the audi name, higher quality interior and the fact that it is built in germany make up that $1000 difference.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    If the japanese cars were pretty, or drove well, or stirred the soul in anyway then the germans would be in big trouble. But they don’t. Those qualities are much harder to build into a car than reliability.

    If reliability is so easy to do, then why aren’t the German Masters Of the Universe able to do it as easily as they can add another hundred horsepower every year? The answer is that it’s not so easy, after all. It is, in fact, pretty hard to build quality in at all stages that it’s killing Mercedes to try.

    The most important obstable, though, is culture. The German marque’s leadership has real trouble with the idea that their products could have problems. As such, they deal with it be pretending that the problem doesn’t really exist, or is relegated to North American customers that don’t maintain or appreciate the products, or that it’s a function of having a better-performing product.

    And that’s bullshit.

    Lexus has had cars (the original IS) that handled and drove better than a contemporary BMW, but they didn’t sell, so they softened them accordingly. So they can do it, they just choose not to. On the other hand, Mercedes et al haven’t been able to produce a car with above-average statistical reliability at a competitive price, not since Toyota showed up with the original LS and turned the market on it’s head.

    I’m sure that some of this has to do with concentrating on feel and soul and suchlike crap, but that’s more delusion than anything. The real real, honestly, is that management at the Germans doesn’t care about reliability. And that’s a problem, because engine power is all Mercedes has on Lexus, and Infiniti is so very close to taking BMW. Once the sole reason for your brand is “heritage” instead of tangible benefits, you’re screwed-in-waiting.

  • avatar
    JG

    My boss just picked up an as-new 20k mile IS-F on ebay for 40 grand… astounding car. The only autotragic vehicle in which I’ve continued to use the paddles for shifting after the first time. Incredible sound and performance. The cars in the comparo seem kind of snoozy. Normally I don’t log in and gloat about used car values, but man there are bargains in the luxury 4 door segment!

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    If the E61 5 Series BMW scores anything over 2 out of 5 for interior and exterior, TTAC is dead to me.

    I don’t think the stars matter. TTAC’s ratings are admittedly subjective and unscientific, depending highly on the author’s take, and that’s fine: there’s no pretense of objectivity or balance, and I’d say that’s a good thing.

  • avatar
    werewolf34

    Too much reliability hurts your dealer network and part sales. Push it too far on the planned obselesence (sp?) and you become Mercedes or VW. Don’t push it far enough and you will make less money from each car sold.

    I think BMW and Audi get this.

  • avatar
    saponetta

    psarhjinian

    Another thing to consider,

    The price of a mercedes, or BMW has not gone up over the years(audis have). It hasn’t really gone up in 20! In the early 90′s you bought a CL for around a 100k. 2010? The car still starts a little high of 100k. They haven’t been able to raise prices and have cut their margins at the dealer level in half to stay competitive. Meanwhile, the cost of building the cars has gone up considerably depsite more efficient production methods. Of course they don’t build them like they used to. They can’t. Is this a major concern to them? Probably not due to the rise in leasing. Its how the majority of consumers purchase these cars. The factory warranty covers the first lease and the CPO program covers the second owner and creates a profit center for the dealer and manufacturer that didn’t exist. Mercedes actually invented the CPo deal in the early 90′s with their Starmark approved program. Go look at your 90′s mercedes out in the garage, it probably has a starmark sticker on the drivers door sill.

  • avatar
    highrpm

    Again on the Audi/BMW reliability, there is a reason that these cars are so cheap to buy used. Especially the high end 7-series and A8. They break a lot, and are incredibly expensive to repair once you’re out of warranty.

    Call around a few of these cars someday. Chances are that the owner of a 6-year-old S-Class will have spent more money on repairs than his sales asking price…

    For a used car buyer like me, this reliability thing has been a deal breaker for the German cars over the past five years.

    Over 150k miles, I guarantee that your repair costs for the Lex GS will be much, much less than the Audi or BMW.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Of course they don’t build them like they used to. They can’t.

    The rot set in at Mercedes** when then tried and failed to meet Lexus’ quality at that price point. I’m sure that if they could charge what they wanted, instead of what the LS forces them to, they’d still be engineered like any other car in the world.

    Or they could, you know, actually implement Japanese-style quality processes, but that would mean admitting they were wrong in not doing so in the first place.

    ** Audi and BMW never really played in this league until more recently, so it’s different for them.

  • avatar
    PennSt8

    “It’s not just Audi. Infiniti, Mercedes and BMW have also imbibed the IDrive / MMI / COMAND Kool-Aid. They all suck, but I’d say MMI is the worst of the bunch. I mean, come on – no radio controls on the dash? One knob to turn the radio on and adjust the volume, and another to control things like tuning and tone? Spare me. At least you get used to IDrive.”

    Please don’t bundle Infiniti with that group. On top of a full range of audio and climate controls and buttons to toggle through various menus present at the top of the center stack……there’s a touch screen there (something the German’s have refused to offer).

  • avatar
    guyincognito

    I like Audis and their subdued (except for billy the big mouth bass grill) styling but I can’t stand that huge front overhang. The movement of the engine to the proper location, back in the chassis, has done wonders for the A4′s look and I’m sure the handling as well. I’m looking forward to seeing the A6 when it makes similar progress.

  • avatar
    saponetta

    I think if you go into any industrial setting in the first world you’ll find japanese quality and production systems in place. Six sigma, kaizen, TPS, I’m no engineer but I’m pretty sure everyone uses those systems/principles.

    The old infiniti design was terrible with the radio controls down low and the hvac way up high by that stupid orange display. Now they have a freaking laptop midi keyboard on the top of the dash. Another ugly, novel japanese construction.

    Ohh, and porsches new PCM is touch screen.
    The old PCM is a nightmare. I have a 2006 with the old PCM. I still can barely work it. I always type in my stations manually everytime.

  • avatar
    meefer

    *rubs eyes*

    Stylistic knockout? With that horrid silver molded onesie covering the entire IP and top of the dash? If that was on a Malibu it’d be blasted to Kingdom Come.

    The only thing on that entire interior I can compare to a Hugo Boss suit is maybe the steering wheel – relatively clean and minimalist.

    Maybe it’s the red interior lighting, but I just don’t get it. The Lexus and the Jag as far as style goes have it all over the Audi.

    Although this could be because I hate MMI/iDrive/COMAND whatever gee-whiz software menu this thing has. And it’s not because I hate gadgets – I’ve got a bluetooth watch ferchrissakes.

  • avatar
    SupaMan

    But unlike the BMW, which hits hyperdrive from a standing start, the A6’s engine pulls its punches until 2500 rpm, at which point the blower kicks in, and launches, more like the Millenium Falcon in “Empire Strikes Back” than the original movie.

    My, how the tables have turned. You’d think that, even with twin turbos, there’d be some hint of lag before the engine finally hunkers down whereas with the Audi’s supercharged six, hit the gas and there’s ZERO lag.

    This is the first review I’ve read where BMW’s famous twin turbo six shows zero lag against the Audi’s supercharged unit.

    Other than that, I fully agree with this review. Which only goes to show how beautifully the BMW has aged, what with a new model in the pipeline for 2011.

  • avatar
    werewolf34

    My favorite line from the review

    “unlock the warrior’s heart”

    Most these sedans are seriously bloated on weight and have oversized engines to compensate.

    Think NFL linemen not running backs

  • avatar
    YZS

    “All cars are going to have unexpected service trips. If the japanese cars were pretty, or drove well, or stirred the soul in anyway then the germans would be in big trouble. But they don’t. Those qualities are much harder to build into a car than reliability.”

    Are you effing serious? Let’s give you the benefit of the doubt and take your statement as true. Then if it’s so easy to do and they have already achieved the much more difficult task of building pretty cars that drove well and had soul, then why are they neglecting the simple task of making them reliable? Any old Corolla will outlast and outlive a German, why do they not do the simple math when they are engineering a $50k car? Why would I pay for a half baked POS that’s going to leave me and my supposedly hot date (because hot chicks dig pretty German cars with soul right?) stranded in the middle of nowhere? How well is that date going? If reliability is so easy to do, then why are the neglecting it and think it’s ok to waste their customer’s time and my money and spoil their dates with hot chicks? What a crock.

  • avatar
    frizzlefry

    My favorite line from the review

    “unlock the warrior’s heart”

    Most these sedans are seriously bloated on weight and have oversized engines to compensate.

    Think NFL linemen not running backs

    Would be intersting to see how the S-Line package would deal with that…I know on my ’04 it does wonders, sport suspension, ECU upgrade, wider sport tires…don’t know if the S-Line package is the same idea still or if its just big rims and badges…

  • avatar
    bimerguy

    According to reliability of merc and Bmw, I have asked a lot of people who own these cars and all of them tell me that they are reliable. See at the gas station I ask these people and most of them tell me that they are reliable and the’d recommend them. People claim that lexus and acura are reliable cars, Look, I have owned an Acura for the last 4 years. It has been pain in the butt. Suspension problems, camshaft sensor problems, steering fluid leaking, the doors not working, car not starting..I mean lots of troubles with the car. Is this what people call reliability? While my friend has a 1992 3 series that has been reliable than ever. The thing is, Bmws,merc. and the new audis are not gonna dissapoint you that much. Besides they are durable and quality built. Yes lexus and infiniti might be more reliable to own compared to these cars but they also break down. Some cars like hyundai dont last long before you start having serious engine troubles. Go online and look at the old bimmers, They have 200 to 300 thousand miles! In other words, every car will break down especially the high tech performance cars.

  • avatar
    Tstag

    How did this car do so well in the handeling department. It’s front wheel drive for crying out loud?

    I mean the XF is RWD and get’s the same amount of stars for handeling? What’s up with that? Has anyone on here had a go in an XFR? And tried that against this…. The Audi couldn’t put that much BHP through it’s VW front wheel drive floorpan. Go over 230 BHP and your dead in a FWD car.

  • avatar
    PennSt8

    “The old infiniti design was terrible with the radio controls down low and the hvac way up high by that stupid orange display. Now they have a freaking laptop midi keyboard on the top of the dash. Another ugly, novel japanese construction.”

    In the M yes, but the EX, G and FX are totally devoid of that…..

  • avatar
    jmo

    Seems like my post got eaten,

    Anyway – if you look at the numbers the difference between buying the Lexus and the Audi is probably the difference between a repair every 8 months for the Audi and ever 14 months for the Lexus.

    Is it a little more of a pain? Sure, but if you like the car enough it’s certainly worth it to put up with slightly more inconvenience.

  • avatar
    blau

    Some people have already suggested this, but we’ve gotta stop with the “stranded by the side of the road” bs. I scarcely see anyone stranded by the side of the road in a car built this decade. Unreliable these days doesn’t mean stranded by the road, it means warning lights and incomprehensible charges from the dealership.

  • avatar
    energetik9

    I want to like the Audi, but I can never seem to get past that front end. The problem with Audi is that (beyond the front end), they just don’t stand out. They blend right into the crowd.

  • avatar
    werewolf34

    There are different levels of failure and reliability.

    1st and worst – It doesn’t run. Engine, transmission, cooling. All modern engines are good in this respect although the cam position sensors are an issue. Trannies seem to be good until 100k

    2nd and annoying – Aux systems (HVAC, radio, windows, locks) Stuff we use everyday. If it breaks we are annoyed

    3rd and livable to a point – Electronics and gizmos – comand, idrive, MMI. Advanced features not used everyday

    From my experience (MB and BMW), Germans are ok on the 1st and worst but fail on the 2nd and 3rd

  • avatar
    ZCD2.7T

    “Tstag :
    October 23rd, 2009 at 2:51 pm

    How did this car do so well in the handeling department. It’s front wheel drive for crying out loud?”

    Uuuhhhhh, you did READ the article, right? The tested car (as well as 95% of the Audis sold in the US) has quattro AWD.

    Also the A6 platform (C6) is unrelated to any VW….

  • avatar
    bimerguy

    To werewolf34 and blau
    ..You both make a point. people need to understand that new cars or almost any car that is 6 years old that most of their troubles would be electronics or things that wont cause engine failure. For example, My acura’s window doensnt go up or down and it is annoying. One of the heated seats dont work but the heater works and this is annoying to me. Therefore people should stop claiming that they see a lot of these new cars stranded on the road with their hoods up!

  • avatar
    SLLTTAC

    I’ve had two Audi A6 4.2 (2001 and 2004) and spent a lot of time driving and riding in an Infiniti M35. I’ve rented from Hertz a late model A6 3.2 several times. I find Audi’s MMI awkward to use in contrast to voice-operated systems, but its audio controls on the steering wheel are convenient. Both of my A6 4.2 had their strengths—though I bonded with the dealer’s technicians, sad to say—but I’m awaiting the C7 series, the next generation A6.

    I’ve shopped the Lexus GS and found the cramped rear seating, small trunk, and hidden dashboard controls were a deal-killer. After all, these are four-door sedans intended to transport for four or five adults. The Infiniti M35 is roomy, but the ride and noise are inferior to its competitors. The BMW to me is ugly, inside and out. The Jaguar is handsome, but there’s no AWD, which I want for winter. The MB’s design is overdone. So, that leaves the next A6 and the forthcoming Infiniti M37 and M56, but their AWD has been inferior to Audi’s quattro.

    At least buyers have a choice of six interesting cars.

  • avatar
    dswilly

    I’ll go German every time. I have owned 5 BMW’s 1 with 300+ k all tough as nails and not expensive to maintain. I presently have a 2003 e46 3 series with 70K and a 2003 Honda with 70k, the Honda has had more problems, which are few. But the 3 has had zero. The quality and driving experience between the two cars is not even close. My wife and I fight over driving the BMW practically every day.

  • avatar
    saponetta

    PennSt8 :

    All the previous generation infinitis had the same basic setup with the hvac controls on the top of the dash by the little orange display. All the new ones have the rotating dial with all the buttons. I think the only infinitis I’ve never driven are the old M30 convertible and the new droptop G.

  • avatar
    jmo

    Take a look at this chart:

    http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/money/shopping/ways-to-save-on/save-on-wheels-new-or-used/reliability-snapshot/save-on-wheels-new-or-used-reliability-snapshot.htm

    As you can see a 10 yo Toyota is about as reliable as a as a 4.5 yo VW. Why do I drive VW? Well, the cars suit me to such a degree that I’m willing to bring it in every year vs. every two years with a Toyota.

    Again, it’s not that a Lexus has 0 problems and an Audi has 30 problems. It’s a Lexus has .3 problems per year after 5 years and an Audi might have .7 problems.

  • avatar
    ajla

    So 5-series wins?

    grumblegrumblegrumble

  • avatar
    werewolf34

    I think someone brought this up but the price of luxury car parts (I’m looking at you MB) is ridiculous compared to counterparts at other manufacturers

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    I mean the XF is RWD and get’s the same amount of stars for handeling? What’s up with that?

    Because there’s more to handling than just statistics and theory. Rear-wheel drive does not automatically infer good handing or “fun-ness”. You have to consider the whole package: suspension, steering, chassis stiffness, noise/vibration isolation, even interior design and ergonomics.

  • avatar
    beken

    This series was pretty close to what I went through last year with the exception of the Jag. Though I would have been interested in having a look at the Jag, my wife wasn’t. We looked at an Acura instead and it didn’t make the grade for my wife. Otherwise we came up with pretty well the same result.
    Sad thing is, we had no intention of picking the BMW. We had checkbook in hand ready to buy an Audi when I told my wife to “let’s just pop down the street and have a look at the BMW”. It was close, and my wife had the final say. The driving feel was just better for her.
    I live in an area where the per-capita ratio of BMWs on the road is extremely high. Being non-conformists, we had avoided even considering BMW cars. But, like TTAC, we have caved and now sound like C&D or Motor Trend. AURRGGHH!!!

  • avatar
    guyincognito

    @ blau,

    My Jaguar X-Type left me stranded by the side of the road, at night, in a particularly bad part of Detroit, 2 weeks after I got it. It was a fun 2 hour wait for the tow truck!

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Tstag :
    October 23rd, 2009 at 2:51 pm

    How did this car do so well in the handeling department. It’s front wheel drive for crying out loud?

    I mean the XF is RWD and get’s the same amount of stars for handeling? What’s up with that? Has anyone on here had a go in an XFR? And tried that against this…. The Audi couldn’t put that much BHP through it’s VW front wheel drive floorpan. Go over 230 BHP and your dead in a FWD car.

    Good thing the Audi has AWD, then….

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    SupaMan :
    October 23rd, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    My, how the tables have turned. You’d think that, even with twin turbos, there’d be some hint of lag before the engine finally hunkers down whereas with the Audi’s supercharged six, hit the gas and there’s ZERO lag.

    This is the first review I’ve read where BMW’s famous twin turbo six shows zero lag against the Audi’s supercharged unit.

    I’ve sampled that twin-turbo BMW six in two applications the 3-series and 5-series. I’m here to report: turbo lag has been banished completely.

    Drive one for yourself, and if you can detect any lag, I’ll buy you a beer. Seriously.

    The Audi doesn’t lag – it just delivers its power differently. The BMW twin turbo is designed to hit peak torque at 1400 rpm, while the Audi delivers peak torque at around 2500 rpm. The difference is that the BMW has its afterburners lit from a standing start, while the Audi’s kick in about a second later. After that, it’s seamless.

    The supercharged 6 should be even more fun in the S4.

    Two great engines, for sure…one’s just a bit better. Read tomorrow’s review for why.

  • avatar
    Durask

    Here is what the typical $50k luxury car buyer really thinks when he’s looking at cars:
    1. Do I look good in this car?
    2. Is it better than my neighbor’s/co-worker’s car?
    3. Will it help me to attract the opposite sex?
    4. Can I afford the payment?
    5. Do I have to visit the dealer a lot?
    6. How’s the resale?
    ————————-

    1. Huh?

    2. When you buy this kind of car, you usually live in a certain neighbourhood where what car you drive means jack. Your neighbour who drives a Camry could be worth 10 times more than you.

    3. That’s either young guys who lease entry-level luxury (think Inifini G) or divorced old rich guys who buy 100K sport(ish) cars. :)

    4. If you are asking this question, you shouldn’t be wasting your money on a car.

    5. It’s not visiting the dealer, it’s the quality of service that you get when you visit the dealer, in which case a particular dealer means more than a brand.

    6. Resale? Who cares. If you buy a 70K car, how much will it cost in 7 years? And what are you going to do about it? If you trade in, you will get pennies, even for a Lexus. What are you going to do, put it on Craigslist and have crowds of people coming to your house to test drive it (or maybe they are checking out your house to see if they can burglarize it later)? If you have a successfull business, time is money and you don’t waste your work time or your free time on selling cars on Craigslist.

  • avatar
    PennSt8

    “All the previous generation infinitis had the same basic setup with the hvac controls on the top of the dash by the little orange display. All the new ones have the rotating dial with all the buttons. I think the only infinitis I’ve never driven are the old M30 convertible and the new droptop G”

    I’m talking late model Infiniti models, starting with the redesign of the G. I am familiar with the dial and buttons surrounding it, and I still don’t see where the latptop comparison is coming from. On top of that the setup in the M Series differs from that of the G/FX/EX.

  • avatar

    The Audi interiors never impressed me. I just don’t like em. And I really should considering how many buttons and features it has. But the features really are ridiculous.

    MMI is WORSE than COMAND and not as good as the newest iDrive in the 750 (2009).

    The red dials don’t connect with me. Looks like an X-Wing fighter but less exciting.

    I find it amazing how reviewers always gloss over the plastic bins and fold outs that feel like economy class on a 747. Audi’s feel so cheap in my opinion.

    I’d never buy one. I’m sticking with Mercedes Benz, but if I had to choose something else I’d take the BMW instead.

  • avatar
    dilbert

    Right, so now the story goes from:

    “Reliability is trivial and the Germans simply couldn’t be bothered because they focused on making their cars so much more desirable”

    to

    “It’s only the electronics that blow up and it’s ok as long as the engine didn’t”.

    Gotcha.

  • avatar
    George B

    Engineering involves compromises. It appears that European manufacturers are more willing to go for maximum performance at the expense of maintenance cost and time. Japanese manufacturers, especially Toyota, appear to be more conservative, placing more value on reducing maintenance cost and time. Neither is the “right” answer. The customer gets to choose.

    Not shopping at this price point, but I keep considering the A4. So far I prefer the Japanese, but the German brands could win me over.

  • avatar
    russification

    notched trunk…christmas lights for low beams….

  • avatar
    ZekeToronto

    saponetta wrote:

    I would say that the the audi name, higher quality interior and the fact that it is built in germany make up that $1000 difference.

    The higher quality interior and handful of extra toys were nice, but what really sold me on a FWD premium A3 over an optioned up GTI was the more grownup, non-boy racer look. Ten years ago, I might have chosen differently–even though, as you pointed out, the price difference was negligible.

  • avatar
    Davekaybsc

    When it comes time to replace my ’04 A6 2.7T S-line, it will most likely be another A6. I like Infiniti as a brand, but I can’t get past the current M’s non styling, cheapo interior, and its NVAH problems. The upcoming M37 looks great though, and I could definitely consider that, depending on how the C7 A6 turns out.

    I hope that Audi steps up their interior game with the C7 A6. The C6 isn’t bad, but it definitely could be better. Audi buyers go for styling, Quattro, and interior design/quality. If Audi pulls a Toyota and starts really going Fisher-Price, we’re going to jump ship.

  • avatar
    Autosavant

    dswilly :
    October 23rd, 2009 at 4:01 pm

    I’ll go German every time. I have owned 5 BMW’s 1 with 300+ k all tough as nails and not expensive to maintain. I presently have a 2003 e46 3 series with 70K and a 2003 Honda with 70k, the Honda has had more problems, which are few. But the 3 has had zero. The quality and driving experience between the two cars is not even close. My wife and I fight over driving the BMW practically every day.

    So I was NOT just “lucky” when I made an educated risky decision to buy, without even checking by a mechanic, after two test drives, and after seeing the full Dealer printout of my 98 740iL’s maintenance and repair record for its 113k miles until oct 05.

    I also have a Honda (actually had two when I bought the “Magnificent 7″ and drove the 1990 Accord 5-speed around town until I donated it to charity. The Accord rusted and developed other issues by the time I donated it, had 137k miles. But the 740iL now has 129k miles and STILL drives and looks like NEW inside and out. ANd the Accord’s exhaust needed replacements of some part or another every 2 years, while the BMw, NONE so far in 4 years+.

  • avatar
    Autosavant

    “..2003 e46 3 series with 70K ”

    I like the styling of this previous 3 far more than the current 3. It is also quite fuel efficient if you do not get the M3.. If not for the winter driving in this snow-cursed area, I would get an e46 M3 for driving around town. Now, amazingly, I use the 740iL all year round with only the same all-season tires winter and summer, and no chains either. It has NEVER had a single misstep in the snow! And it is strictly RWD!

    I discussed this with colleagues and friends and two explanations are 1) the 7′s hevay weight and 2) its perfect 50-50% weight distribution, but I think it is probably 3) all these systems, ABS, Stability, even YAW control that my old 98 740il has! (other guesses considered)

  • avatar
    william442

    Thanks BMWfan. That was once explained in their own magazine. Do these people not own the cars they critique?

  • avatar

    Autosavant: I think the real problem is that the e90 is cheaper than the e46 inside. I could be happy with a flame surfaced car but want an evolved e46 interior.

    On another topic, manual with RWD with dedicated snow tires is quite good. I’ve climbed hills that 4wd rigs and all seasons could not conquer. 4wd for normal street use is hugely oversold in North America.

    I was in the dealer getting radio knobs for my 200k mile 330i and saw the equivalent car (equipment wise) on the showroom floor. A 335i with sport, etc was $51,000 before 8% tax. I’d gain the 300hp turbo, but the whole car is built a notch cheaper. The seats are still wonderful, but the interior is just ugly, and the switchgear went downmarket. Someone said build it for 10% less this time, and an engineer didn’t/couldn’t stop them.

    One huge problem for these car makers I overheard at a party recently. A money manager who claimed not to have had much setback said his E class lease is up. He liked it, and would do it again but as the market is so bad, he’s looking for something “less flashy”. It appears some of his high value clients have been out of work for going on a year….

  • avatar
    Autosavant

    “Author: speedlaw
    Comment:
    Autosavant: I think the real problem is that the e90 is cheaper than the e46 inside.”

    I agree. My old 98 usually does not get rentals when I take it to the dealer for service, but they once could not figure it out in time and gave me a free 328iX, I believe, and the auto at that. I did not like it one bit, it did feel cheapo inside, and the ride was of course not even close to that of my 740iL I only paid $10.5k to buy back in 05.

    ” I could be happy with a flame surfaced car but want an evolved e46 interior.”

    The interior is the most important, but I like a good exterior too. Esp. if I buy new or almost new.

    ” A 335i with sport, etc was $51,000 before 8% tax. I’d gain the 300hp turbo, but the whole car is built a notch cheaper. The seats are still wonderful, but the interior is just ugly, and the switchgear went downmarket. “

    That explains why I got that impression (without looking at it carefully) in that loaner.

    “One huge problem for these car makers I overheard at a party recently. A money manager who claimed not to have had much setback said his E class lease is up. He liked it, and would do it again but as the market is so bad, he’s looking for something “less flashy”.”

    In his case, I’d keep the old E instead of getting the uglier (exterior) new one. The old E diesel I would consider seriously later. Esp. if it is avail in wagon.

    PS I never used any snow tires on my 7 and drive it all year round in its one set of all season tires, and still no problem ever. Maybe the hills in my town not being as steep as Lombard Str in San Fransisco helps.

  • avatar
    Autosavant

    PS2: If shopping for a new 3, why get the 335 i? get the fantastic, performance Diesel version!!

    And especially if you are considering an X5, then the diesel works amazingly well and actual mPGs were even higher than the 26 EPA mpg highway! Morotweek got over 27 mpg from the 5,000+ lb beast in Mixed Driving!!!

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Autosavant :
    October 26th, 2009 at 10:17 am

    PS2: If shopping for a new 3, why get the 335 i? get the fantastic, performance Diesel version!!

    And especially if you are considering an X5, then the diesel works amazingly well and actual mPGs were even higher than the 26 EPA mpg highway! Morotweek got over 27 mpg from the 5,000+ lb beast in Mixed Driving!!!

    I don’t get the 335d at all. It’s more expensive than the gas 335, which will clean the diesel’s clocks at any speed over 35 mph. And is the gas version a pig at the pumps? Not at all…17/25 mpg is damned respectable for a car that will do 0-60 in five seconds.

    The X5 diesel makes a lot more sense – it’s a big, heavy vehicle, so the torque-monster engine will do it justice.

    But I don’t get the point of the 335d. I don’t think buyers get it either – my local BMW store ordered one back in February and still has it on the lot as a demo.

  • avatar
    Kristjan Ambroz

    Well, MB did get the chief Audi interior designer some years back and their interiors did improve a bit as a result. IIRC the current SLK was the first car with an Audi-fied interior. Still not nearly where it should be IMHO.

    I also fully agree on the annoying MMI, which in my opinion works less well than the iDrive.

  • avatar
    ZekeToronto

    As bad as the BMW and Mercedes systems are, at least they leave the basic radio controls on the dash, where God, Krishna, Allah, and Bahá’u’lláh intended them to be.

    As an atheist, I’m quite happy having the basic audio controls on the steering wheel … where Audi puts them. Beats reaching for the dash any day.

    Also, colour me surprised to see the steering wheel from my A3 in this car (that costs twice as much).

  • avatar
    Ynnekdude

    Beautiful picture to start off the article ;)

  • avatar
    Gottleib

    After reading this article and the comments I can conclude that people definitely see what they want to see. Those that think German cars are better espouse their reasoning, those that don’t espouse their reasoning. At the end of the day it all boils down to ” don’t confuse me with the facts I all ready made up my mind!”

  • avatar
    acaper

    So…I’m on my 6th used Audi since the mid-90′s (2 5k sedans, one 5k Avant, and ’00, ’02 and ’06 A6′s. The first two A6′s were bi-turbos; the ’06 is a 3.2 I bought for my wife). Only the ’06 was bought with less than 80k miles on it (it had 55k when we got it 3 months ago).
     
    The ’02 bi-turbo was pretty typical of how I’ve bought them — I paid $14.6k w/new brakes, timing belt and water pump from a guy who owns a speed shop up in NH and goes to auctions for off-lease cars. I mentally set aside $3k for any unexpected expenses, and other than an O2 sensor I’ve had none. It now has 122k on it, and I’ve only had to do wear and tear stuff — brakes & tires. It’s got a click on hard rights, so I’ll have to do a new CV joint, probably after this winter. The car is in great shape, despite the fact that I live in the city and most of its miles are city or near-city driving. I’ll probably drive it until it has 150k or so and sell it for $4-5k. So I’ll have spent ~ $10k in depreciation and maybe another $5k in maintenance. Call it $15k in vehicle-related expense for 70k of driving. 70k of 6-speed manual, bi-turbo, AWD, kick-ass, “oops I passed that guy doing 100 w/out realizing how fast I was going” driving.
     
    Just to quash the naysayers, my entire family has driven Audi’s for about the past 20 years, and we’ve all had the same experience. The biggest misery was the tendency for the old 5000′s to spring leaks in the power steering and brake systems that was a pain in the ass. No such misery since they went to the As. I did have one “by the side of the road” experience, but that was when my mechanic screwed up the tensioner during a scheduled timing belt replacement and the engine turned into a lump of dead metal at 75MPH. The new ones have chains, not belts.
     
    Yes, they depreciate like hell for the first three years, but that’s more of a function of Audi’s aggressiveness in leasing them and dealers’ refusal to negotiate over the buyout price (I found the original owner of my ’06 bi-turbo. The dealer wanted $28k for the buyout, she offered $24k, which was blue book. It sold for $11k at auction and went through two hands before I bought it for $14.6k. She was beside herself when I told her about that).
     
    If you can handle not having the latest and greatest at all times, there’s no better car dollar-for-dollar.  Buy it off lease from someone who knows how to buy & sell Audi’s and you can do the same. DO NOT be afraid of maintenance expenses — instead, buy it right, find a mechanic you like & trust (NOT A DEALER!) and prepare to be pleasantly surprised.


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