Sajeev & Steve:
I am currently cruising through all four Canadian seasons in my 2008 6MT Audi S5. Could be worse, I know. The car is owned by Audi Finance, and apparently they want it back at the end of November – something about the lease term coming to an end. As of late, conversations about the S5 have gone something like this:
Q1. Do you like it?
A1. Unequivocally It’s amazing.
Q2. Are you going to buy it out or extend the lease?
A2. Absof@!%inglutely not.
Q3. Why not – you just said you loved it?!
A3. True, but it’s a constant reminder of the adages (i) never buy a first year vehicle (ii) never lease a car out of warranty and (iii) someone, somewhere, is tired of her sh!t. Well, maybe just the first two.
The car itself is amazing to drive in any conditions on any road – almost too good. It’s very, very fast, comfortable, handles beautifully (with the usual Quattro understeer), beautiful to look at, has rear view camera, parking sensors, iPod integration, heated seats, bluetooth, navigation, B&O sound system, etc. I’ve had it at the track a number of times, drive it to work in traffic every day and have dedicated rims and brilliant snow tires for winter (making snow and ice something to smile about). The trunk is massive; I have taken two other people and all our ski and snowboard gear to Blue Mountain, and often take a passenger and two full hockey bags two the rink once a week. Hell, I have even managed to escape the concentric circle of hell that is IKEA with a twin mattress in the back and still been able to see out the back window. For some inexplicable reason, I still hand wash it and park it far away from anything or anybody; it looks and drives like it’s brand new.
That said, it also has had at least $5000 worth of work done to it under warranty, including new front control arms, an entire new clutch assembly and master slave cylinder, new blower motor and fan and new window regulator. On top of the repairs, the 4.2L V8 is a very thirsty beast and it costs a second king’s ransom to lease and insure every month.
So – the question isn’t whether or not to buy it out or extend the lease. I won’t own this car one second out of warranty and I don’t see any point extending the lease on a 2008 when you can spend the same money leasing a newer model.
The question is – where do I go from here? November isn’t exactly the best time to be putting a new car on the road in this part of the world. Hell, I’m not even close to being convinced that I want a brand new car. This was my first new, never driven by anyone else, vehicle. Definitely the nicest car I’ve ever owned as well. I previously had a nice 2004 Infiniti G35 I picked up off of Leasebusters after some chump put $7000 down, didn’t drive it and then walked away. Prior to that I had a well used Integra that simply wouldn’t die no matter how much it was abused. Previous rides are of varying levels of embarrassment and, for that matter alone, deemed irrelevant.
What else has the style, handling and versatility of the S5? I’ve toyed with the idea of a GT-R, but those things are now almost $130K here (taxes in). I am going to have a hard time justifying spending $100K on anything given the (i) state of the roads (i) lack of parking lot manners (iii) inadequacy of driver training and (iv) lack of traffic violation enforcement for anything other than speeding in a straight line on an empty road.
Do I insist on AWD? I think it’s brilliant. especially after driving the G35 (not to mention having to dig it out of the driveway numerous times). Do I suck it up, put on my big boy pants and get a 9114S? Do I buy a winter AWD vehicle like a used FJ Cruiser and then look for a three season, perfectly balanced, gently used and good for the occasional track day, as yet to be determined, second car? I find myself looking at 993 Turbos online fairly often.
This isn’t about money. It is, however, about smart money. I’m barely over 40, gainfully employed, have my own hair and am financially secure. That said, I don’t need a bright orange lambo in the driveway in order to impress the neighbours, the ladies or both.
I see you are suffering from Audi syndrome. Symptoms include but not limited to…
1) Bitching about the lack of reliability.
2) Bitching about the cost of repair.
3) Delusions of grandeur involving even more expensive vehicles… all of which have abysmal ownership costs.
4) Inability to perform simple addition
5) Bitching, bitching, moaning, whining, and even more bitching!
So let’s get to the point…
Do you like the car?
If so then keep it. The maintenance costs will likely cost less than the monthly payment. Plus if we’re talking about ‘smart money’ then leasing should be as far away from your vocabulary as Mercury is from Pluto.
I would look at lowering the overall costs by opting for a good independent shop that specializes in Audis. Subscribe to a few forums that are Audi-centric. Figure out what parts companies offer high quality replacements for the lackluster and under-engineered components… and have at it.
Wow, that’s a nice list of things to fix under warranty! I am sure Jack Baruth had a similar level of torrid romance with his S5, pictured above.
We all know that modern German cars are crap relative to their Japanese and American counterparts. Fine. But I am still dumbfounded as to why modern German cars eat through control arms in the infancy of their lives. Two Benzes in the Mehta family, a friend’s BMW, another friend’s VW, and your Audi. And here I was bitching because the complex suspension in my Lincoln Mark VIII needed a full rebuild after 10 years and 130,000 miles on the road!
Short answer? Just least another Audi. You need them, and I don’t know if a BMW will charm you enough to justify jumping ship. I suspect your gut is telling you the same thing, especially if you love AWD.
As to your reference of smart money? Join me in the ranks of Ford Ranger ownership, but go ahead and spring for a quattro-like 4×4. Keepin’ it too real? Stick with the four ring brand, buy according to your pocketbook and what has the sweetest lease deals at the time.
Need help with a car buying conundrum? Email your particulars to firstname.lastname@example.org , and let TTAC’s collective wisdom make the decision easier… or possibly much, much harder.