By on December 8, 2011


Kevin writes:

Sajeev and 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. [email protected]!%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.

Steve Answers:

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.

Sajeev Answers:

Wow, that’s a nice list of things to fix under warranty! You and Jack Baruth can trade war stories on your S5 mechanical woes, except he dumped the green monster pictured above.  He wisely moved onwards and upwards to Panther Love…via Lincoln Town Car Signature Limited, son! (HINT- HINT)

We all know that modern German cars are absolute 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 lease 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 much as I envision.

As to your reference of smart money?  Join me in the ranks of stupid cheap Ford Ranger/Toyota Tacoma ownership, but go ahead and spring for a 4×4. Keepin’ it too real?  Stick with the four ring brand, and buy according to your pocketbook and what has the sweetest lease deals at the time of your visit to the dealership.


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86 Comments on “New or Used: Audi Syndrome?...”

  • avatar

    Infiniti G37x Coupe was the answer you’re looking for. 90% of the S5’s performance, 120% of it’s fuel mileage, 0% of it’s reliability issues, and something like 60-70% of it’s price. If you have the money for this segment of cars, most people once they go Infiniti they don’t go back.

    Or if you’re not tired of “sh*t breaking on my sh*tty German piece of sh*t” you could look into a 335xi coupe.

    • 0 avatar

      I came from a G35 prior to the S5. Great car. Fabulous engine. Better than good transmission. That said, I couldn’t bring myself to trade the safety blanket of AWD for the yawn inducing blandness of the automatic tranny on the G37x. That and I still think the G35 was far better proportioned than the G37…

    • 0 avatar

      E46, normally aspirated 3.0 six, manual trans….260k and counting. Stuff breaks, you fix it. Still cheaper than an Accord, and lots more fun. DIY is a must, but if you got that, you are golden.

      Never buy a car without a huge aftermarket presence.

  • avatar

    Option 1: If you like having a new car every few years, lease another Audi since you like them and are familiar with them.

    Option 2: If you want to be smart about your money, find a nice AWD car you like, get a good warranty, pay it off, and enjoy it for a while.

    Too bad Ford didn’t make any AWD Panthers. :(

  • avatar

    Jack bought that abomination? Do leasing companies even let people choose colors that hideous?

    I disagree with Steve here. If current German cars appeal to someone, leasing is the only course of action. Always have an exit strategy.

    • 0 avatar

      Yes he did :

      And yes the German auto manufacturers do allow people choice in what they want to lease.

      • 0 avatar

        So you say, but take a look at the color pallet for a 3 series BMW. The options run the spectrum from white to black through a small variety of greiges.

      • 0 avatar

        I know I’m asking more of you than has ever been demanded before, but does BMW lease Induhvidual cars? That’s the question. Sure, they’ll do dumb things for dumb people, but that doesn’t mean their dealers will stock unsalable oddities for the majority of their customers that lease.

        Bangle didn’t ban colors because they didn’t do his feces justice. He banned them because he knew that the best his cars could look would be in drab shades that didn’t fully reveal his complete lack of talent.

      • 0 avatar

        Yes, BMW will lease Individual cars. And by definition, Individual cars are built to order.

        I considered going through individual when I ordered my car, but decided the price of entry was too steep when I liked the “standard” Tasman Green on Chestnut combo well enough. The leasing or financing is completely seperate from the ordering process. I could have leased my special ordered unicorn – a 6spd manual RWD 3-series station wagon – would be damned near unsellable on most dealer lots after the lease return.

        One thing to note though – if you are looking at BMW’s web site you will see that certain colors and options are marked as “special option for special consideration only, please come talk to us” – that is BMW-speak for special order only. Generally speaking, dealers are NOT allowed to order cars in those colors or with those options for inventory. BMW is SERIOUSLY pushing build-to-order, and this is one of the ways they are making it more interesting to people. My car is special order only in exterior, interior and trim colors. I’ll probably never see another one like it.

        My local dealer is selling well over half of their sales as BTO. I do agree though, the standard German color pallet is bloody boring.

        I’ll disagree on the need for the Sport Pkg though – my car is plenty stiff enough without it. Plus I am a bit broad of beam for the Sport Seats.

    • 0 avatar

      BMW has Individual program for people who want to go with unique paint job, leather color or some other visual options. I remember seeing E38 7-Series in red color, ordered through BMW Individual.

      • 0 avatar

        Thanks Bimmer for correcting CJ, lets hope he adjusts his opinion to meet the facts.
        I saw two blues and a red – none of which could be called greiges. But then if that is what the market wants you should be happy!

      • 0 avatar

        Yep, with BMW Individual you can specify more colors for the interior and exterior. There are some standard Individual colors but you can also provide them with a random paint sample. You can specify the colors in the german configurator (and the Dutch one, probably any European one). I’ve read before that it’s sometimes difficult for US buyers to spec the Individual stuff on fora but I can’t really imagine BMW would not take the oppertunity to earn some extra cash, plus the oppertunity to have some more special looking BMWs rolling around in nice colors.

        Wait…that explains it I think, they don’t trust Z Americans to chose a decent color and are afraid that in no time hideously colored bimmers will roam the streets…

        (btw, on their rather dreary standard color options; Bangle prohibited BMW from offering the E60/1 in red IIRC, vause he felt it didn’t do justice to the design).

      • 0 avatar

        Bangle was no small fool.

      • 0 avatar

        +1 on Individual. It got me cloth sport seats instead of leather or pleather. Along with possibly the only 330i sport pkg with no sunroof. They will make what you want, just bring $$$ and some spare time to wait.

        All those grey colors are “sales manager” cars. This is why the typical car is silver, automatic, 4wd, premium and leather, and why you have to special order a sport package or MT.

        If you don’t go the sport package route, save your money and buy a Honda-you’ve de-fanged the car and the Accord will break less.

  • avatar

    G37x, M45x, the last TSX with V6 and AWD, last generation of Subaru Legacies/Outbacks with 2.5 Turbo engine…
    Anything European currently available here will leave with similar maintenance costs, really.

  • avatar

    Plus if we’re talking about ‘smart money’ then leasing should be as far away from your vocabulary as Mercury is from Pluto.

    Why? If your someone who likes a new car every few years, it’s likely the cheapest option.

    • 0 avatar

      No. Even if you replace your car every few years, the math works out better for owning than leasing.

      There’s a reason they promote leasing so much–they make more money.

      • 0 avatar

        If only life were that simple.

        1. Tax considerations – some people can write off a monthly lease whereas they have less ability when they own the car.

        2. The cost of money varies considerably – some leases are much cheaper in terms of the interest rate than others. Rates also vary month to month based upon when the finance guys want cars coming back – sometimes a 39 month lease is much less expensive than a 48 month lease because they want to incent cars coming back in 39 months and see a glut of cars coming back in 48 months.

        3. Opportunity cost of money – 99.99% of cars depreciate in value. If I can lease a car at 1.9% and invest the money I would have paid out if I’d purchased it and make in excess of 1.9%, I’m likely ahead of the game.

        4. Your cost of money – do you have the money to buy outright and have no debt? Are you paying 19% on your credit cards but could pay them down and lease a car at 1.9% instead?

        5. Residual Value – It seems obvious, but it’s lost on many that the purchase price of the car is only half the equation if you are leasing. A lease is the financing of the difference between the purchase price and the estimated value of the car at the end of the lease. You could lease a $1M car for next to nothing if the finance company estimates the residual value at the end of the lease is $999,999. If you lease a car at a good finance rate and the residual value at the end of the lease is estimated to be 50% of the purchase price, but it turns out that the car has plummeted in value and is only actually worth 30%, you were likely much better off having leased the vehicle. You only financed 50% and the leasing company is holding the bag for the remaining 20%. If you’d purchased it, you’d be holding the bag for the entire 70%.

        6. Open Ended vs Closed Ended Leases – do your homework and use the google.

  • avatar

    because mercury is really far from pluto, and your compromise is somewhere barely outside of orbit of one of those planets.

    • 0 avatar

      Right now Pluto is a bit beyond 3,000,000,000 miles from the sun, heading out to 5,000,000,000 in another hundred years and change. Mercury is a few tens of millions (10,000,000) of miles from the sun. So, yeah, it’s a long way.

  • avatar

    I’ve had it at the track a number of times

    Two questions:

    1. You’re allowed to take a leased vehicle to the track?

    2. Does Mitsubishi offer leases on the Evo X?

    • 0 avatar

      You sure can bring leased vehicles to the track.

    • 0 avatar

      “Does Mitsubishi offer leases on the Evo X?”

      Its apparently rare, but they did make me an offer when I was cross shopping the Evo MR with the 3-Series/A4/G37 as I was considering leasing for the 3 and A4. The lease offer wasn’t that attractive. The money factor was good, coming out to an equivalent of 0.9% APR, but the residual was low so I wasn’t going to save much capital by way of monthly payment compared to financing (0-1.9% depending on duration).

      I found out that Evos on the Sold section of eBay autos were going for much more, so I figured I might as well buy it and should have buyers for a well kept supposedly last gen Evo especially among the tuner set. I did end up buying it and it’s my DD. I love it so far except for two flaws: lack of telescoping steering wheel and height adjustment in the seat. Another minor issue is the fuel consumption, but in its class and price I can’t really complaing :)

  • avatar

    “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.”

    This is why (IMHO) you never buy a German luxury vehicle unless (expensive & complicated) repairs and working on the vehicle is a hobby of yours and would be a labor of love.

    If you want to BUY a luxury vehicle go with the Japanese…Infiniti, Acura and/or Lexus. Those are luxury cars you can drive off into the sunset with without parts falling off as you drive down the road.

  • avatar
    Point Given

    Based on what you are talking about gotta give props to Infiniti G37x as the suggested above. M45x too. Fantastic cars.

    warning…..fleet manager/ car sales talk………….
    I’ve got one black and one white GTR in stock that we don’t want to sit on over the winter and would give a fair price on. I’m in Alberta though.

  • avatar

    Seems like there are some performance-oriented AWD options that should have lower running costs and not cause as much stress parked near a grocery store. That said, OP’s thoughts on this are all over the place. How does someone consider a GT-R for a daily?

    Previous generation Legacy GT

    Could even stay in the VAG family and consider a Golf R

    • 0 avatar

      How does a person who loves cars and doesn’t have any kids NOT consider an AWD monster like the GT-R as a daily driver?! The problem with the GT-R is that it is the ultimate armchair vehicle – everyone talks about it but nobody who does has actually driven it.

      There’s a pretty good argument to be made that the GT-R is a lot more suited to being a DD than the car I did choose, being a 2006 911 C4S.

      • 0 avatar

        I’ll admit I haven’t driven it, but the first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions GT-R is ridiculous performance. Combine that with an inability to use that performance (based on your own description of your driving environment with regards to police, road conditions, etc) and a not cheap price, and I would rule it out as a daily. I guess the performance leads me to pigeonhole it as a track weapon unsuitable for sharing ruined roads with the public.

      • 0 avatar

        I got two hours in a GT-R. It is not a daily driver. It rides like a race car, has very stiff seats (from a firm sport seat kinda guy), is noisy, and gets all of 15 mpg hwy.

        Was it fun ? Hell yes, best time I’ve had on four wheels and on a public road. Do you need to carry $1000 with you at all times ? Yes, Bail money is a good idea in this car.

        Sitting in traffic with this car would be a wasted asset. Buy a GT-R for fun driving and a secondhand anything else for bad weather. The GT-R sits in the heated garage next to the Ferrari, Viper and Vette as cars to drive on nice days. In my dreams

    • 0 avatar

      A guy where I work has driven a red 2011 GT-R daily since this past March or so. He even parks amongst the plebes. No one can figure out how he paid for it, because no one under the VP level is making enough scratch to even consider a GT-R.

      The Top Gear inspired custom license plate is a nice touch, but I can’t say the same for the soot belched out of the quad exhaust as he stomps the throttle to enter the roadway.

      • 0 avatar

        When I was a college student I lived at a pretty run-down apartment complex; a two-bedroom apartment went for about $800 a month, in Houston. Someone in that complex owned a 911 Turbo; perhaps a young doctor, as the Texas Medical Center was but a mile away. Never understood why you would live in a place like that when you can afford to drive that sort of car.

        People will spend their money as they please. Maybe your co-worker eats Ramen noodles for dinner every night.

  • avatar

    If you want another S5, which is an AWD sporty coupe with nice interior and a manny tranny, then..

    hmm, I think you’re SOL, maybe a 335xi coupe is the only other option in that market.

    If you want a more reliable coupe, G37X, automatic only but definitely nice, probably less practical though.

    IMO, go sedan, get a TL SH-AWD with the 6MT, or a G37X sedan (but again, automatic only).

    Another excellent options is to discard the luxury aspect, get a used Subaru STi or Legacy Spec B (not sure on Canadian availability), maybe a mazdaspeed 6 or Evo.

    If you want to go with a 2 car solution, you could put luxury and AWD into the winter vehicle, get a lexus GX470 used. Excellent vehicles, good 4wd system, good practicality and comfort. Then you can do whatever you want for car 2, My suggestion is an S2000 or Evo/STi.

    If you’re not tall, the 4runner hits most of the marks the 470 does, just a bit snug vertically and less nice inside. New 5th gen 4runner is a bit better in this regard.

    FJ cruiser is the only SUV available with AWD and a manual, and it’s pretty spacious if not well appointed. Solid little vehicle, and fun to look at.

  • avatar


    Love Audis. Would love to own one. I read stuff like in this thread and shake my head and go, “nope.”

    Wish the quality bar would go up a hair.

    Interesting observation on the lower control arms. The GM Zeta platform was largely designed by poached BMW engineers; specifically the team that came up with the Commodore/VXR8/G8 depending on which continent you hail from. One amazing trait of the Commodore/VXR8/G8?

    Yup – you guessed it. Premature self-destructing lower control arms.

  • avatar

    Porsche is the answer. 993 is overvalued, 964 offers way better bang for buck!

    • 0 avatar

      I actually picked up a very well equipped and well priced 2006 9114S that an acquaintance was going to return to the dealership. I simply couldn’t pass it up. It’s got snow tires on it and is my new DD.

  • avatar

    My knowledge of high end Euro cars is squat. But Kevins description of Toronto’s lousy roads, rude drivers,and a lack of law enforcement is right on the money.

    I’m finding myself in downtown Toronto, two or three times a week. I can’t believe the amount of high end vehicles with scrapes,and bruises. I cringe leaving my Impala in the hospital underground parking. I look to park around around the most expensive car’s I can find.

    • 0 avatar

      In my experience, it is the drivers with the expensive vehicles that care the least about who is parked beside them! I used to work in the Yorkville area and had a guy in a Range Rover back into me and then jump out and exclaim, “sorry, I wasn’t looking!”.

      Another time, I parked beside a Porsche and came back to two spilled Starbucks cups… coffee had been spilled all over my car and froze to it since it was the winter.

      I find that people in average or worse vehicles are more courteous.

      But agreed. Toronto needs to up the budget on road repair.

      On to the original poster: If you like Audi and are looking at a 911 anyway, why not an R8? I’m pretty sure that they had an $8000 rebate and sweet lease deals pretty recently. The sales have been slowing down for that model says my Audi Salesman. You might be able to find a better deal VS brand new, first model year 911… plus, the R8 is absolutely beautiful.

  • avatar

    German, AWD, wicked fast, some utility. Sounds like an X6M owner to me.

    • 0 avatar

      Hah – 2 things missing there. First, I am not a fan of the slushbox. Haven’t had an automatic vehicle in recent memory and like driving too much to seriously contemplate it. Second, the Audi was gorgeous. Full stop.

  • avatar

    I can’t prove this, but there seem to be three varieties of Audi:

    -Fairly reliable (not exactly a Lexus, but tolerable)
    -Niggling issues but fair-to-middling (not major mechanical, but of the nickel-and-dime variety, such as blown bulbs, etc.)
    -Utter POS

    It sounds as if you got one of the last versions. (For what it’s worth, the expensive models seem more prone to be in the third category, while the mostly likely candidates for the first category will be your more run-of-the-mill A4.)

    Run away from it. It’s probably only going to get worse. Be glad that the lease gave you a chance to test drive it before committing to it.

    The Infiniti G is a good alternative if you want a long-term keeper. Most of the performance, but with far fewer issues.

  • avatar

    The phrase “smart money” is completely silly when discussing $60k+ cars. Given that, high-end Japanese is smart(er) money. Audis are wonderful when they aren’t endless annoying you with failures (I’ve had two). Rather than winter-beater, think daily-driver, since you can apparently afford that route. Subaru is the DD refugee camp of choice for disgruntled Audi owners. Then get a fun toy car to keep pristine: GT-R, 911, Lotus, Aston, Jag, depending on your taste of performance/comfort ratio.

  • avatar

    As someone terminally afflicted with Audi Syndrome – you’ll know by 55k miles what sort of Audi you’ve got. If you get past there it gets its second wind. I’m at 140k miles on my A4 2.8 quattro and despite the occasional maddening problem (broken rear transmission mount, anyone?) I’ve never regretted settling in for the long term.

    You just have to remember it ain’t a Honda. If the maintenance schedule says replace the timing belt and the water pump, do it.

    See, told you I had the disease. :)

  • avatar

    If you had bought it instead of leasing it, you’d feel the true cost of ownership even more. Now you’ll just kick the can down the road by being in a perpetual lease contract, pretending to spend less, yet actually spending more.

    I’m not sure the price or class of vehicle makes any difference; you’re driving an unreliable car. For you, it all depends on how cool it is to tell the ladies that your hi-po ride is in the shop.

    Your problem isn’t the car; it’s how to manage your self-image. Despite your claim that you don’t need a bright orange Lambo in the driveway to impress people, the other cars you’re considering are accomplishing the same thing. So if your deal is to impress yourself and others with a car, then don’t use terms like ‘smart money’ or you’ll just drive yourself to despair because there is no ‘smart money’ in this class of vehicle. You have to make up your mind what interest you’ll serve.

    • 0 avatar

      I learned long ago that the only people that give a rat’s ass about your car are dudes. And amateur psychoanalysts with a lot of time on their hands.

      • 0 avatar

        I have had as many or more women ask for a ride in my Cobra 247 S/C replica as men.

      • 0 avatar

        @gslippy: Agreed.
        Wrong. Women just express it differently (as with everything);

        you just have to work as an Interpreter instead of a literal-translationist.

        Jack should be well-versed in this, ask him [or Neil Strauss] when you have any further questions.

        Second. There is absolutely Zero quality-control within the psych. profession.
        It is an unfortunately bourgeois strain of pinheadedness that overvalues the rubber-stamped-but-nevertheless-existentially-Alleged “Professionals”.

        Remember: it was Amateurs who built the Ark and “Professionals” who built The Titanic ;P . (and Long-Term Capital, and Enron, and AIG, and Lehman, and MF Global, and S&P-ratings-fraudulent CDOs, and CDSs, etc. etc. etc.)

        @Flipper35: ++I would imagine Chuck’s experience with the E-Type is parallel in some ways also. “Item of Interest” approach-openers are just downright awesome aren’t they! :D

  • avatar

    Why not get a few vehicles and have fun picking your choice of what to drive that day? You could buy (3) really nice vehicles for instead of a GT-R and have plenty of coin left over.

    A car that begs for track abuse like a Mazda RX-8 or Mazdaspeed 3, an Infiniti G for when you are in the mood for something more comforting and a loaded to the gills Subaru Legacy for jaunts out into the snow.

    A major benefit of having multiple vehicles is if the police catch you doing 120mph down the highway and impound your vehicle you have a backup plan. And these vehicles will be FAR more reliable than your Audi.

  • avatar

    Most Audi’s I’ve seen stick their control arm’s upper joints within the wheel well, where they get bathed in mud, gravel and other junk the tires pick up and spew around inside the wheel well. Also, if you use chains on an A4, and the chains come loose, they’ll eat the control arm’s upper bushings.

    The Subarus I’ve driven, like most strut suspensions, keep their control arm bushings tucked close to the wheel center, so road junk doesn’t clobber them.

  • avatar

    Well, if money is no serious object, I think you already laid out a plan.

    Buy a used Toyota FJ for winter days. Lease a 911 for fun days (the new ones look amaaazing).

  • avatar

    On 7 years of Audi ownwerhip:

    She was seductive. She was beautiful. She was irresistible. I wanted her.

    She was willing, eager even. She was a poised and smooth and supple partner. She wasn’t even too expensive to feed.

    But she was often unfaithful. And when I came to my senses, my wallet was gone.

    Which is why the pillow next to mine now bears a “Lexus” logo.

  • avatar

    Had an Audi once. Loved it when I wasn’t working on it.

  • avatar

    Canadian RE hasn’t tanked yet. So I’d steer clear of more debt. Leasing a $50K + car wonderful if in an accident that’s not your fault. The leasing company takes the added depreciation.

  • avatar

    I’ve got 60,000 miles on my 2007 A3 and the only thing that broke was the AC and it was fixed under warranty. It is expensive to maintain and I go thru tires. Just wanted to say that this Audi has been more reliable than any other new car or truck I’ve owned.

  • avatar

    When the lease on my s4 ran out, I bought a M3 and a beater Durango for the winter.I wouldn’t subject another nice car to a Canadian winter, and can appreciate the M3 anew come spring. Also, where I would break into a cold sweat when thinking about actually owning the S4 out of warranty, you would have to pry the M3 out of my cold,dead hands. I live in a very isolated, small town and the Audi needed flat-bedding out of here twice, while the BMW has only ever needed fuel and rear tires.

    • 0 avatar

      Not a bad decision, but Western Canadian winters aren’t so bad. Absolutely nothing like the moist and salty Eastern ones. Visible body rust usually doesn’t start to appear until around the 15-year mark out west.

  • avatar

    First, whatinhell are you guys doing to eat front suspension bits?

    If the OP likes his S5, in the US at least, I think he wouldn’t get a reasonable deal to buy it out. Lease cars are often CPOed and you get 6/100 on a 2 1/2 to 3 year old car. My ’04 A4 has 130kmiles – CPO’ed – and my ’99 A4 (bought new) just turned 155kmiles. If you got a good one I agree you’ll know before the CPO is up. One more kid thru college w/o any debt and I can look at newer rides – one year to go. But Lang and Mehta are very persuasive about saving the $ for something more important…..

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Ford Fusion Sport AWD FTW! Yeah I know it’s not a manual but even Baruth liked it.

  • avatar

    I don’t see why people complain about Audi reliability. I had a trouble free 1999 A4 1.8T (bought new), it just turned 200k with no problems. I factory ordered a new 2012 Q7. I know a lot of people with Audis (mainly A4 and A6) they have all been trouble free.

    • 0 avatar

      And since your sample includes yourself and everyone you know with Audis (N=what- 20?), you could call that a truly representative sample of all people you know and there for say with a very high degree of confidence: “(as far as I know) Audis are reliable cars”

      My dad says the same thing. He drives an A6. It’s his second one–the first blew a head gasket (yep, 2.7T). At least you are evaluating some form of evidence. My parents just ignore it.

      My mom ignored my pleas to hang on to her first-gen TT (6MT, quattro, turbo or whatever the engine upgrade was with dual exhaust) which actually had zero problems beyond regular maintenance and had green leather seats to match the dark green color of the car and soft top. Now she drives a newer one that wasnt available with a stick (did she really think “dual-clutch” means “as fun as a third pedal”?? she seemed to think so).

      I told her she should just wait for something perfect to come along or get a GTI/R32. She was having none of that and seems to think I am crazy for questioning her move when i go to the house and see a Q5 loaner in the garage.

  • avatar

    The last thing you ever want to be stuck in is an old German car.
    soon as the 2013 S550 hits, mine is goin back for sure.

    My neighbor works for BMW and drives a 2003 BMW 745. He keeps it up, but, it just looks so dated compared to the new model(s). My other neighbor has a Audi A8. It actually looks better than the new A8 in my opinion, but, I’d hate to be him – stuck in the old model for ANY length of time.

    Psychological obsolescence is a bitch.

  • avatar

    Another option would be to come out to Denver, where at least 50 Audi Allroads are on sale right now, most between $10-12,000. Yesterday I bought an ’03 with 74K miles. My mechanic says that the car needs nothing but one new wiper arm. All the common preventive maintenance chores were recently performed. The seller had done $4k worth of recent work, correcting all the most common failure points of the model. Then his wife got pregnant again, and his loss was my gain. The car is covered by three years of aftermarket warranty. He wanted top dollar, $13,000, which just what my wife and I were happy to pay.

    For the price of the cheapest new car, I got one of the safest and most capable and luxurious vehicles ever made. Like a Car of the Future (Past). With a warranty! Pinch me, I’m dreaming…

  • avatar

    I don’t have a lot of sympathy for having to change the clutch and the control arms on a car that has “been on the track a number of times”.

    My take on German suspensions is that there is no breaking the laws of physics. If you want a big, heavy, powerful car that blends the handling of a sports car and the ride of a luxury car, something has to give. And that something is bushing and balljoint wear. Want bushings and balljoints that last forever? Fine, buy a Toyota. Unfortunately it will drive like a Toyota.

    I just don’t have a problem with maintenance to keep that fine German car driving like a fine German car. If the difference in lost on you, then enjoy your Japanese appliance all the way to the bank.

    • 0 avatar

      I wasn’t looking for your sympathy, I assure you. That said, I would have thought that on a dedicated car blog there would at least be a rudimentary understanding of things other than taking the family people hauler to 7-11 for milk. Tracking any car is generally less harmful than driving to work; other than the wear on tires, brakes and fluids. There aren’t any jumps.

      As for the clutch assembly, I promise the faulty throwout bearing and flywheel had nothing to do with actually driving the car and everything to do with quality of engineering and manufacture. Ditto for control arms that vibrated off the lot. Otherwise they would not have been covered under warranty. My bushings and ball joints, on the other hand, were as reliable as a seiko.

  • avatar

    One can argue about what “smart money” is. I think when it comes to pricey German cars, the smartest money is to go CPO. Let the original owner eat the $6,000 cost of the B&O stereo, etc. Buy at 2-3 years old, and depending on whether it’s a good or bad one (Audi, BMW and Mercedes are all pretty similar in terms of quality nowadays at least for their core models) so it doesn’t matter who you buy from. Either sell when the CPO/extended warranty expires, or hang on to it until you get tired of it.

    Of course it’s not as economical as an old Corolla, but you’re also not stuck driving an old Corolla.

    Also, if you think you can buy any new Lexus or Acura and automatically get a trouble free car for 200,000 miles, you’re dreaming. This isn’t 1992. You are LESS likely to get a lemon from Lexus or Acura yes, but the idea that Lexus and Acura don’t make lemons is a complete fallacy.

    • 0 avatar

      Last I checked, the BMW and Audi dealers around here would need to knock $5,000 to $10,000 off their CPO prices to make them seem even remotely attractive – as in, at least 13% annual depreciation – but they didn’t seem to want to budge much.

  • avatar
    PJ McCombs

    If you want a fast, AWD, manual car and really aren’t fussed about a prestige brand or Euro cachet, I’d say you sound like a prime candidate for a lightly-used previous-generation Impreza STI, Evo RS, or Legacy GT. Would take some searching to find a well-treated one, but–AWD, track-ready with the right tires, a steal compared to the S5 and at the very least marginally cheaper to run, refuel, and insure.

    Edit: Just saw you’ve bought a 911 4S. Can’t imagine it’ll be any simpler or more economical to run than the Audi, but certainly a step up the automotive food chain. Hope it works out well.

  • avatar

    I spent quite a bit of time helping my buddy pick the ideal sporty MT AWD daily driver with real back seats for Western Canadian use and he ended up with an ’11 S4. Another good buddy just ordered a ’12 S4. There’s nothing else comparable if you also want something remotely luxurious. Well, except the 535xi, but he didn’t want run-flat tires and there wasn’t even any room in the trunk for a spare, so he wouldn’t even have room for hockey equipment with a spare in the trunk for his studded winters. It also has no dipstick! He was able to get one for the S4.

    Let Audi have the S5 back and buy/lease a new S4 or S5. The new engine drinks far less fuel, puts less weight up front for better handling, and can be dealer-tuned through Stasis to be considerably more powerful than the 4.2L, if you desire. As it is, the 3.0L S4 was faster than the 4.2L S5 on C&D’s Lightning Lap, and received a far better review of the driving experience. My buddy has put in some really fast laps at our local track with his S4. And yes, we know that winter driving is a lot of fun. He runs Gislaved Nord Frost 5s through winter. The other buddy has some Hakka7s ready to be installed when his S4 order arrives in January. He got addicted to driving his Z06 to work every day last summer, and just couldn’t imagine another full winter of sedately driving his truck to the office and back every day.

    Edit: I also now see you got a 911. I hope it’s good to you. That seems like a car I’d enjoy driving every day!

    It’s unfortunate these articles aren’t more timely for those seeking opinions.

    • 0 avatar

      Thanks rpn453. I was really hoping to avoid another brand new car and the gobs of depreciation that go with it, which is why I went for the used 911 C4S. I definitely considered a new S4 or S5, but you wouldn’t believe the lead times you need to buy a new Audi over here (never mind a well equipped MT in a decent colour).

      As for timeliness, I fired off my Piston Slap question in June! June 22nd, to be exact. I figured (incorrectly) that there weren’t that many other people with analysis paralysis in the queue.

      The S5 was returned on December 1st and I didn’t really decide on the 911 until mid-November. I was set on picking up something cheap and cheerful until I could figure it all out, but the 911 presented itself at a similar price to the buy-back on the S5, so I added a 2 year CPO and went for it.


      ps. I was running Nokian Hakkapeliitta Rs on the S5 – unbelievably great tires.

      • 0 avatar

        Yeah, the one with the ’12 on the way got lucky with his order. The dealer had a spot in line for a similar car but it hadn’t been built yet and they let him make a couple of changes to the order sheet just in time, so the total wait will be about a month and a half. They did have a base MT model on the lot that he may have been willing to take, but he preferred having the sport diff, Nappa leather, and B&O so he decided to wait.

  • avatar

    I had a 2004 A6 2.7T. My old man has a 2000 A6 2.7T. Both were really reliable despite the 2000 A6 2.7T having the smaller oil lines to the turbos which Audi made larger in 2003 to prevent the turbos from blowing up. Only thing that has gone wrong with my father’s is the drivers window stopped working once. My 2004 was fine, near the end of my ownership of it it developed an annoying lifter tick which, from what I heard was normal and not a defect. Anyways both cars hit 100,000 on the odo without major headaches aside from replacing expensive wear items (my only major gripe). After my A6 I got a 2009 A3 3.2 S-Line with the magnetic suspension and all that jazz. Awesome car, no problems so far. I had all three fords I owned previously in the shop all the dang time. So far the Audis have been far superior in terms of reliability in my experience. I know that Lexus/Honda/Infiniti would be even better but I enjoy the Audi driving experience too much to ever consider changing brands.

  • avatar

    A Lincoln Town Car? A Lincoln Town car???? Gave up an S4 for a Lincoln Town car???? I am speechless. I cannot imagine. The Audi must have REALLY have beaten him up bad to go to that extreme. I cannot imagine. Tho I cringe everytime I look at a GTI, I am still subject to pangs of pain and joy, it hurts so good!!! But a lincoln Town car? I am shaking my head in wonder and bewilderment.

  • avatar

    Buy a used Honda Pilot or Nissan Murano to avoid having to work on sh*t in the winter and for summer find a Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 Track for BOTH the track and summer cruising. You could accomplish all this for less than the monthly outlay on the S5 and it would sync with your ‘smart money’ reference. Trips to the Collingwood ‘metro area’ would be a breeze up the 400 in the Pilot and the Genny is great summer and track vehicle. Just saying…
    P.S. I drive a 2010 Honda Ridgeline for my daily driver but have a 2008 G35S for other occasions. We had a 2010 Genny Coupe but with a 2.0T.

  • avatar

    If you lease a car at a good finance rate and the residual value at the end of the lease is estimated to be 50% of the purchase price, but it turns out that the car has plummeted in value and is only actually worth 30%, you were likely much better off having leased the vehicle. You only financed 50% and the leasing company is holding the bag for the remaining 20%. If you’d purchased it, you’d be holding the bag for the entire 70%.

    Should that happened too often, the co. will go Kaput! Who on earth could have figured out the Toxic mortgage was so bad!

  • avatar

    I wonder if the German makes simply have suspensions meant mostly for perfectly paved Autobahn roads and not our hellish landscape of moon surface roads.

    • 0 avatar

      I think it is a combination of this and engineering priorities. As Krhodes1 already said, German cars aren’t immune to physics. I can’t say it any better, so check out his comment above. In addition to control arm bushings and balljoints, they eat tires too (sport package BMWs at least).

    • 0 avatar

      Once I was chatting with a VW salesman – a Frenchman, I believe. I pointed out how it was hard to drive a Jetta or Passat in or out of his own dealership because the driveway curb angle was deep, for surface drainage. He replied, “In Germany, they don’t have streets like that.”

  • avatar

    Today’s Hyundai ads tell me that the ‘smart money’ buys the Equus.

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