Piston Slap: The One Strike Luxury Car Policy?

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
piston slap the one strike luxury car policy

Sam writes:

Hi Sajeev,

My wife is interested in upgrading from her Subaru Legacy to a more luxurious make. Nothing crazy, we’re talking BMW 428 or Audi A5 range. Her requirements include automatic transmission and the usual ‘winter package’: AWD, remote start, heated seats (and steering wheel, ideally), etc… She wants something mid-sized with a comfortable ride. Enough punch to feel fast without needing to actually be fast.

Here’s the hitch: when it comes to car problems, she has a “one-strike and you’re out” policy, so reliability is a big concern. We’ve never had anything fancier than Chevies or Subarus, but have heard plenty of horror stories about BMW transmissions or Audi electrical gremlins or Volkswagen, well, everything.

What would you and the B&B recommend in the semi-luxury coupe range (sub $50K) that provides a modicum of Fahrvergnügen while providing the best chance of avoiding the dealership’s repair shop? Suggestions are appreciated!


Sajeev answers:

Your wife’s (impressive) “one strike” policy is in direct conflict with her wish for a more premium, luxurious make. But premium cars have good warranties with nice loaner cars for 4 years or 50k miles: plenty of time to reconsider the “one strike” policy!

At a macro level, I doubt any one German brand is much better than the other. Even a particular body style has variances: some power trains are trouble prone, DSG gearboxes need specialized attention at regular intervals, and in-car technology can be buggy and glitchy. Hell, do you remember the drubbing Consumer Reports gave Ford for MyFordTouch? Keep this in mind with any option you consider on any car.

Focus on the vehicle and its options. You both must test drive the ones you like, research the past history – via recalls and more importantly, model specific forum feedback – and see if you both are comfortable taking the plunge. In general, buying the most common platform (A4, 3-series, etc.) with the least unique parts will net you a more reliable, durable and cost-effective vehicle after the warranty expires.

I promise you that you’ll learn a ton about your future vehicle purchase by reading the forums for owner feedback.

Some within the Best and Brightest grimace at the usual stereotypes I (and others) spread to Germany’s latest iron, because HPFPs, Sensotronic Brake Control, etc. are the past. So let’s see what the B&B consider the ideal luxury performance whip for your situation!

[Image: Shutterstock user supergenijalac]

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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2 of 113 comments
  • Equinox Equinox on Apr 20, 2015

    For what it is worth, I can provide my personal experience. I have owned a 2011 A4 for 4 years and 40,000 miles now with no issues at all. Prior to this I had a Civic Si and a Ford Focus that gave me 1 problem each!

  • Alcaponed Alcaponed on May 05, 2015

    G37S/Q60S coupe is the best right now in my opinion. Lexus RC is also nice but I find the G is better looking. It's definitely superior in driving dynamics as well. BMW reliability is terrible compared to Audi and Merc so I would avoid BMW if that's the main issue. For pure reliability though, Lexus has always been king, although Infiniti is not far behind.

  • FreedMike I'm going to rebadge my Jetta as an Audi and drink in the profits.
  • Kwik_Shift Looks HyunKia-ish.
  • MrIcky Seems like TTAC writers really want a ford sedan. I remember all the wailing and gnashing of teeth when the fusion went away. It's not an interesting car except to journos and just not what the general population requires. Time to let go.
  • MrIcky Seems like a Mustang for Mustang fans to talk about with other Mustang fans. I just went to the Corvette configutor and built a 2LT Z51 for 79,540, a base 1LT is $65k. Both are arguably nicer, and certainly better performers than this. If a Mustang is going to play in that bracket it has to do something different to beef up the emotional appeal. The supercharger did that, the flat plane crank that revved to >8k (if they worked out the bugs) does that. A 'regular' Mustang V8 with some parts out of the Ford Catalogue doesn't seem to be worth the >60k range.
  • Kcflyer For anywhere over 60k I'm buying a C8 which will run rings around any mustang ever made. I'm a huge mustang fan but......sorry. Now show me a GT with the "good" manual discounted to 40 grand and we can talk.