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Perception of Audi and BMW

Dear Readers,

What is the public perception of Audi vs BMW, and the reality of both brands in today’s market?

I like the Audi sport coupe S5. Is it worth $65K?

I live in the southwest.

Many thanks.

Both make terrific cars to drive and be “seen” in. BMW owners have the reputation of being much like the container of a feminine hygiene product for their attitudes and lack of parking courtesy. Audi owner, not so much. Both have quality and longevity issues with their current models. Both have factory service for the first 3 or 4 years and most get leased. Repairs and parts for either if kept beyond the warranty are VERY expensive.

I like the Audi S5 sport Coupe, too. Is it worth $65K? Not to me, but worth is a very subjective thing.

On the plus side, Audis and BMWs are great-looking cars that are very enjoyable to drive. On the minus side, you’ll have to suffer with sacrifices for performance (such as a firm ride and tons of brake dust), you’ll pay a lot for the features that you get (compared to Asian luxury cars), your cost of ownership will be high once the warranty is up, and your reliability will be average for BMW or below-average for Audi. Whether it’s worth it depends on your priorities. For me it’s not, which is why I’ll be replacing my current Acura with another one soon.

The Audi is a gussied up VW.
The BMW is high performance but finicky, complex, and surprisingly expensive to keep up, kind of like a kinky dutchess.

I have owned several of both, along with Porsche and Mercedes. Of the four brands, BMW is my favorite, especially the 3-series sedans. They offer the best combination of sportiness, elegance and comfort. Contrary to popular belief, they are not unreliable. My 1998 328 sedan has been the most reliable car I’ve owned needing only scheduled maintenance. I’m a RWD manual transmission guy and there are not many choices. Unfortunately, BMW’s switch to smaller turbo charged engines lost me as a customer. Their normally aspirated six cylinder engines are the smoothest in the world. And now…FWD BMWs and Mercedes! Get a Japanese car if you don’t care about handling.

The Audi is a beautiful car but it’s a no thanks from me at $65K. I might invest that kind of money in a motor home but never in a passenger vehicle without a bathroom, bedroom and a kitchen.

You are what you drive…Automakers cash in on that…$65K?? I wonder what it will be worth 3 years from now with 40,000 miles on it…I bet less than half the original asking price…That’s expensive transportation…It all depends on how hard you have to work to come up with the sixty-five grand…

My perception for BMWs as new cars is that they have very good reliability, but total owner cost is worse than an average car. That’s a reasonable compromise since you get the cache of driving a BMW and still good reliability. As used cars my perception is that BMW’s have less than average reliability, and they are more costly to repair than the standard econo-box when out of warranty.

For the Audi as a new car my perception is the reliability is pretty good, but not as good as the BMW, and owner cost is not quite as much as the BMW. As a used car my perception is the reliability suffers a bit, and like the BMW are costly to repair.

The S5 seems to have pretty good reliability ratings, but it has a more limited production time frame than other models.

I like the S5, but I’d have to be a very particular situation (lots of curvy roads and space to run) to pick the S5 over the A5. So I’d save that money. For $65k I’d rather go with the M4. But at that price, it’s all down to individual taste.

It’d help if you told us the cars you’ve really liked in the past.

I had a 2011 535i until I sold it. Seems that I did the wise thing according to Consumer Report for that model year.

I don’t have any experience with Audi. I’m not quite such which BMW is the best comparison to the Audi S5 in terms of a sporty looking and sounding. I understand that the Audi 5’s are getting long in the tooth…

Then try out the S5 and M4, maybe the E550 coupe.

My son has an Audi sedan, I think it’s an A4. He loves it, but hasn’t had it long enough yet to know anything about long term reliability or long term cost of ownership. They’re gorgeous cars. But my son also wears a Rolex. And just bought a beautiful home in southern CA, about 10 miles in from Malibu. Me, I’m on a budget. I have no more business buying an Audi than I’d have buying a Rolex.

My son also had a few BMWs when he was younger. a 2002i with some performance mods and a 325 (don’t know the letter designation). I liked the 2002i better than the 325. I like things basic. The 325 was also much more tame than the 2002i. The 2002i was downright fun to drive.

In my opinion Audi is classier than BMW these days. The interiors are more luxurious and the styling better. Both are comparable as far as performance and handling.

Caddy is also back as a competitor in this market segment. You might want to test drive a Caddy before making a decision.

If reliability is important, I don’t believe any of these choices is as good as a Lexus, but it doesn’t sound like that’s high on your list of “must haves”.

Expensive parts and you have to pay more for maintenance because they see you in those cars and they want your money. Problems can only be fixed by the dealer; kind of like GM but GM has more scheduling to do. Check and see if there are enough dealers in your area to help with peace of mind.

Considering your check engine light problem in the past, if you find warning lights troublesome you should stick with something more ordinary. A Lexus ES350 will cart you around just fine, with all the excitement of a rental car.

@twotone

My 1998 328 sedan has been the most reliable car I’ve owned

With respect, you’re talking about BMW of 16 years ago. BMWs today are finicky little piles of electrical nightmares.

They drive absolutely beautifully, but I would never own one.

There are lots of other good cars out there for far less money. Even though our family could have afforded one of these over priced status symbols there is no reason to spend that much money on a car when it looses value as fast as it does…these cars, even the best of them have little more life expectancy of cars half their price. You don’t get demonstratively better engineering…just a few more bells, higher upkeep and a look at me logo. For the price of one of these $65k status symbols, you can buy a base Mustang or Miata and a good truck and either in ten years could fetch you closer to as much trade in value or private sale as you would think. IMHO, a huge waste of precious funds when there are better options in this world. Just a little rant ! Yes I know there are lots of driveways with a Pick up truck and a Mustang in them so you loose some exclusivity…but just maybe it means there are a lot of smart people out there.

Well you do have a point. The lore is that finding a white F150 in a millionaire’s driveway is more common than one thinks. Are Audis simply fancy VWs? The VW group also sells Bentleys, Lamborghinis, and Bugattis…

I appreciate everyone’s input!

Consumer Reports thinks the simpler BMW models (the 3-series) have quite decent reliability. Alas, they do tend to require a lot of maintenance, and that gets expensive. Some of the simpler Audis also have reliability that is close to average, but worsening as they age, much like the Volkswagens they’re related to. In both cases the base prices don’t look so bad, but the options are ridiculously expensive and almost all of them are sold with a ton of options because they don’t include much as standard, unlike the Japanese luxury brands. Depreciation also tends to be high.

No, I don’t think an S5 is worth the money, though a friend who drives one loves his. He picked it up in Germany. If you do you that it doesn’t cost any more and they pay for a couple of weeks of insurance. You can drop the car off in a number of places and they will ship it to the US for you. Other makes have similar programs and it is a nice way to have a European vacation without renting a car.

Well Audi is to VW as Cadillac is to Chevy and Buick, Acura to Honda, etc. I find Audis to be good cars, but they all come with sunroofs, so I don’t fit. Oh well. All European cars have higher maintenance costs than some others, but if you’re buying for 3-5 years I wouldn’t worry about it.

Audis have won a number of head-to-head comparisons with BMWs and MBs recently in Car and Driver, so I think they’re more than ‘expensive VWs’.