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Entry Level Luxury Performance Sedans

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  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 6,604
    fedlawman;

    I might be buying a 54K mile E30 M3. I'm just trying to decide if I should use it as my daily driver.

    2009 328i / 2004 X3 2.5/ 1995 318ti Club Sport/ 1975 2002A/ 2007 Mazdaspeed 3/ 1999 Wrangler/ 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica

  • fedlawmanfedlawman Posts: 3,118
    edited February 2010
    That's a tough one. One the one hand, what a shame to "use up" such a low mileage example just commuting to and from work. On the other hand, these cars are not exotic collector cars and they're meant to be driven. There are lots of factory and aftermarket parts out there to keep it on the road indefinitely, so as it ages and wears, you'll never have trouble keeping it in tip top shape. As long as you don't mind the thought of watching it get old and used up, I think it's fine as a DDer. It's funny, I know a couple of people who own E30 garage queens and can't help feeling some resentment towards them because I think it's such a waste, but I also know that if I owned one of those E30's, I'd probably be inclined to "preserve" it too. Maybe that's why my 210,000 mile restored M3 is right for me. It looks and runs great, but on close inspection, it will never be mistaken for a show car.

    Also, I guess I should to admit to you that I don't think I could drive mine every day. I love driving my M3 on the weekends and during the summer, I do drive it to work occasionally just because it's just such a joy on a nice day. Oftentimes though, I'm grateful I have a 4-door slushbox company car for my commute - especially during the winter months. A smooth, quiet ride, with cupholders and an automatic transmission is usually what I want when the weather is gloomy, I'm tired, and I just want to get where I'm going without any drama.

    Honestly, I wish I had kept my E30 325is when I got my M3. Having both would have been perfect - the 325 is a much better DDer, still a lot of fun to drive, fun to tinker on, and parts are cheaper. It doesn't have to be another E30, but if you can do it, buy the M3 for when you want to drive, but have something else for when you have to drive.

    EDIT: I guess I didn't really answer your question, did I? Sorry, I'm tired and honestly, I go back and forth about my M3 lately. There's nothing else like it and I love it, but sometimes when the rear speakers stop working, the interior lights fail, or a dashboard panel comes loose, I secretly think to myself that a Cayman S would be so much easier to live with. But that's crazy talk...very few cars are more fun to drive, and none of them have a back seat and trunk. It's really a very special, fantastic car - arguably the best BMW has ever produced. If I ever do part with mine, I'll be forever grateful that I had the privilege and pleasure of owning and driving one.
  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738
    Cars are meant to be driven. Shoot, if I had a Ferrari, I'd drive it until the wheels fell off. :P
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    What fed said...
  • temj12temj12 Posts: 450
    What is the problem with the transmissions? Is it that they don't last or the performance? Is the accessories problem part of the electrical problems that I see mentioned? I have always thought that I would like to have one at some time, but I know the repairs are very expensive. In Europe, they are a fairly common car. Here, they are luxury.
  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738
    edited February 2010
    Automatic transmissions live and die based upon their electronics and hydraulic components. Often when the system fails, the oil overheats and cooks the inside or damages something and the entire thing turns into a brick that needs to be completely pulled apart and rebuilt. As, say, opposed to an old hydraulic only design like Ford and GM used to make a decade or two ago - just replace the torque converter 90% of the time for cheap and you're done.($800-$1200 repair vs a whole new unit)

    Mercedes makes its cars in Europe with manuals only, essentially. They add in an automatic to placate the rental fleets and taxi users and the like. As a result, it's almost like an aftermarket accessory in their minds - just put something in and ship it out the door, who cares as it's not going to someone who cares or can't afford the maintainance.

    They don't re-design the transmissions for export, and so you get a great car with a Chrysler quality automatic stuffed in it(trust me - the designs are still very similar on the automatics).

    The only way to avoid this is to buy a manual like 80%+ of Europe does. The problem is, of course, that almost nothing shipped TO the U.S. by Mercedes(or most other makers other than VW) is offered with a manual.
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    At some point in time for three seconds it might have been true. Clearly Mercedes lost it's focus for a while, but they have been working to get it back. So I say the above statement holds no water as a generality.

    One could do a search on Infiniti transmission problems and find some stuff.
  • fedlawmanfedlawman Posts: 3,118
    edited February 2010
    "They add in an automatic to placate the rental fleets and taxi users and the like. As a result, it's almost like an aftermarket accessory in their minds..They don't re-design the transmissions for export, and so you get a great car with a Chrysler quality automatic stuffed in it."

    So you think that the Mercedes 7-speed automatic was an afterthought for the rental fleets and taxi's? I don't think so.

    Name one domestic car that has a 7-speed transmission.
  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 6,604
    Honestly, I wish I had kept my E30 325is when I got my M3. Having both would have been perfect - the 325 is a much better DDer, still a lot of fun to drive, fun to tinker on, and parts are cheaper. It doesn't have to be another E30, but if you can do it, buy the M3 for when you want to drive, but have something else for when you have to drive.

    Well, I'd still have my 318ti Club Sport as well as my 2002A. I also don't really have a daily commute; my annual mileage depends on how many out of county assignments I receive. And when all's said and done, I don't recall the M3 being any less civilized than my Mazdaspeed...
    The thing is, I keep reading about how you should get an E30 M3 while they're still relatively cheap- and then there's the incomparable racing heritage. I guess the hook was set back in 1989, when I spent a day lapping Sears Point(Infineon) in a friend's 1989 M3. At any rate, I don't have to decide right away, but I will need to make a call sooner than later.

    2009 328i / 2004 X3 2.5/ 1995 318ti Club Sport/ 1975 2002A/ 2007 Mazdaspeed 3/ 1999 Wrangler/ 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica

  • fedlawmanfedlawman Posts: 3,118
    edited February 2010
    I've never actually driven a stock, low mileage E30 M3. Mine's somewhat modified, as you know, so it's not nearly as quiet and comfortable as I imagine a stock M3 must be. Even so, the S14 has never been described as refined, and even a stock M3 is gonna rattle, buzz, and vibrate all over. I swear, sometimes I think the car is trying to shake itself to pieces. The solution, of course, is to keep the revs above 5000 - my car just sings between 5K and 8K.

    The right time to buy is when you find a good one. If you've found "the one," then grab it before it slips away (or give me the guys phone number... :shades: ).
  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738
    The new 7 speed automatic is an attempt at making the problem better, but in reality, like all of these 6+ speed automatics, they end up being hideously expensive to replace when they do break. $4000+ for a new transmission just doesn't computer even if it were to last as long as the competition(try half as long most of the time).

    50-60K seems to be as much as you typically get out of a Mercedes automatic, while the manuals last for hundreds of thousands of miles.

    The number of speeds and complexity isn't a bragging right if it breaks all the time.
  • fedlawmanfedlawman Posts: 3,118
    edited February 2010
    Oh, I never claimed they were bragging, and I never said these transmission were durable. I was merely pointing out that a lot of R&D goes into designing their sophisticated auto transmissions - specifically for the NA market. These are not taxi cab hand me downs.

    Of course, if you insist on buying any modern car, European or otherwise, with an a complex automatic, then the old adage, "buyer beware" comes to mind.

    The threads here (German, Japanese, and Domestic) are filled with people flailing their arms and seeking class action lawsuits because their transmissions failed at 80, 90, or 100K miles. Most of them , I'll venture to say, either bought the car second hand and have no idea of the maintenance history (or lack thereof), or bought their car new, and never thought to flush the tranny).

    I say, these days if you really want your transmission to last, row your own gears.
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    Nobody buys a new transmission at 100K miles, should there be a failure. It's a real shame, it happens and is not limited to manfacturers due east of the United States.

    Honda, Infiniti, Acura, BMW, Mercedes all new transmission are between $3500 and $4500. People will buy a remanufactured transmission for thousands less. It's a rare bird that will swing for a new tranny at 100K. I also don't believe it's a normal occurence to have a Mercedes tranny fail at 100K. I'm not saying it never happens, heck I'm saying I'm sure it happens to all manufacturers, but not as a matter of course.
  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738
    No, $2500 plus labor, tax, and so on is usually what the *rebuilt* ones go for. It's just insane.

    I found this in a typical search:
    C, E, and S Class Vehicle $2195.00
    1996 and Up $300 Core

    Only a 12K/12 month warranty at that price as well. And that's if you buy direct. Your mechanic still has to install it, plus you pay tax and shipping and so on on the thing, plus tax on the install.

    $3500-$4K total for a *Rebuilt* one. Just insane.
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    edited February 2010
    It is crazy. I just did a quick search. A remanufactured tranny for a 2004 G35 is $2250. I'm sure a new one is north of $4000. The reality is the typical G35 nor the typical Mercedes is not going to need a transmission for the life of the car. There are always the exceptions on both side.

    Here are the warranty terms on the Infiniti transmission:

    Our transmission comes with a 1-YEAR UNLIMITED WARRANTY.
    You may purchase our 2-YEAR WARRANTY for additional $1013.00.
    You may purchase our 3-YEAR WARRANTY for additional $2154.00.


    Core deposit: $800

    Not any different.
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 17,462
    edited February 2010
    My Volvo is right around the $4k-$4500 mark, and that is for a rebuilt trans (no such thing as a new '01 auto trans). And many folks tell me I am guaranteed to need a replacement during my ownership.

    There is one other choice, though. A full manual trans conversion. Even that will run close to $3k, though, and that's with me doing all the labor myself.

    '13 Stang GT; '15 Fit; '98 Volvo S70; '14 Town&Country

  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    If the car is an '01 you ought to be able to rack up 250k to 300k miles. In that time you might need a new tranny, in fact a lot of cars would require a tranny swap by 300000 miles. By the time you reach the point prices should drop.
  • tayl0rdtayl0rd Posts: 1,938
    Man, I'm getting confused. The same exact discussion on 2 boards right now. Here and the Luxo Performance board.

    Same here! This board has been dead for the longest time then all of a sudden it explodes back to life with off topic chatter about maintenance?? There is a maintenance board, ya know. Maybe there's been a mistake on the server side and the posts are showing up here by accident. :confuse:
  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738
    edited February 2010
    Well luxury and performance and making the best choice means weighing a lot of factors. Currently we have a problem where the best performing cars are often the least reliable, despite the fact that logic would suggest that if you spent 40-60K on a car, it should be built better than a normal Civic.

    The question that keeps being brought up is how do I get a luxury sport sedan that won't give my mechanic a free trip to Hawaii every time I get it worked on?
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    edited February 2010
    I don't understand the issue. A lot of people I know own German made brands, nobody is sending their mechanics to easy street, and everybody can talk about their favorite (insert your manufacturer here) horror story. One reason I don't take any maintenance and repair board to heart when buying a car is because people complain before they kvell. I found out long ago, trying to be the perfect statistic according to any automotive survey is a crap shoot, so I don't buy according to those either. Do I care what JD Powers has to say? Not really.

    Manufacturers make warranties to fix cars that have issues. I buy the car I like and let the chips fall where they may. I don't worry about things. That's what lemon laws are for, although I've never needed to use them. The manfacturer who holds the distinction for the most trips to the dealer is Nissan. So needless to say I have no burning desire to own anymore models from them or their luxury brand.

    One last thing, if one spends a cool .5 million on a car your logic suggests it would be bullet-proof, since Honda can make a Civic nearly bullet-proof. However, it aint so, is it? Infiniti can't even make a G35 as bullet proof as a Civic. At least a Civic as far as I know has never had a recall to fix an issue that cause cause an engine fire.
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 17,462
    I sure hope you are right, shap, but it seems the '01-'02 had weak transmissions and many owners have replaced by 100k. :sick:

    '13 Stang GT; '15 Fit; '98 Volvo S70; '14 Town&Country

  • smarty666smarty666 Posts: 1,503
    edited February 2010
    first off you talk to me that I'm not paying attention to the forum posts yet now your going off about the Civic? did you see what the title of this forum is? entry-level luxury sedans!! the word, Civic, Honda, Toyota, or Nissan shouldn't even be in this forum since none of their products are luxury cars - we should get back to discussing the cars listed on the right hand side of the screen!!

    by the way, why is the G35 listed for comparison here, lets update it to the G37; the G37 is a vast improvement over the early model year G35s in almost every regard!!

    kdshapiro is right though that you should, when deciding on a luxury car not put too much stock in what people say here or JD Power or any of the other car mags say because in the end you have to do what you want and you'll always get people who had the opposite experience with a company

    for instance, kdshapiro had trouble with Nissan and Infiniti, I have had the best luck with those two companies in regards to few problems and the fit/finish and reliability which contradicts what he said; I have several family members and friends who have German cars all who have had extensive problems with some of their BMWs and MBs!

    so my point is, you have to take what people say here with a grain of salt and basically talk to people YOU KNOW who have cars or car manufactures your looking into possibly getting and then make your own decisions what you want to do; really, any car this day, as kdshapiro pointed out is a gamble and that is why we have lemon laws and hopefully new recall laws to enable people who have problem with their cars to either get rid of them or get them fixed!!!
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,088
    edited February 2010
    I discount, which is not the same as ignore, what is said here and elsewhere (including, and especially Consumer Reports) about Frequency of Repair (FOR) issues. I tend to believe what we say when we are discussing driving or the performance or luxury aspects of the cars. I also enjoy and do not discount folk's stories about features or functions of their new entry-level LPS cars. I will, and have in the past, gladly regale you with fun facts, stories and experiences I have had with my current love, the Audi A4 2.0T Prestige Sport. Just not at this moment.

    I discount the FOR comments made by most on these forums because they are "all about me" -- that is, one person, once or twice had a problem and somehow it is, according to their post, "proof positive" that "fill in the name of the car or brand here" is expensive or unreliable or will crap out after about 100K miles.

    If you want to talk to someone who you ought to listen to it really should be me, however. :blush: You see, since the 1970's, my wife and I, combined, added together, that is, have had 29 Audis, 3 VW's and 3 BMW's. If I were to tell you Audis are bullet proof (and this is for exposition only) and one or two other folks who may have had one or two Audis tell you they are junk, well, "it's all about me. . ." I know, I am not reporting what I have heard or read, I have lived with nearly 30 Audis and overall, have lived with 35 German cars, 32 of them from, the same family tree. :P

    Buy or lease the car that you like -- for whatever reason. Don't listen to those who post their anecdotes about that one Volvo they had that nearly bankrupted them back in the 60's or 70's or 80's or whatever.

    Just listen to me. That's all you need. Me. I'll say it again, "me!" :surprise:

    I crack myself up.

    This is, after all, supposed to be both informative AND entertaining! Kwitcherbitchin'!
  • jtlajtla Posts: 375
    edited February 2010
    This is, after all, supposed to be both informative AND entertaining! Kwitcherbitchin'!

    It surely is. ;) The only thing is, however, you probably have no data to compare with the Japanese makes. :P
  • Nicely summed up the problem with "opinions". The realy good ones get posted. The really bad ones get posted. The 90% in the middle probably don't. I haven't had a truly bad car in the last 25 years. Sure, some have had odd things go quirky but not one has suffered a major failure or broken the bank. All 3 of my Peugeots were great cars; the two 406's were wonderful. The 307 was brilliant until the day it tried to kill us, (think current Toyota throttle problems). It was, agaion, wonderful until the day I swapped - but I no longer trusted it. My Vauxhalls, (GM), were exceptional. My Skoda was an absolute gem and my current Volvo is a superb long-distance cruiser. My wife's Fords, Vauxhall and current Honda have all been faultless. Even her Morris Minor and Triumph Herald were pretty darned good..............for their day.

    What will I buy next ? Maybe another Skoda. Audi components, Audi quality at bargain-basement prices.
  • rayainswrayainsw Posts: 2,541
    Mark –

    I always enjoy reading your posts.

    I recall reading your posts a long time ago - during ‘the A8 brake rotor thing’.
    The amount of time spent in dealer visits alone stood out to me – since I just do not typically have the flexibility in my work schedule to deal with such repeated car related repair issues.

    And I recall distinctly thinking at the time:
    “If this sort of thing happened to me, it would absolutely be the last Audi I ever drove.”

    Or at least the last one I even looked at seriously – for a long while.

    Although my recollection is that the dealer certainly did ‘work with you’ on this issue, the fact that a quick and final ‘fix’ was not available from Audi in a timely manner certainly would have soured me on the brand.

    - Ray
    Thinking brakes that work reliably ought to be a really high priority . .
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,088
    edited February 2010
    As far as I recall, my brake issues were with two 4.2V8 equipped A6's, although I could tell you a story or two about all the parts that had to be replaced on my ONE, new 1997 A8 -- in pearl white, gawd it was purty.

    But, out of 29 Audis, well, it is like watching the Exorcist 128 times in a row, "It just keeps gettin' better every time!"

    Seriously, my 2009 A4 Prestige 2.0T with Sport and ADS and every damn thing they offer 'cept AutomaticCruiseControl, has been as flawless as I could imagine any car ever being. My wife's current 2008 BMW X3, likewise, is flawless.

    Now, my '09 Audi has been in for three oil changes, two new sets of tires (not the car's fault, the Ohio Dept of Road lack of maintence Department's fault) one chrome trim staining issue and right after I got it two new front end control arms.

    During these visits, I was loaned for the 1/2 to day and a half time it took for these items to be taken care of, a Q7, A6, A4 and a 2010 loaded Q5. My dealer is on the way to and from work and other than the issue itself, none of my experiences deter me (so far) from buying Audis. I turned in my 2005 A6 with about 60K on it and it felt "virtually" unchanged from the day I got it.

    And, it is true, don't ask me to opine on the Japanese or Korean or American cars. I have test driven lots of them; and/but they all seem "nice" -- I guess I'm just not into nice. But, don't get me started on that new Buick LaCrosse, now that is a comer, I'll tell you what.

    But, if you want to know the great, good, fair, poor, bad and ugly about Audi's, I really am a walking encyclopedia of the brand since model year 1978. But, I haven't actually, yet, ever driven an R8 or any of the other R cars. Heck the S cars seem plenty, "plenty" to me.
  • rayainswrayainsw Posts: 2,541
    Sorry - my error on which of the 29 Audis....
    - Ray
    S4 S Tronic on my 'short list' . . .
  • I sat in a new S4 S Tronic at the dealership. It was less than my A4 2.0T by almost $3K -- wondering what I could live without.

    I think it was a 2010 S4 S Tronic, Premium Plus, black gloss paint and sat nav, nothing else.

    It was under $47K.

    And the MPG's on it were about the same as my 4cylinder turbo.

    Now THAT's an entry-level-Luxury PERFORMANCE Sedan. Nothing else even comes close to that level of performance AND lux (in this class at this price).

    But of course, for me, I'd HAVE to have Audi Sport Differential (torque vectoring) AND Audi Drive select, which would easily add over $4K.

    Hmm, maybe I could sacrifice torque vectoring, after all it IS R biased AWD these days, eh?
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    I would go for the 335 Is. Audis just do not do it for me.
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