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Entry Level Luxury Performance Sedans

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  • Audi A4, the model with memory seats and mirrors has a malfunction. As a selling point, the two remote keys can be assigned to two different seat and mirror positions, so if husband or wife open the car with their keys, the seat and mirror can restore to his/hers position. The bug is the right mirror can not be restored.

    The bug makes this big selling point useless since you need to push the button to restore the position anyway. And it is a potancial danger since you are easily ignore the right mirror until you are on the road. Then try to push the button on the door.

    I struggled with this problem for my new 2002 A4 3.0 for nearly 1 year, talk to dealer, AudiUSA and AudiUSA field rep many times. About half year ago, the field rep let me stop complaining and tell me it will be fixed in 2003 model. But now, it turned out it still not functional in 2003 model and I was told they just do not think it will be fixed and I should treated it as work per design.

    It is horrible for Audi not to fix such an apparent problem for such a long time, and looks like there is no way certain level of decision-maker can hear customer’s voice.
  • SylviaSylvia Posts: 1,636
    A reporter is looking for consumers who have bought an entry-luxury car - under $30k (e.g. BMW 3, Mercedes c-coupe, Jag X-type, Audi a4, etc) in the last year. Ideally buyers who were new to the luxury brands, to talk about how they like their cars and why they bought them.

    The $30k isn't a hard and fast rule, though it
    would be nice.

    Please contact jfallon@edmunds.com if interested.

    Thanks!
  • cjs2002cjs2002 Posts: 341
    Actually I'm looking into getting a car in this class (again). I'm thinking that my top cars are the G, the X type, and the C230 sedan. I like all three but I'm having trouble making a final decision...please help
  • I'm thinking one factor worth considering is where you live. If it snows where you live the X type is where you want to be. Have you driven any of them..?...
  • riezriez Posts: 2,361
    cjs2002... What are your criteria? What is important to you? Are you looking more for luxury or for performance? Do you need AWD? Do you want RWD? Do you want automatic or manual transmission? What is your price range?

    I'd strongly recommend you do a ton of research and a lot of test driving. Start with the "acknowledged" leader in this segment: the BMW 3 Series. Then expand out to those cars that meet your needs, criteria, and price.

    Short list of cars you should consider:

    BMW 325i and 330i
    Lexus IS300
    Infiniti G35
    MB C-class
    Jaguar X-type
    Lincoln LS
    Cadillac CTS
    Audi A4
    VW Passat
    Acura 3.2TL
    Acura TSX
    Saab 9-3
    Volvo S40 and S60
  • ruskiruski Posts: 1,566
    also check out Chrysler 300M, especially the Special version.
  • cjs2002cjs2002 Posts: 341
    well I've started researching many of these vehicles... actually I've been researching them... and for starters I detest bmw 3 series... there are too many of them and I feel that they are priced too high for what you get... as for lux vers sport... I'm sortta torn... I'm thinking I'd like a little more refinement but I doo need to have some get up and go to the car since I drive mostly highway... as for conditions... well I live near cleveland ohio... and winters on some days can suck horribly but not nearly as bad as in the direct snowbelt like clevland. I've had a RWD ford explorer in the winter and find drivin just fine so I don't think that a RWD car will be much different... I like the Jag X type but the 2.5 is rather underpowered when matched with an auto... and for info I dont do manuals never learned how too... tryin to see if I can get a deal on a base 3.0 S type and go from there... I just took a drive in a 04 CTS and like the power of that car just fine... but the interior seem rather plasticky.... I drove the G and find that yeah while I'll admit to it having some cheap looking parts it balances out nicer than the CTS... I also drove a MB230 sedan and like that as well but just have some concerns... for one its the smallest or at least feals the smallest when you compare them all...so I don't know... and oh yeah don't like Audi's either... lol... sorry... they just don't appeal to me... not for the price...we'll post more info latter thankx for all the help I really appriciate it... and one last question... driving in winter isn't so bad with a RWD car as long as you have snow tires... I mean if its horrible blizzard conditions I don't go out anyways.. I just wanted your comments on it
  • riezriez Posts: 2,361
    cjs2002... Since you'll only go automatic transmission, I would NOT recommend the following combinations as they are sluggish in comparison to alternatives within the marque or the up-engined model:

    325i auto (esp. heavier AWD version)
    TSX auto (uses small 2.4L I4 that needs high RPMs for power)
    A4 1.8t auto (esp. heavier AWD version)
    X-type 2.5 auto (made heavier by standard AWD)
    MB C230 (esp. heavier AWD version)

    Noticed you left one car off your comments: Lexus IS300. You should take one for a spin. My wife loves her IS300 automatic.

    If you are considering the Cadillac CTS, you should also look at the Lincoln LS6. Lincoln dealers are really discounting these fine cars. Most CTS' I've seen at two local Cadillac dealers tend to be loaded up with $5-7K worth of options. Hard to find one near $30K.

    If you want powerful car and don't mind FWD, you might consider Acura 3.2TL, Infiniti I35, Nissan Maxima SE, or Nissan Altima 3.5SE.

    Jag S-type is not normally considered "near luxury". Thinking its base price starts in the low $40,000s and quickly moves up with options. If you can afford this, you might consider BMW 5 Series (525i or 530i) or Lexus GS300.
  • ruskiruski Posts: 1,566
    have you looked at 300M yet? They are very nice. I drove one for 3 years (lease) and it was great. I still miss it. 300M is not a 0-60 sprinter, but it is quite powerful. And it turns very well. A lot of space inside. Nice luxury touches.
  • I'm glad you have decided to buy something other than a 3-series. I find it easier to do head to head than try to compare groups.

    G35 vs C240 (best budget RWD from across a pond)
    04CTS vs 03LS8 (best America has to offer)
    03I35/Max vs O3TL-S (best FWD on a budget)
    04TL vs 04 9-5 (best FWD)
    04 S60R vs X-type 3.0 (not sure there's any real AWD competition under 40k)

    Some of these autos (03 TLs, LS8, I35) are great bargains (compared to original list) but it's no deal if you are unsatisfied.
  • cjs2002cjs2002 Posts: 341
    just a thought ... the MB that I'm talking about is the C 230 kompressor sedan... its different than the 240... but has more HP... I don't know what to do, sorry but the IS to me seems like a cheap camry with a lexus logo... feal free to add more info and lend a hand I appriciate it all....
  • riezriez Posts: 2,361
    cjs2002... You wrote, "but the IS to me seems like a cheap [C]amry with a [L]exus logo." There is no comparison between these two entirely different platforms.

    Are you confusing the IS300 with the ES300/330? The ES is FWD V6 and based on the Camry platform. The IS300 is RWD I6 based on the Toyota Altezza. The IS can be had with manual and automatic transmissions. The IS300 also has a SportCross touring (station wagon) version.
  • ruskiruski Posts: 1,566
    IS could use some more HP. Interior is kind of weird for my taste around the gauges.

    ES does look like Camry (it is basically a Camry). Actually the ES body looks a bit bloated, with too much overhang on the sides.
  • cjs2002cjs2002 Posts: 341
    sorry about the comparison I know they aren't the same... I was just comparing them to show what I thought of them... I've never liked the IS lexus... now as to the ES300 and 330 I like but they are out of my pricerange... especially when equiped the same as the others I've been looking at. thank you for your help though... I'm slowly narrowing down my car choices... I started with a list of nearly 20+ and cut it down. as for the 300M, they are ok but well nothing against chrysler (yeah its spelled wrong) but I've heard that the drive trains and transmitions in the 300Ms are terrible... but maybe that was just when they first came out ... I don't know... but those stories just turned me off to that car. as for a 5 series bmw... well I love that car... esspecally the new desighn... yet I don't think I can lease one... or well I don't know if I could or couldn't ... I have no idea as to how well they lease... my max payment is 300 and then thers another 250 from parents on top of that but I'd rather not have a 450 - 500 $ lease payment but I don't know... any suggestions... ?any one know what a 5 series or even a base MB E class leases for? just wondering thank you all very much
  • riezriez Posts: 2,361
    cjs2002... You have me thoroughly confused. Are you in the under $40,000 range or not?

    At post #198 you wrote, "tryin to see if I can get a deal on a base [Jaguar] 3.0 S type and go from there." The Jaguar S-type competes with Audi A6, BMW 5 Series, and MB E-class.

    Then at post #205 you write, "now as to the [Lexus] ES300 and [BMW] 330[i] I like but they are out of my price range." How can these two cars, that are less expensive than a Jaguar S-type, be out of your price range?

    If you can buy or lease a Jaguar S-type, you could certainly buy or lease an ES300 or 330i.

    Then you also write, "I have no idea as to how well they lease... my max payment is [$]300 and then there is another [$]250 from parents on top of that but I'd rather not have a [$]450 - 500$ lease payment but I don't know."

    What you can afford to lease is way different than what you can buy. You should check out the various lease deals. Jaguar X-type leases heavily subsidized. Seen some inexpensive rates with 3 Series.
  • ruskiruski Posts: 1,566
    I had a 300M for 3 years and - no problems. I'd say that most 300M drivers that I know of have not had any problems, especially with the drivetrain.

    I leased a 2002 Acura TL-S and the tranny failed after 6,100 miles. Go figure.
  • cjs2002cjs2002 Posts: 341
    lol sorry for the confusion... everything I'm looking at is based on how it will lease... and yeah I'm leasing what ever car I may get then... so I know my max payment is about 500 for a lease mind you... not a buy. I just wanted to know if,... at least I'm pretty shir that the X, the G35 and the C230 all lease for under 500 but i don't know about say a E class... I hope I don't confuse you... what I'm trying to get at is that if stepping into say a E class isn't much more expensive than getting a C in terms of lease payments then would it be better to lease an E over the C... I don't know... I'm not the one who handles the money factor and negotiations... my father negotiates it to with in my budgette and then I just pay it no questions asked...lol... sounds dumb but oh well.. yeah my main cars that I'm looking at I'd half to say is below the 35K range... actually below the 33K sticker range cause then my father can negotiate the final prices... once again sorry for anyconfussion I'm just rateling off possibilities befor I make the final plunge into buying ... wait let me correct that ... leasing my own car... thank you all
  • riezriez Posts: 2,361
    cjs2002... Not sure what to make. Pulled up your profile: "The car I am shopping for is a 2003 Nissan Altima. And the car I own now is a 1992 Buick LeSabre."

    Huge difference between an Altima and an E-class. Even bigger difference between nearly every car we've talked about an a LeSabre.

    Let me know what you end up buying. Best thing for you to do is serious test driving. And crunch your lease deal numbers.
  • I've been really pleased with the A4 with Quattro (AWD). I have the 3.0 with the Tiptronic (automatic) transmission and live and work in the Cleveland area. The 1.8T is a nice car, but the weight tends to make it sluggish. It can be improved with aftermarket performance products (chip, exhaust, etc.), but would bring you up in price to the 3.0.

    The A4 3.0 has one of the nicest interiors around. I also do mostly highway driving, and the interior combined with the performance handling makes this a pleasureable ride. In winter, the Quattro system really shines. I've been able to drive through some nasty snowstorms over the past 2 years, and I've always felt under control wherever I was going.

    Audi also has a 4 year / 50,000 mile service program that covers all service at no cost to you. With that along with the 4 year / 50,000 mile warranty, all you'll spend is for gas and tires (if needed). With the 2004 models now appearing on the lots, you can make a good deal on any remaining 2003s.

    Just some insight from a fellow Cleveland driver! =) Good luck in your decision.
  • I had many problems with my G35 sedan, but the brake pads/rotor problem tops them all. I was due for front brakes. Quite early IMO but that is another story. The service representative told me, that my rotors are warped and I need to pay to replace the rotors. According to many sources (dealers and Infiniti customer service), most of the G35 require rotor replacement in addition to costly brake job. Infiniti knows about the problem and IS NOT paying for the rotors. Be prepared to buy yourself a new set of rotors for every brake job. And you will need this quite often, to the delight of your local dealer. Unfortunately, I was one of the early victims and did not expect that the car will be so bug ridden as it is. I would never buy this POS knowing what I know not, but is too late. It is by far the worst car I ever had. For 16 months I have been to a dealer 12 times. Let prospective buyers be aware.
  • Post your message on the Infiniti board, let buyers and owners beware.
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    billyperks - he did - several of them.
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    "there are too many of them and I feel that they are priced too high for what you get... "

    I'm not sure which of these mass produced cars are actually "rare" on the road. All of these cars have sporty rides with some leaning more towards performance than others, but this would be my short list:

    BMW 3 series - If I wanted the benchmark
    Lexus IS300 - CR rates this cars drivetrain almost as good as the 3-series. And as riez points out is has LSD.
    Infiniti G35 - Stripper version almost the least expensive of the bunch.
    Lincoln LS - I would question the reliability of these.
    Cadillac CTS - should be awesome with it's new engine.
    Audi A4 - all around nice car.
    Acura 3.2TL - for a sporty sedan this would be at the top of the list.
    Acura TSX - nice for a people without families
    Mazda 6 - Not withstanding the rust issue that seems to be on Edmunds boards, the 6 goes head to head with the TSX, although the TSX has more upscale features.
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    The Mazda 6 is having a rust problem?

    M
  • bmwsellerbmwseller Posts: 200
    how much can a car cost before it's out of this category 30, 35, 40?
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    The 3-series fits the definition of near luxury by almost every review and mag. Even if one takes every single goody and runs the price up to $45K it's still near luxury. The 5-series by comparison has more upscale features, and with good negotiations you can get one for a hair over $40K. There are no absolutes and people have their own opinions. But to me the cars discussed here are all in class.
  • riezriez Posts: 2,361
    Strongly believe the segmentation should be based on what is actually paid. Not on inflated MSRPs. This is really a sign of what the market thinks is the real value of the car.

    Think the heart/meant of this segment is around $27,500-32,500. With the fringes at $25,000-27,500 and $32,500-35,000. A car with an MSRP of $40,000-$44,000 that actually sells for around $35,000 really is in this segment. Lincoln (LS), Cadillac (CTS), Infiniti (M45) and some others heavily discount their cars.

    This would cover everything from Acura TSX, Nissan Maxima, Jag X-type 2.5, MB C230, and 300M (at the low end) and the 330i, 525i, Jag X-type 3.0 & C320 (at the high end) with a ton of cars in the middle. Leaves cars like CTS6, LS6, and IS300 in the middle.

    Jag X-type a great example. Easy to see MSRPs of the 3.0 over $40,000. But Jag needs heavy subsidies and discounts to move. And for 2004, Jag lowered the base price of the 3.0 by a couple thousand dollars and added a couple thousand dollars of "free" standard equipment. The market spoke what this car was worth!
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    Not to pick nits, but didn't you in anotherpost above somewhere suggest cars should be compared MSRP to MSRP? Here you are doing an apparent flip-flop.
  • bmwsellerbmwseller Posts: 200
    35 g's is the top. Then I would submit to you that the 2004 BMW 330i with sport pk., 18" wheel, and adaptive xenon headlights in jet black would be the perfect pick. Looks like dealer cost for euro delivery is 33,600. I'd pay the 35 g's and scrounge up airfare to Munich.
  • riezriez Posts: 2,361
    kdshapiro... I've always tried to base a purchase decision on what I can buy a particular car for and how much I think it will cost me to own. MSRP is an important consideration, more so for those marques that can charge at or near MSRP. But the reality of a specific purchase decision has to take into account the actual money that will change hands, both now and in the long haul.

    Remember the old G35 vs 3 Series debate? I always mentioned BMW CCA discount for members, long-term resale value, value of free maintenance, etc. Others raised ED price. I also included CPO. When G35 first came out, there was a limited supply and it was hot to market (with dealers not moving much off MSRP, though that has certainly changed now) compared to the readily-available E46 3 Series (that came out as MY99). Just looking at MSRPs didn't do justice to the cost analysis.

    Of course, since discounts may vary by region, time of year, etc., MSRP always has to be an initial starting point.
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