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I had sent this "privately" and now I figure what the heck -- perhaps there is some merit in these remarks for others, too.
At $55,000 (net), you can easily get into a well-optioned 2014 Audi S4 Premium Plus. Clearly I don't know what would impress you -- and if this Audi doesn't do it for you, you can load up a IS 350 F-Sport and at full MSRP be @ less than $51,000. Of course of the two noted above, the S4 is the real performer with its sweet supercharged V6.
The torque steer is something to overcome in the Volvo S60 T6 (Type R) but it is tough to get this car OVER $50,000. It may not do it for you due to the obvious FWD bias, but it is worth a test-drive if you're in the market at this dollar amount.
So, while $55K won't get us into the SUPERCAR realm, we do have a number of choices that will stay under this price cap. It's a great time to be in the market (the $50K+ market) if you ax' me.
DILYL (and Merry Christmas)
Mark...I replied privately, at least that's what I thought with the new Forums now in place.
Don't get me wrong, I think the S4 is one of the best 4 door sports sedans on the market, regardless of price. But, mine has been very trouble prone (it's sitting at the dealership yet again right now).
The Chicago Regional Rep, took over communications from the dealer I purchased it from. And, he's supposed to be in communication with the local dealer. I think the local dealer is just as frustrated with the local Audi Regional Rep as I am.
We're well over the "30 day" rule of the car being out of commission. So, I think they're all huddling, trying to decide the next step to take.
I'll wait to see what they do. So far, everyone except the local Audi Regional Rep have been great to work with.
I "think" I know which diretion this will end up, but you never know. That said, if they do end up "lemon" lawing my car, I'll obviously be in a scramble to get something else. What that is, I really don't know.
Ray...I do like that 235i M. But, I doubt that will be in my time bracket if they do a buy back.
I may make a little trip around this weekend looking at different cars, just for kicks.
I have, in this forum, shared my experiences with my 2012 Acura TL SH-AWD Advance. I did suggest that I understood and largely agreed with the July '10 Automobile comparison of a TL (SH-AWD) with an Audi S4 (with the sport differential – Audi's torque vectoring rear diff).
Refresher (from Automobile, July 2010): “You probably never thought of the Acura TL SH-AWD and the Audi S4 on the same day, much less in the same sentence. . . .significantly, they both use torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive systems to ensure that they don't sacrifice one iota of the corner-carving thrills you've grown to love.”
“In a [non-permissible content removed]-for-tat comparison between two cars that share the same driveline philosophy, it quickly becomes obvious that the Acura and the Audi are significantly different only in the details.”
Now, with 3,000+ miles on my '14 S4 and after 40,000+ miles with my TL, I can offer my 2¢ more.
First, let’s get the “as owned “ MSRP’s out there. With rear parking sensors, upgraded tires (UHP a/s's) and splash guards, the TL SH-AWD Advance comes in a bit south of $48,000. Approximately comparably equipped (but sans the sport differential) the S4 Premium+ easily sweeps past $57,000, coming in at $57,650 (without Premium paint, which could have added additional $, had I selected one of the many optional colors offered.) My '12 Acura came with the color called Bellanova White Pearl while the Audi I configured was in a glossy hue they call Ibis White. A metallic white option on the Audi would have added another $550 to the MSRP.
If you’re keeping score, the Audi starts out about $10,000 more than the Acura similarly contented. But simply saying they have similar content somehow makes the Audi seem expensive, a perspective I have come to believe is untrue. As the Automobile review declares, “[they] are significantly different only in the details.” Never a truer statement was said about these two cars. And, please, don’t for a minute think that somehow this is a knock on the Acura.
Indeed, considering its performance & content, the TL SH-AWD Advance_ is_ rather a bargain (and I mean what I say only about the SH-AWD Advance version – what I say should not suggest I would make these remarks about other TL configurations). Perhaps were I given the opportunity to test a TL with both SH-AWD and the manual transmission, I would change my opinion.
The Audi is neither over-priced nor is it a bargain – but, considering its price, it is unlikely you will find the S4’s luxury content and performance envelope replicated without spending thousands more. The current heart-throb car, the Lexus IS 350 F-Sport, offers a very high contented, audaciously styled machine to be sure, but its performance isn’t up to the S4’s; in fairness, however, an F-Sport even over loaded with optional stuff, will have trouble breaking the $50,000 MSRP barrier.
There is, currently, no BMW 3-series M car (if you don’t include the 3-series” M” convertible, starting at $69,050, which I am not counting) – and if there were, it too would easily sail through a $65,000 price; besides, the comparison to the S4 would be incorrect, the BMW M would be more accurately compared to an RS – not S – Audi car.
Back to the TL vs the S4. Both cars do what they do well – at their respective price points. The Acura – subjectively – may well represent/possess over 90% of the Audi’s performance. And, for the money asked, the Acura remains perhaps one of the biggest bargains today in the ELLPS category (assuming you can get over the exterior – and for some, the interior – styling).
Here is what you get for your extra $10,000+ in the Audi S4: a palpable sense that anything and everything you want the car to do is effortless. From the S-Tronic’s apparent ability to read the driver’s mind, to an incredibly deep bucketful of power that is always ready a ¼ of a second before you ask for it, to an ability to corner that approaches violating the laws of physics, the S4 almost becomes an extension of the driver’s mind, rather like Green Lantern’s power-ring, I suspect.
In contrast, the TL SH-AWD is not quite as much the natural athlete as the S4 – although it has nothing to be ashamed of, it’s just that to get 90% of the S4’s performance out of the TL, you have to work at it. Here’s one reason why: the TL’s well of torque isn’t as deep as the Audi’s and the TL’s torque doesn’t reach full-boil until significantly higher RPM’s (the TL's V6 is naturally aspirated vs the S4's supercharged V6). The consequences of less torque attained at higher RPM’s twisting through 6 (automatic) gears are not subtle – the Acura must be kept “cranked up” to get the most out of it. While doing this can be pretty rewarding, it is hardly effortless.
Another huge disadvantage the TL has is its 6 speed traditional (it uses a torque converter) automatic transmission. The Audi’s 7-speed direct shift (twin-clutch) transmission by comparison feels as if the smoothest stick shift driver ever is selecting the perfect time for upshifts and downshifts. Coming to a stop, the Audi’s transmission downshifts both at the appropriate time but also with incredible precision and smoothness that I doubt any one of us contributors here could even come close to.
In the final analysis, the 2012 TL SH-AWD Advance is a lot of car for the money – and I would still call it Acura’s S4. For $47,000+ there isn’t much – if anything – that comes close to the content and performance offered (if you can get past its unique styling and busy button-laden cockpit.) I had mine 40,000+ miles over less than a 30 month time period and other than what I assumed were weak brakes (the rotors were turned twice before 25K miles before the dealer determined the problem was three warped wheels which Acura replaced – at a 50% discount to me), the Acura would certainly seem to be well on its way to living up to its reputation for reliability – but at only 40,000 miles I assume most cars on the market today would still seem young.
The 2014 S4 presumably produces performance numbers that bests the TL in almost every category, but for an additional $10,000 it ought to. The S4 does seem more substantive than the TL – of course you only really notice this aspect when you slam the doors or hit a pot-hole or find yourself on a “washboard” road surface. The Acura’s body seems to be of a thinner metal than the Audi, the TL's suspension upon rapid compression or over undulating surfaces seems on the verge of being brittle where the Audi, under similar circumstances, seems to absorb and rebound from rough surfaces with aplomb.
If you’re looking for the TL to buy you much – if any – street cred from your buds, don’t count on it. Virtually everyone I know called my TL, “Mark’s Honda.” Truth be told, the main problem with the Acura – for me – was that it simply had “too much Honda” in it. Some years ago, Audis were sometimes said to have “too much VW” in them – regardless of the truth, the perception was sufficient, apparently, to motivate Audi to separate themselves as much as they could from VW. Thus far, Acura’s are often thought of as “Honda’s who know somebody.”
More’s the pity, for the TL (at least) is a kind of “almost” car – it is almost many things: almost a luxury car, almost a sporty car – i.e., almost an LPS car. I can recommend the TL SH-AWD Advance for its likely street price (I got mine at nearly 13% off); the car is comfortable, well contented and highly competent at most, if not all, of the things we ask for in a premium vehicle.
It didn’t inspire much passion and, frankly, didn’t seem to actually have been built to be passionate. The S4 inspires and it has passion – its “fun to drive factor,” which seems to be priced at about $10,000, has been abundantly imbued by its creators. Even after a crappy day, driving the S4 puts a smile on my face.
That’s my story . . . and . . you know.
Infiniti has done many, many things to destroy its bread and butter - the awesome G37 - with the new Q50. The list of things is endless, from destroying what was likely the best handling vehicle in its class to a ridiculous dual touchscreen interior.
For the sake of argument, let us say there was some logic behind those moves - some new audience that legacy G drivers like me (and almost all reviewers) do not understand.
But can anyone explain why Infiniti felt the need to dump the G's trademark double-circular taillight arrangement to replicate the taillights of the Sonata? Was it their way of going 'upscale'?
I don't know. I don't see it that way. To me the Q50 looks more updated and upscale. The G, although handsome, was getting old.
I agree with the comments about the beauty of the new Q50. I think it is very handsome on the outside and both inside and out it seems more upscale befitting its inclusion with its competition from Audi, BMW, Cadillac, Lexus & Mercedes to name a few.
The issues with the Q50 seem NOT to be with its comeliness, rather with its steering feel or lack thereof. Other critiques seem to remind the reader that the 3.7L normally aspirated engine -- while somewhat more sound isolated in the Q50 -- is "coarse" and that the 7-speed transmission is a carryover.
Now, having just turned in our 2011 FX35 after 60,000 miles, I would say even if there were no improvements in the transmission in the Q50, that it is a fine transmission. Likewise, the 3.7L engine is powerful even if not particularly blessed with an abundance of torque. After driving the new Q50, the "thrash" and coarseness often attributed to this engine has been muted significantly, but, this mill isn't up to the smoothness of the German 6-cylinder engines and one wonders why Infiniti hasn't noticed (apparently) that forced induction engines are the currently favored configuration.
Overall, the Infiniti (at least this first venture out with the new Q50) seems unlikely to be finishing as the top choice against its German and Japanese competitors. I assume Infiniti was shooting to be the darling of the ELLPS set, but came up short compared to the Lexus IS 350 [F Sport, especially].
From a styling perspective, I find the Q50 to be handsome; it looks expensive. The IS 350 is, well, "edgy" with its audacious styling and spindle grill. The IS looks like it would be sporty (to me, at least), whereas the Q50's style might well be more enduring since -- compared to the IS -- it is more conservative, less in-your-face. Here's something, too, the ATS -- right out of the gate -- seems to have gotten a lot MORE right than the Q50, despite what many could have assumed was a head-start what with the Q50 coming from such good stock (the G37X).
Now, at least here in Cincinnati, the Q50 seems to be subvented and discounted so heavily, that they ought to be flying out of the showroom. I have never seen one on the road (other than near the dealership where they are obviously being test-driven.
This is pretty amazing, considering that I have seen the outrageously priced Audi RS 7 -- a car so rarified that I actually wouldn't consider not seeing it as indicative of anything. Not once seeing a Q50 is -- speaking as a fan of the brand -- well, sad.
Hopefully Johan de Nysschen, the new Infiniti president, will be able to imbue future Infinitis with some of the Audi Magic he most certainly picked up on over his 19 years with Audi.
Well, there's always next year -- I'd look for some under-the-covers changes for the Q50, sooner rather than later. But I could be wrong, just not uncertain.
It's interesting. . .
to relate Mark's posts to the economy. He had to slum it for a few years with an Asian vehicle, but now things are back to normal.
Another factor is post length. The long ones happen when things are flush. Old-timers will recall the previous good times.
I'll leave it to others to develop the precise algorithm, but I've got mine in my head. The good news is that the economy is recovering, slower than anyone would have thought possible, but recovering all the same.
I enjoy Mark's posts, and it's clear that we're going to see more of them. This is a good thing.
LOL.. we should alert Janet Yellen!
Moderator - Prices Paid, Lease Questions, SUVs
I nearly cracked up when I read your comment, CD, that my wife and I were "slumming" with her Infiniti and my Acura. I guess your equating both our return to Audis (or German cars in general) to the "economy" is perhaps somewhat (or more than somewhat) true, too.
Yet, to be more transparent, I think it is also acccurate to say that the Japanese cars we had were (quoting my wife: "passionless") even though they were worthy of being described as "premium" class.
I had so wanted the Q50 to be what its advanced press promised; and, if you'll recall, I custom ordered an IS 350 F Sport in Ultra White with a red leather interior, AWD and a bunch of options. When my wife ordered a Q5 3.0T, I tes drove the S4 and thought it to be "beyond reach" even though it was clearly able to outperform the IS in every way (including price.)
The Audi dealer somehow came up with a lease price that made switching my plans and coming "home" to Audi a no brainer. So yea, the economy observation does ring true, but not the whole story.
Regarding the length of my posts, well, I once again have something to go on about.
I do urge anyone even thinking about the cars under discussion here to include a test drive of an S4; you may find, as did I, that an S4 is "within reach."
Until next time: Drive it like you live!
The board is definitely livening up a bit again. I like it. Infiniti's strong point in this segment with the Q50 are stunning good looks and gobs of power at a very reasonable price. The 3.7L VQ most definitely will not be as smooth as the German sixes. I would say Infiniti's V6 is smoother than BMW's N20 2.0 Turbo 4.
2001 Honda Prelude Type SH/ 2011 BMW 328xi / 2011 Honda Pilot EX-L w/ Navigation
Interesting - seems Infiniti has gone the way of the Germans & has leatherette seating standard on the Q50. It is an option on the Q50 Premium.
Someone asked for a compare/contrast with the new TL SH AWD and the previous one I had, in addition to a comparison to the S4. I just can't remember which thread asked for the post, so putting it here.
I'll get this out of the way up front so "markincincinnati" doesn't raise his blood pressure. The S4 drives better, no question. In some areas, it's significantly better, in other areas just a smidgeon better. Then there are areas where the TL SH AWD is better.
First, the difference between my former 4G TL SHA AWD and this one. The new one is smoother. There's no trans "shifting" feeling going on. My old one had the 5 speed auto. The new one, a 6 speed. I think the ratios are closer together which might account for the smoothness. And, I believe the 6th gear has a taller ratio than the old one. One tank of gas in, 50-50 driving, I got 23 MPG. Plenty acceptable. That's about 10% better than the old TL and about the same amount better than the S4.
So, I like the new trans in the TL. It's not as good as the DSG 7 speed in the S4. But, it is better than the one in the previous. Again, smooth with good manual control via the paddle shifters. The S4 will bang gears with the best of them, automatic or manual, no ifs, ands or buts.
The S4 is fast, without a doubt. It's probably the fastest sports sedan I've ever driven, and will rival many muscle cars. The TL is quick. It has plenty of power, especially once you get around the 3K RPM range where the torque kicks in. The S4 has torque all over the range rev. The new 6 speed in the TL makes it feel quicker than the old one. Again, different gear ratios.
Handling-the TL is FWD based, even though it has the torque vectoring tick going on (as did the S4). So, there is a difference between the S4 and the SH AWD of the TL. Not as much as you might expect, though. They're really close in the handling dept. I find myself sometimes saying, "I liked the S4 better". At other times I find myself saying ("the TL SH AWD is as good as the S4, and also more forgiving"). Tough to choose one over the other.
Ride-this goes to the new TL. I think Acura has out BMWd BMW with the ride/handling compromise. Acura must have recalibrated the suspension in some way. It's firm without being uncomfortable. Where the S4 sometimes crashes over bumps in the road, the TL absorbs them without drama.
Seat comfort goes to the TL. They were, and continue to be some of the best sports seats in any car I've ever driven. They're snug without pinching (something the S4's seats sometimes do).
Fit and finish is a tie. The old TL, the new TL and the S4 are all exemplary in fit and finish. However, as with the old TL, everything in the new TL just works the way it's supposed to. That's a far cry from what I experienced with the S4. All electronics work. There's no in car internet in the TL, but I let the uber expensive in car internet lapse in the S$ because it was slow, and unneeded. Since I did let it lapse in the S4, some of the NAV maps went bonkers (next to no information about the roads being displayed on the NAV). On the TL, it's straight forward, accurate and detailed.
As good as the B&O stereo was in the S4, the system in the TL (ELS) is better. It's simply one of the best factory sound systems on the market, in any car.
Styling, as always, is subjective. I liked the look of the older TL. I like the look of my new one better. I'm way in the minority here, though. The S4 is classic Audi with the LCD daytime running lights that everyone seems to like these days. I liked the look of the S4, too.
Here's where markincinnati and I will part. I had the check from Audi buying back my S4. I pocketed around $14K and got the new TL SH AWD Advance...as loaded as you can get one.
Is the S4 better? As I started, some ways yes, other ways no. Is it $14K better? Not even close...not even $10K better, and I'd have to try really, really hard to make a case that it's $5K better.
Don't get me wrong. Both are really good cars. If you're looking to blow people's doors off at stop lights, while having a good handling 4 door, the S4 is for you.
If you want something more well rounded, that does a lot of things well, the TL is for you (just don't go seeking any Mustang GTs down at a stop light...wait until you get into the corners).
Good info - thanks for taking the time!
Not in the market - today . . .
Ray....I came within a cat's whisker of buying an X1 35ix. BMW needs to do something about the seats they put in their vehicles, as I didn't like the ones in the X1.
That said, if the 235i M series had been available, not sure my decision would have been the same.
Great write up. You did an exemplary job at comparing thoroughly & objectively.
graphicguy - when I first came to the "economic" realization, in 2011, that I would feel the prudent choice for my next car (out of a 2009 Audi A4 Prestige) would not be another Audi (a new A4 to replace the '09 would have been about $100+ more per month and the lease term 6 months longer), I tested many brands.
The 2012 Acura TL SH-AWD Advance seemed like a good choice since it most reminded me of an Audi (and specifically it reminded me more of an S4 than an A4 2.0T with sport package.) I had read a 2010 Automobile Magazine comparison report of the S4 and TL which did say most folks would probably never cross shop the two cars, but overall, the TL SH-AWD was favorably reviewed even though it was "out-gunned" and out-priced by the S4.
I find myself more in violent agreement with your thoughts than any other perspective. Your recent experience with an S4 certainly has made you come by your observations and opinions honestly. Indeed, your overview was balanced.
The most subjective part of many purchases we make is typically "value" -- some folks will value an "extra 10%" sufficiently to allow them to cost-justify a 25% (or more in some cases) price difference. This is true in cars, clothes, food and seat choices at sporting events (to name just a few).
The S4's creators, as I noted, seems to "cost" fun-to-drive at about $10,000 over the TL SH-AWD Advance. Today, I see the S4 as being worth the premium. In 2011, I could not cost-justify such a price delta.
Bang for the buck does go to the Acura. I am thinking, too, that there are other high bang for the buck offerings available from Korea -- at the same time, I am also thinking the new Cadillac CTS is a lower value proposition than the previous generation CTS. Clearly these preferences are highly subjective.
Objectively (or as objectively as possible), the Acura can be evaluated as having greater content per dollar than the Audi. Although more subjective in nature, I believe it is probable that any collection of "professional" reviewer's opinions about the two cars would reveal these reviewers to find the S4 more praise-worthy. Objective (measured) test results, too, would probably show the Audi's performance to be higher than the Acuras -- even if often only slightly thus.
It all comes down to "how much" it is worth to you to have one vs the other. No such comparison is possible, given the 5-figure price difference between the two vehicles, but I wonder which car would be "chosen" if they were priced virtually identically and identically contented.
I assume if the choice of a new loaded TL SH-AWD or a new loaded S4 were presented, and both had an asking price of $47,500, that the S4 would be chosen more frequently (the vast majority of the time.)
Can't prove this, of course, but it would make for an interesting study of "perceived value."
Today, therefore, I'll agree that the TL SH-AWD Advance offers a very high value; but, I will also -- today -- pay the upcharge for the S4 and attribute that price difference to the cost of the "fun-to-drive" factor.
DILYL -- with the emphasis on "you"!
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