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Entry Level Luxury Performance Sedans



  • rayainswrayainsw Posts: 2,615
    Mark -
    Congrats - enjoy - and please post your
    [ typical ] very thorough impressions here?
    - Ray
    Currently living through other people's experiences ...
  • sweendogysweendogy Left lanePosts: 1,202
    Property values will prob move higher on this swap as well- nice congrats
  • graphicguygraphicguy SW OhioPosts: 7,675
    FN....I rent cars through a military program as I do quite a bit of business with Lockheed and Boeing, and fall under their rates.

    So, it's usually Hertz or Avis I rent through. I have to say that Avis is really falling down on their game....renting less and less from them this year.

    I'm starting to rent a little more with Enterprise since they let me leave my rental car at the hotel where I'm staying and they'll come get it if I'm running late catching a flight and don't have time to go through the rental return process.
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 10,924
    My S.O.'s company has a deal with National, and he likes that (now that he's used to it) because if you're a frequent renter, you get to pick your vehicle. I think getting to drive a variety of cars is the only thing keeping him from getting the "new car bug" at home! They used to be with Hertz, and that was great for the "I don't have to talk to anyone" feature - just your name on the board, go to the slot, and your car is there with keys in it, ready to leave.

    Avis - they have that as a choice, and it was their only before they added National. They were the clowns that gave him a Mazda2 as a midsize vehicle. The level of service went downhill from there.

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  • andres3andres3 CAPosts: 5,403
    I remember when Enterprise told me getting an Accord with a V6 would probably be a Premium level 2 car rental equivalent. It was then I knew that the categories rental car companies named don't make much sense in real life.
  • graphicguygraphicguy SW OhioPosts: 7,675
    edited October 2013
    Yeah...the whole "We try harder" ad campaign for Avis really doesn't fit them any more. It should be more like "We don't care".

    I have a sneaky suspicion that they'll either merge with some other rental car company, or drastically remake their business model (no frills, no service car rental?) in the foreseeable future.

    Back to ELLPS business...saw my first BMW 4 series in person yesterday. My local BMW dealer had one sitting out front as I was passing. Looks really good. I'm afraid to stop and get a closer look, as I'm in my "I'm tired of taking my car to the dealer for service" mood. That usually doesn't end well for whatever car I happen to be driving at the time. ;)
  • robr2robr2 BostonPosts: 8,105
    I have a sneaky suspicion that they'll either merge with some other rental car company, or drastically remake their business model (no frills, no service car rental?) in the foreseeable future.

    I don't think Avis is going anywhere. They recently bought ZipCar and will be expanding the hourly rental business.
  • graphicguygraphicguy SW OhioPosts: 7,675
    robr2....I know for many years I threw Avis a lot of business. Then, for no reason than I can ascertain, their "customer service" went down the drain. I only use them as a last result, now.

    I'll have to try National to see if I can snag one of FN's beloved '14 Impalas.

    Just read an article from one of the trade rags about the new CTS. Apparently, it's quite a nice car. But, the one they tested had the 3.6L V6 (same as in the Impala, I believe). And, all loaded up, it will kick open the $60K door.

    While I've only seen pics, and just read about it, $60K+??????? I thought that price point was reserved for the blinged out Escalades. I'm still trying to justify 4 cyl (albeit tubo) BMW 3s for $50K.

    I've also just read where Volvo is dumping all of its 5 cyl and 6 cyl engines starting in '15.

    Will withhold judgement until I get some hands on experience, but I'm not liking this trend.
  • robr2robr2 BostonPosts: 8,105
    Just read an article from one of the trade rags about the new CTS. Apparently, it's quite a nice car. But, the one they tested had the 3.6L V6 (same as in the Impala, I believe). And, all loaded up, it will kick open the $60K door.

    They both use the LFX motor but the CTS get slightly more HP and torques.

    As for pricing, the CTS has moved up in size vis a vis the 5 series hence the bump in price. The 5 can hit $70K.
  • MichaellMichaell ColoradoPosts: 9,404
    The CTS VSport has the new twin turbo 3.6L with 410HP. That's the one that is nudging the $60K price point.

    2013 Hyundai Elantra GT / 2010 Mazda CX-7 GT / 2014 MINI Countryman S ALL4
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  • rayainswrayainsw Posts: 2,615
    In the CTS V Sport =
    420 hp and 430 lb-ft of torque.

    Version of the twin turbo V6 in the XTS =
    410 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque.
    [ Mounted transversely – AWD ]
    Six speed automatic [ vs 8 speed in the CTS ]

    - Ray
    Not in that market, today, but interested in how
    the CTS V Sport fares, at that price point...
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,114
    edited October 2013
    Just the facts:

    2014 S4 S-tronic (by default the car is a Premium+ model)
    Ibis White
    Magma Red/Black Leather
    Carbon fiber interior accents (this is the option I did not want, but took just to get it done)
    B&O radio/speaker upgrade
    MMI (etc etc etc)
    UHP All-season tires (18" wheels, 245/40)

    Apparently Audi Drive Select (light) is now included on Premium+ models; the missing feature is the adjustable shocks. Maybe that is what is worth nearly $3,000 -- having had this feature on my 2009 A4, I would say it would be worth perhaps half that amount going forward. The S4 suspension, however, seems to have struck a good balance between dynamic and comfort, so color me happy.

    It currently has 46 miles on it, is parked in the garage as I am sick as a dog with a nasty cold.

    Got the 6% discount by virtue of being a member of the Audi Club of North America -- and as an additional bonus, when my wife's Q5 comes in next month, she will get a $1,000 loyalty bonus in addition to the discount offered by the dealer (which on the Q5 is more than 6%, meaning the ACNA program couldn't help us there.)

    QND observation: My last two Audis were a 2005 A6 followed by a 2009 A4 -- the S4 dash and controls are little changed from those two cars (which is more than fine by me). However, the S4 MMI seems to have transformed the car almost into a computer, there are so many features and functions that are controlled by the MMI.

    More when I'm better.
  • rayainswrayainsw Posts: 2,615
    Sounds wonderful.
    Hope you feel better quickly!
    Again, congrats.
    - Ray
    Looking forward to details ......
  • andres3andres3 CAPosts: 5,403
    edited October 2013
    Sounds like a great car to me.

    I like the idea of adjustable shocks in theory, but I wonder if that would add additional weight to the car rather than just letting Audi Engineers pick one perfect balanced refined setting and sticking to that.

    Also, paying extra on a car that's already 50K (and more) scared me.
    I'd like the supercharged badges too, rather than the misnomer of V6T decals on the side, but they are about $150 extra bucks. The buck has to stop somewhere.

    Like I said, if I was CEO of Audi I'd of made the differential and supercharged badges standard equipment.

    I just found out my new S4 is ready for the cargo boat and being loaded. The wait is harder than I expected.
  • Man, I must be sicker that I thought, I forgot the one deal-breaker option I got on the S4: Audi Side Assist.

    This is now the third car I have had with blind spot monitoring -- I can live without many of the optional extras, but this one is a "don't leave home without it," as far as I am concerned.

    Good for Audi in making this a single option rather than attempting to bury it along with thousands of dollars worth of other features (like the Infiniti Q50).
  • andres3andres3 CAPosts: 5,403
    Agreed; Audi allows you to pick ala cart items from the "PRESTIGE" package with the "Premium Plus" package, therefore making the PRESTIGE package pointless unless you like every item it includes.

    Acura lost points on this count. I absolutely adore the sound system, but $3K to even 3.5K extra didn't make sense to me. Why is the good leather combined with the sound system "tech" package anyway? Most of that cost is in the Navigation which can be had for $100 in a portable unit.
  • flightnurseflightnurse 35K feetPosts: 1,710
    I don't want to high jack a thread, but for the company I work for we have a contract with all the rental companies, and I continue to always go back to National. I like that I can go to any car under the awning's and take it without a problem. Lately there has been some interesting cars, I just had a Volvo XC60, as well as S60. I average 60-75 rentals a year and never had a problem with National, that I can not say with Hertz or Avis.
  • graphicguygraphicguy SW OhioPosts: 7,675
    Mark...major congrats. Yours is identical to mine, with the exception of the seats. I know you're going to love it.

    I think you and I must have the only Ibis White S4s in the entire Cincinnati I've never seen a duplicate of mine. You'll find mine cruising around the Liberty, West Chester, Fairfield, Butler County area.

    CTS-V for $60K? 410 HP from a twin turbo? Hmmmmm......still, it's a Cadillac, and all the good, and the not so good, that comes with that.

    I shouldn't let my prejudices clould stand in the way of a new car:D

    FN....I'm not traveling until after Thanksgiving (first time for that in a loooooonng time). I'll have to make it a point to try National when I'm back on the road. Thx!
  • fedlawmanfedlawman Posts: 3,118
    edited October 2013
    For $60K I would find a CPO BMW M5. Then Id go trolling for Corvettes and 911's :P

    Seriously though, the S4 is a very sweet car. Congrats!
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,114
    edited October 2013
    I've now spent a bit of time "initializing" the S4's MMI system parameters -- including Audi Connect (free for 6-months). In terms of ease of use, the MMI user interface remains super easy, one could argue it is almost intuitive. What I do notice, this time, in comparison to my 2009 A4 Prestige, is that there seems to be more that can be configured via the MMI. I had to chuckle when I pressed the CAR button and was presented with the ability to set my INDIVIDUAL preferences and one of them pertained to the engine/exhaust sound: "Comfort," "Auto," or "Dynamic." This option must be there simply "because they could." I guess when your car stickers at north of $56K, you need to be able to rule your domain, so to speak.

    I do appreciate the new (to me) ability to speak entire phone numbers and entire addresses without having to spell things out or use the rotary knob to dial in o-n-e l-e-t-t-e-r a-t a t-i-m-e. Big move forward in voice recognition. Pairing my iPhone 5, too, was a snap -- but, there is no easy way to use the iPhone (other than Bluetooth) since the supplied cable is only good for iPhone's up to the 4S models. That is one thing Acura did a better job of: media connectivity. I mean, you could use a USB or a mini-stereo (male) plug or Bluetooth or all three at the same time.

    Audi uses its own proprietary cable and you can't have your iPhone set up for two functions: one Bluetooth and one hardwired "connection" are not supported. My primary reason for not using Bluetooth has been I wanted to keep the phone in charge mode while I was driving, and the Acura allowed just that by plugging one end of the cable into the iPhone and one end into a female USB which charged the iPhone and allowed both iPod and Phone functions to operate without first shutting one down to use the other.

    It is a small thing -- but sometimes it just makes one wonder why they can produce such a technologically advanced vehicle but overlook what most of us have come to expect in a plug''n'-play world.

    Another cool feature -- but one that is NOT worth $30/month after the 6 month free trial ends -- is Audi connect that will actually show google earth pictures on the nav screen -- in excellent clarity. Not sure why I'd pay for that. Now, I know the stated "value" of Audi connect is that it turns the interior of the S4 into a WiFi hotspot -- but here's the thing, the ONLY carrier offered is T-Mobile and the signal is restricted to 3G. Those of you with the outdated Apple iPhone 5 know that your phone can be made into a WiFi hot spot (and that is just a "standard" feature of the iPhone); but, the difference is, depending on your carrier, I suppose, the iPhone can be 4G LTE, which would make someone's laptop using your iPhone WiFi hotspot run faster. Yes, the Audi Connect is more than a WiFi hotspot enabler, but, really, if I needed a hotspot while driving, the iPhone works well and you can buy a hell of a lot of "band" for an extra $30 per month.

    I guess I look at Audi Connect as a too expensive technology considering its data fees. If my mind changes, I'll report back to you.

    OK, once you get all (or most) of the MMI options set the way YOU want them, you're ready to punch the start button and -- finally -- take this sublime machine out on the road.

    I set my Audi Drive Select to dynamic and put the S-Tronic in D (which becomes "S" when set to dynamic via the MMI) and pulled out of the driveway.

    The power that is available underfoot is hard to describe -- I am tempted to hyperventilate and gush "the power feels limitless," which it does, but I won't, for I know someone, somewhere will point out a quicker, stronger and even more capable vehicle. For the life of me, though, when I read (or watch on YouTube) the test reports and see 0-60 in 4.4 seconds as the tested performance, I now understand how quickly the S4 reaches speed without muss nor fuss and without my even noticing it. Its "pick up" is so quick AND so smooth, it cautions me to watch the gauges since there are few signals of how quickly speed rises (and I am cautioned by the local long arm of the law, too).

    Braking, too, makes me now think I understand how landing on an aircraft carrier must feel -- the brakes shed speed with incredible -- "you've got to feel it to believe it" -- aplomb.

    My 2009 A4 was a quiet car to ride in -- not compared to the 2014 S4, though. The S4 almost makes me believe there might be some actual practical purpose to the MMI setting governing engine/exhaust sound -- you might need to hear something to clue you in just how quickly you got to extra-legal speeds. Lord knows there isn't much in the way of an audible cue to give you a sense of velocity.

    Speaking of sound -- the Acura TL (Advance) has, to this day, not been bettered in terms of the sound system Acura blesses it [the TL Advance] with -- the B&O sound system in the S4 is "cleaner and clearer" than my fading memory of my 2009 A4 B&O. Nothing, so far, come close to the sound of a DVD-audio recording (or a DTS disc, for that matter), but the current iteration of the B&O system is a welcome improvement. The HD radio as well as SiriusXM probably sound as good as these technologies (and transmission limitations) can deliver, so I'll simply suggest checking off the B&O option box should you choose Audi from the ELLPS list.

    With such green tires it is difficult to say anything about the "handling" of the S4 -- since it will surely improve over the next few days as the "green-ness" of the tires is scrubbed away. By the way, I chose (of my own free will) to get the 18" UHP A/S tires instead of the MAX Perf Summer-only rubber. I live in Cincinnati for pity's sake -- the freeways are crowded (so what good is a 155 mph limiter?) and we do have moderate winters with a couple of days of snow cover here and there -- besides, the summer rubber Audi chooses really has a short tread life in my experience. I'll live (in shame) with a 130 mph limiter in other words.

    That's it for now.

    I'll close and wonder why (considering the price and the "natural comparison") the S4 was not thrown in the mix of cars that were compared to the new Lexus IS F Sport. I would think the S4 might have given the judges pause. We'll see, maybe next time.

  • graphicguygraphicguy SW OhioPosts: 7,675
    Mark...glad you're enjoying the S4. I agree with everything you say. The Audi connect wasn't worth it to me, either. In addition, during the trial, it was painfully slow.

    I leave everything in dynamic mode most of the time, except if I'm on a long interstate jaunt. I use comfort settings, then. I got the all season tires, too. I really had no use for the 155 MPH summer only tires.

    I agree about the stereo, too. The B&O is good, but the TL ELS stereo is the best I've heard in any car, at any price.

    As you know, it's really nice around the OH Valley right now. But, when we hit those mid 90s next summer, you'll find the A/C to be frigid.

    Get out there today and hit the road...enjoy the ride. Personally, we're headed to the saurkraut festival in Waynesville today.
  • dino001dino001 Tampa, FLPosts: 3,566
    edited October 2013
    Just attended my dealer's model introduction event. Not a very good one - they simply grabed first available salesman and gave me their standard test drive. The only difference between the "event" and standard day at the office was they had vehicles lined up and ready, so no time lost in searching. And fancy appetizers, and small gift. Not really comparable to those manufacturer's events.

    Anyway, I got a chance for first drive in 328 GT and diesel. First was 328 GT. I was prepared for much worse when it comes to GT, but it drove OK. Longer wheelbase increased the turn radius, but that's the price for room. Steering wheel feel is equally dreadful in small speeds, as one in standard 3-series, but it's not much worse. High speeds feel similar. Car is good for cruising and commute, but certainly not for track - but it was clearly not built for that. The biggest thing is BMW reportedly redesigned start/stop system, engine hardware and software. The engine is noticeably smoother and start/stop works better. Car no longer shakes at restart. This was done for all July and later production day cars.

    Next was diesel, 328d. It is same as 320d in Europe, but they changed name, because americans would not pay premium for "economy" name. Think 320i vs 328i. 328d is more than 328i, if they called it 320d they'd sell half of those. it is clearly long distance car. Pleasant, quick enough, but not as fast even as 328i. But it doesn't need to be. I think it may be a decent offset for the fuel economy, as long as it delivers on those mpg numbers on the sticker. I'm not a diesel fanatic, but it may just be first time I see a real diesel product that may stick. Not some crazy fast machine for God knows how much, like previous 335d. This one has a chance to be a left brain choice, all things considered.

    The salesguy was pleasant and no pressure, cause this was an "event". We had a nice chat about other improvements BMW made, such as voice recognition, map search, etc. I say they better, because mine are pretty useless. I'm sure other manufacturers make similar strides. I just hope they'll fix the steering, put more feedback, even if it's through fake software. I just hate that buickey feel.

    2012 BMW 328i wagon, manual and sports package. No. sold in the US: 1. Probably.

  • dino001dino001 Tampa, FLPosts: 3,566
    edited October 2013
    Seems they are recognizing their prices went bonkers. There seem to be ongoing cash incentive for a few months now, they call it option allowance. It even applies to newly released 2014 versions, like diesel, or GT. They can call it whatever, bottom line they used to have cash incentives only during model switchovers, seems now it's on everything. They should be careful, as it's very difficult to turn off cash incentive mill. They may be thinking it's better to give people a deal than lower price, but I don't know. Brand dilution is usually more pronounced when sold on X off basis than when retail price goes down. Anyway, I predict free leather may come much sooner than on previous platform.

    2012 BMW 328i wagon, manual and sports package. No. sold in the US: 1. Probably.

  • graphicguygraphicguy SW OhioPosts: 7,675
    dino....BMW has always seemed to be more focused on leasing. As such, they've often subidized their leases pretty heavily.

    But, that's assuming the high MSRP prices don't scare away potential buyers from even walking into their showroom with no knowledge of BMW incentives.

    I think most of us potential customers posting here are right in BMW's wheel house. And, we're thinking twice (except for FN's new purchase) about walking into their showroom.

    Still, I guess they're doing well with that strategy, as they seem to be doing well.
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,114
    edited October 2013
    Well take a look at the new Cadillac CTS Vsport pricing -- $59K+ base, $60K+ nicely equipped.

    I find myself wondering if we may be approaching a time when cars can be updated for years after purchase -- the prices seem to be getting beyond the reach of more and more people. My friend has an airplane that he just keeps updating this that and the other thing on -- says it beats buying a new one.

    If they'er going to be so transitory (cars that is), they ought to be priced as such.

    Not gonna happen in my lifetime, I'll bet.

    Of course, perhaps cars are things that people should always rent and always be making payments on (and always having fairly new ones).

  • dino001dino001 Tampa, FLPosts: 3,566
    Yeah, I know. I don't fit that crowd. Even if I bought things with short term in mind, I never found a lease I liked - at least so far. It was mostly because those models I got DID NOT have as good lease incentives, as those volume models. Converted money factors were higher than purchase interest rates, even before rolling in lease fees, and residual is only slightly inflated, which was the case for my current wagon. Basically the deal would have been nothing to write home about, so why would I lease? My previous cars were Subarus and those guys don't inflate residuals at all - in fact STI I bought in 2008 had a very bad residual when compared with what I could actually sell it for after three years. But 2011/2012 was abnormal, as tsunami crippled the Subaru's supply and inflated the their used car prices, which I think is the case even until today.

    Bottom line, lease doesn't work for my favorite models, at least never has so far - that's why I look at the actual prices. And those are bonkers on new 3-series: 328 easy over $50K, 335 easy high $50s, sometimes over $60K, if you like "stuff". It is at least 5 grand higher than just a few years ago, on the sticker anyway. The cash incentives have to roll out on that. I wonder where it will go, hope they won't evolve to old "the Cadillac way", where price on the sticker meant absolutely nothing.

    2012 BMW 328i wagon, manual and sports package. No. sold in the US: 1. Probably.

  • dino001dino001 Tampa, FLPosts: 3,566
    Of course, perhaps cars are things that people should always rent and always be making payments on (and always having fairly new ones).

    Hope that's tongue in cheek.

    2012 BMW 328i wagon, manual and sports package. No. sold in the US: 1. Probably.

  • graphicguygraphicguy SW OhioPosts: 7,675
    FN...any further impressions of your 320i?
  • dino001dino001 Tampa, FLPosts: 3,566
    I just discovered something that does not make me feel that great. BMW changed their paid maintenance period for new cars to 12K miles/12 months, from previously 16K miles/12 months. This means they either had too much resistance from their dealer base (this would not be such a big problem), or discovered that the oil simply doesn't last as they originally thought/claimed (this obviously is a big issue). What about existing customers, those who bought in last few years and sticked to the computer recommended schedule? I'm not very happy. Seems like those who warned about this being an issue are now validated. The only consolation I can think of is that my commute is at least 75% highway, if not more and my engine is naturally aspirated vs. current BMW lineup is all turbocharged. From my previous turbo owning times (had two Subarus with such engines), I know they tend to go through oil faster than naturally aspirated engines (turbos spin at 5-10 times engine spin). I may be OK long term and no damage done, but it does not make me happy to think BMW was either too cheap or too arrogant in thinking that they can get away with those long periods.

    I'm going to call my dealer to ask about this. Not a happy camper.

    2012 BMW 328i wagon, manual and sports package. No. sold in the US: 1. Probably.

  • alltorquealltorque Posts: 535
    Would be very surprised if this was an oil-capability issue. It is almost certainly a dealer/revenue-driven issue.

    Don't have a BMW but a neighbour has a 320i. The service indicator, when reset after the annual service just tells him that next service is due in 1 year or 18000 or so miles. I doubt anything has changed for 2014............same oil and no huge incidence of failed engines.

    America has traded on ridiculously short oil-drain intervals for year. Lube oil was low cost so no issue. Not so here in Europe.

    My '06 Volvo S60 D5 has an oil change interval of 1 year or 18,000 miles. Doesn't burn any between changes and is in top form with a mere 94,000 miles on it, (just about run-in my dealer reckons :-)).

    Some years ago I was working here in Europe with a senior guy from the USA lubes division of the oil major we both worked for. He got all excited one day about America announcing that their oil would now run to 10,000 mile oil changes.............but for gasoline engines only. I was driving a VW Group diesel at the time, (A Skoda Fabia vRS with the 130bhp 1.9TDi PD). He was devastated to hear that the standard oil drain for that engine was 10,000 Europe. Most VW engines, incl diesels are now 20,000 mile drains.

    The BMW change is not oil/engine driven but - in my experienced opinion - cost/dealer greed-driven. America has been mis-informed for years on oil change intervals.
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