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Ultimate AWD Sports Sedans

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Comments

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I have both. A Miata and a Forester.

    The Miata is more fun in the dry, but it's downright scary when it's wet, and I refuse to drive in the snow at all. Seriously, I'll park it and take the subway home, and have my wife pick me up in her Subaru Legacy.

    Also, driving on the edge, it's a sharp edge, and you're more likely to exceed it. Lift the throttle in the middle of turn and the Miata will spin quicker than you can say "oops".

    That's why they now tune RWD vehicles to understeer, that plus the electronic nannies like stability control jump in early and spoil the fun. And when you turn that off, well, you still have understeer, and you can still lose it driving at the limit.

    Bottom line - over the limit you lose control.

    With AWD, you still have control, even beyond the limit. You can control a slide, AWD will actually help you pull out of it.

    Now, my Forester isn't a little roadster, but when it does snow, I can drift it and *CATCH* the slide, and control it. The Miata just cannot do this.

    So basically I can exceed the limits and have more fun, all in a controllable manner. With RWD I risk spinning out and damaging something.

    I realize every car is different, but I've owned both for several years and I have (surprise) gotten the Forester sideways a lot more often.

    -juice
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Now, to try and answer your question, the two closest vehicles I can think of are the Subaru Impreza WRX STI ($33,620) and the EVO MR ($35,764). The EVO actually meets all the criteria.

    The Subie is under your price range but an STI Limited arrives for 2007.

    Now, are you gonna tell me an EVO is not more fun than a BMW 325i, even with RWD?

    An M3, OK, I'll give you that, but that's almost twice the money. Plus it's not available any more (or yet).

    -juice
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    image
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    image

    ;)
  • redsoxgirlredsoxgirl Posts: 67
    Don't get me wrong, I am sure that the Mitsubishi and Subaru are fun cars to drive in an off-road rally.

    But I need something for 12,000+/- miles a year of on-road driving that I can occassionally use to ferry around a client (i.e. senior corporate executives, Wall Street analysts, etc.). Being the youngest female partner in the firm already presents some challenges. Showing up to a business function in a an aerodynamically-eccentric testosterone-laced "boy racer" car would be professionally unadviseable. ;) And frankly, I doubt it would be my cup of tea regardless of the professional image implications.

    Yesterday, one of our clients offered me his 2003 M5 with only 19,000 miles, pristine condition for $50,000. It includes an extended (7/75) warranty that covers another 4 years and 56,000 miles of all maintenance. I happen to like the previous (i.e. smaller proportioned, pre-i-drive, real 6-speed manual) M5 better than the new one which feels absolutely enormous to me. I have never purchased a used car, but I'm going to check this one out.

    Thanks for your suggestion. I would concede that the EVO is definitely not "boring", even if it's not for me.
  • kurtamaxxxguykurtamaxxxguy Posts: 1,798
    ahh, the joys of what looks like desert race/drifting. That is __one__ place you can drift and slide all day in without burning up a zillion tires! I assume there are Heavy Duty dust filters for engine and driver?

    Unfortunately, all the dirt in my areas's covered by rotting asphalt and concrete, thoroughly flooded in rains and sprouting potholes by the dozens (including the "free" ways).

    AWD would be of help for that, but the extra weight and MPH hit are no fun.
  • rshollandrsholland Posts: 19,788
    But I need something for 12,000+/- miles a year of on-road driving that I can occassionally use to ferry around a client (i.e. senior corporate executives, Wall Street analysts, etc.). Being the youngest female partner in the firm already presents some challenges. Showing up to a business function in a an aerodynamically-eccentric testosterone-laced "boy racer" car would be professionally unadviseable. And frankly, I doubt it would be my cup of tea regardless of the professional image implications.

    Don't have to. Check out the soon to be released '07 Legacy 2.5 GT spec.B. It's not a boy-racer by any means, but a very sporty "GT" with AWD (of course), a powerful 2.5L turbo, a standard 6-speed, navigation, etc. It's the top-of-the-line Legacy and only comes in Diamond Gray Metallic, a charcoal gray. There's nothing about this vehicle that would be considered a bad "career move" on your part. If anything, you just might impress your bosses and clients by making such an intelligent decision.

    Follow the links here to the '07 spec.B for info and pics.

    Bob
  • dhamiltondhamilton Posts: 878
    The S4 feels way more solid than the current M3 IMO. The M3 is probably faster around the track but I think the Audi would be right on it's butt. The Audi is supremely better on a day-to-day basis IMO. Not to mention the buzzy sound of that inline 6 cylinder in the bimmer is enough to make me hunt for a rope and a shower rod.
  • themugsterthemugster Posts: 7
    Not a lot of chatter pro or con about it here, but my Volvo S60 R has met all the specs (including the clients) and overcome all the objections voiced above for me, and I live in a Boston-like climate (Albany, NY). If you're committed to using real summer tires (ultra) and switching to real winter tires (like Blizzaks), you probably won't be disappointed. It's a 6-speed 300hp, turbo, twin-intercooled, with 295 ft.-lbs. torque and AWD @ roughly $40K w/all packages except ground fx and stereo upgrade. Turning circle with the 18" wheels is a minor sore spot, not to mention a design flaw, but then I haven't run gymkhanas since my Big Healey days of yore...and the four-piston 13" Brembos are what you get as a trade-off.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Sounds great given it's under warranty. Have a mechanic check it out. It's a lot of money for a used car, but it's a special car that will always hold its value.

    spec.B is a good sleeper, only the hood scoop gives it away. Heated two-tone leather, moonroof, and GPS NAV are all standard so your clients won't be disappointed.

    S4 is also sweet. I drove with a buddy from DC to PA and back in a cabrio, I can't imagine any client not being impressed. The V8 really pulls.

    S60 R would be fun, they're a little heavy IMO but again your clients won't notice. They might even find it feels very substantial. And you can't go wrong with the Safety First message.

    There are a lot of sweet AWD cars out there. And you might end up chirping the tires less than you would with a RWD equivalent, something that might seem boy-racerish to your clients.

    -juice
  • rshollandrsholland Posts: 19,788
    http://www.roadandtrack.com/article.asp?section_id=31&article_id=3280

    The '06 Legacy GT spec.B won when $$$ were considered. The '07 model will have a 6-speed, and not the 5-speed that was tested here.

    Bob
  • justin12justin12 Posts: 23
    I am deciding between the two. In your opinion, which one is a better car?
  • dhamiltondhamilton Posts: 878
    think BMW does all wheel drive "sport" like Audi does. Everything i've read says that the Audi wins between the 2. However, reviews are a small part of the story. Take extensive test drives in both and decide for yourself. The free maintenance on the bimmer is nice, The Audi has much better interior.
    My money would be on the Audi, but it's not my money. Good luck and let us know how you did.
  • dhanleydhanley Posts: 1,531
    I did the "steets of tomorrow" driving event here in chicago 2 weeks ago.

    It was a lot of fun, i'd recommend it. You got to be a passenger in an rs4 drivern by a professional. Now, that was awfully impressive. Ultimate awd sport sedan, anyone?

    The cars i got to drive were less so. The tt sure looks cool, and is pretty nice inside, but handles nowhere near as well as the boxster i had driven a few weeks previously. The other cars (a6,a3) were major understeerers, but it was funny when my girlfriend drove over a whole row of cones.

    dave
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    They're not coming to DC which is a major bummer. I heard the "hell ride" you get in the S4 is awesome.

    I think I'd pick the Quattro between those two, much nicer inside plus it's their thing. I'd pick a Bimmer over a FWD Audi any day, though.

    -juice
  • redsoxgirlredsoxgirl Posts: 67
    After considering and reconsidering just about every alternative, I decided to stay within the Porsche family and ordered a 2007 911 C4S Coupe for late September delivery. I'll accept that I'm not going to be racing SUV's through heavy snow to Killington. On the other hand, I met a Harvard professor who has a 2001 911 C4 that has yet to be "snowbound" commuting into and out of Boston. His car has 56,000 miles and still looks brand new. I've already checked with Tire Rack for winter tire/rim suggestions.

    Thanks for those who offered suggestions and opinions. I honestly didn't expect this to be the result, but after test driving the new 911, it's hard not to fall for it.

    Drive safely everyone.
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 11,077
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  • esfesf Posts: 1,020
    If you're looking for an all-season sports car, for around $60K, my car may be for you.

    Sure, it's not as fun as the M3 in the twisties- and you're quite a critic, as I can see. But, my convertible is far superior to the M3 in almost every respect- luxury, style (in my Sprint Blue color), off-the-line performance, easy to live with, and it's still a blast in the S-curves.

    I think you should take a look at the Audi S4 Cabriolet. I just love the car, and do you know who Jeremy Clarkson is? The S4 is his 2nd favorite convertible (behind the new Jaguar XK, because-- well... he's British!).

    Just a thought. Also, by the way, I did test drive the M3 Convertible before I bought the S4. With the options that my $63K S4 has, an M3 Convertible would've exceeded $70,000, a barrier that I didn't want to cross. The S4 also has a luxury-car worthy interior, a much cooler color, and the smooth grumble of a 340hp V8 under the hood.

    '06 Audi A3 2.0T DSG • '05 Audi S4 Cabriolet • '04 Lexus RX 330
  • redsoxgirlredsoxgirl Posts: 67
    Thanks for the suggestion on the S4 Convertible. I test drove one at the Porsche Audi dealership and was very favorably impressed. The new S4 may not be the pure performance car that the M3 is, but it is way above the old S4 and a worthy competitor, for sure.

    Had it not been a Porsche Audi dealership, the S4 may have been my next car. But, as I previously posted, I also test drove the new 911 S4 and was swept off my feet. Back when I leased my Boxster S, the 911 was out of my reach and I was not that impressed with the 996 model. But the new 997, especially the 355hp S version, is much improved. The 911 is a true sports car, whereas the S4 is a sports sedan, which did make me think twice about the 911 practicality. But I really don't need a back seat and I now have access to a SUV through a friend if I need one.

    I am rethinking my decision to order a Coupe instead of a Cab.

    Enjoy your S4. It is a very nice car.
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,664
    I lease the 330xi SP and the x drive only helps handling IMO. I had a problem with the car in March and the loaner they gave me was a non-SP 330i and the difference was unbelievable. The Sport Package lowers the ride height and also provides carbon-steel suspension parts and it does make a difference. The x drive is designed to operate in rear-drive 99% of the time unless traction loss is detected in the from tires in the twisties. Then power is transferred appropriately. I have driven the car for 6,000 miles and it is a good blend of performance for a 4 door sedan.
  • habitat1habitat1 Posts: 4,282
    When test I drove 2004 model 330i and ix models, both with sport packages ("i" with 235 hp performance package), I noticed a considerable difference between the two. The ix was noticably heavier and had more of a "detuned" version of the sport package with smaller wheels/tires and what seemed like a softer suspension that allowed for slightly more body roll.

    Don't get me wrong, the 2004 330ix SP was a very nice car, but at that time, had I decided to go with the 3 series for optimal perfomance and handling, I would have gone with the rear wheel drive version. I am not sure if the new 3 series puts the "ix" on a more equal level with the "i" in handling and performance. But I still think I'd be inclined to save the weight of AWD unless climate conditions mandated it.

    I faced the same issue when I briefly considered trading my 2005 911 C2S for a 2006 model. I considered and test drove the C4S. The added weight and slightly less efficient drivetrain took quite a bit of the edge off of the nimble handling and acceleration I enjoy with the "2". I even know some much more serious Porsche enthusiasts that prefer the handling and feel of the RWD GT3 to the much heavier AWD Turbo.
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,664
    I agree with you on the weight differential. But I had a problem with my '06 330xi in March and needed a loaner. They gave me a 330I nonSP and it handled great but my car was vastly more nimble even with the extra weight. The SP on the the regular 330i must be similar and even beter than my car considering your point on the weight so this makes sense. Either way, these cars are a great experience for me because I always bought Amercian and the differences are tremendous. I purchased more the weather but still wanted the performance and chose the SP for additional handling and glad I did.
  • dhanleydhanley Posts: 1,531
    I think the issue is that ultimate is related to more then performance. The evo is a very quick car indeed. But an AWD bmw is ahead in a lot of other areas: comfort, safety, interior quality, etc. I don't want a car if it doesn't have heated seats and is noisy/nervous on the highway.

    Sure, get the evo if you want a track car.
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,664
    I look forard to the 335 version of this AWD 3 series. This could be one of the best cars around next year in AWD circles.

    BMW 335xi sedan on sale in March

    Posted Nov 15th 2006 3:57PM by John Neff
    Filed under: Car Buying, Sedans/Saloons, Safety, BMW

    BMW's twin-turbo, 3.0-liter inline-six is turning out to be as exciting an engine as the automaker's lauded 5.0-liter V10. Though its horsepower rating is down a couple hundie compared to the V10, the experience of dropping the hammer on a perfectly balanced inline-six that's sucking in more air than a Dyson upright is awesome (or so we've heard). The engine debuted in the 3-Series Coupe, followed by an appearance in the 3-Series Sedan, and finally we've learned when it will be taking up residence in the all-wheel drive 3-Series Sedan. The vehicle, known as the 335xi, will be available in March of 2007 according to this page on BMW's Military sales website. With 300 horsepower, all-wheel drive and BMW handling, the 335xi promises to be everything to everyone.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,148
    "With 300 horsepower, all-wheel drive and BMW handling, the 335xi promises to be everything to everyone."

    Not hardly. Even if BMW was inclined to offer a true sports suspension on their AWD models (something they've yet to do), I still would still opt for a 335i equipped with RWD over AWD.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,664
    Well not everyone, I agree.

    My preference for RWD would be strictly for a performance sports car for dry, summer driving and some really good track time.

    For all the commuter roads and the 4 season capability, the confidence of AWD with a better power/weight ratio will do it for me.

    Perhaps that's why there is an ever increasing selection of sports models and better and better infusion of performance engineering finding their way to more and more family sedans.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Does the Sport package lower the suspension? If so they probably don't offer it on the AWD models because those buyers tend to want ground clearance for driving over snow, sort of the point of wanting AWD in the first place.

    -juice
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,148
    Yes, BMW's SP does lower the suspension for their RWD offerings, not so the AWD ones.

    If so they probably don't offer it on the AWD models because those buyers tend to want ground clearance for driving over snow, sort of the point of wanting AWD in the first place.

    I beg to differ. Many folks believe (correctly or otherwise, an argument for another thread) that AWD is an asset to a cars' handling, however, with BMWs, one cannot order AWD and a Sport Suspension, unlike what you can order over at your local Audi store.

    In this instance, Audi has it correct as they offer at least the A4 (and A6 IIRC) as either 2WD or AWD and both can be had with or without the Sport Suspension. Said another way, an Audi A4 Quattro SP with the 3.1 liter V6 should pretty much suck the doors off a 330xi SP on a closed course track.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,664
    At the end of the day, the Carrera 4 S should suck the the doors of most RWD and ALL AWD street legal cars on a closed course track and spit the rest of the car into the weeds!

    Just a matter of cash and if you are in proper physical condition to get in/out of the car and can recover after each drive in the salt baths! :sick:

    On the other hand, it would be nice to have a Bentley Conti. GT for those stiff back days! :D

    Regards,
    OW
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,148
    The difference here is that the Carrera 4 S and the two sedans I referred to are in very different automotive classes. While the 330xi and the V6 A4-Quattro are fairly evenly matched in most key areas (price, power, handling, size and weight), the Porsche is about as different as it can be and as such is not an apples to apples comparison.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,664
    I know but I am only responding to the Ultimate AWD. Different class as you said.

    My point is that that the AWD allows faster track time due to the better adhesion. All things being equal, weight/ride height, AWD will win the day.

    If Audi does this better it is because they are ahead of BMW from longer experience and across many different model classes.

    I applaud your opinion but let's see if the '07 335xi offers any resistance to your proposed duel.

    Regards,
    OW
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,148
    I believe I was working within the constraints of "Ultimate AWD Sports Sedans" (per the title of this discussion), hence the Porsche has no place here.

    My point is that that the AWD allows faster track time due to the better adhesion. All things being equal, weight/ride height, AWD will win the day.

    The think is, all things are rarely equal, and even if they were I would dispute that statement. First off, AWD is heavy and Audi's arguably superior Torsen based system is even heavier than most. In cornering and braking, that extra weight is very much a detriment.

    Secondly, tires only have so much adhesion on any given surface and when a front tire is asked to both turn and apply power to the pavement, the amount of accelerative forces at any given moment directly and proportionally reduces the ability for the tire to provide lateral grip. So, while two otherwise identical cars, one RWD and one AWD, might have steady state similar cornering abilities, start applying power and the AWD car starts loosing front end cornering ability.

    True there are some cars with AWD that will outperform a competitors’ similar RWD car, however, is it the AWD system that is the differentiating factor or is the AWD car simply a better designed car?

    Regarding the Audi A4 versus the 330i (roughly an apples to apples comparison) the following would most likely be the results at a closed course track:

    1 - BMW 330i SP
    2 - Audi A4 3.2 Quattro (with Sport Suspension)
    3 - BMW 330i non-SP
    4 - Audi A4 3.2 Quattro (without Sport Suspension)
    5 - BMW 330xi SP
    6 - Audi A4 3.2 FWD (with Sport Suspension)
    7 - Audi A4 3.2 FWD (without Sport Suspension)

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • dhanleydhanley Posts: 1,531
    I have driven an a4 3.2L SP Q on the track, and it had a lot of plow, quite a bit more than a non-SP RWD(*) 3-series. Not sure how this translates to a 330xi, but i wouldn't be so sure that an a4 would win the proposed race.

    I had been toying with the idea of a s60R as a dark horse for the next davemobile, for AWD turbo goodness, but i can't see why i would with the 335xi now coming down the pipeline.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,148
    The theoretical placings of the cars is based upon my memory of lots of track test results that I've read over the years. Reality might could well be something different as you suggest. That said, I don't believe I've ever seen a test of a normal (i.e. non-"S") A4 beating an otherwise similar 3-Series around the track.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,664
    Dear Shipo,

    I agree your view of all things never really are equal, that is why we seek the best design.

    Your description of the physical forces makes sense except that I would add it depends clearly on the pavement conditions in the corners, not any given surface. If the approach angle is too sever and you are in a car that tends to understeer, AWD should work for the lateral traction of the front tires to help the car get through faster by pulling the car through after the apex.

    Perhaps the design is not here yet in the AWD sedan segment that will top your AWD vs. RWD list but I'll wager change is a coming.

    So, for your ultimate AWD list is:

    1 - Audi A4 3.2 Quattro (with Sport Suspension)
    2 - Audi A4 3.2 Quattro (without Sport Suspension)
    3 - BMW 330xi SP

    I assume the A4 has a true sport suspension where the Bimmer is lacking.

    Best Regards,
    OW
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,148
    "If the approach angle is too sever and you are in a car that tends to understeer, AWD should work for the lateral traction of the front tires to help the car get through faster by pulling the car through after the apex."

    I've been hearing the whole "Pull the car through..." thing for years, however, I've never seen any scientific or technical explanation confirming that as a fact or debunking it as a myth. Assuming for the moment that that happens to be true, it would seem logical that an AWD car designed as a FWD (Audi in this case) vehicle would benefit from the AWD application much more so than would a properly balanced RWD (BMW in this case) car which would tend to oversteer at the limit.

    Still and all, I believe that your 1, 2, 3 list from above is probably accurate as the A4 Quattro is indeed offered with a true sport suspension.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,664
    Dear Shipo,

    R&T did a test of these cars. The list is auto cross test result times:

    Autocross Results
    Subaru Legacy 2.5 GT
    spec.B 54.9 sec.
    Audi A4 2.0 T Quattro
    S-Line 55.2 sec.
    BMW 325xi 56.0 sec.
    Infiniti G35x 56.2 sec.
    Volvo S40 T5 AWD 56.3 sec.
    Mazda Mazdaspeed6 56.7 sec.
    Lexus IS 250 AWD 56.8 sec

    Here are results from an AWD vs. RWD G35 Test:
    Rear Drive vs. All-Wheel Drive: That Is the Question

    For fun, we brought a rear-drive Infiniti G35 to our autocross and compared it with its all-wheel-drive G35x brother, in both wet and dry conditions with VDC yaw control switched off. We assumed the rear-driver would be quicker in the dry, given its ability to hang out its tail and help the driver tighten his line. But in the wet, we were confident the all-wheel-driver would have a tremendous advantage, hooking up better out of turns. Here's what we learned:

    Well, we were wrong on one front, right on the other. Based on group average times on the dry autocross, the awd G35x proved itself faster, surprising us with its rear-biased manners and lapping nearly a second (0.9 sec.) quicker than the rear-drive G35. In the wet the G35x fared even better, 1.3 sec. quicker than the rear-drive G35.

    Credit goes to the electronically controlled awd system, which maintains a rear-drive bias while endowing the car with improved stability. Don't get us wrong, the G35x still liked to hang its tail out, but the driver didn't need to be quite so careful with the throttle to keep the car's back end in check. In the rear-drive G35, the driver had to be far less aggressive with the throttle (and quicker with corrections) to post respectable times. Wet or dry, the awd G35x was far easier to drive quickly.

    The G35x's center diff is responsible. From 0 to 10 mph, its electromagnetic wet clutch splits the torque 25 percent front/75 percent rear for good grip off the line; thereafter, the car is 100-percent rear drive until rear-wheel slip is sensed. Then, the diff can send as much as 50 percent of the power forward. Although other awd systems will produce different results, the G35x proves that all-wheel drive, properly applied, can give you the best of both worlds. — Andrew Bornhop

    Regards,
    OW
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,148
    Interesting stuff. A few observations:

    - I'm surprised at how well the 325xi did compared to the A4 (in S-Line trim no less) given its lesser suspension and hard and narrow All-Season tires. This is by far the closest test of the two cars I've ever seen.
    - I'm not surprised that the G35x finished behind both the Audi and the BMW, even with it's significant power advantage.
    - I am surprised that the "x" effectively stomped its RWD sibling into the dirt. I've seen a few other tests that showed quite the opposite. Without knowing anything more about the cars and the track, I'm highly suspicious of the rubber on the G35.

    Keep in mind that one of the biggest knocks against the G35 is that it's suspension isn't the greatest. Said another way, I don't think I've ever seen a test where a RWD G35 was capable of beating a fairly anemic E46 325i around a tight track much less a more powerful E90 325i.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,664
    Here is some additional feedback on some of the cars and some of the conditions of that test:

    To properly pit these seven all-wheel drivers against one another in a safe environment, we set up a near-1-minute autocross course. Because these cars deliver better traction than a comparable 2-wheel-drive car (see sidebar on rear- vs. all-wheel drive, p. 75), we decided to include a timed wet session after our morning dry running. Best-laid plans sometimes go awry. We quickly found out that the water truck couldn't drop enough wet stuff to achieve standing water, compounded by the extremely abrasive surface of our former Marine Corps landing strip — picture gritty sandpaper. The grippy surface, combined with learning the track more and more as the day went on, resulted in faster times in the wet than in the dry. Maybe we're just unusually gifted rain drivers.... Regardless, the autocross proved an excellent way to find the nuances of each car's handling habits. Stability systems were turned off.
    "The Subaru proved to be just about every editor's fastest way around the course, ahead of the second-place Audi A4 by 0.3 sec. When watching the Subie round the cones, we were struck by how much dive, squat and roll the car exhibited. But that translated into a forgiving nature, important since it doesn't have yaw or traction control. Its extremely potent engine provides tire-shredding thrust out of corners. And, if really provoked, the spec.B can rotate with drop throttle — not a usual trait for an awd'er. A few of us found that if we got the car to oversteer under braking heading into the big sweeper (see track map), it could be 4-wheel drifted under power all the way through. Fun stuff!

    "The Audi A4 — like the Subaru and the Mazdaspeed6 — had the advantage of summer tires, and in the Audi's case they were also the widest of the group. What's interesting here is the completely different manner in which the Audi goes about its business than, say, the Subaru. The A4's sport suspension feels composed no matter what type of transition situation you put it in, but the car also has absolutely no inclination to oversteer. It simply claws and scratches for traction at all times, the counterpoint being that low-speed entry understeer is harder to alleviate than in the Subaru and Infiniti. Because of this nature, it's not as "entertaining" as the Legacy or the G35x. But it sure gets the job done.

    "The BMW was possibly the biggest surprise at the autocross. Not because it didn't win, but because it did so well (third) despite all-season tires and a lack of power compared to the Subie. Precise steering with great feedback helped, as did a superbly confident chassis that could occasionally be persuaded into oversteer, showing its rear-drive nature. The BMW's predictable handling made the course so easy — aided by proper sport seats that hold you firmly in place — that it felt like you were driving slowly. Also interesting to note is that while the Bimmer finished third, the Infiniti and Volvo were nipping at its heels, just 0.2 and 0.3 sec. behind, respectively.

    "If you're more concerned about having fun than posting top lap times, consider the G35x. Its awd system feels the most like a rear-driver of the group. It responds instantly to drop-throttle (a little more so than a few editors preferred) and is by far the easiest with which to invoke oversteer, powersliding its way through the big sweeper in an easy-to-control drift. The G35x can be steered with the throttle more than the others, but because of its size, weight and less crisp steering response, its times suffered. Which the big power from its V-6 (with a fearsome wail) just couldn't make up.

    " While the Volvo seemed to be the odd man out for most of this test, it proved it has some abilities as a sports sedan with a very respectable finish in the autocross. This true test of a car's handling showed the Volvo's best traits are its small-for-the-group size, forgiving handling that will never get you in trouble and a broad spread of power from its turbo-5. But numb steering and too much body roll meant the car became vague in the middle of corners, making it feel less like one piece than the others. The S40 is missing the proper sporting "edge" of cars like the BMW and Audi.

    "The manly version of the Mazda6 proves the saying that "power is nothing without control." Yes, the Mazdaspeed6 has loads of power, but that means little around a tight autocross course where the emphasis is placed on handling. Under-tired for its weight, the Mazdaspeed6 also dives mightily under braking and feels like a larger car than it is. Turn-in is excellent, but there isn't enough steering feel to let you know what's going on after that, unusual for a company that's been turning out cars with great steering of late. A few of us were bogged down by power-steering-pump issues as well, sporadically occuring throughout the day.

    "Despite Toyota's claims to the opposite, we find its VDIM stability system to be, well, a real killjoy. What's worse, there's no switch to turn it off. So we completely defeated it via a special series of actions with both the brake pedal and the e-brake. Then we found the true nature of the car. Turns out, it's quite fun to drive in this mode, exhibiting large doses of drop-throttle and power-on oversteer. Possibly because the car wasn't designed to be driven with VDIM off, the IS 250's tail-out attitude was not as controllable as the others. We did appreciate its good steering feel and solid structure, though it's under-tired, overweight and underpowered for autocrossing. (end)

    I'd like to add that the 330 xi with the added power might surprise even more...you just need to experience it to know.

    Regards,
    OW
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,148
    "We quickly found out that the water truck couldn't drop enough wet stuff to achieve standing water, compounded by the extremely abrasive surface of our former Marine Corps landing strip — picture gritty sandpaper. The grippy surface, combined with learning the track more and more as the day went on, resulted in faster times in the wet than in the dry. Maybe we're just unusually gifted rain drivers...."

    Interesting choice of test tracks. Nearly thirty years ago I spent a fair amount of time around the airfields that are (or were) owned by Uncle Sam's Misguided Children. Given how coarse their pavement usually was, I'm not at all surprised that once learned, drivers had no problem generating very fast wet track lap times. That said, I don't really think the track used for this test is a good representation of how those cars will perform against each other in the real world.

    "I'd like to add that the 330 xi with the added power might surprise even more...you just need to experience it to know."

    I suppose, however, that same car in RWD trim with the SP will impress a whole lot more. ;-)

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,664
    "I suppose, however, that same car in RWD trim with the SP will impress a whole lot more."

    Agreed until the time comes when the results show to the contrary.

    Best Regards,
    OW
  • dhanleydhanley Posts: 1,531
    Thanks for the write-up, circlew. It makes me wonder if i shouldn't wait for the 335xi. :)

    The volvo dealer near me is selling a two-year old CPO s60R for 27.9K (34K miles). Assuming that they will go down on the price, it seems like a good deal for a 300hp AWD car. But based solely on tests i've seen, it's not in the same handling category as the other cars in this topic.
  • esfesf Posts: 1,020
    Rumors have been swirling around that there will be a 335xi coupe. That would be perfect for me, as I think the 3er coupe is beautiful, but I wish I could get a twin-turbo version for my next winter car.

    Is it true?

    Thanks.

    '06 Audi A3 2.0T DSG • '05 Audi S4 Cabriolet • '04 Lexus RX330
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,664
    dhanley,

    THat is a great price for 2 years old...trade in on my 330xi is $28K after 3 years. But I agree, handling on my car impressed me.

    Shipo is right, because so far AWD BMW 3 does NOT have the sport suspension and I checked the 335 xi "07 and still no SP will be offered for the ultimate handling.

    But for $40-45K vs $27...drive the 330xi and then the Volvo.

    Handling on the 335 should be similar and with the extra 45 ponies, should be very tempting.

    Regards,
    OW
  • dhanleydhanley Posts: 1,531
    esf: probably--word is that BMW is in love with the 3.0TT and wants to put in in everything they can...

    Circle: i'm less impressed by the extra 45 ponies of the 3.0T than i am by the extra 80 lb-ft of torque that peaks at 1300 RPM. :) I was not enamored by the current generation of BMW sixes with much less torque than HP. The turbo fixes that...

    I'll probably test drive the s60R just so i don't always wonder if i could have saved a lot of money.
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,664
    dhanley,

    I agree, my [email protected]/lb is really good enough but the turbo should be a real good upgrade to make the complete package much more impressive and satisfying.

    Let us know what you think after your drive in the s60r.

    Happy Thanksgiving!
    OW
  • I have found that you need to take these car mag tests with a couple of grains of salt. They never report any serious conditions the car has that might be important to you. i think they are paid to write the stories by the car mfrs. I have seen them make comparisons between cars that really can't be compared because they vastly different in power and handling. this just makes the car they want to look good, look good. In other cases, the cars they use are specfically "tuned" for them so they will come out on top.

    regards,
    musicblue
  • habitat1habitat1 Posts: 4,282
    Not to get off track since this forum is about AWD "sedans", but I respectfully disagree with your previous claims about the Carrera 4S. Shipo pointed out the offsetting wieght gain of going to AWD.

    From my personal experience, the 997 Carrerra 2S is noticably quicker than the 4S, due to the 4's added weight and less efficient AWD drive train. And, at least to the levels I was comfortable pushing it, the 2S was more nimble than the 4s on dry pavement. Even my sales manager, a former Porsche factory engineer and racing team member, claims the 2S trumps the 4S in everything other than crazy maneuvers in the rain or snow, for which he prescribes a Cayenne.

    Among the Porsche purists I've met, many would prefer a lighter RWD Turbo to the standard 3,600 lb AWD version. They would still claim the king of the track is the RWD, lightweight, GT3.
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,664
    Habitat1,

    I agree with you on the weight differential and your experience and Shipo's are correct when it comes to the RWD vs. AWD in the same model, Porsche or BMW.

    But my point was that the ultimate AWD coupe could be the 4S. I was checking out the Audi RS4 also which could be the ultimate AWD sedan.

    As technology keeps marching on, do not be surprised if track times start favoring the AWD concept. I like the idea of powersliding through the chicanes with the confidence all 4 wheels are helping you through!

    Best Regards,
    OW
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