BMW 535i vs Lexus GS 350 vs Audi A6

slapshotkslapshotk Member Posts: 5
Folks..I've narrowed down my search to these three..They all ride great..are within 2k-3k of each other price wise and they also look terrific..I'll be posting this on the Audi and Lexus forum's as well..But from a BMW perspective what is the one overiding reason why I should choose BMW versus the others? My primary criteria are:
Ride (I have 1 hr each way to work-constantly on the cell)
and "Tech"- GPS, Bluetooth, user interface etc..
Looking forward to the responses


  • shiposhipo Member Posts: 9,148
    I'm curious why you are even posting that question. If you don't care about the overall performance of the car, then buy the Lexus and be done with it.
  • slapshotkslapshotk Member Posts: 5
    Performance is important but not at the expense of having to constantly "tweak" the car or a noisy ride given the length of my commute, cell phone use etc..
  • dark_katanadark_katana Member Posts: 46
    I'm a BMW fan, but I also own a Lexus GX470 and I used to own an Audi A6.

    The stock answer to your question of BMW vs. (insert competing cars in class here) is "do you want to drive or do you want to be driven?" If it's the former, the 535i is the only way to go. If its the latter, both the Lexus and Audi would be better choices. If your hour long commute is mostly stop and go traffic, the Lexus would be my pick. If, on the other hand, your commute contains some stretch where you can open it up, the BMW wins hands down.

    You mentioned in your OP, how the cars "rode." Let me ask you a better question, "How did they drive?"
  • slapshotkslapshotk Member Posts: 5
    Dark Katana:

    Great post! In short, the BMW drove like a luxury sports car- tight, responsive etc..On the other end of the spectrum, the Lexus drove like a high-end luxury car, very quiet, smooth, refined...The Audi seemed to me at least to be somewhat in the middle maybe leaning towards the BMW...I'm going to go for another run this weekend with all 3..Interesting that Audi and Lexus appear to be very hungry for my business, BMW is basically saying come back when your done driving "the rest of them".....
  • tayl0rdtayl0rd Member Posts: 1,926
    I think the A6 is an excellent, nay, perfect compromise between the 535i and the GS350. It's way more sporty than the GS350, but it doesn't beat you up. The steering is much lighter than in the BMW, but still responsive. Having driven all three vehicles (the V8 versions, anyway), I have to say the A6 is at least as sporty as the 5-series. It handles wonderfully, takes off smartly, and it feels good going on down the road in it. And the MMI in the A6, I think, is brilliant; much better than iDrive. I've never liked Lexus' interface. It just feels like something's missing from it, as though it's there just for the sake of being there. Hard to explain, really. :confuse:

    But anyway, I doubt you'd be disappointed driving the A6 overall.
  • slapshotkslapshotk Member Posts: 5
    Great feedback as well...Audi sent me an email today wanting me to schedule a test drive..I think I will take them up on this over the weekend..I very much agree with you on the Lexus interface..Even though it's a touch screen, I did not find it as "smart" as the MMI...The BMW idrive is more complicated although I think I can get the handle of it over time (I'm an IT guy..)..One thing I did notice is that Audi did not have a BMW Assist or Lexus Link type of capability although that's what I guess your cell phone is for...
  • mrsmmrsm Member Posts: 4
    I don't think you're comparing apples to apples. If you're testing the 535i you need to drive the Lexus GS460. We drove the GS350 and found it lacking to the 535i due to acceleration and handling. The GS460 has a sports mode that changes the handling and gear ratio that makes it much closer in feel to the BMW. We bought the Lexus because of the reliability and our dislike of idrive and BMW turn signals. All of these cars are great and how fortunate we are that we get to drive one of them. Enjoy!
  • tayl0rdtayl0rd Member Posts: 1,926
    One thing I forgot to mention on the A6. The negative of the A6, to me, is that it is starting to look dated. And I hardly ever see one on the road, so that's really bad! :( It's just not aging well at all. But my overall positive opinion of it still stands. :)
  • slapshotkslapshotk Member Posts: 5
    I do see a fair amount here in Texas (Houston specifically)...Your right that the body style could use an update...
  • og_oggilbyog_oggilby Member Posts: 27
    I am also trying to choose between the BMW 535 and the Lexus GS350 (in my case the awd versions). I am not a big Audi fan because of the Audi body style but I might have to look at them. It is a tough choice since there is no clear winner, all 3 cars have a number of flaws - a shame at the prices. Consumer reports dropped the GS350 awd from it's recommended list with a below average reliability rating. The 535i is rated average, the GS350 is rated above average, as is the Audi A6. Good luck with you decision!

    US News Auto Rankings
  • agnsagns Member Posts: 2
    Which of these cars are more dependable? I HATE having to take my car in and although I love BMW, many people have told me that Lexus has far less problems than a BMW.
  • tayl0rdtayl0rd Member Posts: 1,926
    That pretty much goes without saying. But what do you enjoy more, a reliable A-to-B appliance or an engaging drive? Is some time in the shop worth the tradeoff for more exciting driving?
  • mefistofelesmefistofeles Member Posts: 6
    My cousin and I had comparable BMW and Lexus cars,he owned a 328 and I had an IS 300.

    Believe me i thrashed my IS 300 and drove it hard all the time. He was much more gentle with his 328, yet it was his car not mine that was falling to pieces at 120K. I even had to pick him up once because his water pump failed.

    My IS 300 NEVER let me down.

    In my opinion if you really are interested in performance I think the Lexus is much better than BMW because the Lexus can survive prolonged hard driving. Another benefit to Lexus was the fact I could get a $75.00 four wheel alignment at Sears. This would be very useful if you are fast driver.

    As far as performance is concerned the GS 350 is awesome. When its significantly faster than the IS 300 on most roads and freeway sweepers.

    The car itself has tremendous grip and its so much fun blowing past 9-11's and Corvettes on fast and tight curves.

    Although the car is quite fast and has immense performance the most important thing is how comfortable you are with it. I like the light steering and quick response time. However some people prefer the high resistance BMW/Honda steering.

    There are some disadvantages to the GS 350. As a performance value I feel the ES 350 is better. The ES 350 has that violent and fast initial take off because of its front wheel drive steering. In addition the tires on ES 350 are a harder compound so if you really are a fast driver they will last longer and be cheaper to replace.

    In addition the trunk is much larger in the ES 350. That's not to say the GS 350 has a small trunk, but there have been times where I would have liked more trunk space.

    The ES 350 also has tremendous performance. Admitedly its not quite as fast as the GS 350 through fast and tight corners it still has incredible speed and grace and was definitely faster at the limit than my IS 300.

    Although I chose the GS 350 the ES 350 is in many ways a more versatile and even exciting car,especially when you are making a standing start.

    Despite the other drawbacks when I drive my GS 350 however there is nothing more fun that seeing a curve or interchange on the freeway and seeing how fast you go. Its really an amazing car with excellent performance. The traction control is awesome and can really save your rear end when you overcook into a corner. Although I have to admit you NEVER want to be in a situation when you can actually hear the traction control beep(versus the seeing the yellow traction control light),it means you are going WAY TOO FAST into a corner and your tires are probably screaming.

    If you have an appetite for high speed corners then the GS 350 is the car to buy.
  • visoviso Member Posts: 14
    Actually, in SoCal the A6 is quite popular and seems to be showing up everywhere. It doesn't look dated, you just have to be careful on your rim and trim selection. Certain colors and rims do not do the A6 justice. My recommendation is get the S-Line with sports package and add 19" optional rims (choose the 5-double spoke). The A6 looks amazing. Also, consider Ibis White with titanium finished rims if you can and the car blows away any Lexus, 5-Series, or E-Class in the S-Line Sports Package. I've had mine since 2005 and it is SOLID like a rock!
  • tayl0rdtayl0rd Member Posts: 1,926
    ... The A6 looks amazing. Also, consider Ibis White with titanium finished rims if you can and the car blows away any Lexus, 5-Series, or E-Class in the S-Line Sports Package. ...

    Oh, I don't know about that. The '08 550i w/ the M-Sport package looks pretty good. :blush: But the S-Line trim is nice.
  • tx_buzzardtx_buzzard Member Posts: 130
    Oh, I don't know about that. The '08 550i w/ the M-Sport package looks pretty good. But the S-Line trim is nice.

    I agree, and the funny thing... I didn't buy my 550i w/M-Sport Pkg. to blow doors off of anything. Just love having a car that drives and handles as well as this does, and of course has the torque and HP when you need it. :shades:
  • tcsavagetcsavage Member Posts: 1
    You will notice many Audis on the road after you buy one. Seems to be true with many brands.
  • patpat Member Posts: 10,421
    Some personally directed comments have been removed. You don't have to believe everything that is posted here, but you do have to refrain from insulting people who post something you don't agree with.

    In fact, you have to refrain from insulting others under all circumstances, regardless of who "started it".
  • visoviso Member Posts: 14
    I do know about that! The S-Line is amazing too me. You do not have to agree, but a 5-Series doesn't look anything special at all.
  • og_oggilbyog_oggilby Member Posts: 27
    Well different strokes...

    I ended up orderering a BMW 535xi. It was the first car I test drove and nothing I drove after it put the same grin on my face. I wanted an AWD car and I found the Lexus GS awd to be cramped (no headroom), there was a strange bump that hit my right calf when my foot was on the pedal, and it had a very small trunk. The Audi's don't do anything for me, can't say why. I was a bit hesitant about getting a car with the iDrive system, so I focused on it the second time I test drove the 535. I found that I really enjoyed the way the iDrive worked, but the menus are slightly confusing. That will just take a bit of time to learn, but shouldn't be the problem that reviewers make it out to be. It might have something to do with my being comfortable using computers.
  • BushwackBushwack Member Posts: 258
    Last summer I was torn between the 535, Lexus GS350 and M35. The 535 and M35 had a sportier ride the the GS. The 535 had the edge on performance of the three. I ended up discounting the M35 (did not like the dash and fit/finish was lacking between the three). I discounted the 535 due to reliability issues and iDrive (I did enjoy the acceleration and handling).

    I went with the GS350 as it was the sensible choice. Fit and finish were the best of the three, more then enough power then I'll ever need in real-world driving and most important,...reliability. If I was going to the track, I'd choose the 535. If I was shopping price, I'd consider the M35. But in the "pleasant" stop-and-go traffic of Los Angeles,..I made the right choice. Five months later and the honeymoon continues.
  • kgarykgary Member Posts: 180
    I looked at the same cars and went with an A6 4.2. Its funny how we can all look at the same cars and make different choices.
  • jdritzjdritz Member Posts: 7
    I have an '04 Acura TL with a 6-speed that I love but my wife can't drive it and we find ourselves needing to switch once in a while. We used to have a 3rd car that solved that problem, but that's gone so I find myself in the market. My 3 leading contenders are the BMW535xi, the Lexus GS350AWD, and the Acura MDX. She drives a Honda Pilot so I am thinking that two mid-sized SUV's is unnecessary.

    So I find myself torn between the 535xi (luxury and cold weather packages and logic7 audio) and the GS350 AWD with the Nav package. MSRP is 6K apart (50,999 for the Lexus vs.57 and change for the BMW) and I feel like I can get Lexus to move more than BMW will. I have driven both (I drove the 528xi and then the 535xi which immediately eliminated the 528xi as an option) and when I get in the Lexus I feel like I am getting in a car targeted at my father's demographic vs. mine. So I have a couple of questions:

    1) Does the sport package add any value on the Bimmer? 20 way power seats (vs. 10 way w/out) and some trim changes is about all I can see and I am not sure what those other 10 adjustments do for me. I will not get the 18" wheels due to previous experience with an E36 M3 and potholes in the midwest.
    2) Should I be concerned about the twin turbos and reliability? Consumer Reports says no, but they aren't exactly car people. Did the turbos come from the european market? Does anyone have any facts on the testing that was done? Or konw where I could look.
    3) I know this one is silly, but it's down to cupholders and ULEV ratings to help decide....the cupholders in the Bimmer look fragile and awkward.
    4) Why can't I just be smart and save 30K by getting a Honda Accord? That ones probably for my psychologist.

  • og_oggilbyog_oggilby Member Posts: 27
    I saved about 3,400 off of MSRP on the 535xi. I negotiated up from the wholesale price, not down from retail. Lexus is not doing well with the awd 350's - they were taken off the Consumer Reports recommended list (the BMW is still on it), so you might be able to get a good deal on the GS350 if that's what you decide on.

    1 - The 20 way power seats add backrest width, shoulder support, and thigh support adjustments (also 4 way lumbar, which is standard on the 535, but not on the 528). They are great seats. Stick with the standard tires, don't get the run flat tires if the roads are bad.

    2 - The turbo's reliability should not be an issue. BMW doesn't overload them to max out the horsepower and torque. You can even buy 3rd party software for the turbo 535 that has the same 4 year warranty as the stock bi-turbo and produces a maximum output of 384 horsepower at 5700 rpm and 421 lb-ft torque at 4300 rpm. Check out the link below:

    Dinan Engine Software

    3 - The cupholders are the worst part of the car. I believe that BMW's engines are EU4 and ULEV II approved. BMW is a green company. BTW, the reviewers knock the iDrive, but if you are comfortable with a computer mouse, you will enjoy the iDrive.

    4 - I was driving a "sensible" Camry, trouble free, and it bored me to tears. I like driving, but not if the car is a Camry or an Accord. On the other hand, my wife could care less ;)

    5 - Test drive them both!

    Hope this helps!
  • bruceomegabruceomega Member Posts: 250
    Regarding the seats on the 535Xi, I got the sport package on mine, as I wanted the 20 way multi-contour seats (never tried the standard seats) and shadowline trim (black trim around the windows). That also included the sport steering wheel (has polished metal trim on lower parts), but that was not a factor in my decision.

    You can get just the 20 way multi-contour seats as a stand alone option, for $100 less than the cost of the sport package.

    I stayed with the standard 17" wheels and tires as I was gun shy of RFTs and extra low profile tires from my experience with an '06 330Xi.

    The cupholders are not the strong suit of the car.

    Can't comment on the reliability of the turbos. I have owned my car since early July, it now has about 7500 miles, and I have had zero problems. I really really like the 535Xi.

  • rjlaerorjlaero Member Posts: 659
    The new body A6 3.2/4.2 is only 3 years old. Most 50k + cars like the BMW 5 series and MB E class cars don't get a major restyle for 5-7 years

    On the contrary, out of the 3 major German brands, Audi looks the most up to date and fresh, IMO.

    But of course, I drive a 06 4.2 A6 :)
  • jc07jc07 Member Posts: 5
    After extensive research & multiple test drives I just drove home a 2008 Audi A6 4.2 with every option except adaptive cruise. So far I am thrilled.

    I looked into the MB E-series, the Lexus GS series and of course the BMW 5-series. I had all but settled on the 535i. It is a rocket, luxurious w/o question and I love the way it feels and performs.

    But then I sat in the A6 and was blown away. I found the interior to be more than just a notch above the BMW -- in all ways the A6 was, for me, superior. And the Audi exterior, quite frankly, seems to me sleeker and less "busy" than the latest iteration of the 5 series. And finally, while the Audi is not a 5-series by any stretch in terms of road grip, handling and giddy-up, the A6 is a lot closer to the BMW than the MB or the Lexus. I found it to be an excellent choice for someone looking for a German alternative to the Lexus "ride on a cloud" feel but who also wants a Lexus-like set of creature comforts and interior. And the Audi's interior is really beautiful.

    All in all a two month search with two test drives per vehicle.
  • kgarykgary Member Posts: 180
    I also love the A6 4.2.
  • jeqqjeqq Member Posts: 221
    and I currently own a 3.2. I really like the 535. One major concern is the poor rear side crash test result. Does anyone know why the dismal rating?
  • og_oggilbyog_oggilby Member Posts: 27
    Congrats on your new Audi A6!
  • rjlaerorjlaero Member Posts: 659
    There's something special about the 4.2 over the 3.2 V6. There's nothing like an Audi V8. I just love the engine whirl and how it sounds. It's one of those cars I like to turn the radio down and just hear the engine puur. Such a sweet sound.
  • jc07jc07 Member Posts: 5
    Agreed. The V8 & sport suspension really tops up the A6 and brings it a bit closer closer to the 5-series in terms of performance. The 535i/550 would still be my choice if I was an enthusiast for performance handling and road feel.
  • jeqqjeqq Member Posts: 221
    On rough roads (NYC) I did not like it. The stock 5 series has the perfect blend (suspension) IMHO. Wish my Audi felt that way.
  • lovemyclklovemyclk Member Posts: 351
    As an avid BMW e39 owner who may very well elect to purchase the new 535SP, I must say I was very impressed with the new S5. It has the 4.2L V8 and it is a very sweet ride. Currently available only with 6M, it performs as a true touring/sports coupe should. Also a beautiful design in person - pics don't do it justice, IMO.

    I've driven the 335i Coupe a few times and found it also to exhibit everything I love about BMW. Sure would love to have the 535 & S5 in my garage! One thing I can say... my 2003 530SP has been nothing short of a tremendous ownership & driving experience! Gives me the impetus to stay in the BMW family, but that S5 sure calls my name ;)
  • papsephuspapsephus Member Posts: 15
    Why worry so much about reliablility of the turbos. Trust me, if something goes wrong BMW will fix it. I have a 2003 7 series and have spent $0 other than uprading my maintenance plan which was just over $1000. Yes, I have had to bring the vehicle in plenty of times because something needed to be fixed, but they gave me a car to drive and I left there will a bill for $0. I got a 335i to drive a couple of times while my car was being serviced. WOW! Now that was a FUN car to drive. Slow down in the curves? For what? Just give it more gas!

    Again, if you are worried about have to shell out $$ for the maintenance of the 535, then talk with them about the maintenance plan.

    That's just my experience.
  • tx_buzzardtx_buzzard Member Posts: 130
    I must say I was very impressed with the new S5. It has the 4.2L V8 and it is a very sweet ride.

    I too like V8 performance. Try the 550i, you'll be very impressed!
  • cabluecablue Member Posts: 48
    I was trying to decide btwn the bmw and audi, also. I now have the 550i. I last had a 2001 530sp. I like the new body much better as far as size. Much more comfortable for me with passengers. The idrive is a pain! It's easy but inconvenient. You have to go thru multiple steps to just change stations. The newest bmws have improved a little in that regard. They now have some preset buttons. With the runflat tires, I get this forceful message when you just get a little low on air. It says, "Stop immediately!!!" The first time it happened it freaked me out. It's happened twice now and I tend to ignore it a little. I check the tire pressure and fill it up. No flats yet! As far as cupholders, the newer cupholders are tons better than in my 2001! I didn't think they'd be that good, but they're perfectly fine to me. I had so many spills in my old car. I agree with the fact that the Lexus is not for me. It's too small inside with very little headroom. Not sporty enough for me, either. I do like the Audi. It does get better side crash ratings. I also wish bmw had xm radio instead of Sirius. Minor issue. It's tough to move away from bmw once you've had one. Reliability on both have been excellent!
  • anon3anon3 Member Posts: 147
    I drove a GS and an ES just to see what I was missing by driving BMWs. It turned out that I wasn't missing anything. The numb Lexus driving experience and the steering column made of rubber bands were immediate deal breakers. I also fundamentally object to paying $50K for a vehicle that's mass produced (to a significant extent) from parts that are designed to be cost effective in a $25K vehicle.

    The Mark Levinson stereo almost could make it worth it, though.
  • anon3anon3 Member Posts: 147
    A BMW dealer can install XM satellite radio of you don't like Sirius.
  • cabluecablue Member Posts: 48
    Thanks. I didn't know that. I do prefer XM. :)
  • juanbronjuanbron Member Posts: 3
    they are all great cars. currently, i am finishing up my lease on a 2005 A8. A car i absolutely love, but that has been in the shop so many times you can't imagine. All little stuff, all covered by warranty, but nonetheless, I must have had that car in the shop every 6-8 weeks over the course of the 3 years.
    I have been looking at Bmw 5 series, the a6, and the gs. If the 5 series didn't do god awful in the side impact test, i would get that car in a second. But i have a baby so thats out of the question.
    I have discounted the a6 completely because of all the trouble i had with the a8. But safety is very important to me and the a6 kicks butt in the safety department, and even though I live in california, the confidence in inclement weather that quattro provides is incredible. and i checked consumer reports and they feel that the 2007 a6 for some reason is incredibly reliable. According to them, the a6 is just about as reliable as the lexus. i find it very hard to believe.
    by the way, i have mmi in my car and its absolutely incredible.
    so the a6 is back on my list vs. the gs.
    the 5 series which i initially wanted is out because of the bad side impact results.
  • blckislandguyblckislandguy Member Posts: 1,150
    Papesphus, let me understand this, you bought a 7 Series and you are happy when they give you a 3 Series loaner????
  • anon3anon3 Member Posts: 147
    Is an X5 an option? The interior is identical to the 5, just a little bigger, and I believe it received 5 star side impact ratings for front and rear passengers. It's an SUV (sort of), but might be a reasonable compromise. Personally, I prefer it to the 5 series for many reasons.
  • anon3anon3 Member Posts: 147
    Probably because the 3 series is a blast to drive and it's nice to swap sometimes, especially after spending time in a large sedan.
  • srikanthjangasrikanthjanga Member Posts: 2
    If you are looking at the AWD versions, i am afraid you are missing out a lot by not driving the audi quattro versions. they rank alongside the subaru for being the best AWD implementations on the market.
  • flbimmerflbimmer Member Posts: 12
    after 3 fantastic years with my 05 A6Q 3.2 my lease is up, so i wanted to see my options and to possible save some money. I wanted my lease payment not to be too high...I also do not believe that you should ever put money down on a lease(other than inceptions, first month and fees..)(reminder GAP insurance does not give you back your inceptions and fees)..anyway I had the best 3 years with my A6, no real problems at all, a few rattles, trunk latch issues but no real problems... it was a pleasure to drive and exclusive, everyone that sat IN the car loved it, but never got a "great car" comment unless they sat inside..So i decided to look at the GS350, good looking car, nice interior, but such cheap plastic, mushy seats and a lifeless soft ride, braking and steering that were emotionless...and zero down 36/15K lease for 785/month--two dealers also! way to high for a really nice toyota. I looked at another A6, but no real changes and $800/month also(and no more free maintainence), so i had to drive the 535I because every single revie says it is one of (if not the best) engines around..after two minutes in the car i was sold, nothing is faster, smoother and handled better...yes, the interior and cupholders are way inferior to AUDI, it is still world has set the standard so high with the mix of performance and handling, audi sets the standard for safety and quattro and interior and fit and fininsh...but i needed a change and when the payments on the new 535 were $75/month less and free maintanence, i decided a change would be in order..i will miss my a6 terribly, but i will love speeding onto I95 with my twin turbos...... :)
  • jeqqjeqq Member Posts: 221
    You did not get the xi, so you are not comparing apples to apples dollar wise. BTW, I went for the A6 4.2 and believe I got the best of both cars - and most important ..... safety. I believe you will miss the AWD in certain circumstances.
  • kgarykgary Member Posts: 180
    I am also driving the 4.2 and agree that it is the best of both worlds.
  • asteinbergasteinberg Member Posts: 138
    I had Audis and liked them.
    My last car was leased BMW 530i.
    I'm actually considering 535i, because it resolved some key 530i problems (somewhat better NAV w/integrated live traffic; memory buttons for radio and AM-FM-satellite band-switching; voice recognition that actually works). Mileage worse than Lexus GS350 with more value, but lease terms not so great, and BMW has free maintenance (w/brakes!). Still prefer NAV and other user friendly items on Lexus, Infiniti and other alternatives I'm exploring.
    As long as I can avoid my local dealer here in Calabasas (So Calif), I may give BMW another chance!
    (1) Given the slowness of the auto market, how close to invoice does 530i go?
    (2) Does BMW offer financing deals, or just leasing deals?
    (3) Other than premium, sports, comfort access, navigation, sirius satellite radio, does anyone reading this recommend any options ...especially if they are perosonally familiar with them? If I go beyond the above, I must special order:
    (4) Are head-up display and night vision use mere toys or useful? (Seems odd that night vision visible only in NAV system.)
    (5) Is rear door side impact airbag safe, or a threat to kids?
    (6) power rear &manual side sunshades worth the money to keep the kids happy?
    (7) any other options truly worthwhile and worth the money?
    (8) Last time, I did 24 mo, cheaper per mo than 36. Now, 36 slightly higher. I still think 24 mo, to save buying 4 costly fun-flat tires.
    (8a) FINALLY -- does anyone know what the Money Factor will be for 535i for APRIL for 12000, 24mo, 36 mo, and, possibly for 15000. If I go BMW, I could buy/lease Mon/3-31 or wait until Tues/4-1, if MF different.
    (8b) IF I special order, due to other items, I'd use March MF or June MF, whichever is lower. My guess is June MF would be lower. Thoughts?
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