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Entry Level Luxury Performance Sedans

cybersolcybersol Posts: 91
edited January 2015 in General
Entry level performance luxury sedans are a hot area for car manufacturers and enthusiasts alike. These sedans show their performance by being fun to drive and handling well. They show luxury by offering leather and some of the important creatures comforts found in the most luxurious upscale sedans. The selection of vehicles that compete in the space is vast and varied.

The benchmarks which define this are the BMW 330 and the Audi A4 3.0. But there are many contenders, such as Acura TL-S, Chrysler 300M, Jaguar X-type, Infiniti I35, Mercedes C-Class, Volvo S60 T5. Some companies have contenders that emphasize performance Lexus IS300 or luxury Lexus ES300. And the field is continously growing, with the recent additions being the Cadillac CTS and Infiniti G35.

The common charateristics of this entry level perfomance luxury group seem to a price around 30 to 40k (US dollars) and 0-60 times between six and eight seconds.

With this wide variety of cars targeted at a similar market segment, the choices for our own personal car are great. But with all these choices, it is hard to understand and personally evaluate all these options. So this topic has been created to start a discussion on the relative merits and personalities of the cars available in this entry level performance luxury field.
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Comments

  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    I personally think that with a few tweaks the C320 could also sit at the top of this group. It's still more of a entry-level luxury sedan than Mercedes would lead you to believe. The C320 "Sport" needs to have it's suspension retuned to accept 17 inch tires without a harsh ride. MB also needs to stop forcing metal trim and black leather on everyone that wants the sport package. The C240's 6-speed wouldn't hurt either if offered on the C320, though it needs to be "fixed" first.

    That said, my favorite of the group is (gasp!) the new A4 3.0. The A4 easily has the best interior of any sub-40K car, combine that with stunning looks and a body that is as rigid as any ever made and you have my personal favorite. The single thing I don't like about the A4 is the grey trim around the bottom of the car. This trim doesn't match any of the body colors, as it should be body color anyway. This is an excellent car and in my opinion the best there is under 40K. The upcoming A4 Convertible, Coupe and S4 WILL all be winners.

    The BMW 330i is now an old favorite, but I'm (of all people) starting to tire of the 3-Series just a bit, save the M3 variants. I was kind of dissappointed by the 2002 facelift, they could have done a little more in the way of styling. I hope they do a little more for 2003 with the coupe models.

    The Acura TL-S is easily my favorite fwd car in this class. Wonderful engine (you actually can hear it) and decent handling for a front driver. Nice price, seats and what not, not hard to see why the TL is so popular. This car's main faults are styling and obvious cost-cutting in the interior, stereo, fake wood etc. Otherwise a standout.

    Lexus ES300. Nice, but not my type of car at all. This is one for the Buick set. The IS300 is half baked, but has a wonderful chassis. Styling is also in question here, it simply doesn't look like a 35K car (grown). The interior is gawd-awful. Bet on the next IS300 being done right from the start. In their defense Toyota didn't initially intend for this car to be sold in the U.S. so it was a rush job.

    The CTS holds the greatest unrealized potential here. I've seen several now, and each time I see one they look better and better. Again like the C320, IS300 the car has interior issues. The dash feels like it was made by Rubbermaid. If you're going to be stingy with wood trim, why bother? Half of the steering wheel in wood, and very little anywhere else in the car??? The seats are very good though, as is the handling. A work in progress.

    The G35 looks like it may have a winning chassis, but the interior, though clean looking seems to be styled about 10 years ago, lots of square shapes and flat surfaces. Another great engine, waiting to drive this one.

    Don't really care much for the X-Type. If I were a Jaguar man I'd be truly pissed at Ford and Jaguar for this one. They are actually selling a fwd X-Type in England and I've read where they're thinking about selling it here! Hell no. The car should have been rwd not awd. Some will tell you that this was done to compete with Audi. Thats BS, awd was the only way to keep the car from being fwd, WITHOUT spending the money to convert the car to rwd. It is a good looking car though and that Jaguar "leaper" will be enough for some, but this car has to grow on me.

    The Chrysler 300M is about as close to an Audi that American cars come. This new 300M "Special" is truly a good looking car inside and out. One problem: Where is the performance???? A 255hp car *in this class) with a 0-60 time over 8 seconds is not accpetable. Something is not right here. Some say engine, transmission and/or gearing, but whatever it is, Chrysler needs to let some MB engineers have a look at this car. The heavier E320 with less power is faster. I still like this car, but it's no lust object once you get past the great styling.

    M
  • fredvhfredvh Posts: 857
    I am debating a new purchase and these two are at the top of my list. The price difference between these two is approx. 6K (non-Type S Acura). Is the ES300 worth 6K over the TL? I don't know because I have never owned a TL but I am familiar with the ES300(previous generation). Supposedly the 2002 ES300 is a lot better than the previous generation but is it that much better than the TL? Of great importance to me is initial quality and overall dependability. Does the TL compare with the ES300 in both of these categorys? I am not familiar with the Honda Co. Are prices lower than Lexus for service work? I would appreciate any input on this dilemma from some TL owners.
  • blueguydotcomblueguydotcom Posts: 6,257
    Great handling, RWD, excellent engine and the best warranty around. Easy winner.
  • And no manual tranny. That may not matter to you, but it most certainly does matter to me and many other enthusiast drivers.

    So IMO, it's not even on the board, let alone the 'easy winner'.
  • riezriez Posts: 2,361
    One beauty of BMW 3 Series is that there are so many models to choose from. Almost half of all buyers in America don't get the basic RWD 4 door sedan. Besides having 3 engine and 3 transmission choices, you can get coupe, convertible, AWD, station wagon, and super-high performance M-Series!!!

    hungrywhale... I concur that having the availability of a manual transmission across the line is absolutely critical!!!
  • blueguydotcomblueguydotcom Posts: 6,257
    good grief, so you wait 9 months for the manual. Even with an auto, I prefer to every car listed and I NEVER have owned an auto and never thought I'd enjoy driving a car with an auto. That's what value, performance and an exceptional engine can do for a car. Once the G has a stick there is not another sedan under the M3 that I'd consider.
  • I'll give it a fair shot when the manual comes out, but I'm just flat-out not interested in an auto. I don't care how fast it is. It's not about the speed, it's about the driving experience and having more control over the car.
  • blueguydotcomblueguydotcom Posts: 6,257
    I understand it's not about the speed. I really don't care if the car won't do over 100 as I rarely break the century mark. What I do care about is power and with the manual mode on the auto, I can get it when I want it. Will I buy an auto-equipped G? In all likelihood, no. I desperately want to drive the 6 speed.
  • It sounds like you know why I won't even put it on my list (let alone at the top) until the manual comes out.
  • riezriez Posts: 2,361
    Is there such a thing as an automatic-only true performance sedan? Not in my book. Certainly not in Europe or Asia. Only in America is such an oxymoron possible. Sad.

    If or when the manual G35 comes out and the coupe version, then the G35 will be interesting enough to be a serious contender in this segment.
  • wishnhigh1wishnhigh1 Posts: 363
    If I had to rank the entry lux performance sedans, here is what I would choose:

    Audi A4 3.0(lots of bang for the buck, loads of style and loads of luxury)

    Cadillac CTS( Decent BTFB, good handling, non-lemming style)

    Infinity G35(Tons of BFTB, good luxury, but completely boring exterior and even more boring of an interior)

    BMW 325(very little BFTB, excellent handling/build quality/resale, classy looking but too conservative for me)

    SAAB Viggen(almost zero BFTB, spotty build quality, but the damn coolest style in the world).

    Everything else is not worth my time
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,148
    Hey my friend, dig this, in Australia, the ONLY 5-Series that can be had with a manual gearbox is the M5! Yeah, right, not the 525i, 530i, 535i or the 540i, they are all automatic only. :-(

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • mbartombarto Posts: 24
    >"Is there such a thing as an automatic-only true performance sedan? Not in my book. Certainly not in Europe or Asia. Only in America is such an oxymoron possible. Sad.
    If or when the manual G35 comes out and the coupe version, then the G35 will be interesting enough to be a serious contender in this segment."

    Riez, I read from your profile that you have a manual BMW 5-series. But I think you are wrong to not consider a car such as a Infiniti G35 to be a serious contender as a performance luxury sedan. From your logic, then the BMW 3-series (your wife's) or the 5-series with the Steptronic should not be contenders either. That's belittling the Infiniti, Audi, Lexus, Acuras, BMW's etc. with automatics.

    When I return in December from Qatar, I plan on purchasing a sports sedan. I'm leaning on the G35, but the BMW 330i along with the Audi S4 are also contenders. IMO, if the handling of the Infiniti is as good as the BMW as some that drove it has stated, then it will hard to pass up especially for the price. Also my first choice will be a manual, and Infiniti should have the manual out by December. I will test drive all three, manual and automatics, and make my choice from there.

    I do agree with you that manuals are more fun to drive, and that will be my first choice. But, automatics in this category, especially those made by BMW, Infiniti and others, should not be eliminated as performance sedans. Different flavors for different people.

    I have been following discussions on many boards and what I have been noticing is that there is so many "experts" on what is the best sports sedan. And most haven't even driven the competitors to give an honest opinion. This is not aimed at you Riez or Shipko, because your profiles states that you own a BMW already. But from what I noticed is that some BMW "supportors" don't even own a BMW, (at least not from their profile) or they state that they never drove an Infiniti G35, but they still make "unsupported" facts, assumptions or opinions on such. (See the Edmund's BMW 3-series discussion). I hope in your defense, Reiz, that you drove the automatic Infiniti G35, to give an opinionated statement that it doesn't classify as a performance sedan. I value your opinion and others as well.

    Again, I'm not flaming you, but I try to be an informed consumer before I buy anything. That is the reason that I will drive every car that I'm interested in and make my choice from there. I'm also always interested in those opinions from people that own the type of car I'm shopping for and at least drove it, so they can give valid pro/negative statements.

    Cheers!
  • I think what riez and I are trying to say is not that automatics perform poorly or that only weenies drive them :)

    But any car that truly holds itself out as a performance sedan NEEDS at least the option of a manual tranny. Manuals are always faster than automatics and they are almost always the choice of the enthusiast driver.

    There's nothing at all wrong with automatics, but I sure don't want one.
  • blueguydotcomblueguydotcom Posts: 6,257
    amen
  • dave330idave330i Posts: 893
    In this class, the best bang for the buck has to be IS300, assuming one can live with the styling.

    I guess I'm one of the few that likes the old A4 styling to the new. Isn't the new A4 pushing 3600 lbs. now? That's pretty heavy for this class.
  • blueguydotcomblueguydotcom Posts: 6,257
    Even at 29k for a 35k msrp IS300, I passed on it. Now I never drove a manual one (they weren't out yet) but even with a manual, given the car's horrible drive-feel, poor interior and lethargic steering, I don't think I'd go near one. They're not up to Audi/BMW/MB/Infiniti.
  • wishnhigh1wishnhigh1 Posts: 363
    Never liked a lexus, and probably never will. I would rather drive the CTS. There is always something that irritates me about them. I would buy the IS as a Toyota but not a Lexus...I personally think Lexus should have a car in its lineup with this cheap of an interior and with this much sporting character. Toyota deserves something like it though.

    Also, I don't think 215 horsepower for 29k is a lot of bang for the buck, considering the G35 is the same price with 260 horsies.
  • dave330idave330i Posts: 893
    "I would buy the IS as a Toyota but not a Lexus"

    How else are they going to get that extra $5k from you then? ;)

    Reasonably equipped G35 goes for $33k or so.
  • riezriez Posts: 2,361
    I couldn't have said it better myself. I'll let you lead services! :)

    mbarto... I most certainly will test a G35 manual if and when it finally comes out. I promise!!! Automatics make nice luxury sedans and maybe even sporty luxury sedans. But NOT performance sedans or luxury performance sedans. (I don't even consider the 540iA Sport truly worthy, though it is as close as one can get in an automatic. If I could just get my wife to drive a manual....)
  • mbartombarto Posts: 24
    Thanks Riez! Let me know when you do. I'm sure you'll get a chance before I will since I won't return until December. I am curious of how it compares to the BMW's. YOU can speak from experience, so I'll value your opinion.

    It does make a difference being married. (LOL! see the latest discussions on the Infiniti G35 vs BMW 330i board). First, I'm fortunate to have a wife that can drive a manual. Not that she prefers that, her first choice is an automatic. But she appreciates the hard work and sacrifice I'm doing out here, and knows that this car is for me first, family second. Of course, it helps my cause when I let her buy a new dining room set last month, and new living room drapes this month. Bribes do help! Whatever I finally decide, I'm sure she'll be happy.
  • riezriez Posts: 2,361
    mbarto... As regards the "bribes" issue, you've figured out one of life's great truism: You get what you want so I can get what I want."
  • cybersolcybersol Posts: 91
    So if someone were looking to purchase a new performance luxury sedan today, what cars would they HAVE to take a look at and test drive? Lets say they only had time to look at five?

    What five would they have to look into?
  • riezriez Posts: 2,361
    Since it has to have a manual transmission and should be RWD (AWD/4WD adds too much weight and complexity) and has to be fun to drive hard...

    1. BMW 3 Series manual
    2. Lexus IS300 manual
    3. Cadillac CTS manual
    4. Lincoln LS6 manual

    If you want affordable and can go FWD, then add Nissan Maxima 6-speed with LSD and maybe Altima 3.5SE 5-speed.

    Try to get car with LSD. Inline 6s are magnificently smooth engines.

    Possible future car: Infiniti G35 sedan when it finally gets the 6-speed manual.
  • coolguyky7coolguyky7 Posts: 932
    The TL should be up for redesign in a few years so a TL would be outdated in the not so far future. And besides, it seems like everyone who drives an Acura drives the TL. I LOVE the ES300. Some say it looks bloated; I don't think it does. At the 3/4 angle, it looks impressive. The interior is as nice as a car can get. If I had the money, I would buy an ES300 in a heartbeat. I never did like the past ones' boring styling...especially since the last two generations were nearly twins. Go with the ES. Besides, Lexus' quality is ahead of Acura's.
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    The new ES is a very smart looking car. Notwithstanding any engine issues though, I think there are direct price competitors like the I35 that offer better overall value on paper. Now I haven't driven either new model, I did drive the older ES300 and it did it's job very well. They are both great cars. Lexus for legendary reliability and resale value, Infiniti for up-to-date features.
  • blueguydotcomblueguydotcom Posts: 6,257
    Um...you left off the Infiniti G35 and it's bland, boring brother the I35 (the ES300's competition).

    29k gets someone a 4 door 260 HP performance entry level luxury sedan with all sorts of goodies.
  • jagboyxkrjagboyxkr Posts: 53
    Sorry, I thought that I had already taken up too much space, and I also was getting tired of typing. When I check out an Infiniti G35, maybe I'll post something on it.

    I always thought the I35's looked all right, even if they aren't the most exciting cars ever built.
  • blueguydotcomblueguydotcom Posts: 6,257
    Go drive one. They're a blast and for the money they're a steal. If someone wants entry level performance luxury at a great price, the G's really tough to beat.

    Save for BMW, it sort of stands head and shoulders over most of its competition.
  • I can't make a decision. I was set on the MB C240 but then I read some postings from people who got lemons. Now I am starting to think that the Audi 3.0 CVT front wheel drive is what I shoud get. Any advice? Low manintenance is what I am looking for.
    Thanks!
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    Well I'm a Benz fan first and foremost, but the A4 3.0 CVT just offers more for the money. The A4 has a better interior, the top A4 engine (compared to the C240, which is the base C) and it's styling is at least as good as the Benz if not better. Both makes pay for scheduled maint during the warranty period. Neither car will be "low maintanence" after the warranty runs out, especially the Audi with it's fairly different transmission. If you're priced these cars and they've come out equal go for the Audi it's the better value here.

    M
  • popovspopovs Posts: 3
    I think both are excellent(sp?) cars, however neither one is a low maintenance automobile. That is to say neither brand is known for low maintenance. What they do offer is luxury and performance in an aesthetically pleasing package and, some would argue, a superior ownership experience.

    As someone has said before, every manifacturer makes lemons - some more than others - but the internet is not the best place to find information about that. Most people are just venting and are not representative of the owner community.

    Although I can not speak as to the driving merits of the cars, I suspect that they are similar since I've heard (read) good things about both the A4 CVT and the C240. Something to keep in mind is that anytime a new product is offered by the industry, it usually takes a couple of years for the company to work out all the bugs in the technology.

    Both cars are relative newcommers to the market. The facts that they are made by distinguished companies and use proven powerplants does not speak conclusively as to how reliable the cars will be as a whole.

    Since you are already looking for alternatives to the MB because of reliability concerns, it may be worth your time to look at other alternatives than the Audi. As someone has suggested in the Help me Choose! forum, try looking to Lexus for the answer. They seem to make reliable cars that are also cheap to keep running. Of course now we get into the issue of European vs Asian luxury ...
  • popovspopovs Posts: 3
    It has come to my attention that as of late MB has taken a hit in its reputation. People have been quick to point at the recent survey results - both European and Domestic - that say Mercedes is no longer reliable. These surveys show that statistically speaking MB has as much as doubled the amount of repairs that they do under warranty. I won't deny these findings, but I will try and justify them.

    1st and foremost, MB has and is comming out with newer designs every year, updating the cars both inside and out. Anytime that a new product makes its debue it takes a couple of tries to get all the kinks worked out.

    Secondly, according to mbspy.com, Mercedes accounted for ~half of the profits by DCX last year. I think MB is being used as a cash cow to keep Jeep and Co affloat, thereby driving Mercedes to cost-cutting through corparate pressure. Lower quality parts equal lower overall car quality.

    These two should get things going ... Feel free to agree or disagree.
  • mvargo1mvargo1 Posts: 298
    There is not much to debate on this subject. If you want a reliable car you buy Japanese. If you want a drivers car you used to have to buy european. The Japanese just do quality better and more consistantly than anyone else. You also get a lot more car for your money with a Japanese vehicle. There was a time when the europeans built the best driving cars in the world. Sadly for them those days are passing. The Japanese keep building cars that are closer and closer to european driving dynamics (IS and GS series Lexus(Lexi?), and Q45 and G35 Infiniti's) While the europeans quality especially Daimler/Chrysler just is not keeping up.
  • wishnhigh1wishnhigh1 Posts: 363
    gave up nationality based generalizations a couple of years ago.
  • cybersolcybersol Posts: 91
    I'm interested more towards performance than luxury. Also value is an important component for me. Although I have the money to buy these cars, I also have other fun things and places to spend it. I'm looking to buy the car and keep it for around 7-10 years. Its very sunny with no snow here as well. I also want an automatic or CVT(gasp).

    So right now, the five I am going to look at more closely are as follows:

    1) BMW 330i
    2) Audi A4 3.0 CVT
    3) Infiniti G35
    4) Acura TL-S
    5) Nissan Altima 3.5 SE

    The BMW represents the top of the class, but it also has the highest price. The Altima represents the most performance oriented family car, which is a cheaper class of cars. The BMW and Altima will bracket the value equation. The other three all have the potential to compete for my dollars.

    Cars that are missing, IS300 too small, while the styling of the CTS, S60 T5, and 9-5 Aero are not for me. The ES300 and I35 don't have enough performance for me. Everything more expensive than a comparibly equipped 330i was also excluded.

    What do you guys think? Anything missing?

    Thanks,
    cybersol
  • riezriez Posts: 2,361
    cybersol... I can't fathom why you would want to go with slushbox, but that is your loss.

    Comparing FWD to RWD is like apples to oranges.

    Not sure what sort of real price range you are looking at. The 330i with options might push $40,000. You might really consider the much less expensive 325i. An Altima 3.5SE with few options might have a $25,000 MSRP.

    Read Motor Trend's review of I35. Their's had more than enough performance. 0-60 mph in 7.0 seconds, fastest in their comparison test. And it can be had with a Sport Package. But you might be better off with a loaded Maxima SE or GLE, saving thousands off the I35.

    You might also consider Volkwagen Passat. That can also be had with AWD. If you like AWD, the Jag X-type should be on your list.

    From the domestic corner, you might also consider a Lincoln LS 6 or 8. Or Chrysler 300M.

    Surprised your list excludes the Mercedes-Benz C-class.

    And if you can live with a FWD automatic, a loaded Camry or Accord V-6 or Avalon might be acceptable near the Altima's price range.
  • cybersolcybersol Posts: 91
    Sorry to disappoint with the slushbox, but if we were all the same life would be boring (and there would only be 1 car type).

    I would prefer RWD, but the best FWD's (torque sensitive steering) are getting close enough to bring the acceptable price premium for RWD down. Price range is 25-40K as you mention.

    Passat, 300M, 325i, are too slow for me. The C Classes are either too slow or more expensive than the BMW. I would choose the BMW over the X-type, as they are similarly priced and I live in sun country.

    The maxima (better value than the I35) is a good suggestion, and I am considering that equally with the Altima at the lower end.

    My wife loves Camry's, but I'm looking for excitement. slushbox or not.

    Thanks,
    cybersol
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    The new Altima is great as my friends just bought one. However, dollar for dollar I think the Maxima is the over-all winner for a FWD car. If you can live without the amenities of the I35 the GLE with leather, sunroof, BOSE can't be beat. I've owned two Maximas. Me! I recently made the jump to the 330i, and it's been worth every penny. However the G35 owners are very passionate about their choices. For a couple of dollars more than the Maxima, hovering around the I35 I guess, the TL-S can't be beat either.

    I understand when it comes down to it, you pick what you think has the right combination of value, performance, luxury and the right type of car for you. For every person it is different. When I got the BMW I was cross-shopping SUVs, mini-vans, and FWD passenger cars to see what struck my fancy, and I was ready to get an Explorer.
  • riezriez Posts: 2,361
    cybersol... Excitement and slushbox don't seem to be compatible. I can't get too excited about FWDers. Certainly not a slushbox FWDer.

    Not sure what you mean about "the best FWDers (torque sensitive steering)".

    Very powerful FWDers tend to suffer from severe torque steering. Use of equal length half-shafts and limited slip differential can help, but not completely eliminate. The laws of physics remain. When the drive wheels and steering wheels are one and the same, and you have a powerful motor, you'll get some torque steering.

    Do you have kids? Plan to in near future? If not, have you considered any coupes or convertibles? They can be a bit more exciting.
  • dave330idave330i Posts: 893
    "Excitement and slushbox don't seem to be compatible."

    Agreed. Unfortunately, most American drivers don't seem to get it. They care about silly stuff like 0-60, 1/4 mile, hp & torque numbers, but choose to miss out on the fun part of driving.
  • cybersolcybersol Posts: 91
    Riez, you have heard of speed sensitive steering? This varies the power steering boost as with the speed. Acura claims to have torque sensitive power steering on the TL-S (not the TL though). This would supposedly vary the power steering boost with the torque being applied. And that in theory could eliminate a large amount of torque steer found in powerful FWD cars. It still doesn't eliminate the FWD tendency to under steer due the the drive wheels being the same as the turning wheels.
  • riezriez Posts: 2,361
    cybersol... There are two types. Those tied to engine output and those tied to road speed. I have heard that the latter are superior, since you can vary engine speeds (RPMs) a lot, depending upon gear being used and speed, even while driving relative steady speeds. Better systems vary boost on road speed, since you normally need more assist at low speeds, regardless of engine RPMs.

    Here is all that the lengthy full-color TL brochure says: "Steering: Variable Power-Assist Rack-and-Pinion". This is off the tech specs on page 30. I cannot find a single mention of the steering system anywhere else in the brochure. So if Acura thinks its variable assist power steering system is special, they are keeping it a secret. This large brochure covers both the TL and TL Type S.
  • cybersolcybersol Posts: 91
    Yeah, I have that brouchure and they don't mention the difference between the TL and TL-S, though they say both have variable power assist. They do not say how it varies.


    But on the Acura website. TL -> Specifications -> Body/Suspension/Chassis it says:


    Steering Type

    TL Type S - Torque-sensitive, variable power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering

    3.2TL - Speed-sensitive, variable power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering


    Here's the link if you want to check it out:

    http://www.acura.com/model_TL/tl_spec_results.asp


    Hard to find, but not a secret.

  • riezriez Posts: 2,361
    cybersol... From what I've read, the better variable power assist system is tied to road speed, not engine RPMs. Once you get a car up to 25 mph or more, there isn't much need for assist, even if your RPMs decline due to turning or downshifting. And certainly once you hit 45 mph or more there isn't much need for assist no matter what happens to your RPMs.

    But keep in mind that torque steering isn't due to the steering system. It is due to other factors. Can be very pronounced in powerful FWDers. Corrective actions include limited slip differentials and equal half-shafts. Need to provide equal power simultaneously to drive wheels.

    From standing start, floor your car. See if the wheel pulls in one direction. You'll have to correct with the steering wheel (to keep the car straight) but by then you'll have already encountered the torque steering. You can also notice it if you are aggressively accelerating in a curve. Wheels pull you out of your intended direction and you have to correct.
  • So, if you read through most of this group, alot of references went out to Audi... give a guy a hand here and compare an Audi A4 3.0 to an Audi S4... I see a difference of about $5K, 30hp, and a sporty suspension. Why shouldn't I load up a 3.0, rather than going after the S4?

    Oh, and does anyone know on possible improvements for one or the other for 2003?
  • cybersolcybersol Posts: 91
    Have you driven them both? The S4 really moves. Even by Audi's own 0-60 times the S4 manual is 1 second faster and the S4 tiptronic is 1.2 seconds faster.

    Yet, the S4 is currently based on the 2001 A4 platform, and it is scheduled to be upgraded to the new platform in the 2003 model year. Expect the performance difference to increase as the indications are that the new S4 will pack 300 or more hp.

    Hope this helps.
  • I've tested the 3.0, not the S4. Hmmm... new S4 in '03, huh? Maybe I should just wait. What do you think, cybersol? Right now, th3 current S4 states 250hp, yes?
  • cybersolcybersol Posts: 91
    Yeah, the current S4 has 250 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. The torque is fully online by 1850 rpm. So this is why it scoots.

    The new S4 should be really nice. If you have the time to wait, it might be worth seeing. It might move up in price a little if the performance gets closer to the BMW M3, but then the old S4's should be easier to pick up at a good price right as the new ones are coming out. So many decisions.

    Have fun making the right one for you!
  • 1pierce1pierce Posts: 284
    Not so fast. There is merit to the "nationality based" debate. Let me explain to you why Japanese cars have higher quality (in terms of reliability) than American or European cars. The reason is cultural.

    Americans have always had an adventurous, entrepreneurial spirit. We take chances. Its not in our nature to "accept" things as they are. I think this is somewhat genetic, since the vast number of us are descended from immigrants - aren't we all, really - people who took tremendous risk, and had great courage to brave the unknown for the promise of a new and better life. As such, in areas of design, we bore very easily. Americans are always looking for the next great thing, the next new design, the next technology breakthrough. Europeans, especially Germans, are like this about cars, if not about everything else. The US auto industry is always ready to chuck the old and start over from scratch - witness Chrysler and Ford over the last two decades. As such, our products are usually stylish and inventive, but not very refined - see minivans, SUV's, cab-forward, night-vision, etc..

    The Japanese by comparison have a culture that is traditional and thousands of years old. They have made an entire culture out of honoring tradition and the status quo. We had to yank them kicking and screaming into the 20th century after world war II. I know this is somewhat simplistic, but bear with me. What the Japanese are good at is taking an idea and refining it year after year, until it is near perfect. There is very little innovation or risk taking. That is why the cars are so bland. When was the last time you saw a new technology invented in Japan? VCR's, computer technology, cell phones, the microwave oven...all American inventions that are better built by the Japanese. The same goes for cars. Most innovations come from the US or Germany, with some safety innovations coming from Scandinavia (give up the turbos and 5-cylinders, already those are as refined as they're going to get!).

    Anyway,...when you distill it down to its essence, this is why Toyotas and Hondas never break. Its also why they are no more than transportation appliances. And, this is why the best performance cars from Japan will always be knock-offs (albeit sometimes very good ones) of something somebody else does better and more originally.

    I'll step off my soap box now, and await your wailing.
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