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Ultimate AWD Sports Sedans

knr5knr5 Posts: 85
I currently drive a 2003.5 Infiniti G35 6MT sedan that I love. Since I am in the snowbelt, I have a winter tire/wheel package for December to March. This package works really well. However, I keep wondering whether I should go for an AWD sedan the next time around. [BTW, My wife drives a 2002 Subaru Outback wagon and we have owned three other Subarus in the past.]
I was looking at the 2005 Audi A4 Quattro and the 2005 Subaru GT Limited. I have driven the GT and the 2004 A4 Quattro (V6). I enjoyed the GT and could live with that even though it lacks a few amenities I got used to. The A4 was tamer by comparison (which was not a fatal flaw) but was a little too small in the rear passenger area. I am not 100% sure but I thought the 2005 Audi A4 was a little bigger in this regard. So, it may be in the running. In addition, at a slightly higher price point, there are the BMW 330xi and the Volvo S60R sedans.
I would appreciate your views on the merits of the four vehicles I mentioned. Also, would you please indicate if leasing or purchasing may be the wiser choice for the sedan you suggest. Thanks!:)


  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    I am assuming you mean Subaru Legacy GT and I've adjusted the title and categories to reflect that ... :)
  • knr5knr5 Posts: 85
    Yes, I did mean the 2005 Subaru Legacy GT. Thanks!:)
  • Audi invented AWD and has years ahead of the rest. My Uncle in law works for Ford developing transmission. It's actually a company contracted by them. They also test drive train, basically everything dealing with traction, well the wheels spinning. He's worked there since he was 22 out of engineering school. He seen my car and the first thing he say, "they have the best awd in the business". Goes on to tell me he has driven every AWD & 4WD vehicle, which he has, and Audi is the best. They invented and perfected taking one wheel that's slipping and putting the power to the wheels that aren't. He says, "there unbelivable in the rain and snow". Up in Michigan where he works several of his coworkers drive Audi's and get alot of heat,because there contracted by Ford.

    My mom has a '01 AWD Outback and I've driven it many of time and it drives nice. Once to test it in the snow I slammed on the brakes and it didn't stop nearly as fast of my Quattro. The Quattro takes over with the brakes and the slip differental (ESC). I would put up a link but your not allowed here.
  • If you are comparing AWD systems braking isn't really part of the system. That has a lot to do with the tires and the braking system, especially in the snow. I have owned an outback ('99 and now an '05 XT) for the last six years. I went to college in Maine and on numerous occasions I was able to drive when othe cars with AWD and 4WD could not (this included Audi's). Audi's also are lower to the ground than Subaru's, which can inhibit their ability to drive when there is 5+ inches of snow on the ground. In term's of performance, the GT is well ahead of the Audi, especially if outfitted with some decent tires (the tires that Subaru puts on their cars, the Bridgestone RE92, are pretty horrible). The GT can reach 60 in around 5.6 and the Audi 3.0 needs around 7 seconds. The new engine in the upcoming A4 will make the car a bit faster, but still not as sprightly as the GT. The handling aspects of the two cars are probably pretty comparable but the price is definately in favor of the GT, which, when both cars are loaded, will run about $10,000 less than the A4.

  • knr5knr5 Posts: 85
    Thank you premiumdetail and natethomas for your detailed opinions. I wanted to point out another issue that poses problems if I choose the Audi.

    I have always admired Audis for their level of fit and finish and, genrally, for their looks. I also don't deny that its AWD system has been around a long time and has proven itself. My problem is that the resale value of Audis is abysmal, making them unsuitable for leasing. At the same time, the reliability of Audis is also very much in question, making an outright purchase not a bright idea!

    I am certainly not trying to bash Audis, I genuinely wish it made sense to go with the Audi. [I must admit that my brother owns a 2002 Audi S4 Avant and it has been trouble free so far.]
  • The new A4 Avant should be very nice, but as you say it's about a 10K premium fully loaded. The 10K is pretty well spent but it's 10K. You can't go wrong with either one.


    I am a big Audi fan as well as a Subie fan. I think someone has to clear up the 4wd history for me. Audi claims they introduced 4wd tech to cars in 1980 in the Quattro Coupe. Subaru says it introduced 4wd tech in the Subaru Leonne 4wd Station wagon in 1971. So who was first? I mean had Audi designed it and not released it on a car until 1980?



  • waygrabowwaygrabow Posts: 214
    "At the same time, the reliability of Audis is also very much in question,"


    Consumer Reports recently put the Audi A4 on its list of most reliable cars, so their surveys apparently don't agree with this impression.


    natethomas- perhaps your superior snow handling in the Subi was due to tires or your driving skill. I find our A4 (with Blizzaks) to be an incredible car driving and stopping in poor traction conditions; almost feels like dry pavement. The dual zone automatic temperature control and heated seats are also appreciated in bad weather. You are correct that the low clearance can be a hindrance in deep snow (then I take the SUV), and the Subi GT, I am sure, has more acceleration.


    The Audi and Subaru are both good cars; just depends what features appeal to you most.
  • knr5knr5 Posts: 85
    buddhabman: Since the as per the claims of the respective companies (as found in brochures) Subaru introduced AWD wagons in 1971 and Audi in 1980, I guess Subaru was first to market at least!


    waygrabow: I get the Consumer Reports (along with Automobile and AutoWeek). The 2005 Buying Guide does give the A4 an average reliability rating (therby it is not precluded from being recommended). The Subaru Outback gets an above average rating on reliability. Generally AWD vehicles are higher-maintenance items, even Subaru, but the costs (including inconvenience) are significantly higher with the VW group!:)


    Notwithstanding my rationale above, I would have leased an S4 last week if I could have done so. Unfortunately, I am 15-18 months away from a purchase. The dealership had two 2004 S4's (V8) with stick shifts. It had all of the do-dads I like (e.g., premium sound) and none I dislike (I don't care for navigation systems, for example). The MSRP was over 53k but was marked down to 44k! It was VERY attractive for a lease! Maintenance is free for 4 years, 50 k miles!


    All this proves that when the product is great, the heart rules the head!:)
  • pedped Posts: 18
    The GT I looked loaded as close as I could come to my A4 1.8 Quattro 2004 was only a few grand less than the Audi. I paid 30k for a list price of 34,165. It had 300 miles and was certified and free maintanence for 45k. Yes the GT is quicker, 250 hp vs 170 hp but that isn't the whole story. Subs are good but fit, finish, detail, looks, the feel of the car, interio design...need I say more? BEsides in Sept the GT were new and dealers weren't giving much off, so sometimes you go with the better "value."

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I'd give credit to Subaru for implementing 4WD on a car platform first, and to Audi for AWD.


    Subarus came earlier but they had traditional center locking differential-style 4WD, low range even. They jacked up the suspension and even added skid plates. The world's truly first sport utility wagon was the 1973 Subaru Leone 4WD.


    Audi pioneered AWD (as opposed to 4WD), though, with a center differential that allowed full-time use of the system even on non-slippery surfaces.


    The reality is that both have extensive AWD experience and offer some of the best systems in the world at any price.


    Nav is rumored as an option for the GT this year, and I'd expect at least 3-4 additional features in the 2006 Subaru. But if you must have the goodies, Audi offers those for a bit more money. Only you can decide if they're worth it to you.


  • kevin111kevin111 Posts: 991
    "Consumer Reports recently put the Audi A4 on its list of most reliable cars, so their surveys apparently don't agree with this impression. "


    - Good to hear the Audi is making strides. The previous year's CR report on the A4 was below average reliability. Also, many of Audi's other cars are below average in reliability. I am hoping Audi is making strides in improving their whole line. Considering that I have seen a couple of new S4s (did not have a license plat yet) with rear break lights and other lights out (as well as exhaust tail pipes bouncing around). I am still curious about this.
  • jplymanjplyman Posts: 90
    If you really think about it these to car companies are more a like than most - they are known as non-comformist cars and not the popular car from there country. When you drive one of these cars you also make a statment. I've grown up on Subarus (my dad owns part of dealership) and my first new car was a subbie.. Great car no complaints.... I now drive an A4 and there is a difference in how it feels and I love the looks - subbie is becoming some what more comformist - baiscally it comes down to personal tatse I like rings over the stars and that is me.


    You won't go wrong with either car.
  • knr5knr5 Posts: 85
    I agree with your comments in general. While the similarity between Audi and Subaru stems from AWD, there are other parallels also that we could draw. I felt (some 10 years ago) that Subaru and Saabs were alike in that both were iconoclastic. How was I to know that they would both become more mainstream, and seem to be morphing into one as we speak!:) I also saw parallels between the German and Japanese marques that may not be as true today. I saw Toyota as being modeled after Mercedes (Solidity), Nissan & Mazda after BMW (Performance), and Honda after Audi (Form follows Function). Some of it was design and some of it was related to the character of the car.

    Again, just my 2c!
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Subaru has characteristics of Audi (AWD), Porsche (boxer engines), and Saab (general quirkiness).


    But not the repair bills. :-)


  • ...for an S4 sounds like an excellent deal. My A4 goes in for scheduled servicing in about 6 weeks. If there are any 44k S4's sitting around the lot, I might just see if I could do a deal. The current B6 S4 is one of the nicest rides on the road.


    As far as the new Subie's go, the new GT is very nice indeed and I bet that the '06 sees a jump in hp, which will put the squeeze (however slightly) on BMW & Audi.


    My Audi has been excellent ('02 Avant) but I bet that, say, six or seven years down the road that Subie will be costing less to maintain.
  • gordonwdgordonwd Posts: 337
    My previous car was an A4 1.8T Quattro. I currently drive a 325i mainly because I wanted a BMW and thought that the AWD system in the 325xi had more drawbacks for me than advantages over RWD. This might change in the next-gen AWD that BMW offers on the new 3-series. Actually, if BMW offered the 325i with Audi's Quattro system then I might have gone that route, but for now the E46 3-series is much more suited to its traditional RWD setup.


    By the way, I live in SE Michigan where we do get snow in the winter, but generally not the blowouts that you'd get out in the Great Plains states or the mountains, where AWD is much more of a real necessity. So far I'm doing fine with the RWD on the standard all-season tires. The DSC/DTC helps a lot in this regard, and if I start having any problems a set of full snow tires would probably take care of it.
  • The other issue with the new Audi is that the new 6 cylinder is at first only coming out with an automatic transmission. The manual will only be available on the 4 cyclinder and the S4. What a bummer.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    The 2.0T is supposedly much improved. I'd like to sample one soon.


  • I have an '03 Outback with 50k miles on it. My old car was a '95 jetta. I considered an A4, and while I know the A4 may be more refined and cool, I really appreciate the value of my Subie. It was much much cheaper to buy and servicing the car has been much cheaper than my VW was--I'm sure it would be even worse for an Audi. It's the same dealer, so I don't know why they'd rip off their VW customers over their Subaru buyers. Also I get 25mpg even though I drive, umm, fast.

    Either way you decide to go, AWD is the greatest thing ever... especially with the massive quantities of wet snow I have to drive through in the mountains here outside Seattle.
  • jplymanjplyman Posts: 90
    I think a major misconception is that Audi's A4 are high priced - they really are a great bang for the buck.... while you maybe able to get a subie for maybe a couple dollars less. On the maintenance side all Audis come with 4 years free maintenance - can't beat that.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Base prices are good, but options are kinda pricey, that's what gets them up there in price.


    A4 starts at just $26,520, but add Quattro and a few options and you're well into the $30s.


    Watch the options sheet and I think you can get a pretty good value.


  • I'm ready to close a deal on an '05 A4 1.8T Quattro Special Edition (Leather/Sunroof/Power */17" Wheels/Sunroof) with cold weather Pkg for just under 29,800, which includes destination.


    If this same car was purchased earlier in the model year, the MSRP would have been approaching 34k.


    Current ride is an '01 A4 1.8T Quattro. I shopped the Legacy GT - thought it was a fine car, but couldn't get past the fuel economy.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    That's almost 40% more displacement, no way around using more fuel.


  • juice,


    I'm well aware of the difference in displacement, power, etc between the GT & the A4. Just explaining one of the factors that lead to my decision and the fact that the SE's represent a good value (My '05 and '01 purchase prices are within $500). I also own an '03 Baja and am aware of the performance of the N/A 2.5l engine, which is not enough for me personally. When I finally sat down and weighed all costs, along with the intangiables - the A4 was the answer for me (For the 3rd time '98/'01/'05).


    Now if I was in a mode where I was purchasing simply based on performance/price ratio, I would likely purchase a GT.


  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Great value, actually. That's significantly less money given it's so well equipped.


    You and a lot of folks think Subaru should have an engine inbetween the 165hp and 250hp choices available now.


    That gap is huge!


  • I agree that the base 2.5 needs a bit more...


    But my feeling is that its more than a sheer numbers game, since the 1.8T has but 4HP more, but has a nice flat torque curve from around 1800RPM on up. While it's far from being the quickest around, it's fun to drive and has a sporty "feel" to it.


    The Subaru base 2.5l reminds a bit of the old "Iron Duke" 2.5l I had in my Jeep Comanche pickup. The engine's personality is definately not what I would consider sporty.


  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Subaru has an AVCS version of that engine in Japan, peak HP is only slightly higher but the torque curve is better.


    I think either a bump in base HP to 175-180 or so, or at least a 210hp intermediate engine option (2.5T from the Forester XT and Baja), would be a good idea.


    Problem is it might sacrifice sales of the more profitable GT.


    Subaru hit a record for sales in 2004, Legacy in particular had a great year.


  • I have to say I really like the performance of my Audi - its '04 1.8T Qautrro with a 6-spd - I have the prem pkg and 17" wheels - while I may lose here and there on the straight ways I make up for it on the curves and also I drive very sprited and get 24.5 MPG and that is driving in Atlanta traffic. I know subbies very well and they just don't have the fit and finish of the Audi.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Try the '05 and later Legacy models, they got a lot nicer. I have an '02 and there's no comparison.


    Audis are very nice inside, tho.


  • I'm with you...


    I'm taking delivery of A4 #3 today. I previously owned a '98 and an '01, both were 1.8T quattros with premium & sport packages. The roads in MI suck, so this one is without sport suspension. IMO the handling of the '05 w/o SS is pretty good compared to the '01 and earlier models w/o SS. Just need to do something about the wheel gap though.
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