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      10-05-2012, 09:15 AM   #1
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Which competitors' vehicles have you driven?

I am going to drive an ATS tonight (the 2.0 unfortunately, I really wanted to try the 3.6) and it will probably be the last of the competition I try.

Going all the way back to February, I tested the C350 4matic and the same day was my first tests of the 328i and 335i. I liked the C350 but decided the 335i was better. It was a more engaging drive.


In the spring I tested the Audi S4. Right after that I went and drove the 335i again. I still preferred the 335i but it was a lot closer that time. The 335i is still a more engaging and connected car to drive, in my opinion. I felt that the S4 was more polished, both in terms of the drive and the interior.

I actually preferred the interior of the S4 but the console layout is too busy and cluttered. The S4 incorporates its screen better than the BMW but the screen is smaller than the BMW. Also, the idrive controller and the buttons around it and the design of the gear selector is just way cleaner or more ergonomic than in the Audi.

As for the polish, the S4's ride and acceleration are smoother and quiter than the 335i...but I am currently driving a Lexus and I've had just about enough of smooth and quiet.

The B&O stereo is remarkable, maybe a touch better than the HK stereo, but neither is as good as the Mark Levinson system in my 2002 Lexus.

We own a Lexus IS as well and it is a pretty good little sport sedan. Nice engine noise especially for a 4cyl and tight steering. It's suspension is a bit stiff and there's no ride control adjustment. On roads with a lot of that crack filler stuff, you almsot get a tinny sound in the cabin as if the suspension is causing some resonation through the frame. Also, the infotainment system in the IS is junk....way outdated, like Lexus should be embarrassed by it. And the seats hurt my back. But nice leather and heated/cooled seats is sweet. No fold down seats. My wife drives it, I wouldn't buy one.

I am not going to bother with the Infiniti because i just don't like how it looks.

So tonight will be interesting. I am intrigued by the magnetic suspension and the CUE system.

Either way I will post a review of the ATS when I get home.

Anyone driven one yet, or done a direct comparison to any competitors?
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      10-05-2012, 09:25 AM   #2
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I drove a Regal GS with a 6spd manual. Some would say it's not a competitor, but with a $39k MSRP, a 6mt and a 270hp 2.0T, it was worth checking out.
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      10-05-2012, 09:30 AM   #3
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I have owned and driven many cars over the last 3 years (mid life crisis), but most here would not consider them BMW competitors.

The only 2 that would qualify marginally would be the Acura TSX and TL.

Even though the TSX was half the car my 328i was, I actually really enjoyed owning it. It's biggest problem for us was the backseat with minimal leg room.

The TL was nice, but it was just a boat. Too big and too wide. I had the AWD model, and I didn't enjoy averaging about 17 mpg overall in it. However, it did have the best stereo and seats of any car I have owned.
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      10-05-2012, 09:45 AM   #4
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'12 528i, '12 535i, '12 335i, '12 Audi S4, '12 Audi S5 Coupe (both transmissions), '12 Audi S5 Cabrio (Steptronic), '12 Mercedes C300 & C250.
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      10-05-2012, 11:01 AM   #5
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I jsut found out the one dealer in town has the ATS 3.6L so I'll be intersted to see if 321hp or whatever it is feels as powerful as the 335i's 300hp
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      10-05-2012, 11:03 AM   #6
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I drove the S5 as well. It was a great car but felt a lot heavier and less agile than the 335i did to me. The interior was nice but a bit too plain jane.

But there were 3 main reasons I wasn't interested in the S5:
1) The bodystyle is due for a refresh in the next year or maybe two.
2) Lease rates and residuals on Audi were really bad and made for a much more expensive car over the lease term than a more expensive MSRP on a BMW.
3) Reviews have said that Audi Drive Select is a must have option for the S4 and when you add that the car is at $60k. That with the issue of #2 above made a super expensive car to own.

I have also owned a G37 before and sold it after a year. I actually thought it was a great looking car but what an abysmal engine it had. 330hp? Really? Where? Seriously felt like 240 until you get it to 5,000 rpm then it kicked in for a little bit and seemed to quickly drop off.

Mercedes just wasn't appealing to me so I didn't even consider anything they make. I also didn't care for the look of the Cadillac, too boring to me and really am not prepared to plunk down ~$50k for a GM product.
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      10-05-2012, 11:17 AM   #7
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Here was my shortlist before I bought my 328:

VW Passat - Coming from a GLI and it being a generally fun and reliable car, I initially wanted to stay loyal to VW. But after months of trying to convince myself that the Passat not less exciting than watching paint dry, I moved on.

Acura TL SH-AWD - Nice car and has Honda reliability. Big issue for me was that a model change is imminent and I kinda wanted a car model that wouldn't be last years body. Was only considering the SH-AWD, because I convinced myself I wasn't going to drive a FWD again...even the though the SH-AWD is front biased.

Audi A4 Quattro - When the current model first came out, I thought the styling was great...not polarizing in anyway but still somewhat aggressive. After seeing them on the road for 4+ years, the styling seem bland to me now. Plus, it wasn't that much bigger than my GLI and had the same engine. Plus, the quattro would've sucked any performance out of that 2.0L motor.

Volvo S60 T6 AWD - This one was the main competition with the F30. From the C-pillar forward I love the styling of the car and the interior is one of the best I've been in. Deceptively, it had tons of room in the front and back. That Turbo I-6 was also stunning and the amount of features you get for the money was great. Warranty is class leading. It's the rear end of the car that gave me trouble. First of all, it's raked like an old Mopar Duster. The ass-end sticks up so high you could be excused for thinking it had frame connectors installed. That car would need a set of springs as soon as I would drive it off the lot...and better wheels too. The rear end also looks like they chopped it off 2" too short. If they gave it a little more length it might lessen the appearance of it riding so high in the back.

F30 328i - Put off driving this until last, because deep in my gut I knew this would be it. All the other cars (except for the Audi) I drove at least twice. I was initially underwhelmed with the power of the N20 but it really is deceptively quick. Aside from the minor steering wheel vibration I couldn't be happier. Power is great, chassis is perfect, interior is miles above what I saw in the E90.
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      10-05-2012, 12:17 PM   #8
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actually, I forgot...we drove an S60 T6 AWD as well. Nice car, but not worth $54k.
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      10-05-2012, 12:27 PM   #9
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Copied from a previous post of mine:


Audi A4. Nice interior. Nice low-end grunt but acceleration falls off at higher revs. Steering is too light and the chassis does show its weight at times. The AWD worked well from what we could tell on dry pavement. Our first intro to ZF's 8-speed and we were impressed.

Lexus IS250 and IS350. The 250 was too sluggish, and while the 350 had plenty of power the standard slushbox shifted way too slow. Slightly dated feeling interior due to the wood trim they used. Neither could come with folding seats, and the 350 was fairly expensive since NAV although officially an option was effectively mandatory.

Volvo S60 T6. Plenty of power, good options, AWD wasn't too FWD like, but slow shifting slushbox again. One of our favorite interiors - it was cockpit like and reminded us of our S2000s.

Volkswagen GTI. Loved the dual-clutch gearbox and light feeling to the handling, but after driving it I realized I couldn't deal with FWD again. (The car previous to the S2000 was an Integra GSR.)

Subaru Legacy. Floaty-boat suspension. Bleh.

Kia Optima Turbo. We never knew about this car until we saw it at the autoshow, loved the way it looked inside and out, and realized it included a TON of features for very little money. Then when we learned it had 270 hp we needed to take it for a test drive. What a letdown. It seriously felt like it only had 200 hp, and handled badly (ie, FWD understeer) to boot. Plus the dealership experience left a lot to be desired.

2011 328i. This was our first drive in a BMW, and we had high hopes from all the Ultimate Driving Machine hype we'd heard. Man, what another letdown. The interior felt like cheap plastic, the engine had no balls, the auto slushbox was sluggish, and the steering and handling weren't anything special. (I don't recall which all options it had, although I'm pretty sure it didn't have sport or Msport or whatever.) I've been quite surprised at the number of comments I've heard about BMW "softening" the 3 series with the F30 model. In my experience (ie, just a test drive of each) it's been quite the opposite.

Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart. Great handling, nice engine, great dual-clutch transmission, decent interior and exterior, and low price... It would have been a winner except when reading online I heard lots of folks getting only high teens or low twenties at best for gas mileage. To compare, my S2000, despite its EPA rating, gets 27.5 mpg tank after tank with my current commute. For my driving, that mileage would add up costs quickly.

There were various cars we couldn't get interested in to test drive: Accord - way to frickin' big. Civic - FWD bleh. G37 and Merc C - didn't like the looks inside and out. CTS - too big and too expensive and blah interior.
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      10-05-2012, 12:27 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jtuds View Post
I jsut found out the one dealer in town has the ATS 3.6L so I'll be intersted to see if 321hp or whatever it is feels as powerful as the 335i's 300hp
It won't, has nowhere near the tq.
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      10-05-2012, 01:22 PM   #11
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Forgot I also drove the VW Golf R... fun little car, especially in manual gearbox! A little bit too fun as I ended up getting a ticket on the test drive! The Golf / GTI really has one of the best interiors in that price range, really top notch. It just didn't feel planted though, felt top heavy and unstable which surprised me for an AWD. VW really didn't have good lease/loan terms either at the time which made the car as much as the 335i to own.

Oh... and when you get the navi on the VW the screen size is SMALLER than the standard screen without the navi... WTF. lol
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      10-05-2012, 06:33 PM   #12
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So I drove the 3.6 for probably about 40 minutes.

As some of the video comparisons have said, the steering input is more responsive than in the 3-series and as far as I could tell, more than all the other cars I drove.

When you move the wheel you immediately feel the car react, it's a very connected feel but not off-putting, it's a welcomed reaction, not annoying. The Magnetic Ride Control just feels like good suspension to me. I can't tell what technology the car is using, I just kew that it didn't float and it dampened bumps nicely. But also not too stiff and not jarring at all. It was a very comfortable car to drive.

The car can go, that's for sure. It felt fast and you do get the sensation of getting pushed into the seat...and when you hammer it, it is LOUD. Like as soon as you start to push the pedal firmly, it roars. I jumped the first time because I didn't expect so much noise. I would say the noise doesn't match the jolt....they could even tone the noise down a bit. But I liked it, you feel like your in a sports car and forget it's a Cadillac.

Cruising is nice and quiet and smooth. When accelerating on the highway, if you held the pedal at certain places, the tachometer would stay at a certain point and you'd hear a drone. So if you wanted to cruise at like 82km/h it would be annoying. At 120km/h it was great.

Inside, at least in the front, it's very nice. The dashboard doesn't have the ever-present textured plastic/rubber finish and instead is a sort of a leather look with stitching, etc. Looks luxurious. This one also had aluminum trim with a kinda cool pattern on it. The steering wheel looks really cool and the console very modern looking. Seats are comfortable and supportive. Back seats, not so good....the butt part is too deep and too angled. In the back seat, sitting behind the driver with the seat where I had it, my head was just barely touching the roof. I'm 6'1.

CUE is cool but I don't love it. I'm not a big touch screen fan and it doesn't react as quickly as I'd like. It's neat that icons show up as your hand gets close and I guess it's cool that it vibrates when the input is recognized but that feature is not really necessary to me. It's a good infotainment system but it's just another infotainment system.

All in all it is a good car and I think it will take some sales away from the 3 series. It looks good on the exterior and it's a nice car to sit in and drive. It's too expensive though. With the options I'd want, it was $57,400. The 335i I'd have is $60,100. I'd pay an extra $2700 to not have parts in my car that are noticeably present in a Chevy Cruze or any Buick. Back at the dealership, I saw the Cadillac steering wheel, vent placements, and console shape were in other cars. I don't like that. It's not a direct transfer from one vehicle to the other but you can tell pretty easily.

I'll look at the Caddy again with my wife in tow but at this time I am leaning toward the 335i, though the Caddy is definitely in second place for me.
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      10-05-2012, 06:42 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jtuds View Post
So I drove the 3.6 for probably about 40 minutes.

As some of the video comparisons have said, the steering input is more responsive than in the 3-series and as far as I could tell, more than all the other cars I drove.

When you move the wheel you immediately feel the car react, it's a very connected feel but not off-putting, it's a welcomed reaction, not annoying. The Magnetic Ride Control just feels like good suspension to me. I can't tell what technology the car is using, I just kew that it didn't float and it dampened bumps nicely. But also not too stiff and not jarring at all. It was a very comfortable car to drive.

The car can go, that's for sure. It felt fast and you do get the sensation of getting pushed into the seat...and when you hammer it, it is LOUD. Like as soon as you start to push the pedal firmly, it roars. I jumped the first time because I didn't expect so much noise. I would say the noise doesn't match the jolt....they could even tone the noise down a bit. But I liked it, you feel like your in a sports car and forget it's a Cadillac.

Cruising is nice and quiet and smooth. When accelerating on the highway, if you held the pedal at certain places, the tachometer would stay at a certain point and you'd hear a drone. So if you wanted to cruise at like 82km/h it would be annoying. At 120km/h it was great.

Inside, at least in the front, it's very nice. The dashboard doesn't have the ever-present textured plastic/rubber finish and instead is a sort of a leather look with stitching, etc. Looks luxurious. This one also had aluminum trim with a kinda cool pattern on it. The steering wheel looks really cool and the console very modern looking. Seats are comfortable and supportive. Back seats, not so good....the butt part is too deep and too angled. In the back seat, sitting behind the driver with the seat where I had it, my head was just barely touching the roof. I'm 6'1.

CUE is cool but I don't love it. I'm not a big touch screen fan and it doesn't react as quickly as I'd like. It's neat that icons show up as your hand gets close and I guess it's cool that it vibrates when the input is recognized but that feature is not really necessary to me. It's a good infotainment system but it's just another infotainment system.

All in all it is a good car and I think it will take some sales away from the 3 series. It looks good on the exterior and it's a nice car to sit in and drive. It's too expensive though. With the options I'd want, it was $57,400. The 335i I'd have is $60,100. I'd pay an extra $2700 to not have parts in my car that are noticeably present in a Chevy Cruze or any Buick. Back at the dealership, I saw the Cadillac steering wheel, vent placements, and console shape were in other cars. I don't like that. It's not a direct transfer from one vehicle to the other but you can tell pretty easily.

I'll look at the Caddy again with my wife in tow but at this time I am leaning toward the 335i, though the Caddy is definitely in second place for me.
Nice un-biased review-- well done. I am glad you had the chance to compare but I am with most others here in that the new 335i is really 3 cars in one with the 3 user drive modes. A beast when you want it to be, and tame when you don't.
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      10-05-2012, 06:45 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crowed View Post
Nice un-biased review-- well done. I am glad you had the chance to compare but I am with most others here in that the new 335i is really 3 cars in one with the 3 user drive modes. A beast when you want it to be, and tame when you don't.
Love that about the F30
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      10-05-2012, 10:24 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jtuds View Post
So I drove the 3.6 for probably about 40 minutes.

As some of the video comparisons have said, the steering input is more responsive than in the 3-series and as far as I could tell, more than all the other cars I drove.

When you move the wheel you immediately feel the car react, it's a very connected feel but not off-putting, it's a welcomed reaction, not annoying. The Magnetic Ride Control just feels like good suspension to me. I can't tell what technology the car is using, I just kew that it didn't float and it dampened bumps nicely. But also not too stiff and not jarring at all. It was a very comfortable car to drive.

The car can go, that's for sure. It felt fast and you do get the sensation of getting pushed into the seat...and when you hammer it, it is LOUD. Like as soon as you start to push the pedal firmly, it roars. I jumped the first time because I didn't expect so much noise. I would say the noise doesn't match the jolt....they could even tone the noise down a bit. But I liked it, you feel like your in a sports car and forget it's a Cadillac.

Cruising is nice and quiet and smooth. When accelerating on the highway, if you held the pedal at certain places, the tachometer would stay at a certain point and you'd hear a drone. So if you wanted to cruise at like 82km/h it would be annoying. At 120km/h it was great.

Inside, at least in the front, it's very nice. The dashboard doesn't have the ever-present textured plastic/rubber finish and instead is a sort of a leather look with stitching, etc. Looks luxurious. This one also had aluminum trim with a kinda cool pattern on it. The steering wheel looks really cool and the console very modern looking. Seats are comfortable and supportive. Back seats, not so good....the butt part is too deep and too angled. In the back seat, sitting behind the driver with the seat where I had it, my head was just barely touching the roof. I'm 6'1.

CUE is cool but I don't love it. I'm not a big touch screen fan and it doesn't react as quickly as I'd like. It's neat that icons show up as your hand gets close and I guess it's cool that it vibrates when the input is recognized but that feature is not really necessary to me. It's a good infotainment system but it's just another infotainment system.

All in all it is a good car and I think it will take some sales away from the 3 series. It looks good on the exterior and it's a nice car to sit in and drive. It's too expensive though. With the options I'd want, it was $57,400. The 335i I'd have is $60,100. I'd pay an extra $2700 to not have parts in my car that are noticeably present in a Chevy Cruze or any Buick. Back at the dealership, I saw the Cadillac steering wheel, vent placements, and console shape were in other cars. I don't like that. It's not a direct transfer from one vehicle to the other but you can tell pretty easily.

I'll look at the Caddy again with my wife in tow but at this time I am leaning toward the 335i, though the Caddy is definitely in second place for me.
Nice review.
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      10-06-2012, 08:29 AM   #16
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Nice review.
+1 and probably helpful to others.
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      10-06-2012, 08:53 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jtuds View Post
So I drove the 3.6 for probably about 40 minutes.

As some of the video comparisons have said, the steering input is more responsive than in the 3-series and as far as I could tell, more than all the other cars I drove.

When you move the wheel you immediately feel the car react, it's a very connected feel but not off-putting, it's a welcomed reaction, not annoying. The Magnetic Ride Control just feels like good suspension to me. I can't tell what technology the car is using, I just kew that it didn't float and it dampened bumps nicely. But also not too stiff and not jarring at all. It was a very comfortable car to drive.

The car can go, that's for sure. It felt fast and you do get the sensation of getting pushed into the seat...and when you hammer it, it is LOUD. Like as soon as you start to push the pedal firmly, it roars. I jumped the first time because I didn't expect so much noise. I would say the noise doesn't match the jolt....they could even tone the noise down a bit. But I liked it, you feel like your in a sports car and forget it's a Cadillac.

Cruising is nice and quiet and smooth. When accelerating on the highway, if you held the pedal at certain places, the tachometer would stay at a certain point and you'd hear a drone. So if you wanted to cruise at like 82km/h it would be annoying. At 120km/h it was great.

Inside, at least in the front, it's very nice. The dashboard doesn't have the ever-present textured plastic/rubber finish and instead is a sort of a leather look with stitching, etc. Looks luxurious. This one also had aluminum trim with a kinda cool pattern on it. The steering wheel looks really cool and the console very modern looking. Seats are comfortable and supportive. Back seats, not so good....the butt part is too deep and too angled. In the back seat, sitting behind the driver with the seat where I had it, my head was just barely touching the roof. I'm 6'1.

CUE is cool but I don't love it. I'm not a big touch screen fan and it doesn't react as quickly as I'd like. It's neat that icons show up as your hand gets close and I guess it's cool that it vibrates when the input is recognized but that feature is not really necessary to me. It's a good infotainment system but it's just another infotainment system.

All in all it is a good car and I think it will take some sales away from the 3 series. It looks good on the exterior and it's a nice car to sit in and drive. It's too expensive though. With the options I'd want, it was $57,400. The 335i I'd have is $60,100. I'd pay an extra $2700 to not have parts in my car that are noticeably present in a Chevy Cruze or any Buick. Back at the dealership, I saw the Cadillac steering wheel, vent placements, and console shape were in other cars. I don't like that. It's not a direct transfer from one vehicle to the other but you can tell pretty easily.

I'll look at the Caddy again with my wife in tow but at this time I am leaning toward the 335i, though the Caddy is definitely in second place for me.
Nice review. Sounds like you had good time in the ATS. But as far as I'm aware, this car doesn't share any parts with the Chevy Cruze or any Buick. You said the steering felt more direct than the F30, how about the handling? Is it better? Ride?
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      10-06-2012, 01:49 PM   #18
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Just test drove an S5. Wasn't the usual test drive i would take if i was seriously interested in buying the car(30+min drive) but a typical 10min spin up the highway and back

Pros
+Steering wheel, really liked the design
+felt very solid
+DSG was cool but shifts slower than the sport auto in the ZF
+Engine sound inside the car sounded really good. I hope the 335msport with performance exhaust sounds as good.
+exterior looks great, interior
Cons
-Weight. Holy shit did the car feel heavy.
-There was this disconnected feel with the road thats hard to explain
-steering was EPS just like the F30 but the way it's assisted makes it feel much more artificial
-Transmission shifted slower than the ZF
-interior looked cheap imo. the design is nice but the materials, not so much

Of course as i drove away the bmw dealer is right next store(same owner) and they had an eb2 sitting outside. Can't wait till i get mine.

S5 was a nice car, but feels more like a sports coupe for an older man.
-Car just felt to big
-2
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      10-06-2012, 03:08 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by crowed View Post
Nice un-biased review-- well done. I am glad you had the chance to compare but I am with most others here in that the new 335i is really 3 cars in one with the 3 user drive modes. A beast when you want it to be, and tame when you don't.
Main reason why I went for the new 335i. It's pricey, but the duality is just unparalleled. Thanks for the review.
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      10-06-2012, 03:09 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by justinnum1 View Post
-Weight. Holy shit did the car feel heavy.
+1 That was my biggest turnoff of the S5, really felt like a much bigger car than it was. But that engine had no trouble hauling its fat ass

Agree with everything else you said as well
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      10-06-2012, 03:58 PM   #21
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      10-06-2012, 05:15 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by justinnum1 View Post
Just test drove an S5.
Did you drive a '13? They finally put the 3.0T and Steptronic 7sp in it (the Cabrio had it from the start). The 4.2L/Tiptronic 5sp was not as compelling, to me. I also drove the manual transmission version of the V8 and didn't like it much back in 2010. I ended up buying a MB E550 Coupe instead.
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