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      01-07-2013, 11:09 PM   #1
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BMW Marketing Philosophy vis--vis Audi

Having never even considered a 3-series before, I think that BMW has done an excellent job with the F30. Some "purists" may lament certain evolutionary necessities, but BMW has done a great job keeping up with and adapting to the times by giving us a fine, grown-up sporting saloon within the constraints of the modern regulatory regime.

I do think, though, that Audi has done a better job with its product positioning.

First off, I like the idea of specializing in AWD - nice niche to carve out for yourself. You know that if you want the best in AWD (which I could care less about), you will need to at least consider Audi.

Second, and more importantly, is the S4. You know your volume mover is going to be the A4 2.0T - most people (keep in mind this is an enthusiast board, so your opinion does not count with the collective wisdom of the auto buying masses) do not care about the finer technical details. They care about superfluous niceties - bells, whistles, whatnot - but do not really care about the driving experience, so long as it gets there and is plush and comfortable. That is where the S4 comes in... Audi is smart enough to know that the person willing to shell out more for the engine is more of a nut, so why not offer something a little more special?

That is where BMW has lagged. You have the RS5 and M3, and you have the 328 to compete with the base A4. And the 335 does compete with the S4, but it certainly does not feel as special in the line up as the S4 does in the Audi line up. Perhaps that is what BMW was trying to accomplish with the M Sport line but is has fallen short.

Now, I considered both and ultimately I thought the 335 was the better car, but given that the volume model is the 328 (according to my dealer who sells one 335 for every ten 328s), you would think that BMW would market the 335 product in a similar way to the S4.

Then again, it does not really matter for this type of crowd who is more focused on the finer details. I just thought that it may make a difference from an overall marketing standpoint.
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      01-07-2013, 11:22 PM   #2
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Personally hate the Audi lineup advertising. You have the A4, then the S4, then the RS4. I prefer just straight forward (this has a bigger engine, otherwise you can get the exact same accessories/options and they look the same). Honestly having the S4 kinda just makes me look at anyone with an A4 like "oh man you were too cheap/broke to get an S4. or you're over 50".
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      01-07-2013, 11:52 PM   #3
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I know many people disagree, but I just don't see the S4 and 335i as real competitors. Granted, they are comparable in many respects and you can spec out the cars for a similar price so they fit in the same category for the so-called enthusiast.

My objections are twofold:

1. I've found it tough to find S4/5s to test drive, never had a problem going to my dealer and driving a 335i prior to purchase. The greater likelihood of having to order a car vs. being able to buy off the lot means that we're looking at two potentially very dissimilar customer pools.
2. The starting MSRP difference between the S4 and 335i is roughly 5,000. Not that most people are buying base models, but a difference of over 10 percent in starting price is not insignificant.

Obviously, I'm just speculating, but the above factors make me think that, given the non-enthusiast nature of the average consumer, there are a decent amount of people who would consider a 335i and not want to look at an S4/5.
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      01-07-2013, 11:57 PM   #4
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I totally disagree, as an ex 2011 Audi owner.

I think the A4 vs S4 gap is way too big and there needs to be something in between. I came from a 370HP 5.7L V8 to the Audi lineup and thought the 2.0T was weak but acceptable, but the 3.0T in the S4 was closer to the performance level that I wanted.

However, with equivalent options, the price gap between the A4 and S4 was nearly $10k, and a test drive with the 7spd DCT left me unimpressed with its smoothness in parking lots and hilly environments compared to the A4's ZF 8HP. I spent $2000 out of pocket on performance tweaks but that just ended up offering very moderate performance boosts at the cost of more perceived lag and the occasional clunky shift at low speeds.

I've been long hoping for the A4 to get a 3.0T in between option that allows the S4 to be left alone for people who desire a true sports car.

I like that BMW has an affordable and reasonable step up from the 328 to the 335.
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      01-08-2013, 01:47 AM   #5
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I personally would hate if either one of them mimic the other ...

They should try to separate themselves from each other and get their identity..


(too much reading above, i skept) Your username is very fitting of this thread ! (and vice versa !)
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      01-08-2013, 01:52 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jdong View Post
I totally disagree, as an ex 2011 Audi owner.

I think the A4 vs S4 gap is way too big and there needs to be something in between. I came from a 370HP 5.7L V8 to the Audi lineup and thought the 2.0T was weak but acceptable, but the 3.0T in the S4 was closer to the performance level that I wanted.

However, with equivalent options, the price gap between the A4 and S4 was nearly $10k, and a test drive with the 7spd DCT left me unimpressed with its smoothness in parking lots and hilly environments compared to the A4's ZF 8HP. I spent $2000 out of pocket on performance tweaks but that just ended up offering very moderate performance boosts at the cost of more perceived lag and the occasional clunky shift at low speeds.

I've been long hoping for the A4 to get a 3.0T in between option that allows the S4 to be left alone for people who desire a true sports car.

I like that BMW has an affordable and reasonable step up from the 328 to the 335.

I'm sorry but the S4 is certainly not a pure sports car. I test drove a 2013 S5 manual transmission and was not impressed at all. Numb steering, car felt heavy and not very agile. It is certainly more of an enthusiasts car compared to the A4, but a true sports car it is not. Sports cars should have excellent steering and be very communicative which Audi's are not very well known for.
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      01-08-2013, 02:08 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lbahoshy
Quote:
Originally Posted by jdong View Post
I totally disagree, as an ex 2011 Audi owner.

I think the A4 vs S4 gap is way too big and there needs to be something in between. I came from a 370HP 5.7L V8 to the Audi lineup and thought the 2.0T was weak but acceptable, but the 3.0T in the S4 was closer to the performance level that I wanted.

However, with equivalent options, the price gap between the A4 and S4 was nearly $10k, and a test drive with the 7spd DCT left me unimpressed with its smoothness in parking lots and hilly environments compared to the A4's ZF 8HP. I spent $2000 out of pocket on performance tweaks but that just ended up offering very moderate performance boosts at the cost of more perceived lag and the occasional clunky shift at low speeds.

I've been long hoping for the A4 to get a 3.0T in between option that allows the S4 to be left alone for people who desire a true sports car.

I like that BMW has an affordable and reasonable step up from the 328 to the 335.

I'm sorry but the S4 is certainly not a pure sports car. I test drove a 2013 S5 manual transmission and was not impressed at all. Numb steering, car felt heavy and not very agile. It is certainly more of an enthusiasts car compared to the A4, but a true sports car it is not. Sports cars should have excellent steering and be very communicative which Audi's are not very well known for.
You want an awd perf car you get an evo. Hence why i stayed away from audi. Didnt want another awd saloon (i love using rest of the world words when describing cars lol)
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      01-08-2013, 02:58 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tsuyoi View Post
Personally hate the Audi lineup advertising. You have the A4, then the S4, then the RS4. I prefer just straight forward (this has a bigger engine, otherwise you can get the exact same accessories/options and they look the same). Honestly having the S4 kinda just makes me look at anyone with an A4 like "oh man you were too cheap/broke to get an S4. or you're over 50".

I understand this is personal opinion. I couldn't disagree with you more. Having recently (within two years) owned both a 2009 Audi TT-S and a 2012 Audi A5 I feel Audi does a far better job of creating the seperation between models. Granted, the A4 is certainly not for me - The A5 is. The price difference between the A4 and the S4 is SIGNIFICANT. Now remember, Audi has the S-line vehicles IE, A4 with the S-line build (Not to be confused with the S4). I also don't believe not being able to afford the S4 means your, "Broke". But then again this is your opinion, no one elses.
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      01-08-2013, 03:08 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lbahoshy View Post
I'm sorry but the S4 is certainly not a pure sports car. I test drove a 2013 S5 manual transmission and was not impressed at all. Numb steering, car felt heavy and not very agile. It is certainly more of an enthusiasts car compared to the A4, but a true sports car it is not. Sports cars should have excellent steering and be very communicative which Audi's are not very well known for.
Ok, then whatever you call it, worst of all worlds then . Steering/weight doesn't satisfy enthusiasts, drivability of the dual clutch automatic doesn't pass muster for high-power luxury car buyers, and price tag makes nobody happy.
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      01-08-2013, 03:11 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Runnin and Gunnin View Post
The price difference between the A4 and the S4 is SIGNIFICANT. Now remember, Audi has the S-line vehicles IE, A4 with the S-line build (Not to be confused with the S4). I also don't believe not being able to afford the S4 means your, "Broke". But then again this is your opinion, no one elses.
And that's my issue. I got a S-Line A4 so it gave me most of the look and feel of a S4, but it still left me with a 211HP buzzy inline 4. And if I want to step up to the S4 and keep the same options, I was looking at 7-10k more.

It's too bad that at the time, Audi beat BMW (IMO) when it came to interior quality and availability of tech, but powertrain wise, I would've been much happier with the 335i vs 328i price gap.
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      01-08-2013, 03:42 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lbahoshy View Post
I'm sorry but the S4 is certainly not a pure sports car. I test drove a 2013 S5 manual transmission and was not impressed at all. Numb steering, car felt heavy and not very agile. It is certainly more of an enthusiasts car compared to the A4, but a true sports car it is not. Sports cars should have excellent steering and be very communicative which Audi's are not very well known for.
I felt the same way when I test-drove the S5. It's get's horribly floaty at high speed (200kmh) too, which isn't good for my 2 or 3 track days a year.
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      01-08-2013, 04:15 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by The Economist View Post
And the 335 does compete with the S4, but it certainly does not feel as special in the line up as the S4 does in the Audi line up. Perhaps that is what BMW was trying to accomplish with the M Sport line but is has fallen short.
In terms of exterior design, I much prefer my 335i M Sport to the styling of the S4. Perhaps I'm a rare enthusiast in today's Canadian market, since I prefer the benefits and simplicity of rear wheel drive.

No question that BMW seems to push the 328i (the volume seller) and Xdrive, while the 335i (especially M Sport) seems to have been ignored by their marketing.
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      01-08-2013, 06:44 AM   #13
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Here the A4 3.0 TFSI is probably the direct competitor to the 335i, with S-line being similar to m-sport. If BMW ever released a M335i it would probably be the direct competitor to the S4. M3 and RS4 are obvious competitors.
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      01-08-2013, 08:19 AM   #14
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Here the A4 3.0 TFSI is probably the direct competitor to the 335i, with S-line being similar to m-sport. If BMW ever released a M335i it would probably be the direct competitor to the S4. M3 and RS4 are obvious competitors.
I'd say the Msport 335i gives the S4 a pretty good run for it's money. I don't know what you mean by M335i, it'd just be the M3 they're releasing this year. Personally don't really consider an M3 and RS4 "Competetors", you get an M3 if you want a sports car that's actually a sports car, you get an RS4 if you're a cock
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      01-08-2013, 08:22 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by DerekS View Post
In terms of exterior design, I much prefer my 335i M Sport to the styling of the S4. Perhaps I'm a rare enthusiast in today's Canadian market, since I prefer the benefits and simplicity of rear wheel drive.

No question that BMW seems to push the 328i (the volume seller) and Xdrive, while the 335i (especially M Sport) seems to have been ignored by their marketing.
As you stated the 328 is the volume seller so they are gonna push it. Only certain people will go out and buy a 335. The majority of buyers only care about the bells and whistles. Not many want a true sports saloon.
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      01-08-2013, 08:48 AM   #16
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i essentially shopped between the S4 and the 335i x and i agree with the posts above. They make out the S4 to be much more special than our 335 is made to appear over the 328. The exhaust is really all I craved but those sport seats are absolutely gorgeous (however impractical haha). That being said, they are different cars. The S4 is more raw than our 335s are

my salesman was surprised that the average consumer will not be shelling out the extra couple K for the 335 over the 328. I'm not sure if my salesman was just saying this but he knew i was only in the market for the 335 so i think that is how he really felt. either way, that average person won't realize or utilized the extra 1.0l
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      01-08-2013, 09:10 AM   #17
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Have to admit, the S/RS was genius on Audi's part.
To everyone else, a 335 is 'just' a 3 series, while S4 is perceived as a ///M rival. Even on the forums, Ive read of people comparing S4 with the M3 (In some thread about track times). Hell, I don't blame them, even the S4 has 4 exhaust tips, while a 335i only has 2. (not saying more exhaust is necessarily good, but it gives it a higher perceived value)

The A5 is also a great example, while technically being a 3-series/c-class coupe competitor, the higher numerical value makes the impression of a higher-end car. Luckily BMW has realised this and is now naming it the 4-series instead.

I like how BMW has named the M135i, not quite an 1M, but still an "M" nonetheless, it would have been interesting if they named the 335i the M335i..
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      01-08-2013, 09:26 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Economist View Post
Having never even considered a 3-series before, I think that BMW has done an excellent job with the F30. Some "purists" may lament certain evolutionary necessities, but BMW has done a great job keeping up with and adapting to the times by giving us a fine, grown-up sporting saloon within the constraints of the modern regulatory regime.

I do think, though, that Audi has done a better job with its product positioning.

First off, I like the idea of specializing in AWD - nice niche to carve out for yourself. You know that if you want the best in AWD (which I could care less about), you will need to at least consider Audi.

Second, and more importantly, is the S4. You know your volume mover is going to be the A4 2.0T - most people (keep in mind this is an enthusiast board, so your opinion does not count with the collective wisdom of the auto buying masses) do not care about the finer technical details. They care about superfluous niceties - bells, whistles, whatnot - but do not really care about the driving experience, so long as it gets there and is plush and comfortable. That is where the S4 comes in... Audi is smart enough to know that the person willing to shell out more for the engine is more of a nut, so why not offer something a little more special?

That is where BMW has lagged. You have the RS5 and M3, and you have the 328 to compete with the base A4. And the 335 does compete with the S4, but it certainly does not feel as special in the line up as the S4 does in the Audi line up. Perhaps that is what BMW was trying to accomplish with the M Sport line but is has fallen short.

Now, I considered both and ultimately I thought the 335 was the better car, but given that the volume model is the 328 (according to my dealer who sells one 335 for every ten 328s), you would think that BMW would market the 335 product in a similar way to the S4.

Then again, it does not really matter for this type of crowd who is more focused on the finer details. I just thought that it may make a difference from an overall marketing standpoint.
You totally forgot about the IS models from BMW. Z4 335is and 335is which are both step ups from the base 335's and would compete with the S4 type Audi's.
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      01-08-2013, 09:53 AM   #19
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I get a kick out of the 328i M-Sport in EB commercial they are airing. It's the first time I have had the exact car from a commercial-though my CC was close.
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      01-08-2013, 10:20 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by newbmwuser View Post
Have to admit, the S/RS was genius on Audi's part.
To everyone else, a 335 is 'just' a 3 series, while S4 is perceived as a ///M rival. Even on the forums, Ive read of people comparing S4 with the M3 (In some thread about track times). Hell, I don't blame them, even the S4 has 4 exhaust tips, while a 335i only has 2. (not saying more exhaust is necessarily good, but it gives it a higher perceived value)

The A5 is also a great example, while technically being a 3-series/c-class coupe competitor, the higher numerical value makes the impression of a higher-end car. Luckily BMW has realised this and is now naming it the 4-series instead.

I like how BMW has named the M135i, not quite an 1M, but still an "M" nonetheless, it would have been interesting if they named the 335i the M335i..
This is it exactly. I have a friend who has an S4 and one of his reasons for getting the Audi was that he felt it was comparable to the M3. He test drove a 335i and liked it but the perceived higher status of the S4 won him out.

With 300hp the 335i is anything but ordinary and yet non-enthusiasts do not distinguish between it and the base 328i. This same non-enthusiast crowd DO know that an S4>A4 and if showing off to the neighbors is important to you (it is to many...) then Audi's strategy works brilliantly.
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      01-08-2013, 10:20 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Economist View Post
Having never even considered a 3-series before, I think that BMW has done an excellent job with the F30. Some "purists" may lament certain evolutionary necessities, but BMW has done a great job keeping up with and adapting to the times by giving us a fine, grown-up sporting saloon within the constraints of the modern regulatory regime.

I do think, though, that Audi has done a better job with its product positioning.

First off, I like the idea of specializing in AWD - nice niche to carve out for yourself. You know that if you want the best in AWD (which I could care less about), you will need to at least consider Audi.

Second, and more importantly, is the S4. You know your volume mover is going to be the A4 2.0T - most people (keep in mind this is an enthusiast board, so your opinion does not count with the collective wisdom of the auto buying masses) do not care about the finer technical details. They care about superfluous niceties - bells, whistles, whatnot - but do not really care about the driving experience, so long as it gets there and is plush and comfortable. That is where the S4 comes in... Audi is smart enough to know that the person willing to shell out more for the engine is more of a nut, so why not offer something a little more special?

That is where BMW has lagged. You have the RS5 and M3, and you have the 328 to compete with the base A4. And the 335 does compete with the S4, but it certainly does not feel as special in the line up as the S4 does in the Audi line up. Perhaps that is what BMW was trying to accomplish with the M Sport line but is has fallen short.

Now, I considered both and ultimately I thought the 335 was the better car, but given that the volume model is the 328 (according to my dealer who sells one 335 for every ten 328s), you would think that BMW would market the 335 product in a similar way to the S4.

Then again, it does not really matter for this type of crowd who is more focused on the finer details. I just thought that it may make a difference from an overall marketing standpoint.
Well, the economist that I am has paid a lot of attention to the Audi-BMW rivalry. I agree with The Economist's view that Audi has been the better marketer than BMW.

The market for German premium cars has been very interesting recently; Mercedes has sort of been coasting along its reputation and has experienced the slowest growth in sales. BMW has been the market leader for a while now, both in the US, Germany and China I think. They have been cranking out great (popular) products so much so that the BMW brand value has recently been declared to be twice higher than Mercedes' brand value.
But the real novelty is Audi's performance. They have grown much faster than everybody else in the past decade or so, boosted especially by the sales of A3, then A4, then Q5 (and recently A6 and A8). In many comparison tests they have been declared close to or superior to their BMWs counterparts. This is very surprising --where was Audi a decade ago? At this pace Audi will surpass BMW in Europe very soon, if not already done. Audi has suffered from inferior brand recognition in the US so for every Audi sold, two BMWs are sold.
Audi's strategy has been the following, I think.
1. Use the Volkswagen bin parts extensively to enjoy the economies of scale.
2. Beat Mercedes at interior quality. Done.
3. Beat BMW at sportiness. Remains to be done, in my opinion. In Europe they have a product offering for everything that BMW or Mercedes cranks out, more or less. To fight BMW's Motorsport division they have taken the "sandwich approach": provide one model slightly below and one slightly above. Two models are better than one, especially to fight the all-powerful M division. In response BMW wanted to close the gap between a true M car and the regular models, and came up with the M-sport line that they extent ended to their whole line-up.

Now I am personally drawn to Audi because they are cheaper and have much better interior quality. They also have more of a "responsible family man" look to them, especially the A3 and A4. But I can't get over the fact that Audis are just volkswagens (thoroughly reengineered, but VW nonetheless). That, and the fact that their architecture is FWD (to save money) and because of that, they have to resort to AWD versions for their most powerful engines. Thus you end up with some kind of oxymoron: a sporty, powerful car that is AWD. But, Audi's Quattro name is legendary, it can be marketed as enhancing safety, so Audi can get away with that. So we have a good brand offering AWD at a good price, and everybody else has to follow or else they lose sales (hence the growth of 4matic and Xdrive --even Ferrari went AWD to compete with Lamborghini!). IMO Audis are less of a clean slate, less pure of a brand than BMW.

But as someone said above, BMW has done very well with itself in the past two decades or so... Buying Rolls Royce allowed it to surpass Mercedes in the ultra luxury segment and buying Mini and do what they've done with it was pure genius as to how to extend the brand downwards to greater sales volumes without diluting the brand too much. It seems BMW is on the right path for the future as well; the 3-series (volume seller) is doing pretty fine, the X line is doing very well, alternative fuel vehicles are here or soon to be here, platform and engine sharing at the bottom of the BMW/Mini lineup will provide scale economies and allow BMW to remain competitive vs the Audi/VW group.

Last edited by Frencholivier; 01-08-2013 at 10:31 AM.
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      01-08-2013, 11:31 AM   #22
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iTrader: (3)

there's a lot of personal opinion here, so here's mine.

The 335i can't compete with the S4 because the price difference is nearly $8k (335xi M Sport vs. S4).

With that in mind, I think a 335xi M Sport does remarkably well against an S4.

The M3 and RS4 are the competitors for sure, but it's difficult to compare because their power delivery strategies are entirely different (RWD vs. AWD, respectively).

I ended up getting a RWD 335i because I wanted to own a RWD car once in my life, wanted to save nearly $14k, and figured I could add the tweaks with the M Performance parts I felt were what I wanted (Suspension, PPK, Exhaust; brake upgrades are relatively pointless for me since I don't track my cars as much as I used to with the Evo).

I like that BMW offers all the choices though...Audi just doesn't, and the price for an A4 S line came within thousands of my 335i RWD, and THAT performance/handling gap is significant (stock for stock).
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