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Audi A6, Sedan
#6347 of 6921 Fork in road: Audi A6 vs M35x
Jun 07, 2006 (9:10 am)
Talking about it here might help resolve existenial dliemma (also posted on M forum to see what it catalyzes there) .... Mark … Although I'm not in marketing, about 25 years ago I read a book titled "Positioning". It became a small-time classic and was reissued in a 25th anniversary edition. The basic premise (not radical, just presented with lots of interesting examples) is that a major variable in the success-equation of any product is how well it manages to position itself -- in the collective consciousness of consumers -- among its competitors. Classic examples are "Kleenex" being used by us as a symbol for any product in its class, or hearing someone say they are doing some "Xeroxing" while standing in front of another brand name copier. BMW has been a champ at positioning itself. The inline six engine, constantly refined over the years, has become an engineering icon. The 3-series was hailed by Automobile magazine as "the best compact sport sedan in the world, a car that continues to get better and better with each evolution, when it would be so easy to, ahem, screw it up? In the process of not screwing it up, BMW has produced a car that is the gold standard for its class, something that all other automakers feel they have to measure up to. Yet, no matter how hard they try, they always come up short." Audi would have to had done that with, perhaps, Quattro, but that would have required their doing what Automobile described BMW as having done (whether everyone agrees that BMW did exactly what that magazine says it did is less critical, in what I'm saying, than that it's a virtual universal belief). My experience test-driving an A6 S-Line was unique. Nothing else (and I currently drive a 3-series) drives exactly that way and, if you like driving, the way it drives is not simply different but the best in certain ways. Whatever it would take to fill in the blank I left with the phrase "in certain ways," Audi marketing hasn't done it well-enough. I've only been considering "luxury" cars for about three years, so I've had to develop my own inner landscape of the category and its subcategories. I could, I suppose, rely on nothing but test-driving to develop such an internal "map" of what's what among luxury cars, but it's typical for me to also read and discuss, in the process of getting my bearings with something new. Here's a piece of research data that tallies with my own experience. When Consumer Reports asked its huge sample of car owners if they would buy their current car again, not one BMW made the cut where at least 80% of owners said they would definitely buy or lease the same car again. The Audi A6 did make the cut (80% exactly), as did the M35/45 (92%) and the Audi S4 (81%). Whatever that is, BMW (with our collective cooperation) retains its desirability, at least in the very important sense that led me, when I went to buy my first luxury car in 2004, to think something like "I've got to have one of those 3-series cars once in my life." This probably reflects inflated expectations (for any car) or an over-investment in driving-excitement as one life-pleasure, etc, but whatever, I'm probably among a subgroup (maybe, size-wise, an important one) that might not buy a car based on "I liked test-driving that one best." I'll probably buy a mental representation of a car and then I'll be (very satisfied, satisfied, neutral, unsatisfied, very unsatisfied) with what actually happens (day to day driving, longer trips, getting things in and out of the trunk, radio, NAV, hands-free phone, mileage) compared to that mental representation. Whatever doesn't let Audi capitalize on the fact that people who actually drive them everyday would buy another one, they need to change that. I like both the M35x and the Audi A6 (V8, maybe) S-Line. Viscerally, I like the Audi experience. In terms of the cars-in-my-mind, I lean toward the M35x. Probably, I'm never 100% aware of all the influences that have led me to buy one car over another, but right now, as best I can read myself, the Audi interior feels right, I actually like the MMI, I believe my Treo (soon to be 700p model from Verizon or Cingular) will work more easily with it than M, I hear niggling noise complaints online from M owners, I worry that sound-tuned exhaust in M would wear thin, Audi tires seem more practical, and I like going with the sales underdog (Audi down, M up, right now), and too many people don't even recognize what the M is yet (also get a bad feeling from fact that Nissan can't hone engine to give better mpg). As for the M35x, there are all those "one of the best cars ever" reviews, there was the like-a-shot-off-the-line experience, there are buttons for the radio and climate controls, the rear seats recline (mostly a wow factor for passengers, but, what can I say, I'll like hearing it) -- but don't fold down (that will annoy me), the curvy front where the fenders are stylistically separated from the hood (like on the Mini Cooper), there's the predicted reliability (I expect Audi engine to sputter one morning, even here in the SF Bay Area's mild climate -- as a Passat I owned did a few times and as some online and in reviews have reported -- you know there will never be a BMW review that says the test car engine idled rough on start-up), and the Infiniti's service is highly rated and the local place has been among the top 5 in the country (while I hated the service dept at the nearest VW/Audi dealer when I had the Passat) and Audi is phasing out the Audi Advantage. I go back and forth about liking/not liking the more luxurious (as in fancy hotel room) interior of the M, compared with the (I'm in a driver's car feel of the A6).
#6348 of 6921 Re: Fork in road: Audi A6 vs M35x [sfcharlie]
Jun 07, 2006 (10:26 am)
Then, are you going with the A6 3.2 S-Line or the M35X?
#6349 of 6921 Audi phasing out Audi Advantage
Jun 07, 2006 (12:57 pm)
With that information, I'm thinking my wife's next ride may indeed be another BMW. Our experiences with BMW's in general and our last 3 Series has me really liking how the dealer is treating us at BMW.
Some day, auto manufacturers will realize that dealer service can play as big a role in how their brand is perceived as the quality of the product.
It is not that the vehicle breaks down or have issues - they all do at some point. The question is how the manufacturer and dealers handle those problems that means a LOT to me.
#6350 of 6921 Re: Fork in road: Audi A6 vs M35x [markcincinnati]
Jun 07, 2006 (4:03 pm)
Mark ... in haste to post this before flying back to SF from Seattle, I copied in that long, paragraphless, and inconclusive draft. The shorter, edited version ended up with my saying that I'm likely going with ordering a 2007 M35x but nonetheless had questions/thoughts about Audi's failure to capitalize on something as simple as CR readers saying they'd buy Audi's again but there being no BMW that 80% or more of owners would buy again.
#6351 of 6921 Re: Fork in road: Audi A6 vs M35x [sfcharlie]
Jun 07, 2006 (7:08 pm)
Sfcharlie, your verbosity is nearly competitive of markcincinatti!
Congrats on making the choice. I'm sorry it wasn't the A6, though. Keep in mind that many of the Audi dealerships are being remodeled and upscaled to try to enhance the exclusiveness and class image. My dealership is outstanding...
#6352 of 6921 Audi A6 reconsidered
Jun 07, 2006 (11:50 pm)
I obsessively went through the entire history of concerns/problems with M35/45 (no similar Audi forum, for problems, on Edmunds, so maybe not fair comparison). It worries me. Most common are loose driver's seat and monroof rattle. One person had trouble with one of 14 speakers, but it was one on the seat and Infiniti would only offfer to have techs un-upholster whole seat and fix wiring. Terrible mpg. Cannot make outgoing hands-free bluetooth calls and cannot download numbers. Headlights aimed low. There are 537 posts. Gave me the impression of joining a beta test of a potentially great car. All this doesn't tally with CR's report that 95% of owners of M35/45 reported having no problems from car;s introduction through the spring of 2005, so owners had their cars a very brief time. I hadn't realized that.
#6353 of 6921 Re: Audi A6 reconsidered [sfcharlie]
Jun 08, 2006 (7:09 am)
sf: Would you buy or lease your Audi or Infiniti M?
If the choice is otherwise about equal, I'd go with Audi if a lease and M if it's going to be a buy. They're both great cars and I too cross shopped the two before buying my car over a year ago.
Jun 08, 2006 (1:18 pm)
Im surprised that a poll would sway a decision.
M is a relativly new car and is likely bringing in many new buyers for the first time.
Audi and BMw have many repeat customers.
If having rear declining seats help get you laid, that makes sense. If just for the wow factor, Where are you sitting, in the front or back?
#6356 of 6921 Decisions?
Jun 08, 2006 (6:41 pm)
I drive a Lexus LS430 and have never test driven a M35...and won't. I have an 2007 A6 Avant on order; these are my thoughts to try to help you.
1. There is a soul to Audi vehicles...it's something special that the Japanese mfgs have not been able to capture in my opinion. Audi is distinctly and purposely not BMW or MB...it's an Audi pure and simple.
2. My extended test drive of the A6 Avant three weeks ago was one of the most pleasuable experiences of my life....it just made me happy like no other car ever has.
3. I have owned an early Infinity M, BMW M530, MB 320E....nothing comes close to the experience of the A6 Quattro in any format...sedan or wagon...V6 or V8.
The purest driving car is the A6 in my opinion; dazling tech pops don't add anything in the long run. I tire of even the Lexus tech and long for the true feel of a driving machine...,life is too short.