Last post on Dec 06, 2013 at 7:58 AM
You are in the Sedans
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BMW 3 Series, Infiniti G37, Acura TL, Lexus IS 350, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Cadillac CTS, Volvo S60, Audi A4, Acura TSX, Car Comparisons, Sedan
Oct 11, 2013 (12:11 pm)
I've now spent a bit of time "initializing" the S4's MMI system parameters -- including Audi Connect (free for 6-months). In terms of ease of use, the MMI user interface remains super easy, one could argue it is almost intuitive. What I do notice, this time, in comparison to my 2009 A4 Prestige, is that there seems to be more that can be configured via the MMI. I had to chuckle when I pressed the CAR button and was presented with the ability to set my INDIVIDUAL preferences and one of them pertained to the engine/exhaust sound: "Comfort," "Auto," or "Dynamic." This option must be there simply "because they could." I guess when your car stickers at north of $56K, you need to be able to rule your domain, so to speak.
I do appreciate the new (to me) ability to speak entire phone numbers and entire addresses without having to spell things out or use the rotary knob to dial in o-n-e l-e-t-t-e-r a-t a t-i-m-e. Big move forward in voice recognition. Pairing my iPhone 5, too, was a snap -- but, there is no easy way to use the iPhone (other than Bluetooth) since the supplied cable is only good for iPhone's up to the 4S models. That is one thing Acura did a better job of: media connectivity. I mean, you could use a USB or a mini-stereo (male) plug or Bluetooth or all three at the same time.
Audi uses its own proprietary cable and you can't have your iPhone set up for two functions: one Bluetooth and one hardwired "connection" are not supported. My primary reason for not using Bluetooth has been I wanted to keep the phone in charge mode while I was driving, and the Acura allowed just that by plugging one end of the cable into the iPhone and one end into a female USB which charged the iPhone and allowed both iPod and Phone functions to operate without first shutting one down to use the other.
It is a small thing -- but sometimes it just makes one wonder why they can produce such a technologically advanced vehicle but overlook what most of us have come to expect in a plug''n'-play world.
Another cool feature -- but one that is NOT worth $30/month after the 6 month free trial ends -- is Audi connect that will actually show google earth pictures on the nav screen -- in excellent clarity. Not sure why I'd pay for that. Now, I know the stated "value" of Audi connect is that it turns the interior of the S4 into a WiFi hotspot -- but here's the thing, the ONLY carrier offered is T-Mobile and the signal is restricted to 3G. Those of you with the outdated Apple iPhone 5 know that your phone can be made into a WiFi hot spot (and that is just a "standard" feature of the iPhone); but, the difference is, depending on your carrier, I suppose, the iPhone can be 4G LTE, which would make someone's laptop using your iPhone WiFi hotspot run faster. Yes, the Audi Connect is more than a WiFi hotspot enabler, but, really, if I needed a hotspot while driving, the iPhone works well and you can buy a hell of a lot of "band" for an extra $30 per month.
I guess I look at Audi Connect as a too expensive technology considering its data fees. If my mind changes, I'll report back to you.
OK, once you get all (or most) of the MMI options set the way YOU want them, you're ready to punch the start button and -- finally -- take this sublime machine out on the road.
I set my Audi Drive Select to dynamic and put the S-Tronic in D (which becomes "S" when set to dynamic via the MMI) and pulled out of the driveway.
The power that is available underfoot is hard to describe -- I am tempted to hyperventilate and gush "the power feels limitless," which it does, but I won't, for I know someone, somewhere will point out a quicker, stronger and even more capable vehicle. For the life of me, though, when I read (or watch on YouTube) the test reports and see 0-60 in 4.4 seconds as the tested performance, I now understand how quickly the S4 reaches speed without muss nor fuss and without my even noticing it. Its "pick up" is so quick AND so smooth, it cautions me to watch the gauges since there are few signals of how quickly speed rises (and I am cautioned by the local long arm of the law, too).
Braking, too, makes me now think I understand how landing on an aircraft carrier must feel -- the brakes shed speed with incredible -- "you've got to feel it to believe it" -- aplomb.
My 2009 A4 was a quiet car to ride in -- not compared to the 2014 S4, though. The S4 almost makes me believe there might be some actual practical purpose to the MMI setting governing engine/exhaust sound -- you might need to hear something to clue you in just how quickly you got to extra-legal speeds. Lord knows there isn't much in the way of an audible cue to give you a sense of velocity.
Speaking of sound -- the Acura TL (Advance) has, to this day, not been bettered in terms of the sound system Acura blesses it [the TL Advance] with -- the B&O sound system in the S4 is "cleaner and clearer" than my fading memory of my 2009 A4 B&O. Nothing, so far, come close to the sound of a DVD-audio recording (or a DTS disc, for that matter), but the current iteration of the B&O system is a welcome improvement. The HD radio as well as SiriusXM probably sound as good as these technologies (and transmission limitations) can deliver, so I'll simply suggest checking off the B&O option box should you choose Audi from the ELLPS list.
With such green tires it is difficult to say anything about the "handling" of the S4 -- since it will surely improve over the next few days as the "green-ness" of the tires is scrubbed away. By the way, I chose (of my own free will) to get the 18" UHP A/S tires instead of the MAX Perf Summer-only rubber. I live in Cincinnati for pity's sake -- the freeways are crowded (so what good is a 155 mph limiter?) and we do have moderate winters with a couple of days of snow cover here and there -- besides, the summer rubber Audi chooses really has a short tread life in my experience. I'll live (in shame) with a 130 mph limiter in other words.
That's it for now.
I'll close and wonder why (considering the price and the "natural comparison") the S4 was not thrown in the mix of cars that were compared to the new Lexus IS F Sport. I would think the S4 might have given the judges pause. We'll see, maybe next time.
#16794 of 16984 Re: Like coming home [markcincinnati]
Oct 12, 2013 (5:25 am)
Mark...glad you're enjoying the S4. I agree with everything you say. The Audi connect wasn't worth it to me, either. In addition, during the trial, it was painfully slow.
I leave everything in dynamic mode most of the time, except if I'm on a long interstate jaunt. I use comfort settings, then. I got the all season tires, too. I really had no use for the 155 MPH summer only tires.
I agree about the stereo, too. The B&O is good, but the TL ELS stereo is the best I've heard in any car, at any price.
As you know, it's really nice around the OH Valley right now. But, when we hit those mid 90s next summer, you'll find the A/C to be frigid.
Get out there today and hit the road...enjoy the ride. Personally, we're headed to the saurkraut festival in Waynesville today.
#16795 of 16984 New BMW models
Oct 12, 2013 (11:18 am)
Just attended my dealer's model introduction event. Not a very good one - they simply grabed first available salesman and gave me their standard test drive. The only difference between the "event" and standard day at the office was they had vehicles lined up and ready, so no time lost in searching. And fancy appetizers, and small gift. Not really comparable to those manufacturer's events.
Anyway, I got a chance for first drive in 328 GT and diesel. First was 328 GT. I was prepared for much worse when it comes to GT, but it drove OK. Longer wheelbase increased the turn radius, but that's the price for room. Steering wheel feel is equally dreadful in small speeds, as one in standard 3-series, but it's not much worse. High speeds feel similar. Car is good for cruising and commute, but certainly not for track - but it was clearly not built for that. The biggest thing is BMW reportedly redesigned start/stop system, engine hardware and software. The engine is noticeably smoother and start/stop works better. Car no longer shakes at restart. This was done for all July and later production day cars.
Next was diesel, 328d. It is same as 320d in Europe, but they changed name, because americans would not pay premium for "economy" name. Think 320i vs 328i. 328d is more than 328i, if they called it 320d they'd sell half of those. it is clearly long distance car. Pleasant, quick enough, but not as fast even as 328i. But it doesn't need to be. I think it may be a decent offset for the fuel economy, as long as it delivers on those mpg numbers on the sticker. I'm not a diesel fanatic, but it may just be first time I see a real diesel product that may stick. Not some crazy fast machine for God knows how much, like previous 335d. This one has a chance to be a left brain choice, all things considered.
The salesguy was pleasant and no pressure, cause this was an "event". We had a nice chat about other improvements BMW made, such as voice recognition, map search, etc. I say they better, because mine are pretty useless. I'm sure other manufacturers make similar strides. I just hope they'll fix the steering, put more feedback, even if it's through fake software. I just hate that buickey feel.
Oct 13, 2013 (5:52 am)
Seems they are recognizing their prices went bonkers. There seem to be ongoing cash incentive for a few months now, they call it option allowance. It even applies to newly released 2014 versions, like diesel, or GT. They can call it whatever, bottom line they used to have cash incentives only during model switchovers, seems now it's on everything. They should be careful, as it's very difficult to turn off cash incentive mill. They may be thinking it's better to give people a deal than lower price, but I don't know. Brand dilution is usually more pronounced when sold on X off basis than when retail price goes down. Anyway, I predict free leather may come much sooner than on previous platform.
#16797 of 16984 Re: BMW pricing [dino001]
Oct 14, 2013 (6:03 am)
dino....BMW has always seemed to be more focused on leasing. As such, they've often subidized their leases pretty heavily.
But, that's assuming the high MSRP prices don't scare away potential buyers from even walking into their showroom with no knowledge of BMW incentives.
I think most of us potential customers posting here are right in BMW's wheel house. And, we're thinking twice (except for FN's new purchase) about walking into their showroom.
Still, I guess they're doing well with that strategy, as they seem to be doing well.
#16798 of 16984 Re: BMW pricing [graphicguy]
Oct 14, 2013 (6:43 am)
Well take a look at the new Cadillac CTS Vsport pricing -- $59K+ base, $60K+ nicely equipped.
I find myself wondering if we may be approaching a time when cars can be updated for years after purchase -- the prices seem to be getting beyond the reach of more and more people. My friend has an airplane that he just keeps updating this that and the other thing on -- says it beats buying a new one.
If they'er going to be so transitory (cars that is), they ought to be priced as such.
Not gonna happen in my lifetime, I'll bet.
Of course, perhaps cars are things that people should always rent and always be making payments on (and always having fairly new ones).
#16799 of 16984 Re: BMW pricing [graphicguy]
Oct 14, 2013 (6:46 am)
Yeah, I know. I don't fit that crowd. Even if I bought things with short term in mind, I never found a lease I liked - at least so far. It was mostly because those models I got DID NOT have as good lease incentives, as those volume models. Converted money factors were higher than purchase interest rates, even before rolling in lease fees, and residual is only slightly inflated, which was the case for my current wagon. Basically the deal would have been nothing to write home about, so why would I lease? My previous cars were Subarus and those guys don't inflate residuals at all - in fact STI I bought in 2008 had a very bad residual when compared with what I could actually sell it for after three years. But 2011/2012 was abnormal, as tsunami crippled the Subaru's supply and inflated the their used car prices, which I think is the case even until today.
Bottom line, lease doesn't work for my favorite models, at least never has so far - that's why I look at the actual prices. And those are bonkers on new 3-series: 328 easy over $50K, 335 easy high $50s, sometimes over $60K, if you like "stuff". It is at least 5 grand higher than just a few years ago, on the sticker anyway. The cash incentives have to roll out on that. I wonder where it will go, hope they won't evolve to old "the Cadillac way", where price on the sticker meant absolutely nothing.
#16800 of 16984 Re: BMW pricing [markcincinnati]
Oct 14, 2013 (6:48 am)
Of course, perhaps cars are things that people should always rent and always be making payments on (and always having fairly new ones).
Hope that's tongue in cheek.
#16801 of 16984 Re: BMW pricing [dino001]
Oct 15, 2013 (6:42 am)
FN...any further impressions of your 320i?
#16802 of 16984 BMW Maintenance
Oct 16, 2013 (4:34 am)
I just discovered something that does not make me feel that great. BMW changed their paid maintenance period for new cars to 12K miles/12 months, from previously 16K miles/12 months. This means they either had too much resistance from their dealer base (this would not be such a big problem), or discovered that the oil simply doesn't last as they originally thought/claimed (this obviously is a big issue). What about existing customers, those who bought in last few years and sticked to the computer recommended schedule? I'm not very happy. Seems like those who warned about this being an issue are now validated. The only consolation I can think of is that my commute is at least 75% highway, if not more and my engine is naturally aspirated vs. current BMW lineup is all turbocharged. From my previous turbo owning times (had two Subarus with such engines), I know they tend to go through oil faster than naturally aspirated engines (turbos spin at 5-10 times engine spin). I may be OK long term and no damage done, but it does not make me happy to think BMW was either too cheap or too arrogant in thinking that they can get away with those long periods.
I'm going to call my dealer to ask about this. Not a happy camper.