Last post on Jul 12, 2010 at 2:33 PM
You are in the Wagons
What is this discussion about?
Volvo V50, BMW 3 Series, Audi A3, Wagon
#1 of 38 Best AWD Performance Wagon under $40k
Feb 20, 2006 (4:54 am)
I'm searching for the best AWD performance wagon under $40k and, far as I can tell on the US market, it comes down to 3 vehicles: Volvo V50T AWD, the BMW 325ix Wagon, and the Audi A3 3.2 Quattro.
First of all, I know the A3 is classified as a hatch, but the line between a 5 door hatch, particularly one with a relatively straight roof line, and a wagon gets pretty fuzzy. Also, given the price of the A3, its competitors are wagons like the Volvo and the BMW.
I've driven the A3 and the V50. The A3, to me, is much more of a "driver's car" that has more versatility than you would associate with that kind of car. The thing is just fun to drive, has excellent cargo space for its size and has some all weather capabilities. Cars like these, for me, are a balance of performance and utility. The A3's bias is toward performance.
The V50 is fast, but not as much fun to drive. It impresses me more as a fast wagon than a sports car. The Volvo has more cargo space, and probably a much better bad weather car. The V50's bias is more towards utility.
The Bimmer can be had under $40k if you are careful with the options. I'm hoping it is a better blend of performance and function than either the A3 or the V50.
What are your thoughts? Did I omit any car I should be considering???
#2 of 38 Re: Best AWD Performance Wagon under $40k [ccd1]
Feb 20, 2006 (5:30 am)
Just a housekeeping note - if you want folks familiar with the vehicles which interest you to help you out, you need to enter those vehicles in the category section when you create the discussion. I've entered the three you named for you, but I just thought I'd mention this for the future. Good luck with your decision making process.
#3 of 38 I'd add the 06 WRX wagon as well...
Feb 22, 2006 (9:48 am)
In limited form it comes with leather, sunnroof, climate control and should come dang close to being the best all around performing wagon for under 40K or even 30K for that matter. I guess the Dodge magnum R/T could be mentioned as well, but i prefer to cut my steak with a knife and not a chainsaw; if you catch my drift. The three mentioned are definately worth checking out but I'm extremely weary of European vehicles with their spotty reliability (you hear me audi/vw????). Maybe I've nothing to fear, just my own opinion.
#4 of 38 Housekeeping
Feb 22, 2006 (1:44 pm)
Tbank you for the housekeeping note and entering these vehicles in their respective forums.
#5 of 38 Re: I'd add the 06 WRX wagon as well... [tazereli]
Feb 22, 2006 (2:30 pm)
Reliability is a concern. The A3 is too new to have much reliability data in the US. However, the car has been available in Europe for several years and my lurking around various forums, including this one, has not turned up many complaints.
Safety is another concern and the A3 got a good rating from the Insurance Institute (don't remember the exact name, but Audi is touting it at their website).
I also caught your "drift" on the chainsaw comment. All of these cars are fairly sophisticated sport cars, not brutish hotrods. I would submit that even the WRT lacks the "polish" of the 3 cars I've mentioned.
Perhaps the best of the bunch will be the VW R32 which is rumored to be a '07 or '08 model or the S3 which may be an '07 model in the US. Little is known about the R32, but the S3 will be released in '07 in Europe by all accounts and the talk is of a base price of $30k if it gets to the US. That could be a hot little number. But the "devil is in the details" and precious few details are available at the moment.
#6 of 38 Final Thoughts
Feb 27, 2006 (4:32 pm)
There are several things not to like about the A3. Pricing is first and foremost in my mind. The car is priced right up to my "choke point." The lack of connections for Ipod, MP3 w/o the pricey navigation system is ridiculous and the lack of passenger side power seat in the premium package is just cheap. This is a car that people will do what I'm doing: thinking long and hard about the car and exploring all alternatives before making a purchase.
The A3 is a unique blend, at least on the US market. It is a hatch, but far more sophisticated (and expensive) than other hatches on the market. Whether you think the sophistication is worth the price of admission is a personal decision. I compare it to small sports wagons, but the A3 does not make the compromises that you find in such wagons: this is a sports car with added cargo space. If you doubt this, jump from a Volvo V50T to the A3, particularly the 3.2, and the differences are readily apparent.
Whether you think the 3.2 is worth the extra money over the 2.0T is also a personal decision. For me, it is. DSG and AWD is what distinguishes Audi for me, and I like the schizoid nature of the 3.2 between the normal drive and sports mode.
The A3 is Audi's statement about where the balance between utility, performance and sophistication should be in the $30-40k market for this kind of car. People will surely differ on whether Audi got it right.
For me, this car is worth the asking price to the degree that its balancing act works for me. Put high performance tires on the car and it tips too much in the direction of performance as would the S3 if it every reaches these shores. There are cheaper performance vehicles to be had. If I was into modding cars, I'd never start with an A3, I'd pick something cheaper and spend the savings on performance parts.
The 3.2's added value comes down to whether you agree with the balance Audi has attempted to strike between the normal drive mode and the sports mode: whether you feel the 3.2 is tame enough for everyday driving, but beastly enough when you want to drive hard. For me, the two driving modes is Audi's attempt to stretch the kind of sports car that is not so "on the edge" that you would not want to drive it every day. Some would say the 3.2 which is available only with the S-line suspension is over that line. I'm not saying Audi got it right, opinions will differ.
I'm exploring the alternatives, but each one gives me insight on the A3's balancing act: whether I would want to live with it or pay for it. In the end, I may not purchase this car, but there is nothing quite like it as far as I have seen, particularly in 3.2 trim.
#7 of 38 Re: Best AWD Performance Wagon under $40k [ccd1]
Feb 27, 2006 (10:57 pm)
- Legacy GT. Disadvantages: no manual available, pretty bad gas consumption, so-so interior, big outside but somewhat tight inside for the package. Great engine, good handling.
- Passat 3.6 4Motion. Put a sports suspension in this one, and it should be a competitor. No manual available, as far as I know. Great engine, incredibly good gas mileage. Nice interior.
#8 of 38 Re: Best AWD Performance Wagon under $40k [ccd1]
Mar 03, 2006 (9:08 am)
Another Volvo to consider is the V70R.
If you are careful with the options, that car can be had for less than $40,000. Plus it is available in a manual and has very good room and cargo capability.
Mar 03, 2006 (9:27 am)
This is a newbee but sounds very promising, especially if the (most likely Mitsubishi sourced) AWD works as well as promised. Its interior's not as luxurous as the Audi or Volvo, but you are paying thousands less!
Also, like Volvo and BMW, Dodge is allowing owners to choose between all around performance, or focused driving (SRT models).
The Audi A3 Quattro is sold _only_ with sports suspension and tires.
#10 of 38 Re: Dodge Caliber AWD [kurtamaxxxguy]
Mar 03, 2006 (11:09 am)
The problem with the Dodge Caliber is that it is part of the Dodge/Chrysler family. Thats a HUGE problem, especially for a first year car.... anyone remember the 95 Neons released in 94. The chances of NOT getting a lemon on the new Dodge Caliber are probably about the same as winning the lottery in California.