If this thread hasn't been beaten to death already, I'll pitch in my two bits. I'm in Seattle ... lots of rain blah blah but only occasional light snows. Problem is we have so many steep hills, that even a dusting of snow shuts down the city.
I had two e46's (99 328i and an 01 330cic) before going to Audi (03 A4 3.0 and now an 01 A8L), I'm expecting to put my order in or buy an e90, if they've got a decent one on the lot, here in the next few months. If that tells you anything.
Audi pros: AWD really puts the power down in the corners when it's wet. Interior quality and materials is absolutely beautiful (because they skimp in unseen areas). Snow traction even with summer tires
is awe inspiring ... notice how I say traction. That's only GO, quattro didn't help stop or turn so that was downright dangerous when I was caught in a .25 dusting of snow with contisport 2 summer tires
. I had to creep along at 5mph because every touch of the brake pedal brought out ABS. But I got up my steep driveway without the traction control ever kicking in.
Audi cons: AWD handling. The engine is still out over the front axle and the front tires
are still doing too much work. The result is terminal boring understeer no matter what you do. Even a stiffer rear sway bar doesn't help much balancing the car out. Ride quality in Audi's suck. You either get stiff and floaty with the standard suspension or stiffer and floaty with sport suspension. Maybe they've fixed it quite a bit since my 03, but I'm still reading stuff in the rags saying Audi's suspensions are just too stiff for what you get handling wise. To sum it up, it's rock hard when it doesn't need to be, and too soft when you don't want it to be. They just don't spend enough time or money developing the suspension for real roads. After 3 hr's of driving on our crappy freeways I'd be more beat up from my stock sport packaged audi than I was my H&R and Bilstein e46.
Buy the BMW, and buy a set of studless winter tires
like the pilot alpin 2 or similar and find wherever you can to store them. I know you're resisting because you don't want to deal with it, but with either car if you can't stay home when it snows you really should. The biggest thing is, German cars are heavy and they take a lot to get them stopped when traction's bad. M&S all seasons will help just a tiny bit over summer tires
, but they're still a compromise. If you're buying a BMW why compromise?