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  #1  
Old 01-12-2003, 10:44 AM
TD
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Thumbs up Test drove an Audi A4 3.0 6-spd SP yesterday

Continuing on the wagon theme, I went out yesterday afternoon to gather some information...

First, I stopped by the local Volvo dealer to ask what they knew about the V70R. What an awful dealership. Needless to say, I knew more from reading the Volvo press release online that the salesman knew (the salesman I had to accost as I had been in the showroom, bored, for 10 minutes with 6 salesmen talking to each other, none of them acknowledging me). But I said that I'd like a call when they came in so I could drive one as I would never drop 40 large blind. "We won't be able to do that." (That one, while a definite problem, did not surprise me. But the next one did.) I asked if, since I was unfamiliar with Volvo driving dynamics and that since driving dynamics are important to me (I showed up there in my M3 to make the point), could I at least take a T5 for a test drive? "No, we don't allow T5s out on test drives either." Can I have a brochure? "We don't have one for the V70R." How about for a regular V70? "Actually, we're out of those." I then see a brochure on a table on my way out the door. I grab it. A different salesperson chases me down to tell me I cannot have the brochure. WTF?!

How can you treat a customer who is as serious as any other cstomer this way? Hell, I am exactly who they want to lure to their showrooms with the V70R, a BMW buyer who had never before considered Volvo. And this is how I get treated. F*ck that.

Okay, rant over. About the Audi...

The Audi dealership is about a 1/4 mile from the Volvo dealership, so I felt I had to stop in. What a contrast.

After I was greeted by a saleman, I explained to him that I was looking into high performance wagons for my wife and, of their offerings, am interested in both their current A4 3.0 Avant (but only with manual tranny and sport package) or a used S4 Avant should one come available. I mentioned that the new S4 would be exceeding my price threshold and that I'd have no use for that many horses anyway (I'm sure I could find a use, but that's another topic altogether). The conversation never again mentioned the S4, new or old.

I didn't expect them to have an Avant 3.0 6-spd SP to test drive (and they didn't) but I was hoping for at least a 3.0 6-spd sedan. They actually had a 3.0 6-spd sedan w/SP to drive, so I did. The salesman did't hesitate for a second when I asked to take it out.

Impressions:

Short vesion- I was surprised at how much it impressed me.

Longer version- The ONLY thing I found I could complain about (and, yes, it still annoys the piss out of me - but, hey, it wouldn't be MY car), is the infernal DBW throttle. Depress, wait, then the engine responds. Toss in a feather light clutch and I had flashbacks to my E46 (except the Audi's steering is heavier).

As this was a Quattro-equipped car, direct comparisons to RWD BMWs are not exactly fair. AWD brings with it an inherent set of compromises on the handling front. But I was genuinely surprised at how neutral and (gasp) light the car felt considering it's weight and AWD setup. It hides it's weight very well. The car feels extremely solid, but it never feels like you're tossing around as much weight as you are (I sort of flogged it in a parking lot very close to where CD-55 had his incident). Playing like this, I actually felt like I *could* autox this car and not feel like I was murdering it. That shocked me.

The ride was much firmer than I expected. But it displayed a very E46-ish sense of comfort as well. And driving on potholes, there wasn't a single errant noise. Just tires rumbling over the rough road surfaces. Body roll was surprisingly limited and I noticed virtually no front end dive when I stabbed the brakes, which, BTW, are pretty damn impressive as well.

The car feels MUCH more solidly assembled than any E46 I've been in. I'm not thrilled with the interior layout, but it's certainly not bad. The sport package does not include any type of sport seats (a dissappointing surprise) but the stock seats are very good.

I admit that I am still only growing to accept the look of the new A4 sedan but I actually really like the look of the new A4 Avant, especially in darker colors where the lower body strip (that is always black) doesn't contrast as much. The 3.0 Avant gets the aluminum roof rails as well, which, while no more functional than the 1.8T's black roof rails, look damn sharp. And the 3.0 SP Avant gets better looking rims than the 3.0 SP sedan.

After my drive, we poked around a 3.0 Avant that was equppied with the Tiptronic, just to see the rear dimensions, execution, etc. The wagon area is small, but no smaller than an E46 wagon.

When we went back inside, I asked him point blank how much over invoice these cars were going for. $800-1000 he replied without hesitation. (I really appreciate when a salesman understands that he's dealing with an informed consumer and doesn't play the "What would it take to get you into this car today?" bull****.)

So I'd be able to get into this A4 Avant 3.0 with 6-spd, sport pacakge and manual rear sunshades for around $34K before tax.

I'll admit it. It's now at the top of the list.

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  #2  
Old 01-12-2003, 11:14 AM
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Didn't try the S4? or 325iT/528iT?

what a bunch of idiots at the Volvo dealer
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  #3  
Old 01-12-2003, 11:15 AM
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Oh, I'm with you, the old A4 was much better looking...
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  #4  
Old 01-12-2003, 11:18 AM
TD
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Originally posted by nate328Ci
Didn't try the S4? or 325iT/528iT?

what a bunch of idiots at the Volvo dealer
I've driven an S4 6-spd, 528iT 5-spd SP and 325XiT 5-spd in the past. I would probably re-drive the S4 and 528iT before making any decision. I recall the S4 plowed a lot more than the new-gen A4 did yesterday. And the 528iT feels great and is still very much in play. I think the biggest strike against the 528iT is the impression it would make. The president of my company only drives an '01 530iA SPP. At least the Audis do not have the same status stigma (I'm sure Audi wishes they did, though).
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Old 01-12-2003, 11:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by TD
I've driven an S4 6-spd, 528iT 5-spd SP and 325XiT 5-spd in the past. I would probably re-drive the S4 and 528iT before making any decision. I recall the S4 plowed a lot more than the new-gen A4 did yesterday. And the 528iT feels great and is still very much in play. I think the biggest strike against the 528iT is the impression it would make. The president of my company only drives an '01 530iA SPP. At least the Audis do not have the same status stigma (I'm sure Audi wishes they did, though).
Do you think the stigma applys to wagons too?

I wouldn't think so. I don't even feel any stigma with any BMW
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  #6  
Old 01-12-2003, 11:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by TD
I've driven an S4 6-spd, 528iT 5-spd SP and 325XiT 5-spd in the past. I would probably re-drive the S4 and 528iT before making any decision. I recall the S4 plowed a lot more than the new-gen A4 did yesterday. And the 528iT feels great and is still very much in play. I think the biggest strike against the 528iT is the impression it would make. The president of my company only drives an '01 530iA SPP. At least the Audis do not have the same status stigma (I'm sure Audi wishes they did, though).
Interesting. I did try and drive an A4 3.0 once with a friend who was in the market, and was treated very badly. The dealer couldn't find the keys to the 3.0, and when we asked to drive the 1.8T just so we could get a feel for the handling, we were told that the dealership was closing in 20 minutes, so there wasn't time. We could sit in the car, though. The saleswoman then proceeded to tell us how much the car had in common with other VWs (really!) My friend bought an Infiniti G35C instead.

The Volvo story is not surprising. The Volvo dealers around here are unbelieveably bad. During a bout of temporary insanity when I was considering an S70 T5, I had a series of odious experiences trying to get lease numbers and test drives. I can understand them not test-driving Rs (though I have to think that they are enough of an unknown that test drives may be necessary), but to not test drive T5s is just asinine. The car just isn't that special.

For the price, the A4 sounds very attractive. Even if the older S4 is marginally better to drive, I'd take the N/A new car over the used one with the b_i_t_c_h_y turbo engine any day.
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Old 01-12-2003, 11:43 AM
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Originally posted by nate328Ci
Do you think the stigma applys to wagons too?

I wouldn't think so. I don't even feel any stigma with any BMW
I know you're younger than me as well but I still feel a sense of being too young to be in a current 5er. Maybe you're just part of a more affluent circle. I don't know. But having a 5er *would* make me very self-conscious, right or wrong.

In my position in life, I feel perfectly comfortable driving my current car or even my former 330i. But I think a perception barrier is crossed at $40K. And even though a used 528iT would be under $30K, the perception is still $40K+ (and probably closer to $50K). People that aren't familiar with BMWs seem to assume they cost more than they do.
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  #8  
Old 01-12-2003, 11:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by TD
I know you're younger than me as well but I still feel a sense of being too young to be in a current 5er. Maybe you're just part of a more affluent circle. I don't know. But having a 5er *would* make me very self-conscious, right or wrong.

In my position in life, I feel perfectly comfortable driving my current car or even my former 330i. But I think a perception barrier is crossed at $40K. And even though a used 528iT would be under $30K, the perception is still $40K+ (and probably closer to $50K). People that aren't familiar with BMWs seem to assume they cost more than they do.
Even if people think that, what does it matter?

Does it make you feel bad that others think you are wealthier or spent more on your car?
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  #9  
Old 01-12-2003, 12:03 PM
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Matthew330Ci Matthew330Ci is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by TD
I know you're younger than me as well but I still feel a sense of being too young to be in a current 5er. Maybe you're just part of a more affluent circle. I don't know. But having a 5er *would* make me very self-conscious, right or wrong.

In my position in life, I feel perfectly comfortable driving my current car or even my former 330i. But I think a perception barrier is crossed at $40K. And even though a used 528iT would be under $30K, the perception is still $40K+ (and probably closer to $50K). People that aren't familiar with BMWs seem to assume they cost more than they do.
i have similar thoughts,
i'm a very young engineer, graduated about a year ago, and my boss drives an old ford escort wagon and his boss (director of mfg) drives an old 89ish mazda mpv minivan... so far i've been driving a 2000 civic si which is already more expensive than both their cars but when my 330ci comes in, i figure if they ever find out my boss will tease me that they're paying me too much... and i figure it can't possibly be positive for all my coworkers when this new kid fresh out of college drives a new bmw..

i know i shouldn't really care about what other people think but when it's your bosses involved i'd prefer they don't find out that i drive a brand new bimmer...
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Old 01-12-2003, 12:06 PM
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Originally posted by nate328Ci
Even if people think that, what does it matter?

Does it make you feel bad that others think you are wealthier or spent more on your car?
It's not all about MY feelings. In a corporate environment, there is a sense of adhering to a standard of living appropriate for your level in the organization. While I am not a peon, I am also not a VP.

My immediate boss (who is the CFO - and drives an Acura RL) gives me **** constantly for my two BMWs and my house (he knows where I live) with the line, "We must be paying you too much."

I am quite sure many/most of the guys here who work in corporate environments (and NOT as techies) can relate. When egos come into play, you don't want to go around upstaging those up the org chart from you. It CAN adversely impact your career.

Last edited by TD; 01-12-2003 at 12:09 PM.
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Old 01-12-2003, 12:08 PM
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Originally posted by Matthew330CiM
i have similar thoughts,
i'm a very young engineer, graduated about a year ago, and my boss drives an old ford escort wagon and his boss (director of mfg) drives an old 89ish mazda mpv minivan... so far i've been driving a 2000 civic si which is already more expensive than both their cars but when my 330ci comes in, i figure if they ever find out my boss will tease me that they're paying me too much... and i figure it can't possibly be positive for all my coworkers when this new kid fresh out of college drives a new bmw..

i know i shouldn't really care about what other people think but when it's your bosses involved i'd prefer they don't find out that i drive a brand new bimmer...
We were typing our replies simultaneously.

IIRC, Nate doesn't work for anyone so I could see how he might not appreciate this component of "perceptions".
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  #12  
Old 01-12-2003, 12:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by TD
It's not all about MY feelings. In a corporate environment, there is a sense of adhering to a standard of living appropriate for your level in the organization. While I am not a peon, I am also not a VP.

My immediate boss (who is the CFO - and drives an Acura RL) gives me **** constantly for my two BMWs and my house (he knows where I live) with the line, "We must be paying you too much."

I am quite sure many/most of the guys here who work in corporate environments (and NOT as techies) can relate. When egos come into play, you don't want to go around upstaging those up the org chart from you. It CAN adversely impact your career.
Ah, I see what you mean. That's pretty low of your boss.

When he says "We must be paying you too much.", you should reply "Debt finance is a wonderful thing"
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Old 01-12-2003, 12:23 PM
TD
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Originally posted by nate328Ci
Ah, I see what you mean. That's pretty low of your boss.

When he says "We must be paying you too much.", you should reply "Debt finance is a wonderful thing"
No, understand that it's said jokingly but still bespeaks a certain sense of "Make sure you know your place." As one who has always had a nice car (usually nicer than my boss'), I can say that this is a recurring theme.

He's not being a prick. But I am sort of violating an unwritten rule and he's calling me on it.
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  #14  
Old 01-12-2003, 12:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by TD
No, understand that it's said jokingly but still bespeaks a certain sense of "Make sure you know your place." As one who has always had a nice car (usually nicer than my boss'), I can say that this is a recurring theme.

He's not being a prick. But I am sort of violating an unwritten rule and he's calling me on it.
Obviously he was joking, but as you said, the implication is not so good.

Anyway, don't let that bother you. Buy the car that you like the most. You have to be comfortable with what you drive...
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Old 01-12-2003, 12:44 PM
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Originally posted by nate328Ci
Obviously he was joking, but as you said, the implication is not so good.

Anyway, don't let that bother you. Buy the car that you like the most. You have to be comfortable with what you drive...

Yeah. Let's bring this thread back to the subject of the CAR itself.

I was genuinely impressed.
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Old 01-12-2003, 01:07 PM
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imho, the new a4 looks better than the old, all except for the "side burn'ish" sheet metal forward of the front wheel well taken from the a6. that part just looks awkward and does not line up with the black partion. notice that the slightly newer coupe/cab version does not have this. also if there is a minor front bumper thump, it could easily damage the fender sheet metal "side burn" part.
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Old 01-12-2003, 01:23 PM
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I think the new A4 is a nice piece of work. However, if you praise it so highly, you're going to have to totally lay off the E46 bashing.

I have yet to see any back to back comparison tests where the new A4 was not criticized for being too soft and slow in comparison with the 330.

IMO, you're just denying you and your wife extra driving pleasure if you ignore the 325iT with sport package. However, you've already had an E46 and found it wanting (for whatever reasoning at the time), so if you want something different just for a change of pace, I can understand that.
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Old 01-12-2003, 01:30 PM
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If you'd like to drive my car again, you can... It's a good deal more enjoyable with S-03s.

Of course, you might just need to drive one with the new steering rack.
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Old 01-12-2003, 01:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by TD
No, understand that it's said jokingly but still bespeaks a certain sense of "Make sure you know your place." As one who has always had a nice car (usually nicer than my boss'), I can say that this is a recurring theme.

He's not being a prick. But I am sort of violating an unwritten rule and he's calling me on it.
I agree with you; this kind of pressure is pervasive. I think we've discussed before that it is even more evident in DC (as opposed to Detroit or CA), because people here generally don't spend as much on their cars.

At the same time, I've decided that this is one battle that I will fight. I want to spend an absurd (for DC) percentage of my income on my car. If others don't, fine. Screw them. Let them drive around in their 15 year old beaters. But I will no more bend my automotive preferences based on the preferences of others than I would decide to go to church just because my boss did.
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Old 01-12-2003, 01:39 PM
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Originally posted by PhilH
I think the new A4 is a nice piece of work. However, if you praise it so highly, you're going to have to totally lay off the E46 bashing.
I'm not sure he was bashing the E46, but I do find it interesting that he uses this as a reference of comparison to other cars. The comparisons could have been to the current driving car but instead the E46 was used.
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Old 01-12-2003, 01:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by JST
I agree with you; this kind of pressure is pervasive. I think we've discussed before that it is even more evident in DC (as opposed to Detroit or CA), because people here generally don't spend as much on their cars.

At the same time, I've decided that this is one battle that I will fight. I want to spend an absurd (for DC) percentage of my income on my car. If others don't, fine. Screw them. Let them drive around in their 15 year old beaters. But I will no more bend my automotive preferences based on the preferences of others than I would decide to go to church just because my boss did.
i'm just a regular engineer (not sr not jr) at my place but i also drive one of the more expensive cars around. when others ask or hint at the above, i usually add that i'm a car enthusiast. i combine my hobby budget into my transportation whereas others would diversify into expensive home audio systems or large salt water reef tanks etc.
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Old 01-12-2003, 01:50 PM
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I think DC just has a really weird/heightened "power play" deal going on. I have a good friend that works there and he constantly laments about how everyone is out to better position themselves. This means not stepping on anyone's toes and always trying to toe the company line, even if it means compromising some of your own principles.
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Old 01-12-2003, 01:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by HW
i'm just a regular engineer (not sr not jr) at my place but i also drive one of the more expensive cars around. when others ask or hint at the above, i usually add that i'm a car enthusiast. i combine my hobby budget into my transportation whereas others would diversify into expensive home audio systems or large salt water reef tanks etc.
Yes, becoming known as the crazy car enthusiast who races on the weekends and knows everything about cars has helped.
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Old 01-12-2003, 01:51 PM
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Re: Test drove an Audi A4 3.0 6-spd SP yesterday

Quote:
Originally posted by TD
[B]Continuing on the wagon theme, I went out yesterday afternoon to gather some information...

First, I stopped by the local Volvo dealer to ask what they knew about the V70R. What an awful dealership. Needless to say, I knew more from reading the Volvo press release online that the salesman knew (the salesman I had to accost as I had been in the showroom, bored, for 10 minutes with 6 salesmen talking to each other, none of them acknowledging me). But I said that I'd like a call when they came in so I could drive one as I would never drop 40 large blind. "We won't be able to do that." (That one, while a definite problem, did not surprise me. But the next one did.) I asked if, since I was unfamiliar with Volvo driving dynamics and that since driving dynamics are important to me (I showed up there in my M3 to make the point), could I at least take a T5 for a test drive? "No, we don't allow T5s out on test drives either." Can I have a brochure? "We don't have one for the V70R." How about for a regular V70? "Actually, we're out of those." I then see a brochure on a table on my way out the door. I grab it. A different salesperson chases me down to tell me I cannot have the brochure. WTF?!

How can you treat a customer who is as serious as any other cstomer this way? Hell, I am exactly who they want to lure to their showrooms with the V70R, a BMW buyer who had never before considered Volvo. And this is how I get treated. F*ck that.
My wife and I had a similar experience at *both* Volvo dealers in St. Louis. One wouldn't even give us the time of day in the new car department (he openly scoffed when I asked about their ED program), however the used department did let us drive a used T5.

The other dealership was OK, but man, I felt like I needed a shower when I got out of there. They did try to play the "what would it take to get you in this car today" game. I even openly told them that we weren't considering buying quite yet. Then, for months afterwards, they kept calling us. Man, desperation is not appealing.

I can tell you that the T5 drives like *crap* compared to any of the 3ers I've taken for a test drive, even the 325 touring with premium and step. It's pretty fast, but in that straight line sort of way. It reminds me a bit of my grandma's 71 Ford Galaxie 500, or maybe my brother's 73 El Camino SS (though that LS6 454 could generate enough torgue to denotate transmissions). In short, it's wicked fast, but feels much larger and slower than it actually is. After driving a 325 step/sport (the dealership that I've been going to around here has a dearth of manuals), I can say that the Volvo doesn't feel any faster than a low end BMW. You made the right choice by ignoring it.

On the other hand, if I could live with driving with two condoms and had two kids over the age of 12 (scads of back seat room in the V70), then maybe I could justify the Volvo, but I'd still look at a Passat wagon first just based on how I was treated at the Volvo dealership.

I'd look at the A4 3.0, but my wife and I are really keen on doing the whole ED thing, espically since we've been plannng on doing our three or four week vacation to Europe for quite some time (SGI gives its employees six week sabbaticals every four years, and I'm elligible now).
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Old 01-12-2003, 01:52 PM
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Re: Re: Test drove an Audi A4 3.0 6-spd SP yesterday

Quote:
Originally posted by dlloyd1975


I can tell you that the T5 drives like *crap* compared to any of the 3ers I've taken for a test drive, even the 325 touring with premium and step. It's pretty fast, but in that straight line sort of way. It reminds me a bit of my grandma's 71 Ford Galaxie 500, or maybe my brother's 73 El Camino SS (though that LS6 454 could generate enough torgue to denotate transmissions).
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