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F10 / F11 (2011 - Current)
The new chapter in the highly successful story of the BMW 5 Series Sedan (F10) and wagon (F11)

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  #1  
Old 06-15-2015, 05:52 PM
nirvana19 nirvana19 is offline
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Next Car Dilemma v.189

It's a bit premature, but my 2013 535i/6 is approaching its home stretch with me and I've been spending a lot of time thinking about its replacement. I figure I'll be the next person (probably like the 189th or so) to raise this issue in the hope there are others of like taste who have found the solution to this problem. My tastes are such that I'm looking at things ranging from the FR-S to the M5 - so bear with me.

My 535i/6 is almost perfect except it has less power than I would like (if it had more, I would buy it out and keep it). I used to commute in this car but now live in SF and drive once or twice a week to Palo Alto (70-80 miles round trip). I don't actually need a car anymore but intend to have one as I love driving.

I love almost everything about my car. There honestly isn't an angle on the car that I don't like and I still find myself looking back at it every time I walk away. It's not the most exciting design but it never gets old. The interior is also great, a simply evolution of the also great E39 interior with proportions that have remained consistent since the E28 (I've owned them all). I like cars with a solid "mini-tank like" feel that handle incredibly well while also being able to cruise comfortably and the F10 fits that bill, a few hundred pounds shaved would be great but honestly it's fine. I actually prefer the upright 5-series to the 6 (drove 650i, M6). I think my ideal car would be a 550i/6 except for that it is no longer made and reliability issues seem to preclude me from buying one used (in any case, leasing new makes much more sense for me given my habits).

From test drives, I've learned the only non-negotiable for me is a manual transmission (...hold for people calling me a stubborn idiot/luddite). This means that despite my love for the 5-series, my choice is M5 or bust. If I still drove everyday I'd just do it, being mildly annoyed that I'm paying for more than I really need but ultimately being content with more, but given how light my use would be paying for $1k+ in depreciation per month seems a bit silly.

I've had a ton of seat time in a new M3 and didn't feel it at all - even wrapped in leather the 3-series interior feels vastly interior to the 5 and ultimately, the manual equipped car just wasn't that satisfying and the engine, while competent and powerful, was somehow staid and uninspiring (also the sound is thoroughly uninspiring, the gentle wail of my racing dynamics N55 exhaust is honestly preferable). I also drove a DCT car and while that was extraordinary when driving at the max, and felt way better matched to the vehicle, I just wouldn't be satisfied not being able to row gears. Also, the suspension was too firm for my taste in comfort mode - if I get an M5 I will NOT order competition package.

In general, I think the most important criteria are V8 (or V8 like power delivery) and a manual. I want a car that I will look back at as I'm walking away, so exterior does matter. A nice, classy interior would be a great plus but is less important than the aforementioned. I prefer sedans but given my use I'm quite flexible (no family, no kids, no carpooling - a two-seater is fine).

Cars I didn't like (definitely not buying):
M3/M4 - not well suited to manual, flat torque curve actually kind of dull
M235i/6-speed - just felt like a smaller less nice version of my car - the N55 is brilliant competent I haven't found it to be inspiring in any setup except for the 135is which was a riot.
Audi S3 - makes a lot of noise and goes fast and corners hard but boring DSG
650i/M6 - turns out to be too low slung
C63 - setting tires on fire gets old, feels quite dated now
Ghibli - too expensive, too Chrysler'd out, though reasonably fun at top specs and quite attractive just not feeling it

Cars I kind of liked (maybe would buy at right price):
Scion FR-S (for the price this thing is a riot and had by far the most visceral and engaging drive of anything else I've driven - too bad it's not at all quick and the boxer engine has no torque at low rpms)
E63 AMG4S - brilliant, if I wanted an self shifting car I would buy this, more fun and satisfying than the DCT M5 in my opinion, would pick one up if I got a crazy deal
Dodge Challenger - it's hard to not have fun in a car powered by a hemi V8 with a stick shift and actually handles fairly well, still way too massive
Chevy SS - Actually pretty great except the exterior is SO boring and uninspiring - the interior also looks quite bad, tacky, and unergonomic but I could deal with that if it had a stunning exterior

Cars I liked
997.2 Porsche 911 Carrera S (used)
Audi S4 (this was a surprise, RS5 bored me and then I hopped in a manual S4 and had a riot with the wailing supercharged engine)
Ford Mustang GT (looks great, handles well, you can see out of it, and the coyote is fantastic AND reliable!)
M5, 6-speed (drove a 2013 way back) $$ depreciation while undriven is the only real issue

What else should I drive? I'm either going to get an uber-F10 or something entirely different like a Mustang (have an allocation for a GT350 but I think I might actually prefer the sedate regular GT, had more than enough power for me) - this is obviously a pretty broad range so throw anything out there as long as it's got a row your own gear option. Used cars are an option but besides the 911 I'm not even sure what else to consider.
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  #2  
Old 06-15-2015, 07:31 PM
neilsarkar neilsarkar is offline
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I am in the same boat as you.

Did you try the refreshed S6? It gives a very nice balance between power (450 hp) and fuel economy (27 mpg). Don't know if Audi offers one with a manual though.

Upcoming 340i might be another option if BMW fixes the interior post LCI.
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  #3  
Old 06-15-2015, 08:12 PM
nirvana19 nirvana19 is offline
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No manual in the S6. I imagine that's a brilliant car but haven't bothered to drive one since I know I won't buy one. Maybe I'll take one for a spin, thinking about doing an S4 round two (especially because it's an old model and they're potentially dealing on them hard).

I was considering the 340i but stopped thinking about it after discounting the M3. Upon further consideration, I might actually like it more than the M3 - still can't imagine the new engine will be as exciting the one in the S4, though.
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  #4  
Old 06-15-2015, 08:33 PM
MikeEby MikeEby is offline
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Do you absolutely need seating for 4? The Mustang is barely a 2+2. Look at a C7 Corvette, should be easy to find one with a manual transmission in the Bay area. BTW, Corvette do not require gray hair and gold chains anymore. That went out with the C6. It's without question a look back at car. The modern CTS is a nice package too. I'm in total agreement with the 535 lack luster power, that's why I took the chance on the 550.

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Last edited by MikeEby; 06-15-2015 at 08:35 PM.
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  #5  
Old 06-15-2015, 08:43 PM
nirvana19 nirvana19 is offline
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Originally Posted by MikeEby View Post
Do you absolutely need seating for 4? The Mustang is barely a 2+2. Look at a C7 Corvette, should be easy to find one with a manual transmission in the Bay area. BTW, Corvette do not require gray hair and gold chains anymore. That went out with the C6. It's without question a look back at car. The modern CTS is a nice package too. I'm in total agreement with the 535 lack luster power, that's why I took the chance on the 550.

Mike
Good call, I somehow didn't give that much consideration - I need to drive one, have only driven the automatic (I'm bringing back the well-worn phrase "autotragic" for that one - a conventional automatic has no place in such a vehicle). two-seater is fine.

I would take a CTS v-sport with a stick...if it existed *sigh*. I drove one right after it came out and it's a very impressive car on the basis of how it drives. Like all of current cadillacs, the transmission was the worst thing about the car but with a proper gearbox (some sort of automated manual, single or dual clutch, or a proper three pedal) that car would destroy the others hands down. Didn't love the interior but was amazed at how loaded up it was with tech features - sort of like android vs. iphone, the interfaces were universally less refined but the caddy did far more than most BMWs (except those fully, fully loaded) at a much lower price point.
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  #6  
Old 06-15-2015, 09:59 PM
MikeEby MikeEby is offline
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Don't forget too I think there are 3 levels of interior trim. If you happen to drive a base (1LT) it's might look a bit lacking. Each step up 2LT & 3LT looks a bit more finished and refined, the price also jumps in about $4.5K (Ouch) increments, but include some other options. Like BMW they also offer Competition Sport seats for another $2K. There are tons of wheel combos, stripe and color options to really personalize your car if your order one, or better yet you can fly into Bowling Green KY and pick your car up at the Corvette National Museum. The place where the sink hole sucked up several cars a few years ago.

When your driving one don't be dumbfounded when a fellow Corvette owner waves at you, this has been a tradition of driving a Corvette for over 60 years. The motto is "Save the Wave".

When I got my Bimmer I was hoping the same tradition existed, sadly it does not.

Mike
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Last edited by MikeEby; 06-15-2015 at 10:07 PM.
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  #7  
Old 06-15-2015, 10:06 PM
MikeEby MikeEby is offline
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Double post
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  #8  
Old 06-16-2015, 12:23 AM
J750 J750 is offline
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I have a C7 Vette and it's fantastic. Put about 15,000 miles on it with absolutely no issues! Quality interior with stunning looks and that naturally aspirated V8 make it a winner.
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  #9  
Old 06-16-2015, 08:28 AM
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WilliCO WilliCO is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nirvana19 View Post
My 535i/6 is almost perfect except it has less power than I would like (if it had more, I would buy it out and keep it).
Mostly, I'm just subscribing to this thread because I am in the same position. My 535 lease expires in a year and I really have no idea what I want next either. A lot of the same cars are on both of our lists.

But, since power seems to be your only gripe on your 535 - have you considered the Dinan Stage 1 upgrade? I'm not a real believer in the "add 100 horsepower for only $199" chip-it crew, that can't be good for the engine. The Dinan kit is much more expensive but seems better thought through.

Are you interested in that upcoming Mercedes C450 AMG? The almost-AMG one?
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Last edited by WilliCO; 06-16-2015 at 08:29 AM.
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  #10  
Old 06-16-2015, 08:48 AM
nirvana19 nirvana19 is offline
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Originally Posted by WilliCO View Post
Mostly, I'm just subscribing to this thread because I am in the same position. My 535 lease expires in a year and I really have no idea what I want next either. A lot of the same cars are on both of our lists.

But, since power seems to be your only gripe on your 535 - have you considered the Dinan Stage 1 upgrade? I'm not a real believer in the "add 100 horsepower for only $199" chip-it crew, that can't be good for the engine. The Dinan kit is much more expensive but seems better thought through.

Are you interested in that upcoming Mercedes C450 AMG? The almost-AMG one?
I should probably consider that option (Dinan) for a moment. The JB4 doesn't seem to get close to what Dinan is quoting on the 5-series (but does have significant gains on other platforms - not sure if that's crank of at the wheels and not sure why crank would vary, is the F10 intake and exhaust really that much more restrictive than the F30?). Has anyone actually bought the Dinan kit? Would love to drive a car with it to understand if it's really viable. $2k is a lot more than a JB4 but a small price to pay if it means I don't have to get a new car.
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  #11  
Old 06-16-2015, 11:09 AM
Wolvesq Wolvesq is offline
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It looks like you've covered your bases. Manuals are near extinct in the mid-size sport sedan class. You almost have to go compact (3, S4, upcoming XE, etc.) The only V8 sedans with manuals I know of are those you already mentioned, the M5 (which reviewers have largely skewered as bad fit for the M5 engine, kind of like your reaction to the manual in the M3 you tried) and a Chevrolet SS.

Personally my favorite two cars in the mid-size sedan class are the S6 and the slightly bigger A8 NWB 4.0T, both of which combine excellent handling (with the sport pkg options), superb seats, deep wells of power, understated but handsome looks, and awesome interiors (especially the A8). Buy a slightly used, CPO'd version of either for a serious discount over new and 5 plus years of warranty to protect yourself from air suspension failures.

Another option is to buy a second car, something fun and flingable and with a manual but affordable, like a GTI or Mustang, so you can get your manual fix when you need it, but go back to your comfort cruiser when you're in the mood to be coddled.

Last edited by Wolvesq; 06-16-2015 at 11:39 AM.
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  #12  
Old 06-16-2015, 11:38 AM
Wolvesq Wolvesq is offline
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I should add: the only other luxo sporty car with a V8 and great reviews I don't see on your list is a Panamera GTS. If one is within your budget, it's at least worth a shot. Pro reviewers seem to almost unanimously love it, and they say its dual clutch is a pleasure to shift on your own via the paddles. Not the same as a real manual, but at least it preserves some of the involvement.

Best of luck.

Last edited by Wolvesq; 06-16-2015 at 11:43 AM.
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  #13  
Old 06-16-2015, 11:59 AM
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Originally Posted by nirvana19 View Post
Audi S4 (this was a surprise, RS5 bored me and then I hopped in a manual S4 and had a riot with the wailing supercharged engine)
I wish Audi would get the next S4/S5 to market soon. Could be a very interesting contender if it loses a couple stones as predicted.
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  #14  
Old 06-16-2015, 12:26 PM
nirvana19 nirvana19 is offline
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Originally Posted by Wolvesq View Post
It looks like you've covered your bases. Manuals are near extinct in the mid-size sport sedan class. You almost have to go compact (3, S4, upcoming XE, etc.) The only V8 sedans with manuals I know of are those you already mentioned, the M5 (which reviewers have largely skewered as bad fit for the M5 engine, kind of like your reaction to the manual in the M3 you tried) and a Chevrolet SS.

Personally my favorite two cars in the mid-size sedan class are the S6 and the slightly bigger A8 NWB 4.0T, both of which combine excellent handling (with the sport pkg options), superb seats, deep wells of power, understated but handsome looks, and awesome interiors (especially the A8). Buy a slightly used, CPO'd version of either for a serious discount over new and 5 plus years of warranty to protect yourself from air suspension failures.

Another option is to buy a second car, something fun and flingable and with a manual but affordable, like a GTI or Mustang, so you can get your manual fix when you need it, but go back to your comfort cruiser when you're in the mood to be coddled.
I've had a surprisingly hard time finding a manual GTI to drive. I don't really need a cruiser anymore since my driving is purely occasional so I am very seriously considering just having a cheaper, fun car. Even the new Miata could come into the picture (*sigh* hard to decide). I'm probably leaning towards one of these cheaper, fun cars.

I'm sure the GTS is wonderful but that crosses firmly into the not happening. M5s can be leased at somewhat less than insane terms but even at those relative bargains I'm still pushing the upper bounds there.

I do agree with the sentiment that the manual isn't ideally matched to the M5 but having that extravagant power curve still makes it a riot (from my memory, at least) though it's perhaps objectively worse than the DCT in every way. The M5 is much more to my liking in terms of sound, feel, and looks.
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Old 06-16-2015, 12:31 PM
Wolvesq Wolvesq is offline
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I wish Audi would get the next S4/S5 to market soon. Could be a very interesting contender if it loses a couple stones as predicted.
Fwiw, an Audi dealer told me Audi will not offer manuals on next gen. A4s and S4s in the U.S. market. Apparently they just sell far too few to justify the expense, even in sportier models like the S4.

The takeaway, if you want an S4 manual, get one while you can.
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Old 06-16-2015, 12:41 PM
nirvana19 nirvana19 is offline
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Fwiw, an Audi dealer told me Audi will not offer manuals on next gen. A4s and S4s in the U.S. market. Apparently they just sell far too few to justify the expense, even in sportier models like the S4.

The takeaway, if you want an S4 manual, get one while you can.
This is another one of my considerations for buying a crazy V8 manual sedan - the notion (accurate) notion that they won't be around for long and it may be worth taking the depreciation hit without driving much just to have one.

I kind of have this idea to try to strategically order the last manual M5 ever built - as I suspect they ship VERY few (US only) and the next gen almost certainly won't have one offered as take rates have finally falling to negligible (the E60 M5 had a strong manual take rate once the manual was offered, it was offered well after launch due to extreme consumer demand).
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Old 06-16-2015, 12:42 PM
Wolvesq Wolvesq is offline
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Originally Posted by nirvana19 View Post
I've had a surprisingly hard time finding a manual GTI to drive. I don't really need a cruiser anymore since my driving is purely occasional so I am very seriously considering just having a cheaper, fun car. Even the new Miata could come into the picture (*sigh* hard to decide). I'm probably leaning towards one of these cheaper, fun cars.

I'm sure the GTS is wonderful but that crosses firmly into the not happening. M5s can be leased at somewhat less than insane terms but even at those relative bargains I'm still pushing the upper bounds there.

I do agree with the sentiment that the manual isn't ideally matched to the M5 but having that extravagant power curve still makes it a riot (from my memory, at least) though it's perhaps objectively worse than the DCT in every way. The M5 is much more to my liking in terms of sound, feel, and looks.
Gotcha. My "blink" recommendation is the S4. Everyone I know who has one loves it. Well-rounded, and one of the last Audis to offer a manual transmission stateside. Good luck!
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Old 06-16-2015, 02:42 PM
3Pedals_6Speeds 3Pedals_6Speeds is offline
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The vanishing 3-pedal manual sucks if you ask me. I get that the new automanuals shift faster, and are more fuel efficient, but to my mind (and backside) I don't always want a snapping quick shift (comfort-wise). I also like being more involved.

I have the same scanning problem, I want a retractable hardtop with a stick, and they're getting rare as hen's teeth.
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Old 06-16-2015, 05:01 PM
Wolvesq Wolvesq is offline
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One more I just thought of. The new Cadillac ATS V. You can get one with a manual transmission. Early reviews are through the roof. Not a beautiful exterior but about as good as sport sedans get these days. Supposedly sublime to drive.
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Old 06-16-2015, 07:44 PM
nirvana19 nirvana19 is offline
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One more I just thought of. The new Cadillac ATS V. You can get one with a manual transmission. Early reviews are through the roof. Not a beautiful exterior but about as good as sport sedans get these days. Supposedly sublime to drive.
almost forgot about this one - added to list!
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  #21  
Old 06-16-2015, 08:17 PM
bmw325 bmw325 is offline
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Same dilemma and have also "boiled the ocean" thinking about my next car.

Looking forward to hearing what you choose. I've also toyed with the idea of an M5, but its sort of overkill in power and doesn't offer as good of a V8 sound as the American muscle cars you named. An S6 might be my "perfect car", but not sure i'm willing to pay Audi's insane lease prices.

S4 might be great considering your needs. Of course, no V8. Not sure if matters but keep in mind that some of the tech/luxury items available in the 5 aren't available on the curretn S4. Stuff like HUD, etc.

Pretty sure I'm going to go in the opposite direction and just get a GTI.
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Old 06-16-2015, 09:25 PM
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You should seriously look at the mini John Cooper Works in manual. That car drives the ways BMWs used to drive, and for your luxury car, the 2014 750 is a great V8 car that you will be able to pick up with a substantial discount with the release of the new 2016 750i.
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  #23  
Old 06-16-2015, 09:33 PM
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I got rid of my 2012 550ix at the end of April for a 2015 C7 Stingray, I don't regret it.

I loved that 550, amazing power, fantastic interior and features galore. But its reliability issues made it undesirable to me after the warranty is up, so I traded it.

I'm 33, not married, no kids, don't have much need for rear seat or even cargo. I just wanted a fun car. I didn't get a manual, but I don't regret that either. Only have 3k miles on it due to crappy weather here, but that will change soon.

While the C7 has a ton of cool features and creature comforts, you'll probably miss a lot of stuff the 5 series has. But the trade off is well worth it, car turns heads and is just a blast to drive.

I also think the new ATS-V might work for you. With that car, you will more than likely get a better dealer experience since Cadillac is trying really hard to compete with the German brands.
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  #24  
Old 06-16-2015, 10:01 PM
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hufington hufington is offline
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I am at the same boat as well. I am looking at:

2015 BMW 750i
2016 X5 50i or X5M
2016 E63 AMG 4Matic
2016 Panamera GTS
2016 550i (worst case scenario)
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07 BMW E64 630i - 3.0 L 200 kW (272 hp)
03 BMW E65 745i - 4.4 L V8, 242 kW (325 hp)
98 BMW E39 535i - 3.5 L 183 kW (245 hp)
95 BMW E34 540i - 4.0 L V8 210 kW (282 hp)
89 BMW E30 M3 non-cat 147 kW (200 hp)


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Old 06-17-2015, 04:04 AM
gtidriver gtidriver is offline
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I'm almost exactly in the same boat as you are: only use the car on the weekends, and my lease expires at the end of July!

While I have no issues with the 535i power (can't really use much in the NYC area) and love the interior and exterior, I'm just not enamored with the handling.

Have you considered the Cayman GTS or Cayman S? This was my first choice replacement but it's a bit cargo limited. I'm waiting for the '16 GTI Performance to be released and will most likely pick one up.

I loved the S4, but the interior and tech was dated (realize this isn't important to everyone)...
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