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  #1  
Old 02-11-2005, 02:04 PM
jim2201 jim2201 is offline
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Test drive: BMW vs. AUDI

Below is a copy of an email I sent to a friend after my wife and I test drove the BMW 745 Li and the Audi A8 L back to back a couple of saturdays ago. Thought this group might be interested in my impressions.

Dateline -- Saturday, Jan 29, 2005, 9:00am
Linda and I drop the kids off at grandma's house. Start driving to BMW. I'm thinking, hey, do I really need to drive the bimmer? I really like the styling of the Audi better, they're both german cars how different can they be? I'm 75% - 80% sure that I'm NOT getting the BMW. Maybe we should just go to breakfast and wait till our appointment at Audi at 10:45. But, I guess I should at least drive it so I'll have something to compare to the Audi and my Lexus.

9:15am BMW dealership, Sarasota, Florida.
Arrive with Linda and meet my sales rep (same one I bought my wife’s 330ci from). Go over car. The 745 Li is a golden color (not my first choice but I just want to see what its like to drive it). The "I-drive" (the all in one computer system for every conceivable function you can think of, plus a hundred more you never thought of) is complex but having a computer systems analyst in the car with me (Linda) helped a lot. After 15 minutes of explanation for I drive and the rest of the car's functions we lose the sales guy and its just me and my wife and the open road.

The Bimmer is a complex car. You start the car by pushing a button, no key is involved, it only has to be in the car. The gear shifter is "fly by wire" meaning there is no mechanical shifting - you don't move the shifter down into drive or reverse - its just a lever on the side of the steering column, like the turn signal, with no "click" or anything. You flick the lever down and it immediately returns to its original position but now the car is in drive. You push a button at the end of the lever (like setting the cruise control) and now you are back in park. We are driving the "L" version for "long" that has an additional 5 and half inches added to the rear seat leg room. The car is MASSIVE, the back seat is way, way back there.

You sit up high in the big bimmer and I liked that. The seats are a work of art. Literally. They adjust in 20 - count 'em, 20 different ways. They are heated. They are cooled, they give you a micro massage (change position almost imperceptibly to keep your spine and back in slightly varying positions to relieve fatigue on longer drives). They are firm (how surprising for a german car) and the leather is (understandably) fantastic. Everything in the car is excellent. Fit and finish is top notch. I can't find anything I don't like, although I still think the Audi is more luxuriously done. The BMW is kind of spartan in comparison. Muted elegance. German functionality.

I pull out of the dealership and start toward the interstate. I can't believe how fast (0-60 in 5.9 seconds) and agile this massive car is. Driving it feels vaguely similar to driving my wife's car (only hers would fit in the back seat of this one).
While I'm driving Linda is playing with the I-drive and trying out all the other stuff this car does. Within minutes she has set up voice command so now I say "radio on" and the car turns on the radio. The car understands a bunch of spoken commands. Once on the interstate, I recall that we did not take our radar detector with us and I really have to watch my speed. 90mph is effortless for this car. I love (and I mean love) the way the engine and gas pedal work together. Response is instantaneous. Wherever the throttle is located that's what the engine is doing. There is no hesitation, no searching for gears, no nothing except perfect, and I mean PERFECT integration.

The car handles like its on rails. I am really amazed that there is no body roll. I entered the curved on ramp to I-75 (same one I drive every day in my Lexus) about 15mph faster than I usually do and there was no body roll whatsoever. I felt like I could have done it much faster. Yet the car's ride was never harsh or jarring. I really don't know how BMW does this, nor why the other car manufacturers can't seem to figure it out.

We drive down a couple of exits and then pull off into a parking lot to get out and look at the car some more. The brakes are superb. BMW says the car will go from 60mph to 0 in 110 feet. That's almost unbelievable for a 4500lbs car. The trunk is as massive as the back seat. I don't really care for the exterior styling of the trunk (it looks like it was added on to the rest of the car) but it is huge on the inside.

We try sitting in the back seat. It really is big and comfortable. With the driver's seat positioned for me, I can sit in the back and cross my legs without coming anywhere near the back of the front seat. After driving the car for 30 minutes we return to the dealership. We both get out and say "that is a really nice car". That's our impression. Other than some minor styling issues and some overly complicated controls (the turn signals have two settings - if you flick it normally it only stays on for about 4 blinks, then goes off automatically. You have to flick down 2 clicks for it to stay on until you complete a turn) we think the car rocks. My wife really likes the interior and she doesn't think I-drive is that bad. Most of the sub menus will only be used when you first get the car to set it up the way you want it, then you won't access them anymore.

I sit down with my sales rep. He says hey, they are re-skinning the bimmer for 2006 and you can order one starting in April. Not only better looking (he had pics) but the I-drive has been simplified and the car will be called the 750 instead of the 745 because horsepower will be upgraded from (a paltry) 325 to 360! Then he says "with european delivery we knock an immediate 5000 off the list price (unfortunately even larger discounts have been discontinued due to the soaring value of the dollar) and because you are a returning customer (read: because I know you are also interested in the Audi) I can knock an additional 2000 off. So, if I get this car the way I want it the lease will be $50 LESS per month than what I'm paying now for my lexus. Unbelievable since this car is 80,000 and the lexus was 58,000. Difference due to having 3000 less mileage per year (12,000 as opposed to 15,000) and interest rates, which were much higher when I leased the lexus. I'm thinking to myself "SOLD!" but I want to get back in my car (for comparison) and drive over to audi to see if that car is as good as it looks.

My lexus is very nice (yawn). Its "couch like" and quiet and you see one at every stop light down here. And there is always a nice old person driving it. And it has a grey interior. Grey. What a happy color. What the heck was I thinking? Time to go to Audi!

10:45am Audi dealership, Sarasota, Florida.
There is that stylish audi A8 L just waiting for us. Great looking car. Sales guy wanted to ride with us but we said they just let us take the car at BMW, so he relents and after showing us how much better their I-drive was, he let us take the car by ourselves. The Audi's computer interface is much simpler. The screen folds away into the dash when not in use. The contols are pretty intuitive. The interior is very luxerious. But. Its small! I can't really put my finger on it at first. The car is actually half an inch longer than the bimmer but once inside it seems so much smaller. You sit much lower. The car is slightly narrower than the bimmer and the real culprit is the center console. Because this is a quadramatic, the center console is very wide. There is not much leg room side to side in the front. Linda likes to put her purse on the front passenger*floor board and there is literally no room for it.

I drive off the lot and look in the rearview mirror. Unfortunately someone has left the rear headrests up and they are blocking about one third of the rear windshield. I have huge blind spots so I pull into a parking lot not more than a quarter mile from where we left the dealership. I get out and try to put the rear headrests down. They don't move. I look for a switch or button or something and the dang car won't stop beeping at me (drivers door open) I get in and close the door. More beeping (no seatbelt). I climb into the back. I see the little button at the base of the poles the headrests are mounted on and push it. They won't go down. They go up but only go back down to where they were. Very bad design I think, or maybe I'm just too retarded to figure it out. I'll have to ask about it at the dealership because these things alone could be a deal breaker.

The car handles very well. But. The acceleration is marvelous execpt that there is a slight pause between the time I hit the gas and when the car gets going. Its similar to my lexus. Its not a big deal but it was really noticeable after driving the BMW. We drive on the interstate. The Audi handles the on ramp at the same speed as the bimmer. The car rides well. Its not as quiet as the bimmer but its certainly not loud. I just can't get over how much smaller this car feels than the bimmer. We pull off and park and look at the car. We get in the back seat. The seat bottoms seem short. The seats are not as nice as the bimmer's. Those headrests have got to go. The trunk is big, not as big as the bimmer's but big. We drive back to the lot. We both get out and say "that is nice but not as nice as the BMW". That's our impression. I don't even talk to the sales rep about price. The head rests were down all the way. He ackowledges they are a poor design. Audi has no european delivery and I tell him I don't think he's going to knock 7000 off the price but even if he knocked 10,000 off, I'd still want the bimmer. At this level, a few grand one way or the other is not the deciding factor. Its about what car you like better. For both Linda and me, it was the BMW, hands down. Not even close. That's not to say the Audi isn't nice. Its very nice. If I had only driven that (and I could do something about those rear headrests) I would have been very impressed. Its certainly nicer than my lexus. But they don't call BMW the ultimate driving machine for nothing. It felt like it was forged from a single piece of iron. Like a brick ****house. The BMW rules. That's what I'm getting. Period.
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  #2  
Old 02-11-2005, 02:35 PM
finally330i finally330i is offline
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Great choice. I really like the 760IL. I was at the dealer getting my 330i serviced and was there for about 2 hours. I opened up the back seat of a 760il got in, adjusted the power rear seat to my liking, and proceeded to take a nice 45 min nap. No one bothered me. I haven't been in many huge cars like that but its the nicest interior space I've been in. If only I had a nice six pack of Hacker Pshorr for the built in cooler.

Enjoy.
  #3  
Old 02-11-2005, 02:39 PM
BMW528i_Bilal BMW528i_Bilal is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by finally330i
Great choice. I really like the 760IL. I was at the dealer getting my 330i serviced and was there for about 2 hours. I opened up the back seat of a 760il got in, adjusted the power rear seat to my liking, and proceeded to take a nice 45 min nap. No one bothered me. I haven't been in many huge cars like that but its the nicest interior space I've been in. If only I had a nice six pack of Hacker Pshorr for the built in cooler.

Enjoy.
wow is it that big? How tall are you?
  #4  
Old 02-11-2005, 03:32 PM
finally330i finally330i is offline
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Location: Arlington Heights, IL
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BMW528i_Bilal
wow is it that big? How tall are you?
I'm only about 5' 10" but I'm telling you it is spacious. You could hang out there all day. The seats recline, power lumbar, nice leather, and head rests. I was really impressed. It is a big car.
  #5  
Old 02-11-2005, 04:01 PM
Centurion Centurion is offline
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Jim,
Great feedback on your experience.
I too looked closely at the 7 series and thought it was pure sweetness!
I had to adjust the way I turn around corners. I had to shoot the front of the car forward a little more than normal before making a 90-degree turn. That's how big this car is. Yes, I'm talking about the 'L' version with the extra 5 inches between the wheels.

I think the interior shouts "class" in every way. I love how BMW used the wooden dash mixed with the aluminum accents. It gives it a very "next generation" look. The back seats give a lot of competition to the front seats! There's plenty of leg room and adjustments to the rear seats to accomodate most people's tastes.

The jog-shuttle dial called the "i-Drive" was pioneered by BMW. Lots of people gave BMW sh!t for this. Look at Audi's and soon to be released Mercedes flagship models. They incorporate a jog-shuttle dial in them too. Why would these luxury car manufacturers incorporate such a device if it was indeed a bad idea? Earlier versions of the i-Drive system had numerous bugs but most have been fixed and you certainly wouldn't have to worry about this if you're in the market for the newer model.

You'll be one happy camper in this baby.
  #6  
Old 02-12-2005, 09:30 AM
330ciPfmcePkg05's Avatar
330ciPfmcePkg05 330ciPfmcePkg05 is offline
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great post...i showed my friend who is an Audi enthuisiast your post! good choice with the 745Li
  #7  
Old 07-21-2005, 10:52 PM
dborlando dborlando is offline
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Mein Auto: 03 X5 4.6is and 06 750 Li
Our 2006 BMW 750 Li

Used to own 1993 Lexus GS 300. Totally loved it. Then a 1995 Mercedes S420. Big and stodgy, but still great handling. Onto a 2000 Lexus GS 300. Great car for the money. Then, a 2003 Lexus SC 430 and 2003 BMW X-5 4.6is. SC 430 is junk on brick streets. Suspension fell apart. No more Lexus. No more Mercedes. I'm 39 yrs old and my partner is 53 years old (he drove 3 Lexus LS 400's). I got him hooked on the fact that YOU drive a BMW, rather than it drives you. Ergonomicaly perculiar in some ways, and mediocre A/C.

Waited for the 750 Li to come out. Glad we did! Simpler i-Drive and smoother transmission than the 2003 and 2005 745 Li's we test drove. The rear end is more athletic than stodgy...although that silver chrome-looking horinzontal rear deck lid bar is on so many cars now, even Toyotas. I think it's dumb-looking and unnecessary. I'm an interior designer btw. The car's interior is stunning, sophisticated and chic. I can't believe that Audi's cheap-looking interior is considered to be prettier than BMW's, according to a leading car rag.

My partner is a commercial litigator...know's nothing about computers; barely knows how to work his mobile phone. How the heck he's been able to figure out the i-Drive is confounding to me. And, our new Blue-Tooth Motorola Razr phones have worked almost flawlessly since day one in the car, although the phones, themselves, aren't receptively great outside the car. The seats are incredibly comfortable, and I think it's worth the extra $3,500 to get the rear comfort seat package...the sticker price still comes way under a Mercedes S500, and everyone prefers the Li. Of course, the 20 in. wheels are not as smooth or quiet at the 19 in ones, but they grip the brick streets beautifully, and they are better proportioned to the large wheel wells. The length of the car doesn't feel difficult to maneuver or park (except in tight spaces). Excellent turning radius. Noticed no body roll on tighter curves. Drives beautifully at 140 mph (almost as sweet as my 2003 BMW K 1200 RS!)

Trading my X-5 in for a 650 Ci Coupe. Going to miss my 4.6is, but we only have a 2 car garage, otherwise, I'd keep it and still get the Coupe (not the Chrysler Sebring looking convertible!) BMW needs to hardtop the convertible and refine the rear side section panels. Based upon our experience with the X-5 and more recently the 750 Li, I'm excited about the 650 Ci Coupe. Winter Park, Florida dealership is excellent, too.

Last edited by dborlando; 07-21-2005 at 11:00 PM.
  #8  
Old 07-25-2005, 10:57 AM
SmoothCruise SmoothCruise is offline
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About the Audi:

Quote:
Originally Posted by jim2201
10:45am Audi dealership, Sarasota, Florida.

The car handles very well. But. The acceleration is marvelous execpt that there is a slight pause between the time I hit the gas and when the car gets going. Its similar to my lexus. Its not a big deal but it was really noticeable after driving the BMW. We drive on the interstate. The Audi handles the on ramp at the same speed as the bimmer. The car rides well. Its not as quiet as the bimmer but its certainly not loud. I just can't get over how much smaller this car feels than the bimmer. We pull off and park and look at the car. We get in the back seat. The seat bottoms seem short. The seats are not as nice as the bimmer's. Those headrests have got to go. The trunk is big, not as big as the bimmer's but big. We drive back to the lot. We both get out and say "that is nice but not as nice as the BMW". That's our impression. I don't even talk to the sales rep about price. The head rests were down all the way. He ackowledges they are a poor design. Audi has no european delivery and I tell him I don't think he's going to knock 7000 off the price but even if he knocked 10,000 off, I'd still want the bimmer. At this level, a few grand one way or the other is not the deciding factor. Its about what car you like better. For both Linda and me, it was the BMW, hands down. Not even close. That's not to say the Audi isn't nice. Its very nice. If I had only driven that (and I could do something about those rear headrests) I would have been very impressed. Its certainly nicer than my lexus. But they don't call BMW the ultimate driving machine for nothing. It felt like it was forged from a single piece of iron. Like a brick ****house. The BMW rules. That's what I'm getting. Period.


They call it the Ultimate Driving Machine because they're arrogant pr!cks? I wonder if the Audi had a slower throttle response because it's all wheel drive?

I really think Audi vs. BMW is dependent on preference, and not anything else. They both are equally good, it depends on what you are looking for. Audi's handle much better because of all wheel drive, since I live in New England, such a factor is very attractive.

Had the Audi's I looked at, had enough trunk space, and a good GPS (other factors I looked for), I would have gone with an Audi. Instead, I took a BMW, but it was close, and I do have second thoughts about it.

If BMW is what you want, and fits your needs, expectations, great. What I'm trying to convey is, when you hear statement like 'Ultimate Driving Machine', I say don't believe the hype. Drivers and fanboys that do, are just as annoying as Born Agains.
  #9  
Old 09-30-2005, 01:07 PM
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Jalli Jalli is offline
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"Audi's handle much better because of all wheel drive, since I live in New England, such a factor is very attractive."

Hmm... don't know which Audi's you drive, most of the ones I have driven have been pretty good handlers, but there was just something wrong... Also you do know that many BMW's are available with all wheel drive don't you ?
  #10  
Old 09-30-2005, 05:47 PM
flashinthepan flashinthepan is offline
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I was quite impressed with the Audi A8l at our local new car show...talk about a comfortable upscale cabin.

The Bimmer may have many items in which a test drive would sway me to go 7series though.
 

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