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Old 10-14-2012, 07:43 PM
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Driven Back-to-Back: 335i M-Sport vs Audi S4

Our test-driving adventures continue. My wife and I had previously driven a 328i M-Sport 6MT and a 335i Lux Line. From that drive, we preferred the 328i but also wanted to find at least a 335i in Sport Line or M-Sport to drive. We also wanted to do our due diligence and give the 2013 S4 a shot. That's exactly what we did today. Up first was the S4...

2013 Audi S4
The car we drove was equipped with the S-Tronic autobox. Sadly, not MTs or DSG cars at our local dealer. The car was driven in Dynamic and Auto modes. In terms of the drive itself, I thought the autobox was actually quite good. Not as quick as the BMW's, but really nothing that called attention to itself. Car felt tight and handled nicely. The S4 seats were very nice, about the same as the BMW's sport seats. Interior design was also pretty nice...nothing really to complain about. In fact, we thought it was nicer than the one in the A6 3.0T that we were ferried around in. That was about it for the S4. My overall impression was that it's a fast, competent car, but did nothing for me on an emotional level. Nothing that made me feel I really needed to have this car. The supercharged V6 is so quiet as to be essentially character-less. Also, I was bothered by some creaking coming from the passenger side window when going over bumps around rough city roads. I'm not a huge stickler for creaks and rattles (I own an E46 M3 for crying out loud) but this was really annoying in a brand new car that cost $59K+.

2013 335i M-Sport
We would've loved to have found a 6MT to drive, but no such luck. The good news for us was that this car was optioned exactly the same way that the 328i we drove a couple of weekends back. Only difference was in the transmissions; even the colors were the same (EBII). We got into the 335i about 15 mins after driving the S4, so the comparison was really, really obvious. The 335i just felt right—and that was before even starting the car. I guess we're just BMW people. But even accounting for that, the interior just looks and feels a notch up from the Audi's. Surprising for me, because I'd always thought very highly of Audi interiors. On paper, the S4 is faster. In real life, we felt the 335i gave nothing up to the S4. We drove the 335i in Sport mode at the request of our dealer—some customer recently drove an M5 in Sport+, lost control and totalled the car. The 335i M-Sport also came with DHP and that made it a lot more fun versus the 335i Lux that we drove before--much sharper response. The N55 also sounded much nicer to me than the V6 in the S4. The 335i also seemed way more dynamic feeling than the S4. Maybe it's the character of the twin turbos versus the supercharger? Either way, the 335i definitely got my pulse moving. Can't say the same for the S4.

Incidentally, the S4 also comes with electric steering now. Big mistake if you ask me. That car is only drivable in Dynamic—Auto and Comfort are just terribly light or terribly variable. Ugh. The steering wheel in the S4 also felt much less nice to handle versus the one in the 335i. That said, I wish the BMW could default to last user setting instead of Comfort, but I've been wishing for this for a very long time. Someday.

Apples to apples, I just can't imagine why anyone would pick the S4 over the 335i. Unless you shop for a car based only on specs, the S4 just doesn't make sense to me. It's less inspiring to drive, costs more (the one we drove came in about $1000 more than the 335i) and consumes more gas. I guess Audi is just going to suck it up until the next generation S4 comes out. My wife—whose car this or the F30 would be—declared herself a non-Audi person after these drives. Her words: "The S4 is so far off the table, it's crashed and burning on the floor, in a corner."
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Old 10-14-2012, 07:58 PM
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Totally agree. Also, the Stronic is a DSG.
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Old 10-14-2012, 07:59 PM
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Totally agree. Also, the Stronic is a DSG.
It is??? Yikes, the autobox in the BMW is just mind-bogglingly good.
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Old 10-14-2012, 08:02 PM
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It is??? Yikes, the autobox in the BMW is just mind-bogglingly good.
Yep, i drove the S5 with stronic last week and i was shocked to go home and find out it was a DSG. the ZF8sport is better imo.
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Old 10-14-2012, 08:05 PM
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Hey, I see you have the 328i Sport line. After all these drives, we're still leaning toward the 328i. Would love to get your thoughts, as you've had the 328 for a while, right?
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Old 10-14-2012, 08:17 PM
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Originally Posted by cantona7 View Post
Hey, I see you have the 328i Sport line. After all these drives, we're still leaning toward the 328i. Would love to get your thoughts, as you've had the 328 for a while, right?
Love my 328. You cant go wrong with it. 0-60 in 5.6 seconds and close to 40mpg on the highway.
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Old 10-14-2012, 08:21 PM
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Love my 328. You cant go wrong with it. 0-60 in 5.6 seconds and close to 40mpg on the highway.
So why the change?
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Old 10-14-2012, 08:37 PM
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So why the change?
The are putting me in a 335 for the same price i am paying for my 328. i would be happy in either car but figured i would give the 335 a try this time.
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Old 10-14-2012, 08:40 PM
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The are putting me in a 335 for the same price i am paying for my 328. i would be happy in either car but figured i would give the 335 a try this time.
More to it than that. Tell of your steering troubles.
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Old 10-14-2012, 08:54 PM
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More to it than that. Tell of your steering troubles.
Yep, forgot to mention the steering wheel vibrates between 40-60. A subtle shake. Cant feel it but i can see it.
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Old 10-14-2012, 09:41 PM
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Originally Posted by cantona7 View Post
Our test-driving adventures continue. My wife and I had previously driven a 328i M-Sport 6MT and a 335i Lux Line. From that drive, we preferred the 328i but also wanted to find at least a 335i in Sport Line or M-Sport to drive. We also wanted to do our due diligence and give the 2013 S4 a shot. That's exactly what we did today. Up first was the S4...

2013 Audi S4
The car we drove was equipped with the S-Tronic autobox. Sadly, not MTs or DSG cars at our local dealer. The car was driven in Dynamic and Auto modes. In terms of the drive itself, I thought the autobox was actually quite good. Not as quick as the BMW's, but really nothing that called attention to itself. Car felt tight and handled nicely. The S4 seats were very nice, about the same as the BMW's sport seats. Interior design was also pretty nice...nothing really to complain about. In fact, we thought it was nicer than the one in the A6 3.0T that we were ferried around in. That was about it for the S4. My overall impression was that it's a fast, competent car, but did nothing for me on an emotional level. Nothing that made me feel I really needed to have this car. The supercharged V6 is so quiet as to be essentially character-less. Also, I was bothered by some creaking coming from the passenger side window when going over bumps around rough city roads. I'm not a huge stickler for creaks and rattles (I own an E46 M3 for crying out loud) but this was really annoying in a brand new car that cost $59K+.

2013 335i M-Sport
We would've loved to have found a 6MT to drive, but no such luck. The good news for us was that this car was optioned exactly the same way that the 328i we drove a couple of weekends back. Only difference was in the transmissions; even the colors were the same (EBII). We got into the 335i about 15 mins after driving the S4, so the comparison was really, really obvious. The 335i just felt right—and that was before even starting the car. I guess we're just BMW people. But even accounting for that, the interior just looks and feels a notch up from the Audi's. Surprising for me, because I'd always thought very highly of Audi interiors. On paper, the S4 is faster. In real life, we felt the 335i gave nothing up to the S4. We drove the 335i in Sport mode at the request of our dealer—some customer recently drove an M5 in Sport+, lost control and totalled the car. The 335i M-Sport also came with DHP and that made it a lot more fun versus the 335i Lux that we drove before--much sharper response. The N55 also sounded much nicer to me than the V6 in the S4. The 335i also seemed way more dynamic feeling than the S4. Maybe it's the character of the twin turbos versus the supercharger? Either way, the 335i definitely got my pulse moving. Can't say the same for the S4.

Incidentally, the S4 also comes with electric steering now. Big mistake if you ask me. That car is only drivable in Dynamic—Auto and Comfort are just terribly light or terribly variable. Ugh. The steering wheel in the S4 also felt much less nice to handle versus the one in the 335i. That said, I wish the BMW could default to last user setting instead of Comfort, but I've been wishing for this for a very long time. Someday.

Apples to apples, I just can't imagine why anyone would pick the S4 over the 335i. Unless you shop for a car based only on specs, the S4 just doesn't make sense to me. It's less inspiring to drive, costs more (the one we drove came in about $1000 more than the 335i) and consumes more gas. I guess Audi is just going to suck it up until the next generation S4 comes out. My wife—whose car this or the F30 would be—declared herself a non-Audi person after these drives. Her words: "The S4 is so far off the table, it's crashed and burning on the floor, in a corner."
How would you describe and compare interior cabin noise between the two vehicles?
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Old 10-14-2012, 10:00 PM
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Most people who feel this way is because they got a really good deal on the BMW, purchased one, and now justifying their choice. Congrats! I came from a 335 e92 and the only thing I had to get used to was the steering, moving from hydraulic to electric. Now BMW and Audi are on par and opinions will vary from driver to driver. MT prefers the Audi steering, but with any artificially weighted system, there will be annoyances that is subjective to the driver. I feel that the Supercharger is a much smoother delivery system, no lag, and power just seems to surge continuously. I haven't driven the new BMW 8 speed, but my DSG is super quick and smooth, sometimes abrupt in dynamic mode, but it is to be expected. The S4 is one generation behind, just slightly refreshed, and not a volume seller like the BMW so don't expect great lease deals or deep discount. The two cars are so similar that many will prefer the BMW because of value.
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Old 10-14-2012, 10:05 PM
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Originally Posted by radari216 View Post
How would you describe and compare interior cabin noise between the two vehicles?
I would call it a tie. Compared to my M3, both are very, very muted and quiet. But as I mentioned, the S4 had a really annoying creak from the top of the passenger side front window every time we went over bumpy pavement. This was made especially annoying because the cabin was otherwise silent. In terms of ergonomics, I really disliked the Audi's controls for the AC and the placement of the drive modes. You need to take your eyes off the road in order to locate the drive mode buttons, which are located in the center stack. With the F30, the switch that's located next to the shifter makes so much sense, and it's large enough that you can do everything by feel and confirm your selection in the instrument cluster.
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Old 10-14-2012, 10:10 PM
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Originally Posted by sf_loft View Post
Most people who feel this way is because they got a really good deal on the BMW, purchased one, and now justifying their choice. Congrats! I came from a 335 e92 and the only thing I had to get used to was the steering, moving from hydraulic to electric. Now BMW and Audi are on par and opinions will vary from driver to driver. MT prefers the Audi steering, but with any artificially weighted system, there will be annoyances that is subjective to the driver. I feel that the Supercharger is a much smoother delivery system, no lag, and power just seems to surge continuously. I haven't driven the new BMW 8 speed, but my DSG is super quick and smooth, sometimes abrupt in dynamic mode, but it is to be expected. The S4 is one generation behind, just slightly refreshed, and not a volume seller like the BMW so don't expect great lease deals or deep discount. The two cars are so similar that many will prefer the BMW because of value.
S4 owner coming in to try and defend his car lol
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Old 10-14-2012, 10:11 PM
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Originally Posted by sf_loft View Post
Most people who feel this way is because they got a really good deal on the BMW, purchased one, and now justifying their choice. Congrats! I came from a 335 e92 and the only thing I had to get used to was the steering, moving from hydraulic to electric. Now BMW and Audi are on par and opinions will vary from driver to driver. MT prefers the Audi steering, but with any artificially weighted system, there will be annoyances that is subjective to the driver. I feel that the Supercharger is a much smoother delivery system, no lag, and power just seems to surge continuously. I haven't driven the new BMW 8 speed, but my DSG is super quick and smooth, sometimes abrupt in dynamic mode, but it is to be expected. The S4 is one generation behind, just slightly refreshed, and not a volume seller like the BMW so don't expect great lease deals or deep discount. The two cars are so similar that many will prefer the BMW because of value.
Glad you like your car. I didn't have a horse in this race...we were test-driving and considered the S4 a possible candidate. At least it was before today. The E9x cars didn't appeal to us either, not even the M3. I expect the B9 S4 will be much improved.
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Old 10-14-2012, 10:46 PM
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Old 10-15-2012, 02:30 AM
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I am not sure what you test drove. The S4 comes only in two transmission configurations: 6 speed manual and 7 speed S tronic DSG. In other words, the "S tronic" on the S4 is the DSG. How did you exactly feel that the DSG was slower?




Quote:
Originally Posted by cantona7 View Post
Our test-driving adventures continue. My wife and I had previously driven a 328i M-Sport 6MT and a 335i Lux Line. From that drive, we preferred the 328i but also wanted to find at least a 335i in Sport Line or M-Sport to drive. We also wanted to do our due diligence and give the 2013 S4 a shot. That's exactly what we did today. Up first was the S4...

2013 Audi S4
The car we drove was equipped with the S-Tronic autobox. Sadly, not MTs or DSG cars at our local dealer. The car was driven in Dynamic and Auto modes. In terms of the drive itself, I thought the autobox was actually quite good. Not as quick as the BMW's, but really nothing that called attention to itself. Car felt tight and handled nicely. The S4 seats were very nice, about the same as the BMW's sport seats. Interior design was also pretty nice...nothing really to complain about. In fact, we thought it was nicer than the one in the A6 3.0T that we were ferried around in. That was about it for the S4. My overall impression was that it's a fast, competent car, but did nothing for me on an emotional level. Nothing that made me feel I really needed to have this car. The supercharged V6 is so quiet as to be essentially character-less. Also, I was bothered by some creaking coming from the passenger side window when going over bumps around rough city roads. I'm not a huge stickler for creaks and rattles (I own an E46 M3 for crying out loud) but this was really annoying in a brand new car that cost $59K+.

2013 335i M-Sport
We would've loved to have found a 6MT to drive, but no such luck. The good news for us was that this car was optioned exactly the same way that the 328i we drove a couple of weekends back. Only difference was in the transmissions; even the colors were the same (EBII). We got into the 335i about 15 mins after driving the S4, so the comparison was really, really obvious. The 335i just felt right—and that was before even starting the car. I guess we're just BMW people. But even accounting for that, the interior just looks and feels a notch up from the Audi's. Surprising for me, because I'd always thought very highly of Audi interiors. On paper, the S4 is faster. In real life, we felt the 335i gave nothing up to the S4. We drove the 335i in Sport mode at the request of our dealer—some customer recently drove an M5 in Sport+, lost control and totalled the car. The 335i M-Sport also came with DHP and that made it a lot more fun versus the 335i Lux that we drove before--much sharper response. The N55 also sounded much nicer to me than the V6 in the S4. The 335i also seemed way more dynamic feeling than the S4. Maybe it's the character of the twin turbos versus the supercharger? Either way, the 335i definitely got my pulse moving. Can't say the same for the S4.

Incidentally, the S4 also comes with electric steering now. Big mistake if you ask me. That car is only drivable in Dynamic—Auto and Comfort are just terribly light or terribly variable. Ugh. The steering wheel in the S4 also felt much less nice to handle versus the one in the 335i. That said, I wish the BMW could default to last user setting instead of Comfort, but I've been wishing for this for a very long time. Someday.

Apples to apples, I just can't imagine why anyone would pick the S4 over the 335i. Unless you shop for a car based only on specs, the S4 just doesn't make sense to me. It's less inspiring to drive, costs more (the one we drove came in about $1000 more than the 335i) and consumes more gas. I guess Audi is just going to suck it up until the next generation S4 comes out. My wife—whose car this or the F30 would be—declared herself a non-Audi person after these drives. Her words: "The S4 is so far off the table, it's crashed and burning on the floor, in a corner."
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Old 10-15-2012, 04:00 AM
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Originally Posted by sf_loft View Post
Most people who feel this way is because they got a really good deal on the BMW, purchased one, and now justifying their choice. Congrats! I came from a 335 e92 and the only thing I had to get used to was the steering, moving from hydraulic to electric. Now BMW and Audi are on par and opinions will vary from driver to driver. MT prefers the Audi steering, but with any artificially weighted system, there will be annoyances that is subjective to the driver. I feel that the Supercharger is a much smoother delivery system, no lag, and power just seems to surge continuously. I haven't driven the new BMW 8 speed, but my DSG is super quick and smooth, sometimes abrupt in dynamic mode, but it is to be expected. The S4 is one generation behind, just slightly refreshed, and not a volume seller like the BMW so don't expect great lease deals or deep discount. The two cars are so similar that many will prefer the BMW because of value.
Quote:
Originally Posted by justinnum1 View Post
S4 owner coming in to try and defend his car lol
I've owned 2 e92's and 1 B8 S4. I liked things about both, but I got rid of the S4 after 8 months. If the chip had been out before I sold my S4 I probably would have kept it because that thing chipped is a beast. If I had ordered the prestige package I would have kept it. I think the Audi interface with MMI is much better than BMW. For example with the audi, i could say "Call John Doe" and it would start dialing, unless things have changed you cant do that with the BMW. The BMW handled much better though, and at the end of the day I'm about to order another BMW. Both cars are great, I just prefer BMW and really wish i could combine features of both cars.
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Old 10-15-2012, 04:08 AM
g37to335i g37to335i is offline
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I also thought the S4 was great, but if you look at the 2012s they already look ancient. The same cant be said about the E9xs. Also the power pack is on its way which should address the 0.2s difference in acceleration. The x drive is already faster though based on BMWs website.

Last edited by g37to335i; 10-15-2012 at 04:10 AM.
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Old 10-15-2012, 05:36 AM
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Glad you like your car. I didn't have a horse in this race...we were test-driving and considered the S4 a possible candidate. At least it was before today. The E9x cars didn't appeal to us either, not even the M3. I expect the B9 S4 will be much improved.
Nice review cantona7, I dont have a horse in this race either. I also test drove the S4 a while back, athough it was a very nice car, it wasnt what I was looking for. One thing I must disagree with you on is the engine, the Audi 3.0T simply feels quicker.

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Old 10-15-2012, 05:38 AM
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Originally Posted by sf_loft View Post
Most people who feel this way is because they got a really good deal on the BMW, purchased one, and now justifying their choice. Congrats! I came from a 335 e92 and the only thing I had to get used to was the steering, moving from hydraulic to electric. Now BMW and Audi are on par and opinions will vary from driver to driver. MT prefers the Audi steering, but with any artificially weighted system, there will be annoyances that is subjective to the driver. I feel that the Supercharger is a much smoother delivery system, no lag, and power just seems to surge continuously. I haven't driven the new BMW 8 speed, but my DSG is super quick and smooth, sometimes abrupt in dynamic mode, but it is to be expected. The S4 is one generation behind, just slightly refreshed, and not a volume seller like the BMW so don't expect great lease deals or deep discount. The two cars are so similar that many will prefer the BMW because of value.
DSG shifts quicker and the 3.0 in the S4 makes more power than the N55. IMO when equipped with the Sport Diff the S4 is a notch above in the performance category than the 335i. On the other hand, I personally prefer RWD, lower weight and nearly perfect weight distribution in the BMW.
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Old 10-15-2012, 07:38 AM
sean10mm sean10mm is offline
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The S4 is clearly better on paper than the 335i in most respects, but it's also priced quite a bit higher. Not only is the MSRP higher, all else being equal, but the real-world pricing is actually worse than the MSRP difference suggests. It's kind of funny talking about "value" in cars you can easily option over $50,000, but the markup is still non-trivial.

And while the S4 has more power, it's also something like 300lbs heavier when comparing 6MT models. Even if you add xdrive to the BMW it's still about 150 pounds lighter. The S4 is also more nose-heavy by far, and again even the xdrive BMW is closer to 50/50 than the S4. Apparently the sport diff option on the S4 negates the nose-heavy feel pretty well, but again you're adding cost compared to the 335i.

With all the performance options (DSG, adaptive suspension, sport diff) I'd expect the S4 to edge the 335i on the track...but you've also pushed the sticker price into a different class at that point, and it's an open question if you're getting enough in relation to what you're paying.
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  #23  
Old 10-15-2012, 08:46 AM
T111 T111 is offline
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Originally Posted by sean10mm View Post
The S4 is clearly better on paper than the 335i in most respects, but it's also priced quite a bit higher. Not only is the MSRP higher, all else being equal, but the real-world pricing is actually worse than the MSRP difference suggests. It's kind of funny talking about "value" in cars you can easily option over $50,000, but the markup is still non-trivial.

And while the S4 has more power, it's also something like 300lbs heavier when comparing 6MT models. Even if you add xdrive to the BMW it's still about 150 pounds lighter. The S4 is also more nose-heavy by far, and again even the xdrive BMW is closer to 50/50 than the S4. Apparently the sport diff option on the S4 negates the nose-heavy feel pretty well, but again you're adding cost compared to the 335i.

With all the performance options (DSG, adaptive suspension, sport diff) I'd expect the S4 to edge the 335i on the track...but you've also pushed the sticker price into a different class at that point, and it's an open question if you're getting enough in relation to what you're paying.
It will "edge" it out, the S4 is a track monster. Ask anyone who tracks often, you always see S4s passing 335s at the track, that sport diff is an incredible piece of hardware. I owned two F30s (both 335i's), both we're plagued by the steering vibration. It is unacceptable for a car of this supposedly caliber to have an issue like this. Just watch the Head 2 Head on the F30 and S4, its clear who is not only faster in a straight line, but faster around the twisties. The S4 dethroned the 335 here (http://www.caranddriver.com/comparis...omparison-test) and that was years ago. All the car magazines continually grip about how the E90 was a better car, with the F30 being to soft. After owning TWO I can attest to this after driving the S4 recently. Keep in mind this review is coming from someone who gave BMW a chance TWICE and has purchased many of them in the past so please don't refer to me as a "troll" or any of that crap. I was excited to get my F30 this first time and even more excited the second because I figured my second one wouldn't have the issue thus it not only upsets me, but saddens me because I really love the brand.
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Last edited by T111; 10-15-2012 at 08:48 AM.
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  #24  
Old 10-15-2012, 09:38 AM
g37to335i g37to335i is offline
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It seems to me your main issue with the F30 is the reliability issue with the 2 you have had so far. Is this correct, I am only asking because this is a decision I am also facing but am leaning towards the 335i in pure, x drive or active hybrid form. I don't track my cars and with the power pack I should have more than enough power for every day driving
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Old 10-15-2012, 10:01 AM
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cantona7 cantona7 is offline
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I am not sure what you test drove. The S4 comes only in two transmission configurations: 6 speed manual and 7 speed S tronic DSG. In other words, the "S tronic" on the S4 is the DSG. How did you exactly feel that the DSG was slower?
It's hard to describe why I felt the S Tronic was slower...it just felt, well, less responsive. Maybe it's not objectively slower, but the sequence of push-throttle-and-see-what-happens just FELT slower. YMMV, of course. And this is pretty hair-splitting at this point. I didn't actually think it was "slow"—it's just that when I drove the 335, it was like "Hello!"

Part of this might just be the fact that the AWD Quattro imparts a different feel to the car. My wife simply said she likes the feeling of a RWD car better—she's more sensitive than I am in this regard and doesn't even consider the Mini Cooper S fun to drive because it doesn't have RWD (I find the Mini plenty fun.)
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