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BMW 3-Series (E90 E92) Forum > BMW E90/E92/E93 3-series General Forums > General E90 Sedan / E91 Wagon / E92 Coupe / E93 Cabrio > BMW 3/5 Series vs. Audi A/S4 vs Subaru LGT Spec B



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      04-11-2009, 03:10 PM   #1
jimmytooslow
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BMW 3/5 Series vs. Audi A/S4 vs Subaru LGT Spec B

Hey guys,

I'm moving up to Boston for grad school in the fall, and want to do some research on the various car options that I have. The budget I have is in the range of 20-30k. I know it's a large range, but want to keep my options open.

The two absolute requirements I have are: manual trans and navigation (I'm completely new to the city and the surrouding areas). I think AWD is required too for the winters, but would be interested to hear your thoughts if you live in the north.

I've narrowed my options down to the following cars (no SUVs):

05-07 Audi A4 / S4 Quattro - price difference b/t the two is small (2-3k @ about the same mileage) and I would love the sound of a V8. MPG on the S4 is horrible from what I understand, but I won't be driving much so it's not a big factor...

06-07 BMW 328xi / 330xi / 530xi - 335 is too expensive, and even the 328/330s will be in the higher 20k range. Most expensive of the choices.

07-08 Subaru LGT Spec B - cheapest option with the lowest mileage. Probably the fastest with the exception of the S4.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on the following:

1 - Fun factor - Given these are all AWDs, can someone with experience tell me how they differ in this department? I feel that if AWD were not a requirement, the BMW (RWD) will win given their suspension setups (note - I have not driven a Suburu or an S4 before).

2 - Refinement - While I would like to have some fun with the car in the non-winter seasons, the car should be a proper "grown up" car (no super harsh rides, etc.).

3 - Reliability - Most of the cars here will be covered under warranty (or I will buy one) but I hate going to dealerships to fix even minor things. Are any of the above cars very problematic?

4 - Winter performance - I intend to go skiing and traveling in Vermont, NH, etc. during the winter time, are all the cars above sufficient?

Am I missing anything? Thanks a bunch for your help.
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      04-11-2009, 04:26 PM   #2
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i would do a 330xi. but theyre not easy to find.
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      04-11-2009, 04:35 PM   #3
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Get the Subaru, probably the most reliable and the cheapest out of all the other options.
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      04-11-2009, 04:48 PM   #4
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+1 on the subaru. winters suck here. dont get the nav built in the car. save yourself some money if you find one cheaper without nav and get a nice garmin unit.
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      04-11-2009, 05:43 PM   #5
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Get the Subaru, probably the most reliable and the cheapest out of all the other options.
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You sound like my buddies who have AMG's - Slam the gas, slam the brakes...
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      04-11-2009, 05:53 PM   #6
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for your scenario, The Subaru FTW...
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      04-11-2009, 06:23 PM   #7
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Once you are into used, you will get a much better value with the Subaru. Yea, save the $ with NAV. Would much rather have AWD here in leiu of NAV. For that range, Subi FTW. Do be sure to spend some time in VT. Dope skiing Especially for those trips up north the AWD will be huge.
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      04-11-2009, 08:01 PM   #8
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If you're not aware of:

A) Boston road conditions (or the lack of)
B) Boston drivers (honestly, at times Boston traffic is the definition of controlled chaos)
C) Parking
D) Driving in Snow

I'd suggest get the CHEAPEST and MOST RELIABLE thing you can get your hands on - if you can't get front all wheel drive (which is nice but not 100% required), get a front wheel drive.

Also - if you're doing grad school up there, you'll most likely be living in inner areas of Boston where it's on street parking - people there TRULY DO NOT CARE about cars the way we do - you'll see more damage to your car than you'd believe.

It's only a few years - put the cash away and get yourself something CHEAP - when you graduate - get the car you want.

If it were me - I'd get an early model WRX wagon - cheap, reliable, fun and you could really car less when the guy who thinks "touch parking" is the only way to parallel park decides to park near your car.

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      04-11-2009, 09:13 PM   #9
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Thank you all for your posts -- very helpful.

I agree that if I were the typical poor student the answer would probably be a Civic or something that's reliable and cheap. However, I've worked my butt off (100hr weeks aren't fun) since graduating from college and feel that I'm in a fiscal position where I could enjoy the fruits of my labor a bit (I will graduate with basically no debt, inclusive of the car). Always been a car nut and always will be one, so this is one area where I'm willing to spend to enjoy myself a bit and get the "perfect" car.

Assuming that I will have an underground parking garage, and will drive the car mostly on weekends / short trips, would the Legacy still be the recommendation?
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      04-11-2009, 11:05 PM   #10
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dear lord 100 hours/week , what do you do? gl with whichever you decide!
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      04-11-2009, 11:14 PM   #11
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Good luck with your choice. I for one can not help you with your decision because I haven't driven most of those cars.
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      04-11-2009, 11:33 PM   #12
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If reliability or value is your main factor, subaru is your choice. If you want to enjoy driving, then BMW is your choice, you should take a test drive and decide. I live in NJ and I have bought 330xi as CPO and been driving for almost 4 months, no even single issue (Knock the wood!), but it's very hard to find, you might have to opt without Navigation (I have garmin and it's fine with me), and the shifting is a little bit rubbery compared with A4 but it's not fun drive like 330. I never drive s4 though, so I can't tell you, but it's probably high maintainance.
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      04-12-2009, 12:46 PM   #13
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dear lord 100 hours/week , what do you do? gl with whichever you decide!
I worked on wall st. On a per hour basis my pay was probably comparable to an McD employee!
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      04-12-2009, 12:48 PM   #14
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If reliability or value is your main factor, subaru is your choice. If you want to enjoy driving, then BMW is your choice, you should take a test drive and decide. I live in NJ and I have bought 330xi as CPO and been driving for almost 4 months, no even single issue (Knock the wood!), but it's very hard to find, you might have to opt without Navigation (I have garmin and it's fine with me), and the shifting is a little bit rubbery compared with A4 but it's not fun drive like 330. I never drive s4 though, so I can't tell you, but it's probably high maintainance.
Hahaha. That's what Toyota/Honda drivers say about BMWs!!

The thing is that a tacked on navi just looks so out of place in a car like a Bimmer. I mean, in a Subaru, fine. But a Bimmer? That just means that you were cheap!!
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      04-12-2009, 03:32 PM   #15
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Conincidentally, i own an '06 Outback Limited and an '06 330i. Given your situation, and your priority, i would defnitely go with the Subaru - without a doubt.
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      04-12-2009, 03:48 PM   #16
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My bets are you're looking at an MBA which will place you in central Boston - that's a VERY old area where subterranean - let alone off street parking is near impossible to find.

Go walk by the Harvard Business School - right next to the Harvard Football Stadium, and look at the condition of the cars that are parked there - ALL are beaters - ALL are dented.

You're a student - enjoy it while it lasts!

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Thank you all for your posts -- very helpful.

I agree that if I were the typical poor student the answer would probably be a Civic or something that's reliable and cheap. However, I've worked my butt off (100hr weeks aren't fun) since graduating from college and feel that I'm in a fiscal position where I could enjoy the fruits of my labor a bit (I will graduate with basically no debt, inclusive of the car). Always been a car nut and always will be one, so this is one area where I'm willing to spend to enjoy myself a bit and get the "perfect" car.

Assuming that I will have an underground parking garage, and will drive the car mostly on weekends / short trips, would the Legacy still be the recommendation?
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      04-12-2009, 03:56 PM   #17
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Go witht the Subie.
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      04-12-2009, 08:51 PM   #18
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Hahaha. That's what Toyota/Honda drivers say about BMWs!!

The thing is that a tacked on navi just looks so out of place in a car like a Bimmer. I mean, in a Subaru, fine. But a Bimmer? That just means that you were cheap!!
I might be cheap as you said so. But if you look at CPO 330xi on BMW website, you will find the price of AT with i-drive same as MT without it. I would rather to get MT.
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      04-13-2009, 09:36 PM   #19
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My bets are you're looking at an MBA which will place you in central Boston - that's a VERY old area where subterranean - let alone off street parking is near impossible to find.

Go walk by the Harvard Business School - right next to the Harvard Football Stadium, and look at the condition of the cars that are parked there - ALL are beaters - ALL are dented.

You're a student - enjoy it while it lasts!
What if I had covered / underground parking? I agree - if I'm parking my car on the street it'll be a civic with 100k miles on it.
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      04-13-2009, 10:29 PM   #20
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There is not point to this. Most people would not say BMW if you are trying to be convinced because they feel a student isn't entitled to one (yet). So, if you want an Audi or a BMW, just get it and post pictures. If you want to be rational and put a bit of money away for rainy days, get the Subaru.
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      04-14-2009, 01:38 PM   #21
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SUBARU!
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      04-14-2009, 02:34 PM   #22
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I vote Subaru as well. Also I wouldn't dwell on the navigation too much as portable units cost only a few hundred bucks if that.
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