A4 vs. A6 vs. A8 vs. S8

I'm considering a new A4 Convertible, an A6 if I can stand the new nose, or a two year old A8 or three year old S8.
The use will be for daily commute (40 miles round trip), carrying four
adults a fair amount of the time. I'd like a fun driving experience if possible, but that takes a back seat to reliability and professional look.
I've driven the A6, and S8, and my partner has an A8.
I currently use a 99 S Class Mercedes as my daily driver, and find it too large, ponderous, and poor handling. It is the 420 model, with the smaller V-8 driving a 4700 lb machine, so it isn't great on acceleration. However, it is well built, solid, and cruises with the best. Looking for more fun and handling, without losing all of the creature comforts.
Would love opinions from people who have actually owned and driven these specific models.
Thanks.
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IMO, the used S8 will best fit your wants and needs. It's professional looking, large and comfy. But it's also powerful and fun to drive. They're also fairly uncommon, unlike the S-Class Mercedes and 7 series BMWs. BMW's 740i has always been great to drive though. After the S8, I'd say go for a used or leftover A6 2.7T S-Line. 0-60 in well under 6 seconds, plus Quattro in a nice medium-large sedan. The new version's 3.2 simply won't be as good as far as I'm concerned.
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Thank you, Steve. Anyone else?
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Steve Grauman wrote:

Why not? Similar output, no? Plus (maybe) the DSG? Hell, I'm thinking a next-gen A6 w/DSG is probably going to be my next car.
-- Mike Smith
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No, the 3.2 FSI is superior. Here's a link to the FSI output (purple) overlaid on A6 2.7T graph. Above 2500 rpms 3.2 puts out more power and revs to a greater speed. The FSI curves go off standard 2.7T chart! At low speeds the slightly higher turbo torque doesn't show up in on-road performance, graph is steady-state output. By the time turbo gets under boost engine speed is already greater, so in real world FSI also better down low. Both 2.7T and 3.2 were tested using 95 RON gas.
http://mywebpages.comcast.net/shost0/A6-27T-32FSI-overlay.gif
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Interesting stuff. I expected the 2.7T be be a better performer than the N/A 3.2 but after seeing the overlay I'll have to take that back till' I've seen some real world tests. As a side note, Subaru recently redesigned the Outback and Legacy sedans and wagons. They partially redesigned the H6 motor (3.0 litres) and squeezed it for 250Hp. However, they've also added the 2.5 litre turbocharged Boxer 4 to both model ranges, which matches the H6's 250Hp, makes more torque, and peaks (both Hp and torque) at lower RPMs. This seems to be the case more often than not when comparing small turbocharged motors to marginally larger N/A motors. Let's not forget that the updated S-Line version of the A6 2.7T is making 265Hp and well over 260Ft. Lbs. of torque - with peak torque from below 2,000 RPM. The "old" 250Hp version ran 0-60 in 5.9 seconds with the 6-speed. Pretty impressive for a large car with Quattro.
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The point about getting a 2.7T is to get it chipped to 300+HP. Of course, it's definitely a 3.2 whatnot beater. The 3.2 may only have a very little advantage under 2,000 rpm, and maybe - it remains to be seen - more reliability as it's not dependent on two turbos.
The bad news about the new A6 is there is apparently going to be nothing like DSG as DSG is only available for transverse engines - or so the rumour goes. This alone should scare people away from Audi, as they're fitting Seats and Golfs with DSG already! If only BMW would make a decent 50/50 front/rear weight AWD!
Here in Europe, where the real first tests of the new A6 have now been conducted, the most interesting model is the 3.0TDI, but it comes with Tiptronic as standard, as is way heavier (at around 1,900 kg) than its competitors. Still, this engine's real output of around 235HP and 500Nm (factory states 225PS and 450Nm) is impressive. In my opinion, however, the best thing to do is wait for the air-suspension equipped models scheduled for next year. Just another reason to switch to BMW? I find VW's policy insulting - the Tuareg and the A8 have had it for over a year, but if I wanted to buy a Tuareg it would only be fitted with the 2.5TDI, at a meager 174PS, which means it's a just a heavy snail. Why don't they fit the Tuareg with the 3.0TDI engine or the A6 with the Tuareg's air-suspension? Then we might have two great cars, where neither stands out otherwise!
Want more nonsense? They're now fitting the Seat Ibiza with a 160PS TDI, and the Leon with a 225PS FWD power train! This is not fair on Audi legitimate buyers!

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The AWD version of the G35 is an option.

I find it plain stupid. VW has spent so much time over the past 2 years trying to come up with Audi/BMW/MB competitors that it's lost sight of building models which are truly competitive in VW's normal areas. The Passat loses sorely to the current competition in most areas as do most of the other VW models. They've fitted the New Beetle TDi and 1.8T cabrio with the 6-speed DSG but they've kept the Jetta, Golf and Passat TDi and 1.8T models stuck with the not-anywhere-near-as-good 5-speed Tiptronic. And what about the Audi models? The G35 and Acura TL have got the A4 beaten hands down on the price:performance ratio, the 3-series and IS300 are both better driver's cars and VW's W8 Passat is equivalent to or better than the A4 3.0 in most every way for about the same money. And does anyone really believe the A6 will be able to match the new 5-series? The A8 may very well be the best luxury sedan in the world of it's size, type and price, but it pales in comparison to the 7-series where driving dynamics are concerned and it's thousands more than the Jaguar XJR which is a much better performer and not much smaller. The S4 and RS6 are the only stand-out models they make and the RS6 is really only marginally better than the E55 - but it's a lot more money. The Toureag may be as good as the BMW X5 and MB ML500 in V8 trim, but it's nearly as much money (it actually goes over $50k fully loaded) and doesn't carry the prestige. The 3.2 powered model is underpowered and over priced and if memory serves me, is fewer than $1,000 USD less expensive than the more powerful and prestigious Cayenne V6. I own a 2002 VW that I like quite a bit, but I can all but guarantee that it's the last VAG product I'll ever buy. There are simply to many other better products on the market for the same money. The S4 is the only exception to this IMO.
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Couldn't agree more, Steve; except that new S4 is not as good either as it's got the worst mileage in its category. Who wants a thirsty 344PS V8 if they could have made a 3.2 biturbo that would make some more power (in the region of 370PS) and much better torque when chipped?

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I test-drove and walked-away from the B5 S4 in 2001. The turbo lag, disappointing torque, and risk of turbo failure was a turn off. The S4 in 6-speed automatic trim makes 24MPG highway, which isn't bad for a 2-ton, V8-powered, 340 horsepower car. I'm strongly considering a 2004-2005 S4, after the limited test-drives I've had. I'll take a torque-rich V8 over a high-reving V6 anyday.
R
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I quite liked the B5 model. I found the 255 Ft. Lbs to be quite adequate, especially since it felt like a V8 (with max. Torque from around 2,000 RPM) compared to the high strung I6 in the M3. OTOH, I've always liked well-engineered turbo motors, so maybe I'm bias.

The B6 S4 is the only Audi I really covet at the moment. The RS6 and A8 are amazing automobiles, but hard-sells considering their prices.
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I was convinced that the B6 S4 would run a bi-turbo version of the A4's 3.0 but I guess they decided aganist it for reasons unknown. The 4.2 actually weighs about the same as the 2.7T but the car is heavier than before. The S4 is a great performer, competant to at least come very near the M3 on a track, if not beat it outright. But it's not as fun to drive and while it benefits from great traction, it's nose heavy. I havn't driven a B6 S4 yet, but I'm guessing that it's a lot like the C5 Z06 Corvette I drove - tons of power, great grip, but nose heavy and difficult at the limit. I'll take a used 911, please. It's not like the S4's back seats are all that comfy anyhow.
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The reason is more than probably that it might have stolen many a customer away from their next RS4. I think people at Audi have come to realise that turbo engines are so tunable that they're generally preferred by all except those fussy enough to pay for the extra bucks for a V8.

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It depends on how much of Audi's customer base is likely to risk warranty problems through chipping and making other mods. Even if they shared an engine, the RS4 would be more powerful, and would probably have bigger brakes, different wheels, better tires, body kit, and some other goodies to seperate it from the standard S4. Only if a very large percentage of Audi's customer base were willing to make their own mods to an S4 could they legitimately be concerned about stealing RS4 sales.
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Of course, the RS4 will be better overall, but then again its price will be miles away from that of the car I was suggesting, and performance-wise, it wouldn't make much of a difference to the average driver, who is bound by legalities and does not take their car to circuits.
Then again, in terms of the number of Audis being chipped, I might dare to speculate that more than 50% post-warranty 1.8Ts and 2.7Ts are probably chipped. Of course, this is only a subjective impression I get from forum reading, but I will accept that forum users are probably more prone to such things as chipping.

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Unfortunately direct injection injector fouling is not thoroughly understood (completely different mechanisms that PFI). Compounding this, at least in the USA, is high sulfur fuel that may never get legislated away. The lobbyist have put enough loop-holes in that even in 2010 you could get a slug of sulfur while refiners meet district average targets. How the engine manufacturers are going to handle warranties is an interesting question.
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