I need help choosing a new car

Hi, right now I have a '95 vw jetta (my first car) and it has problems not worth fixing, in my opinion. It's also a boring drive and has a salvage title. So I am considering buying a new car soon to drive to my university
every day.
After driving my mom's ML320, I can tell the quality and other benefits of German cars over an American or Japanese car. I don't want a vw again, and I don't want an Audi; they look like a VW. But I've always liked BMW and Mercedes. I am 21 and I live in southern California, so I just want a nice looking, sporty fast car I can enjoy my 20's with. Then later I will get an S500 when I can afford it. :-) I'd like a convertible, and it seems the only feasible option for me would be the BMW 325Ci convertible. But that is getting a little too expensive for me. I was also looking at the C230 Kompressor Sport Coupe which is more in a price range where I won't starve, but the inline 4 cylinder scares me (might be too underpowered). And I think the 3-series looks better than the C class.
So to get to the point, it is worth spending that much extra for the convertible and will the convertible be much higher maintenance? Or should I just stick with a regular 325Ci, or a C230 or better, or something else. I can't decide. Can anyone with any experience with these cars assist me in making a decision? Thanks in advance.
Steve
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For a university student you have too much money at your disposal if you can think about such cars (unless 10 years old...)
Rich Californians...shake of head...
:-) DAS --
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NB: To reply directly replace "nospam" with "schmetterling"
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Look at an Acura. I have a 2003 TL-S as well as a 2003 MB C320. The Acura was $10 K cheaper plus it has had no problems in 28000 miles. The Benz has been fixed 4 times in less than 8000 miles.
Walter Wise
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By the way, your mother's ML320 is as German as your Jetta. It is manufactured in USA, I think, it is at the same assembly plant as the Jeep Liberty. The new A4 convertible is better looking than the 3 series convertibles. My 2 cents ! It won the some award with the A8L for the best design in its category
Regards
--
Alexandre
2001 Audi A4 2.8Q
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I know the ML320 is assembled in the USA, but the parts are made in Germany (dealer said that, and it mentions that on http://www.mbusi.com ). I have also driven a 3-series BMW and an E320 and I loved driving those too, so the ML was not my only basis for comparison. I haven't driven an A4, but I suspect it would be really nice.
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I can think of a lot of good reasons to buy an MB: resale value, aesthetics, safety, innovation etc.
Let's be honest though--superior reliability over Japanese cars is most definately NOT one of them.
h
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Looking at the reliability rating of the ML320 I find it very hard to see any quality benefits over Japanese (or even many American) cars.
Good luck in your search, just don't be surprised if you get what you are looking for... (That's if your VW ownership experience has not already shed some light on the situation).
Ron.
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of
shed
That is why I am asking in here, I might not know enough information. I wanted to know what are good cars in that price range that I won't regret in the future. Thanks for your disparaging comments.
Steve
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given your requirements, might i suggest a late-model (1993) 190E 2.5-16V? will outperform any beamer except the latest iterations, was beautifully built, and with a comprehensive service record (and not too much insane driving on your part) will see you beyond 200,000 miles without major fuss. just my 0.05euros.

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Convertibles hold their values better. Don't overlook a used BMW or Saab convertible.
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