Last April, I traded in a 1998 BMW 3-series for a 2002 A4. I don't
regret the move. They're very different cars to drive, so if you're
used to one, you might find the other something of an acquired taste.
After test-driving the Audi, I was really unsure of myself. After
sleeping on it, I decided to go ahead. I don't regret it.
To answer your question, though, I think that the Audi build quality
is at least as good as BMW's, if not better. The visible finish is
certainly at least as good. It's too early to be certain what the
maintenance costs on the A4 will be, but I have difficulty believing
that they'll prove as bad as the GBP1200/year that I paid the local
The seats in the Audi are *much* more comfortable. (The BMW's driving
seat was so bad - no lumbar or lateral support - that it caused
sciatica and I replaced it with a Recaro.)
The driving position is better. (The steering wheel and pedals are
straight in front of me, where the BMW's were offset a bit. The gear
lever is slightly further back, and thus easier to reach.)
The Audi gearchange is slicker (both cars have manual gearchanges),
though not as easy as in my father's VW Golf.
The BMW was very susceptible to sidewinds. This is far less of a
problem in the Audi.
The BMW scores on overall driving experience. The engine is smoother
(straight-6 2.5l in the BMW, V6 3.0l in the Audi). the BMW was better
balanced and, once I got used to rear-wheel drive, the handling was
easier. Rather to my surprise, I actually preferred the BMW's
rear-wheel drive cornering to the Audi's, even though the latter is a
quattro. The Audi might have power to the back, but its tail is a bit
Power/litre is about the same - roughly 70bhp/l. I can certainly feel
the extra power that I have in the Audi, even though it's a heavier
I've been driving Quattros since 1984 and wouldn't buy anything else.
My wife drives a Lexus SUV, but when the new Q7 comes to the states,
that will be her next car.
In over 20 years of Audis I have had very few issues with their
quality or reliability. I replaced a heater core on a 1990 Turbo Q
wagon, and a transmission seal on a 2000 A6 4.2. With five Quattros
in more than 20 years, the above is the only problems I have
encountered, except for normal wear/tear like shocks, brakes, tires.
My first three Qs all had manual transmissions that performed
flawlessly, and I never replaced a clutch (more than 100K miles on
each of them.) In 22 years of Audis, I have never replaced a muffler
(and I live in New England with lots of salt on the roads in winter
BMW is also a great car, and it's rwd makes it so. It handles
differently than any Audi, much less understeer and is much easier to
"toss" around. I believe the new BMW M5 would eat my RS6 on a road
course, but throw in rain or snow and the RS6 would win.
1984 4000 Q
1984 Porsche 944 (oooops, forgot that one)
1990 5000 Turbo Q. wagon
2000 A6 4.2
2003 RS6 (Current ride until the new RS6 comes ashore)
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