In Reply to: Have GSR; wondering about 328 vs A4? posted by H.T. Schultz on March 06, 1999 at 18:49:06:
I wanted a sporty and luxurious sedan for not over 30K. Note that this was sporty AND luxurious. I thought about a lot of cars:
Mercedes C class
My short list dropped to:
I ruled out the Passat because I was told by the dealer I couldn't get a 5speed in a V6 (too late I found out this was not true!)
I drove a first delivery 323 with an automatic. I also drove all combinations of transmission and engine in the A4.
I thought the 323 was a really nice car. The one I drove was loaded (I think with the premium pkg). I like its looks. I like the fact that this is the first model year for this body style.
But I thought the steering only felt so so. The engine was fine, but not motivating for me. I thought the interior was nice, but something just didn't do it for me.
I liked the A4 2.8 with 5speed the best of the A4s. I didn't like that it was later in its body style lifetime. I didn't like the fact that it was smaller inside. But I really liked the handling; the shifter was silky smooth. Steering was silky smooth and responsive. The engine was quiet and smooth.
I looked at prices. I really disliked the fact that on the 323, it is basically stripped. Cruise control - optional. Armrest - optional (only a 45 minute *easy* installation yourself! - geez, on a luxury car?). Fold down rear seat - optional. Alloy wheels - optional. Alarm system - optional. Electric seat - optional. Wood trim - optional. Fog lights - optional. All of these standard on the A4 2.8. I also thought the A4 had a more luxurious appearance in the interior - something that might not be important to those wanting only a 'sporty' experience. But you can't combine the sport and premium packages on the 323 - you have to trade off your desires. Not a problem on the A4.
Comparably equipped, the 323 was more expensive than the A4 2.8. So I let my heart win and bought the A4.
But I also think the 323 is still a great car. When I see one on the road, I am wistful about how I would have liked to have it. I'm sure if I bought the BMW, I would be thinking the same thing about the Audi. I guess I can't have both!