In Reply to: Make Me Feel Better About My 323i on Order posted by Mark on April 12, 1999 at 18:06:03:
: After carefully shopping for a Passat optioned out the way I wanted it: six cylinder engine, leather, with an automatic (including the worthless tiptronic feature) I discovered it would be about the same price as a 323i in its standard configuration, so on a hunch I went over to the BMW dealer and test drove the 323i--- and loved it. I assume that the Beamer is just a better car than the VW, so I ordered it. Am I right? I really am not into status shopping so that wasn't an issue for me; in fact I've always been a reverse snob so I'm totally freaked out that I did this. somebody please justify this for me!
I'm in exactly the same boat as you. I read all the reviews about the new 323i and drooled over it's styling, but never really considered it as a potential buy. BMW's have always been cars that "other people" buy. (I grew up near a rich neighborhood...filled with people who got cars as status symbols more than their appreciation for it as an automobile.) After seeing the base price of the new 323, though, I wandered into a BMW dealership and started to change my opionion very rapidly.
I was looking at VW's (New Jetta, Passat) and even the Audi 1.8T, and found that it was difficult to get what I wanted without approaching the 323 in price. The VW GLS-VR6 is a great car, but I'm 6'4" tall and even with the new tilt/telescoping steering wheel, I find it cramped in legroom. Also, it doesn't have traction control...if you get the $25,000 GLX model, only then to you get a very primitive form of it. At that price: Get the BMW!
The Audi A4 1.8T is neat, but really, I'd rather have a more powerful engine. Getting the 2.8L V6 rockets the price up $4000. Again, at that price: Get the BMW!
The Passat is a cheaper alternative to the A4 and it has more head and shoulder room. This was the only serious competitor on the basis of performance and headroom. But really, by the time you get a V6 Passat with a few options, you are a few $1000 from a comparable 323i. And I just can't see myself driving a Passat...I don't know what it is about the styling but it doesn't do it for me. The handling is also more boat-like than the Jetta, which is already inferior to the BMW.
So for just a few extra grand, I get a totally kick-butt car.