Ask AutoGuide No. 20 – BMW 335i xDrive vs. Audi S5

Ask AutoGuide No. 20 – BMW 335i xDrive vs. Audi S5

Crossovers and family sedans make up a huge part of the automotive market. These sensible, everyday vehicles are safe, spacious and efficient; in short they’re perfect for families, be them planned or… not. But for all their merits these cars are about as much fun as counting grains of sugar in a five-pound bag.

Unfortunately most people that e-mail Ask AutoGuide looking for advice are in the market for a sedan or crossover. Writing an advice column recommending the Mazda CX-5 or another Subaru is rapidly becoming less appetizing than prostate nuggets from a Kyrgyzstani drive through; goat meat can get so tough if it’s left in the fryer too long.

Kyrgyzstan-Goat

Like a medieval knight atop a snowy-white stallion Mohammad sent us an e-mail this week; his message rescued us from another round of automotive monotony. Here’s the scoop: He’s 17 years old and wants a sporty coupe that will “dominate the road.” He doesn’t need anything terribly fancy but the car’s got to have Bluetooth so he can wirelessly stream “killer beats.” His e-mail doesn’t specify but perhaps he’s a Bryan Adams fan (we kid, we kid). What we do know is that he’s Canadian, which severely limits his options because all-wheel drive is a must. Do you have any idea how hard it is to find a sporty two-door with all-weather grip? It ain’t easy.

Interestingly Mohammad’s got around $50,000 to spend, which is quite a budget for a teenager. He said he earned the money from various jobs and from the stock market. Perhaps we’ll share some car-buying advice in exchange for a few hot investment tips. We hear Enron is a good buy.

Suggestion #1 – 2013 BMW 335i xDrive

Information Card -- BMW 335i xDriveSo, Mohammad wants a fun all-wheel drive coupe with Bluetooth. Pretty simple specifications, but he also mentioned one other critical caveat: he’s not interested in a BMW 3 Series. Oh noes, what are we supposed to do? Well, naturally we’re going to recommend a 3 Series!

Here’s why he should consider a Dreier Reihe. The car is a living legend; it’s a cultural icon representing the best of what Germany has to offer, from fine craftsmanship to luxury appointments to Autobahn-bred driving dynamics. Its heritage reaches all the way back to the mid 1970s, and arguably beyond with vehicles like the legendary 2002.

Under the 335i xDrive’s hood is a highly-advanced straight-six engine, a BMW specialty. The company has clung tenaciously to this configuration for decades, and for good reason. Inline sixes are one of the only internal-combustion engine layouts with perfect internal balance. What does that mean? In simple terms they’re smooth, like smoother than a goose-liver pâté. Whether it’s at idle or redline you shouldn’t feel any vibration.

The 335i’s straight-six also features a turbocharger, an exhaust-driven power multiplier. All told it delivers an advertised 300 horsepower and an equal measure of torque, though its performance is a bit misleading. The engine feels considerably more powerful than that.

Aft of the bell-housing Mohammad has a critical decision to make; he can chicken out and get a six-speed automatic or he can do the right thing and opt for a slick-shifting six-speed manual. Thankfully the gearboxes are mutually fungible – there’s no additional cost for either one.

SEE ALSO: 2009 BMW 335i Review xDrive

And that’s unusual. BMW, along with other luxury automakers, loves to nickel and dime customers for little features that should be standard on a highfalutin’ car, things like Bluetooth phone connectivity.  Thankfully this mission-critical feature escapes the wrath of the Bavarian company’s accounting department. Other standard features include an eight-way power driver’s seat, imitation leather seating surfaces, push-button start and automatic climate control.

However, if Mohammad wants a sparkly paintjob he’s going to have to pay extra. The only no-charge, non-metallic color choices are red, black and white.

So, what does a no-frills BMW 3 Series coupe with all-wheel drive run these days? Well, out the door with no superfluous options the car should sticker for $47,725, including $925 in destination fees.

Suggestion #2 – 2013 Audi S5

Information Card -- Audi S5Beauty goes a long way; pretty people can practically get away with murder. FBI agents could find Adriana Lima with a bloody hatched in her hand surrounded by a pile of dead bodies and she probably wouldn’t even be considered a suspect.

Like a supermodel on the catwalk, Audi’s S5 is a stunner. Even after years on the market this car is still a breathtaking example of automotive design done right. Sure a Lamborghini will cause people on the street to stop and stare, but ultimately it’s like junk food for the eye. Conversely the S5 is clean and subtle; it will probably still look just as gorgeous in 20 years. If a Lambo is cotton candy, Audi’s coupe is like dinner at a Michelin-rated three-star restaurant.

Of course the S5’s interior is just as beautiful and well crafted. The cockpit is driver-focused, with the center stack angled toward the left-front seat. Leather and Alcantara simulated suede cover all of the chairs, which is a tremendous combination. Aluminum trim on the dashboard and doors is standard, though push-button start is a $550 option; for that price anyone ought to be able to twist their wrist with an old-fashioned key. Inside and out the S5 crushes BMW’s 3 Series with a sledgehammer made of elegance and good taste.

Under the Audi’s hood is a high-performance 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine, just like its competitor from Munich. But that’s where the similarities end. Instead of a perfectly balanced inline-layout the S5 features a more common – and arguably space-efficient – V-configuration. Additionally it utilizes a belt-driven supercharger to multiply the ponies in lieu of a turbo. Different strokes for different folks. Hey, why can’t I move the right side of my body?

The blown-six delivers a curiously alliterative 333 horsepower; torque clocks in at 325 lb-ft. The engine can be matched to either a silky-smooth six-speed manual transmission or an explosively fast seven-speed dual-clutch “S Tronic” automatic, which costs an additional $1,400. That’ a price worth shaking your fist at. All told the sprint from zero to 60 miles an hour should take an estimated 4.9 seconds. Sounds like ‘road dominance’ to us.

SEE ALSO: 2013 Audi S5 Review

Xenon headlights with LED daytime-running lamps are standard, as are quad exhaust outlets. Heated windshield nozzles are included in the base price as is the company’s legendary quattro all-wheel drive, two features that are a blessing for folks living north of the Arctic Circle. And just like the 3 Series if you want a fancy color you’ve got to pay up. White and black are the only no-charge hues. Inside three-zone automatic climate control, 12-way adjustable front seats and Bluetooth connectivity are also standard.

Undoubtedly the S5 is nicer than the 335, no questions asked, but it’s also a bit more expensive. A model with no additional add-ons stickers for around $51,000, slightly more than Mohammad would like to spend, but hey, we think it’s worth the extra dough; he can probably find a grand in his couch cushions to make up the difference.

DISHONORABLE MENTION

Japanese luxury brand Infiniti is in the midst of a major renaming effort. The company is completely changing its nomenclature, dropping G, M and EX prefixes and trading them in for the letter Q. 2014 model-year cars will be known as Q50 and Q60 for instance, while crossovers and SUVs will feature the QX prefix.

Infiniti-G37-IPL

The brand’s G37 coupe is their equivalent to the 335 and S5; it’s even available with all-wheel drive. Whether in sedan or coupe form the G is a competent and entertaining car for enthusiasts. It’s offered with a manual transmission and up to 348 horsepower in sporty IPL trim. So why does it get slapped with “Dishonorable Mention” status? The answer is simple. The renamed Q60 coupe is not available yet and we really want to test it! We literally JUST drove the Q50 sedan a couple days ago. Pick up the pace Infiniti!

As always, good luck Mohammad in your quest for a new car and thanks again for taking the time to Ask AutoGuide.

If you need a little assistance shopping for your next vehicle feel free to do the same. Send a short message to ask@AutoGuide.com. Let us know the basics of what you’re looking for. How many seats do you need? What size of vehicle do you want? How much are you willing to spend? With some of those fundamentals out of the way we’ll get busy to come up with two or three must-see vehicles that you’ll have to put on your test-drive list.

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