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Convertible: Audi A5 or BMW 335 or older M3?


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#1 pdksca

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Posted 14 May 2012 - 07:00 PM

I've decided it's time to buy a convertible and have nailed my search down to three.


The Audi A5 (or S5).  
2009 -2011

or the

BMW  335
2009-2011 (hardtop)

or the

BMW M3
2008 soft top seems to be as new as I could afford


I guess I could be talked into something completely different, but my heart is in Bavaria ...or where ever they're made!


It has to be golfer friendly.  In other words, two bags and shoes and a couple of small soft luggage (gym bag size) pieces would have to fit.


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#2 JWells

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Posted 14 May 2012 - 07:14 PM

My buddy has had a fair amount of stupid problems with his 335 . It's under warranty but still a pain to take in for service.

#3 ap1_alan

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Posted 14 May 2012 - 07:33 PM

^ for that reason I'd make sure to get a CPO car for any of those choices.  

oh... and go with the m3 :ok:

#4 Thrillhouse

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Posted 14 May 2012 - 07:34 PM

i am currently driving a 2009 x5 4.8i and former audi owner. the bmw is a blast to drive but i have had tons of problems with it most of which have involved the electronics in one way or another. i felt the audi i used to own (06 a4 3,2) was more solidly built and gave me far less problems. i would buy another bmw if i was looking for a sports car that would be fun to drive but will never own another as a daily driver. my next daily driver will be another audi or a mercedes. if i was you i would be looking at the a5 and possibly the mercedes slk, the bimmer will surely be fun but if my experience is that it will give you more trouble.

#5 Jeembo

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Posted 14 May 2012 - 07:44 PM

In my opinion, the A5/S5 is an absolutely gorgeous car.  I REALLY love the E46 M3 though too.  I'd be hard-pressed to pick one.  Read up on reviews and go from there.


#6 pdksca

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Posted 14 May 2012 - 09:25 PM

Good insight, all.   I've owned a couple of Audi's over the last few years (but not a convertible) and they have been relatively trouble-free.  

I have always wanted an M3 ...but have considered them black holes of auto-repair.   The 2008 I was looking at had the SMG (Sequential Manual Gearbox) tranny ...I hear they can be problematic.

#7 hammy1983

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Posted 15 May 2012 - 06:32 AM

I love the look of the s5 and they are reliable.  PLus with the added power of it being an S it will make driving more fun.  I wouldnt go with the M3 if the S5 is on the table and the 335 is not really comparable to the other 2 IMO.

#8 mshills

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Posted 15 May 2012 - 07:37 AM

How long do you plan to keep the car and where do you live?

For a daily driver, think about the typical road conditions where you live.  If they are not good or marginal, I'd think long and hard about the M3.  They are a ball to drive, no doubt, but a 335i is no slouch, and much better daily-duty ride quality, particularly on less-than-perfect road surfaces.
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#9 mflores

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Posted 15 May 2012 - 08:23 AM

I had the same decision to make a few years ago (I was also considering an Amg). I chose the s5 for the ability to drive in the Chicago winters since it had all wheel drive.
Mine was a hardtop.

It was a great car and trouble free. The car gets lotsof looks and compliments. But after the bables started coming - I sold it - it was a fun 2 years.

Edited by mflores, 15 May 2012 - 08:26 AM.

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#10 mbbrewer

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Posted 15 May 2012 - 09:02 AM

M3.  Nothing better than rowing through the gears all the way to the 7500 rpm redline.


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#11 pdksca

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Posted 15 May 2012 - 10:28 AM

View Postmbbrewer, on 15 May 2012 - 09:02 AM, said:

M3.  Nothing better than rowing through the gears all the way to the 7500 rpm redline.

This is the emotional, visceral appeal!




#12 pdksca

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Posted 15 May 2012 - 10:31 AM

View Postmshills, on 15 May 2012 - 07:37 AM, said:

How long do you plan to keep the car and where do you live?

For a daily driver, think about the typical road conditions where you live.  If they are not good or marginal, I'd think long and hard about the M3.  They are a ball to drive, no doubt, but a 335i is no slouch, and much better daily-duty ride quality, particularly on less-than-perfect road surfaces.

I'm in Toronto, so (this last winter being the exception) we do suffer through a few months of nasty driving.  And I don't have the luxury of a winter car / summer car.  The quattro all wheel drive is appealing in that regard.

We also don't get a ton of snow here on the Great Lakes, so people seem to be fine driving convertibles through the winter.  Hope that's true.




#13 PedronNiall

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Posted 15 May 2012 - 09:08 PM

The Audi seems to give you everything you want without any real minuses. I had an A4 previously and loved it; definitely will be getting another Audi down the road. The only major issues I ever had were left front suspension glitches which unfortunately were the norm for the chassis that I had. Audi seems to have gone a long way in getting rid of all the quirks that are usually part and parcel of owning a German car. I don't think it would disappoint you at all.

#14 mshills

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Posted 16 May 2012 - 09:15 AM

View Postpdksca, on 15 May 2012 - 10:31 AM, said:

View Postmshills, on 15 May 2012 - 07:37 AM, said:

How long do you plan to keep the car and where do you live?

For a daily driver, think about the typical road conditions where you live.  If they are not good or marginal, I'd think long and hard about the M3.  They are a ball to drive, no doubt, but a 335i is no slouch, and much better daily-duty ride quality, particularly on less-than-perfect road surfaces.

I'm in Toronto, so (this last winter being the exception) we do suffer through a few months of nasty driving.  And I don't have the luxury of a winter car / summer car.  The quattro all wheel drive is appealing in that regard.

We also don't get a ton of snow here on the Great Lakes, so people seem to be fine driving convertibles through the winter.  Hope that's true.


Good info.  With that in mind I'd search for any BMW convertible you can find withOUT the sport pkg.  The Audi would be a good choice too.  I wouldn't sweat the AWD.  Is it nice?  Sure.  Is it necessary?  No.  A good set of Blizzaks will get you through the nastiest winter driving.

A Mercedes CLK might be worth a look too.

Any of these convertibles are plenty fine for winter weather -- they're damn near as well-insulated as a hard-top, so you've got nothing to worry about there.
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#15 heggy

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Posted 16 May 2012 - 09:17 AM

white people problems


#16 Jim Clark

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Posted 16 May 2012 - 09:42 AM

Any German car will have maintenance issues. I ended up suing Audi over a problem with the car that they refused to acknowledge, they said it was "normal" because they didn't know how to fix it. A person who my lawyer uses as an expert witness experienced the problem the first time he drove the car, he said it was most definitely NOT normal. They finally settled but my lawyer got a lot more money than me. I traded the Audi S6 on a Lexus RX400h.

I currently have a very low mileage 2001 BMW 330Cic. It has been pretty much trouble free. I'm meticulous about maintaining it properly. BMW's drive great, they are really fun. I haven't driven a M3, I'm sure it's a blast. Where are you going to use the M3 power? In our state (VA), anything 15mph over the limit or more than 80mph anywhere is a reckless. There's a judge in a nearby county that gives one day in jail for each mph over 90.

I bet you can find a good low mileage BMW 330 vert for a reasonable price. It's a fun car to drive and has plenty of power.

#17 pdksca

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Posted 16 May 2012 - 12:00 PM

View Postheggy, on 16 May 2012 - 09:17 AM, said:

white people problems

Posted Image

#18 pdksca

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Posted 16 May 2012 - 12:01 PM

Good advice all ...time to go shopping!


Posted Image

(and I guess I should tell my wife too ....)

#19 highergr0und

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Posted 16 May 2012 - 03:05 PM

Audi for what you're looking for.....  The M3 just isn't really a car you want to buy with a maxed out budget on just the note.

#20 gmetcalf18

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Posted 16 May 2012 - 05:49 PM

Get the Audi, I was on the prowl for a nice smaller sporty sedan, I tested tested and tested the big 3 euro brands and what I found after testing is in my opinion Audi>MB>BMW. If you have the s5 in your could be cars I'd go test drive one, and then forget about the rest. The standard quattro is worth quite a bit to me since I live in MI and I do a lot of driving, I wanted to get a coupe and look into the a5/s5 but I ended up getting an a4 because it was more affordable and covered everything I wanted and needed. The quality of the build and the interior was superioir to BMW, the MB may be a bit more advanced technology wise at least in the models I was looking at but the car it self the Audi is better no questions asked. You'll get opinions from everyone as to what they like so you should try them all but I wouldn't be suprised if you have 4 silver rings on your steering wheel when you have a new one to hold on to. I know my next car is going to be another audi, but I'm going to drive this one into the ground first

Enjoy whatever you decide on!

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#21 PZero

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Posted 16 May 2012 - 05:54 PM

A5 without hesitation. It looks better and by far has a nicer interior.
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#22 Thrillhouse

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Posted 16 May 2012 - 06:50 PM

If you are going to drive it in winter and still want the 335 get the xi (which I'm not sure if it's available in convertible or not). All wheel drive and decent snow tires work wonders in the snow.

#23 hammy83

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Posted 16 May 2012 - 08:13 PM

living north of toronto in barrie (way more snow in the snow belt)  you can get any of the 3 cars just do the proper reg maint and dont cheap out on snow tires.  I'd still do with the S5.  I would also get it sprayed, not with the minerial oil but with the slow creeping drip-less spray which is what I did with my 08 TL.

#24 Peter K.

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Posted 17 May 2012 - 02:30 AM

I had a 2002 (E46) M3 Convertible; while I must admit I loved that car, it did have more than its share of problems.  Thankfully, I can report that all of my problems were covered under warranty; the repairs would have cost a lot, though, if not.  Some of the problems were minor - constant squeaking where the top of the windows meet the soft top's frame - others were major - the SMG system broke down and left me stranded.  It completely locked up, so that the car couldn't even be moved to the side of the road.  However, they did fix it and I never had another problem with the SMG.  It went through tires relatively quickly, and M3 tires can be expensive; but it was all worth it for the performance - the engine (the sound!) and the handling were second-to-none.

Regarding golf, I had to take my woods out of my bag to fit my clubs in the trunk, even with the top up.  I've never had one, but I believe that a hardtop convertible's trunk will shrink even more than mine did with the top down.  Good luck shopping!

Edited by Peter K., 17 May 2012 - 02:32 AM.


#25 shootermcgavin2

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Posted 17 May 2012 - 02:24 PM

i'd take the s5 coupe, but if you're dead set on a convertible then i'd say the 335, i'm not a fan of softops.


#26 Bobcat43

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Posted 17 May 2012 - 07:41 PM

Have a '08 335i not a convertible. But one hell of a fun car to drive. One hell of a PITA with stupid electronic and fuel pump issues, too. But it's a CPO. Highly recommend the CPO if you go used BMW. Good luck.

#27 Bobcat43

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Posted 17 May 2012 - 07:47 PM

View Postheggy, on 16 May 2012 - 09:17 AM, said:

white people problems

Correction: Euro-American Problems

...don't be so insensitive.

Edited by Bobcat43, 17 May 2012 - 08:06 PM.


#28 Scratch2Plus

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Posted 17 May 2012 - 08:01 PM

View Postheggy, on 16 May 2012 - 09:17 AM, said:

white people problems


Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image  

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#29 EK16

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Posted 18 May 2012 - 01:44 AM

M3 is a poor car for anything other than a perfectly smooth road. The best way I can describe this car is just raw power and harsh ride. It's basically a toned down track car, but it's no where near as comfortable driving a Lexus or Mercedes.   The new one is much smoother and is better for all around driving. Also this car has a very tight trunk. I can only get 1 golf bag in there and to do 2 bags I need to pull the woods out of one of the bags.  

I've had one for 5 years - every month I say I want to sell it and buy a new car. Then once a month I feel the urge to redline it and decide to keep it, but it is definitely running on borrowed time.

The 335i is a lot smoother but I've had 2 friends who have them and both of them have had problems. I wouldn't get this car unless it was leased where fixing things isn't your problem. I have driven this and it's basically a more refined and tamed M3. Still has lots of power but is just really smooth overall. Great car.

Can't comment on the Audi, but the couple that I drove in the past I remember them being great. Since you live where it snows a AWD Audi seems like a no brainer.

Edited by EK16, 18 May 2012 - 01:49 AM.


#30 EK16

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Posted 18 May 2012 - 01:47 AM

View PostBobcat43, on 17 May 2012 - 07:47 PM, said:

View Postheggy, on 16 May 2012 - 09:17 AM, said:

white people problems

Correction: Euro-American Problems

...don't be so insensitive.

The phrase is actually "First world problems"


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