Date registered: Dec 2005
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RE: WHY MERCEDES??
I just switched from a 2000 A6 2.7T to a 2002 C32 AMG and after a few weeks, I come away feeling that the Mercedes has better fundamental engineering than the Audi. I loved the Audi's interior. It was and is superior in materials, appearance and layout. No doubt, Audi has mastered interiors. The Benz seems stuck with some old-school interior quirks and switches, and not much to impress.
On the road, it just seems like the Benz is a better machine. To an extent, it comes from the design philosophy. Audi starts with a front-wheel-drive architecture upgraded to AWD. That's a compromise in weight distribution and it forces the engine way out front, which affects the look of the car. The Benz is designed as RWD from day one and that yields a better balance. Audi is a subsidiary of Volkswagen, and a lot of the smaller and bigger hardware is shared between models. Some of it is fine, and some is not. Everything in a Benz is Benz.
Last is the image. I always identified closely with the Audi image and I was an Audi owner starting in 1992. Back then Audi in the US was an odd-duck. It really had a small following, and nobody had any strong pre-conceived impressions of the car. So people saw it for what it was -- and that was positive. Driving one made me feel smart and independent. Audi still lacks a clear image in the US, but it is more popular now.
Benz is the "old money" brand, but is also catching on as the "new money trying to look like old money" brand. That's too bad because I'd prefer to drive a car that's got less image-baggage. I'm honestly a little embarrassed to tell people what I drive because as a white male professional, I think it makes me look like a snob. But 350HP is what sold me on the car, and that makes it easier to live with the image! Other cars I considered:
> Audi S6 avant
> Saab 9-2 (basically a Subaru)
> Pontiac GTO (it's all about the HP)
I deeply respect BMWs, but their image in the US is contrary to everything that I stand for.