" Abuelsamid (2010) states, "this coupe is among the most attractive Audis in existence, it's probably one of the best looking coupes we've seen in decades." The Audi A5 had an Italian designer, who is credited with the slick, sexy, and sophisticated lines (Matras 2009).
The BMW 335i, on the other hand, looks functional. NiceDrivz (2010) states of the BMW 335i, they "don't look their best unless they are equipped with the sports package and its wheels and tires and are rear-wheel drive." Without the sports package upgrade, the BMW 335i "look a bit tippy-toe and anemic, as the increased ride height of the AWD versions undercuts the sporty mien that a fast coupe should have," (NiceDrivz 2010). The interior is no different. Stein (2010) calls the BMW 335i interior "austere" as well as "logical and straightforward," in keeping with the Germanic image and stereotype. However, the BMW 335i also has "a pleasant snarling exhaust note," (Stein 2010).
Consumer reviews laud both the Audi A5 and the BMW 335i. Of the BMW335i, one reviewer states:
"I didn't even go to Audi, those are way down on power. This car seems to be just the perfect blend of power and luxury, superior to the other two. I just love the turbo setup and the sounds of this car. I do mostly highway, when I drive normal the MPG is around 29, that's very good in my book, and when I want power, POW punch it and all the power I need is there," (cited by Edmunds)
That same reviewer gives the BMW 335i 5 out of 5 stars (Edmunds n.d.). Another reviewer states, "once I drove it I knew it was mine. I drove from Florida to Pennsylvania this weekend and it was a dream. This car handles better than any car I ever had, hugs the road without outside noise," (Edmunds n.d.). A few reviewers had bad experiences with the BMW. One called it "unreliable," and another said it was "a nightmare to own" (Edmunds n.d.).
However, the Audi fairs equally as well in consumer reviews. As with the professional reviews, consumers love the way the Audi A5 looks. One reviewer calls his A5 "drop-dead gorgeous," (Edmunds n.d.). The curves "show up better with the lighter colors," this reviewer stated (Edmunds n.d.). On the engine, the reviewer states he or she was "concerned about a going to a 4 cylinder, but this engine is really special," (Edmunds n.d.). Likewise, another reviewer was "apprehensive about the 4 cylinder engine" and was later impressed with the engine. The seats were described as "comfortable," but another reviewer adds, "but if they tell you can fit someone in the back seat forget it," (Edmunds n.d.). The car is described as being "an excellent value," (Edmunds n.d.). Although it has "enough pep to run with the rest," and "decent engine power," one reviewer plainly states, "I would not classify it as sports car class." Another reviewer lauds the engine in spite of "slight turbo lags," (Edmunds n.d.). Few if any reviewers nickel and dime their cars, because the Audi A5 and the BMW 335i are already considered luxury vehicles; anyone considering purchasing a luxury sports coupe is likely to consider splashing out for extras that may make the driving experience more personalized.
It is worth noting that Consumer Reports (2010) points out that the 2010 BMW 335i was one of several in the BMW portfolio that was recalled due a faulty fuel pump on all models "equipped with the twin-turbo inline six-cylinder engine," and which "feature BMW's direct fuel injection system."
Interviews with Owners
I interviewed one owner of the BMW 335i and one of the Audi A5, although the latter owned a 2011 model. Both owners were overall satisfied with their automobiles. The BMW owner stressed the performance of the car over the appearance, which was nearly the opposite with the owner of the Audi. The owner of the BMW said the car was a "dream to drive." The owner of the Audi did, however, state that the car was "powerful" and "great to drive." Both jokingly referred to the lack of space in the back seat for passengers. The Audi A5 owner sarcastically stated the cars would be wonderful for a soccer mom. Both owners referred to the bells and whistles and options like sound systems without complaint.
Interviews with Sales Personnel
Besides the obvious pitches, the sales personnel seemed honest and straightforward. I resonated more on a personal level with the staff at the BMW dealership, whereas the Audi dealership personnel seemed more standoffish. However, both dealerships seemed willing and eager to make and sign a deal. When asked honestly about the difference between the two cars, the BMW sales representative immediately stressed the superior engine performance of the 335i versus the Audi A5. When asked about the four cylinder engine in the A5, the sales representative at the Audi dealership cited information about the torque and said, "You should take it for a test drive and you will see what I mean."
Test-driving both a BMW 335i with AWD and one with RWD helped me to understand the difference. I did notice a distinctly different feel to the RWD in terms of suspension but the difference was not sufficient enough to impact a purchase for daily urban and suburban driving. Both cars offered a superlative driving experience. Acceleration was stunningly smooth with only the slightest turbo lag perceptible. Gear shifting was smooth, steering was amazingly responsive, and suspension was great on both cars.
I noted some differences between interior ergonomics and the interior layout including dashboard and center console. The BMW 335i has a much more streamlined, simplistic interior that reflects the functional form of the exterior of the automobile. Similarly, the Audi A5's interior has more pizzazz. The center console is angled towards the driver to a greater degree than it is in the BMW. There is a great sense of control as well as comfort.
Both cars have low seating positions; although I did not drive them one after the other, I seem to recall the Audi A5 sitting slightly lower or seeming so. These are both sports coupes with a low body position and one that makes the clutch and pedals very easy to maneuver with a toe-heel action. The difference in feel between the seating in the two cars proved relatively unimportant; both had ample lumbar support in the curvaceous and firm cushioning. I would describe the Audi's seats as cushier and a bit more luxurious but both hug the body. The driver is made to feel supported and comfortable but alert at the same time. Fully electronic seat adjustability adds to the ergonomic delights of both models, as expected. A brief sojourn in the back seats of both automobiles reveals what I had suspected: neither will turn me into a chauffeur for my friends.
The Audi A5 relies more on a graphical user interface for a multimedia console, whereas the BMW 335i has an old school approach. I did not prefer either; they both had their appeal. As far as the sound system is concerned, I like the fact that the Audi A5 comes with optional Band & Olufson set but I might not end up splurging on the Premium upgrade package. Both cars had decent sound systems, but the Audi's standard stereo had punchier bass and less tinny high end vs. The BMW.
Aesthetically, there is no contest between the 2010 models of the Audi A5 and the BMW 335i. The Audi A5 clearly wins the beauty contest with its visually more attractive and streamlined appearance. Although the 2011 model of the BMW 335i looks sleeker than its predecessor, the Audi's front grill is eye-catching as are its more sensual curves. Both the BMW and the Audi offer attractive and classy color schemes for both interior and exterior with luxury upholstering options befitting cars in their class. The real wood trim was a nice touch in the Audi A5.
The decision of which car to purchase is one that cannot be taken lightly. Cost and fuel efficiency are not minor considerations. Moreover, usage patterns impact final decisions. In other words, how I will be using the car has a strong bearing on my decision. Even a test drive cannot reveal all the various driving conditions and situations I find myself in on a daily basis. One of the problems with professional reviews is that they occur under ideal conditions, usually with a souped-up model. Other consumers may offer more realistic reviews of what the car is like on their daily commute to work, but geography, weather, climate, traffic, and other issues affect how the driver experiences the automobile. Issues such as urban vs. suburban or rural driving; parking; and the amount of highway driving one does are important considerations too. Based on a review of literature, interviews with car owners and sales personnel,…