Choosing a German estate: A4, 3-series or C-class?

leviathan

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Hello again, everybody.

Now that my old A6 has broken down again, and this time the repair costs seem to have reached half the entire car's worth, I'm fed up and want to get rid of it. After some thinking I've decided I want a sensible German estate, with an automatic and something around 150-180 horsepower to move it around (fuel costs and insurance stay reasonable this way). It will be a demonstrator or a barely used one, under a year old and under 10kkm ("Jahreswagen") - so pretty much as new, just not quite. What I haven't decided on is whether it should be a diesel or a petrol, and which one of the three it must be: an Audi, a BMW or a Mercedes.

The Audi A4 is a nice all-round car, familiar to me in many ways, and a bit on the pricey side. Quattros with DSG and better motors are out of the price range, sadly - the ones I can afford are mostly the 1.8 TFSI and 2.0 diesels with multitronic and FWD, not exactly your driver's favorite. The 2.0 TDI only comes as a 143hp version, I've test-driven it, and it does feel somewhat underpowered on the autobahn.

With the BMW, I'm currently eyeing a 320d. It has more power to offer than the Audi (170hp), has RWD and a proper automatic instead of a stupid CVT. However, the ones with low mileage hover just around my price limit. I'm also not a huge fan of the looks, or of the interior... but if it's really as good a driver's car as many say, it might still be worth it.

The last option is a Merc C-Class. Currently, I have a test drive booked for a C200 Kompressor estate. With 183 horsepower, RWD and a simple 5-speed auto, it seems almost a better offering than the BMW, and the price is actually lower than the Audis. Fuel economy would be the only downside I can see, it's only marginally better than what my 2.4 V6 turns out now, but then it does have more power.

So, any ideas? I'm really quite undecided on this, so any comments or experiences are very welcome.
 

McRae

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How many kilometers a year do you expect to drive?

Without knowing that, I'd say get the 320d. Even if you can't afford it ;)
 

Jens

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You could argue it's german but what about the Opel Insignia? You'd have a better equiped car for the same money and with the 2.0CDTI with 190hp it's far from slow. And imho the interior is far nicer then the 3 series.
 

narf

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So you want a German estate? Get an MX-5! :tease:



Seriously though, don't get a Merc. You're too young for that.


PS: Obligatory Skoda plug: Considered Octavia estates? Should get lots more kit/newer car for less money.
 
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leviathan

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How many kilometers a year do you expect to drive?)
Not many. Currently it's about 10k a year, and I don't think it's going to change much.

You could argue it's german but what about the Opel Insignia? You'd have a better equiped car for the same money and with the 2.0CDTI with 190hp it's far from slow. And imho the interior is far nicer then the 3 series.
Hm, interesting, the Insignia hasn't occured to me at all for some reason. I'll definitely take a look at it, thanks.

As far as equipment goes, all cars I'm looking at are pretty much fully equipped - I definitely want aircon, GPS, mp3 playback, bluetooth hands-free, parking sensors (a reversing camera would be neat), cruise control, and if they fit the price, xenon headlights. I'm going to drive this car for at least 4-5 years, probably more, so it has to cover all the bases.

PS: Obligatory Skoda plug: Considered Octavia estates? Should get lots more kit/newer car for less money.
Also an interesting suggestion. Skodas get VW kit these days, don't they? So it'd be all the same equipment one could get from a fully-stocked Golf, but in a larger car... damn, even more choices now :)
 

LeVeL

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E30 M3!

I mean... Dad has an A4 Avant and its a pretty nice car
 

public

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W204 C-Class is a solid car. Ours is fault-free.
 

fluke667

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Easiest decision ever -> C-Class.
The A4 is a bit on the small side, the 3-series is seriously overpriced and the Insignia is cheap and nasty. (a friend bought a insignia ~6 month ago and i was surprised how bad it was)
 

Jens

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Easiest decision ever -> C-Class.
The A4 is a bit on the small side, the 3-series is seriously overpriced and the Insignia is cheap and nasty. (a friend bought a insignia ~6 month ago and i was surprised how bad it was)
That's strange, what was so bad about the Insignia? I test drove one last year and it didn't feel cheap in any way, I thought the interior was miles ahead of my friends Mondeo or the Passat of my grandfather.
 

narf

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Not many. Currently it's about 10k a year, and I don't think it's going to change much.
Going diesel may economically not be smart then. Here's an example based on a new mid-range Octavia. If you get half your money back after five years you will be about 800? out of pocket with the 2.0TDI compared to the 1.4TSI (that's list price minus resale value, fives years of taxes, 50k of petrol/diesel at 1.25?/1.40?). That does not take insurance into consideration, the TSI is a lot better off there as well. 16/19/22 for the TDI, 14/17/19 for the TSI. Judging by your age being two classes lower in Haftpflicht may save 100? a year or more. The 1.4TSI is a bit less powerful than the 2.0TDI (90kW vs 103kW), but it is also lighter.
If you buy a used car the 800? may be less, but the insurance penalty for going with what essentially is a Vertreterbomber (diesel estate) probably will remain.

Also an interesting suggestion. Skodas get VW kit these days, don't they? So it'd be all the same equipment one could get from a fully-stocked Golf, but in a larger car... damn, even more choices now :)
:nod: larger car, similar equipment, lower price, better looks.
 
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fluke667

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That's strange, what was so bad about the Insignia?
Unlike the other 3 it's quite noisy inside and it generally feels less "solid" (the "solid" thing is hard to describe but in a Audi A6 (his previous car) or a Merc you feel cocooned and separated from the environment, the Insignia feels much rougher and flimsier). The Interior isn't really bad but imho no comparison with Audi and Merc and the whole car looks worse than a 3-Series.
 

Jens

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Can't argue on taste ofcourse but I never liked how the 3-series looks. I won't argue that all 3 have a more quality feeling, I've been in several Audi's and the interiors are in a different league. I'd have a hard time myself choosing between an A4 (best interior), C-Class (best looks imo) and 3-Series (best driving experience).
 

leviathan

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I've done some research on the Octavia. Tempting, I like the looks and the kit, but it's a bit problematic in my case. The thing is, cars in a configuration I would want (Octavia Combi, 1.8 TSI, DSG, mostly filled options list) do not seem to exist much as demonstrators or Jahreswagen. A brand-new one would actually be OK from the price standpoint alone, but the Skodas do depreciate rather fast here, so I'd lose money there compared to a barely used A4 or a Merc in similar spec. Also, for a new car I'd have to wait a while, and seeing that the A6 isn't really safe to drive, I need the car asap.

With the Insignia, it's actually a bit similar. There are many fewer of "fitting" ones available around than there are of Audis, BMWs and Mercs, and the difference in price with similar kit is not as signifikant as one might expect. I'll still take a closer look at one at a local dealer in the next few days, since I never even sat in one. The exterior doesn't seem too bad, I think I actually prefer it to the 3-series.
 

McRae

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May I bring this topic further out on a sidetrack, by then suggesting a Ford Mondeo? The new one, with the 2-liter turboengine and Powershift. Doesn't look as good as the Insignia, but it sure is a better drive.
 

narf

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I've done some research on the Octavia. Tempting, I like the looks and the kit, but it's a bit problematic in my case. The thing is, cars in a configuration I would want (Octavia Combi, 1.8 TSI, DSG, mostly filled options list) do not seem to exist much as demonstrators or Jahreswagen. A brand-new one would actually be OK from the price standpoint alone, but the Skodas do depreciate rather fast here, so I'd lose money there compared to a barely used A4 or a Merc in similar spec. Also, for a new car I'd have to wait a while, and seeing that the A6 isn't really safe to drive, I need the car asap.
Obviously noone with an Octavia 1.8TSI DSG wants to let go of it :lol:

What are the new prices you're looking at? The manual 2.0TDI Ambiente+buttwarmers estate goes for 19800 over here, 21000 for Elegance+buttwarmers, 1.8TSI DSG Ambiente+buttwarmers for 20400, 21600 for Elegance+buttwarmers.



Oh, and do take the 1.4TSI for a test drive. Your current car has got an almost similar power-to-weight ratio, but probably less torque-to-weight than that tiny 1.4, it's about 400kg lighter.


PS: Superb 4x4 DSG with the 3.6 VR6 engine from the Golf/Passat R36? Only 30k?...
 
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equiraptor

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So you want a German estate? Get an MX-5! :tease:
Always!

More seriously, I don't really have a lot to add to this discussion. Estates, especially those available in Europe (the US doesn't get many) are not my specialty. But a friend of mine has an A4 Avant. It's a 2008. I have no idea how many miles are on it, but it takes a beating. It's his daily driver. It's a track vehicle. It does mild offroading (getting around the track grounds without paying attention to pavement, basically). It tows stalled and stuck (in the mud) vehicles off the track. And this guy's version of a daily drive involves J-turns on his way down the driveway. The car still looks great, drives great, etc., etc. I'm really impressed with its durability.

Oh, I've also gone drifting through the mud in it. It loved it.
 

Der Stig

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3er is a good choice- the 318d is the same motor as the 320 and 323, IIRC. A simple chip will remedy any lack in power. E90 interiors are not the best compared the A4s, but the A4s as mentioned by others, is a bit small. I can't really comment on the Mercs, but the W204 doesn't exactly have a very striking interior.
 
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