: Audi A6 4.2 Review

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Audi A6 4.2 Review

For years and years the luxury status-car of choice has always been either a BMW or a Mercedes-Benz. If you wanted to tell people you appreciated fine handling and sports roots, you drove a 3-series. If you wanted to tell people you're the sophisticated, yet understated type, you drove a 5-series or an E-Class. And if you wanted to tell people you have $250,000 in your bank account this very moment, and that you bathe yourself in wine, you drove a 7-series or an S-Class. So what did you say about yourself when you drove an Audi? Well, you didn't say a whole lot. Except maybe that you enjoyed a Volkswagen with some leather upholstery and an all-wheel drive system. Up until a few years ago, Audi's haven't achieved that level of symbolism that the other two high-end German makes have had all this time. And today, there's no question that Audi simply makes some of the very best driving and looking cars in the world. This particular review focuses on the current generation Audi A6, to be more specific, this very A6 has the 4.2L V8 - which produces 335HP. And it's also one of my other cars. Now, this first section is a direct comparison of the Audi's competition. If you want to, you can skip it...but I'd say it makes for an entertaining read.

Why Your Favorite Luxury Car Sucks (a.ka. The Comparisons):
It was precisely a year ago last year that the Audi was delivered to me. Now before anyone gets the wrong idea, I'm not rich. And in fact, I didn't buy this car new. This A6 4.2 is actually a 2005, the first year the redesigned model was made available. I bought it with 43k miles, for a price that was more than fair (thanks to the mega high gas prices of 2008, nobody wanted a 335HP V8 on their car lot), and still had a good bit of warranty remaining on it. You might be asking yourself why not go for the BMW 5-series? Or the Benz E-Class? Or an Infiniti M35? Acura RL, perhaps? And why not the Lexus GS? It's quite simple, actually. I didn't just wake up one day and say: "You know what? I want an Audi." It was a more refined process than that: I wanted luxury and sportiness tied together. So I started calling up friends to let me test drive their cars, and called up a few dealers to drive a few others.

Mercedes-Benz E-Class
It started out with a Merc E-Class. My buddy's dad was out of the country for a few weeks so he gave me the keys to the car for an hour. This E350 was a disaster. The interior was riddled with a hideous looking steering wheel that had buttons shaped to look like roaches. It had steering feel...no wait a minute, to say that it had "feel" is to imply I felt something. There was no feel to the steering, it is one of the most numb cars you could possibly drive. You can seriously wobble the wheel around a good 10-15 degrees and the car will move straight. For an executive car, the interior was tiny, and rear leg room, with even the most generously positioned driver and passenger is not ample at all. The car in RWD form felt fairly quick, but I needed the AWD, and the 4-Matic E-Class is a bit of a dog. I considered the V8 E500 4-Matic, but after seeing the interior and experiencing that pitiful steering, I ended my Benz search.

BMW 5-Series
So why not the 5-Series? Well, for one, it looks awful. The flame surfacing theme applied to the car, and dubbed by the Bavarian's biggest crux, Chris Bangle, made the 5-Series stand out in the worst possible way - my girlfriend says the rear tails look like whiskers when the brake lights are glowing. And to her, that's a compliment. Now I don't know about you, but I don't want anybody saying my car's ass looks like a cat's face. Now sure, it handles well. And yes, the interior is pretty nice. But the i-Drive system is a clutter of epic proportions, and the engines offered for the car initially were terrible. Because I was looking for a used car, I couldn't opt for the all new twin-turbo 535i. And because I wanted power, that meant the inline-six motors were all pretty lacking to deliver the goods. And unfortunately for me, BMW never matted an AWD system to the V8s earlier on (they do now, though).

Infiniti M35x
I said no to the Infiniti M35x because, well, quite frankly, I don't like Japanese luxury cars. I used to drive an Infiniti FX35, and even though I liked that car, once I stepped foot into a rivaling German, that appreciation quickly faded away. Besides, the M35x is essentially an FX35 with a different shell, so why not try something new? But for the curious, the Infiniti M is actually not a bad car. It's a solid handler, with great steering feel, a beautiful interior, and ample room. But, I never liked Infiniti's ATTESA "Intelligent AWD" system, because of it's design. It's 100% RWD when you're just driving about, but can send power to the front wheels when it detects traction issues. The system is actually quite stupid, because it isn't what I'd call fast when it comes down to delegating that power. In the snow the FX was dreadful and scary to drive, because you actually felt the rear of the car give out first, then feel power at the front wheels, and then feel the car straighten out. The system's brains were pitifully slow to react, and man did it make for some hard times climbing out of snow when the plows would bury the car. There is a "Snow" button you can flick on which locks torque at 50/50 front and back, but it completely killed the throttle response, requiring you to push the pedal 3/4 down just to get even the slightest bit of movement (I'm not exaggerating, either). And that created another problem, because if you pushed just a bit more than 3/4, the transmission would shift down and give you too much power...so, no, I'll pass on the Infiniti. It was a close 2nd, though.

Lexus GS350-AWD and Acura RL
So why drive two other Japanese cars, the Lexus and the Acura? Well, I figured maybe one of them would surprise me. I found an AWD Lexus GS350, and I happen to think they're quite beautiful cars. Pretty quick too, with a nice interior. But one turn around a corner, and I was totally flabbergasted. That is to say, I wasn't impressed. The Lexus and Benz were easily tied for a lack of steering feel, but at least the Benz's body remained somewhat flat and didn't roll like a fat kid that tripped over his untied shoelace down the stairs. The chassis was absolutely awful. How can a car look so amazingly sporty, so elegant, so aggressively low, with such sharp lines, drive like it's on a suspension made out of butter? I really liked the GS, up until I took a turn and I had to walk away. Then came the Acura RL, or the Honda Legend as the Europeans may know it. The exterior of the car is, well, a bit Honda-ish. But the interior was simply bonkers, it was like stepping foot into another world of automobiles. I played around with the tech toys inside, liked the rear-leg room, and found the trunk adequate. I went on a test drive and thought the car handled extremely well, which was a by-product of the SH-AWD system - which is more befitting of the "intelligent" label, than the Infiniti. But the power wasn't all there. The 290HP V6 wasn't enough to propel this 4100lb spaceship with speed, especially not with a meager 256lbs/ft of torque.

Audi A6 4.2
And then, it came time to drive the Audi. I had found a number of A6 4.2s, and even with the ones I didn't buy (odd smells, physical defects, interior blemishes, etc.), I just knew this was the car I wanted. The Audi A6 4.2 simply does everything. It has the room the E-Class didn't have. It has the amazing interior and gadgetry the Acura RL does have. It has more power and punch than the Lexus GS350, with a motor that is much more refined. It has a functioning and easy to use multimedia unit, unlike the BMW. It has an AWD system that is, without question, the best in the world; as this QUATTRO unit sends 60% of the power to the rear, and 40% to the front. That means you to stay safe, and yet still have some fun in the corners with that throttle. It also has the looks, mixing beautiful with unassuming. The soft and round lines move to the rear of the car, where it gets a bit more angular and sharper. And the profile is one of the earlier examples of the "Four-Door Sports Coupe" look that Mercedes popularized with their CLS. That pinched C-pillar in the rear runs all the way to the trunk and makes you assume that headroom is tight, but it isn't. And that face, with the massive grille, and those beautiful headlights is menacing, yet subdued.

V8 Powaaaah!
The A6 4.2 is a terrific car. It even handles well enough, and provides the proper steering feel that actually changes based on your speed, thanks to the Servotronic unit, which can be removed in 20 seconds, if you're looking to firm up the steering. The 335HP grunts and moves like a banshee, allowing you to hit 60MPH anywhere between 5.7-5.9 seconds, all depending on the conditions and type of launch. The 1/4 mile will end in the mid-14 second range, with the A6 trapping anywhere between 95-97MPH. But things get crazier, because unlike your typical V6, which begins choking past 100MPH, this big and burly V8 powers along all the way to 140 without breaking a sweat. You never get the sensation that you've hit a brick wall, and you're struggling to reach top-speed - it's effortless for this giant sedan. The Tiptronic 6-Speed transmission also helps alleviate this high-speed brick-wall issue, as well. And I guess much to the snarl of Volkswagen's and Audi's designers, we have Porsche's engineers to be thankful for - it is their transmission, after all.

Factory Vroom, Vroom Options? Engines. Suspensions.
There are numerous motor options for this car now, and I'd strongly advise against the A6 3.2 (which was actually powered by a 3.1L V6). It's 255HP output makes the A6 an utter bore and boar to drive. The 3.2 has since been replaced this year with the A6 3.0T (which is actually supercharged, not turbo'd), shooting out 300HP and 310lbs of torque! And after 2007, the V8 in my car saw some improvements, with a power bump from 335HP to 350, and an increase in twist from 315TQ to 325TQ. As much as I love V8s, the all new supercharged 3.0L motor is the one to get, as aftermarket ECU tunes have bumped power up to over 400HP, with torque reaching 450lbs! That's practically Audi S6 performance, for thousands less - and that's just mind boggling. A Sports Package is a must for the A6, as it provides a firmer, lower suspension, and much more supportive seats. The seats in my car are extremely comfortable, but not very supportive, so a sharp turn here and there can be unsettling for myself and my passenger. Also, with the suspension sitting lower, the A6 simply looks much better, as the giant wheel-gap in my A6 really gets on my nerves...but I plan to fix that with a set of Eibachs or OEM Audi S-Line Springs.

No Pompous Douchery Here: This Bose is Heavenly
The interior of my car is optioned with the Amaretto leather, a mixture of brown and orange that has served me nothing but compliments from every guest to have entered this machine. The sound system is a 10-speaker Bose unit that is, without a doubt, the best audio setup I've ever listened to. And normally I associate Bose units with the crap I've been exposed to in my 350Z, among other Infinitis and Nissans (many of which are actually Clarion units, with Bose speakers). But this one goes to show that Bose pulls no stops and cuts no corner for a high-end German car. There are two powerful subwoofers pounding in the rear, tweeters that bring out the highest of highs, and door mounted speakers that magically pulsate their mids in addition to doling out their own bass notes flawlessly. The entire setup is simply marvelous. And not to sound like a pompous douche, but it's really worth listening to some orchestral tunes on this thing.

What's Longer: This Review or the Car's Options?
This particular A6 is practically a fully loaded car, missing only the S-Line package, and the very rare air-suspension (less than 3% of A6s have these). In my A6 you will find keyless start/stop buttons (manual key start optional), keyless entry (simply walk up to the door and pull handle), MMI system with navigation, 6-Disc & 10 Speaker Bose system, heated front seats, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, heated mirrors, privacy glass, memory seats based on keyfob, reverse tilting mirrors, swiveling bi-xenon headlights, and...honestly, it's actually pointless to keep going on, because the list of features may end up longer than this review. I'll put it to you this way, it's been a year since I've had the car, and I'm STILL discovering new options and features.

Don't Be a Cheap Cock.
Furthermore, because you are buying a German car, make sure that after your manufacturer's warranty expires, you go and get yourself an extended one - either Warranty Direct or one that your local Audi dealer provides. Two days after the factory Audi warranty expired, the MMI (multimedia interface) system decided to crash and burn on me. Luckily, my new warranty coverage took effect and covered the $1600 repair. The cost of the warranty was $2400 for an additional four years, so as you can see, it paid most of itself off already. Maintenance is also pricey on an Audi, with service intervals costing anywhere between $200-450. But, many Audi dealers offer Audi care for $600, and it covers service intervals up to 100,000 miles. So there's some consumer advice for you, don't just buy an Audi because you think you can afford it - that just makes you a cock. Buy an Audi if you *know* you can also afford the $3000 in warranty and maintenance coverage. Because quite frankly, these can be very temperamental cars, but the driving experience is extremely rewarding.

Hey, Is This V8 Secretly a Hybrid?
And I can't believe I forgot one of the most crucial elements to this car...the gas mileage. Don't gasp in horror. It's actually one of the very reasons why I so aggressively pursued this V8, because after doing some research, I realized the motor is magnificently economical. Here in this catastrophic New York City traffic, this car can net you just over 300 miles before it tells you to refill (and you still have 3 gallons left when it does), trust me, that's an amazing feat. Elsewhere, you can easily get 400+ miles out of the tank before it tells you fuel up. The gas tank's capacity is the same as it is in an Infiniti FX35, both cars weigh practically the same too. And the Infiniti never once made it past 300 miles driven in NYC, the highest was something close to 280 miles, and it happened once. Meanwhile the Audi, with a much bigger and more powerful engine, delivers even better results than a Japanese V6. Now that's amazing.

This car is simply amazing, definitely one of the best sedans I've ever driven. And I've driven more than what I've just listed here.

12/6/2009 Arnold Katayev

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Comments (31 posts)

jerocarson
Sunday, December 06, 2009 @ 3:39:37 PM
Reply

But But, you said your next editorial would be shorter, it appears the reverse is the case.
i wish i could handle this, but BMW is still my favorite, i didnt have any reason to like any audi products. but this has slightly changed my view today.
thanks

Last edited by jerocarson on 12/6/2009 3:43:07 PM

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ArnoldK PSXE [Administrator]
Sunday, December 06, 2009 @ 3:50:06 PM

Well, if you take out the bits that compare, it is shorter. But I felt like adding the comparisons in to give the reader an idea. Next week will be the BMW M6.

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www
Sunday, December 06, 2009 @ 6:30:42 PM

Yea I been waiting on that M6 review.

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Wage SLAVES
Sunday, December 06, 2009 @ 9:12:51 PM

Niice, the M6!

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jerocarson
Sunday, December 06, 2009 @ 4:10:30 PM
Reply

Simply WOW, i cant wait, NEXT week would be the week of my Favorite Cars.

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Cavan
Sunday, December 06, 2009 @ 4:17:41 PM
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liking the review arnold, i have an audi A3, all mercs break, and BMW drivers are cocks its offical, i love VW and Audi cars.

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Gone
Sunday, December 06, 2009 @ 4:26:47 PM
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I have heard a lot of people complain about VW being the biggest producer of lemons. I almost bought a Golf GTI, but backed out because of the engines having oil problems. I am not sure about Audi, since it is made by VW.

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___________
Sunday, December 06, 2009 @ 11:31:35 PM

thats not true.
my mate jeff has had a standard petrol golf for 4 years and not 1 thing has gone wrong.
and he has absolutely no idea how to drive, its a miracle his clutch has not burnt yet.
they maybe ugly as hell and the interior is as boring and ugly as a half eaten mango, but the build quality is very high.
wish i could say the same as the Peugeot 206 GTI the car i have now.
beautiful car but build quality?
might as well buy a kia!
proof you cant judge a book by its cover.

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Gone
Monday, December 07, 2009 @ 2:20:26 PM

@_____________________________________________

I guess in Europe they have higher quality control, but in the US most VWs are built in Mexico. It is a proven fact that any car made in Mexico has poor quality control, just read every review about cars built in Mexico and you will see.

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BTNwarrior
Sunday, December 06, 2009 @ 4:43:59 PM
Reply

always liked the look of audi's and they always end up being one of my starting cars in GT games so thanks for explaining why they are such good cars

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MRSUCCESS
Sunday, December 06, 2009 @ 6:27:05 PM
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Audi cars never captured my attention unless you're talking about the Audi R8 lol. If you wanted a sophisticated look and sports performance why didn't you mention Infiniti G35/G37 Coupe?

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ArnoldK PSXE [Administrator]
Sunday, December 06, 2009 @ 9:09:24 PM

Dude, I think you missed the point of this review. I was not shopping for a coupe. I already have one of those, a 350Z. I needed a large AWD sedan.

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www
Sunday, December 06, 2009 @ 6:50:32 PM
Reply

I admired that Benz E-Class for some time now, am surprised it has quite a number of lows. I thought those Infinitis and Lexuses were made in the US until you mentioned Japan.

But that Lexus GS350 looks real classy and though the Audi might be the best, the regular man on the streets will go for the looks to impress the females ;)

In the end I'd like to drive any of those cars that sucked cause I know my 1989 Galant sucks harder than any of'em lol

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LowKey
Sunday, December 06, 2009 @ 7:14:54 PM
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LOL! Your cars ass looks like a cats face. That's hilarious.

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www
Sunday, December 06, 2009 @ 7:22:25 PM

But I actually know quite a number of folks who LOOK LIKE their cars.

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DemonNeno
Sunday, December 06, 2009 @ 7:24:31 PM
Reply

Good read! I agree with the comparisons. Esp the Benz. What a terror their interior has become. How about the lack of a frickin oil dipstick?! Gotta let a computer in-dash display your oil level. Disaster.

2010 Taurus SHO. :) At it's price (and compromises) it's one hell of a bang for your buck. $43k fully loaded with massaging seats.. 365hp/350ft-lbs and a 1/4mi pass of 13.8 in a 4300# AWD car is quite respectable. Realistically, it sees about 17mpg city/20-23mpg highway. ECU tune has gotten a guy aliased as Beefcake runing 12.75 in the quarter... All I can wait for is the shrinking of this chassis and a weight loss.

Too bad Ford was on a nearly bankrupt budget when they made it.. Brembo brakes, firmer active suspension and a manual 6spd along with the auto 6spd would've been great! :)

I'd like to see that review! ;)

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Sunday, December 06, 2009 @ 8:41:49 PM
Reply

I would just like to add something about the M35x, 'cuz I got a chance to play around with the Intelligent AWD and the Snow button today.

I'm certainly not doubting the issues Arnold mentioned about the FX model, but perhaps they've made the system a little better over time. My M35x is a 2007 and after testing it out on a snow/ice-covered parking lot, I found that it functioned much like any AWD car; the transferal of power to the front wheels is barely noticeable, UNLESS you're moving faster (faster than you should be moving in such conditions, I think).

I'll also add that the throttle response must've gotten a lot better because while there is definitely a difference, I didn't notice it hardly at all when on the road. And I HATE it when I step on a pedal and not go anywhere.

All that being said, there are multiple reasons to envy that Audi. Everyone should love those cars. The only difference for me is that my father and I do most all the general repairs and fixes for any of our cars, and he absolutely refuses to deal with the "illogical insanity" that goes into the making of any Audi. My mother had an Audi wagon a little while ago and I think my dad was about ready to go hang himself when he had to replace the struts. ;)

Last edited by Ben Dutka PSXE on 12/6/2009 8:45:46 PM

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ArnoldK PSXE [Administrator]
Sunday, December 06, 2009 @ 9:08:02 PM

Yeah, I've heard that there are variations to the snow button as well. It's all too confusing, and in my opinion Nissan/Infiniti was too stupid to create just ONE solid and working system.

And yes, Audis are crazy insane to work on. Everything you fix on that car is monitored by the car's ECU, including something as minuscule as the license-plate light-bulb - I'm not even joking. And the only way to gain access to the car's core ECU is through a system called the VAG-COM (Volkswagen Audi Group Computer).

What's cool is that once you learn the VAG-COM operating system, you can simply plug into your car straight from your own laptop and customize virtually EVERYTHING about the settings. It's simply insane how much technology is behind an Audi, it practically runs on its own operating system like a computer.

But like I said, don't buy one without a warranty.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Sunday, December 06, 2009 @ 9:27:44 PM

Yeah, I'd just much rather have a standard AWD system myself. I guess the reason they give you the option to switch is to save a bit on gas, but we're not talking about much.

But I'm with you on the GS350. I would've gone that way - more of a true AWD system - but as you said, that thing is a YACHT around turns. At least the M35x doesn't feel like such a complete 180 from my Z. And provided I can still get up my hill with the weird AWD I DO have, I'm satisfied. ;)

Last edited by Ben Dutka PSXE on 12/6/2009 9:28:07 PM

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BikerSaint
Sunday, December 06, 2009 @ 9:52:46 PM
Reply

Before I completed reading the full sentence on that VAG-COM, I thought it might've been some kind of problem that could easily be correctable using some that special lube called VAG-isil *wink, wink*


Anyway, another nice review there, Arnold.

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___________
Sunday, December 06, 2009 @ 11:25:53 PM
Reply

wait a V8 thats even slightly economical?
how is that remotely possible?
my cuz had a CSL i think it is, 2 door long convertiable V8 and it lives at the petrol station literally.
thats the sole reason he got rid of it and bought a honda civic type R, because petrol was costing him a arm and 2 legs.
thats one car i would like to see reviewed a civic type R.
im tossing up between that or a alfa 147GTA for my next car.
my head tells me to go with the honda because depreciation is no where near as bad as the alfa, and there much more reliable and parts are cheaper.
but than my heart is telling me to go with the 147 GTA because its faster, and O MY GOD! its beautiful.

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ArnoldK PSXE [Administrator]
Monday, December 07, 2009 @ 12:25:27 AM

It's a shocker, I know. The Infiniti FX35 barely went 250 miles before the light came on. This thing touches the 300 mark usually and then the light comes on - and that's with some spirited driving here and there. I'd reckon full highway, it'll get nearly 500.

It's a wonder this car, it really is.

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___________
Monday, December 07, 2009 @ 7:03:25 AM

impressive.
if you had the choice between a WRX, honda civic type R, alfa 147 GTA or golf GTI which would you choose?
only excluding the evo because ive heard its got massive turbo lag, torque steers like a cow and its a gas guzzler.

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ArnoldK PSXE [Administrator]
Monday, December 07, 2009 @ 1:22:11 PM

The Alfa 147 by a longshot. There's no contest.

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___________
Tuesday, December 08, 2009 @ 6:43:00 AM

really?
even though they depreciate 50% the moment you drive them out the dealership, and despite they have the reliability of a launch day xbox 360?
i really love the alfas because they are beautiful.
but ive bought things over the years because of looks and regretted it big time.
like i bought the Motorola V3 razor because its a slick looking phone.
but its the biggest piece of crap i have ever owned.
ill have to see what i get for my car first, though i wont get much since almost everything on it is broken.
shame they dont make MGs anymore i would go for that in a heartbeat but there so hard to find here in AU and dam expensive.

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G8GTdriver
Monday, December 07, 2009 @ 9:49:16 AM
Reply

So I guess a PSXE admin requirment is owning a cool car? lol 350Z, A6.. M6 next week. :)

Great write up! I've never driven one equipped with the V8 but you are absolutely correct in that the 3.2 is a bore to drive if you like to move at a remotely quick pace.

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N a S a H
Monday, December 07, 2009 @ 11:36:55 AM
Reply

I love big Audis. Especially the Avants. I've never driven one, but I've heard a few and they always sound amazing.

My friend has a 2.0T Avant and it is very quick when you consider it's a two litre wagon...

Great review Arnold. Can't wait for the M6 one :)

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Zorigo
Monday, December 07, 2009 @ 11:48:30 AM
Reply

Can i just ask, how about a review on small hatchbacks please, because it'd be nice to know what is the best to get, as the golf is being a bit beaten around the head, i'd like to know.
Fiat 500 maybe?
Anyway, this was a great editorial, nice comparisons as to why this is the best choice. this is some great stuff, keep it up.

Last edited by Zorigo on 12/7/2009 11:49:14 AM

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ArnoldK PSXE [Administrator]
Monday, December 07, 2009 @ 1:23:18 PM

We don't have Fiats in the USA yet. But worry not, my mother has a 2009 VW Golf and I'm considering a review of that - great little car that is.

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N a S a H
Monday, December 07, 2009 @ 1:42:56 PM

Wouldn't you like it more if Arnold reviewed a gold plated AMG merc though? ;)

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___________
Tuesday, December 08, 2009 @ 6:47:07 AM

golfs are a brilliant car, quite fast too for what they are.
but the interior, OMFG it is so boring and ugly.
ive seen better looking interior from Hyundai or Suzuki.
i know the golfs are cheap but style is not that expensive, everything looks like a box.
the steering wheel is so flat, has no feel or pressanse to it.
my 15K peugeot 206 GTI looks better than my friends 25K golf.

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