Friday, October 9, 2009

BMW vs. Audi -- fight to the death

There is no denying that although BMW may not be the "Ultimate Driving Machine", they are great vehicles to drive.  Performance, stability, balance.  In fact, I owned two of them back-to-back.  There has always been this competition between BMW and Audi.  Historically, and based on user experience, Audi has always been the black sheep of this competitive family.

Audi was known in the 1990s and early 2000 as an unreliable vehicle (although my experience with BMW has been less than stellar).  The designs were traditional and uninspiring compared to the incoming E46.  In addition, they have fallen short of expectation in terms of handling and performance.  Audi is based on a FWD architecture -- with the engine sitting well in front of the front axle.  This design causes a very unbalance vehicle.  In their previous vehicles, as much as 60% of the weight of the car was biased towards the front axle. This translates to severe under-steering when the vehicle is pushed near it's limit.

BWM took advantage of this and created ads to make fun of that deficiency.

In 2005, the company started a major turnaround.  They started designing amazing (gorgeous) looking cars, focused on quality and reliability.  The company had perfected their diesel powered Le Mans car that won back to back championships.  In addition, in 2009, they completely redesigned the A4 using the A5 platform.  The interior of the new vehicle was as big as the outgoing A6, and the new 2.0T engine had as much torque as my old Porsche.  Because of this new decision, going forward, Audi will have a Front mid-ship platform similar to Infiniti G series and Nissan Zs, coming closer to the holy grail of 50/50 weight distribution.  The result should be a car much more balanced and better handling and much more competitive with their BMW counterparts.


Personally, I think BMW has taken a bit of a turn for the worse since 2005.  Chris Bangle pushed forward some controversial designs that I don't believe will stand the test of time.  With the onset of BMW reportedly developing a FWD based 0-series based on the next Mini platform.  Looks like BMW and Audi are becoming more and more alike.  

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