BMW 1 series hatchback, Volvo V40, or Audi A4 Sportback?
June 23, 2013 9:48 PM   Subscribe

Buying a car. Prices on imports are way down right now in Seoul, so we've moved up from the Hyundai i30 we'd planned on and are looking at the BMW 1 series hatchback, the Volvo V40, and the Audi A4 Sportback. (The Audi A3 Sportback would be our choice, but it's not available in South Korea.)

I know the Volvo and the Bimmer aren't available in the US, but I'd still love some advice from more car-savvy folks out there, of which I am not one.

Of the three, the Bimmer is the cheapest (for the model/options we like).
posted by Joseph Gurl to Travel & Transportation (7 answers total)
This is hard to answer without knowing your personal automotive wants/needs. If you have a list of pros/cons of each model that would be helpful as well. However, if you just want anecdotal opinion, I currently have an A3 TDI and absolutely love it.
posted by bizwank at 10:43 PM on June 23, 2013

Response by poster: Good point:

-My wife will be primary driver
-We'll do mostly city driving
-We'll get an automatic transmission
-It snows once or twice a year here but it rains heavily much more than that
-We don't have kids so back seat size isn't a high priority (no two-seaters though)
-I'd like a little oomph, but my wife is more concerned about ease of use & safety features
-The car will mostly be a grocery getter, but sometimes we'll hit the open road and when we -do, I want it to be fun

posted by Joseph Gurl at 11:59 PM on June 23, 2013

The 1 series BMW is a fairly nice little car that on the inside to me always felt fairly similar to the 3 series BMW. I like the way it drives but I would recommend you stay away from the 114i or 116i because they lack that little bit of oomph you were talking about. starting from the 118i I think you will be pleasantly surprised from how they drive.

also: they are small, which makes parking quite easy.
posted by krautland at 3:36 AM on June 24, 2013

The current V40 isn't available in the states, but two cars built on the same platform were -- the C30 and C70, and both are excellent cars. I have no problem recommending them*

Since your in a land not named "USA", you can get much more reasonable engines that we do here. I suspect the 1.6 liter I4 engine is more than enough for that car, but I'd be loathe to buy the 1.6D -- doubly so if towing a trailer is a theoretical possibility for you.

I'm down on Audi right now -- too many Audi owners I know are having reliability issues, and the current styling to me, frankly, sucks. However, that's a matter of opinion, if you like the looks, you like the looks. Finally, I wouldn't own one that isn't four wheel drive -- that's the whole reason to buy an Audi. All the engines in the Audi are good enough, at least if your buying a quatto (and, again, you should)

I've seen exactly one 1-series BMW, and I have no experience with them, so this is off spec sheets. I would avoid the 114i and 114d -- it's not a light car (1.5 US short tons empty) and 101/94hp doesn't give you a lot of "get out of the way" options, esp. if the cars loaded up with stuff. There will be a big difference in how the 116i and 116d drive over the 114i/d, and the 118i would be better yet, depending on driving style, but the 116i will get you to 60mph/100kph in under 10 seconds, which is enough in most places, and if acceleration is truly important to you, you'd not be looking at the diesels.

* Full disclosure: I own a 2011 C70 T5, and I have a friend with a 2012 C30 T5. That C30 is an effing *blast* to drive, but there's really no rational reason for something that size to have 250bhp.
posted by eriko at 7:56 AM on June 24, 2013

Best answer: I test drove a C30 a few years ago, and it's pretty much ruined me on cars forever. Jesus Christ, that thing was fun to drive. No clue if the V40 will have that same kind of pep, but I remember that driving the older S40 was a bit of a snooze.

The Audi will be peppy, but their cars have definitely gotten....tamer over the years. The feel is a little more luxurious, and a bit less sporty than it used to be. My ex had a 2011 A4, and it always felt like it was a smidge too big and would be a lot more fun to drive with a slightly firmer suspension. I liked Audi a lot more before they positioned themselves as luxury brand -- I drive a 1999 A4, and even though it lacks the oomph of a newer car, I still find it a lot more fun to drive than some of the more recent Audis. (I'm also a bit of a car luddite, in spite of otherwise being a huge nerd. I don't like feeling like I'm piloting a spaceship when I drive.)

Quattro is very nice to have (but doesn't have much to do with the engine). Probably unnecessary in Seoul, but if you've got money to burn, there are far worse features to spend that money on.

The reliability thing with Audi/VW seems to come and go in waves; I haven't heard too many recent horror stories. Their warranties are generally pretty good, but you should think about getting rid of it after 6-8 years, The parts are proprietary and the maintenance is expensive.

On the flipside, if you're not used to driving German cars, be careful to note the firmness of the suspension while you're out on your test drive. While they're nowhere nearly as firm as they once were (my 1999 A4's suspension could be described as "bone-rattling"), they are still a good bit firmer than most other cars. If you're doing a lot of city driving, you may find this unpleasant.

Apologies if this is somewhat more generic advice than what you were looking for, but I hope it helps!
posted by schmod at 11:27 AM on June 24, 2013

Response by poster: That's great advice--thanks.

The more info the better, so anyone else with any knowledge will be a huge help here!
posted by Joseph Gurl at 5:02 PM on June 24, 2013

Response by poster: (little late, but hey--ended up with a 420d...just fell in love with it and out of love with a friend's 120d, which wobbles mightily over 100km/hr...the Volvos I test-drove were nice, but just kind of soft and lumpy, with gross turbo lag)
posted by Joseph Gurl at 11:47 PM on December 14, 2013

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