Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Cadillac ATS4 versus BMW 328xi review. And gratuitious ramblings :)

The following is my quick review on the Caddy ATS and the BMW 328xi.  Along with some gratuitous ramblings. 

So, a little background first.  I'm a 30 something single guy, looking for a car to get me to work (about 30 miles each way).  I guess I would consider myself a "car guy", in as much as I stay up to date on all the happenings in the industry.  Mistake me not, I am not claiming to be a car guy who can rebuild a hemi (Don't even know if that makes sense) or diagnose a problem with an alternator.  I did, however, change the oil in a Ford Fiesta at the age of 7 (My "father" told me I did a great job, however, I believe this was likely intended to assuage my ego--yes i had one...even back in the day :)

So I digress.  I really needed a car to get me from home to work.  My time frame was about 1-2 days for purchase.  Recently I've been concerned with my carbon footprint (or so I say to certain individuals of the opposite sex who would be impressed by this), therefore I was looking for a car with more than 10mpg...as my track record would entail, I haven't been the most environmentally friendly person....If you add up the MPG of my last 3 cars, it would just barely exceed the 30 mpg mark...factor in my driving style, and the MPGs drop faster than Lindsay Lohans panties at a TMZ launch party.


I'm new to this "blogging" thing, and was told that I should throw in pop culture references.  So help me answer these questions
1.  Is it still appropriate to cross reference Lindsay Lohan in blogs?  I dont inadvertently want to boost her popularity (wow I flatter myself, there is that ego again:) 
2.  Do people still drop their panties (guys included)?  I know this is idiom of sorts, but is dropping your panties still the cool thing to do?  Underwear is expensive to produce these day, and as referenced above, I am truly concerned with our carbon footprint.
3.  I apologize if I offended anyone, especially Lindsay, with my suggestive language above.

Okay now I really digress.  But let that serve as a "segway" way back to the initial topic of conversation, I WAS NOT trying to make panties drop with this car purchase.  More on this later (I hope?) My utmost concern is for MPG and my carbon footprint :)

So I drove up to the Caddy Dealership mid afternoon.  I walked into a room full of upper middle aged white men, wearing pleated Jos. A Banks pants up to their navel (tad bit too high? -- i do have a theory on this as Ive been accused of wearing my pants up too high as well -- and no, its not because of my ego -- but i can elaborate if need be), off white dress shirts (really?  Who decided to make something "OFF" white),  Brooks Brothers tie's from the 1980s (with weird geometrical patterns even a hipster wouldn't delve into), shoes with tassels (actually kinda cool), and lets not get into the haircuts.  Okay well, I kinda will (inadvertently), in that their desk pictures, without fail, seemed to include the salesmen (with WAY more hair) along with their wives with their 80s poofy hair (ala the bangles -- pre walk like an Egyptian, or the B-52s post the Love Shack) And they all seemed to be from Olan Mills (yes another 80s reference!).  Regardless, they did not pay much attention to me.

I walked through the dealership taking in the cars, and trying to avoid surroundings.  Thoughts?  Well Cadillac has definitely changed its image over the last 5-10 years.  I do like the sharp, modernistic design approach.  Any singular design aspect analyzed on its own would seem awkward and easily overlooked.  Maybe even considered borderline boorishly hideous.  But take in the whole car, and well the sum is greater than the whole (is that an idiom?).  So if caddy is trying to appeal to the younger generation, especially with the ATS sedan, I'm wondering why the first reaction I get is as described above (hopefully I don't have to spell it out for you, as it would definitely take away from my mullet growing time).  Also, I'm not really picky about colors, I usually answer with "anything but beige, marroon, forrest green, or OFF white".  Guess what colors the showroom cars were.

Lets get down to business:  Fit and Finish, Technology, Ride Quality

Fit and Finish:
ATS is splendidly fitted.  There is plush perforated leather with lumbar supports that hug you when you sit in the car.  Seats are power adjustable (isn't this standard now a days), and my 6'1.5" (ego) frame fit into the car just fine (though im guessing left my imaginary back seat (pantiless) passenger longing for more...errr room.  There are very beautifully brushed aluminum accents on the dash and the doors, with the caddy insignia elegantly PAINTED onto them.  Piano black finishes fit for a Steinway (if you're in the market for playing with wood).

I do like how the gauges illuminate and make a quick blirp around the speedometer and odometer.  The steering wheel has a nice feel to it.  The cool thing is that there are buttons on the wheel that are just black, initially i thought these were dummy buttons that car companies put into the car when you haven't purchased that option.  However, when the car turns on these buttons light up and you can personalize them for volume, cruise control, music interface, etc. Very cool Caddy!  There is a large centrally mounted screen (my test car was appointed with the  CUE -- Cadillac User Experience option).  I was surprised by the general lack of buttons.  There is a large horizontal metallish pastic button that is touch sensitive.  You swipe your finger across this to raise or lower the volume.  The screen is also touch sensitive which makes me consider the redundancy of the metal button.  My general take is that this car would be too complicated for the traditional off white garbed caddy owner.  Good thing they they are marketing this car towards me!

No complaints here.  Once you get the hang of things, CUE is pretty nice.  It sinks nicely with my phone.  Everything is touch screen (WHICH I LOVE!!!! -- I have a 10 page rant on Audi MMI, MB interface, and iDrive which I will spare you from), though the resolution and response time could be better.  At times i felt i was using a first generation garmin GPS.  The car has a back up camera, adaptive lights, adaptive cruise control, bluetooth phone and audio(FINALLY CADILLAC! and for that, shouldn't every car made in 2013 have these features?) .  Sound system leaves something to be desired, but i'm sure the "growl" of the 2.0 turbo 4 engine is more than enough soundtrack...make sure your hearing aids are turned up.

I really have a biased perspective on performance, and given my new found impetus to improve my carbon footprint, I am not placing too much importance on this area.  I'll just say that I had to check more than a few times whether the parking brake was on.   Thoughts on performance:  Neither overwhelming or underwhelming....i guess we'll call it OFF white.

Now to the Bimmer

I've had a few in the past, z3, 330, 540, x5, M5.  I vowed I'd never get another one :)

I've had all the issues with the bimmers that people complain about, including the porcupine syndrome (yes i've been that prick on the inside).

My Z3...crashed it after having it for 2 weeks trying to impress some girl in a mustang...never the same car afterwards...but quite gorgeous...i kinda want another one soon, in the M roadster variation.

330:  no complaints.  this was very short lived.

540:  great car, but I was too young for this, felt like I was driving my parents car...oh wait...I was.

x5 was great, but ALWAYS in the shop.  It was good for beer runs and transporting hoards of people around in college (sadly mostly guys), though I did once fit 5 people in the z3 (sadly mostly dudes again).

M5:  Sweet ride...unfortunately the girls i encountered were more interested in the car then me....(ouch)....but i also stopped acting like a prick and maybe my being nice to them put us in the "friend" zone.  Though I met a surplus of girls that said "I'm like one of the boy's", "a boy's girl", "raised a tomboy"...to which i responded...are you wearing any.... okay i'll stop before I further offend anyone.

So my review on the 328xi is brief (no pun intended).  The new BMW styling is not as radical as its counterparts at Audi, Benz, Caddy.  Unless you were really into cars,  you would be hard pressed to notice the subtle differences: B&C lines, led lights, oblong kidney grill.  The changes are very subtle compared to the previous generation.  BMW is taking the route of AUDI an making a conglomerate of their vehicles.  A 7 series is a bigger 5 series, is a bigger 3 series (just as an a8:a6:a4).  The verdict is still out for me on this arrangement.  When i initially saw my test car, I almost mistook it for the 5, as it had the sport package and matted out kidney grills on it.  Not sure if this is a good or bad thing.

As I said this review will be brief.

Fit and Finish:  Simple.  Understated elegance.  You can argue AUDI and Benz (even caddy) have much more elaborate and interactive interiors.  But I love the 3 series.  The red sport trim dash, subtle alcantarra, Dakota black leather seats with red contrast stitching that matches the red sports trim.  3 spoke sports steering wheel (with red contrast stiching),  minimal buttons.  KNOBS!!! (maybe not the best aesthetically, but when it comes to functionality they are beastly).  And the orange BMW ambient lighting (have been in love with this since I was a kid)

Technology:  iDrive part deux is actually not that bad.  The KNOB(!!!) is actually multifunctional, there is a separate back button, and also buttons around the idrive for phone, nav, radio, media etc.  Sync with phone was cake, and my phonebook was immediately accessible.  It doesn't have all the bells and whistles of the other luxury brands, but it has just what I need to prevent my daily commute from becoming overly simplified or overly complicated.  The drive is engaging as well

Performance:  240 bhp, 2.0 turbo.  33 mpg (downgraded from a previous 36).  Love the eco mode, the start stop is a great feature to have but is kind of unnerving when the car shuts down at a stop light.  I had a good feeling I was going to buy this car while driving it, so I didn't push it too much (as there were only 45 miles on it).  But in sport mode, my initial lack of expectations was humbled.

So I told you the bimmer review would be brief :)  Oh yeah...free maintenance on the BMW...cant write a review without mentioning that...as my last BMWs were always in the shop :(

At the end of the day, Im not sure if it was how underwhelmed I was with the Cadillac, or my aversion to becoming a Caddy owner, or my long term love/hate obsession with the BMW that made me go with the BMW.   I went with the BMW because I felt it gave me the best chance to get a pre Herbie Lindsay Lohan in my cramped back seat.  JOKING!  Honestly, i went with the BMW because I know I cant fess up to my friends and tell them I drive a Caddy.  Damn you EGO, you win again!!!