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I'm assuming that you are talking about brand new 2020 vehicles? This article has Audi winning the competition between the 2 brands: https://cars.usnews.com/cars-trucks/audi-vs-lexus However, I have my own take on this. My answer is based on a United States perspective, from a current Audi owner, and depends on the following factors: 1. Long Term Reliability (are you keeping the car beyond the warranty period?) 2. Aesthetics/Style - totally subjective, only you know what you like 3. Performance and Handling - some people just like to go fast and want responsive handling. 4. Budget - How much extra cash do you have? I would have also added a preference between a manual or automatic transmission, but as of 2020, neither brand offers a manual transmission option. Long Term Reliability Lexus is your best bet here. I own a 2015 Audi S4, which has surprisingly been reliable, but I'm not kidding myself. If I choose to keep this car a few more years, at some point, I'll need to change the timing chain, and it's going to cost me thousands. No comparable Lexus (GS-F, IS 350, RC-F) is going to cost that much to replace a timing belt. Japanese manufacturers design their cars with the assumption that the belt is a maintenance item that needs to be easily accessed for replacement. The Germans, on the other hand, require that the entire engine be dropped in order for the timing chain to be replaced. But, I digress. Lexus wins here. Aesthetics / Styling This is subjective, as everyone has their own tastes. For more details on this, please see the link I included earlier. On the Lexus side we have these 11 models: 1. 2020 RC F - Sports Coupe 2. 2020 UX - Hybrid SUV 3. 2020 RX - Small. SUV 4. 2020 LCF - Sports Coupe 5. 2020 ES - Sedan 6. 2020 LS - Sedan 7. 2020 NX - Performance SUV 8. 2020 IS - Sports Sedan 9. 2020 GX - Mid size SUV 10. 2020 LX - Large SUV 11. 2020 GS - Large Sedan On the Audi side, we have these 13 models, including 3 with no Lexus equivalent. If you want one of first 3 models, you can stop reading now. Audi is your only option. 1. 2020 R8 - Supercar. (no Lexus super car equivalent, the closest is probably the LFA and they don’t make those anymore. The LC is not a super car). 2. 2020 e-tron GT Electric SUV. (no Lexus equivalent. the UX 300E is not in the US market…yet). 3. 2020 TT - Sports Coupe. (no real Lexus equivalent) 4. 2020 RS3/S3/A3 - Small Sedan 5. 2020 S4/A4 - Midsize Sedan 6. 2020 RS5/S5/A5 - Midsize Coupe 7. 2020 RS6/S6/A6 - Sedan 8. 2020 RS7/S7/A7 - Sportback Sedan 9. 2020 A8 Horch/A8 - Large Sedan 10. 2020 SQ5/Q5 - Midsize SUV 11. 2020 RS Q8 - Performance SUV 12. 2020 Q7 - Large SUV 13. 2020 Q2 - Small SUV Both manufacturers have designed beautiful cars with great exteriors and interiors. Because styling is subjective (outside of the 3 Audis without a corresponding Lexus model that I mentioned), I call this one a tie. Performance / Handling With great all wheel handling of their sedans like the R8, S3, S4, RS5, S5, and even the car-like handling of their SUVs like the SQ5, the Germans take this category. In fact, this category is one that Audis have been recognized for over the past few decades. If you want all wheel drive and superb handling characteristics, Lexus just doesn’t measure up here. Let’s be honest, the Lexus brand is known for comfort and reliability quality first. Performance is NOT the first thing that comes to mind when you say Lexus. However, there are some exceptions. The LC500, RC-F and GS-F models have powerful engines, and can match the horsepower of some of the Audi models. But they can't match the handling. I drive an Audi S4 and I can attest that the Germans win this one. Budget Audis are expensive. Expensive to purchase, expensive to insure, and expensive to maintain. You pay a big price to have the 4 rings and there is no getting around that. Buying a Lexus is not cheap by any means either, but the maintenance costs are much less that those of an Audi. If this is a strict budget to budget comparison that includes budgeting for initial cost, insurance and maintenance (beyond the manufacturer’s warranty), Lexus wins this one. Final Verdict As much as it pains me to say this as an Audi owner, if you are planning on keeping your car more than 5 years and you care about your budget, I would have to say Lexus is your best bet. If you have money to burn and performance is a priority for you then go for the Audi.
In many of the answers here, it appears that the writer isn’t separating durability (longevity ) with reliability ( the absence of day-to-day problems ). Anecdotal information is also useless when dealing with manufacturers that produce literally millions of products. Nobody is interested in reading about Aunty, whos car was problem prone. The general answer is that premium brand European car makers do build vehicles that last longer than Asian and American car companies. Asian car companies tend to build vehicles that are relatively free from day-to-day issues, but don’t last a long time. In Canada, here they dump millions of tonnes of salt on the roads. There are still a lot of old Euro premium cars being driven daily, but the Hondas, Nissans and Mazdas are completely rusted out. Contrary to popular belief, if you source your parts from an independent distributor, not a national chain, and use an independent owner/operator mechanic who specializes in your brand, there is actually not much difference in parts and labour costs between a BMW and a Mazda or a Nissan or a Honda. Owning a premium brand European car is completely unaffordable, in my opinion, if you take it to a “stealership’ or a national chain. If you have an older Euro car, BMW, MB, or Audi, and it needs rotors and pads all around, struts and shocks, tie rods and control arms, and ball joints, it will cost a few thousand, maybe, but you know, it will cost about the same for a Mazda, Nissan, Subaru, Mitsubishi, Hyundai, Kia, etc. Why would you spend a few grand repairing a 12 year old Nissan Altima? You wouldn’t. You would scrap the car. But if you had a 12 year old MB E class, Audi A6 or A8, or BMW 5 Series, you might still do it. So yes, BMWs are built to last as long as you keep replacing parts on them. How much you want to keep spending is your call. I drive an ancient BMW daily. I have kept a log since the day I bought it. I paid $2,000 for the car. I have averaged about $200 plus, per month on parts and labour and performance upgrades over the years. In my opinion, that’s a low cost way to drive. Not everyone would be able to do that, because it can be a bit time consuming, diagnosing problems and sourcing the lowest prices on parts. Not everyone’s cup of tea. If you are not a car nut, my advice is to go Japanese, and get rid of it after it turns about 8 years old or so. If you’re a gear head, buy an older BMW for cash, and spend time reading the online owner’s forums, join a car club and learn about your car. There are a lot of cheap fixes out there, if you are in the know. One example, the E46 BMW, 2000 to 2005, has a real problem with the power window regulators, which are expensive to buy. However, someone figured out how to fix them with a zip tie, so virtually no cost at all, if you pull the door panel off yourself. The answers about BMW here on Quora, most of them say how they Break My Wallet (haha, so funny ). But these folks were just taking their cars to the wrong place and paying retail for every little thing. Of course it’s going to be expensive. You would be amazed at what you can learn from youtube videos. What I find about the people here on Quora that post the questions, is that they often appear to not be aware that there are other websites out there, that could really answer their questions. Some of the posters here, I’m not sure if they have ever used Google. If I have a problem with my BMW that I can’t figure out, I’m not going to ask here, I’m going to a BMW owner’s forum. Even my mechanic uses these forums all the time.
Pros: Audis are a status symbol to certain groups of people, so if that’s something you need, an Audi could fill that hole. Audis are by far the least ugly of the current German cars (not that hard to do right now in my opinion). Audis perform well and look great when new. Yes, the 0–60 times are good, the handling is nice, and the interiors look nice. Cons: Audis are a symbol of poor financial decision making (see below). Audis depreciate very, very quickly. A new Audi will lose at least 50% of its value in the first five years. That $50,000 new car is really costing you $75,000 if you hold onto it for five years, yikes. Audis are not durable, nor are they reliable. The durability comes into play when the interior peels and falls apart on you, the fluid filled bushings blow out, and the interior leather wears. There are cars that are worse than an Audi, but the buyer of an Audi doesn’t expect their car to wear like a Chevy Malibu. Reliability is pretty self explanatory. These cars are absolute nightmares over 70,000 miles (if you get there) with the exception of European made diesels with manual transmissions. While there are plenty of fanboys out there who say “you have to keep up with maintenance”, this doesn’t cover much of what actually goes wrong with these cars. One example is the mechanical fuel pump driven by the camshaft on some Audi engines. A friend of the family who is a VW tech recommends pulling the fuel pump and replacing the cam follower at every oil change, otherwise you’re risking serious damage to that particular engine. A high school friend had that exact damage happen to his Q5 under warranty and Audi wouldn’t perform the repairs. There’s no factory recommended replacement interval with this part, so “keeping up” means obsessively reading Audi forums and making a long list of what you need to do to keep the car from crapping out on you. There are also the notorious early GDI engines that clog themselves with carbon because there’s no gas sprayed over the intake valves. So you have to strip down the engine to expose all of the intake valves, then rotate the engine and blast each pair of intake valves with ground walnut shells when they are shut. This is something that has to be done every 60,000-ish miles and really screws up performance as the engine chokes for air. The same friend with the Q5 is now looking to trade it because the crank vs. camshaft sensors indicate that his timing chain is nearing failure. Timing chains are used instead of timing belts because of very, very long service life, but his car has about 60,000 miles on it now; a timing belt would’ve lasted longer! A neighbor I know bought a used A8 and the automatic transmission failed very early (before 50K). The dealership put in a new one and it locked up on the highway as he was driving it home from said dealership. If you have to have an Audi, just lease it! You’ll look cool without losing so much money, and when someone like me makes fun of you for your terrible decision making, you can put me in my place by telling me that you leased it.
WAIT, TIMING CHAIN? I THOUGHT THESE HAD A TIMING BELT?! The quick answer is Timing Chain. The B6 & B7 S4 4.2 liter engine utilizes a chain driven timing system which is located on the backside of the engine facing the firewall. So, service position on a B6/B7 S4 does not mean just removing the front clip, it requires engine removal unlike the older 4.2L V8’s found in the A8, A6 etc. A question you might ask is: If this car doesn’t have a timing belt, doesn’t the chain mean this is maintenance free? Unfortunately, this is not the case. The timing chain itself may never require replacement, however, the other components of the timing system are the weak points. A QUOTE STRAIGHT FROM THE AUDI TSB ON THIS ISSUE “The Camshaft Adjustment is hydraulically adjusted and controlled by the engine oil pressure. If the engine has been turned off for a long time, the oil pressure drops down and the oil partially flows back into the oil sump. To ensure an efficient camshaft adjustment right after an engine cold start, the oil pressure inside the camshaft adjusters must be built up as fast as possible. During this time, a rattle or knocking noise may be noticeable. This noise is normal at engine start and will last until the oil pressure is fully built up, which takes about 1-2 seconds. There is no applicable production solution.” This noise is considered “normal” by Audi and claims this does not necessarily mean that you will need your timing system serviced soon. However, it does hint that your tensioners might be worn and in need of replacement. DOES THIS FAILURE HAPPEN TO ALL OF THE B6/B7 S4’S? No, but take that answer with a grain of salt. No matter how many problems plague some engines, not all of them suffer from the same failures. There’s no rhyme or reason to it, it’s just the way it is sometimes! When you think of how many S4’s were sold in the era between 2004 and 2007, only a portion of those cars had issues. But we also must come to grips with reality here, nothing lasts forever. So now that these cars have surpassed the decade old age mark, things start to fail because well let’s face it, mechanical items fail. Now, these issues are starting to gain in popularity… and not in a good way. I HAVE HEARD ALL THE RUMORS. DO THESE CARS REALLY HAVE HIGH DOLLAR FAILURES AT OR EVEN BEFORE 100K MILES? There is no set mileage where failure is to be expected. We have seen some engines fail in as little as 40-50k miles and others well over 100k miles. There are numerous cars over 140k miles who have had no issues at all. But, are you willing to take that gamble? We have even had customers come to our shop requesting the full timing chain service with the threat of such failures. These owners typically don’t even have a rattle at cold or warm start. The majority of the B6/B7 S4 we have taken apart for this service, rattle or not, have had broken timing chain guides. They are plastic and are resting in a high friction, high heat and high vibration environment. Given these conditions and the guides being made of plastic, you can certainly expect to see cracking. TIPS TO EASE THE START-UP RATTLE AND TO GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR VITAL ENGINE COMPONENTS Here are a few tips to help prolong experiencing cold start rattle. You can also take this advice to help increase your chances of avoiding issues all together. Something that we cannot express enough—keeping up with maintenance! Frequent Oil Changes: Keeping your engine operating with clean oil is beneficial, but not the complete solution. However, it is merely a piece to the puzzle in keeping your engines timing components in good working condition. This also isn’t going to change the fact that the timing chain guides often crack. High Quality Oil: The oil in your motor is like the blood in your veins. We highly recommend using quality oil when servicing your car. The 4.2L V8 in B6 & B7 S4’s use 0w40 or 5w40. A couple popular brands include LiquiMoly and Motul Proper Care: If you want the maximum life out of your motor you have to take the necessary steps to take care of it. Allow proper warm up—don’t beat on the car when it is cold and expect it to last forever. Also, keep up with scheduled maintenance and address issues as they arise. WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT TO PAY? The cost of having this job done is going to vary. Keep in mind this service is very tedious and involved, and that it should be completed by a mechanic with plenty of experience and who has previously completed the repair. At Excelerate Performance, our mechanics perform at least ten timing chain and guide replacements, if not more, per year. THE MOTOR IS OUT FOR THE TIMING CHAIN SERVICE, WHAT ELSE SHOULD I DO? With the motor out of the car, there is an opportunity to take care of maintenance, modifications, and other failing parts that are easier to access with the motor out. By performing these services or modifications while doing the timing chain, you will minimize the labor associated with each respective item. Here are some items to consider when performing the Timing Chain Service: In addition, all of our timing chain service kits include the Updated Timing Chain Guide. These guides are still plastic but are reinforced with metal for superior longevity and to prevent cracking.
I’ll preface by mentioning that I’ve driven nearly 2 million kilometers in a variety of American, Japanese, British, French, German and Swedish cars. My father was a mechanic. My brother was service manager for both Toyota and VW dealerships. I’ve had VW cars and vans and still own the last VW truck sold in North America (bought new in Oct. ‘92), we’ve had 2 A6 wagons, 1 A6 twin-turbo sedan with 6-speed manual, I’m driving an A4 Quattro Avant now, and I’ve also owned Mercedes S-Class, and I have a ’93 300SEC Cabrio (the last year that they were hand-built by Karmann, with global production less than 1,000 units). If you are talking about Audis built in the last 20 years, the answer is YES they are reliable — provided that you perform the maintenance needed. If you have a turbo engine, such as the 1.8t or 2.0t (or TDI) then you must spend the $$$ for the approved oil. If you think you are saving $$$ by using normal oil, you will find that the oil is cooked as it goes through the glowing-hot turbo and turns into goo, and you will discover VW/Audi’s infamous “sludge problem”. The sludge problem is not a vehicle problem. It is an owner problem. Putting in cheap oil will not save money. Our 1998 A6 wagon (that was the old style, the sedans changed in ‘98, but wagons weren’t updated till ‘99) was purchased with > 200,000 MILES on it. My 2000 A6 2.7t had 170,000 miles on it. My wife’s second A6 wagon, a 2001, came from Utah with 168,000 miles on it. And the 2006 A4 was bought in Vancouver BC with 117,000 kms (due for a timing belt) and rattling like a diesel because it had no oil-pressure due to sludge, because the idiot dealer that bought it at the auction did a quick $29 oil-change on it. (the 2.0t takes oil that is normally CAD$17/litre but it comes on sale at Canadian Tire a few times a year for half that price). The cars are supremely reliable and parts are dirt-cheap online. But they CAN be expensive to fix if something breaks, and they are heavy so things will wear faster than a Japanese tin-can, so I’ll provide some advice for those looking at buying a European car in general, and Audi specifically: SERVICE: Take the car to the dealer while it is under warranty. But once the warranty is over, stay away from the dealer. They are too expensive. Find “the local guy” for your make of car (there’s at least one, in nearly every place) where people lineup to get their car serviced. THIS APPLIES TO EVERY BRAND OF CAR! (not including exotics) AVOID: the 1990s to mid 2000s V6 engines due to the high cost of timing belt replacements. Avoid the V8 due to the high cost of everything!! The 4-cyl. turbo engines, and the later V6 with the timing chain are your preferred engine. (and any version of the TDI diesel is great too, but I’m in Canada, where those are rare). GET THE QUATTRO! That means that you get a “Real transmission” too. There are Front-wheel-drive A4 models with a CVT transmission. Most have no problem, but some fail, and they aren’t something you can fix in your back yard and will be expensive. Personally, I would avoid the CVT. (I’d go for a manual, but my wife wants an A/T even though she’s owned 5-speed cars too). Plus, you’ll get more $$$ at re-sale if the car has AWD. At least anywhere that gets snow, or has dirt roads. IF you buy a high-mileage car with Auto trans, go get the tranny fluid changed, just as a preventive maintenance thing. If you’re getting the engine oil changed, then the tranny fluid change is probably well under $100 and its cheap insurance. (I’ve done this with VW, Audi, Ford, Volvo, etc. cars. I’ve never had an A/T fail. I’m not sure it helps, but it makes me feel better knowing that my car’s transmission with 200,000 miles on it has new fluid) CHECK the FRONT SUSPENSION on A4, A6, A8 if over 150,000 miles. These are heavy cars. Like the BMW 5-series, Mercedes E-Class and S-class, the front suspension will wear faster than that of a Civic or Mazda 3 or even Golf, Jetta, A3, Beetle, etc. and the A4 and larger has (had) a “virtual link” front suspension with 4 control arms on each side, each with an inboard bushing and out-board ball-joint (yes, 8 ball-joints in the front, versus a typical American or Japanese car with 2). However, due to their popularity, there are many suppliers offering replacement parts. You don’t change the ball-joint and bushing, you just swap out the entire arm. Miele “10-piece kits” with 8 control arms and 2 tie-rods (the steering linkage) can be found online under US$500. Labour is a couple hours per side. So budget $1000 to replace the front suspension/steering components when you’re getting closer to 200,000 miles (320,000 kms). And that service requires a wheel alignment too. BTW: This is what a 2001 A6 Quattro Avant with 185,000 miles look like after spending $1k to replace the front suspension, plus $700 for an Eibach Sport Suspension kit (springs and shocks) and $520 for 17″ S6 wheels with Falken Ziex tires. My wife’s 2nd A6 in Regina Saskatchewan on our annual cross-Canada (Vancouver to Ontario) road-trip, which we completed in 2 days (cruise control @ 140 kmph across the prairies). Yes, I was stopped by the RCMP, but only once, and the constable spent over 10 minutes asking questions about the car before letting us go without a ticket :) CHECK THE MAINTENANCE SCHEDULE BEFORE BUYING. The used car lots around here have lots of Audis with around 115,000 to 120,000 kms. That’s when they are due for a timing belt ($1,500 for 4-cyl, but $3,500 for older V6), DSG fluid change, differential fluid change, radiator flush, brake-fluid flush …. around CAD$3,500 in service for the 4-cyl turbo engines! The owner sees that quotation from the service department, and says “how much is it worth as a trade-in?”. The cars get traded, and rather than do the expensive maintenance, the dealer sends them to the auction, and they land in a used-car dealership. But THE CAR NEEDING MAINTENANCE COULD BE THE BEST DEAL. If you do one thing: get the dealer to have the timing belt changed at a VW or Audi dealership, and include the receipt for the work (for warranty purposes) before you buy. Example: in 2016 I found a mint 1-owner 2006 (first year of new body, so looks “newer”) A4 2.0t Quattro Avant that’s NOT Silver on Black with all the power-memory-seats, front/rear heated seats, automatic lights and wipers, etc., but 117,000 kms. I got the VIN and checked Audi, and they had no record of the timing belt being changed (VW/Audi are on one database, so I can get a VIN for a car in Florida and check the service records for free at any Audi dealership in Canada for example … they will also print out wiring diagrams and stuff for you for free too, so you don’t need to buy manuals … important if you are importing US cars and need to modify lights to DRL). Similar cars were around $14k at other dealers. This dealer had dropped their asking price down to $12k. I bought the car for $10,500 with taxes IN, and the timing belt replaced by the VW dealer a few blocks away (the Passat and GTI had the same 2.0t engine). If I back out the taxes (12%) and $1,500 timing belt change (with new oil and filter) then the car cost me $7,875 … and now its good for another 117,000 kms. I did have to deal with the sludge. Online, VW owners in the US are spending US$1200 to have the dealer clean out the engine and install a new oil pickup. My German mechanic, Verner, (he was a BMW mechanic in Germany before immigrating to Canada) removed the oil-pan and cleaned everything out, cleaned the original oil pickup, re-installed with sealant to prevent leaks, filled it with the best synthetic oil, plus the optional Audi hi-volume oil filter for under CAD$650 including taxes. That fall, we drove the car to San Francisco, and then down the coast to San Luis Obispo just for a fun road-trip. It now has > 150,000 kms and has only had oil-changes and new tires. SUMMARY: Buying a 5 to 10 year old Audi, I get a car with 100,000 kms on it for 20% of the cost of a new one (an A4 Allroad with options like our A4 is CAD$55,000) including an investment in maintenance. Brakes are cheaper than Japanese cars and last longer. The exhaust systems will last 500,000 miles. You have to replace tires, wipers, and batteries regardless of the car, and the costs are pretty much the same. I would drive from Vancouver to Key West in this car with no hesitation (and I’ve driven that in the past, via Cape Breton Island going south, and via San Diego coming home). And I know that if I get in an accident, my chances of survival are much higher than in a common American or Japanese car. Meanwhile, I get to enjoy a superbly comfortable car with good handling, a good audio system, AWD for those rare days when we have snow, fantastic climate control, the insanely fast window defrosting typical of German (and also Volvo) cars for less than my friends buying a new Altima or Camry or Accord. Oil changes definitely cost more, but that applies to ALL turbo engines, including the new Hondas, etc. YES Audis are reliable. And they last a long time. If you don’t screw up on the maintenance.