Okay, so I caved. But since the car-heads here tend to threadjack elsewhere to talk about cars, it's probably a good idea to have a car thread.
Back to the Audi discussion started here...
I like Audis a lot, but a guy in my income bracket is never going to be able to afford to buy a car in that class when it's new. And since, despite their other obvious merits, most Audis today don't have the same expectation of long-term reliability and cost of ownership as most BMWs, I simply can't buy one. The '99 M3 was a good choice for me as it's a very solidly reliable car.
Meanwhile, if you put an Audi designer into the M3, he'd probably get sick. Most of the switches, the gauge cluster, the center console (which includes a rectangular block of black steel containing an ash tray and cup holders), etc., look very 1985. The on-board computer and diagnostic system looks like something that would have been found on the Army weapon systems my dad worked on in the early 80s, which means it looks like 1970s tech. It's a similar design aesthetic to what you find in jet fighter cockpits. Not really what Audi is aiming for in their cars. Nor is it what BMW aims for anymore in their newer cars, as they've gone over to the chrome and wood grain school of interiors. Similarly on the exterior, there's a lot of plasto-rubbery trim that's very functional and attractive in an aggressive, simple, direct kind of way, but is also very 1985.
But then, the car is a good 750 pounds lighter than a comparably equipped new S4, and about 600 pounds lighter than a comparable new M3. While both of those cars will probably outperform my old M, they do so by applying more energy to all their work. Bigger, heavier, more complex, more powerful engines burning more fuel. Bigger, heavier brakes which cost more to maintain. Wider, grippier, more expensive tires, etc. Performance coupes have gotten so big and heavy lately, it's really strange. How these manufacturers can say they're building performance cars that weigh two tons, and do it with a straight face, mystifies me.
Anyway, as I said, if I made more money, all of these perspectives might change.