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Quattro vs. BMW iX


Someone posted your remarks, and "Mike's" rebuttal, to my address, so I
feel I might clarify a few items. 

> >From: Mark Nelson <mnelson@brls.com>
> >Subject: RE: 325ix vs. Quattro

>They came to the conclusion that the iX had a superior all wheel drive system...

I don't know who "they" are, of course, since I come to the discussion
somewhat tardy. . .

>I strongly beg to differ.  I have seen 12 different 325ix's at my dad's >business...

[There follows a disdainful commentary on the iX 4WD system]

>The center differential, if you can even call it that, highly resembles
>a transfer case out of say, a Toyota pickup truck...

Well, what the hell ELSE would you call it?

>The drivetrain on these cars is a joke...

Well, since it's a Ferguson Formula  system, from the guys who developed
Silly Putty 4WD for F1 racing, the Jensen Interceptor, and so on, it
seems to me that their design sophistication is not all that lacking. .

>As a matter of fact, a guy I work with here has a red 2 door 325ix, and that >d*** thing couldn't keep up with my ex-5KTQ going down an extremely windy >4-lane road!!  He said when he tried to follow my line at the same speed, he >felt the car was just going to completely break lose if he didn't let up off >the throttle...

It is not my fault nor BMW's that the guys you work with can't drive
worth sour owl shit.  

>Just so you all know, we did this on a very wide four lane
>mountain road (Interstate 50) between Lake Tahoe and Carson City.
>Anyone who has been on this road knows what I am talking about
>(extremely fun in a Quattro). I actually expected his car to keep up
>pretty well, but we were both amazed that his little Bimmer couldn't
>keep up with my big sedan...

Well, I know the road. . . Russ Huntoon, who won the Lost Patrol in an
iX, knows the road. . . and I would be willing to wager that if he were
to take my clapped-out wheezing stock iX against your sedan---never mind
the four-lane, run up through Virginia City for some REAL twisties---he
just might be able to keep up. . . 

Have you considered the possibility that your co-worker's car might have
something esle amiss besides its inherent design? Ball joints? Shocks?
The moron behind the wheel?

>Some other interesting notes on the 325ix is that there is NO
>differential locks on these cars.  They have limited slips built into
>the differentials, and that is it...

Yes; this is the design philosophy of FF (and therefore BMW). It becomes
a critical issue if one chooses to go Off-Roadin' with the Jeep
brigades, but the Bimmer was never designed for creepy-crawling through
the swamps. The LS differentials are biased like a rally car's: the
fore-and-aft diffy is a 67-33 bias to the REAR, and the rear dif is
50-50. This makes the Bimmer an ideal tarmac runner, being basically a
rear-drive chassis with enough "pull" to keep it proper in the bends or
on loosish surfaces. (Did I just invent a word?!)

> I am not going to say that these are terrible cars because they are not...

Oh, you're being too, too kind!

>Interestingly enough, all of the people that we know that own these cars have >NEVER driven a Quattro...

Why is that interesting?

>Although there is one exception, Satch Carlson, who uses his 325ix for
>TSD rallies...


>Satch has admitted to us that he has, in some events, co-driven in a Quattro, >while someone-else-drove-his-car.  Why, you ask? Because he said the Quattro >was faster and handled better.

Not true. Not even CLOSE. For one thing, I don't have to ADMIT anything.
I liked the one Quattro I have ever owned, an '84 4000. Peter Linde, aka
Sergeant Sideways, is the director of operations for the Rally of the
Lost Patrol, which most Quattroids are too timid to tackle. My iX, the
Bad Dog, was in the hands of Russ Huntoon in 1985 and in Garth Ankeny's
fingers for the 1996 event. I rode with Sergeant Sideways in his 4000 Q
in 1995 and in his Quattro Coupe in '96. He let me take the wheel of the
coupe on the Mackenzie River because otherwise I would have whined all
the way back to Seattle (there is very little on this earth more fun
than the Mackenzie River at 40 below. . .).
On certain TSD events I have, indeed, navigated for Sgt Swys in his
coupe, and in others we have taken the Bad Dog. The turbo Audi IS faster
than the Bad Dog; it ought to be, don't you think? But it may NOT be
faster than the Red Dog, Steve Norman's iX (which Huntoon drove to the
Lost Patrol win in 1996), as the Red Dog runs a 2.7 Dinan engine. As for
handling, I prefer the iX in many ways to ANYTHING I've ever driven,
though of course it is not perfect (we are working on ways to reduce the
understeer. . . am I to believe Audistas are not familiar with
understeer?). It is so stable, however, that it is difficult to fling it
sideways into corners because one's nerve fails at the point where the
speed is great enough to make the physics work. In that regard, the
pocket-rocket Mazda 323 GTX was lots of fun, because you could toss it
sideways like a MiniCooper. But that didn't make it a better-handling
car, just a lot more spectacular.

Both of us would concede that Russ Huntoon could beat just about
anybody, anywhere, driving a goddamn Yugo.

>The common engine conversion for the 325ix is to drop in an M5 motor,
>which gives the car around 300HP.  Very impressive IMHO.

Well, it would be, if I could shoe-horn one in. . . if you actually KNOW
of anyone who has done this little transplant, PLEASE put me in touch
with 'em, as the greatest lacking in the iX is---in my NOT so humble
opinion---a wee bit of horsepower. The iX is the baby six, the M Boys
were the BIG sixes. . . 

>Anyway, this is just my .02.  I've seen several of these cars, and I can
>definitely tell you that they do not even compare on the same level of
>sophistication of a Quattro.

Why, in order to feel good about something, do some people feel the need
to rank on something else? THE SOPHISTICATION OF A QUATTRO?! Give me a
break. Sgt Swys the Quattro Mechanic would roll on the floor over that
one. Look, they're CARS, fer Christ's sake. They were designed by human
beings (although sometimes we wonder). Engineers make mistakes, or fail
to take our peculiar habits into account---that's why we tinker with our
cars. I don't think anybody doubts BMW's sophistication. . . which is a
pain in the glutes, most of the time; I would welcome Audi's (rather
unspohisticated) switch to disable the ABS, for example, instead of
BMW's inclinomter/computer timed self-actuating switch. . .

>If they did, then BMW would have kept making them on past '91...

Oh, really? Now you're saying that if the cars were any good people
would have BOUGHT them? The sophisticated buying public, you mean? The
ones who swore up and down their Audis were running away with them?!
Mannnnnnnn. . . it's time you adjusted the DOSAGE, Ferlin!

>Essentially, if your friend thinks that a four wheel drive system, that is as >sophisticated as that in a pickup truck, better rethink his conclusion, and >do some research...

Well, yeah, some research is certainly in order. . . Ferguson Formula
pick-up trucks?

>The 325ix is NOT at all as sophisticated as some might think.

Well, it's not a matter of sophistication, it's a matter of design and
handling preferences. The BMW is not an Audi. Some prefer front-drive
with a little extra thrown to the rear (Audi, Subaru, Mazda 323 GTX);
others prefer the handling characteristics of a rear-driver with a
little extra thrown up front (BMW iX, Ford RS 200, Cosworth Sierra, and
most other present-day WRFC contenders). I love my iX, but lust after an
A6. When it comes to a choice of rides for a given event, me 'n' Sgt
Sdwys usually concentrate on the IMPORTANT elements: Which car has the
better CD player? Which one has heated seats?

I have now been in the winning car on the Thunderbird Rally three times:
Once driving an iX, once navigating an iX, and this year navigating for
Sgt Sdwys in the Quattro coupe. Does that make the iX twice as good as
the Quattro? Not at all. Could a Quattro win the Rally of the Lost
Patrol? Of course. (Not likely to happen, though, as long as the
Quattroids' idea of competition is sitting around the keyboard arguing
the relative sophistication of their cars instead of going out to PROVE
it. . .)

I can think of half a dozen events in the next season that will
challenge the skills of drivers (and navigators) and the abilities of
their cars: The Road Not Taken (Oregon), Nor'Wester (Washington), Press
On Regardless (Michigan), and several Canadian events. My iX will be at
some of them; Sgt Sideways' Quattro Coupe will be at some. If I beat him
or if he beats me, we will both be happy with a battle well fought, and
neither of us will say, "Gee, if only I had HIS car. . . ."

Oh, and there's the Lost Patrol next February. He'll be there. His coupe
will be there. My iX will be there. And you wussoids will be at your

Satch Carlson