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Hi, J and M: I have a car dilemma. I have a wonderful 2004 BMW 5-Series V-8 manual RWD and a 2006 BMW 5-Series six-cylinder AWD and automatic (was a "his 'n' hers" setup). The '06 has needed more repairs, but my mechanic and I feel both are ticking time bombs for expensive repairs – and gas guzzlers.

I would like to consolidate rides as a widowed dad to minimize costs. Manual is a given, AWD would be nice, but FWD is good enough with snow tires. Being used to power from a V-8 engine is appreciated, but handling more so.

Cars that have piqued my interest are the new VW Golf R (size is a concern), a used BMW 328xi, 528xi/535xi, a used Audi A4. The only SUVs that have manual are the Mini Countryman or the Porsche Cayenne V6, but I am not a fan of SUVs. – Dixon in Toronto

Vaughan: Cato, isn't it interesting that while BMW has roared to the top of the luxury segment – outselling Audi by a little and Mercedes by a lot – Bimmer owners are always complaining to us how expensive their cars are to repair. Look at Dixon – says his car is "wonderful" then calls it "a ticking time bomb" and a "gas guzzler." What's the disconnect here?

Cato: Dixon's dilemma is simple enough. He is in love with a beautiful, exquisite car that he fears will soon start to devour his bank account.

Now, the good news is that the biggest expense he'll ever face with his dual Bimmers is depreciation and that cost is long in his rear-view mirror. Yet he is terrified of the potential price to repair them in the future, so he's looking for something new and less expensive.

The point is, Dixon – like a lot of BMW owners – wants 5-Series style and performance at VW Golf prices. Not going to happen. At least Dixon is being realistic about his choices now.

Vaughan: Well, one more thing before I go farther. Dixon, I'm not recommending any used cars. Sure, some have better reputations and some have worse – but it all depends on what has happened to that one particular car before you get your hands on it. Without a certified mechanic's total inspection, I wouldn't have a clue about what Dixon is getting into with a used car.

Besides, with the savings of going from two cars to one, Dixon can afford the certainty of a new car with full warranty.

Porsche CayennePorsche 

Cato: I don't understand why Dixon just doesn't move on to a new 5. The ones in showrooms today are entirely different from what's in his garage ticking away right now. I'll put this another way: When Brad Pitt left Jennifer Aniston, he didn't hook up with Rosie O'Donnell. He moved in with Angelina Jolie, right? Dixon won't be happy trading in Jenny for Rosie, trust me on this.

So he needs to consider a new 2012 5-Series. Yes, I know the starting price is around $54,500, but the last time I checked, BMW Canada had this model loaded up with $3,000 in factory discounts. If he bargains hard, Dixon should be able to squeeze another $2,000 out of the dealer. He gets a gorgeous new car with a four-year warranty that includes maintenance. And forget all-wheel-drive; good snow tires will do the winter trick.

Vaughan: No argument from me on the 5-Series. The Volkswagen Golf R is a high-performance AWD, but VW only brought 500 to Canada and I'm pretty sure they're sold out. And yes, it would be too small after a 5-Series.

However, the Porsche Cayenne might do. If you find it too expensive, Dixon, then go look at a Volkswagen Tiguan; same basic car for a lot less dough. Six cylinders with a standard tranny is a great combination. It's probably the best-handling SUV out there.

Cato: Look, the cheapest Cayenne starts at $56,600. And Porsche does not do a lot of discounting, not like BMW is doing with the 5, for sure. So Dixon is going to pay more for the Porsche than the Bimmer. Good as the handling is, we're talking about a tall SUV.

The Countryman S ($32,400), on the other hand, is a sweet little four-door and not really an SUV at all. Dixon would be happy with it and, if he really must have AWD, this is a good alternative – $20,000 less than the Porsche and the Bimmer.

MINI Cooper ClubmanBMW 

Vaughan: The Countryman is way too small after his big Bimmer and any Mini rides like a skateboard.

It's hard to figure out what Dixon needs – he sounds confused. The safe choice is the new 5-Series with warranty. That buys him four years, worry-free.

Cato: Get a 5, Dix, get a 5.




2013 BMW 528i

2013 Porsche Cayenne AWD base

2012 Mini Cooper Countryman S ALL4

Wheelbase (mm)


Length (mm)


Width (mm)


Track, front (mm)



2.4-litre four-cylinder, turbocharged3.6-litre V-61.6-litre four-cylinder, turbocharged

Output (horsepower/torque)

241/258 lb-ft300/295 lb-ft181/177 lb-ft

Drive system

Rear-wheel driveAll-wheel driveAll-wheel drive


eight-speed automaticSix-speed manualSix-speed manual

Curb weight (kg)


Fuel economy (litres/100 km)

8.5 city/5.7 highway14.1 city/9.3 highway8.0 city/6.3 highway

Base price (MSRP)


Source: car manufacturers

Jeremy Cato and Michael Vaughan are co-hosts of Car/Business, which airs Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. on Business News Network and Saturdays at 11:30 a.m. on CTV.