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Audi

2018 Audi SQ5 3.0T Quattro: A DriveWays Review…

by Frank A. Aukofer

As if their customers weren’t already spending plenty on perfectly good vehicles like the Audi Q5, there’s a recurring imperative among luxury manufacturers to deliver ever more powerful, luxurious and expensive models.

Reigning among them is 2018 Audi SQ5, continuing as a member of a class that includes AMG models from Mercedes-Benz, BMW’s M performance variants, V versions from Cadillac and Quadrifoglio (Four-leaf Clover) models from Alfa Romeo.

Small-2018-Audi-SQ5-2821The Q5 and its SQ5 sibling account for a quarter of all Audi sales in the U.S., no surprise given the current buyer infatuation with crossover sport utilities of all sizes in every price class.

With Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive and a full complement of safety, comfort and convenience features, the Q5 is the sort of vehicle that could satisfy a broad range of buyers seeking a two-row compact or midsize crossover.

It is powered by a 252-hp, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a snap-shifting dual-clutch seven-speed automatic transmission. With modern computerized technology, this 2.0-liter turbo, along with others like it that are becoming ubiquitous, has enough hustle to get you arrested anywhere.

The starting price tag is $42,475 and, with the sorts of options ordered by folks who shop in this price range, can top out at $52,700. That gets you a tasteful, luxurious, comfortable and quiet interior that almost anyone would welcome for a day-long drive, along with most of the convenience and infotainment functions most buyers want these days.

Small-2018-Audi-SQ5-2818But no. That’s not enough karma for some customers with deep pockets. So, Audi obliges with the SQ5, which is way over the top for any driving on the public highways. It is the same size as its Q5 garage mate with 102 cubic feet of space for passengers — about what you get with a midsize sedan — plus a cargo area behind the back seat of 27 cubic feet, or about double that of a midsize sedan trunk.

It is listed as a five-passenger crossover. But that’s optimistic because the center-rear seat is compromised by a hard cushion, a hidden pull-down center armrest and a giant, square floor hump. The outboard seats, however, are fine and nearly as comfortable as the front seats.

Under the SQ5’s hood lurks a 354-horsepower, turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 engine that delivers 369 pound-feet of torque to all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission that can be shifted manually.

That and a bunch of other high-performance stuff bumps the SQ5’s base price to $55,275, or $12,800 more than the Q5. With options, the SQ5 driven for this review had a bottom-line price of $65,800.

2018-Audi-SQ5
2018-Audi-SQ5

According to Audi, that gets you a zero-to-60 time of 5.1 seconds, or eight-tenths of one second quicker than the A5’s 5.9-second time. That’s a bunch of bucks that won’t amount to much of a difference in daily driving.

In Drive, there’s a slight bit of hesitation off the line as the turbocharger spools up. It goes away if you tap the shifter into Sport. There, the SQ5 feels even faster than it is, delivering that rush of excitement that devotees presumably covet.

Start-stop technology, which thankfully can be switched off, contributes to decent SQ5 city/highway/combined fuel economy of 19/24/21 mpg. However, the Q5 saves some bucks with a rating of 23/27/25.

Of course, the SQ5’s higher sticker price also confers bragging rights about how much you can afford to pay for your compact crossover SUV. And the options cover a lot of nifty stuff: air suspension system, torque-vectoring sport rear differential, performance brakes with red calipers, Nappa leather upholstery, 21-inch wheels with sticky summer tires, and Bang & Olufsen audio with 3D sound and a head-up display.

2018-Audi-SQ5
2018-Audi-SQ5

That’s in addition to the standard full safety equipment, rear-view camera, LED headlights and taillights, three-zone climate control, rear-view camera and SXM satellite radio. Curiously for a vehicle in this category, the test car did not have adaptive cruise control.

Also, though the tested SQ5 came with a roof-size panoramic sunroof, the sunshade was made of a perforated cloth that admitted too much sunlight. Sunshades should be opaque.

The SQ5’s tidy size — 15 feet four inches long — and the air suspension system contribute to sporty handling on twisting roads. There are selectable driving modes that adjust performance parameters but most owners likely will stick with the comfort setting, which is fine for daily motoring. However, the dynamic mode awaits for hustling around curves.

Small-2018-Audi-SQ5-2782Specifications

  • Model: 2018 Audi SQ5 3.0T Quattro four-door crossover sport utility vehicle.
  • Engine: 3.0-liter V6, turbocharged; 354 hp, 369 lb-ft torque.
  • Transmission: Eight-speed automatic with manual-shift mode and all-wheel drive.
  • Overall length: 15 feet 4 inches.
  • EPA passenger/cargo volume: 102/27 cubic feet.
  • Weight: 4,430 pounds.
  • EPA city/highway/combined fuel consumption: 19/24/21 mpg.
  • Base price, including destination charge: $55,275.
  • Price as tested: $65,800.

Disclaimer: This test drive was based on a loan of the vehicle from the manufacturer. It was driven by the author in circumstances similar to everyday driving by consumers.

Photos (c) Audi USA.

Small-2018-Audi-SQ5-2830

2017 North American International Auto Show: A DriveWays Review…

by Frank A. Aukofer

Detroit, Mich.—Bucking the tide of compact crossover sport utility vehicles, three new sedans from Japan’s Toyota and South Korea’s Kia captured onlookers’ attention here at the 2017 North American International Auto Show, which runs through Jan. 22.

A few manufacturers introduced new compact crossovers, which have taken over as the hottest category in U.S. sales—mainly at the expense of midsize and compact sedans. But they were few and overshadowed by three four-doors.

They are the all-new 2018 Toyota Camry, the 2018 Lexus LS500 from Toyota’s luxury division and the 2018 Kia Stinger, a new midsize sports sedan that looks as if it could threaten some of Europe’s best.

On the small crossover front, Nissan unveiled the new Rogue Sport, a smaller version of its compact SUV. It is based on the Nissan Qashqui, which is sold in other world markets. Mercedes-Benz introduced an all-new GLA and Chevrolet presented its redesigned Equinox, a compact crossover that tilts toward midsize.

But that was about it unless you count the new Chevrolet Traverse, a full-size, three-row crossover, the stretched Volkswagen Tiguan—also with three rows—and the smaller performance-oriented Audi SQ5.

toyotacamryDespite the booming popularity of compact crossovers, manufacturers still obviously believe in midsize sedans. The Camry, despite losing 40,737 customers between 2015 and 2016, still topped the midsize field with 388,618 sold in 2016.

The 2018 model, seeking to mitigate the Camry’s reputation as durable but bland, boasts styling changes and improvements across the board. It is longer, lower and wider, with a lower center of gravity for better handling.

As before, there are four versions: LE, XLE, SE, and XSE. The LE and XLE models have a different grille from the S and XSE versions and are oriented toward comfort. The S and XSE models have a more sporting personality. Power choices are a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, a 3.5-liter V6 and a hybrid.

For 2018, all Toyota Camry models get the company’s Entune 3.0 connectivity system, which includes navigation and a host of other state-of-the art features.

lexusls5502Over at the Lexus display, the attention grabber was the all-new LS500, which at 17 feet 2 inches long is bigger and classier than ever, rivaling the Audi A8, BMW 7 Series, Jaguar XJ and Mercedes-Benz S-Class. The LS500 is powered by a 415-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine with twin turbochargers, a 10-speed automatic transmission and a predicted zero-to-60 mph acceleration time of 5.1 seconds.

Among other things, its standard and optional features include a 12.3-inch center screen with navigation and handwriting recognition, air suspension system, heated, cooled and massaging front and rear seats, and a detection system that can trigger braking or steering around a pedestrian.

kiastinger2Most of the excitement among enthusiasts, however, focused on the Kia Stinger, an all-new car with a new name. It marks a milestone at the South Korean manufacturer, which delivers high quality cars, crossovers and even a minivan.

The midsize Stinger is a performance-oriented Gran Turismo four-door with a fastback design and a rear hatch, not unlike the larger Audi A7, which competes among cars that can cost up to $80,000.

Few Stinger details were available at the introduction, including the price, but it likely will be way less than the A7’s—more competitive with the likes of the BMW 3-Series, Audi A4, Jaguar XE, Lexus IS and Mercedes-Benz C-Class cars.

With rear-wheel drive or optional all-wheel drive with torque vectoring for improved handling, the Stinger will offer two power plants: 225-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine or a 365-horsepower twin-turbocharged V6 engine. The transmission is an eight-speed automatic with paddle shifters for a manual shifting mode. No manual gearbox was considered.Vice President Joe Biden Visits 2017 NAIAS

Photos and Logo (c) NAIAS.

2017 Audi S3 quattro: A DriveWays Review…

by Frank A. Aukofer

With its 2017 A3 and S3 models, Germany’s Audi redefines the meaning of “entry level.”

Yes, they are the first-step introduction to the company’s extensive lineup of luxury/high performance sports cars, sedans and crossover sport utility vehicles. But they are anything but base.

Their only nod to the entry label is their classification as subcompact cars. With a total of slightly more than 96 cubic feet of interior volume, they reside in the U.S. government’s subcompact range of 85 to 99 cubic feet. That includes 86 cubic feet for passengers and 10 cubic feet of trunk space.

That has both advantages and disadvantages. The advantage is a tidy footprint. At 14 feet 8 inches long, they exhibit quick and precise handling, especially in the all-wheel-drive quattro models, along with a capability of doing rapid U-turns almost anywhere.

news-2017-audi-s3-10The main disadvantage is a small trunk and a back seat that anyone over 6 feet tall likely would find challenging, with restricted knee and head room. As with most sedans these days, the outboard rear seats are comfortable but the center-rear position—with a hard cushion and big floor hump—should be reserved for backpacks or watermelons.

The A3 was introduced to plaudits as a 2016 model. Now, for 2017, there’s a family of four: A3 in sedan and convertible (Cabriolet) models with either front-drive or all-wheel drive; high-performance S3 sedan with quattro all-wheel drive, and the e-tron plug-in hybrid four-door hatchback.

Audi chose the new S3 as the 2017 launch vehicle. With standard all-wheel drive, it is powered by a turbocharged four-cylinder engine that delivers 292 horsepower and 280 pounds-feet of torque. That considerable power gets to the pavement through a snap-shifting six-speed twin-clutch automatic transmission that also can be manually shifted with paddles on the steering wheel.

news-2017-audi-s3-9Audi says the S3’s zero-to-60 mph acceleration time is 4.7 seconds, with a top track speed of 155 mph (or 130 with all-season tires). It’s unlikely anybody would try that on a regular basis, but the confidence of instant power is always present.

The A3, with a new 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, comes with 186 horsepower and 221 pounds-feet of torque. That’s with front-wheel drive and a starting price tag of $32,150. Order it with Quattro all-wheel drive, and the 2.0-liter four-cylinder delivers 220 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. The sticker is $35,100.

None of the prices are in economy car territory and options boost the stickers even higher. The tested S3 had a starting price of $43,850 and when the extras were added the bottom-line cost came to $51,325.

news-2017-audi-s3-24Leather upholstery is part of the standard equipment, unlike the man-made faux leather on some other luxury cars. It also includes full safety equipment, automatic climate control, panoramic sunroof, satellite and HD radio, smart phone interface with Apple Car Play and Android Auto, and a seven-inch infotainment screen that hides in the dash and rises majestically when the S3 wakes up.

Among the options were a navigation system, Bang & Olufsen premium audio system, 19-inch custom wheels with high-performance summer tires, magnetic ride control, cross traffic alert, sport seats and soft Nappa leather upholstery. Curiously for a car in this price class, all the S3’s front seat controls are manual, although they offer a myriad of adjustments to accommodate almost anyone.

One minor annoyance is the shade for the panoramic sunroof, which is made from a perforated cheesecloth-like material that allows way too much sunlight to intrude. This is a current fad embraced by too many luxury cars. Sun shades should be opaque.

news-2017-audi-s3-23But driver satisfaction and entertainment is the bottom line on the S3 sedan. Under any circumstance you might imagine—short of rough off-roading, which you would never do anyway—the S3 accelerates strongly, shifts swiftly, brakes strongly, handles with intuitive competence, tracks cleanly on straightaways, promises reliability and delivers a ride that is sporting stiff but compliant and not uncomfortable.

The only thing some owners in areas of foul weather might do would be to swap out the 155-mph summer tires for the 130-mph all-season tires. As much grip as they deliver in handling and stopping on dry surfaces, the summer tires get tricky in messy circumstances.

Because of its price, the S3 is not a car for everybody. However, you can order a lightly optioned A3 with front-drive and almost as much driving satisfaction—at a price near what an average new car sells for nowadays.

news-2017-audi-s3-11Specifications

  • Model: 2017 Audi S3 quattro four-door sedan.
  • Engine: 2.0-liter four cylinder, turbocharged, 292 hp, 280 lb-ft torque.
  • Transmission: Six-speed dual-clutch automatic.
  • Overall length: 14 feet 8 inches.
  • EPA passenger/trunk volume: 86/10 cubic feet.
  • Weight: 3,462 pounds.
  • EPA city/highway/combined fuel consumption: 21/28/24 mpg. Premium recommended.
  • Base price, including destination charge: $43,850.
  • Price as tested: $51,325.

Disclaimer: The manufacturer provided the vehicle used to conduct this test drive and review.

Photos (c) Audi.

 

2017 Audi R8: A DriveWays Review…

by Frank A. Aukofer

Place the 2017 Audi R8 in the pantheon of championship athletes like Usain Bolt, who perform with the best in the world but in person exude civility and courtesy.

It is a super car that plays on the same field with exotics like the new Ford GT, Acura NSX, BMW i8 and Porsche Cayman. All of these are equipped with stunningly powerful engines nestled ahead of the rear wheels but behind the driver in the classic mid-engine configuration.

They are so different that they don’t exactly compete with each other. What they offer is unique performance personalities that appeal to wealthy enthusiasts, collectors and investors who are convinced that their value will increase over time.

news-2017-audi-r8-v10-drive-45The R8 has a close relationship with the Huracán from Lamborghini, which like Audi is now part of Germany’s Volkswagen Group. The two marques share engines and drive trains, tuned differently, but the kinship ends there. The Huracán radiates Italian styling and flair; the R8 Germanic strength and contentment.

Sure, you can punch the throttle and get crackling exhaust sounds. But they are heard mainly from the outside. Inside, despite the fact that the 5.2-liter V-10 engine sits right behind the driver’s shoulders, little noise makes its way into the cockpit, even when you select the “sport sound” exhaust setting. It’s the opposite of the mid-engine Alfa Romeo 4C Spider, which creates such a din inside that it’s impossible to converse or listen to music.

Yet the R8’s V-10 engine delivers a whopping 610 horsepower with 413 lb-ft of torque, which should be enough to pull a flatcar full of Alfas. Nobody will try that, but a bunch of them likely will try to match Car and Driver Magazine’s zero-to-60 mph run of 2.9 seconds.

There are four performance settings: comfort, automatic, dynamic and individual, along with “sport” and “drive” choices for the seven-speed twin-clutch automatic. But the differences are subtle. The R8 can comfortably conquer any road you can find.

news-2017-audi-r8-v10-virtual-cockpit-17Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive doles out the power individually to all four wheels. The transmission can be shifted manually with paddles on the steering wheel but there’s no need to bother. The onboard computer controls shifts so precisely it’s doubtful any human could do them faster or more accurately.

Shifts snap off with silky aggression. On downshifts, the throttle blips automatically to match the engine’s revolutions. Once in awhile, however, at low speeds, the rev matching and subsequent upshifting cause the R8 to lurch.

Curiously, Audi uses a counterintuitive shift lever. It looks like a standard automatic shifter that has slots for park, reverse, neutral, drive and sport. Most drivers are used to simply pushing the lever forward to engage park.

On the R8 and other Audi models, pushing the lever all the way forward stops at reverse. To engage park you must reach around and press a button on the back of the shift lever.

Until you get used to it, the system can be unnerving. You think you’ve engaged park but you’re in reverse and sometimes catch the R8 rolling back when you take your foot off the brake.

news-2017-audi-r8-v10-virtual-cockpit-8Aside from that, there’s little to belittle in the R8. Styling appreciation always is in the eye of the beholder but there’s little argument that the R8 is an attention-grabber that elicits head turning by millennial boys and girls, and thumbs-up gestures from teenagers distracted from their smart phones.

Inside, the design, materials and trim reflect Audi’s longstanding reputation for simplicity and class. The R8 uses the company’s trendy combination of the instruments with the multifunction screen in the center stack. All functions are displayed digitally behind the steering wheel. It takes a bit of familiarization but it’s less distracting than glancing over at the center screen.

For all its glamorous personality, the R8 actually has some built-in practicality. A shelf behind the seats can hold a suitcase and the trunk up front contains a well that can accommodate a roll-aboard travel case. Part of the space, however, is taken up by a tire inflator. There’s no spare.

Outward visibility is surprisingly good except for the very wide pillars at the sides of the back window, so it’s important to get the side view mirrors adjusted correctly to eliminate blind spots.

Despite its nosebleed base price of $191,150 and an as-tested price with options of $202,750, the R8 delivers a full load of satisfaction for anyone who can afford it.

news-2017-audi-r8-v10-drive-10Specifications

  • Model: 2017 Audi R8 V10 Plus quattro S tronic Coupe.
  • Engine:2-liter V-10, 610 hp, 413 lb-ft torque.
  • Transmission: Seven-speed twin clutch automatic with manual shift mode and all-wheel drive.
  • Overall length: 14 feet 6 inches.
  • EPA passenger/cargo volume: 50/8 cubic feet.
  • Weight: 3,685 pounds.
  • EPA city/highway/combined fuel consumption: 15/22/17 mpg.
  • Base price, including destination charge: $191,150.
  • Price as tested: $202,750.

Disclaimer: The manufacturer provided the vehicle used to conduct this test drive and review.

Photos (c) Audi.

2017 Audi A4 2.0T quattro S tronic: A DriveWays Review…

by Frank A. Aukofer

To those with more than a passing interest in automobiles, sports sedans like the 2017 Audi A4 represent the epitome of automotive excellence.

Though more expensive in most cases than midsize and even near-luxury cars, they do everything well and more than meet expectations.

They can carry four passengers—five in a pinch, with luggage—and deliver outstanding performance, handling and braking with a comfortable enough ride.

Most of all, they provide a high level of driver satisfaction of the sort that prompts owners to go for a drive for the pure pleasure of it.

They are a fairly rare breed. Besides the Audi A4, they include the Jaguar XE, BMW 3-Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Lexus IS, Acura TLX and Cadillac ATS. They are not exactly the same size, classified both as compact and midsize by the U.S. government. But they’re close enough.

news-2017-audi-a4-l-16In such company, it is enough simply to be competitive. It takes a lot more to stand out and, when that happens, it’s usually by a narrow margin.

Such is the case with the tested Audi A4 2.0T quattro S tronic. That’s a nomenclature mouthful, but it aptly describes the compact A4 with the turbocharged 252 hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. “quattro” is Audi’s name for its renowned all-wheel drive system. The S tronic is the company’s seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.

For traditionalists, especially those who enjoy shifting for themselves, Audi also will offer a six-speed manual gearbox. That’s unusual in an era when stick shifts are vanishing from the scene even in ultra high performance sports cars.

The vast majority of customers, however, will order and enjoy the S tronic automatic, which has a manual shift mode controlled by paddles on the steering wheel. It’s entertaining on twisting mountain roads, where you want to hold the transmission in a gear to keep the engine revs up.

news-2017-audi-a4-interior-3-wBut as with most of these setups, the onboard computer uncannily computes when shifts up or down should be triggered, and can nearly always shift faster and more accurately than any human.

The A4’s S tronic does that, though occasionally there is an almost imperceptible slip when accelerating off the line—a characteristic of some twin clutch automatics. Mostly, you don’t notice anything and the A4 rockets to 60 mph in slightly more than five seconds, according to Audi and independent tests. Top speed is rated at 130 mph.

The A4 has selectable drive modes—automatic, comfort, dynamic and individual—but even in the softest setting it exhibits athletic moves. It also delivers enviable fuel economy. The EPA rates the city/highway/combined fuel consumption at 24/31/27 mpg.

news-2017-audi-a4-interior-4-wThe base A4 quattro, designated as Premium in Audi-speak, starts at $40,350, including the destination charge. If you don’t want or need the all-wheel drive, you can knock $2,100 off the sticker by ordering the front-wheel drive version.

Standard equipment includes three-zone automatic climate control, motorized glass sunroof, rearview camera, leather upholstery, xenon headlights, eight-way power front seats, pushbutton starting with engine stop-start, 17-inch wheels, and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

The heavily optioned test car, with a $54,275 sticker, added 18-inch wheels, Bang & Olufsen audio system, memory power seats, head-up display, digital gauge cluster, cooled and heated front seats, heated rear seats, adjustable suspension system, and an option package that included navigation, blind-spot warning and rear-end collision warning.

Also on the tester was a $1,800 driver assistance package that included adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist and traffic sign recognition. The combination enables the A4 to drive itself for short distances but should not be mistaken for a fully autonomous vehicle. Those are still way down the road.

news-2017-audi-a4-l-8The A4 provides supportive and comfortable seating for four passengers, with manual front seat thigh support extensions. It has five seatbelts but the center rear seating position is hopelessly compromised by a giant floor hump and a center console that intrudes into the back seat. It’s best to simply pull down the center armrest with the two small cup holders and leave it there.

Another negative is the automatic transmission shifter, which requires the driver to press a separate button on the back side to engage “park.” You can get used to it over time but, following longstanding habit, most drivers push the shifter forward, think they’re in “park” and wind up in “reverse” instead.

Overall, the Audi A4 stands out in a group of standout sports sedans.

news-2017-audi-a4-l-13Specifications

  • Model: 2017 Audi A4 2.0T quattro S tronic four door sedan.
  • Engine:0-liter four cylinder, turbocharged and intercooled, 252 hp, 273 lb-ft torque.
  • Transmission: Seven-speed twin clutch automatic with manual shift mode.
  • Overall length: 15 feet 6 inches.
  • EPA passenger/trunk volume: 94/13 cubic feet.
  • Weight: 3,670 pounds.
  • EPA city/highway/combined fuel consumption: 24/31/27 mpg.
  • Base price, including destination charge: $40,350.
  • Price as tested: $54,275.

Disclaimer: This test drive was conducted at a manufacturer-sponsored press event. The manufacturer provided travel, accommodations, vehicles, meals and fuel.

Photos (c) Audi.

 

2017 Audi Q7: A DriveWays Review…

by Frank A. Aukofer

It seems fitting that the 2017 Audi Q7 made its debut at the same time that the world focused on the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Both are symbolized by interlocking rings: five for the Olympics, representing the continents of Africa, Asia, America, Europe and Oceania, on a white background in five colors: blue, black, green, red and yellow, which appeared on the flags of the countries that participated in 1912 when the Olympic rings symbol was adopted.

The four similar Audi rings that adorn the Q7’s grille represent the automobile companies—Audi, Horch, DKW and Auto Union—that merged in 1932 to become Auto Union and, later, simply Audi.

The luxury/performance car manufacturer now is part of Volkswagen, which also owns Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Porsche, SEAT and Škoda.

news-2017-audi-q7-exterior-38-lrMore apt than the rings, however, is the similarity of the Q7 to the Olympics celebration of quality, capability and athleticism, which the Q7 has in abundance.

It is a four-door, seven-passenger crossover sport utility vehicle of the type that now is all the rage. Crossovers of every size are multiplying in the U.S. and around the world.

The interest spans the affordability spectrum from inexpensive crossovers like the Honda HR-V to the super luxury Bentley Bentayga, which sells for about a quarter of a million dollars.

The Audi Q7 doesn’t come close to that mark. But in temperament and accouterments it qualifies as what most people would consider a  luxury crossover SUV. With a base price of $55,750, the Q7 comes with standard items like a panoramic sunroof, power tailgate, leather upholstery, heated and powered folding outside mirrors, satellite and HD radio, and a full suite of safety equipment.

news-2017-audi-q7-exterior-25In addition, the tested Q7 was loaded with optional state of the art equipment that included adaptive cruise control, blind spot warning, backup camera with full overhead view, four-zone automatic climate control, four-way power lumbar adjustments on both front seats, navigation system, a Bose 3D sound system and 20-inch alloy wheels.

With that equipment, and more, the tested Q7 came with a sticker price of $68,925.

The frosting is nice but where the Q7 shines is in its overall performance, ride and handling. It cruises powerfully, quietly and comfortably on the highway, requiring few steering corrections. On twisting roads, it follows the driver’s steering inputs instantly and changes direction with minimal body roll.

Power from the turbo 333 hp V6 engine goes to all four wheels through Audi’s eight-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission, which can be shifted manually with paddles on the steering wheel. It’s entertaining to shift for yourself but the automatic operation is spot on, delivering rapid shifts that keep the engine in its sweet spot.

The transmission shift lever is a bit of a riddle. When you push it forward all the way, expecting it to shift into “park,” it stops at “reverse.” You must press a separate button for “park.”

There are five selectable driving modes: off-road, comfort, automatic, dynamic and individual. They tailor the Q7’s performance settings to suit driver preferences. In truth, you have to pay attention to detect differences; the automatic setting worked satisfactorily.

news-2017-audi-q7-60Inside, the Q7 demonstrates why Audi consistently gets high marks from critics for interior design, which on the tester was an elegant and simple combination of wood grains, leather and piano black finishes.

Interior comfort in the first two rows is first rate. Front seats have big bolsters for lateral support and the upholstery is perforated for heating and cooling. Outboard back seats are nearly as comfortable, and even the center rear position is an actual seat instead of a hard, lumpy cushion as on many other vehicles. The drawback is that feet must be splayed on both sides of a big center floor hump.

The power-folding third row should be saved for special circumstances. Although the second row slides fore and aft to give third-row passengers improved knee and foot room, the accommodations there are cramped and not easy to access.

Most of the Q7’s instruments are digital — sort of like looking at a video game. But they are bright and easy to read, and even are set up to scold the driver for, say, using the air conditioning because it hinders fuel economy.

Overall, high achieving and environmentally sensitive Olympians likely would feel a kinship and embrace the Q7.

news-2017-audi-q7-exterior-31Specifications

  • Model: 2017 Audi Q7 3.0T Quattro Tiptronic four-door crossover sport utility vehicle.
  • Engine:0-liter V6, turbocharged, 333 hp, 325 lb-ft torque.
  • Transmission: Eight-speed automatic with paddle operated manual shift mode and all-wheel drive.
  • Overall length:16 feet 8 inches.
  • EPA passenger/cargo volume:136/15 cubic feet. (max 72).
  • Weight: 4,938 pounds.
  • Towing capability: 7,700 pounds.
  • EPA city/highway/combined fuel consumption: 19/25/21 mpg.
  • Base price, including destination charge: $55,750.
  • Price as tested: $68,925.

Disclaimer: This test drive was conducted at a manufacturer-sponsored press event. The manufacturer provided travel, accommodations, vehicles, meals and fuel.

2017 Audi Q7 Test Drive and Review

by Jason Fogelson

Big crossover vehicles confuse me a little. I don’t understand why I love the 2017 Audi Q7 so much, but I do.

Audi lavished some much-need attention to Q7 for 2017, taking a chisel to an exterior that hadn’t changed in almost a decade. The sharper, more angular body looks a little less locomotive than before, with a front end that’s lower and sides that feel tucked in rather than bulging. It’s a good look and further differentiates it from corporate cousins Porsche Cayenne and Volkswagen Touareg.

Audi does interiors really well, and Q7 benefits from the latest styling and technology the company has to offer. And that’s to say – really classy, sleek and attractive.

Q7 used to be offered with a choice of diesel or gasoline powerplant, but thanks to the VW diesel scandal, it’s strictly gasoline for the Q7 in the US for now. The 3.0-liter turbo V6 is no slouch, but doesn’t get the same reported fuel efficiency ratings that the diesel was famous for – dishonestly, as it turns out. Shame.

news-2017-audi-q7-60Even with all this goodness on offer, I’m still confused. The big crossover is obviously an on-road vehicle, without a hint of ruggedness anywhere. Who is it for? In my hometown of Los Angeles, I see plenty of Q7 crossovers in traffic carrying a lone driver, not the big family I’d expect. Audi’s got two smaller SUVs, the Q5 and Q3, that would seem to be better choices for commuting.

But the Q7 makes a statement – a big statement. And maybe that’s what it’s all about.

Read my 2017 Audi Q7 Test Drive And Review on Forbes.com.

Photos (c) Audi

2016 Audi RS7 Performance: A DriveWays Review

by Frank A. Aukofer

Purposeful people who save rubber bands and prefer practical automobiles also should have access to motoring exhilaration if they want it, which is the reason for the 2016 Audi RS7 Performance hatchback sedan.

This is a rip-roaring, expensive sports car loaded with adrenalin-inducing super-car credentials. Its sensuous lines define what used to be described as a torpedo body but now is called a four-door coupe.

Yet it has a hatchback and flip-down rear seatbacks that makes it as useful as a Prius or Mazda3. It carries four people—there’s no pretense of a center-rear seat, which wouldn’t work anyway because of a big floor hump. So the middle is occupied by a fold-down armrest with cup holders and storage.

There’s decent elbow and knee room, though a six-footer with a three-foot torso will head-bump the roof. With the seats up there’s nearly 25 cubic feet for cargo; drop the seatbacks and the space nearly doubles.

The RS7 Performance is as luxurious as anything out there, as well it should be given its $129,925 base price and, in this iteration, a $140,850 bottom line sticker. It represents the pinnacle of Audi’s low-rider streamlined series, which also includes the A7, S7 and RS7.

1920x1080_ARS7_PRF_D_151003_1Differences lie mainly in the supplied power. Almost anyone would be pleased with an A7, which comes with a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 engine that delivers 333 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque. The S7 has a turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 with 450 hp and 406 lb-ft torque, and the RS7’s 4.0-liter turbo V8 jumps to 560 hp and 516 lb-ft torque.

There’s also a diesel V6 engine available for the A7. It’s a 3.0-liter turbo V6 with 240 hp and 428 lb-ft of torque. All 7-series Audi models get the power to all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission with Audi’s Tiptronic manual shift mode.

But the Big Daddy, the subject here, is the new RS7 Performance. Its turbocharged V8 supplies a whopping 607 hp with 553 lb-ft of torque, which rocketed a tester to 60 mph in 3.3 seconds in an instrumented test by Car and Driver Magazine. Top speed—not that anyone short of a skilled driver on a closed course could attain it—is 190 mph.

The numbers don’t tell the story. The RS7 Performance has two drive modes: automatic and sport, which also includes manual shifting via paddles on the steering wheel.

In the automatic setting, the experience is quiet and velvety, as if the car were a boulevardier to chauffeur well-dressed friends to a fine restaurant.

But that’s not a tenth of what’s available. Flick the shifter into the sport mode and punch the pedal. It’s instantly scary; your head snaps back and you feel as if the car wants to rocket from under you and suck you into the back seat.

Don’t bother with the shift paddles. German engineers don’t trust you anyway. You can select a gear and the computer will alter it depending on the circumstances. So sit back and work your right foot.

Lift off the throttle and the exhaust alternates between blats and burbles, as if you were downshifting for a racetrack corner. Your head jerks forward when you lift off the pedal without touching the brakes.

1920x1080_ARS7_141001_1Ah, the brakes. They’re gigantic, with the discs filling the space behind the open 21-inch alloy wheels. They’re of the no-fade ceramic species that inhabit race cars and can slam to a panic stop in an instant or creep up to a traffic light with imperceptible ease to coddle a queen or princess.

The adjustable ride is supple in the European manner with cushy comfort taking a back seat to superb handling, abetted by Audi’s famed quattro all-wheel drive, which is omnipresent but never intrusive.

On the luxury front, the RS7 Performance’s interior is quintessentially Audi, which enjoys one of the best reputations in the motoring firmament for simple, quality design. You settle into seats of quilted leather with white stitching that have firm lateral support and superior comfort. But without perforations the seats are heated but not cooled.

The RS7 Performance incorporates a full suite of safety equipment, including optional adaptive cruise control and lane keeping assist. The test car also was equipped with an audiophile’s dream: a $4,900 Bang & Olufsen audio system.

So if Charlie the neighbor sniffs at your precious ride, you can always point out that its hatchback design can help him move that side table.

1920x1080_ARS7_PRF_151003Specifications

  • Model: 2016 Audi RS 7 Performance four-door hatchback sedan.
  • Engine: 4.0-liter V8, turbocharged, 605 hp, 553 lb-ft torque.
  • Transmission: Eight-speed automatic with Tiptronic manual shift mode and all-wheel drive.
  • Overall length: 16 feet 5 inches.
  • EPA passenger/cargo volume: 94/25 cubic feet.
  • Weight: 4,515 pounds (estimated).
  • EPA city/highway/combined fuel consumption: 15/25/18 mpg.
  • Base price, including destination charge: $129,925.
  • Price as tested: $140,850.

Photos (c) Audi

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