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  • 2017 Audi S3 Sedan

    Compact sport sedan with four-season capability

    By Nina Russin

    Audi S3 Sedan

    Audi S3 Sedan

    The S3 is the performance variant of Audi’s compact sedan family that also includes the A3 and A3 cabriolet. While A3 and S3 share the same basic platform, the S gets a more powerful two-liter engine along with available magnetic sport suspension that instantaneously adjusts to driver inputs and road surface; bigger wheels with summer performance tires and different exterior styling.

    Base price for the all-wheel drive sedan is $42,900 excluding the $950 destination charge. Options on the test car include metallic white exterior ($575); 19-inch five-spoke wheels with summer tires and magnetic sport suspension ($1500); navigation with Audi connect infotainment, blind spot monitoring and Audi virtual cockpit ($3000); Nappa leather seating with manual front sport seats ($1450), Bang & Olafsen premium sound system ($950) and sport red brake calipers ($400). Final MSRP is $51,725. Read the rest of this entry »

  • 2017 Audi Q7

    Full-size SUV ready for adventure

    By Nina Russin

    2017 Audi Q7

    2017 Audi Q7

    For those who have the means, there is no partner better suited for adventure on and off-road than Audi’s all-new full-size sport-utility vehicle, the Q7. Building on momentum created by the original model, the second-generation vehicle adds a seven-mode drive select system that enables drivers to adjust the car’s throttle, braking and suspension for on and off-road surfaces. Cars with the optional air suspension can also change ride height, up to about 2-1/2 inches for clearing obstacles on off-road trails.

    Power comes from a 333-horsepower V-6 engine and eight-speed automatic transmission. The engine develops peak torque, 325 pound-feet, as low as 2900 rpm for exceptional acceleration off the line. Audi’s Quattro all-wheel drive system sends engine power to the wheels with the best traction for sure-footedness on wet or snow-covered roads.

    Base price is $54,800 excluding the $950 destination charge. Options on the test car include white metallic exterior finish, 20-inch rims with run-flat tires, Bose premium audio system, heads-up display, Audi Connect infotainment, navigation, smartphone interface, heated power side mirrors, LED interior lighting, adaptive cruise control with lane keeping assist, automatic high beams, heated steering wheel and heated rear seats, rear seat entertainment system and black headliner. Final MSRP is $72,875. Read the rest of this entry »

  • 2015 Audi Q3 2.0T quattro Tiptronic

    Compact model joins the Q5 and Q7 crossover family

    By Nina Russin

    2015 Audi Q3

    2015 Audi Q3

    Who doesn’t love a fast car? As athletes, we obsess over ways to make our bodies stronger and more agile. Since a person’s car is, in a sense, his alter ego, shouldn’t it do the same?

    The Audi Q3 that debuts for the 2015 model year expands the brand’s crossover lineup to three offerings. The new compact crossover takes a similar approach to styling and performance as its larger siblings, the Q5 and Q7. Smaller dimensions and better fuel economy make it a more practical choice for urbanites that contend with limited parking and congested thoroughfares.

    Both front-wheel drive and quattro models are powered by a two-liter, turbocharged 200-horsepower engine and six-speed automatic transmission. The engine reaches peak torque, 207 foot-pounds, at the tip of a throttle for exceptional acceleration off the line. The manufacturer lists a zero-to-sixty time of 7.8 seconds for the front-wheel drive model: 8.2 for the quattro.

    Base price is $34,600 excluding the $925 destination charge. Standard convenience features include Bluetooth interface, satellite radio, rain-sensing windshield wipers, a panoramic sunroof, xenon headlamps, heated front seats and iPod interface. The test car comes with special exterior paint, navigation, 19-inch wheels and a power tailgate, bringing the final MSRP to $39,175. Read the rest of this entry »

  • 2014 Audi S4 Quattro Manual

    Compact sport sedan raises the bar

    By Nina Russin

    2014 Audi S4

    2014 Audi S4

    Of all the car manufacturers in the current market, I would argue that Audi offers the most compelling integration of engineering and design. Perhaps it’s the dual influence of Porsche’s idealism and Volkswagen’s pragmatism that has enabled Audi to develop such a unique lexicon.

    The automaker was one of the first to offer a proprietary all-wheel drive system while modeling suspension and engine technology after racecars. Audi’s distinctive grille has been emulated by direct competitors as has its daytime running lamps, converting a drab safety feature into dramatic design.

    As a result, Audi’s product planning team can transform something as simple as a compact sedan into pure magic. The S4 sedan is just that: a practical car that is both elegant and powerful. It is a package that refuses to compromise.

    Power comes from a 333-horsepower supercharged V-6 engine and six-speed manual gearbox. Quattro all-wheel drive gives the S4 four-season capability by transferring engine power to the wheels with the best traction. Eighteen-inch rims with summer performance tires give the S4 a big footprint for better stability at speed, while the Quattro system maintains a rear wheel bias for better steering response. An available sport differential with torque vectoring improves handling in the corners.

    Base price is $48,100 excluding the $895 destination charge. The test car comes with an optional red pearl exterior, navigation and Audi connect, a trim package that adds 19-inch rims and glossy black exterior accents plus Quattro all-wheel drive. Final MSRP is $54,945. Read the rest of this entry »

  • 2015 Audi A3 Sedan

    Audi expands its compact line-up with a youthful eye

    By Nina Russin

    2015 Audi A3 Sedan

    2015 Audi A3 Sedan

    While it might not be easy to produce a good car, the basic formula is simple. If engineers don’t meet driver’s expectations for acceleration, steering, suspension, NVH and braking, little else matters. With regards to design, form should always follow function. Cars shouldn’t look like jukeboxes on wheels or futuristic cartoons.

    The guys at Audi get this while other automakers, for inexplicable reasons, do not. Audi’s new compact A3 sedan moves to the front of the pack simply because its product planners made sure everything from the broad sweeps to less obvious details adhered to the same standards as the automaker’s high-end luxury models.

    A Bauhaus-inspired design adheres to classic architectural proportions. It is simple, purposeful and aerodynamic. And while the two-liter engine might not have the heart stopping acceleration of some of the brand’s larger supercharged blocks, it is plenty for getting the job done. The dual-clutch automatic transmission is crisp and appealing, and the suspension is pure, nimble Audi.

    Base price for the test car is $32,900, excluding the $895 delivery charge. Options include voice-activated navigation, heated front seats, side mirrors and windshield washers, an aluminum style package and iPod interface. Final MSRP is $36,645. Read the rest of this entry »

  • 2014 Audi A8 L 4.0T Quattro Tiptronic

    Long-wheelbase flagship sedan

    By Nina Russin

    Audi A8 L

    Audi A8 L

    The long-wheelbase version of Audi’s high luxury sedan combines the performance of a jetfighter with infotainment and convenience features that define the segment. The four-liter engine in the test car is one of four available gasoline blocks, accelerating from zero-to-sixty in 4.8 seconds.

    Yet thanks to fuel economizing measures including cylinder deactivation, a shut-off feature at idle and an eight-speed automatic transmission, average fuel economy is 19 miles-per-gallon: not bad for a car weighing 4600 pounds. The engine requires premium fuel: something potential buyers should factor into cost of ownership.

    Base price for the test car is $87,600 excluding the $895 delivery charge. Options include an interior design package, Bang & Olufsen premium sound system, ventilated and massaging front and rear seats, blind spot monitoring, LED headlamps, air suspension, adaptive steering, a sports differential, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, a cold weather package and 20-inch high performance tires. Final MSRP is $120,845. Read the rest of this entry »

  • First Drive: 2015 Audi A3 2.0 Quattro

    Premium compact sedan features advanced connectivity

    By Nina Russin

    2015 Audi A3

    2015 Audi A3

    There’s a bit of a debate going on among automakers as to which is more important: technology under the hood or advanced connectivity inside the car. As the number of new driver’s license applications among teens continues to decrease, one might wonder if the days of the driving enthusiast are drawing to a close.

    Audi, an automaker that has always catered to car lovers, doesn’t believe this is the case. But the company also understands how much new connectivity features are driving the market. So in designing the new A3 compact sedan, the OEM made both priorities.

    The sedan, which starts at $29,900 for the turbocharged 1.8-liter model and $32,900 for the two-liter quattro, is available with 4G LTE, to optimize the owner’s experience with Audi Connect: the technology that enables occupants to access apps such as Facebook and Twitter, and transforms the vehicle into a mobile hotspot. There is a text-to-speech function for email and text messaging.

    Audi has had an ongoing relationship with Google for the past decade, and Google Earth maps remain an integral part of the available navigation system.

    Other technology partners include Qualcomm (modems), eSolutions (infotainment), MyScript (touchpad interface) and Bang & Olufsen (audio).

    Because the life cycle of this technology is shorter than the typical ownership period for a car, Audi has made it easy to update, with a removable board for replacing chipsets. Read the rest of this entry »

  • 2014 Audi A6 TDI Quattro Tiptronic

    Clean diesel model rounds out sport sedan lineup

    By Nina Russin

    2014 Audi A6 TDI

    2014 Audi A6 TDI

    This year, Audi adds a turbo-diesel injected model to its midsized A6 sedan lineup, combining the fuel economy of a much smaller engine with V-6 power and performance. The three-liter six-cylinder engine accelerates from zero-to-sixty in 5.5 seconds, yet averages up to 38 miles-per-gallon on the highway. By comparison, the gasoline-powered three-liter A6 averages 27 mpg.

    Extensive use of aluminum throughout the sedan’s body structure contains curb weight to 4,178 pounds. While the A6 is by no means a featherweight, it is light enough to perform nimbly on challenging two-lane roads.

    Base price for the TDI model is $57,500, excluding the $895 delivery charge. Options on the test car include special exterior paint and S line trim, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, four-zone climate control, Bose surround sound, adaptive front headlamps, 20-inch wheels, sport suspension, Ash wood trim and a black headliner. Final MSRP is $66,795. Read the rest of this entry »

  • 2014 Audi Q5 TDI Quattro Tiptronic

    Clean diesel technology means fewer stops at the fuel pump

    By Nina Russin

    2014 Audi Q5 TDI

    I’m sitting behind the wheel of the Audi Q5 TDI five-passenger crossover, having logged about 80 miles on the vehicle. The fuel gauge needle has yet to move off full. Had I been writing this ten year’s ago or driving a different car, I would assume that there was a problem with the ground on the gas tank, causing the needle to give an inaccurate reading.

    But knowing Audi’s almost magical ability to extend fuel economy with clean diesel technology, I understand that the reading is correct. The EPA estimated 31 miles-per-gallon on the highway is if anything, conservative.

    The TDI model is new for the Q5 this year, expanding a line-up that already includes gasoline-powered cars and a hybrid. A S-line variant, also new for 2014, adds a supercharged 354-horsepower V-6 engine that propels the car from zero-to-sixty is just over five seconds.

    Standard convenience features include a panoramic sunroof, three-zone climate control, heated eight-way power front seats, iPod connectivity and Bluetooth interface.

    Base price on the test car is $46,500 excluding the $895 destination charge. An option package adds navigation and Audi connect that turns the car into a mobile hotspot. Final MSRP is $51,445. Read the rest of this entry »

  • 2013 Audi A4 2.0T quattro

    Entry luxury sedan with four-season performance

    By Nina Russin

    2013 Audi A4

    Can an outdoor enthusiast find long-term happiness inside the confines of a luxury sedan’ The answer is ‘yes,’ if that sedan happens to be an Audi A4.

    While its cargo area isn’t quite as large as that of its sibling, the Allroad wagon, all-wheel drive and a rear pass-through make the A4 a logical choice for buyers who commute during the week, and head for the slopes on the weekend.

    The midsized A4 is also fuel-efficient, thanks to its two-liter turbocharged engine paired with either an eight-speed automatic transmission or six-speed manual. Average highway fuel economy is 30 mpg.

    New Google mapping features and the ability to turn the sedan into a Wi Fi hotspot keep occupants connected away from home or office.

    Base price for the A4 quattro with automatic transmission is $34,600, excluding the $895 destination charge. The test car comes with three options: special exterior paint, polished exhaust tips and a premium package that includes 18-inch alloy rims, iPod compatibility, Bluetooth interface, heated front seats, Xenon headlamps, three-zone climate control, Homelink garage door opener and a driver information system. Final MSRP is $40,310. Read the rest of this entry »