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  • 2013 Audi Allroad

    All-wheel drive wagon with athletic performance

    By Nina Russin

    2013 Audi Allroad

    If there’s a car on the market which can push Americans beyond their collective dislike of sport wagons, the 2013 Audi Allroad is it. The second-generation Allroad feels more like the Audi A4 Avant than it does the first Allroad, discontinued in 2005. It’s compact and nimble, combining the automaker’s lighter-than-air suspension feel with robust power.

    The biggest difference between the new Allroad and the A4 Avant it replaces is in off-road performance. The Allroad has 1.5-inches more ground clearance and some under-body cladding to protect chassis components from rocks and errant tree roots. The additional ground clearance with standard quattro all-wheel drive makes the new Allroad a better snow car as well.

    Power comes from a two-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and eight-speed automatic transmission, which yield 23 mile-per-gallon average fuel economy, according to the EPA. Zero-to-sixty acceleration is 6.5 seconds.

    A longer wheelbase as compared to the Avant adds legroom for second-row passengers, and also adds length to the cargo floor with second-row seats folded flat. Cyclists will have no problems putting a road bike inside the car. An optional power tailgate keeps both hands free for loading large cargo into the back.

    Base price for the 2013 Allroad is $39,600, excluding the $895 delivery fee. The test car comes with three options: a premium package which adds three-zone climate control, Bluetooth and iPod interface, the power tailgate, heated front seats with driver position memory, digital information display and bi-xenon headlamps ($3300); navigation with rearview camera, Audi (internet) connect and Bluetooth streaming audio ($3050); keyless entry and start ($550). Final MSRP is $47,395. Read the rest of this entry »

  • 2013 Audi Allroad 2.0T

    Audi revives its off-road wagon for a new generation of drivers

    Nina Russin

    2013 Audi Allroad

    In 2001, Audi rolled out a sport wagon called the Allroad, combining car-like proportions with the off-road capability of a sport-utility vehicle. An adjustable-height suspension gave the first Allroad enough ground clearance to navigate trails, while its low profile made it more aerodynamic.

    Although the concept was compelling, it was a hard sell in the United States at the height of its love affair with full-sized trucks. In 2005, Audi retired the nameplate, replacing it with the A4 Avant wagon.

    Seven years later, Audi rolls out the second-generation Allroad, with a more fuel-efficient two-liter engine, enhanced off-road capability and Audi’s first ever in-car wireless hot spot.

    Base price is $39,600, excluding the $895 delivery charge. The test car is equipped with four options: special paint ($475); a premium package including power folding and heated side mirrors, automatic dimming interior mirror with compass, Bluetooth and iPod interface, heated front seats, xenon headlamps, three-zone headlamps and a power rear tailgate ($3300); navigation with a rearview camera, Audi connect (wireless hotspot) and Bluetooth streaming audio ($3050) and Audi advanced key ($550). MSRP is $47,870. Read the rest of this entry »

  • 2012 Audi A6 3.0 Quattro

    Sport sedan with the versatility for active lifestyles

    By Nina Russin

    2012 Audi A6

    On the surface, the Audi A6 appears to be a fairly conservative car. Its exterior isn’t as edgy as the A7, nor does it have the race-inspired roar of the R8.

    A few minutes behind the wheel are all it takes to dispense with those preconceptions. Audi’s midsized sport sedan is a remarkable piece of work: as fast as it is fuel efficient, with an interior versatile enough for athletes. The trunk is cavernous. While sedans are rarely bicycle friendly, the A6 is. Designers added tie-down loops on the cargo floor to make securing large items easier.

    A three-liter supercharged V6 engine accelerates from zero-to-sixty miles-per-hour in 5.3 seconds. But thanks to direct injection technology and an eight-speed automatic transmission, the A6 averages 28 miles-per-gallon on the highway. Average fuel economy for my 100-mile test drive was 25 mpg, three miles-per-gallon better than the EPA estimate.

    Available Audi Connect turns the sedan into a mobile hotspot, with Google Earth, Google Maps and Google search. If there’s an endurance athlete on the planet who isn’t addicted to some version of Google mapping, I haven’t met him. The system also provides instant access to news, traffic alerts, and road construction updates.

    Base price for the A6 is $49,900, excluding the $875 destination charge. A premium option package on the test car adds the Audi Connect, navigation, 18-inch wheels, four-zone automatic climate control, Bose surround-sound audio system, front seat ventilators, xenon headlamps with LED daytime running lamps and the S-line exterior ($6880).

    A sport package upgrades the wheels to 19-inch rims, adds a three spoke steering wheel with formula-style shift paddles and sport suspension ($1500). Two additional options, LED headlamps ($1400) and blind spot monitoring ($500) bring the price as tested to $61,530. Read the rest of this entry »

  • 2012 Audi TTS Roadster

    Turbocharging boosts power and efficiency

    By Nina Russin

    2012 Audi TTS Roadster

    The TT is Audi’s two-passenger sports coupe and convertible. In addition to the base models, driving enthusiasts can choose from two performance variants: the TTS, which has a more powerful version of the turbocharged four-cylinder engine, and the race-inspired TT RS, powered by a turbocharged five-cylinder engine.

    The TTS roadster is notable for its all-season capability, thanks to quattro all-wheel drive, and a three-layer soft top which insulates the driver and passenger against temperature extremes. Optional heated front seats make it possible to drive with the top down on crisp, fall days.

     The rear window is glass, making it more durable than plastic which tends to yellow with age. The glass is also better insulated and larger, for enhanced rear visibility.

    While it is relatively easy to engineer a coupe for high torsional rigidity, a cabriolet is a much tougher challenger. Cowl shake can be the bane of open-air cars. To Audi’s credit, the TTS roadster is as responsive to driver input as the coupe.

    By using a combination of high strength steel and aluminum, engineers have created a chassis which is both rigid and lightweight. Zero-to-sixty acceleration is slightly slower than for the coupe, but 5.1 seconds is nothing to sneeze at.

    Under the hood, the two-liter turbocharged engine develops peak torque, 258 foot-pounds, at speeds as low as 2500 rpm: a mild tip of the throttle. A dual clutch transmission offers the performance of a manual gearbox with the convenience of automatic shifting. The driver can also choose gears manually using formula-style shift paddles on the steering wheel or the gearshift lever.

    Base price for the Audi TTS roadster is $50,000, excluding the $875 destination charge. Pearl black paint on the test car adds $475. The test car has two additional options: a navigation system ($2070) and heated front seats ($450). Price as tested is $53,870. Read the rest of this entry »

  • 2011 Audi Q5 2.0T Quattro Tiptronic

    Elegance, Performance and Luxury in Smaller Crossover

    by Jim Woodman

    2011 Audi Q5 2.0T

    I just had the wonderful opportunity to drive the 2011 Audi Q5 Quattro Tiptronic for a week through New York and some of the New England states. I was curious to see how its new base engine for 2011 – a turbocharged 2.0 liter 4-cylinder dynamo found in many other Audis – and smaller cargo area would work for a family of five.

    My wife and three boys – ages 12, 10 and 6 – would put the Q5’s seating and cargo capacity to a stern test.

    For those that may recall, the Audi Q5 was one of our ALV finalist vehicles for Luxury Onroad for 2009. When it was introduced in ‘09 as a smaller crossover alternative to the Q7 – and mainly to compete with the Mercedes GLK and BMW’s X3 – I was convinced it could be my next car. Of course, somewhere a few extra bundles of cash would have to fall my way as the Audi is certainly one of the pricier options when looking at smaller crossovers. Read the rest of this entry »

  • 2012 Audi A7 Sedan

    Five doors, four passengers, and one stunning design

    By Nina Russin

    2012 Audi A7

    The collective eyes of my neighborhood are focused on the Audi A7 parked in our driveway. The new A7 combines five-door practicality with coupe styling. To call the exterior breathtaking is not an exaggeration.

    Audi’s press materials claim that the five-door sedan has the versatility of a wagon. It doesn’t. The roof’s severe rake makes the cargo area too shallow to hold bicycles and other large cargo which could fit into a wagon or a more traditional hatchback. But with its folding rear seats, the A7 can easily hold long items such as skis and snowboards. Audi’s Quattro all-wheel drive system makes getting through the snow a non-issue.

    Power comes from a supercharged 3-liter V-6 engine rated at 310 horsepower and 325 foot-pounds of torque. Superchargers have a reputation for providing exceptional low-end power with no throttle lag: the block in the A7 is no exception. Peak torque is available as low as 2900 rpm.

    Equally impressive is an eight-speed automatic transmission with manual gear selection. The Quattro all-wheel drive system maintains a 40/60 front-to-rear torque split under normal driving conditions. It can prevent understeer by applying the brakes to the inside rear wheel if the car starts to push in a corner.

    Base price is $59,250, not including the $875 delivery charge. A prestige package on the test car adds larger wheels, navigation, a connectivity system, four-zone climate control, upgraded Bose audio system, a rearview camera with ultrasonic parking sensors, adaptive headlamps and a seven-inch information screen ($6330).

    Twenty-inch rims with performance tires cost $1200, while Audi’s blind spot detection system adds $500. Special metallic paint ($475) plus the options above bring the price as tested to $68,630. Read the rest of this entry »

  • 2011 Audi A8 quattro

    High performance meets high style in the passing lane

    By Nina Russin

    2011 Audi A8

    Audi’s newest flagship stands apart from its competitors as an edgier, more youthful automobile. Although the A8 and its long-wheelbase sibling fill all of the squares a high-luxury sedan should, neither does so at the expense of emotional content. Driving enthusiasts who blip the throttle will feel their pulses quicken.

    From its unique LED headlamps to the Bauhaus interior, the A8 looks like nothing else on the road. Styling is modern without being faddish. I can picture Bucky Fuller chatting with students in the back seat and feeling completely at home doing so.

    Power comes from a 4.2-liter direct injection V8 engine and eight-speed automatic transmission with manual gear selection. The engine reaches peak torque of 328 foot-pounds at 3500 rpm for powerful acceleration.

    Base price is $78,050, not including the $875 destination charge. A Bang & Olufsen premium audio system on the test car adds $6300. A convenience package includes keyless entry and start, power opening and closing trunk and a rearview camera with ultrasonic park assist ($2350).

    There are two interior upgrades: leather trim ($750) and a premium package which adds 22-way climate controlled front seats with massage and wood decorative inlays on the seatbacks ($2000).

    LED headlamps cost $1400, while 20-inch wheels with summer performance tires add $1200. Dual-pane acoustic and security glass costs $600, bringing the price as tested to $93,525. Read the rest of this entry »

  • 2011 Audi A5 Cabriolet

    Sexy drop top for driving enthusiasts

    By Nina Russin

    2011 Audi A5 Cabriolet

    Audi’s A5 cabriolet is really two cars in one. With the top in place, it performs very much like its sibling, the A5 coupe. The standard soft top is remarkably well insulated, to protect passengers from temperature extremes and minimize noise intrusion. A high level of torsional stiffness prevents the cowl shake some convertibles suffer from.

    With the top deployed, the sporty A5 offers the sensuously satisfying experience only a cabriolet can. A single switch on the center console lowers the top and stows it the boot automatically: the whole operation takes 17 seconds.

    Power comes from a two-liter turbocharged engine rated at 211 horsepower and a six-speed Tiptronic transmission with a manual gear selection mode.

    Base price for the all-wheel drive test car is $44,190, not including the $875 destination charge. Buyers who can live with front-wheel drive in lieu of quattro save about $2000 on the MSRP and get slightly better gas mileage.

    However the front-wheel drive A-5 comes with a continuously variable transmission in place of the Tiptronic. In addition to its nice crisp shifts, the Tiptronic automatic transmission also yields faster zero-to-sixty times.

    A premium model upgrade adds xenon headlamps, Bluetooth interface, 18-inch alloy wheels, a rain/light sensor and Audi music interface ($3700). Navigation with a rearview camera costs $2400.

    A 19-inch wheel upgrade ($800) and dual exhaust tips ($130) bring the price as tested to $54,545. Read the rest of this entry »

  • 2010 Audi S4 Sedan

    Supercharged V-6 engine takes A4 performance to the next level

    By Nina Russin

    2010 Audi S4

    2010 Audi S4

    The Audi S4 is the high-performance sibling to the A4 sport sedan, with a more powerful engine, special wheels and styling for the true driving enthusiast. A supercharged V-6 engine in lieu of the A4’s two-liter block produces 333 horsepower and 325 foot-pounds of torque. Not only does supercharging enhance throttle response; the blower reduces power loss at high altitudes.

    Buyers can choose between a standard six-speed manual gearbox and a new seven-speed automatic transmission. Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive system is standard, transferring engine power to the wheels with the best traction.

    A unique front grille, quad exhaust pipes, special badging and 18-inch aluminum wheels dress up the sedan’s exterior. Inside, the S4 comes with leather sport seats, a black headliner, brushed aluminum trim and more unique badging.

    Base price is $45,900, not including an $825 destination charge. Read the rest of this entry »

  • 2010 Audi A5 2.0 TFSI quattro Cabriolet

    Open-air love affair

    By Nina Russin

    2010 Audi A5 Cabriolet

    2010 Audi A5 Cabriolet

    Used to be, owning a convertible was a love/hate relationship. While nobody would argue with the visceral appeal of open-air motoring, drivers had to compromise ride and handling due to poor torsional rigidity that plagued many cabriolets. In addition, the soft tops did a poor job of insulating the interior against road noise and cold temperatures.

    I owned one of those convertibles: a 1972 Olds Cutlass. While I enjoyed every day through seven summers of driving, I stored the car from October through April. In the winter, I drove a sedan.

    The Audi A5 cabriolet is a different kind of animal: with a stronger skeleton and four-season performance. Engineers used high-strength steel throughout the body structure, enhancing  torsional rigidity without adding weight.

    Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive system maintains a rear-wheel bias on dry roads, and sends power to the wheels with the best traction on wet and icy surfaces. The top is insulated enough to keep out road noise in the summer and cold in the winter.

    A two-liter, turbocharged engine produces excellent power while conserving on fuel. Audi’s direct fuel injection system delivers the gasoline directly into the engine cylinders, enhancing throttle response while reducing carbon monoxide emissions. Read the rest of this entry »