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  • 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 »

  • 2013 Audi A5 2.0T Coupe

    Sport coupe gets restyled plus technology updates

    By Nina Russin

    2013 Audi A5

    The Audi A5 and S5 are the automaker’s B-segment performance coupes and cabriolets, aimed at the heart of the luxury market. As Audi seeks to increase its footprint within the segment, its stylish two-door cars become strategic lynchpins.

    The automaker’s strategy is to improve fuel economy and interior versatility, while maintaining its very high bar for performance and design. The base 2.0-liter direct injection turbocharged engine averages up to 32 miles-per-gallon on the highway according to the EPA, while maintaining the strong acceleration the brand is known for. A six-speed manual transmission on the test car is crisp and responsive, giving the driver ultimate control over how that power is put to use.

    While sport coupes aren’t the first type of vehicles which come to mind when addressing active lifestyles, the A5’s fold-flat rear seats enable the driver to extend the cargo floor for skis, snowboards and other large items. Navigation now includes access to Google maps. Audi connect, which comes with the navigation option, turns the car’s interior into a mobile hotspot.

    Pricing begins at $37,850, excluding the $895 destination charge. An option package upgrades the test car to a premium plus model by adding automatic dimming mirrors with compass and heaters (side mirrors only), Bluetooth interface, heated front seats with driver’s seat memory and xenon headlamps with LED daytime running lamps and tail lamps ($3550).

    Navigation with Audi connect, rearview camera and Bluetooth streaming audio costs $3050. Other options on the test car include 19-inch wheels with summer tires ($800); sport seats with power lumbar and sport suspension ($750); and polished exhaust tips ($140); bringing the final MSRP to $47,035. Read the rest of this entry »

  • 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 »