Audi claims that 54% of premium new car sales are actually crossovers. It is no wonder then, that Audi unveiled a concept version of a future crossover, the Q8. Painted in a bright Bombay blue, the Q8 slots above the Q7 in status, but sports a chopped cargo compartment rather than a cavernous cargo hold good for transporting occupants in a third row of seats. The Q8 looks like pure Audi featuring a massive octagonal grille and vintage-Quattro inspired boxed fenders. The interior features an enormous black panel incorporating all gauges and infotainment screens. Motivation is provided by hybrid combination of a 333 horsepower 3.0L V6 and a 100 kW electric motor. Audi claims fuel efficiency of a 102.3 mpg an CO2 emission of 85.3 g/mile. Batteries are able to be recharged in about two and a half hours. Audi executives stated that the Q8 concept is a preview of a production vehicle. We expect that vehicle will share the concepts powertrain since the internal combustion portion of the package is a parts bin component. Now, will the production vehicle come in Bombay blue?
In recent years automakers have expanded the use of the term coupe to include sedans and crossovers with cut-down rooflines. As the number of offerings in those niche markets expands it is refreshing to see Audi remain faithful to the classic two door coupe and convertible market with the A5 and S5. While Audi took the wraps off the coupes several months ago, their convertible (cabriolet in Audi-speak) companions were unveiled at NAIAS. These coupes and convertibles have always been a favorite of enthusiasts and the updated cars follow so close to the formula of the original that it has us asking “what’s new?” The four cylinder in the A5 provides a respectable 252 horsepower while the V6 in the S5 adds a significant 102 horsepower to that figure. The A5 briskly hits 60 mph in 6.0 seconds while the S5 achieves that same speed in a blink-and-you’ll-it 4.8 seconds. Alas, no manual transmission is available. A 7-speed auto is offered with the A5 while the S5 features an extra gear. Audi’s signature Quattro all-wheel drive is standard on all variants and handling has been improved with both a wider track and wheelbase. In case the classic coupe formula limits your lifestyle too much, the A5 and S5 are also offered in 5-door coupe format, which in Audi terminology is designated “Sportback.” This essentially means that you get an extra set of doors and useful hatch to access the expandable cargo hold. Whether you like the flair and independence of the two door or the versatility of the 5-door, the A5 and S5 offers performance to match the good looks.
One of the highlights of the Audi brand was that it offered wagons that were somehow even more beautiful than their sedan counterparts. Then, the world fell in love with crossovers and we were introduced to the don’t-call-it-a-wagon Q5. Audi took the wraps of the high performance 2018 SQ5 which manages to be both good looking and fast. The SQ5’s turbocharged 3.0L V6 propels this small crossover to 60 mph in just 5.1 seconds. It comes as no surprise that all-wheel-drive is standard and an available air ride suspension allows the ride height to be lowered and firmness to be adjusted. Audi claims the new SQ5 features a more spacious interior before and has dished out the techno-goodies such as a Bang & Olufsen® sound system, Apple CarPlay™, and Google™ Android Auto integration. A virtual cockpit provides a lap timer and a heads up display is optional. While crossovers don’t generally cater to the enthusiast, the SQ5 promises to deliver.
Not wanting to hear the letters TDI, Audi made sure we were talking about some other form of fuel when it rolled out the h-Tron concept that uses a 5th generation fuel cell to provide 148 hp to electric motors on the front and rear axles. Combined with a lithium-ion battery on board that can provide another boost of 134 hp when needed, the h-Tron could handle itself well in the real world. Three storage tanks take only 4 minutes to fill and the total range is 373 miles. That’s highly commendable for a fuel cell. Useful technology like a solar panel sunroof that could give a driver 621 miles of free range each year and a 60 mph run of less than 7 seconds makes this a future concept worth developing. With low gas prices hydrogen fuel cells aren’t going to be displacing petroleum anytime soon, but it’s nice to see automakers still developing the technology.
Audi is wasting no time building out its bread-and-butter A4 lineup with the sedan and a new allroad debuting at the North American International Auto Show. Both models use a 2.0-liter turbo with 252 hp and a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. You can still get an A4 with front-wheel drive but almost no one does, which is probably the same reason the 6-speed manual is no longer available on base cars. The allroad makes Quattro all-wheel drive standard and also raises the ride height 1.3 inches. That makes light offroading somewhat easier and the cladding along the lower body seems to be a hit with customers so it carries over from previous allroad generations. The A4 features just about all the tech and luxury features you can get on the high-end Audi’s, including a 19-speaker Bang & Olufsen 3D stereo, the latest and greatest Virtual Cockpit, full color head up display and the list goes on and on. With prices starting at $38k and heading quickly up from there we should probably be glad that the A3 has entered the lineup where the A4 used to reside and helped make Audi ownership a little more attainable.
Because the A4 has Grown Up
Automakers, especially the luxury marques, are downsizing in a big way. Their once compact “entry”-level sedans have all grown up. And now they are introducing a new breed of “compacts” to fill the voids. As we’ve discussed before, this sort of activity can sometimes dilute a brand’s pedigree. Nevertheless, these compacts have proven themselves to be lucrative assets time and again. Enter the A3, Audi’s response to the A4 ballooning in all directions. This latest generation loses the hatchback (unless you wait for the plug-in hybrid variant of course) body in favor of America’s more traditional preference: the sedan. Compare the A3 to the A4 of ten years ago and you’ll find a car that fills the vacancy within a mere 100 lbs and with similar size and equipment. Even the engines are familiar; the base engine being a 1.8T and the upgraded 2.0T standing in for the old A4’s V6 with matching horsepower and more torque. Watch and tell us if you agree. Read more…
The Audi S5 has been a success since debuting way back in 2007, and Audi has done nothing but polish the edges each year since, so it’s no surprise that any contender in the large Sports Coupe segment will have to dethrone the S5 first. Considering the design is holding up so well even eight years on, we’re not sure anybody can beat the slinky two-door on looks. Read more…
Audi’s distinctive all wheel drive sports car continues to mature with the introduction of the TTS for 2015. The TTS offers up aggressive acceleration by means of a 2.0L 265 hp. four cylinder that cranks out 258 lb.-ft. of torque for a 54 hp. gain over the standard TT with no change in torque. 60 mph is achieved is a brief 4.9 seconds as the car makes its way to a top speed of 155 mph. That’s not all that much quicker than the base TT which passes the 60 mph mark in 5.3 seconds but tops out at a mere 130 mph. One can enjoy all that power and still achieve 31 mpg on the highway, though stop and go city conditions will muster a truck-like 22 mpg. Sadly the TTS is only available with a six-speed dual-clutch transmission which is likely plenty enjoyable if you can settle for the car shifting its own gears. The extra speed, power, and badging costs the TTS owner an extra $8350 over the lesser TT.
Audi is a brand long associated with all wheel drive, wagons, and hatchbacks. The refreshed-for-2016 Q3, then is a natural fit into the brand’s portfolio. The most noticeable update is to the grille, which Audi executives refer to as a ‘three-dimensional Singleframe grille.’ Whatever you call it, this apparently the new look for Audi’s signature oversized grille opening. Audi would like to draw your attention to the unseen in the form of a 17% reduction of CO2 emissions. We’re sure enthusiasts will be more interested to know that the Q3 offers powertrain ranging in horsepower from 120 to 220 in most markets. The top engine will be Audi’s 2.0L TFSI. Not a lot of power, we admit, but as the smallest of Audi’s crossover offerings there are plenty of more powerful (and larger) offerings. Expect to see the Q3 this fall in the US.
For a number of years automakers have offered crossovers to those who dislike the stigma of a minivan and don’t need the bulk of a cumbersome truck based SUV. As more and more so-called crossovers have proliferated the market these 3-row family vehicles continue to morph. The latest Q7 from Audi seems to take a full stride from SUV towards car-based station wagon. Indeed, the roofline and beltline both appear to have lowered significantly compared to the original Q7, as has the front fascia. Audi claims that the overall height of the vehicle has been reduced while the length has been increased. In stark contrast to its old-school family truckster proportions, the Q7 is motivated by a thoroughly modern body and powertrain. The Q7 sheds the equivalent mass of three to four teenagers; a whopping 716 pounds has been removed from the curb weight. The Audi offers a pair of 3.0-liter gas and diesel engines. The supercharged gas engine produces 333 horsepower while the diesel achieves a respectable 272 horsepower rating. Audi continues to stuff plenty of technology into its vehicles, and the Q7 appears to be no exception. Audi’s MMI infotainment system returns with haptic feed back and updated functions to make searching and inputting simpler and more intuitive. The rear seat passengers have access to the Audi tablet, which is connected to the MMI navigation, radio, media and car functions. It appears that Audi’s updated Q7 may give rear seat passengers even less reason to plead for the answer to ‘are we there yet?’