Evidently once a smooth operator, always a smooth operator.
Audi’s new Q5 compact luxury crossover/sport-ute carries on its tradition of smooth, sporty performance with luxury ladled on for good measure. It’s a bit larger than its predecessor and slightly more fuel efficient too. This is an all-around winner. No wonder the Q5 is Audi’s best-selling vehicle. Continue reading 2018 Audi Q5 2.0T quattro w/Prestige→
Here’s a simple truth. It’s fun to drive a car that’s fun to drive.
That may seem silly, but let’s break it down.
First, cars have taken a back seat to trucks for years now as first SUVs and then crossovers replaced the family sedan as the vehicle of choice.
Second, fun often means power and that ebbs and wanes in popularity based on the price of oil.
Third, fun also means responsive handling and that frequently is achieved by engineers designing an overly stiff car that tortures your tushie.
So finding a fun car to drive is a rarity, yet Audi has absolutely nailed it with its new A4 sedan. I drove a crisp bright Ibis white Premium model that, contrary to its name, is the base A4. Mine was loaded with Premium Plus and Technology packages though, so more likely reflects a mid-level A4 in performance and feel.
Audi’s A4 is speedy, fun and sophisticated. It’s a joy to drive and ride in and has everything a driver could want, although once loaded it becomes pricey, like a BMW. Continue reading 2017 Audi A4 Premium→
Audi’s S3 sportier than A3, but much costlier and turbo still lags
I drove and enjoyed the Audi A3 with a turbo diesel a few weeks back and told myself I’d be ecstatic with the sportier looking and driving S3 this week. I wasn’t wrong, I still liked the S3, but I was less enthusiastic than I’d imagined. Here’s why.
First, the 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine has the same major turbo lag as the diesel. I thought it would be much smoother, but no, it still takes 2-3 seconds from pressing the accelerator hard until the turbo spools up enough to give the small Audi a kick in the tail end. When it does, the S3 is a little driver-guided missile. Torque is a massive 280 ft.-lbs., and horsepower is an equally impressive 292.
You’d think that would kick your fuel mileage in the gas, but I got a very reasonable 27.6 mpg in about 60% city driving and 40% highway. Sadly the S3 drinks premium fuel, but the car is rated 23 mpg city and 31 mpg highway.
Ride was on the stiff side in the A3, but this Premium Plus model with the Prestige package ($5,900) and 19-inch performance tire package ($1,500) was no better and weighed 275 lbs. more than the A3. Ride was sporty, but could be pretty abrupt over crumbling area cement street surfaces. It was calm and fine on the highways. Continue reading 2015 Audi S3 2.0T quattro S tronic→
Boxy, compact and easy on fuel … yawn, that sounds like your typical econobox, but for one key trait, the Audi A3 handles like a sports sedan.
That’s what it is, an entry-level sports sedan somewhat along the lines of a small BMW, just not a BMW. Handling is excellent and as good as, or better than, any other small sports sedan in the $32 grand neighborhood, except a BMW.
Yet that’s OK, because it costs less and the red test model also had another big plus that a BMW won’t, a mostly entertaining clean diesel engine.
Mine was the TDI, which translates to a 2.0-liter turbo diesel that starts at $32,600, and adds an $895 delivery charge. But equipped, as this one was, with the Premium Plus package, you tack on $2,550. With a $2,600 Audi MMi navigation package the test car settled at $38,645.
Still, that’s reasonable for a sporty car that gets 31 mpg city and 43 mpg highway, according to the EPA. As impressive as that sounds, I managed an amazing 46.3 mpg in a round-trip jaunt to Indianapolis. In one nearly straight (hey, it was Indiana) highway stint I got 50 mpg on the button. The one-way diesel bill was $16 and change. When full the car boasts a 600-mile range.