Category Archives: Audi

2012 Audi S4 quattro MT6 Sedan (901)

Overview:

This week we’re looking at the 2012 Audi S4 quattro MT6 Sedan. You know I have noticed that some cars fit like an old pair of jeans. They are simply comfortable. Audi’s in general fit that bill. That wasn’t always the case and I had a bad feeling about Audi in the 1980s when I owned a foreign car repair shop. BMWs and other upscale expensive ‘badges’ were a welcomed visitor. English cars like Jaguar, before Ford got hold of them, were a joke. They were just poorly designed and did stupid things. Inboard brakes were problematic for cars like Ferrari, and Fiat’s were a frequent visitor to the shop. The list goes on.

The other observation is that all brands improved when affiliated with other car makers, like Ford and Jag, Daimler (Mercedes-Benz) and Chrysler. The improvements were dramatic in that the combination of engineering teams found solutions either company couldn’t change. That old saying that “you’ll always be what you’ve always been when you always do what you’ve always done”. Know what I mean. Someone told me to drive or walk somewhere in a different route because you’ll see things you will otherwise never see. We’re creatures of habit and Jaguar for example put electric motors where water was sure to go. They just couldn’t figure it out until years later when another view applied a ‘keen sense of the obvious’ and the problem was eliminated.

General Information: 

Parts from the US and Canada are 1%, Germany 75%; Engine  – Hungary Transmission – Germany. It is assembled in Ingolstadt, Germany, Classification is Compact. Cars from Audi: – A3, A4, A4 Avant, A5, A6, A6 Avant, A7, A8, Q5, Q7, R8, S4, S5, S6 & TT.

Opinion:

Road Etiquette – a suggested new year’s resolution: in all things especially on the road pay attention, and be mindful of safety for you and those who share the highway; mover over if others are passing you on the right; respect others – contrary to some opinions you don’t own the road – no one person does; learn to keep your speed to a safe speed under the conditions, especially when others are out of control and inconsiderate.

And we can all wish for a great new year to come and hope all the bad guys are hanging out at Starbucks – the new Winchell’s.

Handling & Performance:

Outstanding and fun to drive and I can attest from the traffic citation I received on a mountain test road. Where do those guys hide? It’s a cat and mouse game forever but they ruin the fun by using radar set up in that perfect spot where they can see you in the curves. That’s were cars like Audi hug the road at speeds lesser cars simply can’t exceed posted limits.

Styling:

Stand out designs that have led the way for the last 15 years or so for lots of other brands. Chrysler has also been a leader in brave designs.

Fit and Finish:

Always very good.

Cost:

Pricey. You get what you pay for, but new car companies like Hyundai will keep the pressure on to keep prices down across the industry. Capitalism in action!

Conveniences and comfort:

The only complaint I have is that Audi and German cars generally who haven’t figured out what “User Friendly” means in the high tech stuff. They simply make it more complicated than it needs to be and contrary to all other car makers. European’s must think differently… ahhh, that reminds me of HP Calculators that allow you to switch to RPN (Reverse Polish Notation) where entries are reverse from customary math sequences of most all others. So I guess it is NOT so surprising that Europeans do in fact think differently.

Consumer Recommendation:

If price is not a condition of your purchase Audi has a lot of great features to make the driving experience exceptional.

Recognized Competition:

Audi S4 $47,000, BMW 3-Series $35,000, BMW M3 $56,000, Infiniti G Coupe $37,000, Lexus IS $34,000, Lexus IS F $61,000, Mercedes Benz C-Class $35,000, Mitsubishi Lancer $15,000, Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution $34,000, Subaru Impreza $17,000.

Good News:

Wonderful driving experience and great distinctive styling.

Bad News:

Priced out of range for the majority of buyers. Only fair fuel economy and unfriendly user interface of the electronics.

Standard Equipment:

3.0 liter 333 hp supercharged V6 engine, 6-speed manual transmission, Quattro permanent all-wheel-drive, 18” 5-spoke S-design wheels, 4-wheel ABS disc brakes with brake assist and ESC (Electronic Stability Control), speed sensitive power steering, sport suspension, dynamic 5-link front suspension, dynamic trapezoidal link fully independent rear axle, power glass sunroof with sunshade, Audi xenon LED front and rear lighting, heated auto dimming exterior power mirrors, leather heated front seats, 12 way power driver seat, 60/40 split folding rear seat, brushed aluminum inlays, climate control, audio with CD, Satellite, SD card reader, music interface with iPod cable, front, side, and side curtain airbags, anti-theft alarm and ignition immobilizer system, LATCH child system.

Gas Stats:

$3.50/ Gal avg. December 25, 2011

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

18 City and 27 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $47,300.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com
Copyright © 2011 – An Automotive Love Affair

2011 Audi A7 3.0 TFSI Quattro Auto Tiptronic Sedan (878)

Overview:

This week we’re looking at the 2012 Audi A7 3.0 TFSI Quattro Auto Tiptronic Sedan. This is a really impressive luxury car and a glimpse into the future.

Brother John and I weren’t terribly impressed with early Audi’s at our Foreign Car Repair shop, but we appreciated brands like BMW, Audi and Jaguar for revenue. A Ferrari now and again helped too. Thanks.

There is no evidence that is the case today. Technology has allowed 100,000 miles between tune ups and electrical has replaced mechanical systems. Such as electronic ignition replacing distributors and fuel injection in place of less efficient carburetors.

One could argue the complexity and addition of so many more systems and features offset other improvements. But all things considered it is clear that cars today are far more reliable.

General Information:

Parts from the US and Canada are 1%, Germany 75%; Engine  – Hungary Transmission – Germany. It is assembled in Neckarsulm, Germany, Classification is Mid-size. Cars from Audi: – A3, A4, A4 Avant, A5, A6, A6 Avant, A7, A8, Q5, Q7, R8, S4, S5, S6 & TT.

Handling & Performance:

Outstanding, fast and super easy handling. Even the fuel economy is decent for this class of turbocharged cars.

Styling:

Beautiful look and elegant inside.

Fit and Finish:

Excellent.

Cost:

Pricey, but it is a special car worth the price of admission.

Conveniences and comfort:

Wow. The 21st century is upon us and we’re beginning to see some pretty amazing additions to our cars. Consider that when you go to the Airport, The Coffee Bean, the Library or most anywhere you can usually get WiFi. Well, you guessed it, now you can have WiFi in your Audi A7. Yep, very cool. Turn on the power and connect your cell phone and computer to the internet. And because it uses your phones contacts you select them right there on the color screen that appears out of the dash and tucks away neatly when not in use.

So I get in the A7 and my iPhone and iPad connect automatically to the cars technology systems. I let my hand fall to the control and with a glance I push the button, select the person I want to call, or Navigate to. Voice, Nav commands or music from my Cell hands free through the speakers, loud and clear. I would have to pull over to use my iPad or computer but if I have a passenger, they can find restaraunts and make reservations, get directions and literally anything they can do from the office or home. Print to a home or office printer. Incredible and we know it will only get better over time.

Another fabulous feature is the addition of Google Earth Navigation that takes Nav to the next level. You can see it coming, can’t you? With such accurate devices like GPS coupled with Smart Cruise, lane change warnings, it won’t be long until you can add “Hands Free Driving” to the ease of transportation. Set it, take your hands off the steering wheel and leave the driving to Hal – of 2001 – a Space Odyssey fame. Then if some fool cuts you off, the car will reduce speed or jam on the brakes to avoid accidents. Computer sensors have faster reaction time than any human driver plus it doesn’t get distracted by anything.

Ok, so it isn’t here today, but you know it can’t be far off. Most component features exist now that even monitor your eyes and wake you up if you start drifting off into never-never land.

An in-law has a neighbor who works for Apple and the word is “you wouldn’t believe what is coming down the pike.” Yes I would believe it, Charlie. Wouldn’t you love to be a fly on the wall of some of today’s high tech companies.

A big thanks to the Space Program, NASA and all our tax payers who made it possible. Thanks to Jack Kennedy for the leadership and inspiration to put a man on the moon. JFK was a student of the London School of Economics and believed in the free market system, unlike too many who believe in Keynsian Economics. Keynes and Karl Marx were joined at the hip, philosophically and by now have been proven wrong. A final thanks to, arguably, our greatest president of the 20th Century, Ronald Reagan who’s leadership grew our economy while convincing the world of Socialists & Communists to give up a failed social and economic experiment that lasted from 1917 to 1989.

So, thanks again JFK, Ronald Reagan and a country of ‘Free Market’ entrepreneurial capitalists who work wonders of hope based on Adam Smith’s invisible hand.

Consumer Recommendation:

If this is in your price range you won’t want to miss test driving this A7.

Recognized Competition:

Audi A7 $59,000, Acura ZDX $50,000, BMW 5 Series $57,000, Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon $44,000, Hyundai Genesis $47,000, Infiniti M $48,000, Mercedes Benz E-Class Wagon $52,000, Porsche Panamera $135,000.

Good News:

Great trunk lid opening for easy loading / unloading, but more important is this is an exciting car to drive and enjoy while it allows us to be connected to the world around us – “The future partially unveiled”.

Bad News:

Anticipation, as Richard says is the best part of Realization as we dream of what might be.

Gas Stats:

$3.75/ Gal avg. July 28, 2011

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

18 City and 28 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $59,250 standard and options can bring it to $69,000.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com
Copyright © 2011 – An Automotive Love Affair

2011 Audi TT TFSI Quattro S-Tronic Coupe (870)

Overview:

This week we’re looking at the 2011 Audi TT 2.0 TFSI Quattro S-Tronic Coupe. The TT is Audi’s sporty two-door, four-passenger Coupe and Roadster, named for the Tourist Trophy, a European motorsports event that was first held in 1905. Both the TT Coupe and the TT Roadster were redesigned for the first time for 2008 and incorporate the third-generation Audi Space Frame (ASF) technology that combines aluminum and steel in the chassis to reduce weight and improve weight distribution. The TT Coupe concept was unveiled in 1995 and arrived in production form for 2000 with very few visual changes from the concept. The Roadster was added for 2001.

The 2011 Audi TT receives new bumpers, grille, fog light grille and chrome fog lights. Inside additional aluminum and high-gloss black trim is added for the steering wheel, center console and door panels.

I reviewed the TTS in 2010 and for 2011 it receives fog light grilles with horizontal braces and 19-inch tri-spoke 5-segment wheels.

General Information:

Parts used in this car come from the US and Canada are 1%, Germany 75%; Engine – Hungary; Transmission – Germany. It is assembled in Gyor, Hungary. Classification is  Sub-compact

Cars: – A3, A4, A4 Avant, A5, A6, A6 Avant, A7, A8, Q5, Q7, R8, S4, S5, S6 & TT.

Handling & Performance:

Awesome performance as usual, and that is where the trouble begins if you don’t exercise self control. It is easy with a turbo to take the exhilaration of rapid acceleration to push the limits – speed limits. And in today’s world that is getting pretty expensive for the “E” ride experience. If you were born after Disneyland changed ticketing for the rides at its park you likely don’t know what the term “E” ride meant. Ask your mom or dad.

Styling:

Oolong Gray metallic paint. If you go to Chinese restaraunts you probably have had Oolong Tea? Good stuff but very expensive tea. This design speaks expensive too. But it is an eye catcher for sure. People always comment it is a “nice car” which translates to mean “well designed” for today’s tastes. I really like the Audi lighting. I’ll bet the guy that designed those got a raise.

Fit and Finish:

Very very good.

Cost:

Pricey, but it is in the company of very expensive cars so in that sense it is a bargain. It’s all relative I guess, and if it performs, looks and feels as good or close enough then the price is irrelevant. And if you decide on this class car you can probably afford it.

Conveniences and comfort:

All the best. The list below says it all.

Consumer Recommendation:

One must consider when buying this car, if the size is right, that the cost of operation in class is usually pricey. Friend Mark when he takes his Porsche to the Porsche – Audi dealer in town it is never cheap. If you can’t pay the price cross this one off the list. Mark can, and when we got back to LAX from a trip to Oregon and sat in the car he was noticeably impressed. He really liked this TT and he can literally buy ‘any’ car made. Glad you liked it Mark, But I have to give it back in a week. Life is simply not fair.

Recognized Competition:

Audi TT $38,000, BMW Z4 $47,000, Ford Mustang $33,000, Hyundai Genesis Coupe $27,000, Infiniti G Sedan $35,000, Lotus Elise $52,000, Lotus Exige $66,000, Mazda MX-5 Miata $23,000, Mazda RX8 $27,000, Mercedes Benz SLK $55,000, Mitsubishi Eclipse $25,000, Nissan Z $31,000, Porsche Boxster $48,000, Porsche Cayman $52,000, Saab 9-3 $29,000.

Good News:

Good fuel economy, lots of great features standard, fabulously fun to drive.

Bad News:

Pricey to own.

Standard Equipment:

2.0 liter 211 hp turbo charged 4-cylinder engine, S-Tronic 6-speed automatic dual clutch transmission, Quattro all wheel drive system, 18” alloy wheels, Front McPherson strut and four link rear suspension, servotronic electromechanical steering, electronic stability control, 4-wheel abs disc brakes, anti-slip regulation, automatic rear spoiler, Xenon headlights, tire pressure monitoring system, multi-function leather wrapped sport steering wheel, climate control, 140 watt sound system with in dash CD with SIRIUS satellite and 9-speakers, cruise control, 2+2 seater with 50/50 split folding rear seat, front, side and knee airbags, anti-theft alarm system, anchors and tethers for children (LATCH), 10-way power seats, rain sensing wipers.

Gas Stats:

$3.85/ Gal avg. June 14, 2011

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

22 City and 31 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $38,300.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com
Copyright © 2011 – An Automotive Love Affair

2011 Audi Q5 2.0T quatro Tiptronic (855)

Overview:
You can, as I did, get on the 241 and not realize you’re on a toll road because other than a small note on the freeway signs “Toll” you wouldn’t know it. When you drive on the east coast you learn to expect toll roads because there has been Graft and Corruption there longer than here in California. You can bet the farm someone got paid off to get this by the people. Was there any vote on this? How could this happen when we already pay for our “FREEways”. It’s just plain BS.

I’d tell you how I really feel buy my editor / publisher would bleep it out. How about you – what do you think about toll roads here in California, and is there anything we can do about it? joe@atthewheel.com.

Handling & Performance:
I just love turbocharged engines. It ‘boosts’ performance of smaller engines when you need it. However, many people complain that the delay you feel before the turbo kicks in is a constant annoyance. True enough and Audi needs to work on this.

Some will appreciate the Tiptronic but you can have it. I find it useless and a big waste of money.

Styling:
Electronic’s are a sore point for me with all German Cars generally so they all receive a bad rating from me. I think they must be made in Poland if you get my drift. (And before you write me about ethnic slurs, my better half was born in Poland. I’ve been all over the country and I love the people, so that qualifies me to make that comment).

The elegant look of Audi is distinctive and designers have given it some pretty amazing touches – most notably the innovative lighting. You definitely know it’s an Audi when you see it cruising down the highway. Nice going guys.

Audi along with Porsche, Bentley, Bugati, and Lamborghini are subsidiaries of the Volkswagen Group. Those are all great cars and VW management is special and smart. I owned a Lamborghini and I trust VW has improved on what I experienced way back when.

Fit and Finish:
Very Good, as expected.

Cost:
If your budget is tight the Q5 is just big enough for most of us with a price tag that is livable, but if your threshold of price pain is greater you will fall in love with the Q7 as I did (coming next week).

Conveniences and comfort:
Rain sensing wipers, Bluetooth, outstanding quality seats.

Consumer Recommendation:
If you came from a prior generation you will have to put aside your experience with the mechanical maladies of model years past. VW has been involved Audi and like Ford’s involvement with Jaguar all benefited from the liaison.

Recognized Competition (MSRP):
Audi Q5 $35,200, Acura RDX $32,620, Acura ZDX $45,645, BMW X3 $38,850, BMW X6 $57,000, Cadillac SRX $34,430, Ford Edge $27,455, GMC Terrain $24,250, Infiniti EX $34,550, Land Rover LR2 $35,500, Lexus RX 350 $38,375, Lexus RX 450h $43,935, Lincoln MKX $39,375, Mazda CX-9 $29,135, Mercedes-Benz GLK $35,500, Nissan Murano $28,520, Porsche Cayenne $45,500, Volkswagen Tiguan $23,720, Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid $60,565.

Good News:
Great styling, hugely improved quality from early product, helpful features like Rain Sensing and very comfortable seating and last but not least is great management.

Bad News:
Tiptronic racing feature is a needless cost, only fair fuel economy and annoying hesitation from the Turbo, lousy electronics interface.

Standard Equipment:
2.0 liter 211 horsepower turbocharged inline 4-cylinder direct injected engine , 8-speed automatic Tiptronic transmission, Quattro permanent all wheel drive system, 18” alloy wheels, 5-link front suspension, roof rails with crossbars, trailer hitch with pre-wiring, electronic stabilization, 4-wheel antilock disc brake system, tire pressure monitor, leather 12-way power seats, climate control, wood decorative inlays, tilt & telescopic steering column, leather wrapped multifunction steering wheel, heated power mirrors, rain sensing wipers, 60/40 split folding rear seat, Concert radio with CD, SIRIUS satellite radio, driver information system, cruise control, front, side and side curtain airbags, active & passive rollover protection, anti theft vehicle alarm, LATCH – lower anchors for child restraint & rear safety locks.

Gas Stats:
$3.71/ Gal avg. Feb. 28, 2011
www.fueleconomy.gov
for more information.

20 City and 27 Highway MPG

Pricing:
MSRP $35,200.

2011 Audi A5 2.0 TFSI Tiptronic Cabriolet (854)

Overview:

This week we’re looking at the 2011 Audi A5 2.0 TFSI Tiptronic Cabriolet (Convertible). Audi is the first car maker to combine Turbo charging with a Fuel Injection system – thus the TFSI designation.

Well, the A5 made my week an enjoyable one. Nothing ostentatious, but simply quiet elegance. You slip into it with ease and it becomes an immediate friend. Perhaps it fit my liking more because I don’t need a soccer mom’s car any longer.

I can see this car fitting a single professional guy or gal beyond their surfing days with a responsible job with all the stress of today’s business world. Leave the office a little early on a hot summer day, put the top down and let the wind blow away the cares of a busy day. Its size is perfect for the small garage in Malibu or squeezes in those tight spots on narrow streets in Newport Beach. There’s always time later for suburbia and the kids when peace and quiet is boring somehow.

Opinion:

CHP Watch – Be alert and you won’t be a victim.

Tell us about your experiences on the highway. joe@atthewheel.com. Others want to know. Give us your tips on how to avoid pitfalls of all kinds on the highway. Report potholes and other dangers and I will print them and notify the authorities and Cal Trans of the problems. Let’s all be a part of the solution and not remain silent.

Bob, a reader in the Antelope Valley, CA, made his feelings known recently about a couple of highway weaknesses in his opinion.

“… some designs leave me scratching my head. The I-5 through East Los Angeles is down to 1 lane southbound while the northbound in the same area is 2 lanes. What moron thought that was good?  Another of my favorites is CA 14 northbound at the top of the (summit) grade where it goes from 3 lanes, 4 if you count the car pool lane, where you lose the far right lane at the crest on a blind curve. I have seen more crashed vehicles in that area than any other spot I drive on my daily commute.”

Those of us who drive that area of the 14 freeway every day can relate to that. Hello Cal Trans, is anyone awake up there?

Handling & Performance:

Performance is fast from the smooth power delivered by the turbocharger. Love it. Handling is enhanced from a perfect subcompact size to go with the solid all wheel drive grip rain or shine. I appreciate the confidence you get from the Quattro.

All Wheel Drive isn’t new or unique to Audi. The concept dates back to 1966 when supercar-builder Jensen introduced it to British buyers with its FF model. The Audi Quattro was shown to the public for the first time on March 3, 1980 at the Geneva Motor Show in Switzerland. Audi was the first mass market car to feature all-wheel drive technology with the tag: quattro.

Styling:

Clean and simple but comfortably and quietly elegant. That’s Class.

Electronics is not as user friendly as I like but is common in most German cars. I suspect over time I would get used to the European ways, but simplicity is better. I’m old fashioned and prefer knobs.

Sun visors that don’t extend were a surprise. If you don’t drive west in North America in the afternoon then it really doesn’t matter, but if you do, it is annoying.

Convertible top – you’d never notice with the top up – a really a nice design, unless you need a lot of space in the trunk. On the plus the rear seat is decent for a convertible.

Fit and Finish:

Good fit and finish, but I wish they had made it a little quieter and eliminate road noise that is more noticeable than I would have expected.

Cost:

In this company of competition pricing is fair.

Conveniences and comfort:

Rain sensing wipers are really cool. It gives me more time to write notes while driving… ok, it’s not recommended but I don’t look at what I’m writing but just capturing a thought. But – it is still not the same thing as putting make up on while looking in the mirror. OK, so I only do that when I cross dress.

Bluetooth –

I have a portable since I change cars every week but you should opt for this inexpensive safety device, not to mention it is unlawful to use a cell phone without it.

Oh, the cross dressing – just kidding.

Consumer Recommendation:

When you sit in a new car and get the immediate feeling “I could own this car” it’s a good thing. And giving it back came way too soon.

Recognized Competition (MSRP):

Audi A5 Cabriolet $44,190, BMW 6 Series Convertible $85,550, Cadillac CTS $44,505, Chevrolet Corvette Convertible $56,790, Infiniti EX $35,950, Infiniti G Convertible $49,450, Infiniti G Coupe $39,750, Mercedes-Benz E-Class $56,850, Volvo C70 $39,950.

Good News:

Great AWD handling control, great looking, comfy, classy convertible top, decent fuel economy and cool rain sensing wipers.

Bad News:

Noticeable road noise, non-user-friendly electronics controls, sun visors don’t extend.

Standard Equipment:

2.0 liter 211 horsepower turbocharged inline 4-cylinder engine, 8-speed automatic transmission, Quattro all wheel drive system, 18” alloy wheels, 5-link front suspension, speed sensitive steering, electronic stabilization, antilock brake system, halogen headlights, tire pressure monitor, fog lights, automatic soft top, leather 8-way power seats, leather wrapped steering wheel, climate control, Concert radio with CD with SD card slot and auxiliary audio input, SIRIUS satellite radio with 10 speakers, cruise control, remote locking system, split folding rear seat with full pass through to trunk, front and side airbags with front knee airbags, anti theft vehicle alarm, lower anchors for child restraint.

Gas Stats:

$3.46/ Gal avg. Feb. 19, 2011
www.fueleconomy.gov
for more information.

21 City and 29 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $44,190.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com
Copyright © 2011 – An Automotive Love Affair

2011 Audi A4 2.0 TFSI Quattro MT6 Sedan (846)

Overview:
This week we’re looking at the 2011 Audi Q5 quattro full time All Wheel Drive Tiptronic. Quattro AWD was introduced in Audi racing about 30 years ago and it was wisely adopted by the production models.

The A5 is a smaller version of the Q7 for about $14,000 less. A 3.2 liter 270 horsepower V6 is available if the 211 hp Inline 4 is not enough for you. Both have the dual panel sunroof for a super large opening. Nice.

It is interesting to me that annual sales in the US is only 10% of total annual sales of just over a million units. In contrast, for example, Ford total annual unit sales was about 13 million of which Europe accounts for about 4.5 million in 2009.
Opinion:
Toll Roads in Southern California – If this doesn’t chap your hide you’re comatose. We pay gas taxes up the Kazoo for our roads and our crooked government slip this one by us.

There are toll lanes on the 91 freeway between Anaheim Hills and Corona, and actual toll roads (241, 261, 133, & 73) going through Orange County. 241 goes from Yorba Linda down to Orange, then to Rancho Santa Margarita. 261 goes from Orange to Jamboree & I5. 133 branches off the 241 in El Toro, and goes to Barranca in Irvine. 73 goes from the 405 in Costa Mesa/Newport Beach along the coast, and meets up with I5 in Mission Viejo.
This week we’re looking at the 2011 Audi A4 2.0 TFSI Quattro MT6 Sedan. The 2011 Audi A4 continues unchanged after a redesign for 2009. Consumer Reports says “the A4 has a firm, yet supple and controlled ride, with agile handling”. Flowery words, but yeah, it is a great ride?

They go on to say, “The four-cylinder turbo engine is responsive and gets 22 mpg overall with the AWD system. The interior has excellent fit and finish, but the rear seat is tight. The MMI driver-interaction system is complicated. A wagon and high-performance S4 are also available”.

Well I agree with their take on the car generally and especially want to say I couldn’t agree more that the electronics and controls are much more complicated than they need to be. It is however, just a thing about the Europeans and has been consistent over the years and that is particularly true of the German cars.

The Japanese and the Americans are the best at making things simple as they tend to be more direct in how things should work. It makes you wonder if everything else is more complicated than it needs to be in this Audi.

 

Opinion:
I would like to hear from you on the Diamond Lane. On some highways you can enter and exit anywhere along the route while others put more yellow paint down than all the school busses ever made. But my question is, are those double, and double double yellow lines really there when outside the hours when exclusively to be used for 2 or more occupants in the car? In other words, can you cross over those lines meant to be effective during high traffic hours?

My opinion is that you should be able to use that lane just as if it were like any other lane during ‘off’ hours.
My email is joe@atthewheel.com.

Handling & Performance:
The turbo charger gives any car that performance edge that I like a lot. The car is also a perfect size so it handles perfectly for me. Larger folks may find it a little small. So there are other models better suited to tall guys.

Styling:
Classic Audi look that is popular as evidenced by the growth of numbers of Audi’s on the highway. Unique lighting Audi has introduced to the industry.

Fit and Finish:
Excellent.

Cost:
Expected range and a lot of quality for the investment.

Conveniences and comfort:
You have to love all the hi-tech stuff on cars today. Rain Sensing, for one, is easy to warm up to primarily because it eliminates one more distraction in the driving experience.

Consumer Recommendation:
Recognized Competition:

Audi A4 $32-36,000, Acura TL $35-44,000, Acura TSX $30-38,000, BMW 3-Series $34-59,000, BMW M3 $55-67,000, Buick Regal $26-29,000, Cadillac CTS $35-62,000, Hyundai Azera $25-30,000, Hyundai Equus $58-65,000, Hyundai Genesis $33-43,000, Hyundai Genesis Coupe $22-32,000, Infiniti G Convertible $45-57,000, Infiniti G Coupe $36-50,000, Infiniti G Sedan $31-44,000, Lexus ES 350 $35,525, Lexus IS $32-41,000, Lexus IS C $40-45,000, Lexus IS F $59,010, Lincoln MKZ $34-36,000, Lincoln MKZ Hybrid $34,330, Mazda 6 $20-29,000, Mercedes Benz C-Class $34-58,000, Saab 9-3 $29-45,000, Subaru Legacy $20-31,000, Suzuki Kizashi $19-27,000, Volkswagen CC $28-40,000, Volkswagen Passat $27,915, Volvo S40 $28-31,000, Volvo S60 $37,700.

Good News:

Good fuel economy, fast, comfortable, handles well and a real distinctively pretty presence on the road, and price competitive.

Bad News:

No complaints except for questionable choice of electronics that is not as user friendly as it could be. Others do a better job than the German auto makers.
Standard Equipment:

2.0 liter 211 horsepower inline 4 cylinder turbo charged engine, 6-speed manual transmission with O/D, Quattro permanent all wheel drive, ABS power disc brake system, 17” alloy wheels, speed sensitive power steering, climate control, power glass sunroof, power windows and locks with speed sensitive auto locks, leather and leather wrapped steering wheel, audio with in dash CD player and SIRIUS satellite radio, front, side and side curtain airbags, anti-theft system and LATCH child safety system.

Gas Stats:

$3.29/ Gal avg. Dec 27, 2010

www.fueleconomy.gov
for more information.

21 City and 31 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $32,850.

2010 Audi TTS 2.0 TFSI Quattro S-Tronic Coupe (815)

Overview:

This week we’re looking at the 2010 Audi TTS 2.0 TFSI Quattro S-Tronic Coupe… lets just call it a TTS, but no matter what you call it you’ll definitely say it’s fast.

A recent test car was painted a ‘putrid’ green and then this TTS was delivered and it was brilliantly painted “Solar Orange”. I love it and I didn’t have one negative comment about the paint from anyone else. I highly recommend it. Also brilliant was the interior color treatment of black and orange leather with really classy orange piping and aluminum inlays. Very special car.

General Info:

Parts – US/Canadian 1%, Germany 75%

Assembly – Gyor, Hungary

Class: – SubCompact

Cars: – A3, A4, A5, A6, A8, Q5, Q7, R8, S4, S5, S6, S8, TT

Opinion:

I get very nervous when a car behind me is being piloted by a person with a cell phone in hand. A hands free device is only part of the answer because ‘Texting’ is the rear danger which younger drivers in particular do not hesitate to do it while driving. To them it is simply “Multi-Tasking”. More an more we are learning that the human animal only thinks they can do two things at once. They are slowly learning not only can’t they walk and chew gum they definitely can NOT write their friends while driving an automobile at any speed.

Handling & Performance:

Pretty amazing and I think you’ll agree. If you haven’t already driven one, go for a test drive and if that doesn’t get your heart started nothing will, short of a date with Miss America. You’re going to like the experience, I guarantee it.

The reason it is at the top of my list of great sport cars is, in my opinion, because it is an all around performer. The Turbocharger gives it great acceleration, it’s dynamic low center of gravity, wide stance and Quattro / all wheel drive give it great road hugging characteristics not easily bested by others available for use on public highways. Nissan 370Z comes in at # 2 for my money. Sure, the Corvette Z is awesome for raw speed and acceleration but it would be #3 on my list for road hugging ability.

The transmission is a DSG (direct shift gearbox) and it is lightning fast in action and as smooth as it gets. It employs a dual-clutch design that holds the previous gear while shifting to the next and then drops the last gear for instant shifting performance. Pretty cool.

Brother John was a Ferrari’s kind of guy and on occasion I would drive his 365 GTB or the Daytona. For my money I think this TTS does it for me. Porsche is ok too, but like Ferrari they will set you back at least twice the dough. I’ll travel the world for the difference but I won’t miss out on all that much performance driving the TTS.

I tested a Porsche on the race track with a Porsche company professional driver in the right seat. I watched him take it for a couple of laps and it looked pretty easy. Looks are deceiving. At any rate, for $125,000 for that particular Porsche makes this TTS looks really good. And perhaps if I pushed the TTS a little past its limit on the track like I did with the Porsche I might also do a 360 deg., at turn 3. In that track experience there was no harm, no foul and I continued on around without further incident.

I did test this TTS on one of my favorite mountain road test areas and of course I have learned to push only so far. But it was pretty impressive and I didn’t go off the road once.

Styling:

Spectacular look in addition to being one of the premier performers of highway cars. It isn’t for everyone however because it is essentially a two seater. I believe it would also accommodate two small children. Friend Merkel doesn’t agree. Trust me, it isn’t any different than the rear seat of an older Mustang or Camaro.

There is a bit of a Visibility issue and many will have a problem with that. I didn’t going forward but in reverse you are nearly blind with the supports for the hatchback and the small rear window.
Fit and Finish:

Excellent.

Cost:

This Audi is worth the price of admission.

Conveniences and comfort:

All very special stuff that makes the car a kick to drive all the time. This is a keeper and I really could have tested it for another couple of weeks, but I have a weekly column, so I only stretched it to 9 days.

Consumer Recommendation:

Be sure to look at the new Solar Orange color scheme. It is the Bee’s Knee’s. Cute and attractively stylish. Quite possibly the nicest car I have driven in 2010. Try it – you’ll like it too.

Recognized Competition:

Audi A3 $27-31,000, Acura TSX $29-38,000, BMW 1-Series $29-40,000, Infiniti EX $34-37,000, Mazda 3 $15-22,000, Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback $19-28,000, Volkswagen Rabbit $16-19,000, Volvo C30 $24-26,000.

Good News:

A kick to drive, great styling, fast fast fast road hugging thrilling experience you won’t often find.

Bad News:

Visibility limitations, entry and exit is tight.

Standard Equipment:

2.0 liter 285 hp turbo charged 4-cylinder engine, S-Tronic 6-speed automatic dual clutch transmission, Quattro all wheel drive system, 18” alloy wheels, Front McPherson strut and four link rear suspension, servotronic electromechanical steering, electronic stability control, 4-wheel abs disc brakes, anti-slip regulation, automatic rear spoiler, Xenon headlights, tire pressure monitoring system, multi-function leather wrapped sport steering wheel, climate control, 140 watt sound system with in dash CD with SIRIUS satellite and 9-speakers, cruise control, Bluetooth hands free system, 2+2 seater with 50/50 split folding rear seat, front, side and knee airbags, anti-theft alarm system, anchors and tethers for children (LATCH). Options: 19” alloy wheels, silk nappa leather package, 10-way power seats, nav system, rain sensing wipers and Bose sound system upgrade with 6 disc CD changer and LED interior lighting package ($6,050).

Gas Stats:

$2.98/ Gal avg. October 25, ‘09

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

21 City and 29 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $45,900.

2010 Audi A5 Sedan 2.0 TFSI Quattro MT6 Coupe (786)

Overview:

This week we’re looking at the 2010 Audi A5 2.0 TFSI Quattro MT6 Coupe. What’s not to like. Well we’ll look at a few things but overall this is a sweet automobile from our friends in Germany, of course. Following a look see at the A4 and A3, the A5 climbs the ladder of luxury sports cars in the Subcompact class. Of course a coupe has but two doors and a smaller back seat which is just fine for that youthful perceived need for performance, looking cool and of course not in need of a car for a budding young family.

The 2.0 liter engine produces 211 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque and is the same engine I tested in the A4. The 6-speed manual transmission in this A5 delivers better fuel economy than the automatic and fits the sportiness theme. Truly a beautiful car.

General Info:

Parts – US/Canadian 1%, Germany 75%, Engine – Hungary.

Assembly – Ingolstadt, Germany

Class:  – Subcompact

Cars: – A3, A4, A5, A6, A8, Q5, Q7, R8, RS4, S4, S5, S6, S8, TT

Handling & Performance:

For some reason the brakes on this A5 weren’t “Grabby” as I reported on the A4 so I have to assume it was an anomaly. I also suspect the 0-60 performance of about 6.5 seconds is more impressive in the A5 because it hauls less weight and the manual transmission provides more performance generally.

Styling:

A big thumbs up to all Audi products but this is special. I’ve always leaned toward coupes with only two doors for sleek design but I think that people today are generally more practically minded and would opt for 4 doors. It just makes life easier and 4 doors are increasingly more acceptable to more people. 40 years ago 4-doors were for ‘old’ people.

Fit and Finish:

Very good.

Cost:

In keeping with the entire line of Audi the badge and snob appeal keeps the price at the upper limits of my threshold of pain. But relative to the performers in this class (kinda) the A5 goes more head to head with Infiniti and BMW. Mercedes is a notch up in class I feel and Corvette, well Corvette is simply raw power and a thrill a minute performance.

Conveniences and comfort:

All the Audi cars I’ve tested this year have been as comfortable as cars get by any standards. Naturally all models utilize the same electronics so they fall into the trap of being more confusing than most of us like. Controls simply need to be more intuitive.

Consumer Recommendation:

If you’re in the fast lane and your career is smok’n this is right up your road to looking good and prosperous.

Recognized Competition:

Audi A5 AWD $36-45,000, Mercedes-Benz CLK Class $48-64,000, BMW 3 $34-51,000, Infiniti G Coupe $36-39,000, Infiniti EX $34-37,000, Chevrolet Corvette $49-117,000.

Good News:

Great performer, comfortable ride and elegantly stylish.

Bad News:

Electronics controls are not to my liking – just not intuitive enough.

Standard Equipment:

2.0 liter 211 hp 4-cylinder turbocharged engine, 6-speed manual transmission quarto permanent all wheel drive, 18” 10 spoke alloy wheels, electronic stabilization program, ABS, halogen headlights, tire pressure monitoring system, front fog lights, leather 8-way power seats, leather wrapped sport steering wheel, auto climate control, stereo with CD player, SIRIUS satellite radio, 10 speaker 180 watt sound system, power windows & locks, trip computer, front and side and side curtain airbags, anti-theft alarm system, valet key, LATCH for children.

Options:

Premium plus: model $3,500 – 18” 5-spoke alloy wheels, Xenon headlights, Led daytime running lights, three zone climate control, heated front seats, rain / light sensor.

Navigation package with camera: $2,500 – Audi navigation, voice control for radio/phone/navigation, color driver info system, rearview camera and rear parking sensors.

19” sport package $1,450 – 19” allow wheels with high performance tires, front sport seats, sport suspension, shift paddles (auto trans only).

Gas Stats:

$2.85/ Gal avg. November 12, ‘09

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

22 City and 30 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $36,000 – With options $44,675.

2009 Audi A4 Sedan 2.0 T Quattro Tiptronic (784)

Overview:

This week we’re looking at the 2009 Audi A4 Sedan 2.0 T Quattro Tiptronic. It sports the new signature headlights similar to those first introduced on the Audi R8 featuring LED running lights. I fell in love with this lighting feature when I first tested the R8 and was happy to see it a part of the A4 touches.

The 2.0-liter engine produces 211 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, significantly more power than the engine it replaced. More importantly it is a testimony to the fact that you CAN achieve more than 100 hp per liter. Of course we in America historically hadn’t wanted to do that for US made cars. Again I suspect that had more to do with marketing and giving the consumer what they wanted – ‘down and dirty’ simple Muscle kinda cars. The other ingredient in the American auto experience and love affair was the fact that gas prices have always been far lower than the rest of the world so we didn’t need to engineer in exceptional power train design. No country has better engineering than is achievable from inventive and Space Age America. That’s why we have historically been the world leader in the industry. We simply got out foxed by countries more hungry with more realistic corporate leaders that didn’t get paid $500 million a year plus benefits and perks beyond belief.

Hey, I’m not knocking our beloved capitalism but rather I’m disappointed with the greed and corruption from captains of industry here in America. But guess what – it always catches up with the bad guys and the consumer sensed it and turned to better run car producers.

General Info:

Parts – US/Canadian 1%, Germany 75%

Assembly – Neckarsulm, Germany

Class:  – Compact

Cars: – A3, A4, A5, A6, A8, Q5, Q7, R8, RS4, S4, S5, S6, S8, TT

Handling & Performance:

I wasn’t happy with the brakes because they are very grabby. I’m sure I would adjust to them over time but it was a constant irritation. The rest of the handling characteristics are Audi excellent and thus very enjoyable to drive.

Styling:

Thumbs up in this category. Audi has always had distinctive styling that is consistently Audi and a common trait of most German cars. A good thing, and it reminds me of the days when American car makers would retool every couple of years for a new look and a marketing strategy that I never appreciated as it implied you should trade up every two years because new vs old was intentionally obvious.

Fit and Finish:

Very good.

Cost:

Pricey in large part because of the badge but it is competitive with others in its class.

Conveniences and comfort:

Audi is a comfortable ride by any standards but I find all model electronic controls to be much too complicated an not at all intuitive.

Consumer Recommendation:

The competition is not terribly clear so I’ve chosen All Wheel Drive cars similarly priced. The competitors to the A4 noted here are all V6’s and the BMW and Mercedes have a bit more horsepower and only a little less fuel economy as you’d expect. Most other dimensions and weight are nearly identical.

Recognized Competition:

Audi A4 AWD $32,000, BMW 328 xi AWD $35,600, Mercedes Benz C300 AWD $37,000, Lexus IS250 AWD $35,000.

Good News:

Nice handling and a comfortable ride, lots of power with more than 100 hp / liter.

Bad News:

Electronics controls are not to my liking – just not intuitive enough.

Standard Equipment:

2.0 liter 211 hp 4-cylinder engine, 6-speed auto transmission w/Tiptronic / Dynamic Shift Program, Quattro all wheel drive system, ABS, Electronic Stabilization program, 17” alloy wheels, speed sensitive power steering, auto climate control, power windows & locks, cruise control, 60/40 split folding rear seat, power adjust front seats, leather wrapped steering wheel, AM/FM with in dash CD player & Sirius satellite radio, leather seating, trip computer, front and side and side curtain airbags, power heated mirrors, anti-theft alarm system, LATCH for children.

Options:

Prestige model $7,300 – 18” alloy wheel, Bang & olufsen sound system, side assist & rear parking system, advanced key keyless start/stop, Xenon headlights, Bluetooth, three zone climate control, heated front seats, 6-CD changer, memory driver seat & mirrors. Audi Drive Select – $2,950. Navigation with rearview Camera, voice control – $2,500.

Gas Stats:

$3.05/ Gal avg. November 2, ‘09

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information

21 City and 27 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $32,700 – With options $45,850.