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Audi Freshens 2012 A4 Ideal Vehicle Award Winners and Adds 2013 Allroad

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Audi has launched five models from its 2013 B8 platform – the A4, S4, A5, S5 and Allroad.  The B8 is a mild mid-cycle freshening of Audi’s line of compact sport sedans.  But first to the awards…

Audi A4 Wins AutoPacific 2012 Ideal Vehicle Award: Over one-third of new car and light truck buyers are influenced by awards their vehicle has won.  Owner-based awards are more valuable than most.  For the 2012 model year – the B7 platform – Audi swept AutoPacific’s Ideal Vehicle Awards for the Aspirational Luxury Car Category.  Not only was the A4 the most ideal Aspirational Luxury Car as rated by its owners, the A5 was in second place and the next-step-up A6 was in third place in the category.  These are significant achievements.

In AutoPacific’s IVA research, 25% of A4 owners want more power and acceleration.  About 23% want more passenger room, 21% want easier ingress/ingress and 19% want more daring styling.

A4/S4/A5/S5 Evolve Very Nicely, Thank You: So, the question is whether or not the new 2013 cars have hit their target market as well as their recent predecessors, and do they offset the shortfalls mentioned above?  After a drive of the cars in Colorado during fire season, we can safely say the 2013 versions are equal to or better than the class-winners they replace.

The basic dimensions of the 2013 cars are identical to the 2012 cars.  The styling of the sedans and coupe is very evolutionary with minor styling changes.  Think of the exterior styling change as a moderate “front six inches” with new grille shape, headlamps and front fascia.  The grille has evolved with a more trapezoidal look.   Audi took advantage of this freshening to re-design its LED-accented headlamps and taillamps.  These cues have become a distinguishing Audi design feature. So, Audi did not push the styling envelope with this facelift but remained safe.  (About 80% of A4 owners find the styling of the 2012 model ideal).

The interior of the cars remains an outstanding reason to buy.  Great fit and finish combined with excellent materials selection.   There is a new three-spoke steering wheel, revised instrument cluster and Audi connect with Audi’s controller-based MMI Navigation system is ordered.

Just a Brief Note on Touchscreens and Controllers: The auto industry is all over the place relative to touchscreen navigation systems or controller-based nav-systems.  Audi (MMI), BMW (iDrive), and Mercedes (COMAND) have continued with controller-based systems as have others.  Many mainstream brands continue with touchscreens or have moved to them after wrestling with controller logic.  Oddly, Volkswagen and Porsche – VWAG family members – both use touchscreen systems now.  Volkswagen used a touchscreen and Porsche has moved from a controller-based system to a touchscreen.  Audi engineers say “you will never see a touchscreen in an Audi”.  They don’t like the fingerprints.  So, inside VWAG, the engineers have agreed to disagree.

New Allroad is the Big News: The big news for the B8 launch is the re-launch of the Audi Allroad.  The previous Allroad (1999-2005) was based on the larger Audi A6 and looked more aggressively off-road capable than the 2013 version based on the smaller B8-platform A4.  The Allroad replaces the slow selling Avant wagon in the American lineup with the body of the Avant tweaked to appear off-road capable.  Its ride-height is increased by 1.5-inches.   The expected wheel arch trim is there as are the front- and rear-skid plates.  A roof rack completes the appearance package.

Powertrains Essentially Carryover and Still Outstanding: The B8s are powered by a 211HP 2.0L turbocharged direct-injection 4-cylinder engine.  With Audi’s Quattro all wheel drive system, the 4-cylinder turbo is mated to either a 6-speed manual transmission or 8-speed automatic transmission.  If you select a front wheel drive S4, you get a CVT.  This 4-cylinder turbo engine has always been a delight to drive and is one of the world’s best-regarded engines.

If you want more oomph in the A4 and A5, move up to the V6-powered S4 and S5.  With the S4 and S5 you get a 3.0L supercharged direct-injection V6 engine with 333-horsepower.  Quattro is standard in the S4 and S5.  While the A4 is no slouch on the road or in the mountains, The S-Cars provide effortless performance in any situation.  This engine choice lets you think about a place in traffic you want to be and then without knowing it, you are miraculously there.

So, all in all, the Audi B8 experience is about what you would expect.  Great cars with evolutionary styling, super finesse and outstanding powertrains.


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Audi – Ideal Premium Brand in AutoPacific Research

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AutoPacific’s Ideal Vehicle Award (IVA) for Premium Brands recognizes the brand whose vehicles best hits the targets its buyers demand.  Winning an IVA shows the product planners, engineers and designers of the manufacturer understand what their target customers want and have created the vehicle to best meet their demands.

For 2012, Audi achieves the top ratings from its owners outpointing second place premium brand Porsche by 15 rating points.  Audi’s A4, A5 and A6 swept the top three places in the Aspirational Luxury Car category.  The Q7 and Q5 were second place in their crossover SUV categories.  Audi’s design DNA, attention to detail and finesse all contributed to this impressive win.


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Audi A4 – Most Ideal Aspirational Luxury Car

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AutoPacific’s Ideal Vehicle Award (IVA) recognizes the vehicle that best hits the target its buyers demand.  Winning an IVA shows the product planners, engineers and designers of the manufacturer understand what their target customers want and have created the vehicle to best meet their demands.

Audi Sweeps Category for IVA Win: The 2012 Audi A4 comes closest to the ideal of any Aspirational Luxury Car.  In fact, each Audi entry in this class was at the top – A4, A5 and A6.  The A4 is 51 rating points higher than the A5 coupe and 64 points higher than the A6.  Having eighty-percent or more of owners rating a characteristic ideal is outstanding.  Getting a score of ninety-percent is even more impressive.  Ninety-percent or more of A4 owners rate these characteristics ideal:  exterior size, interior lighting, wheels and tires, driver’s seat comfort, ride and handling.  Eighty-percent or more of A4 owners find these additional characteristics ideal:  driver’s seat visibility, cargo space, exterior styling and safety features.

A Few Shortfalls – Power, Package, Infotainment: A quarter of A4 owners want more power and acceleration – only a few would trade off power and acceleration for more gas mileage.  The A4 is a personal-sized sport sedan.  This means tight seating for some and about 23% of A4 owners would like more passenger room than they have in the 2012 model.  About 21% would like the A4 to be easier to get into and out of.  While exterior styling is ideal for 81% of owners, the other 19% want more daring styling.  About 22% of Audi A4 owners want more or better infotainment technology

You can find an Autobytel review of this IVA award winner at  http://www.autobytel.com/auto-news/awards/consumer-s-ideal-cars-revealed-in-2012-iva-awards-112116/

For a complete summary of all AutoPacific 2012 Ideal Vehicle Award results contact karin.turner@vehiclevoice.com and title your email “IVA Results”.  A copy of the results will be emailed to you within 48-hours.


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Porsche Cayenne – Most Ideal Premium Luxury XSUV in AutoPacific Research

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AutoPacific’s Ideal Vehicle Award (IVA) recognizes the vehicle that best hits the target its buyers demand.  Winning an IVA shows the product planners, engineers and designers of the manufacturer understand what their target customers want and have created the vehicle to best meet their demands.

Porsche Cayenne Edges Audi Q7 for IVA Win: The 2012 Porsche Cayenne comes closest to the ideal of any Premium Luxury Crossover SUV (XSUV).  The Cayenne edges out the second place Audi Q7 by 21 rating points to win in its class.   Having eighty-percent or more of owners rating a characteristic ideal is outstanding.  Achieving a score of ninety-percent is even more impressive.  Ninety-percent or more of Cayenne owners rate its driver’s seat comfort and ride and handling ideal.  Eighty-percent or more of Cayenne owners find these additional characteristics ideal:  exterior size, interior lighting, driver’s seat visibility, passenger roominess, cargo space, exterior styling, tires, ease of getting in and out and safety features.

A Few Shortfalls – Some Could Have Been Offset by Selecting Available Options and Powertrains: About 30% of Cayenne owners want more interior storage compartments.  About 23% of Cayenne owners want more power and acceleration.  About 23% of Cayenne owners want more distinctive wheels than now.  About 20% of Porsche Cayenne owners want more cargo space than now.  About 20% want better infotainment technology than now.

You can find an Autobytel review of this IVA award winner at  http://www.autobytel.com/auto-news/awards/ideal-suvs-pickups-rated-by-owners-in-2012-iva-awards-112117/

For a complete summary of all AutoPacific 2012 Ideal Vehicle Award results contact karin.turner@vehiclevoice.com and title your email “IVA Results”.  A copy of the results will be emailed to you within 48-hours.


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Volvo XC70 Most Ideal 2012 Luxury Crossover SUV

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OK, OK, you might not put the Volvo XC70 in an SUV class, but Volvo has gone to lengths to give the XC70 SUV cues and it pulls them off pretty well.  And, Volvo describes the XC70 as a “crossover”, so, QED.  The XC70 outpoints the second place Audi Q5 by over 50 rating points.

AutoPacific’s Ideal Vehicle Award (IVA) recognizes the vehicle that best hits the target its buyers demand.  To score well shows the product planning and design team understand the vehicle’s buyers very well and have executed the product to meet those standards.

Volvo XC70 Dominates Audi Q5 in IVA Win: The 2012 Volvo XC70 comes closest to the ideal of any Luxury Crossover SUV.  The XC70 outpoints the second place Luxury XSUV – the Audi Q5 – by 52 rating points.  In fact, eighty-percent or more of XC70’s owners would not change fourteen of fifteen major characteristics of their vehicle.

Any time over 90% of an owner group wants a characteristic to remain the same, the maker has hit its target dead center.  Ninety-percent-plus characteristics in the XC70 include:  exterior size, exterior styling, driver’s seat visibility, driver’s seat comfort, wheels, and safety features.

The only area lacking is interior storage compartments – 27% of XC70 owners want more interior storage.

You can find an Autobytel review of this IVA award winner at  http://www.autobytel.com/auto-news/awards/ideal-suvs-pickups-rated-by-owners-in-2012-iva-awards-112117/

For a complete summary of all AutoPacific 2012 Ideal Vehicle Award results contact karin.turner@vehiclevoice.com and title your email “IVA Results”.  A copy of the results will be emailed to you within 48-hours.


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EuroLuxury Psychographics – What You’d Expect

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Psychographics are any attributes relating to personality, values, attitudes, interests, or lifestyles. Each year, AutoPacific includes a battery of questions in the New Vehicle Satisfaction Survey that allows us to determine what the psychographic profile of each brand and model.  The results are often fascinating, or simply obvious, but confirming perceptions you might have had about a brand.

AutoPacific’s psychographic model has been developed using input from over 200,000 respondents to the New Vehicle Satisfaction Survey from 2009 through 2012.  Applying this model to our latest data lets us make valuable comparisons such as for the European Luxury Brands shown below:


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Ed Kim and the Audi A3 e-tron

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Recently, Ed Kim, AutoPacific’s Director of Industry Analysis, was given a sneak peek at the Audi A3 e-tron plug-in electric.  Earlier this week, Ed’s impressions were prominently featured in Audi’s featurette about the car. This video was released in conjunction with the automaker’s official announcement about the A3 e-tron’s U.S. test program at the 2012 TED Conference in Long Beach, CA. 

The A3 e-tron will be distributed in select markets in the U.S. to help Audi get real world data about how electric vehicles are used in everyday life, ultimately aiding in the development of future plug-in vehicles from Audi.

Audi, rightly so in our opinion, believes there is no one silver bullet in the quest for greater efficiency.  As such, the automaker is exploring just about every available alternative powertrain technology out there as potential components of a greater solution.  Those can include electrics, hybrids, plug-in hybrids, diesels, or even very efficient gasoline engines.

Watch below to see Audi’s A3 e-tron in action, and Ed’s thoughts on some of the issues surrounding electric vehicles.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W6b28g_o9yQ&feature=bf_prev&list=PL7DADCC3EE813305E&lf=plpp_video


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Audi e-tron Spyder

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Sometimes things start out great and end up only OK, or perhaps worse. The smell of coffee in the morning. Most Superbowls. A full bottle of Patron. We recently had the opportunity to experience the Audi e-tron and came away excited by the vehicle, but wondering why we got to see so much of it.


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2012 Audi TT RS: Money Can Indeed Buy Happiness

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There are two things that I have daydreamed about for years.  The first is an Audi RS 4 Cabriolet in my garage.  The second is to have a place to drive that RS 4, like, say, maybe, my own personal race track?  My dream got about as close to reality as it ever will a few weeks ago in a remote part of the Catskill Mountains.   


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2011 Audi A3 TDI – Rejoice, A Green Car for Drivers!

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The Audi A3 is conclusive proof that green vehicles need not be boring or uninvolving transportation.  Frankly, it’s amazing that it has taken as long as it has to get fun yet extremely frugal vehicles into the marketplace.  Years of having to maneuver around hybrids like Prius driven by hypermilers have led so many people to simply assume that fuel sipping vehicles are incapable of possessing any excitement.

Fortunately, our European friends across the pond have never felt that way.  Much higher fuel taxes have resulted in fuel economy being a big priority in Europe, but that has never justified boring cars there.  Quite the opposite, actually.


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