Audi A4:

Mercedes Goes After Millennials with CLA

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2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA:  Mercedes-Benz has been in a slow launch mode for the new front wheel drive 2014 CLA sedan since the beginning of 2013.  The car has just gone on sale and advertising is blanketing the airwaves.  So, what’s the story?

Target – Millennials – Does it Have Enough Rear Seat Room?  The CLA is Mercedes’ price leader in the USA.  Mercedes proudly touts its $29,990 base price and admits its attempt to intercept drivers under 35 before they buy their first premium brand car from BMW or Audi.  Most CLAs will be priced in the $35,000 range when you get the $2,300 premium package (garage door opener, premium sound w/iPod interface, heated front seats, dual zone climate control) and the $2,370 multimedia package (rear view camera and navigation system).  For that mid-thirties price you get a fully featured front wheel drive 4-cylinder four door sedan and the Mercedes three-pointed star.

2014 Mercedes CLA250 F34


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2014 Lexus IS Ready to Take on the Germans?

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Almost There – IS350 F-Sport Nears 335i Performance Feel The all new 3rd Generation Lexus IS is a near luxury sport sedan to be launched during June 2013 as a 2014 model year entry (the 2013 IS C hardtop convertible based on the 2nd Gen IS continues for another year selling along side the 4-door sedan) .  The major question is whether it is ready to take on the Germans in its class.  To answer that question, Lexus served up three IS350 F-Sports, a BMW 335i and Mercedes C350 and a nice little track outside Austin, Texas – Driveway Austin Motorsports.  You could drive each car for two laps per outing as many times as you wanted or time allowed.  The conclusion is that the BMW retains the Ultimate Driving Machine crown, the IS350 F-Sport is very, very civilized and competitive, and the C350 approaches land barge category.  The 335i is very sporty, very precise and tuned for performance.  The IS achieves its competitive position only when you opt for the IS350 with the F-Sport package giving the car upgraded suspension and steering.  The more mundane IS models – IS250 and IS350 – are softer and more tuned to the casual driver.  But, the F-Sport is a gas to drive. Unfortunately, an Audi A4 was not available for the track exercise.  It would have provided an interesting comparison.

So, with the excitement of the track experience out of the way, we were able to drive the IS on the great Texas Hill Country roads around the area.


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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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2009 Audi A4: First Drive

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Audi‘s latest A4 goes on sale in fall 2008, and we recently had a chance for a spin behind the wheel of a Euro-spec car. At first drive, Audi takes everything good on its core model and ratchets it up a notch. Audi showed off the home of their owner’s driving school, the Audi Forum Sonoma at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California. The Audi Forum takes a track experience a step above, and we only wish the day had been longer for more track time.

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I promise, you can get the A4 in a color other than red..

We drove Euro-spec 265HP 3.2L Quattro sedans, with six-speed Tiptronic automatic transmissions. Audi is not offering the dual-clutch transmission here. The standard car this fall takes Audi’s 211HP 2.0L TFSI I4 (not the 250HP version once expected), standard in front-drive but available with Quattro. The wagon arrives with Quattro only. We covered the A4’s introduction at the Frankfurt auto show last year and brought you most of the technical stuff then (click here to revisit).
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Like many vehicles, A4 has grown with each generation. Having fallen for the A4 back in my mid-1990s Automobile Magazine days, I wondered if this iteration would finally be so big it lost some charm. The A4 has grown about six inches, with a wheelbase just over 110 inches. Instead of being slightly smaller, the A4 is seven inches longer than the either the BMW 3-Series or Mercedes C-Class. Our short drive proved that the A4 is as charming as ever, and more nimble than the size suggests. The cabin is more comfortable, but this new chassis, steering, and suspension ensure a fine-handling sedan.


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2009 Audi A4: Frankfurt Motor Show Introduction

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All-New A4 Arrives Stateside Fall 2008
Despite the European introduction in September 2007 at the Frankfurt motor show and sales in some markets by the end of the year, U.S. buyers won’t get to choose the latest A4 until about a year later (click for the European Audi A4 microsite). We can’t wait that long to share the first details with you, of course!

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The new A4 takes the latest family look, introduced with the TT and A5, and does it well from headlights to small decklid spoiler. Whether xenon or halogen headlights are ordered, the shape of the headlight and the daytime running lights accents the car’s design in a new way. The wing running below the main light and supported by the line of daytime running lights adds character and design, instead of a complex “jewel-look” housing. It carries a fast rear roofline, though Audi promises good headroom for all passengers and easier ingress/egress thanks to wider-opening rear doors. The new A4 is about six inches longer than the current car, though it does not look so. Only about an inch wider, the new A4’s proportions hide the larger size. Even in person, it does not look much bigger than today’s sedan.
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Audi’s 2009 A4 moves to a new layout, once called transmission forward. The transmission now sits basically next to the engine. Benefits include more space for better interior packaging and better driving dynamics, due to the car’s overall weight balance being closer to the optimal 50:50. The car also gets away with a shorter front overhang, even allowing for pedestrian and crash safety standards.
A4 Grows to be More Competitive
The size of the new A4 is almost that of the A6, shy an inch or two in each dimension, but close enough for us to conclude that the next generation A6 will be a substantially bigger car. German cars always seem to be a half size too small for the class in which they compete. With the increase in size for the A4, Audi brings their high volume mid-size car almost up to the package it requires.


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Audi A4 3.2 Quattro S-line – ‘Teutonically Tight’

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Finally! A formidable adversary to the BMW 3-Series. I’d call it an adversary, others may call it an antidote or a nice alternative. But what ever you call it, this Audi A4 was pretty impressive. When I think of Audi, I think of Bavaria, when I think of Bavaria I think of BMW. Some may enjoy the current generation 3-Series but I think BMW may have lost their aficionado edge. Some may even say they’ve gone off the reservation. I think the real BMW cowboys left the marque just as Bangle’s design caught on and these enthusiasts are looking for a place to hang their hat. Well, my guess is they’ll find Audi a brand that may meet their demands.
Audi is poised to make waves over the next few years. Some of those waves are going to take prospective new car owners away from BMW and into new Audi’s like this A4 3.2 Quattro.


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IIHS Top Safety Picks for 2007 Model Year

IIHS released the results of its 2007 Safety Pick Awards on November 20. VehicleVoice and AutoPacific feel that these results are important to communicate to our readers. Along with other awards for quality, satisfaction and performance, safety awards can and should be among the information sources a buyer uses when deciding which new vehicle to buy. After all, the Internet gives us almost perfect information.
While we do appreciate the safety value of electronic stability control, it will take years for the entire fleet to be equipped with ESC. For IIHS to eliminate all vehicles lacking ESC eliminates many otherwise safe vehicles from their analysis. This is too simplistic an approach.
2007 TOP SAFETY PICK award winners: award criteria are tougher; SUVs eligible for first time
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety announces 13 vehicles that earn TOP SAFETY PICK awards for 2007. Winners include 4 cars, 7 SUVs, and 2 minivans. This award recognizes vehicles that do the best job of protecting people in front, side, and rear crashes based on ratings in Institute tests. Winners also have to be equipped with electronic stability control (ESC).
WINNERS
Large car
Audi A6 manufactured in Dec. 2006 and later
Midsize cars
Audi A4
Saab 9-3
Subaru Legacy equipped with optional electronic stability control
Minivans
Hyundai Entourage
Kia Sedona
Luxury SUVs
Mercedes M class
Volvo XC90
Midsize SUVs
Acura RDX
Honda Pilot
Subaru B9 Tribeca
Small SUVs
Honda CR-V
Subaru Forester equipped with optional electronic stability control


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Audi RS4 – Top of Audi A4 Range Finally in USA

The Audi RS4 is the highest performance model from Audi’s popular A4. Final assembly is by Quattro GmbH, Audi’s high performance house, in Neckarsulm, Germany. AutoPacific had the chance to drive the RS4 from Pasadena to Willow Springs Raceway in early May. The car goes on sales in the USA in June, 2006.

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Subtle Styling Tweaks Even With Substantial Exterior Sheetmetal Differences
Available in the USA only as a 4-door sedan, but in other markets as an Avant (wagon) or cabriolet (convertible), the RS4 is very different from the rest of the A4 line. First, only the basic body shell is the same. Doors and roof are common, but front fascia, front fenders, hood, rear quarters, decklid are all unique to the RS4. Ride height has been lowered by 1.2-inches and the USA-spec RS4 rides on 19-inch tires. With all this uniqueness, the appearance of the RS4 is not, at-a-glance, hugely different from the A4.
The fenders have muscular flairs that cover larger 19-inch tires and wheels riding on a wider track. This forces the rear quarter panels to be unique and Audi uses this as an opportunity to style a unique decklid with a subtle integral spoiler.
Exterior appearance is strong, subtle and powerful. But, it is still clearly an Audi A4.


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