Quattro:

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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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 A8L : The Flagship of Flagships

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Flagship – (ˈflæɡˌʃɪp) – The best or most important one of a group or system. Source: Dictionary.com

Often we hear of automakers make claims about their flagship vehicles.  When you start to break apart these claims you might find that the word flagship is one thrown around rather loosely.  An opportunity to drive the flagship of the Audi brand presented itself and I discovered what truly sets the Audi A8 and A8L apart from the rest of the flagships.


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Let's Talk Cars: Exclusive Test Drives – Audi's New RS4 – M3 Killer – and a Big Red Fire Truck – Life Saver

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Welcome to Let’s Talk Cars

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This week on Let’s Talk Cars, exclusive, red hot test drives. And we’re not just being metaphorical here.

First, VehicleVoice correspondent David Barrett revisits his racing past when he hops inside Audi’s new RS4 to spend a few hours roaring through Pasadena’s Old Town and whipping past the Rose Bowl. With 420 horses, the latest Quattro AWD setup and a purring/screaming V8 motor, the RS4 is everything you’d ever want a sports sedan to be, and then some. The sound alone makes this podcast special.

Plus, a ride in a big red fire truck, (a 1997 Seagrave Triple Apparatus to be exact) courtesy of the Los Angeles Fire Department. Find out what it’s like to maneuver a truck that weighs over 40,000 pounds through the crowded city streets of downtown Hollywood. Sparky says this is the best job in the Department.

Yeah, this week’s Let’s Talk Cars is red hot.

Show Rundown
02:06 Exclusive Test Drive – Audi’s New RS4: David Barrett, VehicleVoice contributor
13:36 Exclusive Test Drive – LAFD Fire Engine: Brett Sparkman, LAFD Engineer


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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.

Audi RS4 Ritz Blog.JPG

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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Land Rover LR3 for First Snow of the Season: To SUV or Not To SUV

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After an unusually warm fall, in southeastern Michigan we are experiencing temperatures more typical of January and February than November or December, complete with early snowfall well ahead of the average. By December 11, we had seen more snow than our average for the entire month of December and more snow than we’ve seen in December since 1974, according to a local newscast. Four to eight inches of the month’s ten-plus inches dropped on the evening of December 8, when snow started coming down heavy about 6 p.m. By about 9:30 p.m., it sure seemed as though three-quarters of the total had fallen. I was attending a holiday party and needed to drive about fifteen miles before I could be snug at home, I found myself grateful to be driving a Land Rover LR3. But: Grateful enough to opt for an SUV for our household fleet?

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