Displaying items by tag: Audi
The verdict: Audi strikes a beautiful balance of sporty, luxurious and high-tech in the revised A4, delivering a satisfying compact sedan experience.
Verus the competition: It’s not as athletic as competitors like the Alfa Romeo Giulia or BMW 3 Series, but the new A4 makes up in comfort what it lacks in edginess. It’s easily as quick as most of its competitors, offers similar technology and provides a luxury experience that outshines rivals from Acura, Infiniti and Lexus.
There’s been a seemingly never-ending parade of new SUVs showing up in our testing queue lately. Everyone has a new ute to sell to an increasingly ravenous customer base that loves high-riding, family-friendly, cargo-hauling boxes — so when something comes along that’s the antithesis of that mindset, it’s deliciously refreshing. That’s what we have here with Audi’s latest A4. It got a decent refresh of its styling and content for the 2020 model year, and the 2021 model got even more tweaks and refinements. German luxury specialist Audi has delivered a beautifully balanced and fun-to-drive — but not overly sporty — compact sports sedan that reminds you just how much more satisfying a low-slung sports sedan is than even the most hairy-chested, overpowered SUV out there.
More, Greener Power
The news for the 2021 A4 primarily centers on a power upgrade. The car still offers two turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engines, but both now make more power and feature a standard 12-volt mild-hybrid system to boost efficiency. Both engines gain 13 horsepower, leaving the base A4 40 trim with 201 hp and the upgraded 45 trim with a healthier 261 hp. Torque remains unchanged at 236 pounds-feet in the base 40 model and 273 pounds-feet in the 45. Both engines mate only to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, and all-wheel drive is newly standard for 2021. The manual transmission was discontinued a while ago, and now there are no more front-wheel-drive models, either.
But you know what? I’m not even mad about it, because the A4 drives beautifully. The focus on balance is clearly apparent: The higher-spec engine I drove delivers ample, immediate thrust when called upon, and the automatic transmission is snappy and responsive. The car overall delivers a refined, poised driving experience that’s highly enjoyable. Its low seating position, tight handling and smooth yet communicative ride are all excellent reminders that, despite the usefulness of SUVs, they really aren’t made for enjoying the experience of driving.
This A4 is a bit too soft to be truly sporty; steering feel is direct but notably muted, and the suspension allows a bit more lean and bump-soaking cushiness than you’ll find in a comparable BMW or Alfa Romeo. Still, it’s no marshmallow, with the kind of higher-speed highway stability you expect from a German luxury brand. Overall, there’s just enough communication from the car’s mechanical components to be entertaining, and just enough isolation to keep things luxurious and refined.
Fuel economy for the 45 S Line version of the A4 is basically unchanged from 2020 despite the addition of the mild-hybrid system. It’s rated by the EPA at 24/31/27 mpg city/highway/combined — 1 mpg less on the highway than the 2020 AWD A4. If you opt for the base 2021 A4 with the less powerful engine, that’s estimated to net you a slightly better 25/34/28 mpg, but either way, the addition of standard AWD means there’ll be no getting the fuel economy of the FWD 2020 model, which rang in at 27/35/30 mpg.
In a week of mixed-use driving, I averaged 26.5 mpg — pretty good given the spirited manner in which I often found myself driving the A4. By comparison, the higher-powered A4’s rating is mid-pack among AWD compact luxury sedans: The new 2021 Acura TLX A-Spec is rated an inferior 21/29/24 mpg, the 2021 BMW 330i xDrive a superior 25/34/28 mpg and the new 2021 Genesis G70 2.0T AWD a considerably worse 20/27/23 mpg.
Still a Benchmark Interior — for Now
We’re worried about Audi’s trend toward replacing every switch in the cabin with touch-sensitive panels — something American automakers tried a few years ago that didn’t go over well. The panels take away tactile feel for buttons, making for a more distracting experience — especially given that, in many cases, the touch panels don’t operate perfectly, requiring you to focus extra attention on them to make sure the function you tried to select has actually been selected. I’m happy to say the latest update to the A4 hasn’t created a completely “glass cockpit” just yet; there are still dedicated climate-control buttons and knobs, for instance, unlike on some larger Audis, such as the A6 and A8.
The front and center touchscreen was updated for the 2020 model year, and as in many cars these days, it’s been artlessly pasted onto the dashboard like an afterthought — or a tablet in a dock. Thankfully, unlike the latest Mercedes-Benz products, the steering wheel does not employ touch-sensitive areas — something I never thought I’d need to say.
The overall interior experience in the A4 is as it ever was: chock full of top-quality materials, excellent design, comfortable seats and great visibility. It does feature a very low driving position, which takes some getting used to in an era when what’s left of the sedans out there feature ever more upright, high-sitting driving positions. Front-seat comfort is good, but backseat space is rather tight in terms of leg and headroom, as is common in the compact sedan class.
As in other high-end luxury cars, you can adjust the interior ambient lighting from a calm, subtle glow all the way up to full-blast, “Tron”-style Lightcycle, depending on your taste and tolerance for such things. The digital gauge cluster is one of Audi’s better electronic features; the brand was one of the first to employ such technology across its range, and while it’s become a lot more common in competitors, Audi still makes sure it’s is one of the best out there with easy-to-read displays, an easy switch between display modes and an acceptable level of customization without information overload.
Cargo room isn’t the most important thing in a compact luxury sedan, but the A4 does all right here, too, with a 12-cubic-foot trunk, according to Audi. That’s more than the Genesis G70’s 10.5 cubic feet but less than the Acura TLX’s 13.5 cubic feet — and a lot less than the BMW 330i xDrive’s 17.0 cubic feet, though I suspect that figure may be a product of some sketchy measuring on BMW’s part. (This is why Cars.com has launched its own cargo-measuring effort, though we have yet to flesh out the A4’s class).
Premium Digs at a Premium Price
The latest Audi A4 is the typical premium Audi experience. My test vehicle was an S Line version, which brings a lot of the exterior styling elements of the S4 performance sedan into the A4 line, with a few spiffs on the inside, as well. As is typical with a German luxury sedan, though, you can always have more upgrades if you’d like to spend a little more money.
My test car also featured the S Line interior package, which brought leather and Alcantara seats, aluminum inlay trim and stainless-steel pedals. It also had a Black Optic Package for the exterior, which adds 18-inch black wheels, black exterior trim and all-season tires (or, as in the case of my test car, 19-inch wheels running summer tires thanks to a further Black Optic wheel upgrade). The grand total for my highly optioned A4 came to $53,840 (including destination). That’s a hefty sum for a compact luxury sedan, but it’s by no means out of line with what competitors charge for their offerings.
In the end, Audi’s mild updates for 2021 continue the A4’s long-standing tradition of style, technology and comfort, offered up at a competitive price. We can only hope the next generation doesn’t go to a complete “glass cockpit” look that eliminates hard buttons in favor of touch panels — but I’m not really all that hopeful. If anything, that impending possibility makes this model look more appealing than ever.
Scorching-looking electric coupe from Audi targets the Tesla Model S
Audi has unveiled off its latest electric car, the new E-Tron GT. It's the second bespoke EV in the Audi range, and is closely based on the highly impressive Porsche Taycan. It's a four-door coupe that's set to go on sale in the UK later in 2021.
As well as sharing its basic proportions with the Porsche Taycan, the E-Tron GT will look familiar to anyone who is familiar with industry news. It is very similar to the concept car of the same name first shown at the Frankfurt motor show back in 2018. It's unusual to see a production car look so like a concept car like that, but this is no bad thing.
When it goes on sale, the cars it needs to beat will be the Porsche it's so closely based on and the evergreen Tesla Model S, which has just received a raft of improvements for the 2021 model year. Audi will have an advantage in terms of build quality and interior finish, but the Tesla gets a massive advantage from its Supercharger network of high-speed public chargers.
From launch, buyers will have a choice of two models: the e-tron GT quattro and RS e-tron GT. Both versions use an electric powertrain featuring a motor mounted on each axle for four-wheel drive.
What's it like inside?
If you've experienced any top-end Audi launched since the current A8, the interior of the E-Tron will will reassuringly familiar. It loses that car's three-screen set-up, but you still get the latest 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit instrumentation as well as a generously-proportioned 10.1-inch central screen for the infotainment set-up. There are physical buttons for the climate control system.
In addition, it's packed with equipment as you'd expect - so there are heated seats, user-configurable interior lighting, and these can be individually set-up for up to six users. There's an optional head-up display, and you can control all of this via the screens, buttons on the wheel and by Audi's latest iteration of its voice recognition system. You can also specify it with an autonomous self-parking system.
There are Vegan trim options including Dinamica and Kaskade, which are supposed to feel like Alcantara and wool. The more-sporting RS E-Tron GT will be available with microfibre trim for the dashboard and contrasting stitching for the steering wheel and centre console. You want open-pore walnut or carbon fibre? They're all there for you.
Practicality should like the Porsche Taycan - so a generous interior for four people, while Audi says the luggage capacity is 405 litres - about the same as a Volkswagen Golf with the rear seats in place.
Audi E-Tron GT charging and range
Audi is going for maximum efficiency here. It's super-sleek for the least air resistance at speed. Audi says that the new E-Tron GT has a drag coefficient of just 0.24Cd, which means it has one of the most aerodynamic bodies on sale today. What that means for you is that there will be low levels of wind noise at speed, and it will go longer without stopping on the motorway.
Both the E-Tron and RS E-Tron GT have the same generously-sized 93kWh battery pack (with a usable capacity of 85kWh). Audi says that will deliver a maximum range of 298 miles, although official figures are yet to be released.
The E-Tron GT will accept the latest rapid chargers, like the Porsche Taycan. What that means is you'll be able to hook it up to a 270kW public charger and give it an 80% charge in just 23 minutes. Or to put it another way, you'll get 62 miles of range for every five minutes of rapid charging. On a standard UK domestic wallbox, to fully recharge from empty will be an overnight operation, while using a three-pin plug should be just for emergencies...
How fast is it?
If you're looking for a surge of electric acceleration, you won't be disappointed. The entry-level E-Tron GT develops 475hp for a claimed 0-62mph time of 4.1 seconds. Maximum speed is 152mph, but as you can imagine, battery range will be severely compromised the closer you get to that speed.
The RS E-Tron GT is considerably quicker and more powerful. Maximum power is 600hp, although the car’s launch control system can temporarily increase power to 655bhp. Acceleration is boosted - 0-62mph time comes in at 3.3 seconds and the maximum speed goes up to 155mph (limited).
The RS E-Tron gets performance upgrades including uprated tungsten-carbide-coated brake discs, adaptive air suspension and optional four-wheel steering for improved high-speed stability. Handling on all models will benefit from its sophisticated double-wishbone suspension and electronically controlled dampers.
RS E-Tron upgrades
The sporting RS models will be available from launch and come with a whole range of upgrades to reflect their status as the ultimate E-Tron GT. It's visually different with a restyled bonnet and a sportier-looking bodykit. The front bumper is also deeper, while at the rear you get a less subtle-looking diffuser. Adaptive dampers lower the car at speed, while laser headlight technology on the RS will make night driving easier.
How much does it cost and when is it on sale?
The E-Tron GT will launch in two versions, the E-Tron GT Quattro and the RS E-Tron GT. Both go on sale in spring 2021 with UK deliveries to follow shortly after. The prices of all the various trims can be found below.
E-Tron GT quattro £79,900
E-Tron GT quattro Vorsprung £106,000
RS E-Tron GT £110,950
RS E-Tron GT Carbon Black £124,540
RS E-Tron GT Vorsprung £133,340
Is the Audi A3 40 TFSI e plug-in hybrid the best variant of the premium hatch?
This Audi A3 PHEV should appeal to company-car choosers, but everyone else may be put off by the higher list price and still-modest electric-only range. It’s beautifully finished inside and has lots of appealing tech, but its performance is compromised – in S line trim at least – by a stiff ride that means that cars with the same powertrain from sister brands are not only cheaper and more spacious, but also more comfortable.
There was a time, not too long ago, when the key model in any Audi line-up was the leanest diesel – the variant that could help user-choosers save the most on their company car tax bill while still allowing them to sit behind the wheel of a premium product on a daily basis.
Now, though, the plug-in hybrid grabs the benefit-in-kind tax headlines, so this car, the A3 40 TFSI e, is a crucial weapon in Audi’s arsenal as it tries to poach sales from the Mercedes A-Class and BMW 1 Series.
The A3 PHEV uses well known VW Group technology – which is to say that, on paper at least, there’s not an awful lot to separate the 40 TFSI e from the SEAT Leon E-Hybrid and the Skoda Octavia iV.
At its heart is a 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine producing 148bhp, and an electric motor contributes a further 107bhp. There’s no quattro four-wheel drive here, just a regular front-drive layout, and the transmission is not VW’s latest seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, but rather a six-speed DSG. A manual ’box isn’t offered.
Audi says you should be able to replenish the car’s 13kWh battery completely with a wallbox in around four hours. Overnight fill-ups shouldn’t be an issue.
The total system power is rated at 201bhp and 350Nm of torque – enough for 0-62mph in 7.6 seconds. Perhaps just as important is the electric-only range – 40 miles, or 37 if you spec S line trim and 18-inch wheels, as on our test car here – and the fact that the plug-in A3 can reach 37mph in 5.2 seconds on electricity alone.
In S line trim, the plug-in A3 sits in the 11 per cent tax band, although that will rise to 12 per cent for the next tax year. However, if you settle for a 40 TFSI e in Sport trim, then the electric-only mileage will rise to the point where the bands will be seven and eight per cent respectively.
Although it was freezing cold and wet for our drive – conditions that usually restrict a plug-in’s range – our experience indicates the car should be able to get within 20 per cent of that predicted electric-only range. It pulls away in EV mode by default, in fact, and you’ll soon find yourself trickling it along 30mph routes, enjoying the relative silence.
We say ‘relative’ because the chunky alloys and sports suspension mean there’s a fair bit of noise from the road surface, and they relay a bit too much of what’s going on down there. Audi has made great strides in giving its S line editions a more tolerant ride, but while the A3 isn’t unbearable, it’s too easily unsettled by what’s beneath it. This, in turn, undoes what would be decent body control in corners, because you’ll find yourself skipping laterally across any imperfections. It just doesn’t feel like the best take on the VW Group’s ubiquitous MQB platform for the UK’s awful roads.
It’s a pity, really, because once you’ve gone beyond pootling around town, the hybrid powertrain is both surprisingly potent and extremely smooth.
The electric motor’s ability to feed torque when the engine is still getting up to speed makes for some prodigious mid-range punch. And as for the transition between electric and combustion power, you’ll need to keep an eye on the crisp and responsive digital dash to be sure that it’s happening at all. It’s supremely refined when cruising, and very smooth when worked hard.
Inside, the A3’s cabin remains a very pleasant place, with the excellent Virtual Cockpit about the only flat element in a sharply creased dashboard, and none of its VW Golf sister’s ludicrous touch-sensitive sliders for key controls; here you get regular buttons for heating and ventilation. The quality feels nailed on, and a proper match for the car’s chief rival, the A-Class.
Space takes a hit in the move to plug-in power, though. Passengers are as well catered for here as in regular A3s, but they’ll have to pack a bit more carefully, because the boot capacity drops from 380 litres to 280 litres. That’s basically supermini numbers, so if you want a VW Group PHEV that can cope with a proper load of family clutter, and are prepared to put badge loyalties to one side, the Octavia iV (450 litres) would be better.
Often in the world of cars, a story is repeated that begins something like this: "When you and those characters started this or that year, they didn't even know that…".
Well, this story won't start like that, because the brilliant minds in front of Cosworth foresaw the future very well and knew even better what they were doing. And this thesis is shown by these road cars with their signatures.
So here is a brief cross-section of the best that this ingenious duo has offered for road use…
There is no doubt that Mike Costlin and Keith Duckworth have become immortal since 1958. There is also no doubt that the engines and other components of this ingenious duo have been revered by millions of Ford fans and beyond over the years. Because what Cosworth has achieved in the world of engine optimization, refinement, performance increase and construction of legendary race cars, practically no one has ever managed to achieve.
Having Ford, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, and even a Cosworth-signed Subaru in my possession has always been something special. And the owners of various Sierra, Escort and other other cars were rightly proud of their cars.
Because Cosworth, despite all its flaws (and there were some), has always fascinated with its ingenious solutions, crazy ideas and revolutionary machines that power some of the most respected cars of all time.
Both on the street and on the track.
True car enthusiasts, whose coexistence with cars does not come down to blind worship of one brand or worse, one model of one brand, know very well what this legendary company has signed from 1958 until today.
But some of you esteemed readers might be surprised with our selection as part of Cosworth’s list of the best road races.
So there is no choice but to start with this short and sweet list of really special road races with Cosworth's signature…
Number 5: Ford Escort RS Cosworth
"Cossie"… "Cossack"… "Escort on steroids"… Indeed, this car has certainly been called by car enthusiasts over the years.
But all these names, adjectives, suffixes and slang names have one common denominator. And that comes down to one of the most special angry compacts of all time.
For many, this car marked an entire era of racing on the dirty and dusty tracks of the World Rally Championship.
For many, the RS Cosworth was the "car" that made them indulge in the world of cars in their entirety.
Many also swear by the absolute superiority of this Escort compared to the competition from that wonderful time.
And maybe all those many are right, but Ford with this car in its road edition did not intend to break any records, nor was it expected that this icon from the nineties and a few decades later would be adored by a huge amount of people.
The idea was to accomplish the series needed to comply with the homologation rules and that’s usually it.
But despite this, the Escort RS Cosworth still stands on the pedestal of the most special cars of all time - although through some figures, the wickedly high price and often questionable durability may not deserve it.
The Cossie, with its body just like an ordinary Escort, looked like a neighborhood hooligan.
His character was like the once famous movie diva whose alcohol drank his brain and reflexes, while due to frequent breakdowns, this Ford fell out of the car, which caused its owners to go bald unplanned.
But the two-liter engine with its 227 horsepower and all-wheel drive was absolutely fascinating even with a Turbo-hole the size of a Marianas furrow.
And then there’s that ingenious and equally oversized spoiler on which laundry could be dried.
Basically, if there is an icon on four wheels in the world that can be recognized from any angle, then it is precisely the Escort RS Cosworth.
Number 4: Subaru Impreza WRX STi CS400
Yes… Cosworth had his fingers in this legendary Japanese car as well. And you may not have known it, but it still doesn’t negate that fact, because this car really did carry Cosworth’s signature.
The idea was simple: to produce something really special and thus at least partially try to annul all the negative reactions that Impreza GR was collecting even in its strongest version.
Because the Impreza has always been a sedan, while the third generation of this model is presented in the form of a compact with five doors.
And yes… This Impreza was as disgusting to watch as it was shocking to comprehend. Therefore, Subaru struggled in all possible and impossible ways with various variations on the special editions of this body version for the Impreza, before the definitive capitulation and the release of the sedan (GV) version on the market.
But before that happened, for many the ultimate Impreza of the time
the woman was created in collaboration with Cosworth.
Basically, the ugly compact still wore vulgar spoilers and a design signed by the correctional team from the subject "design and engineering". I guess that’s why the focus this time was definitely shifted under the hood under which Subaru’s heart was pounding with Cosworth’s pacemaker.
The four-cylinder, 2.5-liter engine at Cosworth is disassembled into "simple factors" and then rearranged from start to finish. And the resulting condition was shaped into an EJ257 engine with almost 400 horsepower.
With those 400 horsepower combined with a billion minor and minor minor revisions to the chassis, suspension, and powertrain and braking system, the Impreza WRX STi CS400 accelerated to 100 km / h in 3.7 seconds. That is, in translation more convincing than some five times more expensive super-cars of that time.
But despite this, this very interesting project was very quickly doomed. Because the price of £ 50,000 in the UK was simply exorbitant.
Either way, Cosworth has turned this Impreza from an ugly duckling into a dark object of desire for many.
And that’s actually quite enough to say as a conclusion about this car.
Number 3: Audi RS4 (B5)
Admit that you had no idea that Cosworth was also fiddling with this mobile box from Ingolstadt.
But admit it or not, history confirms that Audi without Cosworth would never have presented the successor to the legendary RS2 - at least not in the form in which we know it and with which we are fascinated.
Now… You must be wondering how this somewhat obscure collaboration actually came about.
So here is the answer to that question…
Namely, as Cosworth as a company was on the verge of bankruptcy in the late 1990s, at one point the idea was born to split the company into two parts. The newly formed divisions were oriented separately towards road cars and those with which the team raced along the track.
In those years, Audi persistently tried to create a successor to the legendary RS2, so instead of cooperating with Cosworth, it simply decided to buy the road division of that company and throw the employees into the fire. And look at the miracles - it turned out great.
Because on the one hand Cosworth did not put the key in the lock forever, while on the other hand Audi produced one of the most special models of all time. And a model with a coat of arms.
Many swear that the first RS4 is also the last real Audi with the correct pedigree and without unnecessary marketing nonsense. Because this caravan already looked serious with its appearance, while driving it was able to embarrass many times more expensive, nominally faster and much more famous super-sports cars on the planet - by driving kids to school and Labradors to the toilet.
The 2.7-liter V6 engine was already a respectable force on the road. And after Cosworth's interventions on the engine in question (especially on the pistons and the exhaust system) with its 380 horses, this really became one of those cars that made the "haters" of the caravan want to have one in the yard.
acceleration to 100 km / h took less than 4 seconds, while top speed was limited to the agreed 250 kilometers per hour in Germany.
So even though I guess megalomaniacs and number addicts will say the proverbial "meh" and wave their hands, the Audi RS4 still remains one of the most brutal family cars the world has ever seen.
And without Cosworth, all this would not be possible.
Number 2: Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16
That by any chance AMG was an official part of Mercedes' three-spoke empire, and that in 1983 the company's employees had the time, will and desire, who knows what the story of this car would look like.
But as AMG was not part of Mercedes' three-legged empire at the time, and as the company's employees were on a cigarette-two break just then, Mercedes-Benz dared to start a partnership with Cosworth.
And the result state was shaped into one title title as part of the DTM competition from the early 1990s, and countless victories during the seasons that preceded that success.
But before that, this seemingly ridiculous fruit of collaboration between crazy Englishmen and anal-precise Germans also set several world records, including the one of 50,000 kilometers traveled in one piece and at a (combined) speed of almost 250 kilometers per hour. And without any malfunctions, without a general breakdown of the system and without any service interventions.
So, here is an example that confirms that Cosworth can really put his signature on something permanent and high quality, so the critics of this Mercedes derivative of the 190 and the collaboration with Cosworth were soon (and forever) gagged.
Mercedes-Benz 190 E 2.3-16 nowadays has a cult status. And deservedly so. Because from those times until today, it is not a common case for a company to present a car that is so close to the "ordinary" version, and at the same time stands fourteen light years away from it.
Because despite the fact that the 190 with its 185 horses and Cosworth's signature is not even the fastest limousine of its time, at the same time it clearly showed that it is one of the most special limousines of all time.
And by all accounts, it will remain so.
And rightly so.
Number 1: Ford Sierra RS500 Cosworth
"As it was in the beginning, so it is now."
Because Sierra in this version with Cosworth’s signature literally kicked her ass wherever she appeared.
Europe has submitted to this Sierra several times and in several different domains of motorsport.
Australia too, and in the US and Japan this Sierra has earned an extremely high rating.
In a world of dust and dirt, Sierra has raised some of the best drivers of all time, of whom perhaps best to highlight is the legendary aggressor named Colin McRae.
The pedigree itself was present from some already past times in which Cosworth together with Ford played with several generations of Escort RS, so Sierra "only" continued that story. But the most special part of the "story" about the Sierra RS500 Cosworth was recorded on the street, ie among the "ordinary" people. Because it is in this segment that this car, despite a kind of handicap compared to competitors such as the BMW M3 (E30) and Audi UrQuattro, turned out to be a moral winner.
Namely, while Audi sold its UrQuattro in micron series and at the prices of preserved kidneys on the black market, and BMW moved the produced copies from garage to garage due to the lack of produced M-three models, Ford provided a larger production series for the Sierra RS Cosworth.
And with that, the Sierra took over the roads because of its accessibility, so it soon gained the status of a national hero in England. And that status holds to this day, when some of the preserved specimens at auctions record six-digit figures. And the version marked RS500 with its 500 produced copies only added that obligatory factor of exclusivity for this already loved and desired car.
The body extensions and the oversized rear spoiler from this uncompromising car certainly made a different beast than the ones moms, dads and taxi drivers rode on a daily basis. Although some still resent that the two-liter engine never got more than 227 horsepower, this is still the Sierra, which to this day is the alpha and omega for all those for whom the "fast Ford" is the ideal in the world of cars.
Ford produced a legend with this car, while Cosworth gave that legend a truly special beast with the character of an absolute savage. Ie. one of those cars that only the most capable behind the wheel could deal with in the right way.
And that’s why it’s the best road car Cosworth has ever put its signature on.
Do you agree?
Audi has expanded the popular Q5 SUV range with a slightly sportier-looking, low-roofed variant. Predictable this model may be – but with good reason, as the less-bulky profile appeals to buyers previously reluctant to go for the boxy bulk of a traditional SUV
Taking cues from the succesful A5 Sportback, the Q5 Sportback joins the Q3 Sportback and electric-only e-Tron to give Audi customers a choice coupe-SUVs to complement their full-sized sister cars. It's a sensible recipe, too, taking the five-door practicality of the A5 Sportback and adding ground clearance and Quattro all-wheel drive on all but the least powerful model. It takes on the established Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe, among other less direct competitors.
Just a few centimetres longer than the regular, boxy Q5, the Sportback retains ample room for five with just a small reduction in headroom. A new, optional seating system – rear seat bench plus – introduces a sliding bench and multi-position reclining backrest.
What's new about the Audi Q5 Sportback?
Although much of the Q5 Sportback's engineering and technology is shared with the regular Q5, no-one buys a sporty-looking SUV like this hoping they won't be noticed. Audi's drawing attention to the new model with a new lighting technology, OLED rear lights.
These multi-segment units don't just use a bright, low-power technology (the same technology you'll find in high-end smartphone screens) for shattering the darkness. Different patterns and configurations are possible, with a safety system ensuring your driving-mode signature becomes a full set of illumination as cars approach from behind.
If you thought dynamic indicators had helped Audi stand out on Britain's motorways, this new animated tail-light tech should really grab you. Even without the fancy showcase, OLED lighting is more consistent and even, ensuring that light signature is clear from every angle.
What's under the skin?
There are no surprises here - the Q5 Sportback offers a 2.0-litre diesel or 2.0-litre petrol (more details below). Both are four-cylinder units with 204hp available in the diesel. Diesel models make use of twin-dosing AdBlue selective catalytic reduction (SCR), which in other Volkswagen group cars and vans has proven very successful in reducing real-world NOx output.
Emissions will be further reduced with two plug-in hybrid models when they come on stream later. Care more about performance than your green credentials? There's a diesel-powered SQ5 Sportback too.
Sharing technology with the Q5 means a wide variety of options, including standard, adaptive and air suspension - the latter can raise the car by 45mm for dirt roads, and lowers it by 15mm for improved economy at speed. Steel springs are set up for a sportier feel than the standard Q5, further assisted by optional adaptive dampers and optional dynamic steering. Speaking of options, there are up to 21 different designs of wheel available, from 18- to 21-inches.
What's it like inside?
Audi's well-regarded MMI - MultiMedia Interface - has been revised and the Q5 Sportback benefits from the latest updates including an infotainment touchscreen with handwriting recognition, improved voice control and comprehensive steering controls.
Mounted in the centre of the dashboard, the main display is 10.1-inches. Ahead of the driver Audi's now-familiar 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit benefits from the latest developments including hazard warning messages, information about obstructions in the road and traffic-flow awareness to help plan journeys with the least amount of interruptions.
The low-roofed Q5 Sportback is a roomy car and can carry 1,480 litres of cargo with the seats folded. With them raised, the luggage area is 510 litres – on models with the optional bench this can be increased to 570 litres at the expense of rear legroom.
What's it like to drive?
Unsuprisingly, the Q5 Sportback is very similar to drive to its Q5 Cousin. We sampled the range briefly in Germany and can report that it is a refined and effortless cruiser as you'd expect it to be. Sadly, it's not perfect – the V6-powered 50 TDI lacks response away from the lights, and despite e-boost from its mild-hybrid system, it's hesitant to take off, and in busy situations it can feel dreadfully sluggish.
The good news is that the 45 TFSI and 40TDI are not similarly affected. Also, regardless of which engine you choose, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the way these Sportback models handle and ride. On 19-inch wheels, it's stable and planted on the road with unwavering accuracy whatever the surface conditions. In low-grip conditions, the grip and poise is particularly impressive.
The most sporting SQ5 model is very impressive all round, with bags of performance. Despite weighing a portly 2085kg, it will sprint from 0-62mph in 5.1sec from 0-62mph and tops out at a limited 155mph. It's a mild hybrid that can regenerate up to 8kW under braking and will coast with the engine off for up to 40 seconds. Handling and ride are both excellent, too.
Buyers who venture off-road on a regular basis should consider the height-adjustable air suspension together with the side-to-side rear sport differential. Not surprisingly, the air springs also further cushion the ride, lower the body a tad at speed and have the rear end kneel down by 55mm to facilitate loading and unloading.
What models are available?
This is a diesel-centric line-up, at least initially. The model range starts with the 2.0-litre 204hp 40 TDI. Other diesel models will include the 163hp 35 TDI, the 285hp 3.0-litre V6 50 TDI and the mighty 355hp SQ5 Sportback.
There's also a 265hp 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine (the 45 TFSI) – but it will get more interesting (and tax efficient) once the two plug-in hybrids join the range later in 2021. All models have an automatic transmission system, regardless of whether they are front- or four-wheel drive.
Should you buy an Audi Q5 Sportback?
If you're a regular Audi Q5 buyer and fancy something sleeker, here's your next car. It's a class act, mechanically and in terms of fit and finish, but it's not perfect. Although it's a mild hybrid, it feels like a step behind its PHEV rivals and will look old-hat compared with the upcoming all-electric Q6 E-Tron.
We've yet to try it against its immediate rivals, the BMW X6 and Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe, but the Audi's classy interior and wide range of petrol and diesel engines stand it in good stead – even if it's likely to lag behind the BMW for steering feel and handling.
It's another premium, sporty-looking SUV so you can sit high up, feel safe, and still have a car with more kerbside appeal than a large box on wheels. As it inherits technology and styling from the rest of the Audi A5/Q5 range, it's a known quantity both for reliability and comfort, and for making the right impact on your neightbours when you get it home.
It's more expensive than the car it's based upon and Audi feels its customers will be prepared to pay the premium. The Q5 Sportback is a safe buy, and one that will remain in demand new or used as the UK heads towards the ban on new petrol and diesel car sales, and the SQ5 Sportback is quite a sendoff just as the e-Trons start to take over...
Another Bavarian brand is currently working on several purely electric models that will debut in the next 10 years. However, the ambitions of the producers from Ingolstadt are much bigger. According to the head of the company, Marcus Disman, Audi plans to become purely "electric" in the next 20 years.
In fact, it is a time frame that is conceived as necessary to complete the transition, write Vrele Gume. According to Disman, Audi is currently setting a deadline for the phasing out of current models with internal combustion engines. The cars in question will either become purely electric or will be euthanized.
By the end of 2021, the Ingolstadt brand will have six purely electric models on offer, along with 12 plug-in hybrids. However, that is just the beginning. Audi wants to have twenty electric cars on sale by 2025, and if it succeeds in achieving that, it could become a manufacturer like Tesla sooner rather than later.
However, it should not be forgotten that Ingolstadt announced that they will continue to develop internal combustion engines, in an attempt to make them as efficient as possible. So, regardless of the fact that Audi will start phasing out the SUS engine, petrol engines will still have their place in the portfolio. "Plug-in" hybrids are likely to serve as long-distance models, giving customers who frequently travel hundreds of miles "from the train" the opportunity to own usable vehicles. Those who are not outspoken "long-distance runners" will be able to rely on electric cars. At the moment, there are only four different electric models of Audi on offer, with two being actually model variants. The Audi e-tron, e-tron Sportback, e-tron S and e-tron Sportback S are currently the only ones of their kind in the Ingolstadt range. However, by the end of the year, the Audi e-tron GT and Audi Q4 e-tron will enter the scene, with probably a couple of new "plug-in" hybrids.
Given all the above, the goal of the "four rings" brand to become purely electric in the next 20 years is not so unattainable. Will other premium manufacturers follow this matrix?
BMW also has ambitious plans when it comes to electrifying its models, although it seems that the latter has arrived "at the party". The BMW iX is the first true electric car from the Bavarian manufacturer since the i3, and it is not yet officially on sale. Although Audi’s e-tron models on the market rest on existing platforms, they are not just electrified versions of existing models, as is the case with the BMW iX3. The same can be said for the Mercedes-Benz EQC. Of course, Munich also plans to fill the electric offer in the near future, including the i4, the electrified series 7, the iX1 and possibly even the electric M5. BMW also wants to phase out internal combustion engines, although the deadline for achieving that process could be slightly longer than Audi's.
Despite its soul-stirring performance, Audi's redesigned 591-hp RS7 makes a case for the less-expensive RS6 Avant wagon.
After a brief hiatus from the United States market, Audi's fiery RS7 Sportback returns for 2021 in fighting form. Delivering big doses of both speed and refinement, the new car's stonking performance sacrifices little comfort for its driver. But it's not the only practical hot-rod hatchback that Audi offers these days, and therein lies the RS7's greatest issue.
HIGHS: Effortless speed, impressive ride comfort, menacing curb appeal.
The new RS7 is once again motivated by the Volkswagen Group's venerable—and versatile—twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8 that also can be found under the hoods of various Bentley, Lamborghini, and Porsche models. Output in this version is a strong 591 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque. If those figures sound familiar, that's because they're the same as those of the Audi RS6 Avant station wagon, which is mechanically identical to the RS7 yet offers more cargo space—30 cubic feet versus the RS7's 25. We also think the longer-roof RS6 looks better, but we're suckers for wagons. Compared to the previous RS7, this 4.0-liter wears turbos featuring larger compressor wheels. Thanks largely to an additional 2.9 pounds of boost over the previous standard model, the RS7's horsepower and torque ratings swell by 30 and 77, respectively. As with the RS6, the RS7 features a conventional eight-speed automatic transmission and standard all-wheel drive, or Quattro if you're into trade names.
Audi RS7 Has Dynamite Looks and Big Power
On paper, the latest RS7 is not as impressive as its predecessor's hottest variant, the 605-hp RS7 Performance. Yet, despite the new car weighing an additional 460 pounds, it can catapult its 4947-pound girth to 60 mph in a mere 3.0 seconds, which is a tenth of a second quicker than before. Stay on the throttle and it posts a similar 11.3-second quarter-mile time but with a 3-mph slower trap speed (122 mph), which is indicative of its extra bulk. The 2021 RS7's porkiness is also on display in both the 30-to-50- and 50-to-70-mph top-gear acceleration tests, where it trails the RS7 Performance by 0.4 and 0.5 second, respectively. Well, pokiness or a less aggressive transmission map. For comparison, the RS6 Avant gets to 60 in 3.1 seconds and covers the quarter-mile in 11.5 seconds at 120 mph.
LOWS: Subdued exhaust note, seriously heavy, an RS6 Avant is both cheaper and more practical.
Making the most of the RS7's acceleration on the street is easy, thanks to a neat trick we discovered with the car's advanced electronics. When fitted with Audi's Intersection-assist feature (part of the $2250 Driver Assistance package), the RS7 communicates with intersections that are V2I (vehicle-to-infrastructure) compatible. Activate this at a stoplight and a countdown timer illuminates in the standard 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, indicating when the light will turn green. Depress one of the RS Mode buttons on the RS7's steering wheel to summon launch control and the car's customizable drive modes, stand on the brake and accelerator, and then release the brake for a max-thrust hole shot.
The RS7 is more than a stoplight racer, though. With broad shoulders that are 1.7 inches wider than the lesser S7's, plus its blacked-out maw and exterior trim, this Audi looks stunningly mean. But it also grabs attention, which is problematic when triple-digit speeds can be summoned almost by thought. That it also brings an impressive level of refinement doesn't help matters. We imagine much of its weight gain comes from significantly more sound-deadening material, as our test car's calm and serene cabin reduced the full-throttle noise from the $1000 Sport exhaust to a distant, 79-decibel bark. Ride comfort on the optional 22-inch wheels with 30-series Pirelli P Zero PZ4 summer tires is excellent, the standard air springs shrugging off even the worst of Michigan's poorly maintained roads.
Despite carrying 56.1 percent of its mass on its front wheels, the RS7 feels surprisingly balanced. When pushed hard into corners, the standard rear-wheel steering helps its driver maintain a smooth, tight line by rotating its rear end. Its ability to change directions is bolstered by a torque-vectoring rear differential, which helps with yaw by splitting the rear axle's torque unevenly. In Dynamic mode, the RS7 hunkers down by 0.4 inch and circles the skidpad with a solid 0.95 g of lateral adhesion. When it's time to slow down, massive 16.5-inch iron front rotors clamped by 10-piston calipers effortlessly shed the car's forward momentum. Stops from 70 mph take a scant 151 feet. While our car didn't feature them, carbon-ceramic brakes are available for $8500 and have the added benefit of upping the governed top speed from 155 mph to a claimed 190.
The performance and presence of the Audi RS7 is intoxicating enough for us to almost forget that the RS6 Avant exists. But one glance at the RS7's $115,045 base price puts the two cars in perspective. For $5000 less, Audi's RS wagon posts nearly identical performance results, has seating for five versus the RS7's four, and is more capacious in back. For those smitten with the RS7's sleeker profile, it is an awesome machine. But we know where our money would go.