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Showing blog posts for Audi
RS4 is New Top Dog
11 April 2011
The time had finally come: my daily sports car enjoyment was coming to an end...well more-or-less
. The arrival of
, the bull-dog puppy in late January had meant that the M3 would no longer provide enough practicality for transporting myself, girlfriend and new four-legged companion. Coupled with that, I was beginning to become increasingly frustrated with the minute fuel tank on the BMW and its insatiable appetite for 95 RON. Having owned an E46 M3 and 997 C2S in the past, I was no stranger to grimacing at the pump, but the frequency that was involved during E90 M3 ownership was fairly alarming – especially for a relatively modern piece of engineering. You accept the cost of running these cars when you dive in at purchase, but the relentless £75 fill-ups just act as a constant reminder of your cash pouring from the nozzle, into said car, and then straight out of those meaty quad exhausts.
So what was it to be: the front-runners were the Audi Q5 (3.0TDi) with all extras ticked, a diesel Range Rover Sport, or a 335d BMW Estate. Having used a Range Rover during the ravages of 2010’s winter months (see December blog:
Chelsea Tractor to Alpine Monster
), I was convinced that its 4x4 credentials were unrivalled – and it was a strong contender, despite the questionable WAG image. The Audi offered a sportier alternative but, for me, the styling lacked the authoritative purpose that the Range Rover oozes. Whilst the BMW Estate was a good all-rounder, I knew deep down I wanted something different, and I had become a little tired of the dreary 3-series cockpit. Additionally, I wanted to something that instilled some degree of confidence in harsh winter conditions; the M3 was truly woeful during the snow, and I just do not have the time or patience to think about winter-tyre options.
Reginald - The M3 had to go
Without singling out exactly where it happened, I had a disastrous sales experience at my local Land Rover dealership: two visits, zero follow-up from disinterested staff and I seemed to know more about the cars than the salesman – not a ringing endorsement – they never even managed to engineer a test-drive. In any case, I began to realise the Mark 2 RR Sports commanded prices in the mid £40ks which was going to be a bit of a reach, but the updated interiors were considerably smarter than the original cars which still harked back to Land Rover’s agricultural roots.
Trading out of the M3 into a low mileage 335d Estate, and having to pay a few thousand quid was just too unpalatable to contemplate. So, this left me with a trip to Audi. The Q5 was certainly adequate and given all the eventualities it covers, I could see why the dealer network had a groaning waiting list for new build slots. However my interest was piqued by another car residing in their showroom, one I had not considered due to rarity and potential running costs: the RS4 Avant. The long-time nemesis of the car I was parting company with was something of an enigma to me. I had perpetually rubbished it over the years, such was my loyalty to the M3 and had never even set foot in one. But here it was: all the practicality I needed, the famed Quattro platform, the stealth looks, V8 performance and an exquisite exhaust note to boot. I had lived in the South of France over a decade ago as a student and among the usual Italian exotica that howled around the mountain roads, the bright blue RS2 was not an uncommon site. A Porsche/Audi collaboration – at the time, every petrol-head yearned for one. The RS4 represented its spiritual successor and is gradually carving out a cult following – at least, that was my argument!
RS4: A complete change of tack, the end of the M3
A quick calculation and I could switch from the M3 into the RS by paying a nominal amount, at the same time reducing the mileage between the M3 and the Audi by 10k. A quick test-drive and I was ready to trade. The Audi emitted an electric, throaty warble from its trademark oval exhausts and as soon as the starter button was pressed, thoughts of diesel 4x4s were quickly jettisoned. The switch gear was much smoother than the M3’s, which was a big factor given I do a lot of urban driving and I immediately had more confidence when executing quick, green-to-amber shifts than in the BMW. The huge, winged bucket-seats are more than a novelty and encourage a more upright, straighter driving position with better all-round back support. The car’s build quality is excellent and the only thing it lacks is a few bits of technology here and there: after-market Bluetooth, iPod connectivity were thrown in with the purchase, but can be found on some models. The most pleasantly surprising aspect of RS4 ownership versus the M3 has been the relative frugality with regards to fuel consumption. On a long motorway run I could just about squeeze out a 300 mile tank, whereas the Audi seems to be delivering this and more under mixed conditions. It might not have the same street-cred as the BMW but it is more of a connoisseur’s choice, and the respectful nods of those “in the know” is equally as rewarding for those badge followers among us.
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Audi A7 Sportback details: Ingolstadt’s £44k hatch (sorry, coupé)
Freelance Contributing Writer
29 July 2010
Like an A6, only lower and more expensive
It's a phenomenon of recent times, it's as baffling as anything you'll find in a rocket science laboratory, and it's spreading more quickly than you can butter your toast in the morning.
No, I'm not talking about the supposed global warming crisis. Or Jedward Bieber for that matter. I am of course referring to the current trend amongst car manufacturers for selling us squashed versions of hatchbacks and saloons which we have to refer to as ‘coupés’.
Mercedes started the whole shennanigans off in 2005 with the CLS bananamobile, with BMW joining the fray shortly afterwards with the brilliant-but-utterly-pointless X6. The blue propeller also has the Gran Coupé in the offing, while Audi recently gave us the A5 Sportback.
And it's fallen upon the Ingolstadt company to launch the newest competitor in the exploding coupé-but-not-actually-a-coupé sector: the A7 Sportback.
As the name suggests, it's the bigger brother to the aforementioned five-door A5 (think A6 with a lower roofline and you're about there), and is geared towards executive buyers who want a little more pizzazz from their wheels than a conventional saloon.
I can't imagine many people will be keeling over in shock in the face of the A5-goes-large styling; yes, it's undoubtedly swoopier than its A6 counterpart and that sloping roofline creates an interesting perspective at the rear, but otherwise it's Audi as we've known it for the last few years: chiselled and nicely-proportioned but unlikely to get pulses racing to dangerous levels. It looks like it will also be heavily reliant on colour and wheel choice, for which blame that fussy surface treatment.
The interior appears to be a more cocooned version of that found in the recently-launched A8, and will be available with such niceties as Google Earth, a touchpad for the MMI system which enables the driver to enter details by writing on it (and which, as on the A8, could be problematic for right-handed UK users), and – for the first time on an Audi – a head-up display.
A7: the interior
For the moment, horsepower will be provided by a choice of three engines: two FSI petrols and and a diesel (available in two different states of tune). As is the Audi way, both front- and four-wheel-drive versions will be offered, the latter in conjunction with a 7-speed flappy-paddle S-tronic 'box. Greenies will laud the inclusion of energy recuperation systems and stop-start across the range.
And the price? Well, the official starting point for the A7 is a not-inconsiderable £43,745; expect this to rise considerably once you've ticked a few boxes on the options list too – this is an Audi, remember.
You might question why anyone in their right mind would take one of these over an A6, given that you're essentially paying about £10k more to give your kids cramp. That's not the point of this car, however. Mercedes has proved with the CLS that there is a big market out there for the low-slung saloon/coupé/thing, and they ought to be looking over their collective shoulders at this latest effort from Audi.
I have two hopes for the A7. Firstly, that they can succeed where they failed with the A5 and give the driver a good time on the twisties. And secondly, that they see sense and give us an RS7. Lambo-engined CLS63 rival? Yes please.
It's a hatchback, Jim, but not as you know it
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