The A5 Coupe that Audi of America provided for us to attend the Hero Fund America Road Rally in update New York was an easy and fun car to drive, and one we would not mind as part of our daily fleet. Well balanced with tight comfortable handling was one reason. Easy on the budget and on the eyes, this car is just fun in every way possible. Seriously! I can see why so many young professionals become Audi customers.
Audi, which has long been the luxury brand for the people’s car brand Volkswagen. Though when you look at the history of Audi, it is often as much a contender in high-speed road rallies with their competent all-wheel drive and fuel-efficient engines, tight handling chassis, as it is as a luxury car.
Light and nimble in handling was what I first experienced behind the wheel, it was not long before I realized I was going way over the speed limit, the A5 is effortlessly FAST!
Where to start on the technology on this vehicle? It is more than just the dashboard. While having detailed GPS is considered standard in upmarket vehicles, Audi’s just is so much more vivid and attractive. The incredible detail in the display of the Google Earth-based navigation system immediately grabs your attention. Similar to the difference between early black and white TV and today’s 4-K video from what other onboard automotive GPS systems display. Does it provide more information, probably not, but visually it is more pleasing. And it does not stop there, the dash of the A3 was as well detailed as any high-performance jet plane just more luxurious.
Following in the other high-line German vehicles Audi has a handwriting pad area as well as a “knob” to command the center console screen. While the writing feature is not easy, as my handwriting is terrible – anyone who has signed a screen for a credit card knows how hard it is to make handwriting legible. In this day of voice recognition and artificial intelligence, the spoken words are about as good, I suppose after training the AI within the vehicle you might have more success than I did
Sculpted Exterior Design
Subdued and classic, while Audi has never been known for flourishes, the smooth and clean sculpted lines of this A5 Coupe are elegant and graceful, while not all that eye-catching with added extras. And that is not a bad thing, as the lines are purposeful and elegant defining a very well proportioned body.
Ride and Handling
We took the 2018 Audi A5 Quattro Coupe on a 900-mile drive from Washington DC to Sharon Springs NY and back through back roads, highways as well as city streets, and even unpaved country lanes. Every mile was a delight as the A5 was nimble and fun to drive. The ride, while this is a sports coupe, it was still comfortable, with even on the washboard lanes of the New York Throughway. Road-hugging as the four drive wheels gripped the pavement. The all-wheel drive was nimble with a tight turning radius making the A5 feel smaller than it actually is.
Inside well laid out instruments, comfortable seats with thigh extenders in a spacious cabin for the driver and front passenger as well as trunk. Though not for those who would have to squeeze into the rear seat. While this is a roomy coupe, the rear seating would be tough for anyone larger than a child.
As one would expect in a car at this level it had an exceptional Bang & Olufsen sound system. Even with a CD player hidden in the glovebox, the audio system provided all the modern amenities with satellite radio as well as Bluetooth and USB inputs from a smartphone brought into the vehicle.
The A5 ran a powerful 2.0 liter 252 hp i4engine and 7-speed Quattro all-wheel drive and provided 33 mpg average over the thousand mile trip.
With all the love here the only thing we found annoying was that with the start/stop engine cutoff, that happens at stop lights, the power steering would become stiff until the engine restarted. And with all the other great things this A5 Coupe had to offer, that was something we could overlook.
We loved our week in the Audi A5 Coupe. It was fun to drive, stylish, and comfortable. With plenty of power, we found ourselves zipping along more often than not. Even in the slowest of traffic, the Audi A5 was a delight to be driving. This is a car that would be a first pick for a car to drive every day.
2018 will be the 14th year for the annual awards and the for the fifth consecutive year based on Prime Research’s 2017 media report. The World Car Awards were inaugurated in 2003 and launched in 2004.
2018 marks the 12th year of World Car’s partnership with NYIAS, and the fifth consecutive year that the World Car Awards have retained their ranking as the No.1 automotive awards program in the world in terms of media reach. While the awards and ceremony are a recognition of automotive excellence is on an international scale and intended to complement and not compete with other national and regional Car of the Year celebrations.
The awards are administered by a not-for-profit association, under the guidance of a Steering Committee of pre-eminent automotive journalists from Asia, Europe, and North America. Peter Lyon (chair – Japan), Jens Meiners (vice-chair – Germany), Mike Rutherford (vice-chair – UK), Tim Stevens (director – USA), Siddarth Patankar (director – India) and Gerry Malloy (director – Canada and president, WCOTY Association).
Automobiles Nominated for the
World Car Awards
2018 World Car of the Year:
– Mazda CX-5
– Range Rover Velar
– Volvo XC60
2018 World Urban Car:
– Ford Fiesta
– Suzuki Swift
– Volkswagen Polo
2018 World Luxury Car:
– Audi A8
– Porsche Cayenne
– Porsche Panamera
2018 World Performance Car:
– Honda Civic Type R
– Lexus LC 500
2018 World Green Car:
– BMW 530e iPerformance
– Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid
– Nissan LEAF
2018 World Car Design of the Year:
– Lexus LC 500
– Range Rover Velar
– Volvo XC60
The Road to the World Car began in Frankfurt on September 19, 2017, and was followed by the first-ever Tokyo Test Drive conducted at the BMW Tokyo Bay facility in October giving jurors yet another opportunity to evaluate contenders that might not be available in their home markets. Then, the fourth annual “L.A. Test Drives” took place across a six-day period in November with a record number of 35 jurors participating. At the Geneva show in March, they close in on the end of the Road to World Car journey which will end on Wednesday, March 28, 2018, when World Car opens the New York International Auto Show and also declares all winners in all categories.
New York International Auto Show
Owned and operated by the Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association, the New York Auto Show is an awesome combination of new ideas, technological innovation, exceptional concept cars and nearly 1,000 of the latest new cars and trucks. Over one million visitors are expected to visit the show this year to see what is truly possible from the automotive industry.
Information for this post is from the World Car Awards Press Release. Photos are from the various automotive media sites. Collated and edited by William West Hopper.
Recently I had the opportunity to spend a long winter weekend with friends in New England’s epicenter of Sailing, Newport Rhode Island. Since we were where hanging out at the elite New York Yacht Club, it seems right to book a luxury car through Priceline’s AutoSlash, which Alamo stated would be a Cadillac or similar.
After a grand welcomed to the top level of PVD Airport’s rental car garage, though by an Alamo competitor, we walked the few steps to the Alamo area and were once again welcomed with the offer of an Audi sedan or SUV as our luxury car.
The choice was the SUV, which turned out to be a Q3. While I have driven both the Q7 and Q5 variants, I have not been in a Q3. Alamo escorted us to the vehicle with a personal walk around offering to help with our luggage. Was this because we were renting a luxury car? Turns out, this is how Alamo is treating every customer who rents from them. Upon our return, again, we received a personalized, by name, welcome and “How was the Q3 for you?” To add to this excellent level of service, an Alamo employee drove us, in our car, directly to the airport terminal. No need to unload and navigate the long walk with our luggage. Big Kudos to Alamo Rental car for that kind of personalized service.
Now about the Audi Q3
The Audi brand name alone is what must classify this as a luxury vehicle for Alamo. As the Q3 rented from them was an un-optioned base model, even with the S-Line nomenclature that appears on it. The $2100 navigation function was not included, which left the center screen a selection of menu options. Having just the Audi logo would have been better than the un-informative sub-menus that were displayed.
The Q3 is the smallest of Audi’s SUV line up, Q5 and Q7 being the larger kin, has a sticker price according to Audi’s website of $32,900 plus $975 destination, taxes registration, and title. Upgrades available are the $2900 Premium Plus package and the $2900 quattro® all-wheel drive that Audi is so well known for.
This rental did not have the paint upgrade ($575 for a standard color, up to $3900 for an exclusive Audi Paint color. Nor the $1000 Audi Sport Package, which includes Audi Drive Select, three-spoke multifunction steering wheel with shift paddles, or 19 inch 5-double spoke offroad design wheels with 255/40 all-season tires. No sport seats, either! Both optional packages require the $1350 Convenience Package, which includes the Audi Advanced Key (front doors and tailgate.) Auto-dimming interior mirror with compass. And a power tailgate and decorative aluminum satellite design inlay on the interior. All those options would have made the Q3 even better than it already is.
While the Q3 is comfortable, it is small. Easier to get in and out of due to the SUV’s height, though rear passenger egress was tight as was rear storage. The standard Xenon plus headlights with LED daytime running lights were nice to cut through the February fog and rain. While it seems the now standard on most vehicles, a rear-view camera and acoustic parking system did help in backing in and out of tight parking spots.
The Q3 was equipped with a 16-valve Double Overhead Cam turbo-charged fuel injected 2.0 TSFI Engine. This cast-iron engine block with an aluminum head four-cylinder (1,984 cc displacement, 82.5cc bore, and 92.8 stroke) produces 200 horsepower @5100 to 6000 rpms, and 207 lb.-ft torque at 1700-5000 rpm. Mated to a six-speed Tiptronic® automatic transmission. The Q3 has a 0 to 60 mph speed in 8.2 seconds. Which was a bit anemic for Rhode Island’s fast moving I-95 traffic.
Fuel Economy for our short under 100-mile drive, a mix of highway and in-town driving, was unimpressive at 18.63 mpg on premium 91 Octane gasoline. But for a 2-wheel drive and the short driving we did, not amazing. Averaging -20 City 20 Highway 28 estimated with a 16.9 Gallon Tank I did expect better for this small car.
I found the handling of the Q3 was a little numb, which surprised me for an Audi with front MacPherson struts and four-link rear suspension. Unlike the Q5 which is more nimble. The fully galvanized steel unibody with an aluminum hood and tailgate gave the Q3 a feel solid. Running on 235/50R18 all-season tires mounted on 7-inch wide wheels gave it a solid grip on the wet roadways. Steering is tight, and I did not notice the power dropping off with electromechanical power steering when the engine shuts off at stop lights. Braking was fine with the 12.3” front ventilated discs and solid 11.1” rear disc brakes.
Leather seating surfaces were nice, though without reading the website, I might have thought they were faux leather. The 60/40 split folding rear seat made the useable but tight cargo area better (16.7/50.3cu ft, cu ft, rear seatbacks up/folded down.)
Even in the dreary weather, it was nice to have the panoramic sunroof over both the front and rear seats. The three-spoke multifunction steering wheel with tilt and telescope manual adjustment was comfortable to hold onto as was the leather-wrapped shift knob. I always like ambient LED interior lighting, and today you need the power outlets.
I missed pushbutton start on the Q3, for an upscale car having to get the switchblade key out and put back every time seemed so old-fashioned. While our trip did not encounter freezing temperatures having the heated windshield washer nozzles is a great help.
The Audi Concert Single CD player Radio with MP3 capability was confusing to operate, especially while driving. Having the BLUETOOTH® and voice control system did make it easier.
While this Audi made for a great rental vehicle, stylish and well sized, with decent handling. If I were to choose one as a daily driver, having more optional equipment would make me happier. Though after driving the Q5 and the SQ5, I would upgrade to one of them, preferably the SQ5.
This Q3 is made at Audi’s production facility in Spain and has a 4-year/50K Mile Audi New Vehicle Warranty and comes with 12-month / 10K mile no charge first scheduled maintenance.
Queer4Cars is always big on getting deals when we go shopping, for anything. Check with organizations you belong to for their buying service options, from your insurance company or financial institution to the warehouse clubs. When local auto shows happen, always stop by the booth of the brands you are interested in and request them to send you more information. Many times you will get a monetary incentive opportunity to buy a vehicle because of this.
American family favorites, Crossovers and SUV’s dominate the market due to their versatility. So understandably there are plenty of them at all price points, a mix of high and middle-end models. I have taken these out over the past few months for quick around the block drives as well as extended time periods. Here are my thoughts on them. Some, not all we have done full reviews on which are featured elsewhere on the site.
Fiat 500X – Cuteness seems to be a staple with the Fiat brand. Though with the whinny engine and a transmission hunting for the right gear provide a less than enjoyable drive experience. I took this funky Italian breadbox up the mountain roads of New York State in May. Pluses are plenty of space and a very attractive interior design. Lots of trim levels and features are available. Discounts are plentiful at year end. Minus are: A clunky exterior, a noisy drivetrain, and a transmission always hunting for the right gear. Prices start at $19,995 and with generous year-end allowances you can put a lot of cute Italian into a small payment for a Fiat.
Nissan Rogue– An overall everyday crossover, easy to get in and out of, with plenty of cargo space. I kept expecting more from the Rogue considering the amount of hype this vehicle has gotten from Nissan’s PR department to the auto media. Including being heavily featured in recent Star Wars movie promotions and #RogueTrip events. Pluses are a well-made dependable vehicle. Minus are that the Rogue is not so memorable in the overall scheme of things. Starting at $24,680 and going up depending on trim levels and options. My heart does not go pitter-patter over this model as it does with Nissan’s other products. Though I may need a #RogueTrip to experience this vehicle in more depth.
When did this crossover become so large and in charge? What once was a mid-sized big SUV replacement seems to be growing. While right in the middle of Toyota’s extensive lineup of SUV’s and Crossovers it is a good option for those looking for a dependable, and long-lasting vehicle with plenty of options. Pricing starts at $31,030, incentives are not aggressive due to this being a top-selling model. I was not expecting a WOW, and the Highlander followed suit by not making me squeal for joy while behind the wheel. Though in the long run, the Highlander will be there, dependable and safe as any of Toyota’s vehicles.
GMC is an upmarket luxury truck maker showing that GM is paying a bit more attention to the details. Bringing luxury and utility together in an elegant package. While not as finely outfitted as the Terrain (which was not available to drive, though I attended a presentation on it earlier this year, see another post.) The Acadia is available starting at $42,255 and the Denali (upscale) trim starts at $45,415. While this is not a sports car, nor is it a luxury boulevard cruiser, the Acadia provided a very comfortable drive experience, one that I would find enjoyable on a long road trip. It was a nice both inside and out with a lot of attention to detail, especially for the front seat passengers.
Sorry to say, this is one that I took out of the parking lot and quickly brought back. A cheap fit and finish made it memorable, and not in a good way. Even in the next to the top of the line Night Edition drag, there were some basics that could be improved. I have been very impressed with what Hyundai and Kia have brought to market recently and comparing the Tuscon to other Hyundai models driven in the past year, this one was a disappointment. While the Tucson starts at $20,200, it could be so better from a company that offers America’s best automotive warranty and well-known customer service. Hyundai is pronounced like Sunday for those who wrestle with the pronunciation of the brand name.
Well now we are talking, no longer the boxy wannabe of its forebears, the odd exterior design is not unpleasing to the eye, just reminded me of a bathtub, a luxury spa tub. The Disco, as it is known, would not take long to get used to. The interior was quite comfortable, though not as impressive as I would expect from this legendary British Empire Automotive brand. This is one we would like to spend more time with to get the full Rover experience. Starting at $52,090 it is right at a price point with some strong competitors offering top-notch larger size SUV’s. The Discovery and it’s twin the Discovery Sport are positioned just under the famed Range Rover. The brand is owned by Tata, a large multi-national, multi-product-service company based in India. Which may be why this vehicle and the Jaguar F-Pace seemed to be so closely related, almost cousins. (Jaguar is also owned by Tata.)
Jaguar F-Pace – Here is a sleek and sumptuous SUV that I was very excited to get to drive for a few days this Fall. While it was an enjoyable ride, it was not everything I had hoped it would be. The 2.0 liter turbocharged 4-cylinder diesel-powered version provided excellent fuel economy power and responsiveness. Comfort was nice with heated and cooled seats and all that one would expect in a proper English road car. Some of the technology was substandard compared to the competition, such as a limited vision camera, the center console display and the tinting on the windows rendered my two separate electronic toll pass devices inoperable, which was a tad embarrassing, as I was driving a Tata executive from China to an automotive media event. With prices starting at $42,065 for the basic model, topping out at over $62K for The pinnacle of F-Pace luxury, the Portfolio Edition. With a great ride and wonderful styling and fuel economy in the upper 20’s on diesel fuel, it is not one we would ask to leave the stable. But maybe send back for some more training.
Stepping into a Kia, the last thing you would expect is to fall in love with an economy car, a hybrid at that. That is what I did, within a few moments of driving this odd little crossover, I said to myself, I would buy this car. It was nimble, spacious and had plenty of technology aboard. A bit quirky and awkward at first, but it grows on you like a loveable, nerdy, best friend. I could easily see loading stuff in this car and be heading out on adventures. Prices start at $23,240 for the base model going up to $31,900 for the top-of-the-line Touring model. All feature a 1.6 L 4-cylinder and Full Parallel Hybrid System and provide anywhere from 40 to 52 miles per gallon. Even more of a reason to love this little Korean Crossover. Yet another vehicle from Korea that will give the Prius some challenges in the marketplace.
Cadillac XT5 – For me, it is hard to see Cadillac as a crossover, or even as an SUV. In my mind, Cadillac is a luxury car that says you have made it in the game of life. I have fond memories of the powder blue Eldorado Convertable (with a white top) that I drove to my Junior and Senior Prom in High School (it matched my Tux, hey it was the mid-1970’s and I still have the clip-on bow tie and button on ruffles for the shirt! And even the tux jacket somewhere.) The XT5’s interior rear-view mirror (the same on all Cadillac models) is a bit unnerving as it is a live video feed out the back, which for some reason played havoc with my sense of equilibrium, and eventually, I did find a way to switch it off. As a Crossover, it was a nice, but not as roomy or easy to get in an out of as I would like. And as a Cadillac, it was quite plain. I just would like it to be more elegant, more luxurious, more everything that a Cadillac is. Which also means different from the other GM products on the market, which the XT5 really is not. Prices start at $39,395 and with a number of add-ons it could be a contender. I especially like all of the safety features that Cadillac is offering on its current line of vehicles.
When you think America, the original SUV is just one name JEEP. While it may not be what we see on today’s roads, it was the World War II Jeep that the soliders brought home with them. Realizing that this rugged little four-wheel drive workhorse that took them all across the world’s battlefields. Now it has now become a staple in US driveways. No longer simple or even little, the Jeep has many iterations and is as capable as ever. The 2018 Jeep Compas is as close to the original as you might want to get, just now with a battalion of safety and technology features, not to mention and comfort that was unknown when it became a civilian product. The Compass may not have much more room, but four guys in this Jeep can be an interesting experience. We all found the engine noise annoying, especially on long drives. The Compass is a great size for urban runs. Prices start at $20,995 and discounts can be had depending on the dealer or buying service you are using.
A much-anticipated SUV that feels direct from the Italian Alps is this upscale
ride from the legendary automaker, Alfa Romero. With prices starting at $41,995 the Stelvio will be one that will sell quickly, even adding lots of options. This is one great looking SUV, sales will happen due to the Stelvio’s exceptional style, if for no other reason. Size is not enormous, but the driving experience is all European. Fit and finish need some work, though as with an Italian lover, you get the good with a few rough edges. We have not spent enough time in this vehicle as we would like, and hope to do so in the coming year.
We reviewed this full-sized 3-row American style SUV from the company that built the People’s Car earlier this year. The Atlas will fit the needs of many Americans due to the amount of interior space it offers. The Atlas is not going to win beauty pageants, it is a rolling bread box with very square angles. Made in Tennesee, it looks like a Ford Explorer just with a little some German styling cues. This is not the SUV for you If you are looking to make a statement about what you drive. Starting at just over $30K, this one will be a dutiful and dependable workhorse, as VW’s are well known for.
I was able to drive these vehicles due to membership in several professional automotive media organizations or by invitation of the manufacturer. I received no compensation or incentives for driving and reviewing the vehicles mentioned, other than the loan of the vehicles for up to seven days.
Words and Photos by William West Hopper Photos of the Toyota Highlander, GMC Acadia, Hyundai Tuscon were from their respective automotive media sites.
Audi of America hosted a number of regional automotive journalists at their headquarters in Herndon Virginia where we heard from their President Scott Keogh about the current market and Audi’s focus on technologically forward vehicles. While EV’s were not in the mix, CSUV’s and Sportbacks were, as they are the current trend in the market.
Mr. Keogh spoke of how well the Q line of vehicles is doing all across the USA, from Boston to Dallas, from DC to San Francisco. Relating that the owner demographic is one of the youngest in the industry. And that is directly related to not only the vehicles providing up-to-date technology such as Apple Car Play and Android Auto as much as for the well designed and efficient vehicles, as well as the Audi dealer network that supports the Audi brand.
We have always liked the styling of Audi’s even back in the day when the brand was barely on the US roads. While today ‘s Audi’s are great looking, what impressed us is the driver and passenger comfort, due to the thought behind the ergonomics of the interior. The dash layout and control placement, the comfort of the seats, and not just the high-end S-line seats, the base Q5 seats were just as comfortable.
Driveability of the Audi vehicles was excellent in both the turbocharged 4-cylinder and the 6-cylinder powered models. Handling was tight, accurate and with excellent ride comfort in both the CSUV and A5 Sportback models. While a CSUV is not a sports car, these Audi’s provide a sporty experience behind the wheel with plenty of luxury. The only down side was that the S-Line exhaust was a bit noisy, especially for a long drive. Though a throaty exhaust seems to be what buyers of the up market performance trim vehicles are expecting.
Our overall experience with the A5 Sportback and both the SQ5 and the Q5 Compact Sport Utility Vehicles was excellent. A year ago Queer4Cars spent time in the full-size Audi Q7 and our opinion of the brand has only increased after spending time in these additional models.
Speaking of Audi experiences, we will be driving an Audi A5 on a week-long test drive in September driving from Washington DC to Cooperstown NY, on to the 911 Memorial in Manhattan, and back to DC. Stay tuned for that update.
Until Then, Enjoy the Adventure!
Words by William West Hopper, images courtesy of Audi Newsroom and William West Hopper.
Queer4Cars recently had the opportunity to learn more about the Audi brand, with an invitation to visit their US headquarters in Herndon Virginia. While there we got to hear about the technology and engineering that goes into Audi vehicles. Audi’s sales successes have been on the upswing since they have settled in, with 67 continuous months of increasing vehicle sales. Audi customers are embracing all of their vehicles from the A3 sports sedan to the R8 supercar, and everything in between.
Audi moved their US Headquarters from Michigan to Northern Virginia at a time when the automotive market was at its lowest point in recent history. Indeed, a dark economic time when future prosperity was questioned for many industries. Since that move in 2008, Audi’s sales growth has been attributed to a technological advanced product line that discriminating consumers are looking for at a competitive price. Audi’s public relations team was very forthcoming saying how much of a very key part of the continued increase in sales is due to their dedicated dealership network of automotive professionals, who support and sell the brand.
Audi sits in the center of the larger Volkswagen Group, between VW’s mass-market product line and that of the exclusive, higher-end Bentley, Lamborghini, and Bugatti products. This corporate allegiance benefits Audi from the sharing of technological expertise across platforms to the awareness that consumers have with each marque.
We were given the keys to both the Q7 and the A4, each mainstream vehicles, appealing to very different customers. Both the shared many of the same technology advancements, though were very different to drive.
One such market changing technology, that if for no other reason will make you want to buy an Audi, is the use of the Google Maps view on their Navigation screen. This brings life to the in-car navigation screen, using advanced computer processing power, similar to gaming computers to display real-life, recent, aerial landscape images instead of simple drawings of maps on a screen.
Audi’s Google Map Enabled Navigation gives a depth of field on the display.
Audi navigation shows what is around you in vivid detail.
While the vehicles we were driving did not feature the virtual cockpit, that the Audi is now offering on its sports cars, it was nice to see analog style gauge displays. These provided detailed information in ways that it is easy for the driver to comprehend. Queer4Cars believes this is one of the keys that attracts the younger more affluent buyer to the Audi product line.
The Q7, provided a very luxurious and powerful ride, with all-wheel “Quattro” drive, 3.0-liter supercharged gasoline engine. What drivers are looking for today is being able to sit up and ride in luxury, which the Q7 provides, with sumptuous seats for both the driver and passengers. We felt the Q7 was worthy of the $54K and up price tag, for all that it offers.
We found the A4 somewhat disappointing, especially with a $57 K window sticker. In comparison to competitors like the Mercedes-Benz C-Class and BMW 3-Series.The engine and transmission always seemed to always be hunting for the right mix of power to the Quattro all-wheel drive system that Audi has become legendary for.
The A4’s interior finishes were lacking, while acceptable in a higher end Volkswagen product, one would expect materials of a higher quality in a mid-market luxury sports sedan.
Overall we were impressed with what Audi is doing on all levels, and look forward to experiencing more of their product line as it continues to be a technological leader and set sales records for its products.
Audi A4 S Line a mid-sized sports sedan with Quattro All-Wheel Drive.
Audi Q7 is a nice mix of luxury and utility, it is hard to call it an SUV.
Audi has many different vehicles from Sedans to Sports Cars and SUV models.