Quickies: A Four-Ringed Duet

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2018 Audi A5 Sportback – All Photos by Randy Stern

I will admit feeling guilty about not giving some brands their due on this site.

In other publications, absolutely! Those brands attract a wide swath of customers buying their wares. Yet, they are somehow allusive in a sense that they become enigmas.

That statement may sound strange, but very true in this case. Although, one would absolutely call Ferrari an enigma, even though there has been plenty of press on their latest vehicles lately.

The brand I am referring to is Audi. A more accessible and attainable brand, but oh so elusive when it comes to planning content with their products.

All it takes is the right timing and opportunity to produce content for this site based on that brand. Recently, I had a chance to sample a couple of Audi models. The time and opportunity were made available. Hopefully, you might be as excited as I am about what I came up with for V&R…

Perhaps your excitement may not be the same as mine, but understand that Audi has been doing very well in this country with steady month-to-month sales and a lineup that attracts both enthusiasts and luxury car buyers alike. The Audi Sport sub-brand is not only experiencing part of that growth but is set to expand its offerings to our market in a matter of months.

Therefore, I want to talk about two important models that Audi has been touting here stateside. And, believe me, they’re good vehicles to consider.

First, there is the all-new 2018 A5 Sportback. Some people may wonder why should we talk about the five-door hatchback model than an Audi Sport version of the Coupe or Cabriolet. There are two simple reasons. One, look across the showroom floor and look at the A7 and its Audi Sport cousins. The A/S/RS7 are attracting well-heeled customers who really want the practicality of a hatchback, but the technology and performance of an Audi. But, lastly, because the A7 has shown what Audi can offer with a hatchback, it is also seen as the perfect companion to the A/S5 coupe and convertible.

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What I love about the A5 Sportback is the complete package. It is practical, with a large hatchback opening and a low lift-over despite its step-down onto the cargo floor. The driving area is comfortable, though I was intimidated by the new shifter and the far placement of the MMI control knob and associated buttons. If you want an easy way to dazzle me – equip an Audi with the Virtual Cockpit. The amount of information available and overall display quality surpasses many TFT-based instrument binnacles.

Rear seat room might not be as available than in any of the sedans – the A4, for example. But one knows going into an A5 Sportback that it is designed for young families rather than those of us with adult friends. I do like the fact that you have up to 35 cubic feet of cargo space available for those “small” IKEA runs.

This is the first time I have driven the uprated TFSI 2.0 liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. With 252 horsepower on tap, it provided fluid and quick power. The seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch transmission was simply a good match for this engine. Of course, this tester had the quattro all-wheel drive system – something that should be requisite for any Audi purchase.

The driving experience overall is very good. I love who it balanced ride and handling that reminds one of its Coupe and Cabriolet variants. I felt more stable than the two overall with its five-door hatchback arrangement. The steering is superb, as are the brakes. Safety is utmost with Audi Pre-Sense collision avoidance and active safety suite on board. And, you can also add more fun to the A5 Sportback experience with Drive Select, choosing the kind of driving atmosphere you want. Pick Dynamic – always pick Dynamic. That way, you can see how the A5 Sportback acts the way enthusiasts really want.

One thing to note is the design. While the A5 Coupe and Cabriolet are handsome, the Sportback is the more dashing and suave of the trio. The flush-like windows add to a sharp look, that end with a great roofline. I will say that the A5 Sportback is more handsome and desirable than the popular A4 sedan.

Prices for the A5 Sportback start at $42,600 for the Premium trim. Top of the line Prestige models starts at $50,200. Not bad considering their competitors. You can also get the S5 Sportback with its 354-horsepower turbocharged V6 starting at $54,400.

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2017 Audi Q7 Prestige

The other vehicle I sampled is perhaps the one that many families should get. It has always been the choice of Audi for families. Being all-new for 2017, the Q7 is a prime example of a luxury three-row SUV done right.

Let me get all of my initial impressions out of the way. It is quiet – practically serene – inside. It is extremely comfortable and intelligent. The Virtual Cockpit makes it even more desirable above most of its competitors. Space is right for five, through the third row is also fine for children. As for the cargo hold, how about 71.6 cubic feet of available and expandable space? Oh, the things you can put back there!

The 2017 (now 2018) Q7 can be had with the same 2.0-liter TFSI engine as found in the A5 Sportback. But, you really want the 333-horsepower 3.0 liter supercharged V6 instead. Why? Very fluid power. Equally fluid is the eight-speed Tiptronic transmission and its quattro all-wheel drive system. Not to mention, you can tow up to 7,700 pounds of anything – the race car for the track or a boat for the lake. What I’m saying here is…the performance of the Q7 is utterly fantastic.

Ride quality and handling are also very good. You can select your driving dynamics through the Drive Select system, which includes an off-road mode. Very useful for those cabin weekends. This vehicle had all-wheel steering. Imagine driving this Q7 and having a turning radius akin to a Volkswagen Golf GTI. U-Turns made easy! It blew my mind that we have a four-wheel steering system that actually helped in tight turns.

I will admit that I was not a fan of the first Q7’s design. It was quite the letdown and quickly got old in my book. The new Q7 is very handsome and straightforward. Not a lot of people want to show off in their luxury SUVs, so the understated look of the Q7 fits the bill. If you keep on looking at it even further, you get the idea that the Q7 is designed to be all business. Strictly business, which is really a good thing these days.

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New 2018 Q7s start at $49,900. My 2017 Prestige sample that is fully loaded with Autonomous Driving technology came with a sticker price of $74,135.

For the sake of providing more coverage of Audi on this site, I gave you two different kinds of products from the four-ringed brand. Different in the way that matches specific customer needs while maintaining some basic and common tenets. Both satisfy their respective demographic by providing a set of competencies that are exceeded by the exhibits of excellence on either vehicle.

In other words, I do need to cover more Audis.

DISCLAIMER: Vehicles were provided by Audi Richfield, Richfield, MN

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