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2017 Audi Q7 first drive

Safety dance


The 2017 Audi Q7 will help keep you in your lane, keep you at a safe distance from the car in front of you, save you from a cross-traffic crash, watch for pedestrians, help you turn and watch your mirrors for approaching traffic as you exit the vehicle. The only thing it won’t do is drive itself. However, after a full day in the car, caressing the damp, twisty California mountain roads in the fog, we almost wish it would back off a little bit.

The second-generation, seven-passenger Q7, on sale in January, tries to take all of the stress out of driving, and it mostly does. But there are those times when a slightly riskier move might make more sense than what the camera, lasers, radar, sonar and lidar will tell you, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

The 2017 Q7 comes equipped with a new version of the company’s 3.0-liter supercharged V6, making 333 hp at 5,500-6,000 rpm and 325 lb-ft in a broad 2,900-5,300 rpm window. An eight-speed Tiptronic transmission sends power through Audi’s Quattro all-wheel drive system to whatever wheels it sees fit. We’ll see a diesel in the lineup at some point as well. The 4,938-pounder can cha-cha to 60 mph in an impressive 5.7 seconds.

It takes AMS about six weeks to turn your R8 V10 into an Alpha.

Alpha 10 Audi R8 drive review

speeding bullet


Ten years ago, 400 hp was a lot. The number of cars with 500 hp could be counted on one hand. Just a decade on, a car can’t even be considered “super” without at least 600 hp. Enter AMS Performance and its 920-or-so-hp Alpha 10 Audi R8 V10, a supercar in every sense of the word.

It’ll take West Chicago-based AMS Performance about six weeks and $39,000 to turn your pedestrian first-gen, manual-equipped Audi R8 V10 into one of the fastest cars on the road, bar none. It’ll cost you an extra $5K to have it installed. The company is working on second-gen packages now. Currently, the power boost is only for manual- or e-gear-equipped cars from the VW group -- the system doesn’t play well with DCTs, yet.

The kit consists of two liquid-to-air intercoolers, the turbo intake plumbing, the turbochargers themselves, a high-performance exhaust, heat exchangers, an oil scavenging pump, an electric heat exchanger fan system and carbon-fiber ducting. The whole package looks decidedly OEM through the rear hatch, except for the Alpha logo on the carbon fiber.

On the smooth Portuguese roads, the R8 felt as composed as a supercar can, which is to say it rode a lot like a really fast Audi sedan.

2017 Audi R8 V10 Plus first drive

That was easy


"What the hell is everyone looking at? Oh, right." That was the thought we kept coming back to, bombing across the back roads of Portugal in the new Audi R8 V10 Plus, headed stateside next spring. After a few hours in the cockpit, it just felt like a regular Audi. But, of course, it wasn’t. With 610 hp, it’s the fastest road-going car the company has ever produced. It even has more power than the factory-produced customer race car, according to Audi, with which it shares about 50 percent of its parts.

Audi kept the design formula of the original R8, only gently revising the front and rear to be sharper and more aggressive. The new TT and A4 follow the same language. The fenders are a bit wider, and the company changed its sideblade design to two pieces instead of one. The overall shape, which apes the Le Mans car in profile, is basically unchanged. The V10 Plus gets a carbon-fiber spoiler; the standard V10 has a flush, body-color piece that deploys at speed. Exterior, sideblade and interior colors can all be customized through the Audi Exclusive program. The automaker displayed a slate-gray model with orange trim -- we’ll confess to liking it more than the standard hues we drove, which already got a lot of love from all the walkers and bikers along our route.

2015 Audi A3 sedan TDI review notes

Pricey but powerful


EDITOR WES RAYNAL: Wow, 10 grand in options?!?

It looks like a smaller A4. Not a bad thing. The MQB platform is damn impressive, as we’ve written countless times. It’s stiff as hell but doesn’t beat you up on the nasty bits. This is one of those cars that the harder you push it, the better it is. And yes indeed, you can flog it even with the diesel, a torquey little bugger I like a bunch and one that works well with the DSG.

With other A3s in the office, there’s been debate about the interiors. Some say they’re too dark, too bleak. Some call that clean and stylish. Some go on to say it looks cheap.

I can’t agree with that last part. I have a habit of tap-tap-tapping dashes and door panels and such when I get in a car. I don’t like brittle, shiny plastics. The materials in this car are not brittle and shiny. This interior is well built with nice materials. I appreciate things like the knurled plastic knobs and the click-click buttons feel the same as the ones in a $100,000-plus A8.

First drives

2016 Audi A6, S6 and S7


Audi has been slowly closing the sales gap with its German rivals over the past few years, and sales are projected to touch 200,000 units this year -- double what the company sold just five years ago. Solid. Yet with all this success, Audi just can’t catch the leaders in the midsize luxury sedan class. Both Mercedes-Benz and BMW move more than twice as many E-class and 5-series cars. To help boost those numbers, the 2016 A6 and A7 have been treated to a thorough refresh.  

We review the 2016 Audi A7 diesel

2016 Audi A7 TDI review notes


EDITOR WES RAYNAL: What’s not to like? I’ve been singing the praises of the VW Group’s diesels for a long time. Torquey, quiet and smooth. Great mileage, too. The computer indicated 28 mpg during this morning’s city driving commute.

Installing the diesel in the already excellent A7 gets you a high-mileage cruiser with a clean, well-built interior, good-looking (and practical!) body and fine ride/handling/body control. All good. Fiddling with the adjustable suspension, I ended up with it in auto all the time. Sport was a bit firm, soft a bit too soft. Auto felt just right -- smoooooth. The steering is rather overboosted at slow speeds, but above about 40 mph it feels a lot better. There’s terrific grip in turns and the brakes are strong. Quattro means this would work well all year round, even in the North.

Back to the engine: Mash the pedal and the car gets right down the road with stout, satisfying power. The torque is smooth and linear, and there’s plenty. The transmission is smooth, too, and quick to downshift when needed. This A7 is all good on the powertrain front.

With all-wheel drive, a very pretty shape and a regular old manual transmission, the 2015 Audi A5 Premium Plus coupe is perfectly exciting.

2015 Audi A5 Premium Plus Coupe review notes


EXECUTIVE EDITOR RORY CARROLL: So this isn’t the most mind-blowing variant of A5. With all-wheel drive, a very pretty shape and a regular old manual transmission, the 2015 Audi A5 Premium Plus coupe is perfectly exciting. It’s not as though they’re really building slow versions of Audi’s coupe these days and the A5 will surprise a lot of people with the amount of useable power it delivers. It’s clear why Audi doesn’t offer another engine between the 2.0-liter turbo and the S5 because it’s not really necessary. The six-speed transmission and eager engine make for an engaging drive, though Audi still lags behind BMW, Mercedes, Lexus, Infiniti and Cadillac in the not-based-on-a-front-driver department.

2015 Audi S3 review notes


EDITOR WES RAYNAL: I like this 2015 Audi S3 a bunch. It’s terrific to look at; I appreciate the MQB’s stiffness, have always liked the VW Group 2.0-liter turbo four (that horsepower number just keeps going up and up, and if there’s turbo lag here, I didn’t feel it) and dig the confidence-inspiring all-wheel drive. This is actually a couple cars in one: A soft(ish) sedate cruiser when you want that, then you switch to dynamic mode and the steering, suspension, engine/gearbox mapping and god knows what else all stiffen and the car gets faster and more responsive and frankly becomes quite the little hooligan. A well-controlled one, though.

The kids in the office will call me old, but I like Audi’s dual-clutch. It’s quick as ever and fun to snap up and down with the paddles.

Interior build quality is typically Audi good, and the layouts and controls are simple and intuitive. The flat-bottom steering wheel is one of the interior’s best features. This car feels perfect. 

2015 Audi S6 review notes


ASSOCIATE EDITOR GRAHAM KOZAK: I tend to forget about the S6/A6. If we take the A4 to be the cornerstone of the Audi lineup, with the A3 as the sorta-intriguing newcomer, the A5 as the two-door style statement, the A7 as the four-door style statement and the A8 as the flagship…well, I guess someone’s in the market for a midsizer, right?

But just because the A6 isn’t exactly blazing a new trail doesn’t mean you should overlook it -- especially in this 420-hp S6 guise. Without resorting to comical vents or intakes or flashy badges, the S6 manages to be a fast, comfortable sedan with some sporty flair. I really won’t call it a sport-sedan, because its motor isn’t loud enough and it won’t shake your teeth out if you put the suspension in “dynamic” mode. But, much like our long-term Audi S7, it’s still a lot of fun to whip this thing down the road.

2015 Audi S8 review notes


DIGITAL EDITOR ANDREW STOY: Thanks in part to our long-term S7, dropping into the S8 was like visiting an old friend -- the familiar V8 bark and smooth and incredibly capable brakes. I loved our S7, but the S8 drove me nuts for two days. Why? That’s how long I fought with the innocuous sounding “driver assistance package.” 

More specifically, active lane assist. It’s misnamed. This should be aggressive lane assist. Otherwise pleasant drives turned into a wrestling match between driver and S8 as the car fought lane changes, reasonable drift and every other maneuver that deviated from the car’s preprogrammed notions of where it was supposed to be on the road. Active lane assist does not assist. It insists, permitting overrides only with firm and persistent inputs from the driver. Decades of steering tuning perfected by German engineers are out the window in favor of an electric rack with a Napoleonic complex.

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