IT was the best-ever motoring Christmas present, and I don’t mean those string-backed gloves. Santa’s sack was bulging with delicious German goodies …time to unwrap the delights of the Audi Range Review 2013.
Held at the imposing Walton Hall Hotel in the midst of the mellow Warwickshire countryside, the manufacturer had laid on a tempting array of motoring metal, from the baby of the range, the A1, to the supercar daddy, the awesome R8.
With a bevy of cars to drive, it was time to slip behind the wheel, so join me on this festive foray with a selection of them.
SQ5 3.0 BITDI QUATTRO TIPTRONIC
Big bro’ of the Q5, we had met before, on the car’s launch in Granada, Spain. From Andalucia to Warwickshire …and a more potent version, with 313bhp to call on.
This is the first diesel-powered S model, with a three-litre bi-turbo engine linked to eight-speed tiptronic transmission. With cool body styling, 20in alloys and Xenon headlights, the car is a real looker. Interior highlights include LED lighting and electrically adjustable front seats with SQ5 embossing. File under ‘very tasty’.
RS Q3 2.5 TFSI S TRONIC
The little ‘un of Audi’s SUV (sports utility vehicle) range gets the oomph treatment with 310 bhp on tap. I enjoyed the great handling and power aplenty, on what was an appetite-whetter for a week-long Flush Magazine road test to come.
Seated on fine black leather and surrounded by a swathe of lovely, hi-tech, usable kit the car felt ready to tackle the harsh winter conditions ahead in style and comfort.
Q7 3.0 TDI QUATTRO S LINE TIPTRONIC
Imposing and impressive, the biggest bro’ of the Q family is a king-of-the-road ride. From panoramic sunroof to powered tailgate, the car has some splendid kit and the turbocharged V6 diesel loped through the countryside to the manor born. Spacious and very comfortable, this is my kind of car.
S3 2.0 TFSI QUATTRO
Pace aplenty, with a top speed of 155mph and a 0-62 time of 5.2 seconds.
The interior boasted a Parade Red design package, which means funky two-tone seats, and some eminently practical options, including reversing camera (why doesn’t every maker offer one?) and tyre pressure monitoring.
TT RS PLUS COUPE 2.5 TFSI QUATTRO S TRONIC
Barring the R8, this was my pick of the bunch I drove. With a governed top speed of 174mph, here is performance with a capital P. There are two Sport buttons to press, to heighten the engine response and handling characteristics …plus giving the already throaty exhaust an even more mellifluous note. Gets the ‘soundtrack of the day’ award.
RS6 AVANT 4.0 TFSI QUATTRO TIPTRONIC
The third generation of this model and the most powerful car I drove on the day, with a 560bhp V8 twin-turbo engine. Governed top speed of 155mph, which can be increased on demand to 174mph or 189mph. Majors in driver appeal and oozes class.
R8 COUPE 5.2 FSI QUATTRO S TRONIC
I’ve saved the most mouth-watering motor in a delicious line-up until last. I had driven the V10 version at its launch in Spain and was immediately under its spell. So we were briefly reunited and my memories of the earlier encounter came flooding back …astounding acceleration, peerless handling, and a great treat for the ears from that mighty 525bhp engine.
Performance figures? 0-62mph in 3.6 seconds and a top speed of 195mph says its all. But this is a car to be savoured in so many other ways. It’s a glorious piece of automotive sculpture and a superlative driving experience. The file marked ‘motoring heaven’ sounds about right. (see full review in FEb edition of Flush Magazine)
** As a footnote, the good people at Audi loaned me an A3 to travel from my northern redoubt to the event, a round trip of 300 miles, kindly allowing me to keep the car – a three-door, 1.8-litre TFSI – for a week. Smooth, pacy and comfortable, with classy looks and a certain cachet, I didn’t want to give it back. It is Audi’s most popular model, and deservedly so.