Fresh off of its 100th anniversary as an automaker in 2009, Audi marches forward with a renewed emphasis on fuel economy, more adventurous styling and an expanding model line. Audi's push to use clean diesel technology has been making headway and consumers are starting to see the benefits of achieving hybrid-like fuel economy without having to sacrifice luxury, performance and style. Audi's strong current offerings include sedans, coupes and wagons along with compact and midsize crossovers, and an exotic sports car thrown in for good measure. Emphasizing accessible technology and setting the current gold standard for interior build quality should keep Audi on the right track to continued success in the next 100 years.
Photos courtesy of Audi.
The A3 is Audi's attempt at catering to the consumer who demands a small car with stylish looks, premium features and impressive build quality. In 2010, the A3 drops the 3.2-liter V6 offering for an optional diesel engine that returns hybrid-like fuel economy in a decidedly more luxurious package. While features and amenities abound, cramped rear legroom, brand-family competition and the high sticker price challenge the all-important value equation.
Strong 2.0-liter turbocharged and diesel engine choices
Luxury features not available on other vehicles of this size
Refined and high-quality interior
Available all-wheel drive and IIHS Top Safety Pick
In the hotly contested upscale midsize sedan segment, the A4 shows excellence in almost every category. Dropping both the convertible variant and the V6 engine for 2010, the A4 employs the much-loved 2.0T engine for all of its stylish sedan and wagon models. Offering a best-in-class interior, sporty acceleration with driver-adjustable suspension, and a rousing S4 version, it's hard to image that you can go wrong choosing within the A4 lineup.
Stylish exterior with top-of-the-line interior
Driver-adjustable suspension offers comfort and performance
A more spacious interior than BMW 3 Series and Mercedes C-Class
Top safety scores from IIHS and NHTSA
Arguably one of the most attractive cars on the road today, Audi adds a soft-top convertible and standard 2.0T 4-cylinder engine for 2010. The Italian-penned styling and premium interior go a long way to mask the slight performance disadvantage the A5 has compared to its closest rival, the BMW 3 Series. With good fuel economy, standard all-wheel drive, a sporty S-tune trim level and decent practicality for a coupe/convertible, it's a strong contender in a very competitive class.
MSRP: $36,000 – $44,100
Base Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder with 211 hp
Base EPA mpg: 22 city/30 hwy/25 cmb
Competition: BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Infiniti G37 Coupe
Gorgeous Italian styling applied with German efficiency
Frugal 4-cylinder, sporty V6, S5 convertible supercharged V6 and S5 Coupe with V8 power
All-star interior with reasonable practicality
Drooling gazes from jealous motorists
The Audi A6 is a really good car whose only problem is the excellent company it keeps. When equipped with the 3.0-liter supercharged engine and all-wheel drive, you'd be hard pressed to find anything substantial to complain about. Unfortunately, too much similarity to the A4 and merely good performance from the V6 and V8 options makes German and Japanese competitors look slightly more appealing. Only slightly though.
The 3.0T V6 with all-wheel drive is the one
435-hp V10-powered S6 model
Sedan and wagon available for family flexibility
Less ubiquitous than BMW 5 Series or Mercedes E-Class
The Audi A8 carries on with an uber-luxurious interior and athletic handling, but a major redesign in 2011 should bring it back to its technology-laden flagship status. In 2010, only the 4.2-liter V8 is available on the standard and L (long) wheelbase models. While it may come with slightly less cachet than its German rivals, it will leave you with more cash in your pocket while you enjoy your front-seat back massage.
Standard quattro all-wheel drive
42" of rear legroom in opulent luxury
Swift acceleration from 350-hp V8
Adaptive air suspension
The Q5 made an immediate splash when it jumped into the compact luxury crossover pool in 2009. It's got sport sedan-like handling, luxurious craftsmanship, good fuel economy and drop-dead good looks. The only thing working against it is a steep price, especially as you add in optional equipment. At least in this case, you do get every awesome ounce of what you pay for.
Premium and exceptionally well-built interior
Rear seats slide fore and aft, and recline
5-star crash test rating for front and side impacts
Getting a mild facelift for 2010, the Audi Q7 continues to offer a lot of luxury, cargo room and safety features to the highly saturated luxury SUV market. Working against the unimpressive fuel economy on standard fuel models, the Q7 TDI gives a stump-pulling 406 lb.-ft. of torque while returning 17/25 mpg for the over 5,000-pound vehicle. Add in Audi's all-wheel drive and optional air suspension to keep the handling athletic despite the imposing heft and size.
MSRP: $46,900 – $61,000
Base Engine: 3.6-liter V6 with 280 hp
Base EPA mpg: 14 city/19 hwy/16 cmb
Competition: BMW X5, Mercedes-Benz GL-Class, Infiniti FX
Diesel engine option gives excellent fuel economy
New 3rd-generation MMI (Multi Media Interface)
Superior interior design and craftsmanship
5-star crash test rating for front and side impacts
Available in a 2+2 hatchback or 2-seat roadster, the Audi TT affords its driver all the styling, luxury and quality that Audi fans have come to expect. This year removes the V6 model, makes all-wheel drive standard and introduces the 265-hp TTS model. However, abundant features come at a fairly steep price and put more emphasis on fashion and fun over outright performance thrills.
MSRP: $37,800 – $40,800
Base Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder with 200 hp
Base EPA mpg: 21 city/29 hwy/24 cmb
Competition: Porsche Boxster, BMW Z4, Infiniti G37 Coupe
TTS model's rev-happy 265-hp 2.0T engine
Quick shifting 6-speed dual clutch gearbox
Comfortable front seats and ritzy interior
Decent luggage space in the 2+2 hatch
Rapidly waving the performance flag for Audi, the exotic R8 continues to combine sexy speed, brag-worthy luxury and everyday comfort in a balanced and graceful execution. To answer claims that the 420-hp version wasn't enough power, Audi rolls out the screaming 5.2-liter V10 with 525 hp. In a nod to awesomeness, you can still equip either with a slick, gated 6-speed manual transmission to indulge all of your senses (except taste, of course).
MSRP: $114,200 – $155,100
Base Engine: 4.2-liter V8 with 420 hp
Base EPA mpg: 12 city/20 hwy/15 cmb
Competition: Porsche 911, Mercedes-Benz SL-Class, Aston Martin V8 Vantage
Available Lamborghini-based V10 engine
Real world livability in an exotic
Magnetic adaptive suspension system
Perfect combination of Italian passion and German practicality