2022 AUDI e-tron SPORTBACK TEST DRIVE FOR TOP SPEED BY STEVE HAMMES 2022 Audi e-tron Sportback Prestige quattro Audi’s original e-tron, its first fully-electric SUV, debuted in 2019 and was joined by the sexier Sportback variant the following year. Since,…
Last year Audi sold nearly 3 times as many SUVs as it did cars despite a lineup of coupes, sedans and sport models that come in every size and flavor. So it’s fair to question the relevance of this redesigned gas-fueled subcompact sedan in a market dominated by SUVs and burgeoning EVs. But if you still appreciate a sporty, German-engineered, turbocharged ride this new A3 has got your back.
So you want an Audi but your bank account is borderline. Well, meet the A3. With starting MSRP of $35,895 it’s one of only 2 Audis priced at under $40,000. The other is this car’s SUV counterpart, the Q3 which outsells the sedan nearly 5 to 1. So why choose this? Well, it’s a little cheaper than the Q3, its new mild-hybrid powertrain is significantly more fuel efficient and it’s quicker making for a sportier drive. But with a trunk instead of a hatch it has less than half of the standard cargo volume even though the A3’s backside gets a little bigger this year. The A3 is now a tad longer, wider and taller than before, 66 pounds heavier and slower to 60mph by a half a second, clocking in now at 6.3 seconds. But before you roll your eyes you should know that this 48-volt electrical system provides eboost upon takeoff and fills the 2.0-liter turbo with additional low-end torque so the immediacy to go is still there; impressively so for an engine alone that now makes only 201 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque. The big benefit of this electrical assistance though is of course gas mileage which rises from 25mpg to 31mpg in combined driving and all the way to 36mpg on the highway. Regular gas? No problem. This also increases the driving range from 330 miles to 450 miles. And this car is so comfortable up front and quiet that long highway cruising is most certainly in play. I say front because the A3’s rear seats aren’t nearly as accommodating, this is a subcompact after all. You can fit 2 back here and it’ll be OK but 3 across is definitely a no. If it’s all out performance you crave remember the S3 and RS3 are here to fill those needs. But this A3 – with quattro all-wheel drive, the 4-cylinder turbo, 7-speed dual clutch transmission and Drive Select is the perfect blend of silky smooth sedan and frugal fun.
The Q5 provides the sporty performance and fun-to-drive experience you expect from an Audi while also providing exceptional ride comfort. Audi’s vehicle lineup is vast with a dizzying array of choices that even I find difficult keeping up with. So have you ever considered why it is that the Q5 has separated itself from the pack to become the brand’s best-seller? Well, if you drive one it’s pretty easy to understand.
Audi recognizes it has a very good thing going on with the Q5 so now in addition to the standard and high-performance SQ5 models the brand with four rings has introduced Sportback and plug-in hybrid variants. But the Q I’m spending time with is the Q5 45 TFSI quattro. Translation? It’s the basic all-wheel drive Q5 with the 2.0-liter turbo which comes in 3 flavors: Premium, Premium Plus and Prestige with prices ranging from near $45,000 to about $58,000. And this here is the Goldilocks model: the Premium Plus in upcharge Manhattan Gray metallic paint, with optional 20” wheels, Navigation package and Bang & Olufsen sound system for an as-tested MSRP of $53,040. It’s imported from Mexico but the drive most certainly speaks German.
Certain vehicles instantly make the perfect handshake and this is one of them. Getting in and out, finding your comfort zone, not having to think about where certain features are and having enough room to accomplish everyday tasks is what the Q5 is all about. Not too big, not too small, feature-laden but not over the top, it’s an SUV aimed to please. Adaptive Cruise Control with Traffic Jam Assist is now standard on this Premium Plus trim and helps to destress the driver when sitting behind the wheel is reduced to monkey business. The Top view camera system is also now a standard feature on this trim and includes an off-screen activation switch. And the touchscreen navigation unit is user friendly with satellite mapping, intuitive controls and wireless CarPlay and Android Auto. It’s also the head unit for the impressive 19 speaker surround sound system – a $950 option. Tri-zone climate control means no temperature wars, the panoramic sunroof adds elevated comfort to the slide and recline rear seats, and heated front seats with a heated steering wheel make winter a little more bearable. And there’s no need to mount your EZ-Pass on the windshield – with Audi’s Integrated Toll Module the transponder is built into the Q5’s rearview mirror. Other favorite features of mine include auto high beams, virtual cockpit plus with various, easy to change views and folding 2nd row seats that can be dropped with remote levers and then click reassuringly into place to create a nearly flat, expanded cargo area which can be accessed by a kick of the foot. And if you were wondering, the Q5 can tow 4,400 pounds – not bad.
There’s no denying it: the electric car revolution has just begun as more or more manufacturers make commitments to a carbon neutral future. And if you’re shopping for one you might want to pump the regen brakes for just a moment: here are 5 new EVs arriving in dealerships soon. Chevy Bolt EUV, Hyundai Ioniq 5, Volvo XC40 Recharge P8 AWD, Mercedes Benz EQS 580 4MATIC, & Audi RS e-tron GT. So which is the right one for you?
Hey, look what’s back! It’s the Audi A6 allroad. So for those who’ve got some money and like to go glamping at the lake house, a luxury, quasi off-road wagon like this will not only make an affluent impression on the out of town neighbors, it’s practically standard operating procedure.
Every summer when I venture into the bougie coastal towns of New England I’m reminded of what a Mercedes exec told me many years ago; their most affluent customers buy the E Wagon. It’s a sign of old money and you always see one parked underneath the port-cochere of some magnificent beach home. But Audi hasn’t been quite as committed to the wagon in the U.S. market with the A6 Avant quattro discontinued after the 2011 model year and it’s been 15 years since the allroad name graced an A6 wagon – both of which I tested, back when stickshifts, superchargers and V8s were still on the menu. But the new E-Class All-Terrain Wagon now has some fresher competition in the A6 allroad.
It’s a stately wagon, here in upcharge Vesuvius Gray and far more attractive than the blah looking, facelifted E-Class. If the Benz says old money then the Audi says I’ve got next. But money you will still need plenty of and if there’s one thing I’ve learned about the rich it’s that they want what few others have. So even though a Q7 Prestige costs almost the same, they’ll gladly overpay for the A6 allroad because of its exclusivity. So welcome back A6 wagon and enjoy your time at the shore.