With each successive generation, Audi’s large sedan has come leaps and bounds forward in innovation and appeal. The C3 chassis brought Audi to a larger market with its modern aerodynamics and the introduction of all-wheel drive. That was capped with the evolutionary D11 model – the V8 quattro. Based on a Type 44 chassis, the V8 brought the dreaded automatic transmission to its large executive sedan – but while enthusiasts will decry that change, the reality is that for the people who bought the car original that proved to be a popular option and opened the all-wheel drive market to an entirely new clientele. Audi didn’t rest on its laurels, though, for even as the V8 quattro was still in production its replacement hinted at an entirely new design language for the company in the ASF concept. Not only were the looks decidedly more rounded and futuristic, but the aluminum space frame was in many ways ahead of its time. The result was a great looking, innovative all-wheel drive option for executives in the D2 chassis, which proved to be wildly popular, and it’s still a great looking sedan today, some 23 years after the original concept was penned. Although the height of D2 production was around 2000, by then the design was already showing its age and Audi was once again back at the drawing board. The result was that in 2002 the D3 chassis was launched to replace the D2 chassis.
Much of what had been pioneered in the D2 was carried over into the D3. The design was evolutionary rather than revolutionary. Under the skin, an updated choice of V8 and W12 motors (along with some TDis for European customers) mimicked the D2. But a new adaptive air suspension brought the A8 in line with premium products from its competition.…
The Audi A4 Avant needs no introduction on these pages; an enthusiast favorite especially for those with families, the small wagon is a sharp looking, sporty package with plenty of practicality. Though not as numerous as the European market, there are plenty of configurations older models could be specified in too – from torquey and smooth 2.8 through 3.2 V6 models, to the whoosh-wonderful turbocharged 1.8T and 2.0T variants, there was also always the monster V6 twin turbo or V8 S4. Today we’re looking at two of the smallest engines, but that doesn’t make them less desirable. Indeed, for some Avant enthusiasts, the second of this duo – the S-Line Titanium package – might just be the best overall package Audi offered here. How does it compare to its father?
Following up on yesterday’s super-loaded A4 I’ve moved forward a decade to the last of the B7 series cars. Between the B5 and B7 generation cars, Audi made significant improvements to their small car, with more upscale and tech-heavy interiors and impressive power output from the new line of motors. While the A4 was introduced with the 172 horsepower 12 valve V6, by the B7 generation the lump had grown to 3.2 liters with the new “FSi” direct injection. While the B5 generation had introduced 5 valve technology as we saw yesterday, the B6/7 went back to 4 valves per a cylinder with variable intake manifolds. The result was impressive; despite the small bump in displacement, the 3.2 FSi motor produced 255 horsepower; more than the B5 S4 came to market with. Audi backed up the performance with its new “sport” designation, the S-Line package. That added the 1BE sport suspension, the sport steering wheel (with paddle shifters for Tiptronic-equipped models), and special aluminum trim. If there was one downside to the S-Line package, it was that you could only get it with black interiors – unlike the vibrant color combination we saw yesterday. To make up for that in some regards, Audi then offered an even more premium exterior option; the Titanium Package. Selecting that option would equip your A4 with 18 inch quattro GmbH Ronal multi-spoke alloys in Titanium and blacked out trim both inside and out. Generally, these S-Line Titanium Avants are considered the most desirable A4 Avants made – and for some, they’re more special than even the S4 Avant:
Last week I wrote up a 2007 A6 3.2 quattro Avant S-Line, the end of a dying breed of luxury wagons from German manufacturers. But before they fully dismissed the large wagon from U.S. shores, Audi went out with a bang when it refreshed the A6 in 2009. Minor updates to styling once again brought the A6 in line with the new design language from Audi, but the real change was under the skin. As they had with the previous models, in an attempt to save some weight from the large Audis the company utilized aluminum throughout; the 3.0Ts featured aluminum hood and fenders like the previous generation S6 had. Additionally, just like the 3.2 had been, the new 3.0T was an aluminum block; the decrease in displacement was more than made up for with a literal boost from the supercharger. With a full 20% power increase to 300 horsepower and 310 lb.ft of torque at a low 2,500 rpm, the new 3.0T was a much better performer than the 3.2 FSi V6 had been and was, briefly, a defacto S-Avant that was missing from the lineup. On top of that, the new supercharged layout meant power increases are much easier to attain; as Chris Harris demonstrated with his stunning S4 v. RS4 comparison. Audi also moved away from its “S-Line” designations towards the new strata of Premium, Premium Plus ($1,400), and Prestige ($3,200) levels which added levels of electronic wizardry and small detail difference. That was on top of the raised base price, now $60,200 in 2010. If you though the 3.2 was rare, the 3.0T is downright hard to find even though they’re nearly new.
When Audi launched the A4 Avant with the B5 series, it was a bit of a trump card for the small wagon enthusiast. True, the Volkswagen Passat had been available in 5-door form for a few generations, and it VR6 form it was quite entertaining. However, quality of the pre-B5 chassis Passats wasn’t the best, and all-wheel drive had only been available with the Quantum for a few short years in the late 1980s. Audi had offered its unique large Avant platform in both 5000/200 and S6 form, but they were pretty expensive relative to the small cars the company offered. The A4 Avant continued on for through the B7 chassis we saw yesterday; a serious improvement in looks over the rather plain looking B6. When the B8 launched, initially I thought “There goes Audi again, following the formula of making everything bigger”. The B8 was a LOT bigger than the original A4 had been; in fact, park one next to an original A6, and the B8 A4 is dimensionally it was only slightly smaller. There was one key difference, though. Sure, the A4 had been stretched in every direction – but most importantly, you’d find that the wheel base was now the best part of a foot longer than the early Audi platforms. Visually that shortened the notoriously long overhangs of the Audis and offered more legroom to the occupants. Anyone who has ever been in the back of a B5 A4 would certainly appreciate that. Amazingly, too, the new A4 was lighter, and thanks to revised suspension geometry, new and more advanced computers and a torque-laden 2.0 turbo motor, it felt and drove considerably better than any of the previous generations had, too. It even looked really good in my mind. It was an instant success as previous generations had been, making one wonder even more why it went away:
When I bought my first Audi in 1995, I became a big fan of the marque; but if you had told me then that Audi would produce a V10 mid-engined aluminum supercar in just over a decade, I would have laughed at you. In fact, I think every Audi nut would have laughed at you. Looking back over Audi’s history, the R8 was so out of character with what the company produced it would be as if Ferrari were to produce a Prius. But what was particularly shocking is that it was deeper than just that; it would be as if Ferrari produced a better Prius than Toyota did. The accolades that have been thrown on the R8’s mighty shoulders are equally impressive to what that achievement would be. As the halo car for Audi, the R8 has taken the marque to a whole new level of performance as well as a completely different clientele. For example, I was able to instruct last year at a arrive and drive supercar event – there were three Ferraris, a Lamborghini, a Mercedes-Benz SLS and an Audi R8 4.2 coupe there. That the Audi to even be included in that group was a feat in and of itself, but while the line of people interested in driving the Lamborghini stretched until the horizon the brilliant R8 sat there most of the time lonely. It was ironic, because pretty much universally the instructors all said it was dynamically the best car there.
So, while it still may not be the dream car that hangs on everyone’s walls, the R8 truly offers supercar level performance at a budget price compared to the rare Italian competition. Of the R8s, the true screamer is the 5.2 liter V10, and if you want to get a little (or, a lot) wild you can spec out one in Spyder configuration, such as today’s 2011:
Model: R8 V10 Spyder
Engine: 5.2 liter V10
Transmission: 6-speed DSG automatic
Mileage: 7,627 mi
Price: Reserve Auction
– 2011 R8 Spyder –
The Coventry Motorcar is proud to present this low mile R8 in showroom condition.