Audi – Always the Pretender?

And What Is Wrong With Putting the Engine in Front of the Wheels?

Auto Union Type C
CMC Model Cars

Editor’s note: This piece first appeared on DTW in June 2014.

Audi are in danger of becoming the Phil Collins of the petrolhead world, an act that even people who know little about music like to cite as being a bit off. Speaking as someone who can, hand on heart, swear that he has no murky Genesis related skeletons in his youthful musical vinyl rack and hopes he’ll never hear ‘Against All Odds’ on the radio again, I’d judge that Mr Collins is no worse than many, and better than scores.

Changing fashion means that he has just become a lazy symbol for bad comedians and the generally undiscerning to latch on to in order to suggest, quite undeservedly, their musical connoisseurship. Likewise Audi. In bars and on motoring websites everywhere, you will hear the drone of “overrated and overpriced …. style over content …. they’re all designed on a photocopier …. no driver involvement ….. they’ll never really be premier league until they go rear drive”. Is any of this justified?

The DKW F4. Image: de.academic

To begin, I might make the following three points concerning Audi.

Point 1: They have heritage. They are not uninvited arrivistes at the same table as Mercedes and BMW. In 1960 they were making a full, uncompromised five seater family car entirely of their own design whilst BMW were making do with a derivative of an Isetta bubble car. They can also claim the longest loyalty to front wheel drive, with a direct lineage going back to 1931.

Point 2: Of those bar room bores who claim that ‘real’ cars are rear driven, some might know what they are talking about, but most don’t. Getting the tail out can be fun but it doesn’t suit many and, please be honest, it doesn’t suit today’s road conditions and you shouldn’t really do it with friends and family on board. The car a responsible mass manufacturer should be making is one that is predictable and starts, corners and stops well in the widest range of foreseeable conditions. Enthusiast based road tests gloss over the limitations of powerful rear drivers with phrases such as ” … need to be a bit more circumspect in the wet” and “ …. hampered by a lack of snow chains in an unexpected blizzard”. By all means choose rear drive if it suits, but don’t assume that a manufacturer who avoids it is a fool or a cheapskate.

Image: The author

Point 3: I own an Audi. It’s a 1996 S6 Avant in Nogaro Blue with matching upholstery. It has the quattro system and a 2.2 litre 5 cylinder turbo. It’s a bit of a rough thing, not because it is old (it is actually in excellent condition) but because it was probably always that way. Nevertheless it is fast, comfortable, spacious and has a distinctive character. I had meant to own it for only a few months, but I’m now well into my fourth year since I have become very attached to it, despite its profligate thirst.

I make the third point only to confront early any suggestions of bias. You now probably take me as a committed Audiphile. Not so. I think that many modern Audis are perfectly worthwhile cars that suit a wide variety of people. I would happily recommend one to a friend whose driving style and budget I thought it would complement. Personally speaking though, contemporary Audis don’t move me much. Even historically, there are a handful I might be willing to buy secondhand, but it’s a baby’s handful – primarily an RS2 Avant or a 100 Coupe which would each please two contrasting sides of me.

It is how Audis came to be the way they are technically that interests me. Most of their vaunted Vorsprung durch Technik seems to have come about through opportunism forced on them by stubborn policies and most of the flaws that people identify are for the same reason. Audi’s engine location is the result of its heritage which, as I said, is an effectively unbroken, though slightly complex one. The original Audi name was used on larger cars before the Second World War, but today’s cars are more directly descended from the smaller DKW products that were also produced by the Auto Union group at the same time.

Although DKW stood for Dampf-Kraft-Wagen (steam driven car) the firm actually never got such a device past prototype stage, specialising in 2 stroke powered devices instead. The DKW F1 introduced in 1931 set the pattern for over 30 years with a two stroke engine driving the front wheels. After various models, the War split the firm with IFA, then Wartburg taking over the technical mantle in East Germany and a re-formed Auto Union producing the DKW in West Germany.

Auto Union 3=6 F93 Coupé. Image: autoviva

In the West, bodies evolved from the separate wings of pre-War cars, though the curved lines of the DKW 3=6 / Auto Union 1000 (that reflected the styles of both the Beetle and Morris Minor but made both look dumpy) to, finally, the three box shape of the F102. By the early Sixties, two-stroke engines were becoming untenable so, in 1965, the Audi name was revived with the 72 derived directly from the near identical looking F102 but, instead of that car’s light 3 cylinder 2 stroke sticking out the front of the gearbox, an all-new, heavier 4 cylinder 4 stroke engine was fitted in its place. Audi got away with this but, with hindsight, this was the point at which they might have started asking themselves if this was really the way to go.

Not for us, darling: The 1963 DKW F102. Image: Cartype

Look today at the 72 and you can see how its styling has morphed subtly, generation after generation, to become the A4 we know today. Although I greatly admire those manufacturers who make quantum leaps, chucking away the past, such as Ford with the first Focus, I also like those ones, like Porsche and Audi who keep a continuity. Following the success of the 72 and its variants Audi became more ambitious, starting what became a long drawn out move upmarket. First, in 1968, it produced the larger 100 model. With the next 100, in 1976, it needed to fit a more powerful engine.

Back then, the normal answer to this would be to stretch that 4 cylinder into a 6 cylinder but, because of Audi’s engine location, that would have put far too much out front, so the pragmatic answer was a straight 5. Five is not a natural number of cylinders for an engine. Though Audi didn’t invent the format, they produced the first production 5 cylinder petrol engined car, and how fortuitous that was. Audi’s five was far from the unsatisfactory compromise you might have supposed when first hearing about it. It had a distinctive sound and a nice burble, all of its own and responded well to turbocharging. And when you have a straight 5, why not double it to a V10. The Audi V10 lives on, notably in Lamborghinis, but the longitudinally mounted straight 5 is, regrettably, no more, replaced by competent, but predictable V engines.

1976 Audi 100 C2. Image: Favcars

Once you have the more powerful engine, road behaviour becomes all the more critical. It used to be taken that front drive was only suitable for relatively lowly powered vehicles but, by the time the 5 cylinder came along, Citroën had shown with the SM that you could easily accommodate getting on for 200bhp through the front wheels, but that was with the engine behind the wheels – the pedantically named front mid-engined format.

It only takes a rudimentary understanding of physics to know that a big weight in the nose of a car makes it difficult to change direction at corners, though Audi isn’t alone in having a heavy engine mounted ahead of the wheels in a front wheel drive car. Many cars have in the past, including such notable fine handlers as the Alfasud and Lancia Gamma.

However, one of these had a small engine and both were, tellingly, flat fours, shorter and with low centres of gravity. As the five became more powerful the engine placement finally became a liability and Audi’s answer to this was to look in-house at the VW Iltis military vehicle, in fact an Audi based 4WD jeep, and apply that engineering to a road car to produce their Quattro system. Of course, the positioning of the engine and transmission had made its adaptation to 4WD, by just taking a drive off the rear of the gearbox back to the rear wheels, a relatively easy process.

Audi ur Quattro
Always Way Out Front

From the original 80 Coupe base that became the first Quattro, this has spread across Audi’s own spreading range and they now produce a wealth of Quattro models, generally performance biased. Some of these get grudgingly good reviews in the press but, frequently, they disappoint those looking for fun. Like Porsche and the 911, having weathered a period where it probably wasn’t the best idea, Audi can probably persist with its eccentricity.

Engine location has become much less of a problem and there are cheaper electronic alternatives to 4wd for keeping lesser variants in line. Also, in recent years, a new transmission has allowed the engine to be shifted back a bit and I very rarely see Audis stuffed through hedges. Whether the curiously lifeless steering is still necessary is a different matter though, on the subject of steering feel, it can be argued that 96% of drivers wouldn’t know what to do with the messages they receive.

At some time they have been aware of the dynamic shortcomings of their vehicles. Having owned both my current Audi and a Mondeo V6 of the same vintage, I can testify that, if you stripped away the 4WD and that unique engine, the base 100/A6 of the mid 90s is a very ordinary thing dynamically compared to the Ford – not as sure footed, not as comfortable not as entertaining.

Obviously Audi agreed, since they are supposed to have tried, unsuccessfully, to woo the brilliant Richard Parry-Jones away from Ford. But then again, there is the suggestion that there is a fixed idea as to how an Audi should behave and that dead steering now seems to be accepted proudly by Audi as being part of its essential character. In terms of actual engineering, Audiness is a flexible thing for a company that sits within VAG.

As it entered the 1970s, Volkswagen was still having trouble breaking free from variants of the Beetle and the original Passat was just an opportunistic hatchback version of the Audi 80. Then came an on-off tussle between VW’s desire for a transverse engined Passat and Audi’s refusal to countenance such for its similarly sized 80/A4 model.

The Passat has seemed to oscillate between transverse and longitudinal, but the A4 stayed doggedly in line. The original DKW heritage really lives on in the A4, A6 and A8 models. The A3 and TT have always been more VW than Audi, and though branded ‘Quattro’, their 4WD system is more VW than Audi. The Q7 owes much to the Toureg and Cayenne. The A1 is a hugely disappointing thing, especially when you consider the A2.

1982 Audi 100 – image :

For quite a while, Audi was the German equivalent of France’s Citroën, Sweden’s Saab and Italy’s Lancia. Almost a classless image, certainly the cerebral choice. This was at its height in the 80s with the C3 model 100, with its vaunted low CD figure and the Quattro, a sports car that embraced boxiness. Should they have stayed like this?

Well, look at Saab, Lancia and Citroen today. The swansong of logic over market was the A2 of 1999, a car still greatly admired, and appreciated by its owners, but a financial folly for Audi. Cerebral doesn’t sell any more. So whilst the idealists at Audi were in their laboratory, tweaking the A2, the pragmatists at Audi were intent on finally nailing Audi to that top table.

Image: animaatjes

Subtle and understated were not for the 21st Century and in came the big, hungry grille gobbling you up in your rear-view mirror, the S-Line option delivering instant sportiness by making a mediocre ride rock hard, V10 engined uber-estates for going nowhere very fast and the supersize-me Q7 to keep you safe on the school run.

Fortunately, Audi at least managed to avoid getting into a totally deluded stylistic rut like Mercedes, remaining, relatively speaking, restrained inside and out and retaining the impression of being well made. If today’s Audis don’t excite you, at least they won’t look as horrid in 15 years time as a W210 E Class does now.

(c) Auto-Didakt

So, back on the subject of Phil Collins, he produced middle of the road rock that, though not to my taste, seemed to do its job well enough. I suspect that many of his modern day detractors once drove along with one of his cassettes in their decks, humming along to the mournful lyrics and imagining they were Sonny Crockett, broody and reflective following a Miami Vice shootout, and now they’re a bit embarrassed.

Zooming out from that scene, we might notice that they weren’t driving a white Testarossa, but a silver Audi 80. They really liked that car but, somewhere along the line, doubts were sown. Was it that episode of Top Gear where 50 people wearing Jeremy Clarkson masks tried to locate their Audi in a car park full of Audis (bear with me I never watch TG, so I had to make that up)?

Anyway, nowadays they nod in agreement as the Bar Bore drones on “ … I mean the ur-Quattro was OK, but it was massively over-rated….” though, secretly, they wonder quite what is wrong with a car that looks so much better than anything Mercedes have produced for 20 years.

18 thoughts on “Audi – Always the Pretender?”

  1. My mum had an Audi 80 Avant 2.6E. The car felt solid, was roomy, the engine quiet. However its most outstanding quality was straight-line stability. I could drive it on the highway in extremely heavy crosswinds with 140 kph and let go of the steering wheel. It would go straight ahead while other road users struggled at half the speed. It came at a price, though. That car didn’t like to corner. At all. Understeer even at very low speed.

    Throw in the zero feel steering and you end up with a car that left me unsatisfied. Later Audis I’ve sampled cornered far better, but the steering always bothered me. I like to get feedback from the steering and you don’t outsource pleasurable things do you, so no Audi for me.

    Having said that, Audi had brilliant design at one point. The A6 C5 and A2 as prime examples. I’d love an A2 in silver, but I have never driven one. Looking back a bit more I’d like an NSU Ro80 too. Not an Audi, but since it’s one of the four rings symbolizes NSU, I’d throw it in here as well.

    1. The four rings of the Auto Union symbolise Audi, Horch, Wanderer and DKW.
      No NSU in sight. At the time Auto Union was founded NSU was a pure motorcycle manufacturer.

  2. I have a 1995 Audi S6 manual saloon, with the 20v quattro engine. Absolute weapon. Big old car, but it shrinks around you when driving. It drives like a hot hatch, and sounds epic. On long journeys, it is very frugal, given the masses of low-down torque. Much better than any sluggish non-turbo BMW 6 of comparable vintage. Our family car is a 4.2 V8 LWB A8 diesel, with a custom map (engine and gearbox both mapped). Colossal torque on tap. Fun is driving at the speed limit when some c**k in a sports car makes the mistake of deciding to overtake – bye, bye, sucker : )

    4WD is more fun than any 2WD, whether front or rear.

    People who say otherwise merely are revealing that they don’t know how to drive a 4WD car with real intent. You need to back the car into a bend, and it’s already through it. No more messing about “waiting for the car to settle”. A 4wd car is hands down faster across challenging back roads. No debate about that. I rememebr well the first time the ur-quattro came to the Ulster rally and blitzed the RWD diehards – Walter was home and hosed long before they were even dots on the horizon at the finish line lol.

    The 5 cylinder lump is one of the great engines, way more charismatic than the executive smoothies you’d find in the 5 series of that era. I remember well the snobbery and narrow-mindedness of that era – road testers of that era thought in straight lines – an executive car “needed a naturally aspirated 6”; and the raucous Audi 5-cylinder, while it was much-loved in full-fat rally quattro guise, it was seen as too exuberant and not refined enough for the portly executive market. Throaty roar? Ugh … Turbo lag? How unseemly. Etc. Of course, Audi bought into this nonsense, and subsequent mid-ranking A6s had smooth 6 cylinders. They were very smooth and nothing wrong with them, but pretty generic and uninteresting compared to the unique 5-pot.

    I mostly drive like hell on bad back roads – bumps, muck, etc. All those big Audis of that period are surprisingly nimble and up for a bit of fun – their suspension is first rate for their size, and, on a back road twisty, the Audi is the car that you can throw around with more abandon. I remember in the late 80s, it took me a few weeks to learnt to trust the 4WD (I know pedants prefer to call it AWD, but screw them) – no more having to let the car settle into bends – it was quite the revelation just how far you could push it! (“Je****, I’m alive” etc.) I could back the big heavy old 4WD 100s into bends at higher speeds than I could our 16V Golf of the period. Your comparable BMW would not have matched it. But then again, BMW would say that it did not intend large exec saloons to be treated like hot hatches; and that I’m missing the point. Perhaps. But the old C3 and C4 100s were at that funny crossover moment in Audi’s history, when they still did not know how to make cars boring enough; some of the rally DNA got through the development net. Modern Audis, by contrast, are completely useless on those same sport of back roads – appallingly inept. Hammering a big modern Audi, all that excess weight, all that numb steering all that over-servoed brakes, all that dreadful crashy “suspension”, – it’s a gruesome experience. In terms of back-road competence and fun, the slabby old C3 200 in the ad is on a different planet to its descendants.

    And the build quality of 70s and 80s Audis was exemplary – better than today. I remember, 20 years on, needing to replace the exhaust on one of our old 100s. The exhaust was well past its sell by date;
    years of salty roads etc. I assumed I’d have to beat it off. To my amazement, it came away easily. On closer inspection, I was amazed to see that Audi had set it into a base of copper, so that it would be
    easily removed. Quite ludicrous attention to unseen detail; and something of course won’t see on any modern car.

  3. Mercedes loss was Audis gain, as the DB funded fwd Mercedes W118/119 became the Audi 100, together with the newly developed four cylinder engines. Without those big coffers I suspect DKW would’ve continued making two-strokes until the company died presumably in the late sixties. What I always wondered was why Daimler Benz sold it off to Volkswagen after having invested heavily in the company? In a way it mirrors BMW’s acquisition of the Rover group?

    1. Thank you, Daniel! But It doesn’t say much about the Mercedes end of the endeavour but it “failed to develop a coherent strategy for an automaker that should have been complementary to its own business manufacturing larger cars.” ? More shades of the BMW/Rover affair? What exactly failed? There’s a story there, I can tell….

      It’ve always heard the story how the C1 Audi 100 was developed sub rosa against the wishes of Nordhoff and presented as a fait accompli to Lotz. But there must be more to the story than that? The 100 was presented only three years after the F103, that’s pretty tight for developing a completely new car in secret? I’ve always thought that Kraus simply dusted off the W118/119, a project he himself had been working on during his tenure at DB, and updated it with a fresher look. Conceptually they are almost identical, and they share a slightly peculiar cab forward stance. Three years would’ve been enough updating the tech and tweaking the actual design to fit Audi instead of Mercedes.

  4. Great to re-read Sean’s excellent piece on the history of Audi, although I would be fascinated to know what he makes of the further evolution of the marque’s design in the intervening decade.

    As for Phil Collins, I really don’t understand the hate. I guess it’s because former Genesis fans see him as having ‘sold out’ to the commercial pop music industry in the 1980s. Well, maybe, but he wrote some brilliant pop songs and ‘Against All Odds’ is still one of my all-time favourites.

    I’ll get my coat… and tin hat…😁

  5. I was never a fan of Genesis, but Phil Collins could sing pretty-well for a drummer.

  6. Whenever I see an Audi, which is about every 10 yards these days, I look at all the gurning and folded paper side panels and wonder why they have to try so hard when they have nothing to prove. They were FWD from before Moses came back down the mountain but never considered weird in the way that Citroen or Issigonis cars were, they took an engine format that had defeated Rover and made it their engineering motif, then revived the concept of the Jenson FF and made it a car for the masses; well middle classes at least and then started building their biggest and smallest cars out of aluminium at a time when most of their peers were only using it for concept cars and rolling test beds.

    I suppose the current look/ attitude is a need for surface differentiation to set them apart from the various Rileys and Wolseleys that make up so much of the VW corporate stable. Oh, whoops, I got a bit confused there; easily done!

    Hasn’t Audi’s arc from thought provoking substance that not everyone wanted to contemplate, to surface bling being mirrored by a changing clientele? Eighties Audi drivers were creatives, employed as architects, ITV station execs or doing nebulous things in advertising and keen on pre-creased Armani suits. Or at least that is what we are encouraged to believe. Contemporary Audiists seem to have inherited the bad driver mantle that has been granted to them from BMW drivers via- very briefly- Alfa 156 owners (When I’m waiting to cross a road it’ll often be someone in a Beemer who stops to let me cross, this isn’t a new thing but it’s taking years for me to stop thinking of it as a novelty and that process still isn’t complete!). Historic “Audi man” would be who? The BBC’s Alan Yentob perhaps, or maybe Pompidou centre co-designer and silent River Café partner Richard Rogers? Current Audi man; hmm’n perhaps Andrew Tate. Incidentally when walking to my office in Leeds the other week I saw the now notorious defaced R8 belonging to that influencer/ crypto guru who left it parked in a side street overnight only to return and find that it had been graffiti’d to smithereens with manhood based comments (See Daily Mail/ the entire internet for more details). As it rumbled along Whitehall Road two Royal Mail blokes who were stood in a doorway sniggered and said “Has he done that himself?” Not, “He deserved it, the fool” or “Can’t afford a Lambo”, their first thoughts were that it was some self publicity double bluff. Interesting.

    Oh, yes, one more thing. Despite everything I’ve written since my first paragraph I would love an Audi if it could be a 1st gen A3, with three doors, narrow grill, telephone dial wheels with Audi nave plates and checked cloth seats. Quite lovely.

    1. Thanks for raising several smiles there Richard, starting with “gurning & folded paper side panels”. Good, too, to know that Leeds postmen haven’t lost their warped sense of humour. As for the transference of bad driver mantle, I detect a sign that BMW might have noticed and are thinking of abandoning the current aggressive loud-mouth gob look (see the i Vision Dee concept). And while Wolseley is now Chinese-owned, Riley is owned by BMW (likewise Triumph)…..

  7. That S6 looks magnificient, Sean! Perhaps it would be a good idea to show our rides some day.

    Interesting when you say
    “Having owned both my current Audi and a Mondeo V6 of the same vintage, I can testify that, if you stripped away the 4WD and that unique engine, the base 100/A6 of the mid 90s is a very ordinary thing dynamically compared to the Ford – not as sure footed, not as comfortable not as entertaining.”

    When I owned a C4 2.3E I drove a lot my uncle´s Mondeo mkI (sadly, the 1.8). The Audi understeered in any attempt of spirited driving, damping was too soft and in general the car disliked being pushed. The humble Mondeo had a much better chassis, being more neutral, comfortable and yes, the steering more talkative. But my 100 was such a dignified car, and so well built, I accepted its nature. (And one year and half later I replaced it with a Primera GT, its antithesis).

    Through the years Audis have been considered by the motoring press as “non-driver´s cars”, but the 95% of drivers only want a classy car to get from A to B and don´t have any remote clue of what “steering feel” is, so I suppose Audi is doing the right thing for their business.

    Let´s face it, driving pleasure doesn´t sell any more (perhaps it never sold), and with autonomous driving slowly coming to us, it will matter even less.

    1. To a large extent it depends on the roads you drive. For many in the UK, it is either stop-start traffic, multi-lane motorways, or two-way roads with solid white line and low posted speed limit.

  8. In many ways you can admire Audi’s engineers for the way they had sought to overcome the inherently poor engine placement.

    Personally I wonder what people think what they are getting with an Audi. They are all as dynamically inert as the other VAG offerings but with an angrier look and harder ride so as to feel “sportier”. The Quattro system adds a point of difference but quite why you would by a less comfortable Golf or whatever SUV I don’t know.

    As an example I know someome who loved their A4 estate but after a drive from West Wales to Cambridge would be tired and stiff. He tried a V70 and wass astonished to find he could conplete the trip and feel like he could turn around and do it again.

    They are, however, a brilliant example of branding and image over substance.

  9. I think there is some sort of consensus in identifying peak Audi roughly between 1994 and 2004. Aluminum spaceframes, clean designs, be it inspired by Bauhaus or not (thanks for the A8 D2 piece, Daniel), a premium hatchback that stole everybody’s thunder (the first A3) and that lovely little thing known as the A2.

    IMHO Audi was never seen as a “quirky” brand like Saab, old Citroën and Lancia from the pre-Fiat days because it always managed to look attached to Volkswagen’s fate (and some designs). One can easily see how similar the similarities between the 50 and the Polo Mk1 and the 80 and the Passat Mk1, but it’s hard to look at the BX and the 405 and realize that they share a platform (I had to check on Wikipedia what Peugeot was the BX’s mate).

    Heritage? Audi may be a daughter of DKW but apart from a few car geeks, no one in Brazil (where DKW had a strong presence in the 1960s, building cars here from 1960 to its takeover in 1967) knows about it.

    As for the FWD/RWD layouts, I have no problem with FWD in anything up to a base A6 but a FWD A8 doesn’t seem to distance itself enough from a Volkswagen (hello Phaeton).

    I would gladly take some of Audi’s current offerings, like an A4 Allroad, although an Octavia Scout seems to be the smart buy – similar size, beautiful design, and a good kit. Maybe if that sweet 5-pot from the RS3 gets mounted longitudinally in an S5 Sportback…

  10. ‘Cerebral doesn’t sell …’, and ain’t that a shame? Only Mazda still seems to think around solutions faced by every automotive producer, to the point of sheer bloody mindedness. Witness introducing a new 3.3L, in-line 6 diesel to the market this year, and a rotary range extender for it’s MX-30 EV. Bonkers!

    1. I just love Mazda’s philosophy of marginal gains and constant evolution, executed whilst they commit the bonkers list you mentioned. The soul red paint is the cherry on top.

  11. Maybe I got a hereditary damage because my grandfather from my mother’s side always had DKW 3=6 or 1000s and the rest of this side of family had a multitude of four ringed cars from DKW Junior or F12 to F102 and later F103 and F104 (100 C1) up to one of the first 80 B1.

    At least the Audis had a special charme and you could see why people bought them (F103 and F104 were roomy and comfortable travel companions with enormous boots and comfortable seats).
    This competely got lost with the cheap cardboard C2 which perfectly reflected the financial situation at VAG in general and at Audi in particular at that time. They needed years to create a decent product gain with the C4. I always wondered why it took them so long to get over the torsion crank rear suspension inherited from the DKW F102.

    I’m on my third Audi now and I needed some time to appreciate them.
    These cars were designed to travel long distances at supersonic speed on autobahns and for this they are near perfect. Even the wooden steering is good here which by the way doesn’t transmit much information but is precise to the millimetre and allows you to drive the car through roadworks without sweaty palms, quite the opposite of BMW’s offerings which often are a pain in tight environments because they’re so vague around the straight ahead.
    You can also keep your speed in crosswinds to which the older Audis were nearly immune. Perfect stability in high speed bends combined with low noise levels from slow revving big V6 diesels (220 kph at less than 4.000 rpm) makes them relaxing seven mile boots with very little stress for the driver (and a near 1.000 kilometre range from their large fuel tank).

    My current A4 B9 is a step in the wrong direction. It’s downright frightening in windy conditions, its electric power steering is Arcade-game light, the suspension is rock hard and the seats are awful. The worst surely is the shocking decline in product quality compared to my first one, an A4 B6 with vault-like material and build quality. The B9 shows signs of cost saving everywhere, even if it is a bit better than my interim B8 which surely must have been the low point in Audi quality since the Seventies.
    This plus the horrtible styling of current Audis surely would not make my buy one again.

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