The Truth About Cars » Quattro http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Mon, 20 Oct 2014 22:44:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Quattro http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Review: 2013 Audi S6 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/review-2013-audi-s6/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/review-2013-audi-s6/#comments Thu, 20 Jun 2013 13:00:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=492579 Audi first tossed us the keys to its S6 with the SuperBowl mega-ad “Prom”. Premise: dateless kid gets handed Dad’s super-sedan for the evening, kisses the prom queen, gets punched by the prom king, snorts around town with a big grin on his face. The message was clear: buy this car, put a little excitement […]

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Audi first tossed us the keys to its S6 with the SuperBowl mega-ad “Prom”. Premise: dateless kid gets handed Dad’s super-sedan for the evening, kisses the prom queen, gets punched by the prom king, snorts around town with a big grin on his face.

The message was clear: buy this car, put a little excitement in your life. What a load of cobblers.
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It’s a beautiful car though. To my mind, Audi does the whole kickboxer-in-a-suit best of ze German manufacturers. You could nearly call it subtle; all classed up in charcoal wool but with cauliflower ears of aluminum.

Of course, the grille looks just plain ridiculous with that mandatory front plate floating out there like the pricetag on a Marshall amp. Somebody in Ingolstadt is a big fan of the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15. Or basking sharks. Or venetian blinds. Or all three.

There’s something molluscan about those all-LED headlights as well. I like the lit-up eyeliner effect, but what with light-emitting-diodes glued on everything down to a Nissan Sentra (where they look like permanent Christmas lights in a trailer-park) it’s hardly a talking point anymore.
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Anyway, it’s a neat-looking car from the back, which is the view you’ll have of it if you’re driving anything short of a Shelby Mustang (or if Baruth’s giving you a lift in a rental Camry – wink). Mein Gott, this thing hauls keister!

Outfitted with the optional Bang and Olufsen stereo-system, twin NCC-1701 Enterprises deploy from the dashboard on startup, the better with which to bathe your ears in crappy high-compression MP3-quality audio. Choose a CD instead and the octave-spanning mitts of Sergei Rachmaninov might be dancing along the dash, or you could crank up the sat-radio and try to figure out what Nicki Minaj has against gardening implements.
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Quilted seats, brushed aluminum trim – why do people buy Bentleys again? Seriously. What a lovely place to slosh your internal organs around in. Sorry about the PR photo.

Previously, Audi’s all-weather M5-equivalent had two more cylinders and two fewer turbos. The V10 will be missed by some, but not by those who remember the less than stellar way it combined Lambo fuel consumption with limp-noodle torque. Think of it as a sort of LM002-equivalent: neither that Frankenstein’s -12 nor the Gallardo-sourced -10 were meant to be harnessed to such a heavy ox-cart.
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As luck would have it, I stepped right out of a 2004 RS6 into this modern twin-turbo Teuton and it’s basically the same car: a ridiculously complicated leather-and-steel straight-jacket with which to bind Newton’s laws and bend them to the driver’s will. It’s a Fifty Shades of Grey physics textbook.

With the new machine, you get a more-efficient 4.0L V8 fitted with forced induction – something Audi’s always done well – and despite only moderate peak torque gains over the old S6, the increase in forward shove is huge. 406lb/ft of shove slots in around 1400 rpm, and while your co-VP is still deciding between Sport and Sport+ in their M-car, you’ve simply wound up the snails to their full four hunnerd n’ twenny horses and walked outta there.
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The Audi is not without its own pre-flight checks, but simply flicking the selector into Dynamic should do the trick. The steering is artificially sweetened. The air-suspension prepares for attack. The somewhat-laggy dual-clutch transmission steps up the snap-downs. All this stuff will be broken four minutes after the warranty expires, so enjoy it while you can.

Ripping up a curving mountain road reveals a complete indifference for driver-based idiocy. You know the whole steering-wheel and accelerator pedal on a string Speed Secrets thing? The Audi takes the scissors to any thread of careful throttle management or unwinding at the apex – kill ‘em all and let God sort it out seems to be the order of the day. It’s a GT-R with two extra doors and a heritage of coil-pack failures.
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For me, that’s a problem. The heads-up-display ticks through the numbers with alarming rapidity, but there’s little to do besides steer left and right, or jam on the brakes when needed – these could stop whatever hyperbolic metaphor you prefer: a freight train, the Earth’s rotation, volcanic eruption, the tides, tectonic drift, space, time.

Here, crawling up into an altitude where wet snow still clings to the mountain like the “before” shot of a Head n’ Shoulders commercial, the big Audi’s poise is that of a show-shoed Siberian Tiger. A muted whuffling issues from quad exhausts like the warning cough of a big cat about to spring, and away it sleds again to hurtle back down the hill like an avalanche with heated seats.
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Fast? Oh yeah. But its only the king of the prom, and somewhere out there a guy in a BRZ just planted one on your girl. You can black his eye if you want – this thing can haul off and land a haymaker on pretty much anyone.

Poise, power, comfort, luxury, and the nagging sensation that someone out there is having more fun than you are. For a lot less.

Audi Canada provided the vehicle tested and insurance.

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Vellum Venom: 1986 Audi 4000 CS Quattro http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/11/vellum-venom-1986-audi-4000-cs-quattro/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/11/vellum-venom-1986-audi-4000-cs-quattro/#comments Thu, 22 Nov 2012 05:05:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=467568 Some designs are perfect in their initial run, others need a mid-cycle rethink to make ‘em sing. The 4000 is the latter: cost effectively ushering a new era of modern and luxurious Industrial Design for Audi.  I loved the styling, but a classmate at CCS showed me the light: he was an SCCA racer with […]

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Some designs are perfect in their initial run, others need a mid-cycle rethink to make ‘em sing. The 4000 is the latter: cost effectively ushering a new era of modern and luxurious Industrial Design for Audi.  I loved the styling, but a classmate at CCS showed me the light: he was an SCCA racer with a similar CS Quattro in the dorm’s parking lot. And while CCS was a total bummer at times, we enjoyed the 4000 in the horrible winter weather around Metro Detroit. Especially at one of our favorite hangouts: Belle Isle.  At night. In a 4000 CS Quattro. Oh hell yes.

 

Belle Isle sans sunlight is a scary place for most Detroiters, but many a CCS student knew this was the place to enjoy your machine.  But those days are gone, and I believe the 4000 CS Quattro that I adored found a new owner in Denver about 8 years ago.  Perhaps Murilee will see it soon in the junkyard.

Now this particular 4000 belongs to the somewhat-famous Tony Hoffman, a true genius when it comes to anything VAG related. It is his daily driver, and it shows.  In a good way, check out those factory looking driving lights in the grille.  Problem is, those aren’t factory. But you can still see the new 4000’s nicer bumper, made from fewer offending parts compared to the original 4000.  And the Euro-like headlights that finally made it into production!  It’s a big change from the last 4000 in this series.

 

Oops, missing reflectors in the bumper, too. But you can see the Audi 5000’s design DNA in the lights and bumpers, even if this isn’t the clean sheet re-think like the flagship Audi. The execution of Audi’s future design elements to its current platform were done fantastically well.

 

Okay, maybe those driving lights don’t look factory at all.  And maybe they make the Audi logo look like a kid that just bought a certain mouse-like hat at Disneyland. But the smooth bumper finally lets the 4000’s clean lines shine.  I love how the fender, hood, signal lights and headlights all share common cut lines. And how the bumper’s curvature matches that of the hood.

 

Trying to look like the big brother 5000, this 4000 is certainly a serious entry into the mid-luxury Yuppie market of the 1980s.  Wrap around lights that match the bumper curve for curve? Check.  All front end lines share the same vanishing point?  Check. Too bad the lower light/grille trim is missing, but sometimes I must photograph whatever comes my way.

 

Unlike the previous 4000’s Tupperware trimmings, this upper bumper trim is a small aluminum strip. And while the connection points are a little crude by today’s standards, this is a wonderful upgrade.

 

And no center trim buckle here!  Big step up from the original 4000.

 

I still feel the front end is too thick, static and stodgy from this angle.  If only there was more taper up front so the fender would look “faster” from front to back.

 

Still an odd mis-mash of seams, but the 4000 was not designed with an Audi 5000 budget in mind.

 

The front end’s taper looks better from here.  Perhaps the hard-line in the fender (by the hood and up against the headlights) is the only static part that “slows” down the package. And the bumper’s side protection finally looks like a proper Yuppiemobile. Integration at its finest, topped with a layer of aluminum icing.

 

And the superior bumper-age of the redesigned 4000 continues to the upscale side protection.  Very clean, very Audi and very 1980s.

 

Yes Tony’s car is rough around the edges.  But the wedgy edges of this fantastic design remain.  Compared to the original 4000’s comprised mouldings, these are superior for many reasons.  One: fancy Audi emblem, instead of a plastic casting.  Two: they cover the lumpy sheetmetal bend and smooth out the lower half of the body, while the older model’s trim was slapped on below the bend.  Three: the negative area for the door moulding to clear the fender is almost invisible. Four: more snazzy aluminum trim.

 

Okay, perhaps the mouldings are a little too shallow: witness the exposed sheet metal on the doors.  But this certainly helps remove the negative area’s bulk on the rubber, and this is still a huge improvement over the outgoing 4000.

 

Yes, these mouldings are a work of art on a rather unappealing bend.  All of a sudden, form and function meet, fall in love and get married.

 

The lower trim panel integrates all of the body’s elements into a nice foundation to hug the earth.

 

Step back and see what I’m talkin’ about.  With the 4000’s redesign, the whole becomes more integrated, focused on the taut lines of the midsection.  Smooth bumpers keep you away from the corners and the strong horizontal lines in the midsection (mouldings) accentuate the harmony and cleanliness of the aerodynamic wedge styling that was so common in high-class vehicles of the 1980s.

 

Yes, 4000’s refinement is present: an executive sedan if you want the finer things in life without trying too hard (Mercedes, BMW), without being stodgy (Cadillac and Lincoln) and without being screwball weird (SAAB, Volvo).  All lines are in harmony, all in the right place.

Man, what an amazing piece of work for a mid-cycle refresh.

 

Now perhaps the moulding is too thick for such a small and tall platform.  It does take away from the clean door cutlines and flowing DLO of the Hofmeister Kink-infused greenhouse. But the moulding’s proportioning is respectful to the rest of the package, so it works.

 

The front doors are vent window free, unlike most of the earlier 4000s (except for the LE model reviewed last time).  So the look is far cleaner, thanks to one less static line thrown into the mix.

 

While I love “quattro” props as much as the other guy, this one gets too close to the edges of the glass.  I’d shrink it down a good inch or so.  No need to overdo it, we all know that Quattro Audis totally rock.

 

Such a clean door cut line.  Such an open and exciting greenhouse.  Exciting?  Well, perhaps I’ve been punished by too many Chrysler 300s…and 300 wannabes.

 

And the rear bumper!  Oh my!  So clean and so elegant.  We gotta do something about Tony’s love of Audi decals, but the redesigned tail lights and that bumper clean up the 4000, taking it to a new level of snobbery.

 

There’s a strong sense of Audi 5000 here.  And it gets better the farther you go ’round back.

 

 

This isn’t the only 4000 that cracks the (non-functional) lense in this spot. One of my first H-town junkyard trips after I left CCS was to get a replacement for my buddy’s 4000 back in Detroit.  Like most modern/minimalistic art, cars from the 1980s let pure design elements take up a lot of real estate.  Clownish license plate chrome mustaches would be laughed out of town, as lighting pods get center stage.  Think new Dodge Charger, for example.

 

While this treatment looked far more elegant on the larger 5000, these lights filled up a lot of undefined space from the old 4000.  And that undefined sheet metal clouded the purity of this body’s design.  Clear, logical and minimalistic lenses were a great upgrade.

 

This looks like a far, far more expensive car than the original 4000.

 

Just because the lights are minimal does NOT mean they are simple.  Look at the casting work involved to flush them against the license plate.  This couldn’t be cheap back in the days of Atari 2600 technology. Plus, it’s lovely.

 

And the “quattro” badge reminds all why something this beautiful costs more than a, uh, Honda Accord?

 

Just like the outgoing 4000, the spoiler is too big in some places. Thin it out so the trunk lock won’t mess up the vibe.

 

Just like the front, there’s a modest meeting point for the aluminum trim.  Safe!

 

Even from down here, the bumpers are a HUGE improvement. The clean and organized plastic works well to let the lighting pods shine, so to speak.  Modern art on wheels, for the win.

 

“Quattro” lettering in the rear window defogger?  Not only is it nicely proportioned with the rest of the glass, it’s a somewhat subtle nod to why Audi’s are different/better than other European marques. If you disagree, fair enough. But I counter with today’s fake fender chrome/vents…and Audi’s lack of bandwagon jumping.

 

So don’t mess with this guy, he might be crazy enough to know what he’s doing.

When Sajeev the TTAC autojourno turns into the Indian Heritage Wearing Judge in the 24 Hours of LeMons, Tony gives me the keys to this Audi 4000 CS Quattro so I can quickly lay the hurt down on cheaty racers. This car is a joy to behold and drive. Stylistically it’s very crude compared to the Audi 5000, but it promises the same thrills of the honest and entertaining mechanicals underneath.

Happy Thanksgiving from “Indian Judge” Sajeev, and I hope you have a lovely weekend.

 

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Vellum Venom: 1984 Audi 4000 LE http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/11/vellum-venom-1984-audi-4000-le/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/11/vellum-venom-1984-audi-4000-le/#comments Mon, 12 Nov 2012 12:07:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=466519   One of my Automotive Design teachers at CCS made us take a personality test to determine our strengths(?) as a designer.  It was beyond stupid, or so I thought. To wit, a (paraphrased) question: do you collect old things?  The answer was supposedly neutral: no matter what you answered on this query, your overall […]

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One of my Automotive Design teachers at CCS made us take a personality test to determine our strengths(?) as a designer.  It was beyond stupid, or so I thought. To wit, a (paraphrased) question: do you collect old things?  The answer was supposedly neutral: no matter what you answered on this query, your overall score didn’t change.

Which is a total crock. The history of design is so very important, especially for a powerhouse like Audi. Please!

The Audi 4000 signified the impending maturity of the Audi brand in the USA. This is a design that was the harbinger of better things to come: mass appeal with aspirational appeal.  It was seen in the Audi 5000, but that’s for another day. The 1984 Audi 4000 LE is a particularly perfect example of the breed, based on rarity (less than 400 made) alone.  Add the fact that this vehicle’s owner is our own Captain Mike Solo, who visited me in Houston to pick up his impressive 4000 LE a couple of weeks ago.

Now let’s be clear on one thing: like most European iron from this era, the 4000 was a somewhat horrible bastard compared to its homemarket offering.  The Euro 4000 (called the Audi 80) wasn’t handicapped by this battering ram bumper. The nose is overly static thanks to it and the US-spec headlights drowning out the clean lines of the upper half of the fascia.

While styled by the great Giugiaro himself, he did a far better job a couple of years later making the Hyundai Excel‘s bumpers. Perhaps VW was responsible for the US-spec bumpers, and if so, my apologizes to Mr. G and his studio.

Audi fanatics shall note that the LE was front-wheel drive , but there’s a Quattro badge on the grille!  Captain Mike’s LE had front end damage, so this isn’t the original grille.  (The emblem pops off, if you really give a crap about that.)

The quad headlights look a little sleeker from the side, sunken in with a wraparound trim cover and integral reflector. And while that bumper is all kinds of big compared to the Euro 80, let’s not forget that Lincoln loving fools like yours truly sported some seriously scary battering rams on their late-70s Disco Iron.  The point: these bumpers were here for a damn good reason.

Even better, the prodigious lower valance does a good job taking your eyes away from the large bumper.  The overall look is clean, but composed of far too many pieces.

Okay, the headlights look much better from here.  But my beef of too many parts to make the whole is coming to light: the trim between the headlights and bumper exists for…what reason?The extra filler panel abruptly ends with the marker light, adding an unfortunate layer to the already huge bumper.

Is this a Renault Alliance or an Audi 4000?  There’s a reason why people can still lust after aspirational American Iron of this era: they were about the same price, and they looked like a million bucks.  A million tacky and tasteless bucks, but whatever…peep the one piece bumper of the 1980 Ford Thunderbird: hideous car, awesome bumper.

Audi wasn’t on their game just yet, unless you were looking at the Audi 5000 waiting in the wings.

The four rings are a classic design element, and isn’t it such a lovely logo on such a small grille?  Too bad about that center trim thingie!

Too bad this couldn’t be a one piece affair.  Perhaps VW didn’t have the budget to make a fancy hunk of plastic only for America?

Too many parts, too many ways to weather in the Texas sun.  A big gap near my finger, an overlapping trim piece to the left.  The team involved in the US-Federalization of the Audi 80 can’t be thrilled with the end result in the 4000.

As you turn away from the 4000’s US-spec design, the clarity of the Audi 80’s DNA starts to show.  The side marker light is too close to the fender’s subtle crease, but at least it’s a slick affair with no exposed screws.

Like a balding forehead, the upper half of the fender is too thick and static, too Datsun Maxima.  A little less sheet metal above the headlights (ramp up) would make the front a little sleeker and “speed up” the lines as the fenders go to the A-pillar.

The thinner fender at the front wouldn’t change things here, but the overall effect would be far sleeker. Also note the interesting cut line of the fender into space normally reserved for the cowl: this also helps speed up the look.

That cut line made no sense in the last photo, but here you see it blend into the base of the greenhouse’s DLO, where the side view mirror starts the rest of the design.  Logical!

When is the last time you saw a near-luxury car with exposed wiper arms?  Times have changed, for the better.

Go a little lower and examine the bodyside molding, note the large negative area needed for the rubber to clear the path of an opening door: while this is a design pet peeve of mine, the cute Audi logo cast into the space is pretty cool.  The bigger problem?  The molding doesn’t blend into the crease directly above, it adds unnecessary visual bulk by not playing nice with the sheet metal.

Yup, premium imported vehicles have come a loooong way!

Today we hate the hideous black plastic triangle of DLO fail…but the Audi 4000’s black paint doesn’t look much classier.  Why not make an integrated sideview mirror casting to eliminate this waste of space?

Step back. That’s better. The 4000’s greenhouse is large, airy and chock full of glass.  The LE went a step further, eliminating the vent windows on the front doors.  It looks fantastic, also being a hat tip to the redesigned 4000 arriving shortly. The extra window in the C-pillar isn’t a cheap addition, and the contours of the sheet metal below give the impression of more tumblehome to the roof. Epic.

The 4000 is quite a looker from here.  Long hood, short deck and a wide open greenhouse. It looks efficient and sporty.  The C-pillar is fast, but not idiotically so. The decklid’s downward taper is delicious. While Audi’s clean DNA isn’t entirely present, this is definitely not Detroit Iron…and has more logical lines and crisp contours compared to its Japanese wannabe-competitors. Slam dunk win.

Did I mention “crisp contours”?  Note the four bends in the side of the 4000’s profile.  It’s not busy, and adds style without bulk and fuss.

I really like the slender black plastic door pulls with modest chrome overlays, especially since the negative area behind them is logical, not drawing attention to itself. (I’m looking at you, Toyota Venza) And the little release lever behind the slab of plastic is pretty slick.

Until Mike informed me that these release levers break at an alarming rate.  So much for beauty and durability going hand in hand.

Look at the size of that greenhouse!  What I wouldn’t do to see such a fine ratio of glass-to-metal, and for a clean cut line between the rear door and the fender. Everything is in its right place, logically.

The recessed rim is quite a looker too.

The BMW-like Hofmeister kink in the quarter window is a nice touch, sure to upset fans of the Roundel to no end! The horizontal trim bit at the base of the C-pillar upsets me. Was there a vinyl top option I’m not aware of?

While nobody loves black plastic triangles, this one serves a purpose (rear glass movement) and has nothing to do with DLO fail. Win.

This rain gutter is such a period piece, but it’s well-integrated. I wish the front bumper was this slick. Epic win.

Clean, trim and efficient.  The rear bumper has the same deadly sins of the front, but to a lesser extent.  Maybe because there’s an offset bulky spoiler on the deck lid?

A functional gas cap with finger assist (so to speak) and a symmetrical design that isn’t smeared on one of the 4000’s many body creases. Nice.

Tumblehome aplenty.  Me likey. A lot.

I’d still like to know why this trim piece at the base of the C-pillar needs to exist.  My cockamamie vinyl top notion makes sense from this angle!

Walk up, check out those cool halo headrests for rear passengers.  Very upmarket!  And if you want to complain about the aforementioned Hofmeister kink, Captain Mike has a Complaint Department ready to “handle” your concerns.

Yes ladies, he’s single!

Back to the bumper. Just like the front, that intermediate piece between the bumper and the body isn’t an elegant solution.  I know Audi was trying to eliminate the “shelf” appearance of most big bumper’d cars from this era, but this isn’t working.  The intermediate piece’s abrupt ending looks cheap, fading to bumper level as it reaches the rear wheels would have been marginally better.  Better still, stick with the conventional bumper “shelf”.

I do like how the crease ends into nothingness before the tail light.  I just wish the amber portion of the lense used that as a start/end point.

Then again, the 50/50 distribution of amber and red looks better here.

The 4000’s butt is a bit rounder than the front.  The curvy lights give surface tension to the design, even if it’s too VW-like for my tastes. The 4000’s redesign fixed that “problem”.

Like the front end’s significant valence, the rear end’s use of body color paint below the bumper helps lean out the package.

The spoiler is a nice “cap” to the decklid, tucking around the emblems and adding a new element to a somewhat mundane rear end. From this angle it looks like a perfectly curved baseball cap on the chiseled face of a perfectly wealthy baseball player.

Too bad the spoiler is too thick for the trunk lock.  Price point be damned, the 4000 is still a small car, the spoiler needs a bit more whimsy and lightheartedness to really be a part of the whole package.

These exposed license plate lights aren’t exactly the stuff of Yuppie fantasy, but at least you don’t see any exposed screws. And the lense is nicely frenched in.  While the 4000 is a nice piece, consider it as one of the vehicles that ushered decades of unquestionable design authority from Audi. Everyone starts somewhere, and this is a damn good place to start.

And that’s the real story here.

But still: my, what a big…bumper you have!  Thanks for reading and have a fantastic week!

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Junkyard Find: 1989 Audi 200 Quattro Turbo http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/junkyard-find-1989-audi-200-quattro-turbo/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/junkyard-find-1989-audi-200-quattro-turbo/#comments Thu, 04 Oct 2012 13:00:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=462648 The 1984 Audi 5000 Junkyard Find reminded us about the nightmare faced by Audi after 60 Minutes framed the 5000 as a an unintended accelerator in 1986. Audi sales took a real beating in the late 1980s, but some 5000s (renamed the 200 in an attempt to banish the stigma of a car whose greatest […]

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The 1984 Audi 5000 Junkyard Find reminded us about the nightmare faced by Audi after 60 Minutes framed the 5000 as a an unintended accelerator in 1986. Audi sales took a real beating in the late 1980s, but some 5000s (renamed the 200 in an attempt to banish the stigma of a car whose greatest sin was the proximity of the brake pedal to the gas pedal) were bought in 1989. Here’s an optioned-up example that I found in the same Denver junkyard as the ’84.
You didn’t have a lot of options for all-wheel-drive sedans in the late 1980s; the AMC Eagle’s last year was 1987, Subarus were still primitive and cramped, the BMW 325iX made no sense, and Camry shoppers fell asleep before the salesman could even show them the All-Trac version. The 200 Quattro, on the other hand, just glowed with technological complexity sophistication, and it was big and comfortable.
I might need to go back and get this cool DIFF controller switch.
162 horsepower from a turbocharged five-banger mounted way forward in the engine compartment.
The best part is that you could get this car with a 5-speed.
Just 120,146 miles on this one. The interior is very nice, too; it looks like a single fender-bender that banged up a few body panels doomed this car to the automotive equivalent of the glue factory.

24 - 1989 Audi 200 Quattro Turbo Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee 'Unintended Acceleration' Martin 01 - 1989 Audi 200 Quattro Turbo Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee 'Unintended Acceleration' Martin 02 - 1989 Audi 200 Quattro Turbo Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee 'Unintended Acceleration' Martin 03 - 1989 Audi 200 Quattro Turbo Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee 'Unintended Acceleration' Martin 04 - 1989 Audi 200 Quattro Turbo Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee 'Unintended Acceleration' Martin 05 - 1989 Audi 200 Quattro Turbo Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee 'Unintended Acceleration' Martin 06 - 1989 Audi 200 Quattro Turbo Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee 'Unintended Acceleration' Martin 07 - 1989 Audi 200 Quattro Turbo Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee 'Unintended Acceleration' Martin 08 - 1989 Audi 200 Quattro Turbo Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee 'Unintended Acceleration' Martin 09 - 1989 Audi 200 Quattro Turbo Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee 'Unintended Acceleration' Martin 10 - 1989 Audi 200 Quattro Turbo Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee 'Unintended Acceleration' Martin 11 - 1989 Audi 200 Quattro Turbo Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee 'Unintended Acceleration' Martin 12 - 1989 Audi 200 Quattro Turbo Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee 'Unintended Acceleration' Martin 13 - 1989 Audi 200 Quattro Turbo Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee 'Unintended Acceleration' Martin 14 - 1989 Audi 200 Quattro Turbo Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee 'Unintended Acceleration' Martin 15 - 1989 Audi 200 Quattro Turbo Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee 'Unintended Acceleration' Martin 16 - 1989 Audi 200 Quattro Turbo Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee 'Unintended Acceleration' Martin 17 - 1989 Audi 200 Quattro Turbo Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee 'Unintended Acceleration' Martin 18 - 1989 Audi 200 Quattro Turbo Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee 'Unintended Acceleration' Martin 19 - 1989 Audi 200 Quattro Turbo Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee 'Unintended Acceleration' Martin 20 - 1989 Audi 200 Quattro Turbo Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee 'Unintended Acceleration' Martin 21 - 1989 Audi 200 Quattro Turbo Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee 'Unintended Acceleration' Martin 22 - 1989 Audi 200 Quattro Turbo Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee 'Unintended Acceleration' Martin 23 - 1989 Audi 200 Quattro Turbo Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee 'Unintended Acceleration' Martin Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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Junkyard Find: 1988 Volkswagen Quantum Syncro Wagon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/junkyard-find-1988-volkswagen-quantum-syncro-wagon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/junkyard-find-1988-volkswagen-quantum-syncro-wagon/#comments Thu, 13 Sep 2012 13:00:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=460100 Because I have some friends who race a Quantum Syncro, I’ve been keeping my eyes open for junkyard parts sources. After several years (including two of them in a state that has more weird four-wheel-drive vehicles than any other), I’ve finally found one! Most Volkswagens, Audis, and Volkswagen-Audi mashups that you see in the junkyard […]

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Because I have some friends who race a Quantum Syncro, I’ve been keeping my eyes open for junkyard parts sources. After several years (including two of them in a state that has more weird four-wheel-drive vehicles than any other), I’ve finally found one!
Most Volkswagens, Audis, and Volkswagen-Audi mashups that you see in the junkyard show fewer than 200,000 miles on the clock. Not this car! 301,533 miles.
Judging from the bodywork and not-particularly-thrashed interior, someone loved this car enough to keep it in fairly presentable shape for decades.
The Quantum name was used for the North American-market Passat during the 1980s, and the Syncro used the drivetrain from the Audi 80 Quattro. When I called the team captain of the Chicken & Waffles 24 Hours of LeMons Quantum Syncro, he said he didn’t need any parts because the team is building a new car. That means what may be the only Quantum Syncro race car in America is being retired.
17 - 1988 Volkswagen Quantum Syncro Down On The Junkyard - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 01 - 1988 Volkswagen Quantum Syncro Down On The Junkyard - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1988 Volkswagen Quantum Syncro Down On The Junkyard - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1988 Volkswagen Quantum Syncro Down On The Junkyard - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1988 Volkswagen Quantum Syncro Down On The Junkyard - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1988 Volkswagen Quantum Syncro Down On The Junkyard - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1988 Volkswagen Quantum Syncro Down On The Junkyard - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1988 Volkswagen Quantum Syncro Down On The Junkyard - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1988 Volkswagen Quantum Syncro Down On The Junkyard - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1988 Volkswagen Quantum Syncro Down On The Junkyard - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1988 Volkswagen Quantum Syncro Down On The Junkyard - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1988 Volkswagen Quantum Syncro Down On The Junkyard - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1988 Volkswagen Quantum Syncro Down On The Junkyard - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1988 Volkswagen Quantum Syncro Down On The Junkyard - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1988 Volkswagen Quantum Syncro Down On The Junkyard - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1988 Volkswagen Quantum Syncro Down On The Junkyard - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1988 Volkswagen Quantum Syncro Down On The Junkyard - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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New or Used: Audi Syndrome? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/12/new-or-used-audi-syndrome-2/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/12/new-or-used-audi-syndrome-2/#comments Thu, 08 Dec 2011 20:34:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=421790   Kevin writes: Sajeev and Steve: I am currently cruising through all four Canadian seasons in my 2008 6MT Audi S5.  Could be worse, I know.  The car is owned by Audi Finance, and apparently they want it back at the end of November – something about the lease term coming to an end.  As of late, […]

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Kevin writes:

Sajeev and Steve:

I am currently cruising through all four Canadian seasons in my 2008 6MT Audi S5.  Could be worse, I know.  The car is owned by Audi Finance, and apparently they want it back at the end of November – something about the lease term coming to an end.  As of late, conversations about the S5 have gone something like this:

Q1. Do you like it?
A1. Unequivocally!  It’s amazing.

Q2. Are you going to buy it out or extend the lease?
A2. Absof@!%inglutely not.

Q3. Why not – you just said you loved it?!
A3. True, but it’s a constant reminder of the adages (i) never buy a first year vehicle (ii) never lease a car out of warranty and (iii) someone, somewhere, is tired of her sh!t.  Well, maybe just the first two.

The car itself is amazing to drive in any conditions on any road – almost too good.  It’s very, very fast, comfortable, handles beautifully (with the usual Quattro understeer), beautiful to look at, has rear view camera, parking sensors, iPod integration, heated seats, bluetooth, navigation, B&O sound system, etc.  I’ve had it at the track a number of times, drive it to work in traffic every day and have dedicated rims and brilliant snow tires for winter (making snow and ice something to smile about).  The trunk is massive; I have taken two other people and all our ski and snowboard gear to Blue Mountain, and often take a passenger and two full hockey bags two the rink once a week.  Hell, I have even managed to escape the concentric circle of hell that is IKEA with a twin mattress in the back and still been able to see out the back window.  For some inexplicable reason, I still hand wash it and park it far away from anything or anybody; it looks and drives like it’s brand new.

That said, it also has had at least $5000 worth of work done to it under warranty, including new front control arms, an entire new clutch assembly and master slave cylinder, new blower motor and fan and new window regulator.  On top of the repairs, the 4.2L V8 is a very thirsty beast and it costs a second king’s ransom to lease and insure every month.

So – the question isn’t whether or not to buy it out or extend the lease.  I won’t own this car one second out of warranty and I don’t see any point extending the lease on a 2008 when you can spend the same money leasing a newer model.

The question is – where do I go from here?  November isn’t exactly the best time to be putting a new car on the road in this part of the world.  Hell, I’m not even close to being convinced that I want a brand new car.  This was my first new, never driven by anyone else, vehicle.  Definitely the nicest car I’ve ever owned as well. I previously had a nice 2004 Infiniti G35 I picked up off of Leasebusters after some chump put $7000 down, didn’t drive it and then walked away.  Prior to that I had a well used Integra that simply wouldn’t die no matter how much it was abused. Previous rides are of varying levels of embarrassment and, for that matter alone, deemed irrelevant.

What else has the style, handling and versatility of the S5?  I’ve toyed with the idea of a GT-R, but those things are now almost $130K here (taxes in).  I am going to have a hard time justifying spending $100K on anything given the (i) state of the roads (i) lack of parking lot manners (iii) inadequacy of driver training and (iv) lack of traffic violation enforcement for anything other than speeding in a straight line on an empty road.

Do I insist on AWD?  I think it’s brilliant. especially after driving the G35 (not to mention having to dig it out of the driveway numerous times).  Do I suck it up, put on my big boy pants and get a 9114S?  Do I buy a winter AWD vehicle like a used FJ Cruiser and then look for a three season, perfectly balanced, gently used and good for the occasional track day, as yet to be determined, second car?  I find myself looking at 993 Turbos online fairly often.

This isn’t about money.  It is, however, about smart money.  I’m barely over 40, gainfully employed, have my own hair and am financially secure.  That said, I don’t need a bright orange lambo in the driveway in order to impress the neighbours, the ladies or both.

Steve Answers:

I see you are suffering from Audi syndrome. Symptoms include but not limited to…
  1. Bitching about the lack of reliability.
  2. Bitching about the cost of repair.
  3. Delusions of grandeur involving even more expensive vehicles… all of which have abysmal ownership costs.
  4. Inability to perform simple addition
  5. Bitching, bitching, moaning, whining, and even more bitching!
So let’s get to the point…do you like the car?
If so then keep it. The maintenance costs will likely cost less than the monthly payment. Plus if we’re talking about ‘smart money’ then leasing should be as far away from your vocabulary as Mercury is from Pluto.

I would look at lowering the overall costs by opting for a good independent shop that specializes in Audis. Subscribe to a few forums that are Audi-centric. Figure out what parts companies offer high quality replacements for the lackluster and under-engineered components… and have at it.

Sajeev Answers:

Wow, that’s a nice list of things to fix under warranty! You and Jack Baruth can trade war stories on your S5 mechanical woes, except he dumped the green monster pictured above.  He wisely moved onwards and upwards to Panther Love…via Lincoln Town Car Signature Limited, son! (HINT- HINT)

We all know that modern German cars are absolute crap relative to their Japanese and American counterparts.  Fine.  But I am still dumbfounded as to why modern German cars eat through control arms in the infancy of their lives. Two Benzes in the Mehta family, a friend’s BMW, another friend’s VW, and your Audi. And here I was bitching because the complex suspension in my Lincoln Mark VIII needed a full rebuild after 10 years and 130,000 miles on the road!

Short answer? Just lease another Audi. You need them, and I don’t know if a BMW will charm you enough to justify jumping ship. I suspect your gut is telling you the same thing, especially if you love AWD as much as I envision.

As to your reference of smart money?  Join me in the ranks of stupid cheap Ford Ranger/Toyota Tacoma ownership, but go ahead and spring for a 4×4. Keepin’ it too real?  Stick with the four ring brand, and buy according to your pocketbook and what has the sweetest lease deals at the time of your visit to the dealership.

 

Need help with a car buying conundrum? Email your particulars to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com , and let TTAC’s collective wisdom make the decision easier… or possibly much, much harder.

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TTAC Project Car: My Substitute for Love http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/10/ttac-project-car-my-substitute-for-love/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/10/ttac-project-car-my-substitute-for-love/#comments Mon, 17 Oct 2011 19:43:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=414960   It’s been a while since you’ve heard about our project car’s voyage, unfortunately not much has happened.  Our man in Germany, USAF Captain Mike Solowiow, is busy saving the world…meaning our Sierra sits and waits for a shipping container to finish the journey to America. Too bad the Sierra is no longer mobile.  Because […]

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It’s been a while since you’ve heard about our project car’s voyage, unfortunately not much has happened.  Our man in Germany, USAF Captain Mike Solowiow, is busy saving the world…meaning our Sierra sits and waits for a shipping container to finish the journey to America.

Too bad the Sierra is no longer mobile.  Because its UK road tax expired, Mike cannot legally insure it.  Therefore, no more photos like the one above.  That’s right, the Sierra got its Nürburgring cherry popped! In his spare time, Mike is an instructor (yes, really) at this famous road course, so he can probably get away with such actions with minimal detriment to his “car guy” credibility.  So the Sierra sits and waits on a gravel parking spot at the base of the Castle Nurburg…but luckily for me, I have a plan to get him motivated to take action.

Because I have one of Mike’s babies, check out his personal Audi 4000!  How did this happen?

Tony Hoffman, our mutual friend and gifted VW-Audi tech, regularly helps me out at the Houston runnings of the 24 Hours of LeMons.  When I realized the extent of Tony’s Audi connections…including Capt. Mike’s friendship…I asked for a huge favor. I wanted Mike’s Audi 4000 as a LeMons Judgemobile.

Tony happily fulfilled my request.

Sure, Mike has my Ford Sierra, but I get his Audi 4000 as collateral! And while this 4000’s smooth brown cloth interior is a fair trade from the Sierra (Ghia) Chatsworth chocolate velour, my “collateral” needs a fair bit of work to be driven regularly.  So, much like Mike’s German-UK predicament, I shall refrain from driving his car.


But seriously, even though this vehicle’s cosmetics aren’t there, the proof is beyond the pictures:  4000’s are such great drivers!  Sure they aren’t/weren’t terribly easy/cheap to work on, they might have been even worse than any other sedan of its size, but the little Quattro has a tight feel and a sporty demeanor I wish we could see again in a production vehicle.  Well, maybe the modern turbo Subies are close enough for some people…

And have a look at center stack: a minimalist flat black affair with cool lights on the differential locks? Epic win! How do you feel about Audi’s MMI system now, people?

I especially like the name tag above the HVAC controls.  This solves a big problem of mine, chronically neglected in most vehicles.  Now I will never forget what I am driving!

Take your time with the Sierra, Capt. Mike, I’ll keep your 4000 in the meantime. Muhahahahahaha!

IMG_4348 IMG_4349 IMG_4350 IMG_4351 IMG_4353 IMG_4354 IMG_4355 IMG_4356 IMG_4357 IMG_4358 IMG_4359 On the Ring! IMG_4352 Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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Quote Of The Day: Ugly Is As Ugly Does Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/11/quote-of-the-day-ugly-is-as-ugly-does-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/11/quote-of-the-day-ugly-is-as-ugly-does-edition/#comments Wed, 24 Nov 2010 16:43:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=374227 Although it did what it needed to do, it looks awful Peter Birtwhistle, designer of the legendary short-wheelbase Audi Sport Quattro (above), tells Autocar what he really thinks about its design… and just in time for Audi to announce that its Ur Quattro-inspired Quattro Concept will be built in limited numbers. Birtwhistle explains that the […]

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Although it did what it needed to do, it looks awful

Peter Birtwhistle, designer of the legendary short-wheelbase Audi Sport Quattro (above), tells Autocar what he really thinks about its design… and just in time for Audi to announce that its Ur Quattro-inspired Quattro Concept will be built in limited numbers. Birtwhistle explains that the real cause for Ur-ugliness was “stretching the Quattro look over [the shorter Audi 80 platform],” a challenge that also echoes with the Quattro Concept, which slaps retro design elements on a short-wheelbase version of the handsome RS5. As a result, the Quattro Concept looks every bit as awkward and disjointed as the Sport Quattro, with just a touch of Camaro-esque retro-self-consciousness. But as Birtwhistle’s line reminds us, sometimes ugly is the best way to emphasize purpose.

Audi quattro concept 6 Audi quattro concept 2 Audi quattro concept/Standaufnahme Audi quattro concept/Standaufnahme Audi quattro concept 15 Audi quattro concept 20 Audi quattro concept 16 Audi quattro concept/Standaufnahme Who you calling ugly? Who you calling ugly?

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Review: 2010 Audi Q7 TDI http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/07/review-2010-audi-q7-tdi/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/07/review-2010-audi-q7-tdi/#comments Fri, 24 Jul 2009 14:15:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=323926

One of the enduring lessons of the car game is that good vehicles don't always sell well. As a car writer who took on news analysis before ever getting manufacturer-sponsored time behind the wheel, this lesson can't help but tinge my impressions of a road test. So when my first weeklong tester arrived in the form of a Q7 TDI, I felt no desire to justify Audi's decision to bring the thing to market. After all, by any reasonable analysis, the brand built by Quattro wagons should have been the primary beneficiary of America's SUV craze. Or, at least its worst enemy. Instead the Q7 showed up for the party fashionably dressed but fashionably late. And very few wanted to buy it. With the high price of luxo ute party fuel already killing the festive vibes, is switching to a new drink enough to make Audi's SUV sales party like its 1999?

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One of the enduring lessons of the car game is that good vehicles don’t always sell well. As a car writer who took on news analysis before ever getting manufacturer-sponsored time behind the wheel, this lesson can’t help but tinge my impressions of a road test. So when my first week-long-test vehicle arrived in the form of a Q7 TDI, I felt no desire to justify Audi’s decision to bring the thing to market. After all, by any reasonable analysis, the brand built by Quattro wagons should have been the primary beneficiary of America’s SUV craze. Or at least, its worst enemy. Instead the Q7 showed up for the party fashionably dressed but fashionably late. And very few wanted to buy it. With the high price of luxo ute party fuel already killing the festive vibes, is switching to a new drink enough to make Audi’s SUV sales party like it’s 1999?

On its face, diesel is the least sexy non-gasoline fuel out there. Sure, it’s packed with hydrocarbons and, sure, biodiesel has a certain following, but the American experience with diesel has not been a love-in. Even for those of us who are young enough not to remember the bad old diesels of the last energy crisis, oil burners bring up bad memories.

The most common impression is of full-on sensory assault: sitting at a stoplight while the jackhammer idle of a Cummins-powered Ram rises to a ground-shaking roar, having your hair blown back by an apocalyptic cloud of sooty smoke exhaled from howitzer-sized exhaust. In short, not the kind of impression one likes to leave with observers of ones expensive German chariot.

If you’re a diesel aficionado, you know that the current generation of European “clean diesels” have put many of these stereotypes to rest. The reality is still shocking. Fire up the Audi’s three liter turbodiesel V6, and the cockpit fills with sound . . . from the climate control. Roll down the windows and a faint sound might tempt you to think that internal combustion is taking place. Only parked by a brick wall is the idle noise even properly identifiable: a newborn Cummins, murmuring to itself in a barbiturate coma.

This aural timidity belies the engine’s humble on-paper proportions. You’ll note that Audi has refrained from putting 3.0 anywhere on the Q7 diesel’s badging. That’s because folks who spend the national median household income on a family hauler think numbers below 4.0 are bad luck. It’s TDI Quattro, thanks. (Massive graphics available on Audi press fleet models only.)

Lucky then, for these already lucky people, that this ain’t yer uncle Lou’s Olds diesel V6. To say the least. Thanks to basic engineering competence, common rail injection, and a Google server farm worth of computers, this V6 performs its luxobarge duty with distinction. Its (whisper it) 225 horsepower and (shout it) 406 pound-feet of torque are earned with a 17/25 mpg EPA rating. In fact, the only thing that should remind you of the Olds diesel era is the fact that diesel prices are again cheaper than gas.

But they won’t be forever. In the mean time, take the opportunity to go to new places and meet new people. I did and saw beautiful things. And met kind gas station employees who told me that they only sold low sulphur diesel. I would need to drive a couple of miles to the 76 where they sell ultra low sulphur diesel.

And, no, you can’t just top off at the Chinese restaurant’s grease dumpster. The TDI’s manual states firmly that fuels with more than five percent biodiesel are verboten. The upside is that with a 26-gallon tank and a 600 mile range, you’ll only have to fill up about 17 times before your clean diesel confronts you with your new urea addiction. Wait, is that an upside?

No, to understand the upsides of the Q7 TDI, you really have to drive it. On the open road you completely forget that the main nitrogen-containing substance in mammal urine is even being used to scrub your exhaust into compliance with 50-state emissions standards. Torque has a way of concentrating the mind on the task at hand. Tasks such as picking up the kids from the Academy or heading for the hills like your tail’s on fire. I recommend the latter.

After all, the Q7 TDI isn’t particularly exciting to drive around town. It’s competent, but it fails at the two primary in-town activities of the luxury SUV: stunting and the traffic light Grand Prix. Competency at showing off is obviously a subjective and controversial issue. I will simply say that in my week with the Q, the only two comments I got from strangers were “never seen one before” and “what’s the mileage?” A luxury ute that subtle will need to earn the peasant’s respect at the green light.

Sadly, this one doesn’t. The Q7 TDI accelerates to 60 mph in about 8.5 seconds, roughly the same as a Saturn Vue Red Line. Or a Mercedes R320 Bluetec. The problem is that the engine isn’t really happy until it has a good head of steam spinning its turbos. Until then it’s just three liters working against 5,512 pounds. There’s only a brief pause before the twist starts flowing, but it’s enough to keep you from feeling like, well, sixty grand.

Part of the problem is that the Audi’s Tiptronic transmission tends to short-shift through the first two cogs unless you keep the throttle pinned. Happily, dialing “S” for sport mode tightens up the whole drivetrain, improving response and acceleration which match well with the Q7’s firm steering and epic grip. Even with minimal use of the competent but unremarkable brakes, Mr. Q easily focuses on a tight line going into corners. Stab into the engine’s sweet spot, hang on tight, and the giant ute hurtles around bends with minimal body roll. Only the tightest S-bends at the most foolhardy speeds are able to confuse the chassis and induce understeer.

Munching miles on arrow-straight desert highways is where the TDI starts to feel properly at home. The engine’s computers seem to keep a thick wave of torque just below your right foot; and a muffled, gusty whoosh accompanies any surrender to the torque’s temptation. Very muffled. In fact, rumbling from the S-line’s 20-inch wheels are more of a disturbance than engine noise. Over freshly paved surfaces, the dubs add to the Q’s taut, poised handling and the ride is impeccable. On rough roads, they break the cabin’s eerie calm with road noise and chop.

Look for the cruise control and you become aware of this Audi’s one other major shortcoming as a tourer. The same S-Line package that saddles the Q with oversized wheels and unsubtle side badging also upgrades the standard four-spoke wheel with a two-spoke helm. Unfortunately, the left spoke perfectly covers the cruise control’s stubby stalk during straight-ahead cruising. Once you confirm that it is in fact there, you still have to pull over to familiarize yourself with the control. Save yourself $1,200 and improve the Q7’s cruising manners by not checking that box. Flappy paddle downshifts and brushed aluminum interior trim might be missed, but neither is an imperative.

Audi’s interiors are polarizing and whether you find them dour or refined, the Q7 won’t change your mind. In the first class front row, you get firm, supportive seating with an aristocratic vista and endless distraction courtesy of Audi’s Multi Media Interface (MMI). In second class and the steerage third row, things are less plush. The second row bench is too low, and the six foot club should expect knees to end up around ear level. Over eastern Oregon’s washboarded dirt roads, the back seat shudders and flails, threatening to shake free from its anchors. The effect on passengers is something between a “Magic Fingers” vibrating bed and a peak-condition Mike Tyson working your kidneys like a speedbag.

But the impromptu shiatsu won’t have anyone looking longingly at the third row. Only the panorama sunroof option ($1,850) keeps the way back from feeling like a Guantanamo Bay holding cell. And unless you are a four-foot yoga master, the distraction doesn’t last long. Even as  emergency seating for unexpected passengers, the third row comes up short. The rolling cargo cover must be removed to raise the seats, and once converted the bulky unit no longer fits in the remaining storage area.

Not that you run into many hitch hikers or unplanned carpoolers climbing the gravel logging roads of Southern Oregon’s Rogue-Umpqua Divide. The Q7 maintains a paved-road clip through steep ascents and winding turns, each wheel keeping in constant communication with the loose road surface. Stability control is turned off and a slight twitchiness comes into the controls; electronic flattery, not skill, makes the storming pace possible. Barreling around a corner, a Suzuki Sidekick suddenly appears, its driver frozen in awe of the Wagnerian apparition bearing down on him. Considerable nose dive and pumping ABS accompany the Q’s sudden braking, but crisis is averted.

The OHV tracks leading into Newberry Crater didn’t inspire similar gravel-stage heroics, but, again, the Q7 felt confident and capable. Even with expensive paint, oversized wheels and no special off-road equipment, the TDI makes for a willing partner through rougher terrain. At the deliberate speeds necessary to thread through sharp rocks, deep ruts and undulating ascents, the oil burner’s drag racing downsides become real strengths. Power is smooth, precise, tractable and predictable. In short, everything you want when tackling the roads that don’t show up on your nav screen.

Whether prospective Q7 owners will appreciate the TDI’s many winning qualities is a question that a road test alone won’t answer. in addition to the intrinsic shortcomings exposed here, a Cayenne is sportier and a Range Rover is more statusy. A Touareg is cheaper ($8K less with the same engine) and nearly as classy. Robert Farago drives a GL. The list goes on, but one thing is for certain: if you’re going to buy a Q7, the diesel is the one you want. The gas V6 suffers the same status and low-end pickup deficits, while the V8 is thirstier, heavier and more expensive. Besides, the TDI matches the Q7’s anonymously unique character perfectly. If you are considering showing up late for the luxury SUV party, the Q7 is one of the more intriguing guests still getting down.

[Audi supplied the vehicle, insurance and one tank of diesel.]

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Capsule Review: 1984 Audi 4000 S quattro http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/02/capsule-review-1984-audi-4000-s-quattro/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/02/capsule-review-1984-audi-4000-s-quattro/#comments Mon, 09 Feb 2009 15:17:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=241682 Living in Breckenridge, Colorado, you need some sort of All-Wheel Drive setup. Snow remains the small town’s primary reason to exist. This explains the multitudes of Subarus, Audis, Volvos, and SUVs all equipped with four wheel motivation. Most drive away blissfully unaware of how recent this feature came to market (as little as 27 years […]

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Living in Breckenridge, Colorado, you need some sort of All-Wheel Drive setup. Snow remains the small town’s primary reason to exist. This explains the multitudes of Subarus, Audis, Volvos, and SUVs all equipped with four wheel motivation. Most drive away blissfully unaware of how recent this feature came to market (as little as 27 years ago). In 1980, Audi introduced the first permanently engaged all-wheel drive system in the Audi Quattro. Prior to this, all vehicles had a part-time system where only two wheels were driven most of the time, requiring driver intervention should the going get slippery. Audi changed all this by putting one driveshaft inside the other, saving space and weight and making it possible for a complex, permanently engaged system to function on a small car. Vorsprung durch Technik, baby!

This system revolutionized rally racing, with Audi winning multitudes of titles and awards. Unfortunately, the Quattro proved too expensive for the North American market.  So Audi introduced a much cheaper, non-turbo version in the 1984 Audi 4000 S quattro, a four door sedan already bought in multitudes by aspiring yuppies.

The Audi 4000 never really rivaled the BMW 3-series in driving dynamics for one simple reason: they always came with front wheel-drive. The setup that could provide driving entertainment, but it was nothing to give a potential buyer of the “ultimate driving machine” pause.

With the addition of two rear driven wheels, Audi stepped-up its game. The 4000 S quattro was a stable, neutral handling sedan that was light on its feet and a joy to drive. The steering feedback and feel were top notch, and the build quality rivaled Mercedes-Benz, back when those words really meant something. Some 30 years on, rattles are still nowhere to be found inside the 4000 S quattro demure—OK—dour cabin.

Unfortunately (yes again), Audi failed to address the model’s comical body lean. While the 4000 S looked level in the corners—at least compared to most domestic metal—the BMW 3-Series had it trussed-up like a chicken.

The 1980’s were a curious era of interior design. For one, hard plastics were acceptable, and various manufacturer quirks were still in abundance. To wit: to turn on the Audi’s headlights, you had to push a crunchy rocker switch mounted high on the dashboard. Power windows were standard—in the front. Lock the differentials meant pulling out a knob to activate the vacuum operated system. And the radio came equipped with an antenna gain booster button to complement the TRON inspired array.

In true European fashion, the 4000 S’ horrible plastics were complemented by plush pile carpeting that traveled all the way up the transmission tunnel. The seats were also covered in some of the finest cloth available at the time, upholstery that shows no wear after 25 years.

All these quirks, including the body lean, come together in a small, lightweight, five-cylinder powered joy machine. Let loose the straight 2.2L 5, snick the standard five-speed transmission (the only one available), pitch the car into a corner, and marvel at its grip, driving dynamics and stability. Punch the throttle and watch the back end actually come out controllably, then lift off and watch the car slide right back into line.

The 4000 quattros are becoming harder and harder to find as rust, accidents and teenagers take their toll. If you want a fun-to-drive vehicle that completely revolutionized car design, well, here it is.

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