Road test: Audi Q3, A4 and A5 Quattro under review
ALL-paw grip is seemingly all the rage.
About 70% of new cars leaving four-rings showrooms have the power of Quattro. That's Audi speak for all-wheel drive.
It's a system which has been honed and perfected over more than three decades in motorsport.
The preference for Quattro is partly being driven by the Australian obsession with SUVs, but in the case of mid-size sedans, coupes, wagons and sportbacks, Audi has seen a shift toward the surefooted feel of all-wheel drive.
While there will always be a place for two-wheel variants in the cheaper A1 and A3 derivatives, it seems the well-heeled want the power of Quattro.
Answering that call, Audi has released revised ranges of the Q3 compact SUV, along with the A4 and A5 sedan, coupe, sportback and cabriolet.
It's hard to fault the Audi style, fit and finish.
No matter what derivative you step inside the design has similar smarts with crisp instruments and easy-to-operate functionality.
Just the primary computer system requires some mastering with its main dial and surrounding buttons.
The Q3 is currently Audi's most popular model Down Under and it offers four adults reasonable space.
Those up front just need to be mindful of not sliding too far rearward.
A4 derivatives offer similar levels of accommodation, while the A5 is slightly more generous.
On the road
Quattro prowess shone through dark clouds and on a surface which would leave most cars gingerly making their way across the gravel.
Not this Audi bunch.
We did our best to unsettle the Q3, A4 sedan and A5 Coupe but they managed to answer the challenge.
The stars of these revised 2014 ranges are petrol and diesel four-cylinder engines.
In the case of the Q3, it's a 103kW unit which has enough poke to keep most drivers happy, courtesy of 320Nm which provides some handy shunt through the mid-range.
The 0-100kmh sprint time of just below 10 seconds isn't much to rave about … but it feels quicker in the metal.
We even took the Q3 for some old-fashioned paddock-bashing in country New South Wales last week and the little SUV handled things with dignity.
Paddock bashing and plush SUVs don't traditionally mix, but with the safety gizmos turned off the Q3 was happy to drift and slide its way around with controlled finesse.
As expected, the A4 and A5 variants have greater cornering dexterity than their small SUV sibling.
They were particularly impressive on the gravel where they had no business gripping and turning with dexterity.
All the models sampled had the seven-speed S tronic dual clutch automatic transmission which is a real gem.
While you have steering wheel paddles, there is rarely a need to use them as the self shifter does a stellar job on its lonesome.
What do you get?
Base model A4 and A5s have received improved equipment, including three-zone climate control and colour driver information system - the four-cylinder models we tested come with a parking system with rear camera, 18-inch alloys, Xenon headlights, MMI Navigation plus with 20GB hard drive and full voice control along with keyless entry.
Meanwhile, range-topping 3.0-litre V6 A5s get the S line exterior package as standard fare.
Some of the best and most popular options have now been combined in packages which offer alluring value for money.
There is good reason the Q3 is the most popular offering wearing four rings at the moment. It's a useful small family hauler with handy boot space and reasonable rear seat leg room.
But the A5 Sportback is not far off in terms of flexibility courtesy of its hatch-like boot.
All cabins have good storage space and easy access to cup holders along with useful door compartments.
These new four-cylinder powerplants just keep getting better. They're producing more power once associated with six-cylinder and achieving improved fuel consumption in the process.
The diesels sip less than the petrols, although are hardly slurping the premium unleaded with official average figures in the realm of seven litres for every 100km.
Insurance and servicing are two areas which need investigation for newcomers to the premium market.
There are more than 100 models across the Audi range.
Yet it seems buyers have spoken when it comes to Quattro. The grip, poise and finesse offered by all-wheel drive is worth the premium.
And these latest four-cylinder donks are simply outstanding. They almost do the job too well, possibly robbing sales from their more expensive brethren.
Model: Audi A4 and A5 Quattro.Details: Four-door and five-door all-wheel drive in sedan, wagon, coupe and sportback.
Engines: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol generating maximum power of 165kW @ 4500-6250rpm and peak torque of 350Nm 1500-4500rpm; 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel 130kW @ 4200rpm and 380Nm @ 1750-2500rpm
Consumption: 6.7 litres (combined average); 5.3L/100km. *
CO2: 155g/km; 139g/km. *
Bottom line: A4 sedan TFSI and TDI $65,800. A5 Coupe and Sportback TFSI and TDI $75,900.
* Based on A4 sedan figures, minor differences between body guises.
Model: Audi Q3 2.0 TDI Quattro.Details: Five-door all-wheel drive compact sports utility vehicle.
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder generating maximum power of 130kW @ 4200rpm and peak torque of 380Nm @ 1750-2500rpm.
Transmission: Seven-speed S-tronic.
Consumption: 5.9 litres/100km (combined average).
Bottom line: $47,500.