Posted: 18 Oct 2011 08:00 AM PDT
If you ask most Americans to name a car built by Alfa Romeo, chances are you'll get replies like "the Spider," or "the Graduate." You probably won't hear many people mention the 164, or the GTV or the Giulia, since these cars are long gone from the U.S. market. Worse, I suspect that the question would be met with a blank stare from most people, since Alfa Romeo hasn't been active in the U.S. market since 1995, and 17 years is a long time in an industry that turns over product every three to five years.
It turns out this is a good thing for those of us on this side of the pond. In Europe, Alfa Romeo has been plagued by an uninspired product line and spotty build quality, which means successfully relaunching the brand in the EU will be an uphill battle. Not so in the United States, where Alfa Romeo is largely a forgotten brand.
We won't see products from Alfa Romeo (which will be sold through Fiat dealerships) before 2013, and the bulk of the offerings won't arrive before 2014. When we do get cars like the 4C sports coupe and the Giulia hatchback, they'll arrive with new engines and will be built on new platforms, which should ensure that the next generation of Alfa Romeos restore some luster to the tarnished brand.
Sergio Marchionne has confirmed to Automotive News (subscription required) that U.S. sales of 85,000 units in 2014 is still a realistic and achievable goal, thanks to the mix of products to be offered. In addition to the 4C coupe, Alfa will offer a Giulia hatchback and sedan, as well as a small crossover which will share a platform with the replacement for the Jeep Liberty.
Longer term, Marchionne's plan is to springboard off Alfa's success in the U.S. market to relaunch the brand in Europe. That means. ironically, that we'll get the good stuff here first, instead of it going to customers in the EU. As someone who remembers the brand with a certain fondness, I can't wait to see them back on these shores.
Posted: 18 Oct 2011 07:34 AM PDT
'PERFORMANCE, LUXURY AND VERSTILITY MEET AT THE CROSSROADS'
The 2011 Audi Q5 3.2 Quattro Tiptronic was designed to balance on the fine line between utility and desirability, by providing the ride height and visibility of a Crossover Sport Utility and the superior ride quality and competent handling characteristics of an Audi sports sedan. It features the 3.2 liter V6 engine and world-class capability of Quattro all-wheel drive. Easily identifiable and built with a distinctly sporty flavor, the 2011 Audi Q5 3.2 Quattro is a modern CUV for today's driving environment.
With a bold, Singleframe grille and sculpted HID headlights, the 2011 Audi Q5 Quattro is unmistakably Audi. Strong fender arches define the CUV profile and offer a subtle hint at the power within. A sleek roofline and integrated body rails help the Q5 Quattro to maintain its class-leading 0.33 drag coefficient, which improves fuel economy and helps reduce wind noise inside the cabin.
A wide track and low front and rear overhangs give the Q5 Quattro a capable stance, indicating that it is a versatile, ready to take on anything. The tailgate makes loading and unloading cargo easy. Bright LED tail lamps draw attention to the rear, flowing along the body lines of the Q5 Quattro to create continuity from front to back. Subtle sport accents, like a small rear spoiler, bold dual-exhaust ports and a multitude of available wheel choices, my test Q5 Quattro came with 20X8.5 inch wheels and tires, keep visual excitement in the small CUV.
With an interior built to the high standards for which Audi is renowned, the 2011 Q5 Quattro offers a quiet and well-appointed sanctuary with seating for five adults. Fit and finish are impeccable and materials are top-notch throughout the cabin. Leather seats are engineered to be both supportive and comfortable, and front and rear passengers will find themselves with plenty of legroom and headroom. An optional panoramic sunroof helps create a more open environment while also brightening the cabin significantly.
Throughout the Q5 Quattro interior, ergonomic and well-executed designs abound. With a clean, easy-to-read instrument panel, the cockpit is designed with the driver in mind. A large tachometer and speedometer pay homage to the Audi motorsports tradition. The center console of this sport model is trimmed with a handsome metallic bezel and houses controls for the Audi third-generation MMI that features available HD radio and an improved trip computer with an all-new efficiency display for 2011. The tilt/telescoping/leather wrapped steering wheel is thick-rimmed and comfortable to your hands, feeling firm and sporty, yet ideal for long-distance traveling. All dials, switches and levers are within easy reach and fully illuminated for safe nighttime traveling.
With a 9.2 foot wheelbase, the 2011 Q5 Quattro has one of the longest footprints of any vehicle in its segment. This length translates directly into interior roominess, and with the rear seats folded down, a substantial 55 cu.ft. of cargo area. The large cargo area behind the rear seats provides an added level of functionality beyond the luxurious appointments of the Audi Q5 Quattro interior. Here you will find chrome tie-downs, under floor storage, two lamps and nooks to securely hold small items.
Also innovative and functional is the adjustable rear seatback angle and front-to-back sliding that strike a perfect balance between passenger comfort and cargo capacity. As a final touch of clear luxury, an available climate-controlled drink holder up front keeps beverages at the perfect temperature.
The Audi Q5 3.2 Quattro is powered by a 3.2 liter FSI V6 engine featuring an aluminum block and head, DOHC 24-valves, continuous camshaft adjustment, FSI direct injection generating 270hp at 6,500rpm and 243lb.ft. of torque at 3,000rpm and delivering uncompromising performance and efficiency.
Positioned low in the chassis, the 3.2 liter V6 also helps the Q5 Quattro maintain a low center of gravity for excellent handling characteristics. Audi makes the most of every single drop of fuel and its direct-injection technology, and the addition of Audi valvelift system helps the engine deliver more power while maintaining impressive fuel efficiency. At 18/23mpg (city/highway), the Audi Q5 Quattro offers excellent fuel economy with the unmatched all-weather capability of all-wheel drive.
For 2011, all Audi Q5 Quattro models come standard with the Audi legendary Quattro all-wheel drive system. The legendary intelligent all-wheel drive system utilizes a self-locking center differential to transfer power where it is needed most. Under normal driving conditions, 40% of driving force is directed to the front wheels and the remaining 60% is directed to the rear wheels. The result is a perfect driving balance. If conditions warrant a change, the self-locking differential is capable of sending a majority of engine power to the axle with the most traction.
The Audi Q5 3.2 Quattro is paired with a six-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission. More than a traditional automatic gearbox, the Tiptronic continues the sporty nature of the Q5 Quattro by allowing you to select gears manually. Quick, precise changes are actuated by simple movements of the shifter or the paddle shifters located on the steering column. Audi Drive Select provides drivers with a means of instantly altering throttle and steering response, shock stiffness and transmission shift points in a fraction of a second. You may choose between Comfort, Dynamic and Automatic modes by pushing a button on the center stack. The new third-generation MMI allows an individual setting with characteristics of which can be specified in the interface. Audi Drive Select allows a unique duality for buyers to have a sports-oriented machine on Saturday and a comfortable luxury CUV during the daily commute.
The Audi Q5 Quattro has a suspension engineered to set the pace no mater what the terrain. The axles boost a design that allows for more than six inches of travel to overcome obstacles, and a vertical climb limit of 31-degress delivers proof that this CUV can go beyond casual trips to the grocery store. A stunning 25-degrees approach angle means there are few routes the Audi Q5 Quattro cannot take head on, while ground clearance of nearly eight inches protects the underside of the vehicle.
The unique fully-independent suspension features, up front, a five-link setup with steel springs, gas-charged shocks and an anti-roll bar. The rear features a trapezoidal setup with steel springs, gas-charged shocks and an anti-roll bar.
An incorporated hill-descent assist button on the center stack uses the ESP to hold vehicle speed steady between six and 19mph to make descending over uneven, steep or slippery terrain safer. At first, engine compression is used to slow the vehicle in order to maintain traction. If needed, the vehicle's braking system also can be used to slow descent. In addition, owners may switch to the off-road mode in the MMI. Doing so adjusts a number of vehicle parameters to maximize off-road traction and handling, including the ABS brakes.
Guiding you on your way is the excellent Audi Servotronic power steering system that is now standard on all Q5 models and gives drivers a speed-sensitive variable steering assist. At lower speeds, the steering assist is quicker in order to provide ultimate maneuverability while parking. Higher speeds yield a smaller steering assist to give the Q5 a more stabile feel.
Large power-assisted 12.6 inches vented front brakes are clamped with large dual-piston calipers while 11.8 inch solid rotors are clamped with large, single-piston calipers. Standard ABS,EBD,ABand ESP programs help keep you in control of your direction during severe braking maneuvers.
The new 2011 Audi Q5 Quattro 3.2 Tiptronic is the perfect 'go-anywhere, do anything' personal utility vehicle on the market.
Standard equipment in my S-Line Prestige model included roof rails with crossbars, trailer hitch pre-wiring, three-zone climate control, heated/12-way powered front seats, driver memory, light and rain sensor, privacy glass, 60/40 split-folding rear seat with pass-through, recline and fore/aft adjustments, Audi concert radio with in-dash CD player, garage door opener, Audi music interface for iPod integration, Bluetooth, power liftgate, power windows, all express up/down, power door locks, dual map lamps, grab handles above each door, dual lighted vanity mirrors, center console with cupholders, padded armrest and dual-tiered storage box, lighted glove box, storage slots in each door, map pockets behind the front seats, thick cut-pile carpeting and front/rear floor mats.
The Prestige package includes Audi Adaptive Lights, Bang & Olufsen sound system, Audi advanced key, Audi parking system plus a rearview camera, Audi MMI Navigation plus CD/DVD player, and Audi Side Assist (blind spot). The Luxury package included leather trimmed instrument panel top and door armrests, premium Milano ventilated front seats and adaptive cruise control. The S-Line package included 20X8.5 inch wheels and tire 255/45R20 inch summer tires, black headliner, brushed aluminum decorative inlays, S-line shift knob, S-line three-spoke steering wheel with shift paddles.
Standard safety features includes driver/front passenger airbags, driver/front passenger seat-mounted side airbags, SIDEGUARD curtain airbags, front safety belts with pretensioners/load limiters, rear outboard safety belts with pretensioners, active and passive rollover protection, side impact protection, LATCH system for child seats, front/rear impact body crumple zones, anti-theft vehicle alarm system, rear child safety locks.
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