2008 / 2009 Audi Lineup
2008 / 2009 Audi Lineup. Click image to enlarge

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Audi Canada

Review and photos by James Bergeron

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Audi 2008/2009 lineup

Bowmanville, Ontario – Has there ever been a single vehicle manufacturer with a showroom floor of vehicles that are so excitingly attractive? Lately, Audi has been hitting home run after home run, and when I was invited to sample the company’s latest offerings, from the R8 supercar to the A3 hatchback, I jumped at the chance.

All new for 2008, the TT coupe and TT roadster have been transformed into more stylish and sporty vehicles that have earned praise from automotive journalists everywhere. The new TT retains the basic shape of its predecessor, but adds a more angular stance and cut, giving it a more masculine persona. On the road, the 3.2-litre V6 engine is an aural pleasure, with a raspy sports car exhaust. The Audi TT feels like a true roadster should: quick, agile and fun to drive.

2008 Audi TT Roadster
2008 Audi S6
2008 Audi TT (top); 2008 Audi S6. Click image to enlarge

2008 also brings a refreshed Audi A8 and S8 line as well. The largest and most luxurious vehicle in the Audi lineup, the A8 provides limo-like interior space and a quiet, bank vault-like ride. Refreshed styling includes a new grille, square front fog lamps, chrome door handle strips, rear taillights with LED design, and new mirrors with integrated LED turn signals.

The Audi A6 and S6 are the mid-level luxury vehicles in Audi’s line-up. Exterior restyling was done for 2007 and not much has changed for 2008 on the outside. But on the inside, both feature the revised layout and materials employed in the rest of the Audi line-up. I drove the S6 model, with a thunderous V10 that is hugely powerful yet quiet and smooth. Though the mid-sized A6 and S6 are not as large as the A8 and S8, they still provide plenty of space for all passengers.

The second all-new model for 2008 for Audi was the Audi R8, a supercar at a bargain starting price of $139,000. The Audi R8 shocked the automotive world with its bold and striking styling – a masterpiece enjoyed by almost everyone who views it on the road. The R8 is a mid-engined sports car featuring Audi’s aluminum space frame construction and magnetic ride suspension. The snarl of the V8 engine mounted just behind the driver is an experience one can never tire of. On the highway, the R8 is just as quiet and sophisticated as the rest of Audi’s line-up – but open up the throttle and the throaty exhaust lets you know the potential is there as you snick through the gears via the gated shifter. Shy drivers need not apply for this vehicle, as it will get you plenty of attention on the road.

2008 Audi S5
2008 Audi S5. Click image to enlarge

For many observers, the big shocker for 2008 was the release of the Audi A5 and S5 coupe. Not only is the S5 the least expensive S-line model after the S3 in the Audi line-up at a starting price of $65,900, but the A5 and S5 coupes are a styling grand slam. That raked coupe shape does mean less rear legroom and headroom than the A4 sedan, but the power from the 4.2-litre V8 engine which produces 354 horsepower tends to overwhelm its practical shortcomings. The S5 does feel heavier in corners than I would like but still handles with poise and confidence, allowing you to carve up the back roads in style.

The A3 and S3 models are the least expensive vehicles in Audi’s line-up. The A3 is based on the Volkswagen Golf platform, and when introduced to Canada in 2006 was one of the first luxury compact cars on the market. The A3 is starting to look a little dated compared to the rest of the Audi line-up, but compared to other vehicles in this segment, it still holds its own. With a base price of only $32,300, the A3 allows entry-level luxury buyers to an Audi in their driveway without breaking the bank.

2009 Audi A4
2009 Audi A4 Avant
2009 Audi A4 sedan (top) and Avant. Click image to enlarge

Although it is still 2008, Audi is now introducing the all-new 2009 Audi A4 Sedan and A4 Avant. Both are available at dealerships this month with Quattro all-wheel drive and a phenomenal starting price of just $39,700. The 2009 Audi A4 Sedan and Avant will be available with Audi’s 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine producing 211 horsepower and 253 lb-ft of torque, or Audi’s 3.2-litre naturally aspirated V6 engine producing 265 hp and 243 lb-ft of torque. The A4 2.0L Sedan is available with a manual or automatic transmission, while the 3.2L is available only in automatic. The Avant is available only with an automatic, be it with 2.0-litre or 3.2-litre engines.

The new A4 offers bolder styling than the outgoing model: the addition of the LED daytime running lights gives it a sleek, sporty look similar to the R8. The interior of the new A4 is larger than the previous generation and the use of lighter weight metals has reduced weight significantly in many areas.

From the entry level A3 to the R8 supercar, Audi is riding a wave of successful vehicles that are seriously challenging, and sometimes overshadowing, traditional German rivals from BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

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