On the subject of the Q7, we have some personal experience with the very similar V8 Volkswagen Touareg as a daily driver. In many ways it is an almost perfect vehicle - roomy, powerful, great looking and powerful. The only flaw in our opinion is a soft suspension, which can be easily remedied via a Cayenne S suspension swap. The Touareg with the Porsche's underpinnings could have easily been released as-is as the Audi SUV and we think people would have been satisfied.
Our first in-person reaction to the Q7 - and it really was a quick impression because the reveal was brief - was that it would be a welcome replacement for our Touareg. The front end was extremely well executed in the context of the overall vehicle. It sat on what looked like 20" wheels and it had a muscular look that was clearly Touareg-ish, but also clearly an evolutionary take. Of course, the true test will be in driving the Q7 and that unfortunately will have to wait for some time. We were not able to catch a very good photo of the Q7.
Just then, the RS4 started up and the car began doing donuts on the ice as it lined itself up to climb the `ski jump'. As it climbed the ramp, fireworks went off and as it came to a stop near the top a huge "25 quattro" sign burst into flames above the ramp. Wow!
An A3, A4, A6, and A8 all pulled out on the ice and they announced that we were free to mingle and enjoy the surroundings. The previous race cars had been lined-up as well and were joined by a few other cars from the museum - a 1994 RS2 Avant in Nogaro blue and a 2000 RS4 Avant in Imola Yellow.
By the end of the night, we'd met Stig Blomqvust, Hannu Mikkola, Michele Mouton, Emanuele Pirro, Frank Biela, and Walter Rorhl. We'd been completely immersed in quattro heritage while meeting the future of Audi.
Audi plans to have several other events this year, and if this first quattro Night is any indication of things to come, the 25th anniversary of quattro will be a year to be remembered.
RS4 in Person
There's no denying that context can make anything seem even better. On a magical night of quattro worship, we were all feeling excessive love for the four rings even before the RS4 made its inspiring entrance. Once it did roll in we had precious little time to evaluate the vehicle from head to toe. The overall impression was positive however.
Going into a little detail about what we saw, we were at first a little put off by the new mirror design. Once up close with the car, though, this viewpoint softened and we'd now have to say that the mirrors do in fact fit within an overall design theme shared by the mirrors, the wheels, the inside door handles, the steering wheel and probably some other parts of the car that were only subliminally apparent.
The fenders adopt a dramatically muscular look (doesn't hurt to put huge wheels on the car) and the drama continues with the aggressive grille, the lip spoiler on the trunk and the interior. There seems to be universal acclaim for Audi's interiors and here it looks like have used that solid foundation and kicked it up a notch to befit a high performance car like the RS4.
The sound - well that's something that you'll just have to wait and experience for yourself if you are lucky enough to own or encounter one of these automobiles. Suffice it to say it is exquisite.
The engine is a work of art. We are pleased to see, at least on this car, that Audi is getting away from covering the whole engine in plastic or carbon fiber covers. The intake runners look like two grey interlocked fists pounding up from below. The bright red heads and other silver engine components make the engine look like it was custom built, which indeed it has been by quattro GmbH.
Now, what do we hear about the RS4 in the US? At this point of course everything is completely unofficial, but we did piece together some information that appears solid:
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