A lot of great cars debuted in 2016 and we had some really great drives this year as well. More specifically, we drove a lot of great Audis. So let’s take a look at the best Audis we’ve driven in 2016.
While the Audi Q7 isn’t the most exciting car in the world, it’s still a very good car and one that’s extremely important to Audi. The Q7 is one of the most popular full-size luxury SUVs on the market and, in our opinion, the best. But what makes it one of the best Audis we drove all year is just how surprising it was. The previous-generation Audi Q7 was a good car but it was a bit too heavy, a bit sloppy and uninspiring to drive. And while SUVs are never really “fun”, the new Audi Q7 is about the closest thing you’ll get to fun in an SUV.
The steering is sharp, the suspension manages a near-perfect balance between suppleness and firmness and the engine is superb. With 333 hp, the 3.0 supercharged V6 hauls the Q7 around with incredible ease. While there are plenty of other engines offered in the Q7 worldwide, the 3.0T was the only available engine at the time of our driving it in the US. The Audi Q7 offers superb luxury, comfort, space and performance in one of the better looking SUV packages on the market.
While the second-generation Audi S3 first debuted, it was actually met with rather lukewarm reviews. Its steering was too numb and vague and it just wasn’t all that exciting to drive. It was a good car but it wasn’t as enjoyable to drive as the Volkswagen Golf R, which has the same engine, is just as fast and actually felt a bit more special. However, Audi gave the S3 a refresh this year and made some small, but very important, changes. And, much like the Q7, the newly-refreshed S3 was so surprisingly good that it has to make the list.
Its steering has been far improved, with sharper responses and better feedback (though, it’s still quite numb). While the feel is lacking, you can place the S3 exactly where you want, with great accuracy. The Quattro all-wheel drive system (which is actually a Haldex setup) was also given an update so that it can now send most of its power to the rear wheels when necessary, eliminating a lot of the understeer that plagued it before. The engine is the same (in the US, it got a power bump in Europe), but the chassis improvements make the Audi S3 a far better car than it was an one that surprised us with how fun it actually was.
Again, not the sexiest car in the world or even in Audi’s lineup. But we didn’t get to drive an Audi R8 or TT RS, so this is what we had to work with. However, the Audi A4 was actually a very exciting car to drive. It isn’t the most exciting car on the market and it’s not even actually all that exciting to drive. But it excited us quite a bit because it showed us that the Audi A4 was back. The previous-generation B8 Audi A4 was always a car that failed to excite. It was numb, vague and dull to drive. While technically competent, it was never really enjoyable and always lacked the sort of fun found in the BMW 3 Series and Cadillac ATS. However, that fun is back.
The new B9 Audi A4 is actually fun to drive, with great steering and a superb engine. Its Quattro all-wheel drive system also works brilliantly at mitigating understeer and allows for impressive grip. It’s never the rear-drive performance car that the 3 Series or Jaguar XE are, but it makes up for that by being more comfortable and having a much better cabin than both of those two cars. The Audi A4 is a car that could excel at either being a sport sedan or luxury sedan and the different could be just the flick of a switch. The interior is also best in class and has incredible technology, like the new Virtual Cockpit.
Now that the new B9 Audi A4 is out, it gives us great hope for the S4 and RS4. So, while it isn’t the most exciting car in the work, or sexiest choice, the Audi A4 is the best Audi we’ve driven all year.