Carrying Off the Five-Door Form in Style
We don’t normally think of Germans as being shrinking violets, but apparently the country’s national pride has been enduring a long winter of sorts – a decades-old funk from which it’s only now beginning to emerge. So says The New York Times, which notes that the nation’s resurgent patriotism is taking many forms, from an increasing amount of German-language music on the radio to more flag-waving pride and a stable economy that remains the envy of Europe in dark times.
Certainly, the same could be argued for Deutschland’s auto industry. Having weathered the threat of upstart luxury foes from Japan over the last 20 years, Germany’s premium brands have fought through their own crises to emerge stronger and with more than a bit of swagger in their step. You’ll remember that, for some time now, German marques have been trying to unceasingly convince us of their technical brilliance through things like all-in-one dashboard controllers, willfully disagreeable styling and the steadfast adherence to
stone walled run-flat tires. But a decade or so in to these initiatives, it’s finally all starting to pan out. iDrive, COMAND and MMI aren’t the counterintuitive scourges they once were. Edges have been chamfered off controversial styling languages. Run-flat tires have improved. And lo and behold, BMW is once again threatening Lexus for the U.S. luxury sales crown, Mercedes-Benz has its quality control woes in hand, and Audi… well, Audi’s rocket-like trajectory is the envy of the industry, isn’t it?
After enduring a near-death experience at the hands of 60 Minutes during the ‘Unintended Acceleration’ fiasco of the Eighties, Ingolstadt has only truly caught fire in the last five years or so, but now it’s white-hot and giving its fellow countrymen at BMW and Benz fits. Its latest offering, the 2011 A7 Sportback, promises to turn up the heat on the budding luxury five-door segment, so we headed to the Mediterranean island of Sardinia to see if Audi might have a good reason to indulge in a bit of horn-tooting of its own. Make the jump to find out.
Gallery: 2012 Audi A7 Sportback: First Drive
Photos copyright (C)2010 Chris Paukert / AOL