There are some brands that resonate strongly with motoring enthusiasts; the obvious are the high end supercar makers – Ferrari, Aston Martin and Maserati come to mind – but for the everyday driver they are pipe dreams, priced out of our hands. When it comes to quality, affordable cars, however, one brand has become a byword: Audi, the German maker that was once seen as a poor man’s BMW, but now ranks alongside that marque as a maker of attractive, and excellent, cars.
Audi is an enigmatic maker, and has roots hidden deep in motor racing history: in 1932 four of Germany’s struggling car makers merged, and formed a company known as Auto Union. In 1934 the company – along with Mercedes Benz – was given government aid to launch a world-beating Grand Prix racing team. Innovative from the off, the result was a series of rear-engine machines that took the world by storm. Eventually, Auto Union evolved into what is now Audi, and the renaissance began.
Quality & Style
Audi has a range of models that covers all the bases, and is now as revered among its loyal fans as Mercedes Benz and BMW. Perhaps not as sporting as the latter, nor as legendary as the former, it nevertheless offers a superb range of beautifully built, reliable and often high performance cars that cater for all tastes. Take the very popular Audi A3, for instance: Available as a sedan or a hatchback, and in convertible form for extra chic style, it is a cleverly conceived machine that, at one end of the range, offers family motoring in safe and reliable style and, at the other, is a sporting hatchback with superb performance and road holding.
Audi ventured into the luxury market with trepidation, for taking in its market-leading countrymen was never going to be easy. However, as part of the VAG group (VW to you and me) it had strong backing, and bosses that were angling for success. Notably, that group also includes Lamborghini and Bugatti – impressive bed-fellows those. The result is the A5 and A6 range; the former a BMW 5-Series competitor that comes in a wide range of specifications an guises and that is ranked as one of the best cars on the road, the latter a luxury car of the highest order, and one that is as technologically advanced as any on the road today.
New or Used?
Such is Audi’s reputation that its cars hold their value more than many, and this makes buying a nearly new used Audi a sensible choice. Statistics prove that any car will lose half of its original value in three years. That’s a sobering thought, and one that should help anyone consider nearly new rather than new. That’s not to say buying a new Audi is not a good idea, for the company offers excellent after-sales support. The fact is that Audi owners tend to cherish their cars, hence a used Audi will usually be a very good buy.
A popular second-hand buy is an A1, the baby of the range; this pretty and capable little hatchback is a very sensible and extremely capable family car, and can be found at a great price after a couple of years. Also impressive, and extremely sought after in the used car world, is the A5 range; for a fraction of the original sales price you can have a top of the range luxury tourer with an impressive range of accessories, and look forward to comfortable, reliable motoring for many years. Exchange and Mart offer a selection of used Audis.
Sports Car Style, Off-Road Performance
Audi is not shy about taking on new markets, and with the Q3, Q5 and Q7 range of luxury SUV’s it has entered a very lucrative market indeed. These superbly made models are very popular indeed and are superbly made – as you would expect – and also make an excellent second-hand purchase. The on-road presence of a Q7, for example, is hard to beat, and there is nothing like riding high for a sense of grandeur and achievement. Then there’s the quite astonishing Audi RS range, culminating in the brilliant, high performance RS6, a car that is performance personified. In estate form this brilliant car will happily take on a Ferrari for performance, and is easily one of the most impressive cars on the road today.
Then there’s the car that really turned heads when it made its debut, the Audi TT. This extravagantly styled and superbly conceived sports touring car took the philosophy of the sports car and brought it up to date. Beautifully made, superbly equipped and with excellent dynamics, it remains a favourite with drivers who like to enjoy a car with excellent feel, and is one of the best second hand deals of all.
R8 – The Ultimate Audi
Finally, the crowning glory of the range, a car that is proud to wear the distinctive four rings, and one that truly harks back to those glorious pre-war racing cars: the Audi R8, rated by many as the finest supercar in the world today, a car that is simply sensational in every way, and one that puts the brand right at the forefront of automotive excellence. Stunning to look at, amazing to drive, and able to challenge just about everything on the road in terms of performance, this is technical excellence of the highest order.
Audi is a brand that has come to the fore in recent years for all the right reasons: with the might of VAG behind it the once-flagging name was elevated from a bit part player to a leading light, and the results have been spectacular. There was a time when no right-thinking person would consider an Audi alongside the other major German makes, but now it holds its own in what is a very competitive market. Second hand bargains are rife when it comes to Audi, not least because of the quality, performance and reliability this exalted brand promises.