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2009 VW Tiguan S & 2008 Audi A5 3.0 - Fast Forward

The right SUV at the right time and a car that really surprises

Nov 1, 2008
Writer: Kerry Morse
Epcp_0811_03_z+2009_VW_Tiguan+side_view Photo 1/2   |   2009 VW Tiguan S & 2008 Audi A5 3.0 - Fast Forward

Seat Time
2009 VW Tiguan S

*Volkswagen is just in time to meet rising gas prices with a smaller, more efficient SUV. Powered initially by the 2.0T that has become legendary in the GTI and GLI, it offers twice the mileage of some of the larger competition. Small outside does not necessarily mean less room inside. Through efficient design, VW has managed to stretch interior space well beyond that of an average, midsize SUV. The Tiguan also doesn't require the same amount of handling compromises as the larger gas guzzlers. Billed as the GTI of SUVs, it can be hustled over twisty roads at a surprising pace. Steering feel is typical VW: nicely weighted and communicative. GTI and Jetta drivers will feel right at home, although the higher seating position will feel awkward at first.

Great packaging, performance, and economy all add up to a class leader. Some VW enthusiasts cringe at the thought of their favorite German manufacturers producing SUVs. VW, however, is in the business of giving people what they want. There are certainly many customers who want something like this, although some may not have considered VW in the past. VW fanatics might also be swayed by the fact that this appears to be the only way to get a 2.0T and all-wheel drive in North America. With a diesel version coming in the near future and large SUVs falling out of vogue, the Tiguan's timing should be just right.-Michael Febbo

From The Hip
Surprising handling, spacious cabin

The only way to get a 2.0T and all-wheeldrive in America

2009 VW Tiguan S
Transverse front engine, all-wheel drive

2.0-liter inline four, dohc, 16-valve with intercooled turbocharger and direct injection

Six-speed automatic

Peak power: 200 hp @ 5100 rpmPeak torque: 206 lb-ft @ 1700 rpm0-60 mph: 7.8 sec. Top Speed: 131 mph (limited)Fuel Economy: 18/25Price as tested: $23,200

Epcp_0811_01_z+2008_Audi_A5+side_view Photo 2/2   |   2009 VW Tiguan S & 2008 Audi A5 3.0 - Fast Forward

Seat Time
2008 Audi A5

*It isn't often that a car really surprises me. The Audi A5 certainly did, but not in the manner I was expecting. My usual drill for going to a race at Laguna Seca or Sears Point is to schedule a ride I can spend a few days with and develop a real-time feel for how it would be as if I owned it. The A5 is a continuation of the solidly built line coming out of Ingolstadt these days and the formula begun with the A4 and A6 on display within the cabin of the new coupe. I loaded up my baggage and headed out to join in the long processional known as rush hour that snarls and winds through L.A. in all directions. It was one of the few times I loathed the six-speed manual and longed for the paddles.

So what was the surprise? Perhaps its reputation that precedes the A5, the Q-ships from the Audi S-Lines, and big-gun RS-Line. Once I cleared L.A. and was over the Grapevine, I had several different Infinitis pull up alongside, take a look, pull ahead, and then back off. I'm already doing a sedate 85 mph, making good time, and not really interested. When a new Mustang pulled the same stunt on Highway 101 outside King City, Calif., I was baffled. The 3.2-liter V6 is good for an honest, if not spectacular, 265 hp-but hardly the stuff of a racer. So what was it about the A5 coupe that made it a lightening rod to the competition? Aesthetics. The simple change up front with that massive grille and the aggressive stance that harkens back to the original Auto Union Grand Prix cars and right onto the present killer Audi R8. Regardless of whether it was in motion or sitting in a parking lot, the A5 just looks the part; the problem is that to act the part will require another $10,000 to move up to the S5-Kerry Morse

From The Hip
Aggressive stance, intimidating front end

A profound longing for other engine options

2008 Audi A5 3.2
Longitudinal front engine, all-wheel drive

3.2-liter V6, dohc, 24-valve

Six-speed manual

Peak Power: 265 hp @ 6500 rpm
Peak Torque: 243 lb-ft @ 3250 rpm
0-60 mph: 4.9 sec.
Top Speed: 155 mph (limited)
Fuel Economy: 16 city / 27 hwy
Price as tested: $46,390

Michael Febbo
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