3.0T Premium quattro 4dr SUV AWD (3.0L 6cyl S/C 8A)
Options on test vehicle
Premium Plus Package ($6,000 -- includes xenon headlights, LED running lights, panoramic sunroof, rearview camera, auto-dimming and power-folding mirrors, driver memory functions, navigation system, Bose surround-sound audio system, HD radio and DVD audio capability)
Not much to do here -- just put the automatic in Sport and let the supercharged V6 and AWD do their best to pull this behemoth down the strip. The engine feels more overwhelmed than it does in Audi car variants, but it's smooth and willing. Only allows a minor amount of power braking before it creeps forward. Manual shifting via console lever (push forward for upshifts). Does not blip on downshifts, nor hold gears at redline.
Scary-long pedal travel, giving the initial impression the 5,256-pound SUV isn't going to stop anytime soon. Although pedal feel wasn't great, it never worsened throughout six stops. Aside from significant dive, very little commotion and it tracks straight.
Skid pad: Understeer was the prevalent theme here, with light, unfeeling steering. Nondefeat stability control would start to cut in about halfway around the circle, and by the end of the arc your right foot would be planted to the floor. Slalom: Huge body roll and light effort (although fairly quick) steering make for a squishy, lumbering beast around the cones. Over-driving results in excessive intervention of the nondefeat stability control. Despite its weight and soft suspension tuning, there's more speed to be found if not for stability control. The excessive amount of brake force caused us to hit a few cones because we couldn't finish the turn.