People champion excellence, not mediocrity. After all, you won't see a bumper sticker touting, "My child is a C+ student at Middling Jr. High." So we find it hard to rally around the 2011 Subaru Tribeca. While there's nothing about this vehicle that makes us cringe, it simply pales in comparison to other SUVs, which seem to do everything just a little better.
From the outside, the Subaru Tribeca was originally styled to be bold and innovative, but indifferent customer reaction has led Subaru to make it less distinctive, so now it looks too much like an artist's rendition of a generic SUV -- neither inspiring nor offensive. Even the Tribeca's performance is simply middle-of-the-road. The interior shows some signs of life with a futuristic dash design, but it comes at the expense of some usability.
On the plus side, the Tribeca's all-wheel-drive system delivers the assurance of solid footing in a variety of climates, a feature that sets it apart from the usual front-wheel-drive crossovers. Maneuvering in tight city confines is made easier by the Subaru's smaller dimensions. At the same time, a certain lack of interior space is noticeable. The second-row seats slide fore and aft, but all the way back is the way you'll use them. The third-row seat is for part-time convenience, not long-distance trips. Most important, taller drivers will bemoan the lack of a telescoping steering wheel.
Since there are no truly awful midsize crossover SUVs, it might be that benign doesn't add up to a compelling proposition. The Tribeca compares in size to the Chevrolet Equinox and Ford Edge, while it's a bit smaller than the Mazda CX-9 and Toyota Highlander. And when it comes to price, dynamics and overall appeal, the Tribeca gets lost between these vehicles.
The interior's design has aged well over the years, with a smooth, curvy flow that wraps around front passengers. That's quite the feat considering it's essentially the same design used when this car was introduced as the B9 Tribeca for 2006.
However, the quality of the materials in there is far from the segment's best. There's an overuse of silver plastic that's meant to imitate aluminum — a cheap-looking trick. The dashboard and center console are carved out of the stuff, and they don't do the unique design any justice.
The most disappointing part of the interior, though, is the lack of a telescoping steering wheel, which is found in just about every other three-row SUV on the market. What may seem like a small oversight made it impossible for me to sit comfortably in the driver's seat. At 6-feet tall and with a slender build, I had to move the seat back pretty far to get a comfortable distance from the steering wheel. In that driving position, my elbows couldn't reach the armrest. Combine this with the Tribeca's high seating position, and I was not a happy commuter during my 90-minute drives to and from Cars.com's offices.
Fit, of course, will vary from person to person. Some people may not have any issues, but I was not the only editor to experience frustration over the steering wheel. And the front seating problem snowballed into issues for the second and third rows, too, partly because of the Tribeca's small size. Legroom is already mediocre in the second row, at 34.3 inches, but with the driver's seat where I had it positioned, the second row lost heaps of that space. Then, with the second row slid all the way back to compensate, the third row was left with literally no legroom.
Very few crossovers have enough room in their third row to make adults feel comfortable, and the Tribeca isn't close to breaking that mold. The seat is so close to the floor that my legs and thighs were positioned uncomfortably off the seat cushion.
We test a standard assortment of grocery bags, golf clubs and luggage in every car we drive, and there wasn't much — or any, really — room to spare behind the Tribeca's third row; there's only 8.3 cubic feet of storage back there. That's significantly less than the Pilot's 18 cubic feet, and it's even less than a small sedan's trunk.
With both rows folded flat, the Tribeca has 74.4 cubic feet of total cargo space. Again, it's an unexceptional amount considering the Pilot has 87 cubic feet, the Highlander has 95.4 and the CX-9 boasts 100.7. What's more, I can't imagine trying to fit seven people in this car, especially seven people I like. What's truly revealing is that Subaru's Outback wagon doesn't require a huge concession in overall cargo space (it offers 71.3 cubic feet) even though it seats just five.
One of the Tribeca's redeeming qualities is Subaru's trademark symmetrical all-wheel drive. It's one of the best systems available for tackling the slippery snow- and rain-covered city roads on which I drove the Tribeca. Even in aggressive starts in these conditions, the car accelerated seamlessly from stoplights. The Tribeca's all-wheel drive distributes power to all four wheels all the time, helping with a smooth delivery of traction.
Now here comes Debbie Downer: Unlike the Forester and Outback, the Tribeca's all-wheel drive doesn't come at much of a discount compared with the competition. The Pilot, Highlander and CX-9 come really close to or beat the Tribeca's starting price when equipped with all-wheel drive.
Our fully loaded Touring came in at an as-tested price of $37,995. The only option missing was a rear DVD entertainment system. The Touring trim level comes with xenon headlights, a power moonroof, a backup camera and Bluetooth for its $35,795 starting price. Our tester had the optional touch-screen navigation system for another $2,200.
The navigation system suffered from a fundamental flaw: The touch-screen is beyond arm's reach — or at least it was beyond mine. To enter an address or check the gas mileage, I had to lean very far forward to reach the screen at the top of the dashboard. The navigation itself felt outdated, with graphics that are easily bested by many of today's smartphones and portable GPS devices.
the 2011 Subaru Tribeca's sole engine option is a 3.6-liter flat-six engine with 256 horsepower and 247 pounds-feet of torque on tap. Drive is sent to all four wheels via a five-speed automatic transmission and a symmetrical all-wheel-drive system. Performance from the flat-six engine is respectable, but it's no match for competitors like the Ford Edge or Honda Pilot. Fuel economy is neither poor nor especially good for this class, with the Tribeca returning 16 mpg in the city and 21 mpg on the highway; best of all, it runs on regular unleaded fuel rather than the previous generation's super unleaded requirement. Handling is one of the best attributes of the Tribeca; push hard into a corner and the Tribeca has good body control and better steering than most other vehicles of this type. The 2011 Subaru Tribeca's 8.4 inches of ground clearance and standard all-wheel drive may scream off-road prowess, but this mid-size crossover is better suited to the suburban environment. Real off-roading isn't the goal here—just all-weather performance.
Standard safety features for the 2011 Subaru Tribeca include antilock brakes (with brake assist), traction control, stability control with a rollover sensor, front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and active front head restraints.
a Subaru Tribeca required 121 feet to come to a stop from 60 mph, which is slightly shorter than its competitors.
The Subaru Tribeca has not been rated using the government's new, more strenuous 2011 crash-testing procedure. Its 2010 rating (which isn't comparable to 2011 ratings) shows that the Tribeca scored a perfect five stars for both front- and side-impact protection. It also received the top rating of "Good" in frontal-offset and side-impact crash tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
The 2011 Subaru Outback is named after a mammoth, flat expanse of Australia filled with red dirt, dingoes and places with names like Woolloomooloo. With its generous ground clearance and standard all-wheel drive, the Outback would probably be pretty good at dealing with the deserted vastness of the Outback. Here in the United States, though, Subaru's blending of wagon and SUV has become a favorite for those who live in mountainous and/or snowy climates. Yet, because of last year's full redesign, the Outback is now bigger and more comfortable than before, catering better to those who live in a variety of places and climates.
While we lament that this increase in size removed much of the responsive and fun-to-drive nature from the Outback, its massive increase in sales certainly shows that these "big" changes are resonating with the crossover-buying populace. Interior space is of particular note, as there's plenty of headroom, loads of rear seat sprawl space and more cargo capacity than many midsize SUVs. If you can't fit all your cargo inside, adjustable roof rails easily swing inward to serve double duty as cross rails. It's a nifty feature that cuts down on the wind noise and air drag that go along with fixed cross rails.
Despite the Outback's size, the use of high-tensile steel allows it to earn perfect crash scores across the board and keep weight down. In fact, the Outback weighs about 550 pounds less than a Toyota Venza. This certainly makes things easier for the four- and six-cylinder "boxer" engines. Although the latter provides more than enough gusto for those who live in those mountainous places, the four-cylinder's impressive fuel economy when equipped with the optional continuously variable transmission (CVT) should make it the choice for most. Unfortunately, a turbocharged engine is no longer available -- the previous Outback's turbo engine helped compensate for the typical power drop in high-altitude environments.
However, now that the Outback is more crossover than wagon, it does have a greater number of vehicles it must compete with such as the Chevy Equinox, Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4. There's also Subaru's similarly sized Forester, though the Outback differs with a higher-quality interior, a quieter and more comfortable ride and a more carlike driving position. Should you desire a more traditional wagon with better handling than the big-boned Outback, the Volvo V50 and VW Jetta are good choices.
All are worth a look but in general we're impressed with the 2011 Subaru Outback and think it now appeals to a greater number of people. Whether you live in Woolloomooloo or Walla Walla, Washington, the Outback should be able to tackle whatever Mother Nature or your family throws at it.
The current Outback is roomier than pre-2010 models. Added roof height makes the new Outback roomier, with an additional 8 cubic feet of passenger space, and another 5.9 cubic feet of cargo area with the seats folded. Front legroom, still ample for taller drivers, has actually been trimmed slightly in favor of making the back seat more comfortable for long trips. Rear legroom is extended by 4 inches, and the use of curved front seatbacks adds knee room as well.
The Outback models we drove had Premium trim and the better, 10-way driver's seat. The standard seats, four-way adjustable, might not be as adjustable, but they are well designed and there is lots of legroom and headroom. The cabin feels roomy, even after a long day of driving. There is a standard cargo tray, under floor storage, and grocery bag hooks behind the rear seats.
Past Subaru interiors might have been considered quirky, but the current Outback incorporates mainstream design and content characteristics. The dash and cockpit are built around a sporty, four-dial instrument panel and a contemporary upswept center stack. The instrument panel includes a multi-information display that indicates outside temperature, fuel consumption, time, and warning functions for seatbelts and passenger air bags. The transmission gear readout is digital. The steering wheel, a three-spoke design, has four large buttons to control the audio system and cruise control. When equipped with an automatic transmission, paddle shifters are located behind the wheel. Taken as a whole, the interior is clean and contemporary, without being excessively ornate.
The parking brake is controlled electronically via a button to the left of the steering wheel, and has a Hill Hold feature. Higher trim levels offer voice activated GPS navigation, rear backup camera, Bluetooth, USB/iPod input and other amenities.
Employing a car-based four-wheel-independent suspension since its mid-1990s inception, the Outback displays admirable ride quality. It soaks up bumps with little driver disturbance but maintains good control over stretches of broken pavement. Rough pavement can stunt a soft-riding car's reflexes and leave it bobbing up and down, but the Outback suffers little of that.
Steering and handling are good, if not as sharp as they were in the last Outback. Driving enthusiasts will appreciate the steering wheel's heavy weight at low speeds, while average drivers will want more power assist for easier parking-lot maneuvers. On the highway, I could use a little less assist. Holding the wheel at 12 o'clock, it feels a bit too loose.
Find a winding road, however, and the Outback handles well. The steering has good turn-in precision and little midcorner sloppiness. The nose pushes wide in hard corners, exacerbated by our tester's all-season Continental ContiProContact tires, which didn't offer much grip. Stomp hard on the gas coming out of a sweeping corner, though, and you can swing the tail out eventually. Credit the standard all-wheel drive, whose power distribution skews slightly rearward in six-cylinder Outbacks. All automatic Outbacks distribute power between the axles electronically; the manual Outback uses a simpler viscous coupling that's less proactive in doling out power when the wheels start to slip. Still, both systems distribute constant power to each axle. Many on-demand systems send power rearward only when a drive wheel begins to slip; some allow you to enforce a 50/50 split via a locking center differential. We've driven previous Outbacks on trails, and the all-wheel drive — along with an impressive 8.7 inches of ground clearance — make for better capability than you'd expect in a crossover.
Four-wheel-disc antilock brakes are standard, with larger discs installed on six-cylinder Outbacks. The pedal has linear response, making it easy to smooth out your stops. Cram the car full of passengers, and you'll want to plan your stopping distances accordingly. Loaded down with some 500 pounds of cargo, our test car took significantly farther to come to a halt.
The Outback's base engine — a 170-horsepower four-cylinder — delivers leisurely acceleration, in large part because of a continuously variable automatic transmission that's in no hurry to respond to your right foot. (A six-speed manual is standard, but we haven't tested it.) Loaded with passengers, the four-cylinder drivetrain requires patience reaching highway speeds, and it strains to keep up under hard acceleration.
That's not the case with the optional 256-hp six-cylinder. It's a muscular drivetrain, in part because it trades the CVT for a responsive five-speed automatic that's not afraid to hold lower gears or kick down on the highway. Even loaded with cargo, our test car had the sort of torque to pull strongly around town, though getting up to highway speeds didn't leave much extra power on tap.
With the six-cylinder, towing capacity tops out at 3,000 pounds. That's 500 pounds less than many competitors, but the four-cylinder Outback has a 2,700-pound rating — none too shabby for a four-banger.
The combined EPA gas mileage estimates range from 20 mpg with the six-cylinder and automatic to 24 mpg with the four-cylinder and automatic. Both figures are competitive.
The 2011 Subaru Outback comes standard with stability and traction control, four-wheel antilock disc brakes, front side airbags and side curtain airbags. In brake testing, a base 2.5i came to a stop from 60 mph in a longer-than-average 133 feet.
In the government's new, more strenuous crash testing for 2011, the Outback earned an overall rating of four stars out of a possible five, with four stars for overall frontal crash protection and four stars for overall side crash protection.It also achieved the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's top rating of "Good" in its frontal-offset, side and roof strength tests.
Toyota’s very successful SUV the Fortuner, has been comfortably leading the Indian SUV market since its launch two years ago. The Japanese manufacturer however is planning to give it a facelift, as is evident from these leaked brochure pictures.
The nose is now all-new and is designed to appear wider and more aggressive. It features new headlamps that are slightly stretched, a restyled and sculpted bonnet with a larger scoop for the air-intake, a re-profiled bumper and a wider redesigned chrome grille that makes it resemble the Toyota Land Cruiser.
Toyota hasn’t changed the side profile of the Fortuner, but the rear now gets new clear-lens tail-lamps that have a different profile from the current ones. The roof-rack and scuff plate, as seen in the picture, however are likely to be optional extras, which may or may not come with this updated version of the car.
The current Fortuner is powered by a 3.0-litre common rail diesel motor that churns out a respectable 169bhp. This is the same motor that does duty in the larger Land Cruiser Prado as well, although the Prado gets more torque, and the Fortuner may be given this step up as well as an automatic version could be on the cards too, along with imporved interiors.
Toyota has been planning to increase the local content on the Fortuner for some time now and this facelift may provide the perfect opportunity. And this could be accompanied by a correction in price that would make it more affordable. But its not clear when this is likely to happen.
Expect the updated Fortuner to reach our shores by early 2012.
It's easy to be a copycat. You don't have to think as much and there's less risk of failure. Remaking a known commodity like the "A-Team," for instance, has a better shot of bringing in $500 million than an indie film. The same goes for the midsize family sedan segment, which consists of seemingly countless vehicles that play it safe by riffing on the same formula. One notable exception, however, is the 2011 Subaru Legacy.
For years now, the Legacy has resolutely kept beat with its own drummer, and the current car is little different. While nearly everything else goes with the surefire formula of front-wheel drive and a choice of either inline-4 or V6 power plants, the Legacy keeps on rocking its standard all-wheel-drive and horizontally opposed four- and six-cylinder engines, including one that's turbocharged. Then there's the styling, which has always stood out from the crowd -- for better or worse. Despite setting itself apart in such key areas, however, the Subaru Legacy is still a viable family sedan, with top crash test scores, decent four-cylinder fuel economy and comfortable driving dynamics.
However, some of the Legacy's quirks do have downsides. Standard all-wheel drive has obvious traction benefits in poor weather, but the associated mechanical inefficiencies keep the Legacy from being as competitive in fuel economy and acceleration as it could. The turbocharged 2.5GT isn't available with an automatic transmission, which limits its widespread appeal. Also, increasingly common electronic features like Bluetooth, iPod control and navigation are either haphazardly designed or only available in the top-of-the line Limited model with navigation.
Certainly, being a bit different means the Legacy is unlikely to ever match the mighty Accord and Camry for sales supremacy, but it does mean that it has burrowed out a little niche for itself. Still, there are others to consider. The Ford Fusion and Suzuki Kizashi also offer all-wheel-drive, while the Mazda 6 is a good choice for driving enthusiasts. The new Hyundai Sonata is also a class-leading, well-rounded family sedan. Yet, if you're the sort of person who doesn't automatically follow the crowd, the 2011 Subaru Legacy is a solid, non-conformist choice.
The Legacy's interior design is sleek and sophisticated, but you better like silver paint, because the center stack is covered with it. Though the interior plastics look upscale, most of them are hard to the touch and lack the more premium feel found in models such as the Ford Fusion.
The seats are comfortable and the Legacy's provide plenty of headroom and rear seat legroom. In terms of technology, iPod control and streaming Bluetooth audio are available, but you have to ante up for the top-of-the-line Limited trim in order to get it. We've also noticed the nav system's functionality is hampered by fussy controls and small touchscreen icons. You should also note that sound quality from the base sound system is poor and we highly recommend the available Harman Kardon upgrade system. Trunk space is an average 14.7 cubic feet.
Outside, the 2010 model is much more assertive than the outgoing car, which itself was a bit of a shrinking violet. After the departure of designer Andreas Zapatinas and his Edselian B9 Tribeca, the Pleiades brand seemed to lose a bit of its design nerve and the will to create a unified corporate face. But now, it finally seems to be seeking out its mojo once again with this new Legacy.
We're not entirely sure this is a good thing, as the Legacy has gone from understated confidence to a jumble of incomplete ideas (Chrysler Sebring hawkeye headlamps, chrome-happy "wing" grille, hulking flared fenders to emphasize the car's all-wheel drive) that fail to live in complete harmony with each other. We'll leave final judgment up to you, only with the knowledge that the whole package looks better on the street than it does in photos (particularly when fitted with larger alloys that don't get lost in the cartoonishly overemphasized wells) and our divisiveness towards it softened over time. Thankfully, Subaru sales have never been predicated on beautiful sheetmetal, and we can't see this model being any different.
Open up the wider-angle, newly-framed doors (the old, rattle-prone sashless jobbies are gone), and a significantly larger and much-improved interior awaits. Dominating the instrument panel is a silver-effect center stack topped with a birdbath-like information display. The vertical array houses the usual complement of audio and HVAC controls (along with an eight-inch navigation screen if so-optioned), and it has a deep storage pocket for odds-n-ends. Plastics are nicely grained and solid fit-and-finish was in evidence, but greater use of soft-touch surfaces and more sincere-looking faux wood trim on Limited models wouldn't go amiss.
All the controls are easy to reach and intuitive to use, with the exception of a too-crowded and too-low panel that houses the power mirror controls, electronic parking brake, hillholder and traction control defeat buttons, trunk release, gauge brightness control, and a couple of odd-looking blanks. It's simple enough to use once you get the hang of it, but we'd prefer to see the parking brake located on the center console and a larger, separate trunk release. We were a bit surprised not to see the availability of some sort of keyless start system, but as they're often more trouble than they're worth, the absence isn't worth grousing over.
In addition to its obviously heightened quality, the big story with the 2010's interior is its newfound space. In particular, rear accommodations are now genuinely large, with an extra four inches of legroom thanks to the longer wheelbase and deeply scooped-out front seatbacks. Our six-foot, five-inch co-driver had no trouble getting comfortable, and even when he was in situ, there was plenty of knee- and toe-room left behind him for full-grown adults. Total EPA volume is up by 9% to 117.7 cubic feet and betters that of the Toyota Camry and Volkswagen Passat, while trunk space swells by 29% to 14.7 cubic feet (more capacity than Honda's larger Accord).
At the bottom of the lineup, the 2.5i continues with a mostly carryover 2.5-liter, 170-horsepower four-cylinder. Subaru says that a new resin-based intake manifold lowers the engine's weight and improves low-end torque, which stands at 170 lb-ft. -- now at 4,000 rpm versus 4,400 rpm before. Subaru also says that improved cooling and a revised catalyst will boost fuel economy figures above the 20/27 (manual) and 18/25 (automatic) before. The 2.5i will now come standard with a six-speed manual (versus a five-speed in 2009) and it will offer a CVT automatic rather than the four-speed conventional automatic from before.
The 2.5GT features a revised 2.5-liter turbocharged boxer four with 265-horsepower and 258 lb-ft (a 22 horse and 17 lb-ft. improved over the old model). A modified turbocharger and a reduction in rpms required for peak torque -- the torque curve is flat from 2,000 rpm to 5,600 rpm, Subaru says -- make it both faster and more efficient than before. A six-speed manual and five-speed automatic remain available.
At the top of the range, the 3.6R model gets an uprated version of the 3.0-liter flat-six previously offered. Subaru says that the 3.6-liter six, which now uses regular fuel, puts out 256-horsepower and 247 lb-ft. of torque (compared to 245/215 from the outgoing engine). It�€™ll be paired to a five-speed automatic exclusively.
The CVT in the 2.5i, which is expected to make up the bulk of sales if historical figures are to be considered, is the first longitudinally-mounted CVT system in an all-wheel-drive car.
Every 2011 Legacy comes standard with stability and traction control, antilock disc brakes, front side airbags and side curtain airbags. In Edmunds brake testing, the 2.5i came to a stop from 60 mph in a good distance of 121 feet and the 3.6R was in the same ballpark. The 2.5GT stopped in an excellent 111 feet.
In the government's new, more strenuous crash testing for 2011, the Legacy earned an overall rating of four stars out of a possible five, with four stars for overall frontal crash protection and four stars for overall side crash protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety also gave the Legacy its perfect score of "Good" in the frontal-offset, side and roof strength tests.
Skoda has unveiled a dramatic open-top roadster version of its Fabia vRS S2000 rally car at Volkswagen Group’s GTI-Treffen tuning event in Worthersee.
The one-off Skoda Fabia vRS S2000 design concept car has been designed and built specifically for the annual show. Skoda CEO Winfried Vahland told Autocar that the hand-built roadster had been created to “show what the company can do with a Fabia”.
Designers were briefed to “create an original roadster pursuing a single goal – dynamism and the joy of sporting driving”.
Power for the all-wheel drive roadster comes from a twin-turbocharged four-cylinder 2.0-litre petrol engine that produces “over 200bhp”. It weighs around 1200kg and the tracks have been widened in excess of 120mm.
The concept gets a shallow-raked windscreen, which Skoda says allows the occupants of the car “to be at one with nature”. Despite losing its roof, there is room for four inside the Fabia vRS S2000.
It is finished in the same green colour as the road-going Fabia vRS. Design modifications include new bonnet scoops for extra cooling, flared wheel arches with cooling ducts, 18-inch white allow wheels, a rear diffuser and side skirts.
Inside, the dashboard is trimmed with carbonfibre and the material is also used for the door inserts. Front passengers sit in green-piped sports bucket seats with four-point harnesses.
The A7 turns heads. Everywhere. You would think that the metallic beige Audi isn’t unique enough to catch the jaded Mumbaikar’s eye, but that’s just what it does. Credit goes to its low, brooding stance and slit eyed headlamps, but where the A7 is racier than the regular German executive cars is with its Mustang-like fastback rear. We think it looks fantastic and other road users seem to unanimously agree.
We like what’s under the skin too. The A7 shares its innards with the A6 and, indeed, the A4 and A8, all these models using Audi’s MLB platform. It may look like a coupé, but the car occupies quite a bit of real estate. At a shade under five metres long and almost two metres wide, it is longer and wider than an A6, but smaller than an A8.
And, like its siblings, the engine is longitudinally mounted and sends power to all four wheels. Audi’s tried and tested 3.0 V6 diesel motor has been improved for the A7 by using higher injection pressures, new camshaft profiles and a revised turbo. As with most Audi Quattro systems, this one sends 60 percent of its power to the rear axle. Suspension is by way of double wishbones up front and a multi-link setup at the rear with Audi’s adaptive air suspension taking care of damping. A lot of the body is aluminium, including the front suspension struts, so this car weighs in a rather light 1770kg (for its size). The 54/46 front/rear weight distribution is impressive too.
This is a long, low car, and it feels that way when you get in. You stoop to enter, and sit a lot lower than in conventional saloons of this size, but it’s a comfortable place once inside. We liked the interior’s craftsmanship and trimmings that make it feel quite special. The swooping dashboard and door inserts, the precision machining of the aluminium centre console controls and the showy arrival of the MMI system’s screen that rises out from a slot in the dash, all create an alluring first impression.
At the rear, the fastback roofline will scuff the scalps of taller people, and sitting three abreast is a bit of a squeeze. Legroom isn’t bad but what makes it a tad uncomfortable is the upright seat back. The underlying message here is don’t buy this car if the rear seat is a priority. The boot is reasonably spacious and though it’s a bit shallow, it makes up with its length and you can split and fold the rear seats for a bigger load area.
There’s no stinting on equipment. Standard features include adaptive air suspension, two-zone climate control, a fuel saving start-stop system, Audi’s Multi-Media Interface, a parking system with a reverse camera, and 18-inch alloy wheels. The options list is quite long too, so you can really spec it up. But, as with all Audis, the spare tyre is a space saver.
Drive it, and you’ll see the A7 is much more than just a looker. Press the engine start button and the 245bhp, 3.0-litre V6 diesel starts and settles into a beautifully refined idle. The strong point of this engine is the way it makes its 51kgm of torque. It peaks at a low 1400rpm and stays there all the way to 3250rpm. Keep the engine spinning in this range (easy to do via the seven-speed, twin-clutch auto) and you’ll find a car that is rapid in its responses. Flat out, it moves off with convincing urge and performance is befitting of its sporty looks – 100kph comes up in a very rapid 6.6sec and 200kph comes up in under half a minute. The engine is incredibly smooth and refined for the most part, and gets audible only when nearing its redline.
If there is a slight hiccup with the powertrain, it’s that the transmission occasionally hesitates when you want to kick-down. Using the paddleshifts cures this problem, so it is best to do so when you want a quick overtake.
Adding to the car’s relaxed highway manners is the tall seventh gear which gives it long legs. It’s a shame then that there is so much tyre roar in the cabin, especially over concrete roads. It’s the one thing that stops it from being as relaxed a tourer as some of its German rivals.
Around town, the low driving position can be a bit intimidating at first, but you get used to it. That big rear window really makes it easy to see out the back though. It has a genuinely comfortable and pliant ride despite the big wheels and the low-profile rubber. With the adaptive air suspension in comfort mode, it absorbs bumps well and we love the way it dispatches bumps and expansion joints with solid thunks. The comfort setting does allow the car to wallow ever so slightly over undulations and small bumps do tend to catch it out but this isn’t too bad. Ground clearance isn’t as bad as we expected either – simply raise the car on its suspension and it’ll climb over most speedbreakers.
Audi’s drive select system (standard on the A7) lets you tailor everything from engine responsiveness, steering weight, suspension setting and even seatbelt pre-tensioning. Select the dynamic mode and the steering weights up a bit more and you can feel the suspension tightly controlling body movements. Around corners, the A7 displays phenomenal grip and fantastic body control and is quite fun to drive on a twisting road. The electrically assisted steering is a big letdown though – it feels too inert, lifeless and vague. If not for the desensitised steering, the A7 would have been quite a hoot to drive.
The A7 costs Rs 64 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi) which means it sits exactly between the A6 and the A8 on price. It is expensive but that’s the price you pay for style. The A7’s looks, drivetrain and equipment are all compelling reasons to buy one. It rides well, is very refined and is a lot more practical than its shape would suggest. Sweet chariot it is.
Here are exclusive images of Maruti's all-new RIII MPV, slated to be launched by the end of 2011, designed to accommodate the traditional large Indian family. Maruti has stretched the wheelbase to 2740mm which is 380mm more than that of the Ritz, and they have also added an additional rear overhang.
The length of the RIII at 4265mm is well over the critical four-metre length, which means that the RIII won’t qualify for a small-car excise cut. Additionally, the people-mover will get an all-new 1372cc K14 petrol engine which churns out a decent 95bhp and produces 13kgm of torque. Also on the cards is the Fiat-designed, VGT-equipped 89bhp DDiS motor from the SX4.
Browsing through the 2011 Subaru Impreza lineup is akin to strolling down the cereal aisle at the supermarket. There's something here for everyone, ranging from the sensible base Impreza 2.5i hatchback to the wickedly fast WRX STI sedan. With such a wide-ranging lineup, it can actually take a bit of time to figure out what kind of Impreza you want.
The 2011 Subaru Impreza incorporates a number of changes that you'll want to pay attention to. Every Impreza trim level except the base model gets as standard equipment an updated audio system that features iPod integration and Bluetooth connectivity, though sound quality itself still ranks as subpar. There's also a new option for an inexpensive and removable (but dealer-installed) TomTom navigation system.
Those who crave performance will want to check out the 2011 Subaru WRX, which gets not only the STI's wide-body fenders but also improved handling thanks to wider wheels, wider track dimensions and stiffer subframe bushings. And then there's the STI itself, which gets a firmer suspension calibration and lighter wheels to sharpen its handling as well as a few more standard features (such as heated seats). This year is also the first year of the current-generation Impreza where you can order the WRX STI as a sedan in addition to the pre-existing hatchback.
This comprehensive lineup means the Impreza competes against a wide variety of other models. Base Imprezas go up against compacts such as the Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra, Mazda 3 and Volkswagen Golf. The Impreza is neither as fuel-efficient nor as value-driven as its rivals, but it does offer standard all-wheel drive, a notable advantage for those who live where rain and snow are a way of life. The Outback Sport hatchback, with its increased ground clearance and extra body cladding, can even serve as an alternative to a compact crossover SUV.
The performance-tuned WRX belongs to the sport compact club that also includes the Mazdaspeed 3, Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart and Volkswagen GTI. Though lacking in features and refinement, the WRX is like Olympic runner Usain Bolt, as it boasts swift acceleration that beats them all. The WRX STI is a rally-bred performance machine that remains a compelling choice for Fast & Furious types drawn to big turbos, all-wheel drive and limited-slip differentials. Of course, the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution is an omnipresent thorn in the STI's side; enthusiasts are encouraged to test-drive both of these road rockets to see which suits them best.
As you've gathered by now, there are plenty of flavors of the Subaru Impreza. Whether you're a snow-belt resident looking for a basic compact with the advantage of all-wheel drive or a serious performance enthusiast seeking the sweet sensation of turbocharged thrust and agile handling, there's likely an Impreza worthy of a test-drive.
Reviewers agree that while there is plenty of head and legroom in the Impreza’s front seats, the lack of a tilt and telescoping steering wheel on most models makes finding an ideal driving position difficult. Also, the seats themselves seem a bit stiff. Still, those in the rear seat of the Subaru Impreza should have more than enough room.
For the Impreza’s price, its standard features list runs a bit short. It does offer amenities like air conditioning, an audio system with MP3/WMA capability, power windows and mirrors, but there are many less expensive cars that offer these and more. Furthermore, while the controls in the base model are simple to read and use, adding navigation absorbs the stereo controls, which complicates things. Some reviewers also complain about the stereo’s sound quality.
The Suzuki SX4 costs over $1,500 less than the Impreza, also offers all-wheel drive and comes with a similar lineup of interior features. If you upgrade to the SX4 Crossover Technology model (about $17,700), you’ll get a built-in pop-up navigation system standard for only $200 more than you would pay for a base Impreza.
The Impreza’s cargo space varies depending on whether you buy a sedan or hatchback model. The sedan only offers 11.3 cubic feet of cargo space in the trunk, which isn’t bad for the class but isn’t particularly impressive either. On the other hand, the hatchback model has a split folding rear seatback that offers an impressive 19 cubic feet of space with all seats in use and 44.4 cubic feet with the rear seat folded -- which is a lot for a small car.
The WRX builds on the 2.5i and adds 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic climate control, larger brakes, sport-tuned suspension, rear stabilizer bar, tilt and telescopic steering wheel, hood scoop, electroluminescent gauges, cloth rally-style seats, fixed rear seat with folding centre armrest, stereo auxiliary input, aluminum sport pedals, and leather-wrapped wheel.
The Subaru Impreza gets mixed reviews from the automotive press for styling. The hatchback models generally get good reviews, and are described as aggressive and rugged. However, many think the base sedan looks boring.
he Impreza Outback Sport is a more rugged Impreza, similar to how Volvo distinguishes the V70 from the XC70. It's only available as a four-door hatchback featuring a two-tone appearance, with the lower section of the body a contrasting silver hue.
Even with the flared cyclops nostril in the hood, the 2.5 GT flies under the radar more easily than the bulged and bescooped WRX. Handsome 17-inch alloy wheels finish off the GT, and the more you look at it, the better it gets.
Every 2011 Subaru Impreza comes standard with all-wheel drive. The 2.5i and Outback Sport models are powered by a 2.5-liter horizontally opposed (boxer) four-cylinder engine that produces 170 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual transmission with hill-start assist is standard and a four-speed automatic is optional.
In performance testing, this normally aspirated 2.5-liter engine with the manual powered the Impreza from a standstill to 60 mph in 8.2 seconds. Though it benefits from all-wheel drive, estimated fuel economy is subsequently below average for a small car with this type of power -- the manual gets 20 mpg city/27 mpg highway and 22 mpg combined, while the automatic drops the highway number to 26 mpg.
The WRX has a turbocharged version of the 2.5 that cranks out 265 hp and 244 lb-ft of torque. A five-speed manual is the lone transmission choice. Its 0-60 time in testing was a snappy 5.3 seconds, while fuel economy estimates are 18/25/21. The WRX STI gets even more turbo boost for 305 hp and 290 lb-ft of torque. With its standard six-speed manual, the STI achieves fuel economy of 17/23/19 and, more important, reaches 60 mph in a blazing 4.5 seconds.
In addition to standard all-wheel drive, the Subaru Impreza comes with six airbags, anti-lock brakes with brakeforce distribution and brake assist, electronic stability control, and a traction control system.
While the 2011 Impreza has yet to be crash tested, the very-similar 2010 Impreza did very well in government crash tests. It earned a top score of five stars for both driver and passenger protection in a front-end collision, as well as for front passenger protection in a side-impact collision. In addition, it earned four stars for rear passenger protection in a side-impact collision. The Impreza earned a four-star rating in rollover testing, which means it only has a 10 percent chance of rollover in a single vehicle crash.
The insurance industry named the 2011 Impreza a “Top Safety Pick” for receiving a top score of “Good” in all tests for passenger protection in front-end, side impact and rear crash protection collisions, as well as in roof strength tests and standard electronic stability control.