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The Michelin & TSW Audi Q7 TDI quattro Tiptronic project: Drive with Distinction

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Words by Kimatni D. Rawlins

Audi has always been that out-of-the-box performance and luxury automaker from Germany. Their road to customer satisfaction is expressed from dominance in the fields of engineering, design and telematics. Aficionados know exactly what to expect when the German purveyor of finely tuned, opulent vehicles announces another hit.

Automotive Rhythms’ (AR) quattro evolutionary experience came in the form of an Ibis White Q7 TDI quattro Tiptronic featuring the S line plus package, the Prestige package and the $2,600 adaptive air suspension. With a base price of $51,450 our custom SUV totaled $70,625. The team didn’t stop there, AR also enhanced the Q7 with 21” TSW Nurburgring spins — named after the Nürburgring circuit which is known as “the Ring” and “the Green Hell” by enthusiasts — and the stickiest 21” summer tires we have tested to date (supplied by Michelin).

Whether the ride is for mom or dad the Q7 SUV is breathtaking with every increasing mile. To begin, you are assured added safety and performance measures by way of Audi’s patented quattro permanent AWD system with its 40/60 torque split. Quattro is confident in both increment weather and helps track dynamically on and off road. Not that we were surprised during a recent highway trip from New Jersey to Maryland, but quattro fought through three hours of heavy downpour and never broke a stride. It is phenomenal how savvy Audi’s AWD technology administers grip to the four 21×10.5 TSW Nurburgring Rotary Forged Alloy rims tucked in Latitude Sport 3 295/35/21 Michelin rubber.

2 TSW-Nurburgring-SilverAs stated, the sci-fi shaped AR Q7 was further altered with the $2,000 S line and the $1,200 S line plus packages that include a muscular exterior trim kit, brushed aluminum decorative inlays, a prodigious S line steering wheel with shift paddles, a black headliner, black optic exterior package and 21” Titanium, 5-segment spoke design wheels wrapped by 21/295/35 Dunlop Sp Sport Maxx summer tires. For the warm weather months we swapped out the Audi wheels for TSWs and immediately did away with the Dunlops which were ultra loud. The last enhancement came from the $12,500 Prestige collection comprising but not limiting to MMI Navigation plus, adaptive lights, Audi parking system plus, rearview camera, Audi side assist, deep tinted, Panorama sunroof, ventilated front seats, manual sunshades and the BOSE Surround Sound audio system. I personally love Bang & Olufsen’s advanced listening experience but always find it tough accepting the $6,300 price point when BOSE provides a very reputable alternative.

It’s amazing how a proper wheel package can make all the difference in the ride quality, maneuverability and stopping power of your vehicle. Not that we didn’t like the Audi S line rims, however, with a rim named after the Green Hell AR had no choice but to request a set. TSW says the Nurburgring is manufactured using a highly advanced production technique called Rotary Forging. The rim of the wheels is forged at high pressure while the wheel is spun at high speed. This alters the molecular structure and enhances the strength of the alloy. The benefit is a much lighter weight than a regular cast wheel. Most importantly, the weight saving is in the outer rim of the wheel which dramatically reduces rotational mass and enhances vehicle performance. Nürburgring, built in 1927 by the German government is an absolute work of art; think of it as a motorsports amusement park. I had the chance to visit, explore and race on The Ring with pal and fellow auto aficionado Jay Leno who was also a neophyte the time of our visit. This test track is unlike any other I’ve experienced such as its location planted in the middle of a forest — hence the Green Hell reference. You don’t want to go flying into the wilderness from any of the 12.9-mile circuit’s stretches or bends. Nürburgring sets the industry standard for durability, performance and endurance. It’s reputed to be the toughest and most demanding test track in the world.

5 MichelinWrap the TSWs in the Michelin Latitude Sport 3 and every aspect of driving is boosted. It was like comparing Usain Bolt to everyone else when we made the tire swap. The first thing noticed was the traction and the next was the vehicle’s shorter braking distance. In combination with 6-piston front ventilated discs the Latitude Sport 3s were admirable in slowing down the 225 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque from the Audi’s 3-liter TDI clean diesel turbocharged V6 engine. Shifting is actuated through an 8-speed Tiptronic transmission with sport and manual shift modes and steering comes from Servotronic vehicle-speed sensitive power steering. For the Latitude Sport 3 braking is its top attribute in comparison to the other performance ratings for rubber quality including fuel efficiency, wear, comfort and off-roading categories. In a nutshell, the summer SUV tire is for top-end performance with ultra dry traction and great wet grip due to an innovative tread compound and increased void ratio. Michelin states rolling resistance is improved through the reduction of tread block deformation (caused from braking) by variable thickness sipes. The grooves and lines from sipes flush out water and improve overall traction. “The angle, width and depth are certainly much more precise when originally molded into the tire. Michelin does not recommend aftermarket siping, but rather selecting the appropriate tread for the intended use or application,” explained Michelin’s Chris Tolbert. The tire company offers the Latitude Sport 3 in 18”, 19”, 20” and 21” fitments.

Even through a sound exterior and supplementary handling technologies benefits our ride, the Q7 also provides an array of various connectivity features from Audi’s Multi Media Interface (MMI) for driver convenience. MMI is one of the most advanced telematics systems in the auto industry. When inputting addresses in the Google Earth navigation system which displays from the LCD screen, superior visual computing takes over and guidance is considerably enhanced by displaying satellite and 3D imagery. Online searches, weather updates, fuel prices, RSS news feeds and sports scores are also at your disposal.

One can never go wrong with an Audi product unless pricing is your only limitation. From the R8 to the S7 they tap into the senses and sensualize your every want or need. Once you reach a destination and look back at your remarkable AR Audi Q7, “driven with distinction” is the only thought you’ll be left with. Enjoy!

 

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