And the winners are
Audi takes four category wins in the annual Drive Car of the Year awards.
From high-performance SUV to all-electric, Audi has claimed no less than four wins in the 2021 Drive Car of the Year awards.
5 May, 2021
The results not only demonstrate the merits of each individual model but also the diversity of the Audi range
Despite our small population relative to land mass, Australia is one of the toughest automotive markets on earth with nearly 70 manufacturers represented Down Under. Competition is fierce in every category and to stand out and be recognised in this environment is no small achievement.
In the coveted Drive Car of the Year awards for 2021, Audi has been recognised as ‘best in class’ in no less than four very different categories, with one category winner, the all-electric Audi e-tron, was also a finalist in the overall ‘Car of the Year’ category.
The coveted awards are amongst the most prestigious in the country and are judged by a panel made up of some of Australia’s most respected motoring journalists and experts. Now in its 15th year, this year’s Drive Car of the Year awards was the biggest ever, with every vehicle released in Australia over the past year – more than 500 vehicles – driven throughout the year, to arrive at around 80 vehicles across 22 categories. These were then put through their paces in a demanding on track drive program and judged against strict criteria, including being compared to past winners in their category.
To make the finals of any given group was an achievement worthy of merit, while to go that extra step and clinch the top spot required something special from the ultimate winner.
For Audi, the A3, A6, RS Q8 and Audi e-tron each achieved top honours in their respective categories for Best Small Luxury Car, Best Large Luxury Car, Best Sports Performance SUV and Best Electric vehicle respectively.
The results not only demonstrate the merits of each individual model but also the diversity of the Audi range. To have a model recognised by such a prestigious and respected publication is always gratifying, but to receive wins across four distinct categories shows the depth of the brand’s product.
Competition across the board was understandably stiff in what was the biggest Drive Car of the Year awards since its inception. Vehicles were judged on their value equation, specification and equipment as well as performance, handling, safety and criteria specific to their respective categories.
In the Best Small Luxury car category, the Audi A3 impressed the judges with its ‘confident ride and handling’ as well as the ‘first rate’ assembly and materials of the interior.
Drive Managing Editor Trent Nikolic, called the Audi A3 a ‘great all rounder and the best value for money’ out of the finalists which all hailed from Germany.
The Drive judges called Audi’s A3 ‘the perfect execution of simplicity and attention to detail. Solid as a rock, it’s as enjoyable as it is practical’.
The award recognised the variety within the A3 range itself, with Sportback, Sedan and Cabriolet variants all available as well as performance S and RS models. Testing and evaluation though was conducted using the front-wheel drive 40 TFSI model which impressed with its handling, performance and economy – the combination in concert with the fit, finish and equipment proving a compelling package that earned the compact luxury Audi Drive’s Best Small Luxury Car award for 2021.
The Drive judges called Audi’s A3 ‘the perfect execution of simplicity and attention to detail. Solid as a rock, it’s as enjoyable as it is practical’
The Audi A6 Sedan – “The perfect marriage of technology and luxury. The Audi A6 is the understated executive choice”
At the other end of the size spectrum there was considerable praise for the Audi A6 in its win in the Large Luxury Car class, the Drive judges calling it ‘arguably the most accomplished car in the German brand’s range’. The current iteration of the A6 Sedan, which was launched in Australia in 2019 ticked all of the boxes according to the Drive team – ‘large, luxurious, powerful, quiet on the road, and brimming with the latest technology’.
In terms of its ride, the judges gave the A6 the thumbs up for its ‘sense of balance and solidity’ as well as its ability to ‘eat up large distances with ease … making it the perfect long haul tourer’.
The A6’s competence across the board was what won out against its opposition, its refined road manners, premium cabin and technology giving it the edge.
After the exhaustive testing the judges couldn’t go past the A6 which they agreed was ‘the most competent, comfortable and practical all-rounder, delivering a blend of luxury, quality and driving dynamics that put it ahead of the field’.
“The perfect marriage of technology and luxury. The Audi A6 is the understated executive choice.”
Launched in Australia last year, the Audi RS Q8 is the sort of vehicle that makes a big impression on all who drive it and still holds the record as the fastest SUV around the Nürburgring Nordschleife. Its extraordinary performance is impressive enough in isolation – 0 to 100km/h in 3.8 seconds and to 200km/h in 13.7 seconds – but given its size and luxury appointment, these figures take on new significance.
This performance and the RS Q8’s overall package likewise made an impression on the Drive judges, who described it as ‘sharp, precise and balanced’ despite its considerable size. Its cabin finish and execution was also singled out for comment with road tester Jez Spinks, calling the interior room ‘palacial’.
‘The RS Q8 is as comfortable as it is competent on track’ said the Drive judges, who had to keep reminding themselves that they were driving a large SUV, such was the thrust from the 4.0 twin turbo V8 which produces 441kW and a stonking 800Nm of torque.
“The Audi RS Q8 is a feat of engineering, delivering blistering performance and grip in a truly luxurious package.”
According to the Drive judges, ‘if you only had one vehicle and it had to do everything, then the RS Q8 is as good as it gets’. High praise indeed.
“The Audi RS Q8 is a feat of engineering, delivering blistering performance and grip in a truly luxurious package”
‘The underpinnings of [the Audi e-tron] are fantastic, the technology, the execution, the fit and finish and the build quality are all first rate’
A relatively new segment nationally and a young category for the Drive awards, the growing importance of electric vehicles and the increasing number and variety available on Australian roads makes this segment a significant one. For Audi too this is an area of great interest as the brand pursues its electric goals for the future, the Audi e-tron being its first all-electric model to be released globally.
That the Audi e-tron made its Australian debut just last year, makes its win in this category on debut all the more significant. Up against both seasoned performers and relative newcomers in the category, the Audi e-tron impressed Drive’s judges as ‘an exceptional all-rounder’ that ‘felt like an Audi behind the wheel, with the same quality driving experience you’d expect from any other Audi SUV, just with a very different drivetrain.”
From its exterior styling to the vehicle’s interior, the Audi impressed, with the brand’s reputation for great interiors evident – the e-tron ‘taking it to another level’ with what could be described as ‘next generation Audi’ with its interior design and finish.
In terms of driving and its ability on the track, Drive’s exhaustive testing found the e-tron to be ‘planted, confidence-inspiring and composed through the slalom and braking test’.
‘The underpinnings of it [the Audi e-tron] are fantastic, the technology, the execution, the fit and finish and the build quality are all first rate’.
This combination not only saw the Audi e-tron take the Best Electric Vehicle category on debut, but also saw it shortlisted as a finalist for the overall 2021 Drive Car of the Year award.
It was a powerful performance not just for the Audi e-tron, but for all four of the Audi models that rose to the top of their respective classes and demonstrated that the same endearing Audi qualities are evident in vehicles designed and engineered for very different categories.
Want to ensure you always receive the latest news and features from Audi? Subscribe now to the Audi Magazine newsletter.