2020 Audi A7

The 2020 Audi A7 strikes an enviable balance between luxury, performance, practicality, and style. Moreover, with its 48-volt mild-hybrid powertrain, the A7 is even somewhat frugal. It is the automotive equivalent of a German chocolate cake that’s made out of vegetables, albeit one procured from a pricey artisan bakery and not Safeway.

We score the 2020 A7 at 7.2 out of 10, making it among our highest-rated cars. Nobody said that the best is cheap, though. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The A7 pops into 2020, this design’s sophomore year, in Premium, Premium Plus, and Prestige trims. Other than some mild options shuffling, the A7 is unchanged. 

Review continues below

Beneath its shapely body, which evolves its groundbreaking predecessor’s lines with sharper creases and brighter LED detailing, the A7 makes use of a 3.0-liter turbocharged V-6. With 335 horsepower shuttled to all four wheels through a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, the A7 provides brisk performance. Its air suspension includes adaptive dampers that smother road imperfections exceptionally well. Handling is confident, if not especially spirited. Opting for the available rear-wheel steering and active rear differential make the car sharper, though not more engaging. 

Inside, the A7 is loaded with screens in most configurations. Even the base Premium car has two screens on the center stack that absorb most climate, audio, and infotainment functions. The system requires considerable acclimation, though it’s relatively intuitive given the sheer volume of functions handled. A larger screen comes on Premium Plus models as well as a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster that can double as a glitzy display for the infotainment system. 

All those screens impart a somewhat sterile feel inside, though warmer upholstery hues and the various wood trims on offer help a little. The A7 has comfortable front seats that offer cooling and massage, and the rear seat has good leg room if limited head space. Cargo room is a plus thanks to the nearly hidden hatchback lines. With the rear seats folded, the car can lug upward of 49 cubic feet of items, which bests some SUVs. 

Active safety features include standard automatic emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection. Options include adaptive cruise control, active lane control, and advanced features that warn drivers and automatically brake the car if they detect cross traffic. 

The A7 is a relatively low-guilt luxury car when it comes to fuel consumption, too. With an EPA combined rating of 24 mpg, the A7 is something of a fuel-sipper given its prodigious power. 

Runaway Truck Tire Smashes Into Dealership Wrecking Trevor Bauer’s McLaren 650S

Trevor Bauer can consider himself a lucky man. At 28, he has a very successful and lucrative career as a pitcher in Major League Baseball.

He has amassed a $30 million fortune during nine seasons of playing baseball at the highest level for the Arizona Diamondbacks, Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds. A 28-year-old guy who makes millions a year must have some expensive hobbies and so does Bauer, who is into luxury cars.

His collection includes a 2016 McLaren 650S for which he paid a $300,000. Sadly, it no longer is in tip-top shape, though – quite the opposite, in fact.

Watch: Pickup Gets Hit By Runaway Tires, Driver Walks Away Unharmed

His pride and joy was totaled on Tuesday while stationed at a dealership in Houston, Texas. In what can only be described as a freak accident, a tire on a semi truck driving on a neighboring highway came loose, flew across six lanes of traffic and smashed into the showroom, landing right on top of Bauer’s McLaren!

It was a miracle the runaway tire didn’t hit anyone, but the British supercar was not that lucky. According to TMZ, the car is a write-off but fortunately it’s insured, so Bauer won’t take a hit. Looking at the photo, one can see the big wheel resting on the supercar’s engine compartment but the damage does not appear to be that dramatic from this angle. It doesn’t look like something that cannot be repaired, but the insurance company clearly knows more about this than we do.

Unsurprisingly, Bauer was able to joke about the whole thing in a tweet. You would have probably joked too if you were to make a cool $18 million during the next season of whatever it is that you’re doing.

UAW, FCA reach tentative labor agreement

DETROIT – Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and the UAW reached a tentative agreement on a four-year labor contract covering wages, benefits and job security for 47,200 workers, the union and company said Saturday.

The UAW did not immediately provide details of the deal but it’s expected to follow the framework set by contracts the union has ratified with General Motors and Ford Motor Co. Those deals include signing bonuses of at least $9,000, wage increases, no change to health care costs and a path for temporary employees to attain full-time status.

A council made up of officers from UAW locals that represent Chrysler workers around the country must approve the agreement before it’s presented to members for ratification, a spokesman said. The union said the council will review the pact on Wednesday Dec. 4.

If cleared by the council, FCA workers would hold ratification votes starting Friday Dec. 6, the union said.

“Out of respect for our members, we will refrain from commenting any further or releasing full details of the agreement until the UAW-FCA Council leaders meet and review the details,” Cindy Estrada, head of the union’s FCA bargaining unit, said in a statement.

Under the proposed deal, the UAW secured a signing a bonus of $9,000 with FCA, according to several media reports. FCA, which is adding factory capacity in the U.S. to expand the Jeep lineup, has also agreed not close any plants and slot new product in an Illinois assembly plant, Bloomberg reported.

Estrada said negotiators secured an additional $4.5 billion of investments during talks, in addition to previous plans for a $4.5 billion investment to open a new assembly plant in Detroit and revamp several other facilities in Southeast Michigan. The $9 billion in investments will add 7,900 jobs during the contract period, the union said.

The company said it would provide details of the pact at a later date.

Long wait

FCA workers waited during a 40-day UAW strike at GM and then it took three weeks for the union to get a deal with Ford ratified before FCA talks went back on the front burner.

Several major developments emerged during the FCA negotiations: In late October, the company announced it planned to merge with France’s PSA Group, a move that would create the world’s fourth-largest automaker. That news has been met with skepticism from some workers, and it came just four months after FCA backed out of a potential merger with Renault, another French automaker.

Last week, GM filed a racketeering lawsuit claiming that FCA corrupted labor contracts signed with the union in 2011 and 2015. UAW President Gary Jones also resigned.

A sweeping federal corruption probe of the UAW and FCA has resulted in charges against 13 people, 10 of whom have pleaded guilty.

Ratification of the FCA deal could be more difficult than at GM and Ford because of distrust created by the widening corruption atop the union. In 2015, UAW workers rejected the first tentative agreement reached with FCA and secured a better contract as a result.

One worker who asked not to be identified said he can’t imagine “voting to accept the first few offers. This is not only on a monetary or benefits basis, but also on working conditions.”

FCA has added more than 20,000 hourly manufacturing employees since 2009, and temporary workers make up 13 percent of its workforce, the company said in October. During the 2015 contract talks, FCA expanded its ability to use temporary workers from just Mondays, Fridays and weekends to all week. Going into talks, FCA was again looking to expand the number of temps it uses to cover absenteeism.

FCA says temps are one of the few levers it can pull that exerts downward pressure on labor costs, which at $55 an hour are the lowest among the Detroit 3.

CEO seeks to right Adient’s ship

DETROIT — Since taking the CEO job at Adient in October 2018, Doug DelGrosso has been operating as a kind of field surgeon — cutting away situations of the past that left the seating giant with billions in losses, applying a tourniquet to its bleeding business units and ultimately asking the company’s employees to endure through the pain.

“We’ve been pretty upfront about what needs to be done,” a stoic DelGrosso said from his corner office in suburban Detroit in November, shortly after sharing some bad news with his headquarters staff. “I thanked them for taking the burden on.”

“The burden” is what DelGrosso has declared as a “Back to Basics” drive. He believes Adient — the world’s biggest seat supplier, with 2018 revenue of $17.4 billion — has been distracted by costly ideas not core to its business. He intends to scale back from those mission distractions and focus on what made Adient powerful: auto seats.

That path, he said, will bring Adient back to breakeven in 2020.

But there will be short-term pain at the company.

Corporate employees will end the year on unpaid vacation. In a company town hall meeting last month, DelGrosso announced that 1,300 nonplant salaried employees would not work or receive pay for the weeks of Thanksgiving, Nov. 25-29, or New Year’s, Dec. 30-Jan. 3.

“With so much uncertainty, I decided to take decisive action,” DelGrosso said. “I think people get it. They probably don’t like it, but it was the right thing to do. We’re continuing on the path we’re on.”

It has been rough going for Adient since it was spun off from Johnson Controls Inc. in October 2016. It recorded more than $3 billion in losses over the past two fiscal years, with troubles from what the company called mismanaged launches and a botched attempt to move its headquarters to downtown Detroit that resulted in an $11 million loss before renovations were ever completed.

The board recruited DelGrosso after he turned around another troubled supplier, Chassix, a producer of metal powertrain, chassis and subframe parts.

On paper, Adient is lagging behind its two key North American competitors, Lear and Magna International. Lear and Magna enjoy operating profit margins higher than 11 percent, compared with Adient’s at just more than 5 percent. Both Lear and Magna have delivered impressive growth by investing away from seating. But DelGrosso maintains that Adient will stay the course as a seating supplier.

That strategy may play out well for Adient, says Colin Giles, a research analyst focused on supply chain and technology for IHS Markit.

“Investing in the right products and technologies is crucial, particularly as the technological adoption and development trend in the auto industry is accelerating rapidly,” Giles said. “While it is important to keep an eye on the future, companies must not lose focus on the present.”

DelGrosso says that means right-sizing Adient’s seat structures and mechanisms division. The goal is to pare that division’s $3 billion in revenue by $400 million by letting bad contracts run their course and getting out of the business of supplying parts to competitors.

“We’re reducing revenue on selling across the broader range,” DelGrosso said. “We were selling not only to customers but to competitors, and it created challenges and diminished our returns on that scale. We’re allowing for an organic roll-off.”

Much of what DelGrosso is implementing is just that — allowing questionable operations to expire. Many of the company’s problems can be attributed to lusting after acquisitions and diversification, he said.

“A lot of that activity moved us away from the formula of Adient,” DelGrosso said. Former executives wanted to expand into new products — for example, through an aerospace joint venture with Boeing.

“That diluted a lot of resources, took us away from our core business,” he said. “We diluted ourselves to a point where we weren’t executing on launches and were not commercially focused.”

On Oct. 18, Adient reduced its stake in the joint venture with Boeing from 50.01 percent to just 19.9 percent.

DelGrosso also inherited a company burdened with debt — another focus of his turnaround effort. Adient took on $3.5 billion in debt at its birth to fund a $3 billion dividend payout to JCI, leaving the new supplier with a debt load roughly twice its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization.

Adient recognized the move as a risk from the get-go, reporting in a regulatory filing at launch that significant leverage put the company at a competitive disadvantage and could limit its ability to perform. Adient also faced $1.5 billion in impairment charges related to the spinoff.

As part of its market-share growth strategy when it was still operating as JCI, the company acquired two German seating suppliers — Keiper, and its specialty seat business Recaro, as well as C. Rob. Hammerstein Group. Digesting those acquisitions became a problem for its seat structures and metals and mechanisms division. The company spent years integrating the two acquisitions while bleeding cash.

As a result, Adient closed out its first full year of existence in 2016 with a $1.5 billion loss. JCI separated financial reporting of Adient ahead of its October 2016 spinoff.

DelGrosso climbed out of a heavy debt scenario in his mission at Chassix. That company had been fused together by investment interests in 2013. But the resulting debt proved insurmountable, and Chassix filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March 2015 with $556.7 million in total debt and $34.3 million in assets after missing bond payments. It reorganized and emerged in July of that year.

DelGrosso arrived at Chassix at the end of 2015 and led the company on a $50 million expansion in Europe and a $30 million acquisition of the automotive casting business of Austrian conglomerate Benteler International.

Now at Adient, DelGrosso is again attempting to get above the debt. In May, Adient secured a deal to refinance its debt to the tune of $750 million, pushing its debt maturing out until 2024.

Wall Street has viewed both DelGrosso and his first year of steps positively, and the company’s stock is up more than 23 percent so far this year.

In an analyst note last month, David Whiston, autos stock analyst for Morningstar Inc., commented that Adient is making progress.

“With what we see as the right team in place to fix Adient’s woes, more time to reduce debt and option value from nonautomotive markets — such as business-class airplane seats and perhaps higher-dollar automotive seating content from autonomous vehicles — we think Adient is a compelling opportunity for investors willing to ride out the volatility of a turnaround story,” Whitson said. “The stock isn’t for everyone, though, because the turnaround is likely to take a long time.”

DelGrosso sees similarities between the situation at Adient and the crisis that the smaller Chassix lived through.

“Both are the result of poor execution and an aggressive growth strategy,” he said. “We had a few tough launches, but only a minority of plants in the U.S. and Europe were troubled. I saw this as an opportunity to reflect on how we were operating the businesses. I decided to push accountability and responsibility back to the regions. Leaders in those regions now have the autonomy to operate efficiently.”

Since his arrival, DelGrosso has terminated several executives, including Byron Foster, the executive vice president responsible for overseeing the seats and mechanisms business, and Brian Grady, vice president of the commercial business.

DelGrosso wanted more decision-making and problem-solving at the local level. The company was too centrally focused, he said, and bloated with centralized upper management.

DelGrosso is facing up to the missteps and believes Adient can return to a breakeven level.

“In a stable environment, that’s not theoretical; that’s a reasonable target,” he said. “This is a really good company. We’re rebuilding its credibility. We’re executing things as fast as we can without creating more problems. We’re a very capable company, and I think that’s becoming apparent.”

Buying An Electric Car? Test Your Knowledge Of These Warning Symbols

Buying An Electric Car? Test Your Knowledge Of These Warning Symbols

With more and more folks switching to electric and hybrid vehicles nowadays, Leasing Options thought it would be a good opportunity to test out your electric and hybrid car knowledge by challenging you to a dashboard warning light quiz!

In this quiz you’ll only find warning lights that’ll pop up on these types of cars, rather than on conventional petrol and diesel ones. If you are thinking of or have just bought yourself a new electric or hybrid car, it’s important that you know these warning lights in case one illuminates on your dashboard while on the road.

The quiz will not only tell you what the warning light is, but also what to do when one appears, so you know whether it’s a simple case of restarting the car or if you need to pull over and get the fault fixed immediately.

So, take the quiz and put your electric and hybrid knowledge to the test and once you’re done, why not share it with your friends to see who knows the most?

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The Founder of driveEV. A driving and new technology fan enjoying learning all about the future of motoring. I drive a BMW i3.