Pros: Floats in pow, rips on groomers, plows through crud.
Cons: Skittish on ice, slightly balky at slower speeds, lots of tip chatter on hard snow.
The Aura remains unchanged since it's inception, with the exception of Volkl discontinuing the 177cm size for 2008-2009, and for good reason....it's a versatile, powerful, rock solid women's ski that does almost everything exceptionally well. I demoed the 2007-2008 in the 163cm, own the 2006-2007 in 177cm (purchased used), and wish I could afford to own both sizes. Discontinuing the 177cm was a huge mistake, IMHO.
The 163cm is snappy and fun, easily zipping through the closest trees and ugliest moguls, providing plenty of fun for east coast and midwest skiers, even on the smaller hills of Michigan.
The 177cm is still slithery through the moguls but requires strength and quick feet when negotiating tighter trees. This length powers through chowder and crud like a feight train and floats heavier skiers through pow while still keeping much of the fun factor of the shorter length.
Given their width underfoot, both are surprisingly powerful and competent carvers on the groomers, rewarding good technique, patience, and commitment to a high edge angle with eye-watering speed and race ski-like performance. They tend to suffer a little on harder snow with plenty of annoying tip chatter while remaining solid underfoot. Both are equally happy doing skidded and scarved turns as well, but they really prefer carving at high and higher speeds, with the shorter length being somewhat less demanding. With the exception of their slightly shaky performance on true east cost ice, these fatties are surprisingly versatile enough to be an everyday ski for any speed loving advanced to expert woman skier.