Monday, August 20, 2007

Audi A1

Tokyo Motor Show.
We have seen pictures, artist’s impressions and concept models, but not anything near what the new Audi A1 will look like. So it will be a relief to finally see what Audi’s attempt at a new city car will be like. Audi is calling the A1 a hybrid concept car, but we know that Audi will sell more gas/petrol and diesel versions than it will hybrid one.

See the Audi A1 Concept at the 40th Tokyo Motor Show 2007. The show will run for 17 days and will open from Friday October 26th to Sunday November 11th, although the show will not be open to the public until Saturday October 27th.

Monday, June 18, 2007

2008 Audi RS6

Current Audi A6 has been on sale for almost two years now, but we’re still at least a year away from the release of the potent Audi RS6 super-sedan and Avant. Originally thought to debut at September’s Frankfurt Auto Show, latest reports suggest that its release date has been pushed back to June next year.

The BMW M5 and Mercedes E63 have already proven there potential in both the sales race and on the track, but we’re still waiting to see what Audi can do to topple the former Audi RS6. Commonly referred to as a wolf in sheep’s clothing, the original RS6 sedan was chosen by many motoring mags as the pick of the bunch over the BMW and Mercedes competition.

Spotted on numerous occasions undergoing final testing at Germany’s Nürburgring, often with an M5 in tow, the next RS6 is rumored to feature the same 5.2L V10 from the S6 but with a turbocharger bolted on for extra kick. Early estimates put its output in the vicinity of 520-550bhp, enough to give it a significant power advantage over its rivals.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Audi Cross Coupe Quattro Concept

The silhouette is typical Audi; the design of the study, painted in Liquid Silver, is highly reminiscent of the sporty models produced by the Ingolstadt brand. The proportions and the large 20" wheels point clearly towards the offroad potential of the Cross Coupé quattro. A new element is the fabric folding roof, which, when it is open, gives optimum levels of headroom and fresh air. The hood is opened and closed electrically.

The transversely installed four-cylinder inline TDI engine with common-rail fuel injection and piezo injectors is a completely new development. With power output of 204 bhp and 400 Nm of torque, it gives the vehicle a sporty performance and a surprising degree of efficiency. On average the ultra-modern 2.0 TDI needs just 5.9 litres of diesel per 100 km. The diesel particulate filter and Bluetec system reduce soot and nitric oxide emissions effectively. Even today, the Audi Cross Coupé quattro satisfies the emissions standards of the future.

The quattro permanent four-wheel drive system is a matter of course on an Audi with offroad potential. A Haldex clutch ensures that traction is precisely distributed according to the situation. The sporty Audi S tronic dual-clutch gearbox executes gearshifts in a matter of milliseconds.

The running gear, featuring a McPherson-strut front axle and a four-link rear axle is perfect for sporty and agile handling that retains a high degree of stability and makes cornering distinctly fun. As an additional quality, the driving comfort of the running gear impresses on all types of road and in rough terrain, meeting even the standards expected of a vehicle in a higher class. Ceramic brake discs promise excellent, non-fading deceleration. 20" wheels give the Cross Coupé quattro the ground clearance required.

Numerous electronic systems support the driver. The Audi drive select system makes it possible to preselect three highly individual configurations for the engine, gearbox, steering and adaptive shock absorbers. The result: a car that can be enjoyed in three completely different ways.

Besides the standard "dynamic" drive select mode and the "sport" setting, the Audi Cross Coupé also has the "efficiency" driving program. Here, the engine map and the shift points are modified to support a particularly economical driving style. In addition, the system deactivates components that are particularly energy-hungry, for example the air-conditioning compressor.

Another innovation is the MMI control panel, which is operated by a touch pad. The monitor of the system employs, for the first time, dual-view technology. The system can produce different images for the driver and front-seat passenger. These images are only visible when viewed from a specific angle. This allows the driver to read data from the on-board computer while the front passenger watches a TV programme, listening to the sound through headphones.

The sound system with the prominent extending tweeters sets a new infotainment standard in the class. The ambient lighting with numerous light sources gives the interior a stylish ambience, even at night.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

2009 Audi A4

First and foremost the new Audi A4 will utilize Audi's up-and-coming MLP (Modular Longitudinal Platform) technology which will form the basis of not only the Audi A4 and A5, but the also soon-to-be-revealed Q5 crossover SUV, next-generation A6, the as-yet-to-be-announced A7 and even the next A8. MLP allows Audi to place the engine and transmission further back behind the axle and helps stretch the wheelbase without lengthing the car's exterior dimensions. Less front overhang means the 2009 Audi A4 will be less front-heavy than its predecessor, a problem which has dogged most Audis for some time.

The new Audi A4 will only be about one inch longer than the current A4, although the longer wheelbase will make it appear to be a relatively bigger car. Front and rear overhang each decrease by nearly three inches. Thanks to its available next generation quattro all-wheel drive (rear-biased with a 40/60 split) and MLP architechture the new Audi A4 will handle significantly better than any of the previous generation A4s before it.

The new Audi A4 will also get something that its A5 brethren unfortunately did not - LED tail lamps. We have been told that the development cycle on the A5 was such that tail lamp designs had to be locked-in before the more cost effective LED models to be used on the Audi A4 could be finalized. The Audi A4 will also include headlight-integrated LED daytime running lights as an option, while the S4 will get them as a standard feature.

Inside the new Audi A4 it will be more of the same from Audi; world class interior treatments will grace the Audi A4 and each of its variants. The cabin will be very similar to the A5's with a more raked (and slightly driver's side skewed) center console, an all new climate control and audio center stack and more distinctive gauges. The driver will be able to adjust the armrest both up-and-down and by sliding front to back.

Interior seating comfort will be largely unchanged from the previous A4, with the exception of the rear seats where at least an inch of additional legroom will be available due to the wheelbase changes.

Powerplants for North America will be standard Audi fare with a 2.0-liter TFSI, a 3.2-liter V6 and the 4.2-liter FSI V8 in the S4 version. Expect to see a new 1.8-liter TFSI offering for Europe as well as both 4 and 6-cylinder TDI variants. Available transmissions will include a 6-speed manual, multitronic and Audi's newest S-tronic dual-clutch gearbox.

Audi is being very tight lipped about exact Audi A4 variants beyond the standard sedan offering. Looking at the current generation Audi A4, Audi produces the Audi A4 sedan, Audi A4 Avant, Audi A4 Cabriolet, Audi S4 sedan, Audi S4 Avant, Audi S4 Cabriolet and Audi RS4. Things will definitely change, but the final details are unknown at this time.

We can safely speculate that the Audi A4 and Audi S4 Cabriolets go away in favor of a A5 and S5 Cabriolets, respectively. We have also read at least one article saying that the Audi A4 and Audi S4 Avants will be replaced by the upcoming Audi Q5, although we hear that this is simply not the case. The Q5 will be marketed as an SUV, which is clearly different than the Audi A4 / S4 Avant. Last, a four-door Audi A4 Sportback has been mentioned and this remains a weak possibility as a 2010 or beyond model.

The 2009 Audi A4 will be available in Europe by spring 2008 with general availability in North America later that fall. No pricing has been confirmed, but consumers should not expect to see much in the way of price increases. One things is certain: buyers will be getting more car for the money with the next generation Audi A4.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

2007 Audi S8

If you think there's no point spending almost $100,000 for something with a 450-horsepower Lamborghini-sourced V-10 engine no one notices, then read no further. Audi's new S8 isn't for you. But if you like the idea of a big, fast, elegantly tailored limousine that slips effortlessly--and rapidly--under the radar, you'll love this car. In an era when AMG Benzes are getting bolder and brassier with every model and BMW's M cars are heading for techno-overkill, the subtle new S8 is the stealth-fighter of sport sedans. In our week with this black-over-gray, German-plated S8 tester, nary a single car-savvy Angeleno's head was turned. And, quite frankly, that's just the way we liked it.

You see, the S8 is a selfish pleasure. Nail the gas and that direct-injection, 5.2-liter V-10 emits a deep, velvety growl--a smooth-jazz remix of the Lamborghini Gallardo's mighty bellow--and gives a satisfying shove between the shoulder blades. You can fan the Tiptronic paddles on the six-speedautomatic if you like, but it's better to let the computer do the thinking and allow the tach needle to kiss 7100 rpm on the upshifts, the engine clearing its throat with a soft whump! between each ratio.

Keep your right foot buried, and you'll hit 60 mph in 4.9 seconds and 100 mph in 12.0 and nail the standing quarter mile in 13.4 seconds at 105.6 mph. No, it isn't nosebleed-quick like an S65 Benz (for the record, AMG's ueber-limo nails 60 mph in just 4.2 seconds, 100 in 9.3, and the standing quarter in 12.4 seconds at 116.5 mph, blowing the doors off a Porsche 911 Carrera S in the process). But there's a crispness and flair to the big Audi's power delivery that betrays the Italian soul buried deep in the machine.

That is the engine, of course. The basic architecture is shared with Lamborghini's513-horsepower, 5.0-liter Gallardo V-10, but the bores have been enlarged to boost capacity. Forged connecting rods allow a 7200-prm redline, and offset crankpins permit an even 72-degree firing cadence, smoothed further by a balance shaft located in the center of the block. The engine uses Audi's FSI direct-injection system, which pumps fuel directly into each combustion chamber at high pressure, allowing a compression ratio of 12.5:1 and more efficient combustion. The result is not only a healthy 450 horsepower at 7000 rpm, but also, thanks to the variable intake manifold, a useful 398 pound-feet of torque at 3500 rpm.

Why a V-10? Audi claims it's the perfect compromise between a V-12, which would need a longer block and suffer from more internal friction from the additionalcylinders, valves, etc., and a V-8, which would be more compact, but would have larger, heavier pistons and wouldn't rev as freely as a result. Offset bores mean the engine is just 26.9 inches long, with all ancillaries attached. Just as well, because most of it is hanging out ahead of the front axle.

Audi's trademark vehicle architecture--longitudinal engines mounted ahead of the front-axle centerline--is as stubbornly iconoclastic as a Porsche 911's. The scales tell the story: 59 percent of the S8's mass is carried by the front wheels. You don't have to be Isaac Newton to figure out this thing's going to understeer. Mind you, Audi'sengineers have tried hard to prove ol' Isaac wrong. The V-10 engine weighs just 485 pounds fully dressed, and the default torque split of the all-wheel-drive system sends 60 percent of the grunt to the rear wheels. The suspension features similar adaptive air springs and shocks as in the A8, though the S8's baseline setting is equivalent to the regular car's sport settings and the S8's sport setting is one stage firmer again. Stiffer bushes reduce unwanted axlecompliance, and the variable-ratio rack-and-pinion steering has been sharpened up by about 10 percent around on-center.

Audi's agility through the slalom: Its 67.3-mph average speed was only 0.2 mph slower than that of the two-sizes-smaller RS4 we tested a few months back. Chirico was further impressed by the stopping power of the ceramic brakes (likely to be a $10,000 option if they're made available in the U.S., though Audi says they'll last four times as long as conventional steel units). With 15.0-inch vented rotors up front (and six--count 'em--piston calipers) and 14.0-inch vented rotors at the rear, this4366-pound car stopped from 60 mph in just 108 feet and took only 301 feet to come to rest from 100. That's better than a Corvette Z06, though we'd like just a bit more feel through the pedal.

Once you start pushing the S8, there's no escaping the fact it starts pushing, too. On winding blacktop, the S8 is quick and tidy up to about eight- or nine-tenths, especially if you left-foot brake and use the Tiptronic paddleshifter to keep the engine right in the torque band. Try harder, however, and the S8 stops flowing down the road; the best technique then is to storm up to a corner, stand on those amazing brakes at the last minute, then aim for the apex of the turn and feed in the gas. It's brutish, though relatively effective, marred only by the lack of feel from Audi's typically video-game steering (another artifact of the S8's all-wheel-drive layout).

The S8 might make sport-sedan moves on the two-lanes, but it's more than happy schmoozing around town in typical lux-car mode. The ride feels arthritic at times, as with all air-suspended VW Group vehicles, but it's not much different from the regular A8's, and you certainly don't feel like you're rolling on ultra-low-profile 20-inch tires. The six-speed auto shifts seamlessly between ratios, and the fat torque curve means the V-10 feels punchier than either the 4.2-liter V-8 or the 6.0-liter W-12 offered in the regular A8.

The S8's interior is as coolly restrained as an Armani suit. Beautifully finishedcarbon-fiber inserts--the weave covered by a deep, lustrous clear-coat finish--replace wood and are perfectly complemented by the soft-sheen aluminum brightwork. Everything else in our tester's interior was finished in a perfectly matched warm gray that looked classy in a way GM and Toyota can only dream about. Audi's instrumentation is a paragon of simplicity and clarity, and while the MMI computer control system isn't as clever as BMW's much-maligned iDrive, it's more intuitive to use at first. The optional Bang & Olufsen 1000-watt sound system delivers crisp, bright audio. At about $6300, it would want to.

Only dedicated Audiphiles will note the S8's unique 20-inch alloys, quad exhaust (somewhat more tastefully executed than the bazookas you find peeking out from under the rear bumper of an AMG Benz), and trademark alloy-finish exterior mirrors. The discreet S8 moniker on the trunk and V-10 badges on each flank don't exactly scream for attention. But that's what makes this car so appealing. The S8 is for the driver who doesn't have to show off--and knows it.