Friday, April 30, 2010

The crowd really lit up as Downey and his wife made a right turn off a side street on to Hollywood Blvd, and buzzed to a stop just in front of the famous El Capitan Theater where the movie was showing in Tony Stark's ride of choice. The new Audi R8 Spyder V-10

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Michelin Debuts Performance Tires for Porsche


Michelin’s new range of high-performance tires is designed for the new Porsche Cayenne.

Porsche’s recently unveiled Porsche Intelligent Performance – which involves manufacturing vehicles that deliver enhanced performance while also consuming less fuel and that are more efficient and less polluting – corresponds perfectly with Michelin’s strategy of designing and producing tires that provide the most balanced performance, the tiremaker said.

The Michelin lineups for Porsche’s new SUV are organized around three tire models. All of the tires display the special N marking on the sidewalls, certifying that they comply with Porsche’s very high quality standards. The three models are: the Latitude Tour HP, Latitude Sport and Latitude Alpin.

The balanced performance delivered by both the summer and winter tires is the result of the long-term partnering relationship between Michelin and Porsche, which dates back to 1960. The alliance was further strengthened in 2002, when Michelin was awarded a contract as a Porsche World Wide Cooperation Partner. The partnership covers several areas, from development to racing. Michelin also received a Best Supplier award from Porsche in 2004, according to the tiremaker.

The Latitude Tour HP, with the Green X label on its sidewalls, offers outstanding on-the-road performance and road-holding ability, as well as low rolling resistance, high mileage and reduced weight. The tire’s the rubber compound, tread design and casing help to significantly reduce fuel consumption. Michelin designed and developed the new Latitude Tour HP in close cooperation with the German carmaker’s engineering teams, Michelin said.

The Latitude Sport delivers outstanding performance in three areas: better handling on dry surfaces, enhanced safety (due in particular to its excellent wet and dry braking ability) and improved energy efficiency, according to the tiremaker. The tire features a special architecture, supported by a unique banded-at-zero belt with shoulder overlay and variable pitches, to maintain control over the contact patch and increase accuracy.

The Latitude Alpin delivers optimal handling on wet, icy and snow-covered roads. The tire offers summer tire performance in the most challenging weather conditions, while providing longer tread life and reducing fuel consumption, Michelin said.

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Volkswagen Invests $2 Billion in China


Just the Facts:
•VW will invest the equivalent of $2 billion in China to build two new plants.
•The automaker's total new investment in China is now above $8 billion.
•VW aims to boost sales from 150,000 units to 500,000 units in south China within three to five years.

SHANGHAI, China — Volkswagen has announced it will invest the equivalent of $2 billion in China to build two new plants and increase its range of new models to meet growing market demand.

The latest injection is on the top of the $5.8 billion in spending through 2012 it unveiled last year and brings its total new investment in the world's largest auto market above $8 billion.

The new investment is intended to help the German auto giant to maintain its market leadership in China and be a leader in advanced technologies, said Winfried Vahland, president and chief executive officer of Volkswagen Group China.

"We will reach our long-term target of doubling our sales to 2 million vehicles according to plan," he said.

Analysts said that with slack sales in Western markets, the robust Chinese auto market is of growing importance for global automakers. VW is the second-largest global auto maker in China after General Motors. Its first-quarter sales jumped 61 percent to 457,259 vehicles on China's mainland and Hong Kong.

VW's investment, which has been approved by its board of supervisors, is to come from its two China ventures with SAIC Motor and FAW Group.

VW has reportedly been planning to locate two 200,000-unit plants in south China as it aggressively expands in the region. VW aims to boost sales from 150,000 units to 500,000 units in south China within three to five years and to raise its market share to 19 percent from 12 percent in 2008.

A Volkswagen Group China official yesterday declined to comment on possible sites.

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Audi R15 wins race debut


The newly improved Audi R15 TDI won its race debut at the Le Castellet in France last week with the pairing of Dindo Capella and Allan McNish. The improved diesel racing sports car ran the entire distance without the smallest problem during the test race.

During the opening lap of the eight-hour race, Allan McNish overtook the Peugeot, which had started from pole position in the hands of Frenchman Stephane Sarrazin and on the third lap the Lola-Aston Martin of Stefan Mucke. From then on Allan McNish and teammate Dindo Capello did not relinquish the lead.

After 266 laps, the two Audi drivers held a five-lap lead from the Lola-Aston Martin of defending champion Stefan Mucke, Harold Primat and Adrian Fernandez.

The Oreca team Peugeot finished fourth after succumbing to a technical problem during the opening stages of the race.

The only unscheduled pit stop was made just seven minutes before the end of the race, when Audi Sport Team Joest switched to rain tires for safety reasons as rain began to fall.

Audi Sport Team Joest used the Le Mans Series 2010 season opener as preparation for the 24-hour race at Le Mans on June 12 and 13.

In the practice sessions on Friday and Saturday as well as Sunday morning’s warm-up the team compared different set-up configurations before selecting a version which allowed Dindo Capello and Allan McNish to record constantly fast laps in the relatively low temperatures.

Next on the agenda is a 30-hour test and the Le Mans dress rehearsal at the 1,000-kilometer race at Spa-Francorchamps on May 9, which Audi Sport Team Joest will contest using three Audi R15 TDIs.

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MTM RS6 Clubsport with 730hp


MTM has unveiled a new member to its line-up. The MTM RS6 Clubsport is based on a standard Audi RS6 saloon with its 5.0 FSI V10 Biturbo Quattro Tiptronic engine. The Germans improved the engine producing a whooping 730hp (537kW) at 6,360rpm and 785Nm between 2,750 and 6,280rpm.

The Clubsport package includes an ECU upgrade, airfilter, stainless exhaust system, catalyst with four black pipes, remote controlled valves in two pipes of the exhaust and an improved v-max from 250km/h to 279 m/h, 290km/h, 310km/h or 34 km/h depending on the tyre speed homologation. The outside options list a 21 inch black MTM bimoto wheelset outfitted with Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 tyres, individually adjustable MTM springs, carbon fiber diffuser, carbon fiber front spoiler lip and an unique Clubsport Design.

The interior trim is refined with a roll cage, six-point safety harness and carbon Recaro pole position seats.

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VW Scirocco used as video game controller


We've always envied those awesome home-stitched arcade racing consoles. It's not that we aren't handy enough to screw a few pieces of plywood together, it's just that there isn't enough space in either the living room or the garage for that kind of craft project, and our significant others don't generally go for that sort of thing anyhow. The kids from Karjak CarLab have us officially reconsidering that stance, though.

Instead of raiding the local home-supply store for materials, the crew managed to talk a brand-new 2010 Volkswagen Scirocco into pretending that it's a video game controller by hooking up the OBD port to a computer. As the nut in the driver's seat wrenches on the steering wheel and operates the pedals, the system translates the maneuvers into ones and zeros. Throw in a projector good enough to cover your garage door, add a decent sound system, and you've officially got the most awesome driving simulator on the block – no shaking or baking required. We would suggest this would be the only way to play automotive racing games from now on.

"A PC communicates with the car's CANbus using OBD-II connector so the car has not been modified in any way, if you don't count the addition of better sound system. The software written for the PC translates incoming data from the car to virtual joystick port so it is possible to use any driving game that the PC is capable of running."
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2014 Porsche "Baby" Boxster


What it is: A two-seat mid-engine Porsche that’s smaller and more affordable than the $48,550 Boxster.

Why it matters: A mid-engine Porsche at a more affordable price matters a great deal to us.

Platform: It will use Porsche’s adaptation of  VW’s mid-engine architecture that was previewed by the BlueSport concept at the 2009 Detroit auto show. It will measure 157.5 inches in length and ride on a 95.7-inch wheelbase. Aluminum hood and door panels should help the little roadster weigh less than 2700 pounds. The chassis has struts at every corner.

Powertrain: A new turbocharged, 2.0-liter flat-four with about 300 horsepower is a possibility, but Porsche may use a turbocharged, 2.0-liter inline-four to cut costs. Purists get a six-speed manual; a dual-clutch seven-speed is optional.

What might go wrong: Porsche might cheapen its new roadster with a cut-rate interior, and it may share too much with VW, SEAT, and Škoda versions of the platform to be considered a “real” Porsche.

Estimated arrival and price: We expect it to launch in the spring of 2013 with a base price below $40,000

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One beautiful sounding Audi Ur-quattro


Audi Quattro SWB Keith Edwards Prescott Speed Hill climb

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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Volkswagen Golf 7 will be a completely new model built on a modular platform that will allow the introduction of hybrid propulsion. Here are the proposed engines.

The current generation of Volkswagen Golf 6 is not only aesthetically similar to the previous generation, but uses a slightly modified platform of the Golf V, released just in 2003. It requires such a substantial change and the first signs are that the new MQB platform will align with the new trends in motoring. Thus, according to head of development Ulrich Hackenberg, the new platform will be made to incorporate hybrid and electric power-train.

Auto Week magazine speculates that the new Golf will be seven very wide range of engines, from 1.2-liter TSI engine (86 and 105 HP), followed by 1.4-liter TSI engine (122 and 160 HP), 1.6-liter TDI engine (90 and 105 hp), 2.0-liter TDI engine (140, 170 and 220 HP) and ending with the 2.0-liter TSI engine (220 and 300 HP). The last two engines are obviously related sportier GTI and Golf R versions.

This new model should be appear in late 2012, the Golf 6 having a much shorter life than the Golf 5, which was 2.3 million units sold. It is expected that the production target for Golf 6 will be 1.6 million units.

Hopefully that will attract more potential customers, because the VW Golf 6 not quiet manage that.

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Audi launches RS5 configurator


Today, Audi has finally added the RS5 to their configurator. Our creation wears sprint blue pearl effect paint, 20" titanium optic wheels, black optic package and a pearl silver/black interior. So time to get creative, what is your RS5?

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2010 Audi S4 tuned by AVUS Performance


AVUS Performance has released their latest tuning program for the B8 Audi S4. As you can see from the photos, AVUS has put together a very understated yet enviable package consisting of a new lowering kit, wheels and engine performance all working together brilliantly. Details and photo gallery after the jump.

The first thing we noticed was this car's fantastic stance. AVUS Performance has built a lowering kit for the B8 S4 boasting springs with adjustable threads. This allows a more performance oriented ride height without interfering with the factory DRC (dynamic ride control) suspension. In addition to the lowering kit, this AVUS S4 is equipped with 20" Schmidt Revolution CC-Line wheels in black that perfectly compliments the car's black-optic package.

In the go-fast department, horsepower is bumped to 419hp and torque to 398 lb/ft thanks to a "level 1" performance upgrade (2499 €) consisting of RS exhaust and ECU re-map. Rounding out the package, AVUS notes that they offer a host of carbon fiber interior and exterior parts on request.

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Audi RS3 test mule spy photos at Nurburgring


Here is a spy pic from VW Group testing over at the Nurburgring circuit, this time of a chassis test mule for an Audi RS3 dressed in an attention-grabbing orange.

Differentiating this model from the current Audi A3 range are the larger air intakes on the modified front bumper, notes our spy photographer. The rest of it looks like an S3 Sportback body.

What lies beneath that bonnet, though, is the real question. We've previously reported on the statement by an Audi dealer in Cape Town, South Africa who claimed that the Ingolstadt-based automaker will be fitting the RS3 with the same 2.5 liter, 5-cylinder turbocharged engine as in the TT RS model. That engine produces 340 PS (250 kW) and 450 Nm of torque.

With competitors such as the Golf R (270 PS, 199 kW), Ford Focus RS (305 PS, 224 kW) and, of course, the BMW 135i that packs 306 PS (225 kW) into the compact 1-Series, Audi may just want to completely outdo the competition by offering an RS3 with more power and an all-wheel drive system - its storied Quattro technology.

The Audi RS3 was no-show in Frankfurt after various reports. Hopefully, it will make its debut at the Paris motor show in September.

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Highlights from Hockenheim - DTM 2010


For those of you unable to watch DTM racing live on TV, reading a race recap and looking at photos sometimes just doesn't cut it. That's why we've decided to include a video recap -along with our usual text and photos - of each race to fill the void. Starting with last Sunday's race at Hockenheim, the following videos show the race start, Tomczyk's tire failure and race finish.

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Here are a set of spy shots of a next-generation Golf VII test mule breaking a sweat at the Nurburgring Nordschleife circuit.

The 2013 MkVII Golf chassis sits underneath this vehicle, which on the outside is still dressed in the Golf's current body form, hence no need for any camouflaging.

Now, one may ask, since the current Golf generation, the MkVI, was only released in 2009, why the rush into testing the next generation?

The answer to that is that the 6th generation Golf is still based on the same Volkswagen PQ35 platform that its predecessor was - making it more of a major facelift with body style changes than a true generation jump. The 7th generation Golf (MkVII) will be based on the entirely new MQB platform ("Modular Querbaukasten" in German), which is why there will likely be only a little more than 3 years between the two.

Current VW Group models built on the MQB platform include the recently introduced VW Sharan and SEAT Alhambra. The 2012 Audi A3 will also be built on the MQB platform.

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The Volkswagen bik.e is powered by an electric motor that offers it a range of up to 20 km. The official top speed of the Volkswagen bik.e is rated at 20 km/h, but apparently the concept can travel a lot faster. VW rates the Volkswagen bik.e with a maximum speed of only 20 km/h so it can pass the "no helmet required" regulations in Germany.

The Volkswagen bik.e weighs less than 20 kg, can be folded in half and was designed to fit perfectly in your spare wheels compartment in the trunk. When folded, the Volkswagen bik.e can also be carried in an exterior spare wheel rack.
The Volkswagen bik.e can be re-charged from a house outlet, obviously, but it can also get its electric juice from your car.

Although the Volkswagen bik.e is a prototype at the moment, VW is seriously considering putting it into production. The Volkswagen bik.e concept got quite the attention from the Chinese audience.

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Porsche 911 GT3 Hybrid: Nurburgring performance video


A news agency in Germany is reporting that Volkswagen has shaken up plans for its upcoming electric vehicles. According to the DPA, one of Germany's independent news groups, the first mass-produced electric vehicle (EV) from the company will be the e-Golf scheduled for 2013 followed by the e-up! and the e-Jetta.

This scheduling departs from previous reports stating that VW would release a small test fleet of e-Golfs followed by the e-up!, then a mass-produced e-Golf and finally an e-Jetta. The DPA points to corporate circles as the source for this information adding that the Golf is the company's most important product and, fittingly, should be first in line for the electric setup. As stated by the DPA, VW had to go with the Golf first or risk being flushed right out of the market by stiff competition in the compact segment coming soon. If your German is up to par, follow the link and see if there's any more insight to glean from the report. If not, our take on it is probably close enough.

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Audi Q3: Featured as “car worth waiting for”


What it is: A diminutive luxury SUV that is smaller than the Audi A4–based Q5.

Why it matters: The Q3 is Audi’s entry into a new segment; it will compete directly with BMW’s upcoming X1 SUV.

Platform: Based on the Volkswagen Tiguan and approximately the same size, the Q3 is nevertheless lower and sportier. Audi Drive Select, the brand’s adjustable chassis-control system, will be optional.

Powertrain: A 2.0-liter turbo engine producing 211 horsepower will be mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. Front-drive will be standard, with all-wheel drive as an option.

Competition: Three upcoming 2011 models—BMW X1, Land Rover LRX, Mercedes-Benz BLK.

Estimated arrival and price: Debuts in the fall, likely starting at $30,000.

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

2011 Audi A7 spied on the Nurburgring for the first time


The 2011 Audi A7 has been spied on the Nurburgring for the first time.

Essentially a production version of the A7 Sportback concept, the car is envisioned as a sporty alternative to the A8. It features dramatic styling, a low roofline, and a rear hatch. While this particular mule is heavily camouflaged, our spies have previously caught the A7 undisguised.

Engine options will likely include a 268 hp (200 kW / 272 PS) supercharged 3.0-liter V6, a 372 hp (277 kW / 377 PS) 4.2-liter V8, a 250 hp (184 kW / 253 PS) 3.0-liter TDI, and a 350 hp (258 kW / 355 PS) 4.2-liter TDI. A turbocharged petrol V8 remains a possibly, but nothing is confirmed.

Look for the A7 to unveiled at the Moscow Auto Salon or the Paris Motor Show.

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Porsche says that it has almost 900 potential buyers for its new 918 Spyder, a plug-in hybrid open-top supercar with a mid-mounted V8. Porsche will probably decide to build the model once 1,000 potential customers have pledged interest, Porsche’s development chief, Wolfgang Duerheimer, said in an interview at the 2010 Beijing Motor Show.

“I’m confident that we will soon reach the threshold of 1,000,” he said in an interview with Bloomberg. “We need 1,000 seriously interested people to make a sound business case.”

“We’re very optimistic that we’ll be able to further expand our leading position in the sports-car segment,” he said.

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Audi R8 GT: First pictures


These are the first spy pictures of Audi's hardcore, road-going GT3 version of its R8 V10 supercar.

The Audi R8 V10 GT3 road car, spied in testing in and around the Nurburgring circuit in Germany, has been created by the firm in response to the overwhelming demand it has experienced for its V10-powered, rear-drive Audi R8 GT3 race car won last year’s FIA European GT Championship.

That car was victorious in its debut and Audi now wants a road-going version to give it a rival to the Porsche 911 GT3. It is set to deliver an extra 30 cars on top of the more than two dozen it made last year. And these pictures confirm the firm is considering putting it into series production.

Audi’s body-in-white chief, Armin Kappler, told Autocar last month that one road-going car has already been built for appraisal, and that VW Group boss Ferdinand Piech likes it, but says a decision on whether to produce the car has yet to be made.

If, as expected, the car does get the green light, the GT3 would fit with Audi’s plan of releasing a new R8 variant every year or two, as Porsche does with the 911 (GT3, GT2) and Lamborghini does with the Gallardo (Balboni, Superleggera). Audi expects the R8, which was introduced in 2006, to have a seven or eight-year life cycle, as with its other cars.

Knowledge gained from the race series is expected to filter into the production cars. Already, on circuits where a car can be riding kerbs for up to 10 seconds per lap, Audi has identified areas where the R8’s aluminium spaceframe could be reinforced.

The spy pictures show the R8 GT3 sporting a large fixed rear wing, as well as large rear exhaust pipes and a new rear diffuser. The rear end of the car has been redesigned to incorporate air vents on either side.

Completing the wider, more muscular appearance is two small wings attached to the front bumper to increase aerodynamic efficiency.

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Face-Lifted Volkswagen Tiguan Appears in Beijing


Along with a refreshed Phaeton, Volkswagen also pulled the satin off a refreshed Tiguan here in Beijing. Like the flagship, the Tiguan has adopted the new corporate horizontal bar grille that we've seen on other recent VWs, including the Mk VI Golf. As near as we can tell, not much else has changed. The new look serves the Tiguan well, giving its face a lower, wider appearance. We're guessing the refresh will hit U.S. shores this fall when the 2011 models arrive.

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Audi A3 2.0 TDI: Driving report


A base A3 2.0 TDI FWD S-Tronic runs $29,950. The VW Golf TDI we recently tested runs $23,090. In the review of that car we mentioned how the $7k discount for the Golf might be the way to go. After all, you can’t get this flavor of Audi with quattro AWD, which would differentiate the Audi diesel from the Volkswagen. And both share a chassis, a 2.0-liter turbocharged motor good for the same juice—140hp and 236 pound-feet of torque—and get identical fuel economy as well, 30 city/42 highway.

But the counter argument is that you can get baubles with the Audi that the VW doesn’t offer. Options we’d find very hard to resist include the $2,000 Titanium Sport Package, which includes 18-inch wheels with 225/45-series tires, a tweaked suspension for sportier character, S-line seats in Alcantara, gorgeous piano black trim that’s way slicker than wood inserts and a black headliner that subtly ups the sex appeal of this cabin (and if you add up those seats, trim and headliner the entire cockpit is way hotter than the quarters in the VW).

Would we opt for the $2,000 Premium Plus package that features Xenon headlights and slick LED daytime running lights as well as Bluetooth phone syncing? Probably not; ditto the $1,000 sunroof; the $2,050 navigation system is way steeper than a Garmin so meh to that as well. But $500 for the Cold Weather package (heated seats, washer nozzles and mirrors) would get a check from us for certain—if you live in Florida you could skip that one.

So that’s pushed the car to roughly $32,500, well more than that Golf.

Which is a false comparison, actually. The TDI Golf we tested had heated seats, a sweet DSG transmission and other goodies that boosted the sticker past $27,000, a price that actually puts the two cars at least in the same neighborhood, if not quite in the same zip code.

Interestingly a deciding factor for us, if the Golf itself wasn’t a stretch, would be that the Audi is a hair roomier than the Golf, and the S-Tronic is slightly more willing to let the driver push the boundaries of the diesel motor than the DSG in the Golf. Yes, that’s odd, because the DSG is supposed to fully emulate a manual gearbox, and it does—save that it pre-shifts a full 500rpm ahead of redline, and won’t hold a gear up to a rev limiter the way a true manual does.

Which is also a sin the S-Tronic is guilty of. The bonus with the S-Tronic is that it doesn’t upshift until it’s grazing within 150-200rpm of redline, and even better, seems to more readily accept downshifts into a near-redline gear (say from 3rd to 2nd when you’re approaching a corner). It’s still not a replacement for an actual manual because of the pre-shifting snafu, and for safety reasons not just sporting ones, Audi should seek a solution, as should VW. Safety? Yes. Because you could be using the transmission in a low gear to engine brake down a snow-covered hill. Now, all of the sudden, the engine upshifts and you’re accelerating unexpectedly.

Like we said, we do like this transmission, despite those shortcomings, because for everyday driving it affords a lot of the joys of a manual with fewer stop-and-go-traffic-induced headaches.

We also like the ergonomics of this car tremendously. It can feel a little tight for larger drivers—one lanky tester behind the wheel wished for more rake. That said, he was hugely helped by the tilt/telescoping steering wheel. This simple function isn’t a given in a lot of cars, even at this price (or another bracket up). Audi also gives this car its S-line treatment gratis, which includes suedelike door inserts and metal just about wherever fingers touch switches or dials. This, too, is a subtle but appealing bonus that the Golf TDI cannot offer.

Audi feels tauter (thank you, sport package), and the wider rubber doesn’t hurt here, either. Steering effort in both cars is very commendable. Some Audis can be a little numb at the tiller, especially larger ones, but the A3’s wheel is precise without being delicate or twitchy.

Note that we’ve come this far in the review and haven’t mentioned the “dieselness” of the powertrain. That’s because there’s not much to say save praise; the peak torque hits right off idle and for cruising on the highway this Audi is quieter than a lot of gasoline-engine cars, running at low revs even well above the speed limit. We also had a few cooler mornings during our Audi test and besides a slightly noisier motor for the first few minutes of operation there was zero hesitation or bitter aftertaste to rolling on oil rather than gas.

Given that about the only rival to this car that also achieves this kind of fuel economy and utility, as well as sportiness, is another VW product, the TDI Sportwagen, it would seem that any way you slice it, a buyer wanting all of these attributes is buying from the VW/Audi empire.

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VW Vento: India will use Vento name for VW Polo Sedan


VW will be calling the new Indian market Polo sedan model the Vento according to Autocar India.

VW engineers will be extending the Polo's wheelbase by 50mm (over the hatchback variant) in order to provide the proper head and leg room for the rear passengers and make the Vento one of the more competitive compact sedans for the segment in India.

The Indian market Vento will come with a 1.6 liter petrol/gasoline engine with 105 bhp (78 kW). A 1.6 liter diesel will also be available, that one too with 105 bhp. Both will be fitted with a 5-speed manual transmission. A DSG gearbox might make it into the top-end diesel at a later date, though, the Indian market Vento will not come with VW's TSI technology - likely due to costs.

VW has a tradition of naming its various models after famous winds. This time they are reviving a moniker previously used in Europe on the MKIII Jetta. Vento, which simply means 'wind' in both Italian and Portuguese. VW's goal is to sell around 25,000 units per year of the Vento in India.

The Vento goes on sale in the Indian market in July.

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Monday, April 26, 2010

BMW plasters massive billboard above Audi Hong Kong


Things are heating up in the advertising battle between BMW and Audi.

In this latest offensive, BMW has purchased a huge ad space on a billboard directly above Audi of Hong Kong. A massive advertisement for the new 5-Series sits on a wall over the showroom windows, all but completely displacing the Audi dealership from view.

The ad war between the two German premium brands began a while ago, with competing billboards in California and repeated jabs at each other in European print ads. Lately, the campaign escalated when Audi aired a commercial in the U.S. during the Olympics which referred to BMW as "second best".

Now, the next move is up to Audi. But what they may want to do first is figure out who's fault it is for allowing the billboard space above its Hong Kong dealership to be purchased by the competition.

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Inside the Audi R15 Plus


~ Tom Kristensen
You can’t compare the cockpit of an LMP1 with a road car in any respect. Even a genuine sports car like the Audi R8 LMS offers a lot more comfort than the R15 plus does. It is a thorough-bred race car that is totally designed for speed and efficiency and has a very direct power-assisted steering ratio.

Nevertheless, Audi Sport keeps trying to make the work easier for us drivers and to give us the best possible ‘comfort’ under the circumstances. For example, some of the details in the R15 plus have been modified compared with last year’s R15. Some of the switches and buttons are now positioned on a console along the right-hand side of the seat. And the pit speed limiter that serves to prevent us from exceeding the speed in the pit lane is now located behind the steering wheel.

Speaking of the steering wheel: the surface texture has been changed too so that the steering wheel’s grip is now even better than before. Only the controls we use most, like the gearshift, traction control (ASR) adjustment, brake balance adjustment, the high beam and the radio button, are located on the steering wheel, which is packed with electronics. This helps us keep a good overview of these functions.

The two ASR buttons are very important. In the race you always try to adjust the ASR to the conditions of the track and the tires - and these conditions constantly change during the race at Le Mans.

We constantly optimize and adjust the brake balance between the front and rear wheels as well. This for example depends on the temperatures which the sensors on the brakes transmit to the pits by a telemetry signal. The high beam button has a special additional function: if we push it for at least two seconds, the lights start flashing. We can use this to alert slower vehicles to us.

A display which can be freely programmed sits in a central position on the steering wheel. The mechanics and engineers use different screens than the drivers when starting up and checking the engine, for example. The most important information we need is the gear we’ve engaged, which is displayed particularly prominently, our lap time and the so-called delta time that lets us see in each sector whether we’re losing or gaining time to the respective fastest lap. The display has a day- and a night-time mode.

Also located behind the steering wheel are the two paddle shifters we use for up- or downshifting. This means that even in tight hairpins when we heavily turn in the wheel we can keep both hands on it and shift at the same time.

In a modern race car small lamps typically show you when you’ve reached the engine speed at which you need to shift gears. Green, yellow and red LEDs light up one after the other. On red, we shift, which in the R15 is done by means of an electro-pneumatic system.

The steering wheel is cut at the bottom to make it easier for us to get in and out of the car. Just looking at pictures, you get no idea of how tight things are inside a cockpit and how difficult it is to pull our legs out from under the steering wheel when it’s time for a driver change.

The seating position in the R15 plus is comparable to that of a Formula 1 car. The nose of the vehicle points upward to ensure optimum airflow underneath the car. This means your feet are in a very high position. Your heels are just below the level of your heart. This also influences your blood circulation, but you get used to that.

As you know, the R15 plus is an open-top vehicle. A small windshield that is optimally adapted to the seating positions of all three drivers keeps our helmets from being overly exposed to the air flow. Of course the aerodynamicists make sure that the windshield isn’t too high or too wide because that costs top speed on the straights, which is a crucial factor at Le Mans.

The windshield, by the way, can be exchanged very quickly during a pit stop in case it’s gotten too dirty - yes, believe it or not, we actually look through it - or if it’s been damaged by stone chips or rubber from tire wear flying around the track.

Overall, the seating position in the R15 is very important. All three drivers have to sit similarly, even if their heights and builds differ. And of course you’ve got to be firmly strapped in to really get a good feel for the car.

The starting function of the R15 plus is another interesting feature: when it’s turned off, the engine runs in regular mode. But when you push the button, the engine will run at a predefined rpm. That helps us move off quickly after a pit stop.

‘Cut’ is primarily used to reset the electronics. The ‘event’ button serves to flag a certain event, such as shifting event that didn’t go perfectly, in the data logging system. This makes it possible later on for the technicians to take an especially close look at the data logged at that particular point in time to locate a potential fault.

The pedals are just like those in a production vehicle: the gas pedal is on the right, the clutch on the left, and the brake pedal in the middle, but we only use the clutch to start off from rest. Also, like in any road-going Audi, there’s a footrest on the left which supports me while cornering.

In the DTM car I used to primarily brake with my left foot, but in the R15 I usually brake with my right one - particularly in front of the chicanes at Le Mans. Only when braking for a very short time like in front of fast corners I use my left foot.

By the way, compared to a ‘normal’ race car, conditions in the cockpit of the R15 plus are unusually quiet which is very pleasant for us drivers. The V10 TDI engine is a bit noisier and harsher than the V12 TDI from the R10. From a certain speed onward, you couldn’t even hear the V12 TDI anymore at all, just the wind noise.

You perceive the engine of the R15 plus in all rpm ranges. But when you lift in a long bend, you can actually hear the squealing of the tires - and that’s definitely unusual in a race car.

I’d really like to take you out on a lap in the R15 plus but there’s simply not enough room on the passenger’s side. But, from now on, when you see the pictures from our onboard cameras at Le Mans, you may have a better idea of the things that go on in our cockpit day and night.

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VW announces Open Innovation Contest, 'App My Ride'


Up to €14,000 in cash and non-cash prizes are available

German automaker Volkswagen has announced details of a contest it is sponsoring called "App My Ride".

The challenge is for participants to create new software applications to be part of a multi-media platform in VW cars.

"Our aim is to invite the international developer community to take part in designing a future system," said VW Group research chief Prof. Dr Jürgen Leohold. VW wants input from programmers around the world on developing the best infotainment systems in the industry.

The "App My Ride" project takes it inspiration from the boom in smart phones and the applications that come with them that drive consumer trends such as social networking and viewing Internet content on hand-held devices.

The "innovation community" project will go live at the URL on May 3. Would-be participants can go to the site and upload their programs or write in their ideas for that one, great application. To win, contestants must contribute not only the original idea but a graphic user interface and underlying software program in Adobe Flash/Flex.

Both cash and non-cash prizes worth up to €14,000 are for the taking. There is also a separate prize for student participants. The winner of the contest will be hosted by VW at a new car presentation at a major event sometime later.

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Volkswagen has unveiled the E-Lavida concept at Auto China 2010.

Designed and developed by Shanghai Volkswagen, the Lavida is the first VW created without the assistance of German overlords. Available in the China since 2008 the Lavida is based on the Golf MKIV (aka the PQ34 platform). However, details for the E-Lavida concept with its unique styling and an unspecified electric powertrain are limited.

Besides introducing the E-Lavida, Volkswagen outlined their EV (dubbed e-Mobility) strategy for China. In 2013 or 2014, the company will begin producing electric vehicles in China.

According to Winfried Vahland, CEO of Volkswagen Group China, "The e-mobility strategy for China is perfectly tailored to local needs. Volkswagen will provide its entire BlueMotion technology to the two Chinese joint ventures for local production. The Volkswagen Group China has a hundred percent committed to the aim of providing Chinese consumers with innovative, energy-saving and environmentally friendly technologies available to achieve sustainable development. We are confident that will develop the Volkswagen Group China through our commitment to the market leader for e-mobility technologies in China."

His sentiments were echoed by Dr. Martin Winterkorn, CEO of Volkswagen AG, who stated "Our goal is market leadership in e-Mobility (by) 2018. China is the world's most important market for the Volkswagen Group, and the success of e-mobility in China is crucial to the global implementation of (the) e-Mobility strategy."

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Audi R8 Spyder: Tunnel blasting video


Audi A8 4.2: Comparison against BMW 750xi


The Audi A8 claimed the crown of the sportiest luxury saloon and shakes so confident on the throne of the BMW 7 Series. Whether the King of Bavaria, the future comes from Ingolstadt, clears the first comparison.

~ Martin G. Puthz
A passion for technology and luxury they had in Bavaria, as the car was not yet invented. When fairy tale king Ludwig II (1845-1886) played in his party Lohengrin Grotto, a dynamo-generated electricity for the power plant colorful light. Meanwhile the people starved in candlelight. High tech was a privilege of rich people. Just like today when driving. Except that no one would come up with the idea, explain the BMW and Audi for their bosses to Fortschrittsdrangs crazy as it was the "Kini". Internet in the car and a touchpad, the Chinese can, might sound wacky but rather normal consumers, luxury car buyers, however, one must keep in good spirits.

Overview: All news and tests the Audi A8
No wonder, then, that in Bavaria's top producers with an innovation, the other hunts - whether they have dedicated themselves to the joy of driving or want to shine with edge through technology. Or both - as the new Audi A8. Forsch he calls himself the biggest sporting gun from his class and intends to use the 7 Series of BMW . Disempower Schau'n we even know if he really has the makings of a king of Bavaria. Decent look and perfectly balanced proportions disguise its true size, but does with 5.14 meters, the Audi almost seven inches longer than the BMW. Plus the interior can be read Feeling, however, rather than to the tape, because even during 7 Series you can enjoy sumptuous movement. Seats, which can buckling angle of the backrest to adjust almost everything electrical costs, although increases in saturated four-digit level, are worth for demanding frequent but their money.

Overview: All news and tests the BMW 7 Series
to control the art, a plethora of functions with a few simple steps, both opponents dominate brilliantly. With the push of iDrive BMW now are also technique-jerk along well, which is among other things, that the Munich in the renovation of its user logic Audi were inspired. Uniform decrease, from top to bottom durchzublätternde menus and easy-to-click-circles with letters and numbers, the risk of getting tangled up in the multimedia jungle. And if it happens, the "Back" button quickly everything on top. At Audi is the control panel of the MMI interface moved forward a bit and gain a better with the fingers now reach. As the first production car offers A8 also a touch pad. The touch-sensitive surface on the center tunnel allows entry of the handwritten Navi objectives or phone numbers, and also deciphered the sloppy scrawl. Nicely done, in this first stage but not yet operating Revolution, made the selection for the main menu should continue by voice or keyboard.
The touchpad is so into the game until the very end. The issue of Internet in the car know BMW drivers for some time. Now also brings Audi the information highway into the cockpit, but to other conditions. 7 Series owners can go for 12.50 euro monthly flat rate and pay online from the fourth year an additional 250 euros annual fee. At Audi the Web services billed by the mobile phone card, the costs depend on the agreement of the user. A8 drivers are still open only selected information. BMW drivers can surf unlimited, at least in the booth That lies in the A8 But a Google-map display on the navigation map, enabling both path finding with photo-realistic bird perspective the search for points of interest such as hotels and shops.

The lighter Audi A8 depends on the BMW 7 Series from among the performance
Since his body is made of aluminum, remains the A8 under two tons. This one feels. The BMW carries 220 pounds more weight around with him and thereby urges earlier in fast cornering to the outside. Otherwise, one might, given the ease with which it be 407 PS strong bi-turbo V8 bolzt through the traffic, hard to believe that here almost 2.2 tonnes to be moved. As the measurements show, the additional power and torque plus the BMW consumed but by its higher mass: The 35 weaker PS Audi has the nose in front, he also uses significantly less. nozzles at 100 km during BMW 14.1 liters of the fuel injection system, the Audi only 11.4. The A8 it is also the level of its lower speed Automatic benefit, which has eight steps (two more than the BMW gearbox), but for sporty driving style, unfortunately, jerky turns.

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Saturday, April 24, 2010

More pictures of the face lifted Phaeton


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Friday, April 23, 2010

Clarkson Thriller - Rocket Enabled Porsche 944 Turbo


Audi RS5 driven by


PPI Audi R8 Razor GTR 10 spotted on the streets of Monaco


Last week the PPI Audi R8 Razor GTR 10 made it's official world debut at the Top Marques of Monaco show. As impressive as the car looked on display at the show, we think it looks even better on the street.

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TechArt has unveiled several new interior options for the Porsche Panamera.

The W2 entertainment packages features two 7-inch monitors which are seamlessly integrated into the front seats. They are connected to a six-disc DVD changer, mounted in the truck.

TechArt also offers a roof-mounted entertainment package. It features a pivoting 10.2-inch monitor and a DVD player with USB connectivity. The system is controlled by an infrared remote and sound is pumped through wireless headphones.

Finally, the Panamera can be equipped with rear fold-away tables. They feature a robust mechanism which is strong enough to hold laptops and other business accessories. When not in use, the tables "harmoniously retract" into the front seats.

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Here are the latest spy pics of the upcoming 2012 Porsche Boxster doing some test laps around the track at the Nurburgring circuit.

There is more to see of this Boxster prototype than the last time it was spotted out in the open. Much of the front fascia of the vehicle can be made out from behind the limited camouflage. In these shots, we can also clearly see the new front air-intakes.

At the back too, we can distinguish some the Boxster's features. Notice the thinner trim around the centrally mounted double exhaust pipes.

We've previously reported on how Porsche would like to dial back the Boxster's CO2 emissions number to below 180 g/km. In order to achieve that, Porsche is considering a turbocharged 3-cylinder engine for the Boxster.

Somehow, though, it's hard to imagine any Porsche, historically always an Olympian on the track, being propelled by a 3-cylinder power plant.

The next-generation Porsche Boxster is expect to debut sometime in late 2011.

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ABT Sportsline updates styling kit for VW T5 van facelift


German tuner Abt now has a tuning package for the facelifted VW T5 van.

The Abt Multivan package is meant to give a more sporty flavor to a multi-purpose van, which can be used for anything from carpool commuting to family vacations.

Abt adds some sizzle by means of a new front grill and front spoiler, the latter providing the van with a more crouched presence on the road. Also part of the aerodynamic package are the side skirts, a rear skirt housing, a quad exhaust and a rear roof spoiler for flair and some additional downforce.

Abt BR alloy wheels are also available in 19-inch dimension as well as in-house suspension springs for a more solid ride.

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Audi A7 Sportback will have its debut at the Moscow Motor Show.
At the same time the Audi S7 Sportback has been confirmed.
- The Moscow Motor Show is August 25th

2011 VW Phaeton major facelift officially unveiled


Volkswagen is using the Beijing auto show as its setting for the introduction of their heavily revised flagship vehicle. The 2011 Volkswagen Phaeton will be sold with four different engine choices, and will be available as a long wheelbase.

VW-owned brand Audi has had extraordinary success with long wheelbase models in China, where they sell extended versions of the A4, A6, and A8. Rival brands have their own stretched models, including the 2011 BMW 5-Series Long Wheelbase, Mercedes-Benz E-Class LWB, and the Volvo S80L.

The base level Phaeton will be a comfortable 5.06-meters long, while the extended model will stretch out a further 12 centimeters. New customers can choose to have either two individual seats in the rear, or a three-person bench.

Engine choices on the car begin with a 276-horsepower (206 kW / 280 PS) V6 petrol engine, but a torquier turbodiesel V6 (236 hp / 176 kW / 240 PS) is also offered. VW brags that the V6 TDI is capable of getting the car to 100 km/h in about 8.6 seconds. No sprint figures were given for any other engine.

The other two engines, a 330 horsepower (246 kW / 335 PS) petrol V8 and a 444 horsepower (331 kW / 450 PS) petrol W12, look to be the same as two of the units currently on offer with the car. This is disappointing, as those engines have been around for four years now, and the car would likely benefit greatly from having a more fuel efficient performance engine with direct injection and stop/start.

Volkswagen skipped the blacked-out radiator grille cover on this car, in favor of chrome. The exterior has been remodeled from front to back, while the interior has been given 18-way seats and four-zone climate control.

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Audi previews future product plans


~ Audi of America president Johan de Nysschen

What is coming to the US

A version of the E-tron concept, likely something close to the original R8-styled car seen at the Frankfurt motor show, is on tap for 2012.

“Absolutely,” de Nysschen said when asked about Audi's electric-car future. “The E-tron, in a very emotional, stirring package, represents the way that we will approach it.”

Look for the E-tron range to continue to grow after that, though plans for the smaller concept shown at the Detroit auto show have not been spelled out.

In that vein, hybrids and diesels are also on deck for Audi as it races to comply with stricter fuel-economy standards set to take effect for 2016. De Nysschen said hybrid versions of the Q5, the A6 and the A8 are all likely--and they are needed to build fuel-economy credentials with mainstream America. The Q5 will be the first hybrid for the U.S. market, he said.

Diesels, which have long been one of Audi's signature technologies for efficiency and performance, will also grow across the product range. Look for diesel variants of the A6 and A8 soon, de Nysschen said. Diesels also have served as a halo for the brand, as Audi racers have scored publicity-generating victories in the American Le Mans Series in the United States and the Le Mans Series in Europe powered by potent diesel engines.

“For us, clean diesel is an important avenue for attaining those [federal fuel economy] targets,” he said.

Look for the upcoming A7 to complete Audi's lineup in its current form, de Nysschen said. The redone A8 is due this fall. For pure fun, the R8 Spyder also joins the stable late this year.

“We really have added a lot of firepower [at the top of the lineup],” he said.

Afterward, the brand is looking to burnish its image in the eyes of consumers, as it admittedly lags its storied German competitors Mercedes-Benz and BMW.

Audi is taking steps to change that, and it's been aggressive with advertising during the Super Bowl and the Olympics, as well as at New York's Yankee Stadium.

“There is still a gap in public perception,” de Nysschen said. “People in America need to recognize us for who we are.”

What is not coming to the US

Speculating about what European models or variants from Audi's broad product lineup might come to the U.S. market is a favorite sport of enthusiasts. De Nysschen also spelled out for us what is not coming to the States at the moment.

The A1? No. It's probably too small for U.S. consumers. Maybe six or seven years down the road, but not in its first generation.

The Q3 is also nixed for America, as is the S4 wagon.

“For the U.S., I like our current lineup,” de Nysschen said.

Other topics

The Audi honcho addressed various other topics in his wide-ranging chat with AW:

-- The Audi TT roadster isn't selling so well, as it's competing in a market segment that's dropped considerably in the last year, including 27 percent so far this year, de Nysschen said.

“We are short on everything with the exception of the TT roadster,” he said.

-- An assembly plant appears unlikely for Audi in the United States anytime soon, even at the Volkswagen Group facility in Chattanooga, Tenn.

The reasons: The model would need to be all-new and generate volume. Additionally, exporting a car built here to Europe would cut into profits because of taxes. And on top of all of this, Volkswagen needs the space in Chattanooga to accommodate its own ambitious growth plans.

A more likely scenario involves building a facility to make engines and transmissions in the United States, which could then be exported to other markets as well.

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Porsche's hybrid 911 spied


Caught near the Nurburgring, does this prototype prove that a petrol-electric 911 is on the way?

From the racetrack to the road! Porsche threw the covers off its 911 GT3 R Hybrid race car at the Geneva Motor Show in March, and judging by these exclusive spy shots a roadgoing version is on the way too.

Caught near the Nurburgring in Germany, this mysterious prototype has a number of telltale signs that under the skin it's no ordinary 911. The air intakes infront of and just above the rear wheels are exact replicas of the bodywork seen on the hybrid racecar.

The 911 GT3 Hybrid R has already enjoyed some success on the track, scoring a podium finish in only its second appearance in the Nurburgring Endurance Series. And now porsche it attempting to transfer that proven motorsport pedigree to its road cars.

Using a newly-developed 473bhp 4.0-litre flat-six engine, coupled to a pair of 80bhp motors on the front axle, the hybid race car is designed to be a test bed for future road car applications. So expect the roadgoing 911 hybrid to use the same engine and electric motor combination - making it one of the fastest, but also the most efficient 911 ever when it goes on sale in 2012.

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Spied: Audi R8 GT spotted in Southern California?


An Audizine forum member had a rare sight last week, capturing what may be an Audi R8 GT (or "clubsport) prototype in - of all places - Southern California. Typically sights like this only occur near locales such as the Nurburgring or Ingolstadt. Leading us to our next question, is this an R8 GT test mule? And if so, what is it doing in America?

We took our time and gave these photos a hard look. Comparing against earlier spy shots of Audi's new, rear-wheel drive, "hotter" R8, we tend to think this is the real deal. Aside from the obvious rear spoiler, note the vents behind the rear wheels - considering we can't see the front of the car, these vents, rear spoiler, matte finish and obvious lack of badging all lead us to believe the car pictured may be a R8 GT test mule. Still, we have no idea what this car is doing in California, but we'd love to know.

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To a crowd of over 110,000 spectators, the Audi Sport DTM team made their debut at Sunday's 2010 DTM opening celebration in Wiesbaden, Germany. Sure, watching the Audi Sport DTM drivers battle it out during a race is fun - but watching Timo Scheider, Oliver Jarvis and Mattias Ekström release their inner-hoon through a cloud of tire smoke is just priceless.

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Audi S4: 2011 order guide found online!


You can download it from here:

Packages & Pricing

Color & Trim

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

2012 Porsche 911 GT2 Facelift Finally Spied


Spies in Germany have captured pictures of the elusive 2012 Porsche 911 GT2 facelift. The facelifted model is expected to debut next year, and will likely remain in production for about a year leading up to the release of the Porsche 991.

Alongside modest changes to the car's exterior, the GT2 is expected to get a direct injection engine boosting power to 550 PS (405 kW). That is 3.5% more than the 997.5 Turbo S with 530 PS (390 kW). By comparison, the Lexus LFA produces 552 hp (412 kW). The GT2 could potentially have a 0-100 km/h sprint of 3.7 seconds, en route to a 205 mph (330 km/h) top speed.

A new bumper will be seen on the upcoming model, possibly including changes to the front splitter as well. Possible updates to the sidesills will lead to a refined bumper with new tailpipes. We wouldn't be surprised to see a few new options added to the catalogue for the GT2.

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Monday, April 19, 2010

Audi RS5: First compilation of live driving footage


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Porsche Panamera Turbo: Now available as taxi


Most countries aren’t particular with the kinds of vehicles they use for their taxis. After all, the name of the game is pretty simple: pick up a passenger, take them wherever they need to go, and collect the payment after doing so.

As such, you don’t usually come across taxi cabs that, for lack of a better term, are more expensive than what car owners would have in their garages.

Turns out, that’s not how Germany rolls because their taxis consist of cars that people would like to consider as ’financially unattainable’. Take this taxi that operates in Stuttgart for example; It’s not your ordinary Crown Victoria, that’s for sure. What it is is a Porsche Panamera Turbo.

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The BMW X1, Audi A5 Sportback and Mercedes C-class estate are very different cars, yet they share a price and a target market.

The benchmark is the Mercedes C250 CDI estate. It is the old-school compact family transport. In Elegance trim (we tested Sport) it costs £29,930.

The BMW X1 makes rival cod off-roaders seem overpriced: our test X1 xDrive23d SE may have a silly name, but it costs £29,900.

The Audi A5 Sportback is not only good looking, but also practical, In range-topping S-Line trim it costs £29,975.


The C250 is substantially the best to drive of the three. Its 201bhp 2.2-litre diesel doesn't confer any speed advantage, because BMW extracts the same number from a 2.0-litre while keeping the kerb weight below the C-class's. But the Benz does feel quicker, thanks to a torque advantage and the widest power band of the three.

More decisive still is its ability to engage the driver in corners. The Merc's steering is better, and if you push on it is the only car here with proper balance. It also offers peerless ride quality - something your family will thank you for on a long journey.

The X1 shows that not even BMW can conquer the dynamic issues that result from a raised centre of gravity and the addition of all-wheel drive. It is quick, and has a smooth engine, but it also feels nose heavy and short on driver involvement. It is the quietest of the three at speed, too.

Audi hasn't helped the A5 Sportback's cause by hobbling it with a 168bhp engine, although it is 100kg lighter than its rivals here, and has a six-speed manual box that makes the most of its power.

It's also surprisingly appealing to drive. Its handling balance inclines towards neutral more than the BMW's and there's greater reaction to changes in throttle opening. However, it is compromised by steering with too much friction and not enough feel.


The A5 wins the contest of the cabins unopposed. There's nothing clever inside - it's all Audi - but it works. It's instruments are clearer than those in the Mercedes and the ambience is a league ahead of the BMW. It also feels naturally luxurious.

There are two reservations, though. Like all A4-based cars, the Sportback comes with a strange driving position with displaced pedals. It can also only carry four people.

These issues are potential deal-breakers; a shame as there's plenty of head room in the back and enough knee room to rival the Merc and BMW.

The Merc and BMW have driving positions beyond reproach, with preferences decided by individual priorities. That said, don't think the BMW automatically affords a clear view over every hedgerow - it's simply not that tall. The Merc also carries much more luggage.

The result

Third place belongs to the Audi, a car undone not so much by its lack of power as its shortage of seats. A marketing decision has limited the appeal of an otherwise impressive and likeable car.

The BMW X1 is the best of the compact soft-roaders we've driven, and its success is well deserved.

But victory goes to the Mercedes - with the proviso that if you want an auto you should wait until later in the year when the old five-speed unit is replaced by the smoother, more fuel-efficient and refined seven-speed transmission.

The old way remains the best way.

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Rumormill: Volkswagen could bring back NSU motorcycles?


When Volkswagen and Suzuki announced they would be joining forces after what seemed like years worth of rumors, the motorcycling community naturally took notice. After all, VW head Ferdinand Piech is an avid motorcycle enthusiast and had repeatedly expressed a desire to add a high-performance European motorcycle manufacturer to the German automaker's mix of vehicles. Further, Suzuki is a highly respected player in the two-wheeled world all around the globe.

Now, rumor has it that the Volkswagen/Suzuki partnership could actually end up resurrecting an iconic German brand from the ashes of obscurity: NSU. Though the company is often remembered for the pioneering work it performed on the Wankel rotary engine, NSU first rose to fame after World War II with a range of innovative small-displacement bikes and was the world's largest motorcycle manufacturer by 1955.

Sadly, NSU quickly faded away as its rotary-powered automobiles proved somewhat less than reliable. Whether or not there is any truth to these reports remains to be seen, but it's certainly not beyond the realm of possibility. Way back in 1969, VW acquired NSU and merged it into the company we now know as the four-ringed Audi brand. Does any of this mean that NSU is soon to be back in business? No, not really... but that doesn't mean we can't keep the dream alive.

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2010 Porsche 911 GT3 - Road Test


Such notes appear from time to time on my Porsche test cars. Everyone puts their own spin on the American dream. For Can, my not-so-anonymous Vietnamese neighbor, a red 911 has a starring role. Can was 16 when he first saw a red Porsche, from behind the concertina wire of a refugee-relocation camp in Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania.

“My brother pointed it out. He said, ‘James Dean died in one of those.’ ”

Somewhere, a couple of layers in from hard-core, is the Porsche 911 GT3. Pocked all over with dugouts and screens and graced by one big chiropteran wing, the GT3 is not like other 911s. The focus is sharpened, the reflexes tapered to sashimi-slicing perfection by Porsche’s grindstone. Only real 911 junkies drive GT3s because there’s no dual-clutch automatic offered, and at 435 horsepower, the GT3’s older, port-injected 3.8-liter flat-six from the racing-based GT1 98 engine family is a high-strung screamer with an 8400-rpm redline and not much torque below 5000. And it’s down 65 horsepower from the similarly priced (including a few of the GT3’s many options) direct-injection Turbo.

The GT3 RS with its forged tungsten suspension? Well, that’s just for crazy people.

This 2010 GT3 arrived for testing with 59 miles on its clock. It was without blemish, just as Porsche’s line workers had built it. The double-barreled tailpipes gleamed. The suspension sparkled. The Michelin Pilot Sport Cup tires bristled with nibs. Even the black plastic chin spoiler, hanging just 3.8 inches above the scarring pavement, was clean of scrub marks.

That night, it rained, and the next day  we had to drive the car down a muddy road. Sometimes this job sucks.

Can’s family comes from North Vietnam. They moved south to escape Ho Chi Minh, his father finding work in the U.S.-supported government. As South Vietnam collapsed, government employees, and especially those who had previously fled the north, were singled out. Can’s parents leveraged a contact in the Vietnamese navy to get a ride out for the whole family—Can and his eight siblings—on a fleeing destroyer one day before the fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975.

“It’s amazing,” says Can. “One day can make a difference in your whole life.” Three months later, Can was in Pennsylvania, learning the difference between a Porsche and a Citroën 2CV, the only other car he had ever heard of.

The stick shift of a 59-mile-old GT3 moves with all the fluidity of an oar in wet concrete. Porsche assured us that the shifter would loosen up quickly. The “break-in hints” on page 13 of the GT3’s owner’s manual include: Never lug the engine in high gear at low speeds, do not exceed an engine speed of 4200 rpm, and avoid full-throttle starts and abrupt stops. We read that right before winding it up to about 5500 rpm and popping the heavy clutch.

Even on new, nib-studded tires, a GT3 hits 60 mph in 3.8 seconds with a piercing wail that sounds like an entire Le Mans grid stuffed into two mufflers. That’s the same time as the last GT3 we tested [March 2007]. Since then, horsepower is up by 20 and the weight by 40 pounds, to 3280. With more miles on this car, one might eke out another tenth or two. Still, our GT3 stopped from 70 mph in 145 feet. Most cars couldn’t match that if they hit a parked dump truck first.

Can and his family ended up in San Francisco in 1977. There, while taking driver’s ed., he saw his first 911 Turbo. “I remember the whale tail—and the butt, the way it just spread out. I thought, ‘How could that butt be so big?’ ”

Buying a Porsche is about confronting choices. Aside from the 15 available colors, there are 129 line-item options for a GT3 (picking some precludes others, but you get the idea—it’s best to clear the schedule of any appointments, weddings, bar mitzvahs, and so forth if you’re heading to the dealership). You’re as likely to find a base, $114,450 GT3 as you are to meet a leprechaun, in which case you won’t want the base car anyway.

Our GT3 had $15,815 in options, including navigation ($3110) and adaptive sport seats ($2295), two Caesarian thrones of leather and Alcantara—that’s synthetic suede—that come with switches to bolster your torso, legs, and lumbar regions. (Alcantara is the surest sign that your car is serious, and in the GT3, the wheel, shifter, seats, and headliner all are covered by or fashioned entirely from it.)

The one option no GT3 should be built without is the $3490 pneumatic nose lift, which, at the push of a button, raises the chin 1.2 inches for curb cuts and other urban obstacles. We still managed to scuff the front spoiler, but, hey, we’re pros.

Can went to medical school to become an anesthesiologist and eventually moved to Los Angeles. He bought his first Porsche in 2005, a brand-new Carrera—red, of course. A year later, it was rear-ended by an uninsured driver in a Toyota 4Runner. “I found out that a rear-engine car doesn’t like to be hit by a tall truck,” he says.

The Carrera was ruined, and the insurance company paid him the full purchase price and the sales tax. The $80,000 check, Can decided, was a “sign from God that I need more torque in my life.” So he bought a Turbo.

New on this GT3, Porsche’s dynamic engine mounts ($1300) go rigid at speed to restrain the inertial engine motions that help gyrate a 911’s body in corners. They relax in more placid moments to soak up engine noise and vibration.

After a few left and right cranks, you realize that this isn’t the same old white-knuckle 911. Greatly reduced are the restless bounding and side-to-side shimmy that induce cold sweats in our favorite rear-engined retro-rocket. This GT3 is more settled, turning in with hyper-alert steering and staying surprisingly cool, even over midcorner pavement thrusts.

Away from a track, the two-position shocks are best left on soft (officially “normal”) so the suspension can digest natural road lumpiness without undoing the engine mounts’ good work and upsetting the car. The wussy setting is also just pliant enough to make city driving tolerable, even if the Michelins can outrumble the radio.

Eyes wide, Can says, “Are you trying to kill me? I’ve never driven that fast before in my life.” We’ve been chasing each other through hills, GT3 versus Turbo. Can likes the GT3 okay, at least as a “great ‘two-hours’ car for the weekend,” but isn’t forsaking his Turbo. He prefers its low-end push and more forgiving ride for his daily commute to Long Beach Memorial.

More importantly, though, it’s red and it has a really huge butt.

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According to Volkswagen Group’s chief designer Walter de’Silva, the Audi A5 is the most beautiful car he has ever designed: “It’s elegant and powerful, yet free of aggression and arrogance.” But no one would accuse the A5’s hot-rod brother, the new RS5, of a lack of aggression or arrogance—this coupe clearly means business. Wheels as large as 20 inches squat in the wheel wells, a trick automatic spoiler rises from the rear deck, and huge air intakes up front suck in vast tracts of atmosphere while fat, R8-style exhaust pipes shoot the air back out again, burned up and spent. Sounds fantastic, right? Prepare your checkbook, as the RS5 will be sold in the U.S., a fact recently confirmed to Car and Driver by Audi CEO Rupert Stadler.

“To us, the RS5 is the legitimate successor of the second-generation RS4 of 2005 and its successful package,” says Cornelius Fröhlich, responsible for marketing the new hell raiser. We hope this doesn’t mean there won’t be another RS4. Otherwise, it’s good news. The last RS4 was a monster in family-sedan clothing, a four-door with extraordinary power, designed for head-to-head battles with Mercedes’ AMG and BMW’s M division. The RS4 triumphed against the E46 M3 and C55 AMG in an uninstrumented—and thus technically unofficial—comparo, and although it finished third out of three cars in its final shootout appearance, it trailed the second-place C63 AMG by only four points and the champion E92 M3 by 11. With the RS5, we’d say a rematch is in order.

High-Revving Horsepower, Computer-Controlled Shifting

The RS5 keeps the RS4’s high-revving, naturally aspirated 4.2-liter V-8, but now it’s stronger by 30 hp, for a total of 450. The compression ratio is 12.3:1. High-revving in this case means up to an 8300-rpm redline, so long as the oil is up to temperature; the engine is protected by a 6000-rpm limiter otherwise. It’s no secret that with this engine Audi wanted to show BMW that Munich isn’t the only German town capable of building high-revving V-8s.

You can say bye-bye to the crisp six-speed manual transmission of the RS4, as the RS5’s power is shunted only through a seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual. When we asked whether there would be a standard gearbox offered in the future, Fröhlich told us, sadly, that “the majority of customers in this segment are used to automatic transmissions.” In its favor, the dual-clutch unit—Audi calls it S tronic—allows the driver to include transmission setup as part of the configurability offered by the optional Audi Drive Select (ADS) adjustable chassis system. It also helps that the S tronic box is good. In the RS5, shifts occur without any hesitation, and the quickness produces some sweet burbles and overrun from those twin exhaust cannons out back.

The all-wheel-drive system is upgraded with Audi’s first use of a self-locking crown-gear center differential, and it helps cut nearly seven pounds out of the drivetrain. The new center diff will make its way into other Quattro models as well, and it can direct up to 85 percent of the power to the rear wheels or up to 70 percent to the fronts as grip dictates. Under normal driving, the power distribution is split 40 percent to the front and 60 percent to the rear.

For the first time in an all-wheel-drive car, Audi has added a software-based, wheel-selective pseudo-torque-vectoring system. Based on inputs from the vehicle’s ESP system, it slightly applies the brakes to the inner front wheel during cornering to effectively curb understeer, a behavior long associated with Audis that was mitigated a bit by the more rearward position of the engine in the company’s latest longitudinal modular platform. Torque vectoring at the rear is handled mechanically by Audi’s optional sport differential, a heavy piece of hardware that nevertheless makes the car feel more light on its feet, shifting power from left to right in search of more grip and balance.

Audi Drive Select sharpens responses even more, and it controls settings for the suspension, sport differential, steering, transmission, throttle response, and exhaust sound. At its hardest-core setting, dynamic, it can virtually eliminate body roll, while normal and comfort modes progressively soften things up. (There’s also a mode that allows drivers to program the various chassis elements individually.) Carbon-ceramic front brakes are available, and they bite right now.

To further tighten body motions, Audi will fit its Dynamic Ride Control system, whereby each set of diagonally opposed shocks is connected via hydraulic lines that incorporate a central valve. During cornering, the valve allows fluid to flow to the outboard front shock almost immediately, reducing lateral roll. The system works in concert with Audi Drive Select’s variable suspension settings.

Electronic Magic Makes for a Fine Drive

We were able to sample all of this on the 26-turn Ascari racetrack near Marbella, Spain, and can attest that the RS5’s electronic firepower and mechanical mumbo jumbo translate into an extremely responsive car that feels much lighter than its estimated 3900 pounds. The torquey V-8 has a wide range of usable power, and no one is going to miss a turbo. As the revs rise, a subdued rumble hardens into an aggressive snarl—especially if you push the right button on the ADS. Flip from comfort to dynamic, and the difference in sound is clearly audible even at idle.

Audi says the RS5 will cover 0 to 62 mph in about 4.6 seconds, which is quick but nothing earth shattering; we’ve tested the automatic-only C63 AMG at 3.9 seconds to 60 mph and a dual-clutch-equipped M3 at 4.1. Our guess is that the RS5 will cover the 0-to-60 sprint in 4.4 seconds. But the complicated nature of the RS5 means you won’t be able to tease more speed and power from it without investing big bucks, so you’re best served to avoid straight-line drag races against those German sleds and your neighbor’s modified Supra or GT-R.

The Audi will put up a tougher fight on the track or on back roads. The car feels as agile as it does planted to the road, and the load changes aren’t very pronounced. You’re able to induce easily controllable oversteer, but if you don’t push it, the RS5 will stay neutral seemingly forever. The handling is definitely what one would call forgiving, and at the limit, you appreciate the improvement from the more nose-heavy Audis of yore. We won’t say whether the RS5 will trump the benchmark BMW M3 just yet, but we think it’s going to be one hell of a fight.

In Germany, you can order your RS5 beginning in May, with deliveries starting in June. On its home turf, the RS5’s price list starts at €77,700 (about $106,000), some €5000 more than a BMW M3 coupe with a dual-clutch transmission. U.S. pricing should be somewhat more accommodating—we expect a base sticker somewhere around $70,000—and an Audi rep tells us we can expect all the chassis technology to make it across the Atlantic, although it’s not yet decided what will be standard or optional. Based on our initial impressions, whatever Audi charges may well be justified.

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VW Touareg W12 Sport Edition with 500 PS by CoverEFX


German tuner CoverEFX have remastered the tapes on the VW Touareg W12 and have come up with their own limited edition series of the model.

The Erftstadt-based tuner has unveiled the VW Touareg W12 Sport Edition - a series which will be limited to 500 units. CoverEFX has wrapped the Touareg in a two-tone CFC film of gun-metal and black gloss to give it the proper sporty look. A boosting of power under the hood is also performed by means of some software tuning, bringing the horsepower figure to a nice round 500 PS (368 kW).

Some electronic tuning of the chassis is also part of the package with a sportier ride and a suspension lowering of unspecified centimeters.

The W12 Sport Edition is fitted with 22-inch RS-L light alloy rims from Kahn wrapped in Pirelli Zero Scorpion high-performance tires of 295/30-22 dimensions. The rims are definitely stylistically unique with their red pinstripes and black powder coat.

Price for the vehicle and tuning package together comes to €140,500.

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