Monday, May 31, 2010

Porsche Panamera 4S: Test drive report


Price and equipment

The naturally aspirated 4.8-litre V8 all-wheel-drive 4S sits in the middle of the three-model Panamera launch range. Priced from $282,400 (plus on-road and dealer costs), the 4S is $12,200 more than the rear-wheel-drive S and $82,500 less than the AWD Turbo flagship. Soon to be added to the line-up are two V6 models; the $193,000 RWD Panamera and the $204,400 AWD Panamera 4 (plus costs). A hybrid V6 is also on the way.

Sat-nav, a Bose six-disc sound system, sunroof, power tailgate and 14-way front powered seats are all standard but the 4S gets only part-leather trim, dual-zone (not even tri-zone) climate control and standard (not radar) cruise control. Keyless start is an option and there's no spare tyre: merely sealant and a compressor.

There is plenty of mechanical trickery, including a seven-speed PDK dual-clutch transmission, active suspension, variable AWD, fuel-saving engine stop-start and even a rear spoiler that pops up automatically at 90km/h.

Under the bonnet

The 4.8-litre V8 engine's outputs of 294kW and 500Nm are OK but not world beating.

It can burble along at low revs, barely hinting at its capabilities. But push the throttle and it comes alive like an angry bear that's just been zapped with a cattle prod. Click into "Sport" mode and the engine is sharper and PDK holds on to gears longer. In manual mode precise control is delivered, although the gear-change buttons on the steering wheel are not as intuitive as proper paddles. Nor is the PDK as smooth at launch or low speeds as a regular automatic. The stop-start function is surprisingly intrusive, switching the engine on and off, but a button can deactivate it.

Porsche claims the 4S will average 11.5 litres per 100 kilometres on premium fuel. We managed 11.0L/100km after almost 900 kilometres of varied driving.

How it drives

At cruising speeds, the 4S lacks the isolated sophistication of an S-Class or even a BMW 7-Series as there's more drivetrain whine and road noise inside.

But up the pace and the Porsche keeps getting better - gripping, accelerating, turning and stopping with an exquisite level of control. Only the steering disappoints and only because it offers less feel than a razor-sharp 911. But it is still direct, faithful to inputs and confident.

Comfort and practicality

Unlike the exterior, there are few reservations about the Panamera's interior. The use of leather, wood, aluminium and velour (carpet) is beautifully combined with a well-resolved cockpit. Buttons proliferate on the ramped centre console but their functions are easily understood.

The main issues are distracting reflections of the dash-top in the windscreen and limited rearward visibility.

The upsweep of the glasshouse beyond the door pillar also adds to an enclosed feeling in the rear. There's no shortage of head, knee and legroom but a Mercedes S-Class is better for chauffeured passengers.

By 911 standards, interior storage is exceptional but there's only one cupholder up front and two in the back.

Under the hatch you'll find a long, narrow space that fits 432 litres of luggage. Fold down the rear seats and that expands to a bicycle-swallowing 1250 litres.


The Panamera hasn't been crash tested by NCAP but there is no doubting its fundamental solidity and quality.

The 4S is well stocked with passive and active safety gear including front, side, curtain and front-knee airbags (rear-side bags are optional), a pedestrian-friendly bonnet, stability and traction control, anti-lock brakes, active bi-xenon headlights and rear parking sensors.

Overall verdict

Technically, the 4S is yet another potent and convincing Porsche. But the luxury equipment equation isn't quite so compelling, nor is the exterior styling.

Appreciating this car truly depends on your priorities. If you gain enjoyment from driving then this is your executive express. No arguments.

THERE'S no arguing with the concept of the Porsche Panamera - a luxury grand tourer that expands the legendary sports-car marque into another lucrative market segment. But the execution has caused plenty of debate, especially exterior styling that mixes elements of the iconic 911 with a rotund hatchback.

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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Rendered: 2012 Volkswagen Passat Wagon


Volkswagen's next-generation Passat is expected to up the stakes against Germany’s luxury automakers, with the car’s designers hoping it will be mentioned in the same breath as the BMW 3-Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and Audi A4.

Previous spy shots have revealed a longer wheelbase will be present, and although the new car will be larger than the outgoing one, the use of lightweight materials in its construction should ensure a lighter kerb weight and improved mileage. This latest computer-generated rendering shows the wagon version or “Variant,” which is due approximately one year after the launch of the sedan in late 2011.

Under the hood, a replacement for the R36’s 3.6-liter engine will be in place, putting out close to 300 horsepower from a displacement of 3.0-liter. To improve mileage and maintain power, the new engine will also be using direct injection, while the rest of the powertrain lineup is expected to benefit from some form of forced induction as well. Other models will include a new hybrid as well as a high-performance diesel with all-wheel drive.

To give the Passat some much needed panache, Volkswagen will be pulling out all the stops to make the next-generation a technological showcase, with features that should have the traditional German luxury marques feeling a little worried. The car is tipped to feature a host of new technologies, including airless tires, a wiperless window cleaning system, and an advanced user interface. There may also be an electronic stability system with a feature that automatically offers counter-steering assistance in adverse driving conditions.

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Spotted: 2011 Porsche GT2 RS


Click to Enlarge

Frankfurt has apparently seen the first public sighting of the brand new 2011 GT2 RS. Having only been unveiled on the internet and to dealers so far, the sighting represents one of the first times the public could lay eyes on the car.

Just to remind you of the official statistics: The ultimate 911 accelerates from 0-100km/h (62mph) in 3.4 seconds, boasts a top-track speed of 330km/h (205mph) and laps the Nordschleife racetrack in just seven minutes and 18 seconds. The design incorporates naked cabon fibre componants and unique rims to give the car its exclusive, top-of-the-range look. Ceramic brakes and a six-speed manual gearbox are standard on the cars options list

Limited to just 500 units worldwide, the 911 GT2 RS will be available in the US October 2010 and will have a MSRP of $ 245,000. We can’t wait to see it at this years auto shows!

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Is the Audi S4 the Car of the Year?


In the early days of its existence, the car was an irritable beast, a machine that brawled its way down the road and threatened to kill you at every turn. The rough edges began to soften when the twentieth century hit puberty; threat and grime were replaced by comfort and reliability. And now, after a century of glorious evolution, we have arrived at a happy point where the phrase "fast car" isn't synonymous with recklessness. Today we have the 2010 Audi S4, the world's friendliest beast.

Some people pine for the loss of the raw, but the S4 is a 333-hp reminder of the joys of subtlety. It is built on the bones of Audi's excellent fourth-generation A4, and while it's both faster and more powerful than its base-model brethren, it looks little different. At a glance, it appears to be upstaged by the previous S4, a V-8-powered hooligan that offered wilder looks, two more cylinders, and seven more horsepower. That car also cost nearly five grand more than the new S4, which starts at $45,900. Something, you think, must be missing.

Or: This is what technological progress actually looks like. In the search for fuel economy and space efficiency, Audi ditched the previous S4's 4.2-liter V-8 in favor of a 3.0-liter, Eaton-supercharged V-6. The six is lighter than the eight and almost as smooth, gets an estimated 27 mpg, and rips to its 7,000 rpm redline with all the racket of a dead cat. Audi's quattro all-wheel-drive system is standard, as is a six-speed manual transmission, and both are so slick and polished as to make you feel unnecessary. Around town, the Audi simply disappears.

But because the S4 oozes cold indifference, you find yourself caning it in search of a response. Remarkably, that's when the Audi awakes: The steering comes alive with feel, the once brittle suspension turns fluid and forgiving, and the distant, soulless engine seems appropriately dispassionate, like an exacting, eminently German tool of war. The car is about to get into a bar fight with some asphalt, and it wants you to throw the first punch.

This is what a sport sedan should be: calm when you need it, sharp when you don't, and sedate enough to fool the neighbors.

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Saturday, May 29, 2010

TopCar Panamera Stingray


Russian tuner TopCar has released more details regarding its Porsche Panamera Stingray. The company says three distinct versions of the powerful four-door will be made available. The first is the Black Matt Edition which comes finished in gloss black on the front lip spoiler, front bumper inserts, side skirts and rear diffuser among others.

The White Edition is mainly white with some parts trimmed in black as a matter of contrast. The leather interior is also white. The third car, called the Carbon Grey Edition, features a carbon fibre front lip spoiler, front bumper inserts, bonnet, window trims, rear wings and bumper diffuser.

TopCar aims to bump power to between 404 kW (542 bhp / 55 0PS) and 552 kW (740 bhp / 750 PS) for all three cars.

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Autocar: Audi R8 LMS GT3 racecar


Porsche 911 GT3 RS (2010) CAR review


This is Porsche's new 911 GT3 RS, a harder and faster version of the already hard and fast GT3. Traditionally it's the best Porsche 911 variant - the GT2 is often too extreme and the turbo'd engine lacks aural delight - so what's the new one like? Read on for CAR's first drive review.

So it’s a Porsche 911 GT3 that’s even more extreme?
Oh yes. The 3.8 flat-six – up from 3.6-litres in the previous 997 RS – produces 444bhp at 7900rpm, an increase of 15bhp (at 300rpm higher) over the GT3. That means 117bhp/litre, and while the torque output of 317lb ft is unchanged, it too is produced at higher revs.

And what an engine. It chunters at idle, like a mechanic has left a few bolts in each cylinder, but clears its throat as the revs rise. There’s a glorious resonance through the cabin between 4 and 5000rpm, and after that the note gets louder and harder, and an aggressive howl drives you to thrash it to 8000rpm over and over. It's a proper race-bred engine, and quite why the GT2 RS needs another 167bhp we can't imagine.

Presumably a double-clutch PDK ‘box is not an option?
Of course – the GT3 RS is only available with a motorsport-derived six-speed manual, which means a heavy clutch and the need to be very deliberate with your shifts. However, while it can be a little awkward when you’re trundling around, it’s much better when you need to bash through the gears. And keep up with that incredible engine – there’s revised transmission ratios so although the top speed is 1mph down on the GT3 (does that matter?) the acceleration is even more ferocious.

What are the other measures designed to make this GT3 RS harder and faster than ever?
Look closely and you’ll spot the flared front wheelarches, which hide a wider front track – the GT2 RS shares the same hardware. Plus there’s a massive carbonfibre rear wing, that fills your doors mirrors and blocks out your rear-view mirror – unless there’s a BMW behind, you won’t see who is following. There’s a titanium exhaust too, which saves weight from where it counts in a 911 – at the back.

I’m not sure about the colour scheme though.
We’d agree. The Mk1 997 GT3 RS looked brilliant in bright orange or a green Kermit would be proud, complete with retro RS stickers, but the new treatment is a bit OTT. A basic white paint is free, a rather nice blue is £730, and the grey/black of our test is £1768. The contrasting red (or white gold) is free – hurrah! (sarcasm) – though silver wheels are a no-cost option, and if you ask Porsche nicely they’ll delete the graphics. After all, your business is worth £100k-plus.

£100,000? That’s a lot of money for a 911?
But not as much as the £164,107 GT2 RS. The base car is £104,841, but then to that you’ll probably add the Carrera GT-inspired seats (lightweight buckets are already standard but these save another 10kg). Another 10kg can be cut if you opt for the £1268 lithium-ion battery, while carbon brakes are £5801.

And if you’re utterly mad then you can also choose to delete the air-con and radio, so there’s a big hole in the dash and you get to sweat every time the sun comes out. The upshot is that you’ll always get to listen to that magnificent engine.

The only other option you might want is the nose-lift system that raises the front axle by 30mm to help you get over speed bumps. Other extras for the ‘less-focussed’ customer include the option to spec the headlamp washers in a matching or contrasting colour to the body (£135) and paint the air vents (whether or not you delete the air-con).

What’s the new 911 GT3 RS like on the road?
Bloody brilliant. As with every 911 there’s a beautiful, precise weighting to the controls which makes this car a joy to drive a low speeds. The feedback from the steering is brilliantly detailed, the ceramic brakes will leave as lasting an impression as the power, and the Cup tyres provide huge amounts of grip. Every mile is intoxicating, and it's surely one of the best cars of 2010.

The ride is stiff, but better than we remember in a winter tyre-shod GT3, but this car's habitat will be a race track where the surface will only ever be ultra-smooth. There's lots of tyre noise too, especially from the fat tyres at the back, but then there's nothing in the back (bar a roll cage) to really provide any insulation.

To some the GT3 RS is just another 911, and far too many will dismiss it/laugh at it because of the OTT looks – the only person to compliment me on it was behind the wheel of a white Range Rover Sport.

But drive the GT3 RS and you’ll realise just how utterly special it is. The ride might be stiff, but then most people lucky enough to own one will just use it on smooth tracks. As for the rest of us, a stint behind the wheel will reveal one very exceptional car. There are some things to hate about Porsche (the Cayenne, for instance) but this is something to celebrate.

~By Ben Pulman
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2010 Volkswagen GTI - It's got its mojo workin' again


In 1983, Run-DMC was fresh (which meant dope), Volvo 760 Turbos weighed 3,300 pounds and the 2,200-pound Volkswagen GTI made its U.S. debut. In 2010, the Rabbit-turned-Golf entered its sixth generation and attempted to draw a clear line to the first-generation car. The historical link has been made especially clear in the 2010 Volkswagen GTI, though it's gone through the typical changes you face when you hit your 30s. The GTI is now 1,000 pounds porkier, but it's still as slick as a greased pig when it comes to handling.

Inside, there's plaid seat upholstery and higher-quality materials. Just like it was back in '83, the underhood motivation is only available from a four-cylinder, a change from recent generations that could be stuffed with Volkswagen's VR6. At a glance, the 2010 model promises to be more visceral than its direct predecessors, but does it come anywhere near the primal magic of the original, or is it just playing dress-up? Click through to the jump to find out.

By the time the GTI came Stateside, with its square headlamps and NHTSA-approved bumpers, the sharply-creased hatchback was no longer in the business of breaking any new stylistic ground. That much holds true for the 2010 Volkswagen GTI as well. It's handsome and smoothly styled with the instantly-recognizable profile of a Volkswagen two-box.

In truth, this latest generation of GTI doesn't appear hugely different than its predecessor. The front and rear light clusters are revised, with less startled-looking headlamps and more horizontal taillights. The front fascia and grille are also redone on a more horizontal theme and red stripes at the top and bottom of the new grille are a touch deftly lifted from 1983. While evolutionary, changes wrought between MkV and MkVI are successful in smoothing and modernizing the GTI.

Inside, it's more of the same updated-retro theme. The standard seats fitted to our tester arrived finished in Interlagos Plaid upholstery. Tartan fabric still carries echoes of the 1970s and is as polarizing as the Bacon Explosion. Some love it, but if you don't, VW offers upgraded sport seats with partial leather upholstery as part of the $2,185 Autobahn package, which also adds a power sunroof.

Very few people will complain about front seat space in the GTI, though anyone who has to climb into the back might gripe about the hike. In two-door form, that means climbing in and over the sill, so carpoolers or family users would do best to choose the five-door version, although it costs around $600 more. Once gluteals are planted on the cushion in the second row, passengers will find it relatively comfy back there, but claustrophobes will definitely want the extra doors. The 15.3 cubic feet of cargo space is useful and accessible thanks to the GTI's classic hatch profile; this a well-rounded little hellraiser that can haul both people and cargo at ascot-flipping speeds.

Build quality both inside and out is typical Volkswagen – meticulous. The materials inside feel like what you'd find in a car costing $40,000 versus the $24,414 entry fee on our test car. The design is clean and uncluttered, with a center stack that puts an emphasis on symmetry. There are twin HVAC outlets at the top, with the touchscreen for the audio system just below. The switchgear feels high-quality and without slop, and the chunky, flat-bottomed steering wheel is wrapped in leather, carries redundant controls and feels purposeful underhand. Simple, clear analog gauges keep drivers informed at a glance.

The center stack's ergonomics are first rate: there are three simple knobs for the HVAC, and the control relationships are just right. Even if you don't opt for the navigation system and its attendant Dynaudio-sourced stereo upgrade, there's still a big 'ol touchscreen for the audio controls. For our money, the standard system sounds darn good already, and nav might be anathema to the GTI's mission, anyway, especially as it drives nicely enough that you won't mind getting lost. Since it starts as an Everyman errand-runner, the GTI doesn't earn many demerits in terms of visibility, or even cupholders and cubbyholes. Despite being easily goaded into rowdiness, the GTI knows how to hold your large coffee during the morning commute, too. For a starting point under $25,000, the GTI is comprehensively equipped and materials and fit-and-finish are significantly better than vehicles like the MazdaSpeed3 and Subaru WRX.

Niceties aside, how's it go? That is, after all, the point of a GTI. Though this VW kicks it with 200 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque sent through the front wheels from its 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, it's not a torque-steering monster. Available power is well down vis-à-vis the frothier 'Speed3 and WRX, though the resultant 6.8 seconds it takes to get to 60 mph isn't exactly leisurely. Taken as a whole, the GTI outclasses most comers: It's plenty quick, and with the new XDS differential that gets subtle brake application into the action, you can get yourself out of corners with more speed and less understeer.

The standard GTI without the optional adaptive suspension is tossable and supple, feeling like Volkswagen sent this car off to a weekend handling seminar at BMW. Since we didn't have the opportunity to sample the different modes of the upgraded package, we can't comment on any improvement that setup brings, but the standard car is plenty satisfying to wring out. Planting your right foot brings a snarl and a tug from the engine bay, and the chunky wheel rim lets you in on what the tires have to say.

While the modern way to play racecar driver is to get the dual-clutch DSG and its attendant wheel-mounted shift paddles, the standard six-speed manual gearbox is no downgrade. Action is solid and slick, and pedals allow heel/toe shifting without double-jointed ankles. Despite being a relatively small powerplant with a turbocharger, lag isn't so much an issue with peak torque available from 1,800 rpm. The way the GTI launches with aplomb, only mildly afflicted with wheelspin, may be due to some initial softness until the turbo comes up to full wail, but that works to your advantage.

Of course, nobody would turn down a GTI with thirty or forty more horsepower, and given the chassis' good manners in town and poise on curvy roads and highway strafing runs, the platform is certainly up to the job. All-out horsepower or even superior track numbers aren't everything, though, as driving the GTI shows time and time again. It's a polished package that may sprint a little less fleetly than its peers, but the VW's popularity with aftermarket tuners should quickly remedy any output deficiency for less than the price of those leather seats, anyway.

A stomp of the middle pedal brings easily modulated rapid deceleration. This car's reflexes are the stuff of hot-hatch daydreams, and while 3,000 pounds isn't featherweight anymore, neither is it as portly as most mainstream cars. The GTI feels nimble because of this, and while older VR6-equipped GTIs may have been more rapid, the six-cylinder certainly exacted a weight and handling penalty. The other demerit to the bigger engine was thirst, and the 2010 GTI provides relatively cheap thrills with fuel economy of 21 mpg city, 31 mpg highway. We're happy to see that the old first-generation frisky/frugal dichotomy has once again found its mojo.

Since its inception, the Volkswagen GTI has never been the least expensive car in its class. The iconic first-generation has proven to be a tough act to follow, though, and enthusiasts have rightfully worried that with each successive generation, Volkswagen was losing its way a little more. The 2010 GTI restores our faith that the GTI can still do the things that made the original one of the all-time enthusiast greats.

The competence and sheen of careful assembly might prod you into an excitedly Ron Popiel-esque "Now how much would you pay?" The answer to that boomingly voiced question would be a surprisingly reasonable twenty-five large. Just like the Jetta TDI is five grand cheaper than you'd think, the 2010 Volkswagen GTI strikes us as a bargain for the refinement and performance it offers.

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Friday, May 28, 2010

It appears that the recently introduced Apple iPad is becoming more popular among automaker. Yesterday we announced that the iPad will be used by Mercedes-Benz dealers but today we found out that another manufacturer, Volkswagen, will use the new gadget in order to develop a digital customer magazine as an app.

Dubbed DAS a.k.a. Digital Automotive Space, the new magazine will be published quarterly in five languages and accessible throughout Europe. The users will find 360° images for Vw’s new cars but also technical features in order to find the best car for them. “DAS. is an important building block in Volkswagen’s digital marketing strategy and gives us the opportunity for an interactive dialog with our customers. Our goal is to transmit the fascination of the brand and its products in a new digital dimension, creating a global experience,” said Luca de Meo, Head of Marketing at the Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand.

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Audi and EVO partner on free LeMans iPhone app


In its boundless awesomeness, EVO has been so kind as to create a free iPhone App for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The slick little program was worked up with some help from Audi, and it will keep you up to date on everything from trackside news to driver bios and team information. Everything gets separated into Audi news and other, but it still manages to be fairly complete. There's even a section full of handy tips about the track for those of you lucky enough to be able to see the action for yourself.

The best part? The app is absolutely gratis. You can check it out at the iTunes App Store.

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Imagine, for a moment, that the Porsche engineering team has dropped 4,177 individually wrapped Twinkies on the lab floor. The yellow cream-filled sponge cakes are scattered shin-deep across the smooth ceramic tiles and kicked into the corners by technicians wearing white lab coats as more hit the floor. Individually, the cakes aren't very heavy. However, add 4,177 of the treats together and they weigh nearly 400 pounds.

Those thousands of Twinkies represent the average weight removed by Porsche on its all-new 2011 Cayenne. Thanks to a massive diet, the automaker's SUV emerges as a toned athlete – and we just spent two days flogging it on the track and off-road course at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama. What's under its fresh new skin, and where did all that weight go? How does the Cayenne perform on the track? Just as importantly, has it lost its off-road capabilities?

Whether we liked it or not, Porsche's first sport utility vehicle debuted for the 2003 model year. A marked departure from the automaker's countless sports cars before it, the original Cayenne was a five-passenger sport utility vehicle that boasted both on- and off-road prowess and a choice between six- and eight-cylinder front-mounted, water-cooled powerplants. It was unlike anything that had ever worn a Porsche badge. If its design and primary mission weren't enough to petrify stubborn loyalists, the fact that it shared platforms and many of its components with the Volkswagen Touareg (and Audi Q7) was sure to have them choking on their salted pretzels.

Regardless, the 2.5-ton Cayenne flew out of showrooms faster than the venerable 911 – it soon became the automaker's best-selling vehicle. In truth, it is argued in many circles that the sports car company was saved by its SUV.

Eight years later, Porsche is rolling out the all-new 2011 Cayenne – arguably one of the company's most important debuts ever – especially if one considers sheer sales volume and potential profits. Like its predecessor, the new Cayenne shares its platform and components with its Volkswagen siblings, but Porsche has taken this model much more seriously. While the first-generation Cayenne was very competent, it was burdened by a heavy four-wheel-drive system and an appearance that never really looked completely cohesive.

With its engineers fresh out of SUV-rehab, the new Porsche model emerges with a purpose. The engaging new sheetmetal (all-steel fully-galvanized body panels) wrapped around the unibody platform speaks Porsche – from the raised fenders sitting higher than the hood to the instantly recognizable ovoid headlights. The designers blacked-out the B-pillars on the new model, and lowered the waistline, so it no longer looks like it's wearing its pants too high. The rear lights now wrap onto the liftgate, and the exhaust has been more cleanly integrated. While the overall package appears much sleeker, the drag coefficient has actually increased a tenth to .36 – styling took precedence. Vielen dank, Porsche!

Influenced heavily by the Panamera sedan – and moved upscale in appointment as a result – the Cayenne's cabin is greatly improved. The five-ring main instrument cluster is cleaner as it now features the familiar multi-function flat-screen display to the right of the tachometer. Dash vents have been lowered to flank the large navigation screen, while the center console picks up the HVAC controls. The buttons are overwhelming at first (when you get done with those, there are a dozen more overhead), but familiarization helps.

Porsche will offer four Cayenne models in North America in 2010. The first to arrive in just a couple months will be the eight-cylinder Cayenne S and the flagship Cayenne Turbo. The Cayenne S Hybrid and Cayenne V6 won't arrive until later in the year. As of now, there are no plans to offer the Cayenne Diesel on our shores.

Like the outgoing model, the 2011 Cayenne features fully independent double-wishbone suspension up front, and an independent multi-link design in the rear. Ground clearance, for the standard steel springs, is 8.7 inches. The Turbo model is also fitted with a self-leveling air suspension that adds variable ride height.

The front brakes are Porsche's six-piston aluminum "monobloc" calipers over 14.15-inch iron rotors on the S and S Hybrid models. The Turbo we spent most of our time driving wears similar six-pot calipers with larger 15.35-inch two-piece rotors – the rear rotors on all models are only slightly smaller in diameter, although clamped with four-piston aluminum calipers. As is the case with the rest of the automaker's lineup, Porsche's formidable "PCCB" carbon ceramic brakes (above) are optional. The standard wheel package includes 18-inch alloys wrapped in 255/55R18 tires on all four corners (all are "square" setups – none staggered). The Turbo is shod with 19-inch alloys wearing 265/50R19 tires (the one we drove on the track was fitted with optional 21-inch wheels wearing 295/35R21 tires).

The 2011 Cayenne S is fitted with a 4.8-liter V8, the same direct-injected 32-valve unit as last year's model, but minor tweaks have improved the engine's power slightly so it's now rated at 400 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque. The 2010 Cayenne Turbo bolts twin turbochargers to that direct-injected 4.8-liter V8 to produce 500 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque. Both powerplants share a new slick-shifting eight-speed "Tiptronic" automatic transmission with sliding shift levers on the steering wheel spokes.

While all of this sounds rather enticing on paper, the assemblage of German SUVs currently sold in North America includes not only the Porsche Cayenne, but the BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz ML-Class – heavy hitters. Masterfully blending luxury, sport and utility, each of the fierce competitors is brimming with technology and innovation, not to mention volumes of excess poundage. Realizing that weight is the Achilles heel in this segment, the team at Porsche decided to get up off the sofa and do something about the problem.

Porsche's engineering team didn't just accept minor liposuction, they axed the fat off. The weight was shed from the body structure and wheels (lots more aluminum), but most of it was lifted when the Cayenne received a new electronically-controlled all-wheel drive system. All told, Porsche shaved roughly 400 pounds off the Cayenne's curb weight (yes, the weight loss works out to 4,177 Twinkies). On the scale, the new Cayenne S weighs 4,553 pounds while the Cayenne Turbo is 4,784 pounds. For comparison, the BMW X5 xDrive48i spins the dial to 5,335 pounds and the flagship X5 M simply flattens the gauge at 5,368 pounds. The Mercedes-Benz ML550 is 4,883 pounds, while the ML63 AMG weighs in at 5,093 pounds.

Low mass translates to better performance. Porsche says the 2011 Cayenne S model needs just 5.6 seconds to hit 60 mph (top speed is 160 mph) while the Turbo rockets to 60 mph in a conservative 4.4 seconds (top speed: 172 mph). Fuel economy numbers have not been released, but the automaker says we can expect double-digit percentage improvements.

As previously mentioned, our introduction to the all-new Porsche Cayenne was, interestingly enough, at the racetrack. This is no ordinary circuit – Barber Motorsports Park is a huge racing facility just outside Birmingham, Alabama. Opened in 2003, it features a beautifully manicured 16-turn, 2.3-mile road course that shames our West Coast facilities (if the Four Seasons hotel chain inexplicably dove into auto racing, this would be its inaugural facility). In addition to the very visible main circuit, hidden within the surrounding woods are countless off-road courses on the 740-acre property, which provided plenty of mud, ruts, hills and water obstacles. And yes, it's home to the Porsche Sport Driving School.

We've driven the Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG and BMW X5 M (and X6 M) on the track more than once. Although all were plenty fast, the excitement level of driving 2.5-ton SUVs, even those "race-prepared" models, around a road circuit is akin to shooting glass bottles with a Nerf gun. It simply doesn't get our adrenalin flowing.

Expecting the same (so much for our optimism), we settled into the passenger seat of a normally-aspirated Cayenne S for an orientation lap with David Donohue, the famed 24 Hours of Daytona winner (currently driving a Daytona Prototype for Brumos Porsche). With bottled water in his right hand, Donohue guides the SUV around the corners at a brisk pace, yet he displays a casualness more commonly associated with driving to Sunday services.

Minutes later, we are strapped into the bolstered front left seat of the Cayenne. There is plenty of elbow and headroom in the cabin (even for the helmeted), and our view outside to the circuit is excellent (the exterior mirrors have been moved to the door, and there is now a small window at the base of the A-pillar to improve visibility). Our left hand turns the key and the V8 awakens with a throaty growl.

Maneuvering through the corners, we expect body roll, squealing tires and understeer, but the Cayenne fails to deliver the bad news. Instead, it seems to land on its feet with the competence of a luxury sport sedan (it felt like we were driving a BMW 5 Series). Flat in the corners, the center of gravity feels two feet lower (it isn't) as we smoothly flow around the track. This is crazy; the Cayenne has forgotten that it is a sport utility vehicle.

The Cayenne Turbo takes it up several notches thanks to its twin-turbo V8 (you cannot mock 516 lb-ft of torque), adaptive air suspension and Porsche Torque Vectoring (PTV) which helps set the chassis up in the turns (further reducing understeer). Fitted with the automaker's PCCBs (the ceramic brakes easily pull us down from triple-digit speeds), the only weak link seemed to be the contact patch after several hot laps (we can neither confirm nor deny rumors that the Cayenne Turbo is quicker around a road circuit than a standard Carrera... until the tires get overheated). We are seriously enjoying this.

Just to ensure we aren't completely inebriated with Porsche's 2011 Kool-Aid, we grab the keys to one of the school's 2010 Cayenne Turbo models for a back-to-back comparison. On the circuit, the current-gen Cayenne is pretty quick, but its steering feels loose and it understeers shamefully when really pushed. It's markedly evident that everything, from seats and steering wheel to suspension and chassis tuning, has been improved.

To demonstrate the new electronically-controlled all-wheel drive system is every bit as capable as its predecessor, we took a Cayenne Turbo (wearing standard 19-inch wheels) into the woods surrounding the track. While you probably won't see a Cayenne bopping over rocks at Moab, it is fully capable of doing so (Porsche notes that first gear on the new eight-speed automatic is low enough to pass for a low-range "crawl gear"). Even with standard all-season tires, no amount of muck could stop us. We climbed hills, dropped down paths (easy with a trick new hill descent system) and forged streams so deep that water flowed over the top of the hood – no joke. Even when the terrain was too much for the available suspension travel, the electronics took note and shut down power to the airborne wheel. If you get stuck in a new Cayenne, your common sense has failed you, not the other way 'round.

We left the paddock of the track and headed out on the highway to check out the Cayenne's on-road etiquette. While it isn't nearly as fun at 65 mph, the lower velocities gave us some time to play with the navigation system and other controls. Porsche's logic is that switches are easier and faster to use than fumbling with a joystick-type controller. We agree, once you learn where the buttons are (did we mention that there are a lot of buttons?). Our other nitpick had to do with cabin noise as our ears picked up a bit more road thrum than we recall from its predecessor (remember, there is a lot of weight tied up in sound absorbing materials).

The V8-powered Cayenne S model will set you back $63,700 when it arrives this summer, while the range-topping Cayenne Turbo starts at $104,800 (none of the prices include destination charges). Of course, these are all base prices. Porsche will merrily dangle a long list of attractive options to successfully extract another 20+ percent out of you before you leave the dealership floor.

Back in 2002 when the first Cayenne hit the pavement, many of us around here aligned with the naysayers and grumblers, those who felt the traditional sports car manufacturer had betrayed its loyal following by introducing a 5,000-pound sport utility vehicle. Truth is, even after the automaker bolted on a couple of turbochargers to mask most of the weight, the original SUV still had a certain elephantine feel about it.

Today, fresh out of the fat farm with a refined set of running gear and some sexy new clothes, the automaker's hot pepper finally dances like a sport sedan. While it's no twinkle-toed Fred Astaire – and it never will be – the all-new 2011 Porsche Cayenne is finally good enough to turn those petrified cynics into believers.

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Thursday, May 27, 2010

2012 Audi A3 renderings


These renderings of the future Audi A3 show the 2012 model which will debut a few months before the new Volkswagen Golf 7. The two new cars from the VAG group will share about 70 percent of the same components, from the so-called MQB platform. The new Audi Q3 compact SUV in turn will anticipate the A3 and its new components in a model which will debut in 2011.

The third generation A3 will be availale in a three-door coupe version and a five-door Sportback version with a similar look around the doors to the Q5 and the Q7. The new Audi A3 has a planned production schedule of 200,000 units a year and with the shared Golf platform, we could see hybrid and electric versions emerge.

Standard versions of the A3 will appear with the three-cylinder, 1.2-litre TDI engine with 75 hp, which has CO2 emissions of just 89 g/km. The top of the range Audi S3 will have the 2.0-litre TFSI twin turbo with 300 hp. A new engine to appear will be the 2.0 TDI with increased power to 184 hp and the whole engine range will be Euro 6 compliant.

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VW design 'to be more creative'


Volkswagen Group’s design chief is looking forward to the “challenge” of competing with the Group’s recently acquired Italdesign Giugiaro design studio.

Giorgetto Giugiaro, who heads the design studio that bears his name, was named as the car designer of the 20th century and his company is responsible for some of VW’s most iconic designs ever, including the original Golf and Scirocco models.

“I think that competing against a true living legend of automotive design such as Giorgetto Giugiaro is a fantastic challenge for any VW group designer,” said VW Group design chief Walter de' Silva.

VW Group has taken a 90 per cent stake in the design firm and Giugiaro and his son will continue to design with the company. De' Silva believes the extra competition from such a respected design studio will allow the rest of the Group's designs to become more competitive.

“Italdesign will compete with all of our design centres because competition enhances creativity and VW never wants to be second best when it comes to design,” he said.

VW Group is currently working on 140 design projects and Giugiaro is expected to take some of these on, including the VW Up! family of cars.

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Audi Q7 downsizes with an upside


If there's to be a singular automotive theme guiding us into this second decade of the 21st century, it's downsizing. If not in dimensions, then in displacement. Automakers, forced to adhere to higher government-mandated fuel economy standards and lower CO2 emissions, are beginning to collectively reduce engine size while attempting to maintain the thrust consumers demand.

The newest posterchild for this movement comes in an unlikely wrapper: the 2011 Audi Q7. Packing the same supercharged 3.0-liter V6 found in the S4 sports sedan, Audi bids adieu (or is that Auf Wiedersehen?) to the 3.6-liter V6 and 4.2-liter V8 for the 2011 model year and brings with it the 2011 A8's eight-speed automatic transmission. We tackled the congested highways and byways in and around Ingolstadt to see if the revised Q7 has the goods to placate both bureaucrats and buyers, while taking a deeper look into Audi's new powertrain strategy.

The supercharged 3.0-liter TFSI V6 fitted to the aforementioned S4, as well as the midsize A6, is quickly becoming Audi's low displacement replacement for its wonderful but aging 4.2-liter V8. Nestled between the banks of the 90-degree V6 sits a Roots-type, twin-scroll blower with a rather modest capacity of two liters, huffing a maximum of 11.6 psi into the lightweight aluminum block and delivering two different power figures depending on spec.

In low-output guise, 272 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque is available from 2,250 rpm to 4,750 rpm, with a claimed 0-62 mph time of 7.9 seconds. The high-output version brings 333 hp and 325 lb-ft to the party (beginning at 2,250 rpm), reducing the 62 mph sprint to 6.9 seconds. The latter configuration is down some 17 hp from the outgoing 4.2-liter V8, yet it delivers the same amount of torque – something that matters more when motivating a massive slab of SUV. As you'd expect, fuel consumption has been reduced across the board, with Audi claiming a reduction of 15.7 percent in the low-output Q7 and 11.5 percent in high-output form when compared to the ol' V8. The result is an estimated EU fuel economy rating of around 21 mpg on the highway – something we're keen to test in the real world when the revised Q7 goes on sale this summer.

For our money, the one engine, two outputs strategy is a smart move by Audi, allowing the automaker to essentially offer identical engines (tuners take note: power is modified electronically) to suit different consumer demands for both power and price. Additionally, both models get the same "Supercharged" badge on the hatch, so by all outward appearances, the two 'utes are nearly indistinguishable and the overall cost of development has been reduced so Audi can redirect its resources towards powertrain enhancements – namely its new eight-speed auto 'box.

With a gear ratio spread of 7.25:1 and a narrower torque converter that saves over 24 pounds compared to the six-speed automatic, Audi claims that fuel consumption has been reduced by four percent through the use of the new transmission alone. Included in the gearbox is a new start/stop feature, which cuts the engine at idle through the use of an electric oil pump, along with a new oil cooler that gets warmed up by the engine's cooling system, boosting the tranny's temperature from a cold start and reducing drag in the transmission that much quicker.

The net result of all these powertrain modifications isn't easy to detect when slogging through the city, but when the road opens up and traffic begins to dissipate, the cohesion of the engine/tranny combo shines through. The low-output V6 is just that – less – but it proved adequate enough to get us up to triple-digit speeds on the autobahn with minimal fuss. Mid-range torque is predictably more pronounced compared to the 3.6-liter V6, allowing us to simply stomp on the long pedal and let the eight-speed auto quickly jump from gear-to-gear, keeping the blown six in the meat of its power band. We'd avoid calling the low-output version "quick" by any means, but assuming this is the combination Audi claims is good for 20+ mpg on the highway, it could get consumers in the door and out for a test drive.

But anyone that drives the low- and high-output versions back-to-back is sure to option up for the higher-spec trim, particularly if Audi equips the uprated model with some of its most popular options.

The 333-hp version is simply superior – not just because it's packing more power (yes, we like power), but because the eight-speed gearbox feels more at home with the additional grunt. Some of the hunt-and-peck gear selection we experienced on the low-output model didn't seem to manifest itself on the uprated variant. The gearbox still reaches for eighth when cruising along at highway speeds, but whereas the 272-hp mill would require the 'box to shift down from the top ratio to fourth for a mid-speed pass, the higher-output model would simply grab fifth, run up to the red and then snatch sixth without drama.

For both Audi and Q7 owners, it's a win-win. Audi saves on development costs and consumers save at the pump. Couple that with the increased efficiency of the new drivetrain combo, an overall reduction in emissions and fuel consumption, and everyone has something to crow about. Whether luxury SUV customers are willing to trade in the prestige of a V8 for an (admittedly misleading) 3.0T badge remains to be seen, but as a means of keeping the SUV relevant in this cleaner, greener climate, the 2011 Q7 is yet another step in the right direction.

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Evo's Chris Harris test drives Audi R8 LMS at Silverstone


The new 2011 Volkswagen Jetta will hit the dealerships by the end of the summer.

The only bad news is that if you really want a diesel-powered 2011 Jetta, then you will have to wait some more, because this car is expected in early 2011. Regarding the engine, the Jetta TDI will carry a 2.0-liter diesel engine capable ro deliver 140 hp and 236 pound-feet of torque. The engine will be mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox or as an option, with the six-speed DSG dual-clutch gearbox.

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The new Cayenne - Development


VW GTI - Reviewed By TheSmokingTire


Since Volkwagen AG now has a 90% stake in Italdesign Giugiaro S.p.A., its customers might be worried that VW will be able to gain access to their confidential technology.

These customers, which include BMW AG, Proton and Hybrid Kinetic Motors Corp., may decide to go somewhere else but Chairman Giorgetto Giugiaro has given assurances of “100% secrecy.” Giugiaro said that in the future, Italdesign, Italy’s largest automotive design and engineering company, will work only for the VW Group but that it will complete all the ongoing projects for other carmakers.

Last Tuesday, a BMW spokesman said that it will continue with its contract with Italdesign, which has worked on the BMW-owned Mini’s Roadster and Coupe models. Enzo Pacella, Italdesign CEO, said that the company will work on the Mini derivatives for one more year.

Last January, Italdesign signed a 375 million euro ($462 million) multi-year deal to provide complete design and engineering for Hybrid Kinetic Motors’ eight new models.

Italdesign also still has a current contract with Proton to design the production version of the Emas minicar concept that was introduced at the Geneva show last March.

China’s Brilliance China Automotive and Chery Automobile are two of Italdesign’s customers that are likely to be affected by the VW deal since both compete against VW’s joint venture partners in China: FAW Group Corp. and Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp.

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Audi S7 Sportback: New spy shots!


These are the latest spy pictures of the first ‘hot’ variant of the new Audi A7, the S7.

Spied in testing at the Nurburgring for the second in a week, this heavily disguised prototype hints at the S7’s potential performance, with quad exhausts, a more aggressive front bumper, bigger air intakes and larger wheels.

See the new Audi S7 spy pics

It’s also clear from this car that the production A7 will stick closely to the look of the Sportback concept when it goes on sale in the UK next year. It has what Audi calls “a less formal look than that of the A8”, with some styling cues from Audi’s 100 S coupé from the 1970s.

The S7 is likely to have about 500bhp on tap; US market demands are likely to mean that the power comes from a V8 motor instead of a supercharged V6.

This model is intended as a rival to Mercedes’ top-end CLS models, although it won’t have to take on the full-house AMG variant. That role will be taken by an RS7, equipped with a dual-clutch transmission and a 580bhp V10.

The Audi A7 will be revealed at the Moscow motor show on 26 August.

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2011 Audi A8L W12 reminds us that we aren't rich enough


Volkswagen: In alliance talks with Proton


Malaysian automaker Proton confirmed today that it has been in talks with Germany’s Volkswagen about a possible tie-up between the two brands that could result in shared products.

“We will make an announcement in one to two weeks,” Proton Chairman Mohamad Nadzmi Mohamad Salleh told reporters in Kuala Lumpur.

Volkswagen and Proton first talked about an alliance in 2007, but those discussions dissolved over various disagreements. The latest reports indicate that the German automaker wouldn’t seek a stake in Proton, but rather would be interested in rebadging its upcoming Passat replacement as a Proton vehicle. Other platform-sharing and rebadging could also be on the table, sources close to the discussions said.

Proton, a relatively small automaker, is best known in North America for its ownership of British sports car manufacturer Lotus. The automaker posted a profit for the first quarter of 2010, although it has watched its market share dwindle in Southeast Asia.

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Porsche Cayenne Turbo - Review


If you find large, aggressive 4x4s offensive, you had best look away now. Porsche isn’t making any apologies for the way its new, second-generation Cayenne looks, or, for that matter, how much it costs. It’s an £81,589 investment in its Turbo form, and that’s before you’ve opened the glossy options brochure and added a tally of luxurious extras.

The original Cayenne looked like the unfortunate result of a collision between a Porsche 911 and a Volkswagen Touareg — the face of the former grafted on to the body of the latter. This one has a style that’s a lot more cohesive.

What the Cayenne always did well was go like the clappers, and once again it delivers performance that’s positively indecent for a car of such scale. With a new direct-injection V8 petrol engine under its bonnet, and 494 horsepower to hand, the Cayenne Turbo dashes to 62mph in 4.7 seconds, matching a 911 Carrera off the line.

Even that isn’t as impressive as the way it goes round corners. The first Cayenne was no slouch on a bend; with 110kg chopped out of the body weight, it feels even more nimble. Porsche has overcome the effect of the top-heavy body with a mind-boggling array of technology. For instance, standard on the Turbo (and a £2,330 option elsewhere) is air suspension with PASM (Porsche active stability management, if you were wondering). That’s just one of many add-ons, each with an alphabet soup abbreviation and a sobering price.

Understanding exactly how they all work and interact with one another is for serious tech-heads only and you’ll never get near the grip threshold. In slippery conditions, however, you get an inkling of some very clever stuff happening as the computers apportion power to where it’s needed to help the car keep its composure. The ride quality on the air suspension is impressive: the Cayenne is flat and poised like a sports car in corners, but swallows up lumps, bumps and potholes as though they were not there.

The weight loss has helped Porsche to tackle some of the Cayenne’s more excessive drinking habits and boosted efficiency so much that the new Turbo emits less CO2 than the outgoing entry-level V6.

Substantial improvements have been made to the interior, too, with chunky metal vents and a prominent central console inspired by the Carrera GT supercar and Panamera four-seater. If you’re weighing up the extra cost of a smaller-engined Cayenne over a Touareg, you need look no further: the Cayenne’s cabin is way more stylish than that of the rather conservative VW, even if space and practicality are about the same.

Ultimately, though, the Cayenne scores where it counts — posing value.

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Spy Shots: 2011 Volkswagen Jetta ready for its closeup


The clearest images yet of the 2011 Volkswagen Jetta have turned up ahead of the compact sedan's launch this fall. Like the latest MK VI Golf, the Jetta is expected to be built on an updated version of the MK V platform, although the sedan is believed to be slightly longer and wider. This will allow it to be more competitive against the Chevrolet Cruze and next generation Ford Focus.

Under the hood, the 2.0-liter TDI diesel will carry over, but the unloved 2.5-liter inline-five will probably be replaced by a 1.4-liter TSI inline-four. The TSI is a direct injected and turbocharged gasoline engine already available in Europe with several versions from 120 to 180 horsepower being offered.

A hybrid version of the Jetta will join the lineup in 2012 with a full electric version rumored in 2013. The current Jetta Sportwagen, sold as the Golf Variant in Europe, will continue unchanged for at least several more years after getting the MK VI Golf nose and interior for 2010

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Audi at the Wörthersee Tour 2010


Audi A1 rolls over, plays dead in Belgium


After hearing news the S1 will be front-wheel drive, an Audi A1 tragically killed itself in shame.

The horrific event occurred in Belgium, where Audi was trying to convince people that the A1 is fun and sporty. As part of the spectacle, stunt drivers would take passengers up a quarter-pipe to show how well the car handled. As fate would have it, the driver lost control and flipped the A1.

According to one witness, Audi employees immediately pushed the A1 right-side-up and freed the passenger and driver. Afterwards, the car was covered and taken away.

Speaking with, Audi Belgium spokesman Thomas De Meuter said both occupants escaped with minor injuries from broken glass. He added, "The drive up the quarter pipe is an extreme situation that does not occur in everyday traffic" and the A1 is absolutely stable.

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

It's Official: VW taking 90% stake in Italdesign


Remember those rumors that Volkswagen was poised to purchase Italdesign Giugiaro? Well, they're rumors no more, as the two storied firms have just announced that it's a done deal. The German automaker will acquire a 90-percent stake in the design house, and the Giugiaro family, which currently owns the company outright, will retain the remaining 10 percent.

It is currently assumed that Volkswagen will keep the 975 employees at Italdesign, adding them to its own design department. Reports indicate that VW will also retain the services of the elder Giorgetto Giugiaro and his son, Fabrizio, who currently serves as the company design head. For what it's worth, the Italian design house styled some of VW's most successful and iconic models, including the original Golf (or Rabbit, depending on your country of birth) and Scirocco.

Volkswagen takes 90.1 percent stake in internationally renowned design and development services company
Expansion of capacity and competence for global model initiative
Volkswagen Board of Management Chairman Winterkorn: "New era in strategic partnership between these two companies"
Wolfsburg/Turin, May 25, 2010 – The Volkswagen Group and Italdesign Giugiaro S.p.A. (IDG), Turin, are to intensify their successful cooperation, putting it on a new footing. This was announced by both companies at a joint press conference in Turin on Tuesday. The Volkswagen Group will take a 90.1 percent stake in IDG, including the brand name rights and patents. The shares are being acquired by AUDI's Italian subsidiary Lamborghini Holding S.p.A. The remaining shares will stay in the possession of the present owner family Giugiaro.

"With this shareholding in Italdesign, we are participating in one of the most renowned design and development companies with one of the richest traditions in the automobile industry. Italdesign is the flagship for creative Italian automobile design and has been instrumental in shaping the face of the automobile industry worldwide. As the creator of the Golf I, Giorgetto Giugiaro laid a new foundation for Volkswagen design in the 1970s," Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft, commented in Turin.

The Volkswagen Group has enjoyed successful cooperation with IDG for many decades. Giugiaro made a name for himself not only with the Golf I, but also with concepts for important models such as the first Volkswagen Passat, Scirocco or the Audi 80. A comprehensive development framework agreement was concluded in 2008. Volkswagen and IDG are also collaborating closely on ongoing projects such as the planned Volkswagen Up! model family. Implementation of the agreement is also subject to the standard approval by the relevant authorities.

"A new era in the strategic partnership between our companies begins today. Italdesign becomes a permanent member of the global Volkswagen family," Winterkorn said. "The Volkswagen Group will be continuing its model initiative over the coming years and will benefit from the capacity and competence of Italdesign. The company will therefore be making an important contribution to our 2018 global growth strategy," Winterkorn continued.

IDG was founded in Turin by Giorgetto Giugiaro and Aldo Mantovani in 1968. Both founders are considered pioneers of modern Italian automobile design. Italdesign has also acquired a reputation worldwide as a highly-competent development center. Today, the company generates sales of over €100 million and has a workforce of some 800 employees.

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Audi A1 "the next big thing" – Episode IV


Inside the Audi Race Experience


Spy Shots: 2011 Volkswagen Jetta caught nearly uncovered


Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

A cameraphone-wielding member of GMInsideNews has caught what looks to be a pair of Volkswagen prototypes in Michigan, and while it's hard to tell the full extent of the changes or the size of the sedans, he appears to have snagged the next-generation Jetta undergoing testing.

Even with the Ford Fusion and Chrysler minivan providing a bit of scale, it's hard to pin down the dimensions of the prototypes. However, we're more inclined to assume that the VWs are the refreshed Jetta, particularly based on the roofline, greenhouse and overhangs, as well as the previously released official renderings of the forthcoming 2011 NMS, which looks markedly more assertive than what we see here.

While the upsidedown Toyota badge on the boot is a nice touch, don't expect that element to make it to production. Instead, the 2011 Jetta will finally replace the current model's ovoid headlamps with the more angular, aggressive units found on the refreshed Golf and GTI. Out back, the trunk benefits from a subtle lift and tuck, with new rectangular taillamps and slightly blistered fenders finishing off the refresh. Assuming our product cycle prediction hats are on straight, we can expect to see the new Jetta in person later this year, with sales beginning in early 2011.

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Volkswagen AG is set to announce that it will acquire a 90% stake in Italdesign Giugiaro S.p.A, some sources told Automotive News Europe. VW is expected to announce the takeover at the Moncalieri, Turin headquarters of Italdesign, which is known for having styled cars such as the first-generation VW Golf.

The remaining 10% stake will be retained by the Giugiaro family. VW has plans to obtain control of Italdesign so that it can hit sales of 10 million vehicles a year and be known as the world’s biggest automaker by 2018. For VW to attain that goal, more designers and engineers will have to be added to its 10-brand group, including Porsche. For 2010, the VW group will be adding 60 models, including upgrades. Presently, Italdesign is served by 975 employees and 800 computer aided design workstations. Italdesign was co-founded in 1968 by Giorgetto Giugiaro (chairman). He will continue working at the company, along with his son Fabrizio, who is the head of the design and model division. Italdesign’s financial results are not readily available. The latest information that was released included a 6.2% increase in 2008 revenues to 136 million euros ($166 million), an operating breakeven.

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A look inside the Audi R8 Spyder production plant


What we dig about European plants that build high-zoot cars is that it always looks like each car gets everyone's full attention, every step presided over by workers who want to make sure they've done everything they could. Its most telling examples were the lab-coated workmen assembling the Carrera GT or SLR McLaren and the one-engine-one-worker method of AMG, but the gents looking after the Audi R8 Spyder keep up the tradition.

This peek around the production plant making Iron Man's car is a little light on drama, but there are plenty of other nuts-and-bolt's reasons for the enthusiast to spare three minutes to watch it.

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Highlights from Valencia - DTM 2010


To accommodate those of you who are unable to watch DTM live, we've vowed to include video highlights of each race. Following the highlights from Hockenheim, we now have fresh clips of Audi's victory at Valencia from this past weekend's race. Race start, Molina battling with Paffett and Mattais Ekström's victory.

A big thanks goes out to DTMEnthusiast on YouTube.

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Monday, May 24, 2010



This highly customized VW Golf GTI is a kind of show car for WEITEC to present their latest suspension system. This subsidiary trademark of KW fits the Golf with sports springs, the sport suspension and coilovers, so the mighty GTI would handle the bends much better than before. These packages are a bit expensive though.

Apart from the LSD doors, massive body kit, big wheels and carbon bonnet and hatch, this Golf also features WEITEC SPORT F-springs, which bring the GTI 20 millimetres closer to the ground. They along with stronger springs and the GT-dampeners will come in ULTRA GT package for 525 Euro.

Furthermore WEITEC-coilovers suspension set reduce the height of the VW by 10 to 40 millimetres. This comes with HICON GT suspension pack featuring a dampening characteristic specially developed for the GTI, and costs 749 Euro.

The most sporty package is WEITEC-coilover HICON TX “plus” which allows the driver to adjust the dampener characteristics in the installed state in terms of its hardness, but costs 999 Euro!

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Breaking: Upcoming Audi A2 will be an electric-only car


As you may know already, the new Audi A2 is set to make its debut in 2012, but according to the latest reports, it appears that the upcoming car will be electric-only. The decision to make it an electric-only car will be a direct hit to Bmw’s Megacity car which will go on sale in 2013. Unfortunately, there are no details regarding this car, but it is expected to receive the same technology found in the Audi A1 e-Tron Concept, which was recently unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show!

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