Wednesday, June 30, 2010

VW e-Up!: Coming to the US in 2013


The Up!, Volkswagen’s ambitious new minicar, has not been earmarked for North-America. But in the most recent planning round, we find the E-Up!, also known as NSF BEV (New Small Family, Battery Electric Vehicle), scheduled to hit select U.S. cities for 2013. Technology and range are still to be determined, but the concept E-Up!, which debuted at last fall’s Frankfurt auto show, featured a 60 kilowatt-hour electric motor and could go a distance of about 80 miles, per Volkswagen claims.

The electric vehicle will be the lowest volume variant of the Up!, which Volkswagen has billed as the spiritual successor to the original Beetle and projects at 600,000 sales annually in its initial production stage.

Audi next-gen vehicles will be watching you


Audi equipped a test vehicle with forward-looking, 3D-imaging sensors, a processing unit that identifies traffic situations, and affixed internal cameras that keep an eye on the driver in an effort to develop next-generation active pedestrian and cyclists safety and crash-avoidance technology.

As part of the German Adaptive and Cooperative Technologies for Intelligent Traffic (AKTIV) consortium, Audi is participating in a three-pronged program consisting of Safety for Pedestrians and Cyclists, Active Emergency Braking, and Driving Safety and Attentiveness, which aims to use advanced automotive technology and communication to reduce traffic accidents.

On the road, 3D sensors on the Audi's test vehicle scan traffic for potential accident scenarios. Based on Audi researcher's classification system of the scenarios and related injury severity, the vehicle can implement a "concept of action for braking and steering," according to the manufacturer's press release.

The company is also exploring technology that enables the car to employ active emergency braking even earlier based on driver attentiveness. It uses internal cabin cameras that track the driver's head position to determine if he's paying attention to the road, or perhaps looking down and texting on a mobile phone.

It sounds a lot creepier than it really is. If you're worried about the cameras, it's not so much "Big Brother" as it is back-seat driver.

But back-seat drivers typically don't have the power to slam on the brakes should they detect that the driver is distracted (the cameras can tell by the position of the driver's head) and grab the wheel to steer the car away from a pedestrian.

Audi's "seeing vehicle," on the other hand, will.

It's similar to safety technology already available on the upcoming Volvo S60. Volvo's S60 is equipped with forward-looking cameras and scans traffic for pedestrian-like forms that are more than 30 inches tall and have a head, torso, and arms. Cameras can track about 50 objects at a time. If a person moves out in traffic and looks like the driver could hit him, the car audibly warns the driver, and if the driver doesn't take action, the pedestrian detection system will begin to brake the vehicle. At speeds less than 9 mph, the car will brake entirely by itself.

One key difference between Volvo's and Audi's technology is that Volvo looks at driver behavior, not driver's position. Volvo's active-braking system looks for cues that the driver is paying attention, such as actively steering the vehicle.

Audi's system uses internal cameras that record the position of the head and the orientation of the driver's head to deduce the attentiveness of the driver. If it detects that the driver isn't paying attention, it could begin the warning and braking sequence earlier than waiting until the last minute to avoid a crash.

Either way, both systems are a boon for pedestrians and cyclists on the road, and if it prevents an accident, it's a win for everyone.

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Audi A4 2.0 TFSI quattro: Road test report


The A4 quattro is Audi’s smallest and least costly all wheel drive sedan, but that doesn't mean that it’s boring to drive, or sparsely featured. Starting with the 2.0 liter turbocharged direct fuel injected (TFSI) engine, and quattro permanent all wheel drive system, up through the beautifully finished interior with power windows, automatic climate control, leather seats, excellent audio system with standard satellite radio and aux input jack, you begin to realize, this car has a lot to offer for the base $32,350.

Our test car was equipped with some optional equipment to further enhance the motoring experience, but they don’t cause the car to break the bank. Adding the Premiere package to the A4 gets you HID Xenon headlights, 3 zone climate control, heated front seats, trip computer, and more goodies, for less than $4000 extra. We feel it is well worth the extra cost in this case, since it’s not all that much more money relatively speaking, and this package really contributes to the high end feel of the car.

The HID lighting package also includes the LED running lights which we happen to really like (the A4's LEDs have a curving flow of the LEDs which is rather reminiscent of the R8, which can't be a bad thing), and feel that they define the face of the modern Audi. The standard auxiliary audio input is replaced by an Ipod interface in the glovebox as part of the Audi Music Interface, which allows you full control of your iPod via the audio controls. Also included on our car was the sport package, which consists of the 3 spoke perforated leather wrapped sport steering wheel, sport seats, lower and stiffer suspension, and 18 inch wheels. These are mostly aesthetic and comfort related, though the lower suspension and larger wheels help to improve the handling.

The aforementioned upgrades defininately combine to make the A4 look fantastically sporty. The Brilliant Red paint on our car certainly helped, but the stance the car takes with the sport suspension transforms the car into a genuine sports sedan. The lower center of gravity and increased spring rates and shock damping work well in spirited driving, while retaining a civilized ride, even with the ultra low profile tires. The B8 A4 is incredibly fun to drive. We found it equally at home on tight twisty mountain roads, as well as on the highway for long drives. It seems the harder you lean the car into corners, the happier it becomes. Even while applying full power in a corner, the car does not understeer at all, the rear just digs in, and the car hurls itself through the corner. As the limit of adhesion is reached, the A4 will tend towards understeer, and the rear end always feels planted. Overall though, the A4 feels incredibly well balanced while driving, exhibiting mostly neutral handling tendencies. With the ESP turned off, aggressive drivers can get more rotation from the rear, and the car is still very controlable and confidence inspiring.

Steering feel is excellent, and feedback is good. The rack is nicely weighted, not falsely heavy, but not overly boosted either. With Servotronic variable assist, parking is a non issue. As speed increases, the transitions from high assist to low assist are seamless, and feedback remains constant. The steering wheel does feel somewhat isolated from the road, but not as much as it could. There is enough feedback to know when the tires are reaching their limit of adhesion, yet you don’t feel every single imperfection on the road.

Audi has utilized their excellent turbocharged 4 cylinder engines in the A4 since the beginning, and the 2.0TFSI engine in the current generation is outstanding. Generating 211hp from 4300 to 6000rpm and a whopping 258lb/ft from 1500 to 4200rpm, it certainly has the grunt to move the car very swiftly. Looking at the power curve relative to the torque curve, it’s clear that this is not an engine that you need (or even want) to rev out. It’s perfectly happy cranking away under 5000rpm, and going beyond that is not beneficial. The engine doesn’t get noisy or thrashy in any way (as 4 cylinders go, the 2.0TFSI is very smooth and quiet), but it just feels like it runs out of breath over 5500rpm. Short shifting is the way to drive quickly with this engine. This is not to say that the car is slow however. Audi say that the manual transmission A4 2.0T will run from 0-60 in 6.4 seconds, and in real world driving such as merging on the highway or passing multiple cars on a 2 lane, acceleration is brisk, thanks to the massive torque.

Our tester was equipped with the 6 speed manual transmission, which we liked. Initially we felt the feel of the lever to be slightly rubbery, though we quickly acclimated to its action. The gate is very positive, we never missed a gearchange. While the lever appears to be long, the throws are not, and it’s a very pleasant overall experience. The clutch takes up immediately off the floor, and while it does lack a certain amount of feedback, it makes up for that by being incredibly flexible. Heal/toe downshifts are possible thanks to good pedal spacing and a properly firm brake pedal.

On the road, the A4 is quite comfortable. The ride is firm, but not jarring, even with the sport suspension and 18” high performance tires. We found the seats to be nicely comfortable on long drives, yet supportive in spirited driving. There is enough range in adjustment that anyone should be able to find a perfect driving position. This car is very nice to drive. It’s very responsive, and amenable to doing double duty as a commuter car and a canyon carving sports sedan. One very minor gripe we came up with is a very noticeable surging from the engine while cruising at lower revs (specifically in the 1800 to 2200 range). We suspect that the always eager turbocharger is the culprit here; the engine management appears to constantly fiddle with the turbocharger bypass system in order to maintain the speed that’s requested by the driver. This is the tradeoff with a turbocharger that will generate boost at such low revs, and in all honesty, it’s not that big of a problem, but it is something we noticed.

Another benefit of this engine is excellent fuel economy. We were amazed at the mileage we were seeing, and it’s not that we were necessarily gentle with the accelerator pedal. Because of the abundance of low end torque, the car reaches cruising speeds very rapidly, and once attained, the engine’s load becomes light, and therefore fuel economy increases. According to the trip computer we averaged around 30mpg (which did include a couple of long highway drives) while we had the car which was a very nice surprise.

The interior of the A4 shows off Audi’s traditional attention to detail. Even though our car did not have the MMI system, we found the control panel for the audio system mounted above the climate control system to be completely intuitive, and in fact it mirrors the MMI controls, minus the buttons for the navigation. The base level sound system is excellent, and with the iPod integration, satellite radio, am/fm/cd plus an SD card slot, all controlled from the same place, it seems like it would be impossible to not find something to listen to. All control surfaces are softly textured plastic, and nice to the touch. The window switches were a little on the “plasticy” side, but that was the only sub-par detail we noticed. Beneath the extendable and height adjustable center armrest is a nice storage cubby, with a 12v outlet for charging phones or other electronics. In front of that, there are 2 cup holders, which are nice and deep, and work well.

Cruising in the A4 is calm and quiet. The interior is very hushed with the windows closed, wind noise is minimal, although road noise is somewhat present. In 6th gear, the revs are so low that the engine note is reduced to a very low hum. As revs increase, the engine takes on a nice mid tone growl. At no point do you get to hear the turbo though, which is a bit of a bummer honestly.

We consider the A4 to be a great car for a blend of sporty driving and family duties, it’s fun to drive, has enough techno-gadgets to keep people interested for longer drives, room for 5, and excellent luggage capacity, and all weather sure footed traction. We really enjoyed our test of the A4, and we’re certain we’d enjoy spending even more time with this excellent car!

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VW's baby roadster is coming!


THE lid has been lifted on VW’s hot new roadster! Auto Express’s sources in Germany have revealed that a production version of the stunning BlueSport roadster has been given the green light.

The mid-engined two-seater wowed crowds on its debut at the 2009 Detroit Motor Show with its blend of sports car thrills and a frugal diesel engine. Now, insiders close to the project have revealed that a showroom-ready design is being finalised before engineering prototypes begin testing.

Stylists have stayed as true as possible to the original show car, and our exclusive illustrations reveal the newcomer’s look.

The familiar VW face is carried over from the Golf and Scirocco, so sleek headlights and a narrow, horizontal grille will appear. A set of LED daytime running lamps is the only notable addition.

Compact dimensions mean the BlueSport is shorter and lower than the Golf, but nearly as wide, so it has a squat, muscular stance.

Inside, the bespoke-style interior of the concept will make way for a more understated and sporty design, similar to that seen on other performance VWs, including the Scirocco. Thanks to the mid-engined layout, storage spaces in the front and rear should boost practicality.

Weight is kept to a minimum by the use of an ultra-light aluminium chassis, plus a manually operated canvas folding roof. The car will tip the scales as low as 1,200kg – similar to rivals such as Mazda’s MX-5.

Power will come from the show car’s 178bhp 2.0-litre diesel, as well as a choice of the turbo and supercharged 1.4 TFSI engine from the Polo GTI, and the Golf GTI’s 2.0-litre turbo unit. A six-speed manual gearbox is to be offered as standard, but VW’s dual-clutch DSG set-up will be available as an option.

Performance from the diesel version is expected to be rapid, with 0-60mph in around six seconds. But it won’t come at the expense of efficiency; thanks to regenerative braking and stop-start, the newcomer promises fuel economy of 45mpg and sub-120g/km CO2 emissions.

Our sources say that as Toyota is said to be working on a hybrid version of its MR2 replacement, and Honda has already launched its petrol-electric CR-Z, a hybrid BlueSport could follow. Expect to see the car in dealers by 2013, priced from around £20,000.

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Rumormill: Audi considering A1 Allroad


Apparently not content to let Mini hog the small premium crossover segment with its new Countryman, Audi is reportedly working on an Allroad version of the A1.

The A1 three-door hatchback goes on sale this year with a five-door coming in 2011. A higher-riding crossover variant could come by 2013 and follow in the path of previous Audi Allroad editions with arch extensions, bigger wheel and tires and possibly even all-wheel drive. A quattro variant hasn't yet been confirmed, although Volkswagen is reportedly working on an all-wheel drive variant of the Volkswagen CrossPolo which shares its platform with the little Audi. Given Audi's 30-year commitment to quattro, we'd bet on both variants for the A1 Allroad – but of course, we were surprised when the A1 hatch arrived with only its front wheels driven...

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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Audi: Not coming to Formula One


Audi has clearly rejected speculation its name might soon appear above a formula one garage door.

It has been reported for some time that the German carmaker's parent Volkswagen could be interested in entering the sport as an engine supplier.

VW's motor racing boss Kris Nissen said a month ago: "Within the group, for sure, (the branding) could be Audi, it could be Porsche and might also be Volkswagen."

But Audi's sporting boss Wolfgang Ullrich is not interested, according to the German news agency SID.

"We believe formula one and Audi do not fit, so long as the technology has no relevance to the development of our production cars," he said.

Audi prototype sports cars finished first, second and third at the recent Le Mans 24 hour race, and the marque also competes in the premier German touring car series DTM.

"The technologies are closely related to those used by our clients, so they directly benefit from our motor racing. In F1 that is not currently the case," Ullrich insisted.

And despite recent and current efforts to reduce the costs in formula one, top teams still require more than EUR 150 million to be competitive.

But in DTM, the budgets are under about 30m, and "the new regulations for 2012 aim to reduce the budgets by about 50 per cent," he said.

"So, the DTM continues to be the benchmark in cost-versus-benefit," said Ullrich.

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Video: The new 911 GT2 RS: Motorshow Trailer


VW Golf R ‘THE BULL’ by Sport-Wheels (with video)


German tuner Sport-Wheels has come up with an upgrade package for VW Golf R hot hatch and call it THE BULL! To make sure this little fella has the heart of a bull, the tuner has modified its 270 hp two-litre TSI engine and gave it 330 hp and 450 Nm of torque. Other enhancements include visual features, chassis and suspension, and of course wheels and tires.

The engine tuning program consists of optimized control electronics (799 euros), and hand-made exhaust system (starting from 1,950 euros). To cope with the extra power the tuner has installed KW variant 3 Inox LINE adjustable springs (1,549 euros)on the car which lower the ride height.

That in combination with OZ-rims Ultraleggera HLT 8,5×20 inch wheels (2,849 euros) wrapped in 235/30 20 tires enhances the car’s road behavior significantly. The last part is a special reflex foil from CoverEFX which costs 350 euros.

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Video: Audi A1 roadtest


Video: Porsche Wins Pikes Peak Hillclimb


VW Amarok single-cab pick-up spied undisguised


We drove the twin-cab Amarok here and found it to be a genuine pick-up star. But now, as these spy shots reveal, Volkswagen is working on a smaller, single-cab version due for release in 2011.

With no camouflage to cover up styling details on the newcomer, we can see a thick B-pillar which should free up some space in the cabin just behind the seats.

It won't just be the cabin that's spacious either. Reports suggest that the single-cab Amarok will have the largest pick-up bed for a single cab in this class.

Unlike the double-cab model, buyers will be offered a cheaper, rear-wheel drive only model. Permanent all-wheel drive and selectable all-wheel drive models will also be available.

The existing 2.0-litre biturbo diesel engine will be available, offering 163bhp and 400Nm of torque as well as a combined economy figure of 36.2mpg. New to the range however, will be Volkswagen's semi-automatic DSG gearbox which will debut on the single-cab model but will be availabe on the double-cab shortly after.

Expect to see the Amarok single-cab on sale in early 2011 for around £18,000.

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According to the German newspaper Handeslblatt, it appears that Porsche is currently planning to add a fifth model to its lineup and this will be a small SUV.

This new car will take on cars such as the Bmw X3 and the Mercedes-Benz GLK. Sources confirmed the fact that the baby-Cayenne will use the platform from the Audi Q5 and the upcoming Q3. Unfortunately there are no details regarding this new model, but it appears that the car got the green light and we shall see it in few years in the dealerships.

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Porsche Cayman Clubsport: Confirmed!


Porsche has officially given the green light to a new lightweight Cayman model variant due to debut for the 2012 model year. The Cayman CS or "Club Sport" will be shown at the Los Angeles auto show later this year and go on sale in 2011 as a 2012 model. The CS will receive some of the same treatment given to the recent Boxster Spyder such as lighter weight components, fabric door pulls, and a uniquely styled set of lightweight wheels modeled after those on the GT2 RS. Recent press reports indicated that this new variant was shown to Sales Managers in US and Europe at recent internal Porsche meetings and given the positive response from their dealership network Porsche has chosen to move forward with production.

A number of technical items have been circulated internally among the team responsible for this variant and include the following:

333hp 3.4L engine
Sport PASM suspension - 20mm lower than stock ride height
A/C, stereo are optional
162-184lbs lighter than stock Cayman S
Aluminum doors, fabric door pulls
Lightweight hatch, optional lexan window (europe only)
19" unique lightweight wheels
Sport bucket seats
Revalved steering assist
Locking rear differential standard
Uprated brakes (optional)
Restylized front fascia
Cayman Club Sport side graphics
Rear diffuser
Ducktail-style larger rear spoiler (fixed)
Club Sport Insignia badging in interior
Optional "Track Pack", includes partial roll cage, harness and fittings plus fire extinguisher (europe only)
Cited performance numbers - 0-62 in 4.6s
Base Price: $66,330"

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Audi S1: Confirmed!


Audi is set to launch a hardcore S1 version of the new A1, company boss Rupert Stadler has admitted.

“Sportiness is a core value for the Audi brand and we have some clear ideas [for the A1] in this direction,” Stadler said. However, he refused to expand on the exact form the range-topping A1 might take.

Earlier this year Autocar revealed that the S1 is likely to be powered by a 180bhp version of the 1.4-litre twincharger engine, which will be mated to a seven-speed DSG ’box.

However, Audi engineers at the A1 launch admitted that the company’s 2.0-litre TFSI engines will also fit sideways in the A1’s engine bay.

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Video: 2012 Volkswagen Passat testing


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Audi Will Remain Pure German: No US factory!


American Audiphiles can rest assured that their future four-ringed purchases will be Made in Germany and not somewhere in what is sometimes euphemistically called “North America.” Plans to build an Audi plant over here have been put on ice for an indefinite period. Worries about a tainted Aryan Audi race (in the motorsports connotation, of course) can be put aside. “We don’t need an American plant to reach our goal of 1.5m Audis a year by 2015,” said Audi Boss Rupert Stadler to Automobilwoche [sub]. “We could build a car in the U.S. in six months,” said Stadler, referring to the VW plant in Chattanooga. “Building a plant somewhere in the boonies would take three years.” And what’s the real reason?

The weak Euro. At the current rate, it’s simply more profitable to use plentiful capacities at home and ship the whole thing, than starting production in the U.S., while powertrains would have to be shipped from Germany anyway.

The weak Euro is a windfall for the export heavy German auto industry. Motormouth Ferdinand Dudenhöffer thinks the fx-effect will bring an additional €2b to the bottom line of the German auto makers this year alone. Ferdi is often wrong, but in this case, he might be somewhat on target. In any case: Should Europe bring its house in order while the dollar deteriorates (my long term bet), Audi can always build a few cars in Chattanooga. Chasing currency exchange rates with car plants is risky business.

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Monday, June 28, 2010

Volkswagen planning to shake up Porsche management


According to the Financial Times report last Friday, Volkswagen AG intends to reshuffle its management at Porsche Automobil Holding SE in order to strengthen its hold on the automaker.

The report cited sources who said that this July, Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn may announce that Matthias Mueller will soon take charge of Porsche. In addition, FT said that Porsche’s current CEO, Michael Macht, will soon be Volkswagen’s next head of production, replacing Jochem Heizmann who would soon manage truck operations on Volkswagen’s management board. Porsche agreed to a bailout last year, resulting to its being placed under the larger and more solvent Volkswagen Group within next year.

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Facelift 2012 Audi A5 coupe rendering


Take a look at this rendering for the facelifted 2012 Audi A5 Coupe.

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SPY SHOTS: 2012 Volkswagen Golf Mk7 Test Mule


What at first blush appears to be the current VW Golf, is in fact a test mule for the all-new, seventh generation of Volkswagen's best-selling model, which is planned to hit showrooms worldwide sometime in 2012.

Although hidden under bodywork from the current car, the blistered and wider wheel-arches are a clear indication that the test mule is running the next generation Golf's underpinnings.

More specifically, the Mk7 will be built on the VW Group's more space-efficient and, according to sources, substantially lighter, MQB platform that comes with a longer wheelbase and shorter overhangs. First seen on the new Sharan minivan, the flexible MQB platform will be used on a raft of VW Group models including the next Audi A3, which is expected to be revealed either in late 2011 or early 2012.

Under the bonnet, the Golf Mk7 will feature the latest generation of turbocharged petrol engines with direct injection and fuel-efficient turbo diesels, ranging from a small-displacement 1.2 TSI all the way up to upgraded versions of the 2.0 TSI in the GTI and the 'R' AWD sport models.

Volkswagen has already confirmed that it will also offer an all-electric, plug-in variant as well as hybrid [gasoline-electric or diesel-electric] versions of the new Golf.

The Golf EV plug-in model will make its market debut in 2013 and according to the automaker, it will be equipped with an electric motor delivering 115HP and 270Nm / 199 lb-ft to the front wheels and a set of lithium ion batteries. In the current development phase, that combination is said to offer a driving range of up to 150 kilometers or 93 miles.

Given that Volkswagen has not yet started to test actual Mk7 prototypes, it's hard to say what the next Golf will look like. However, the new Jetta saloon with its sharper profile and snout should provide some hints for the styling.

Along with the three- and five-door hatchback body styles, the new Golf will form the base for a range of future models including a convertible, estate and the successors to the Scirocco and Touran MPV.

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Saturday, June 26, 2010

VW Touareg V8: Review by TopGear


Imagine the brief at Volkswagen HQ. "You there, you engineers. Go and build an all-new Touareg. Oh, but don't think you've got a free hand on this one. Before you add any luxury or 4x4 hardware, you need to run it past the CO2 Committee."

Seriously - this Committee exists. It takes a German outlook on life to come up with this arrangement, but you can't deny the effectiveness of the outcome. The CO2 Committee vetted all the car's build processes, so this new Touareg is 220kg lighter than the last one - 10 per cent of the weight. Wow. Five per cent has been dropped out of the body, 21kg has been shaved from the transmission, even the electric parking brake has saved 3kg.

Impressive stuff. And very useful when it comes to making your two-tonne SUV that little bit more economical and eco-friendly. So the V6 diesel manages 38.4mpg, the V8 diesel (which replaces the flawed but still awesome V10 oil burner) does 31.2mpg and the Hybrid achieves an average of 34.6mpg.

In lottery world, the V8 is the engine to have. It's too much money at £56,000, but the amount of power (335bhp) and torque (590lb ft) means the V10 diesel won't be much missed. After all, 0-62mph takes 5.8 seconds in the V8, which is 1.6secs up on the V10. It's impressively quiet at all speeds and you never get any diesel clatter in the cabin. There's also a new eight-speed automatic gearbox, and it's a good 'un. It never feels like it's hunting around for gears and it's so smooth that you don't notice all those changes. Still, you do wonder why eight gears are needed. Surely two fewer cogs would have saved the Committee some kilos?

On air suspension (a £2,000 option on all models), the V8 rides superbly. If you want to do much off-roading in your Touareg you'll need the air system because of the versatility it gives. You can raise it by up to 78mm from a normal ‘road' setting, as well as ordering the car with a low-range box and locking diffs with the Escape spec, and there's also a button in the boot to lower the rear for loading - in this mode, there are ordinary hatchbacks out there with higher boot sills. But don't think the Touareg is another family-focused SUV, as you can only get it with five seats.

Unless you're a champagne-hippie, don't worry about the Hybrid. With a petrol engine it just doesn't suit our market. The diesels, though, are where it's at for the VW Touareg, and both make it a real contender in the big SUV market - don't panic about not having a Range Rover badge on your bonnet. Besides, the CO2 lot would never have let the extra weight of all those separate letters through.

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Piech’s Privileged Porsche Plans


Germany’s Handelsblatt received rare access to the usually secretive Porsche patriarch Piech. The Chairman of the Volkswagen Supervisory Board has big plans for his family’s company once Porsche has been assimilated. Here is an excerpt from his list of Porsche Plans:

- Porsche will get a smaller SUV, below the Cayenne, to compete with the likes of the BMW X5, Mercedes M-Class, but also with some Audi Qs.
- Then, a planned Volkswagen sports car of unknown type will emerge as a Porsche. Nobody has approved this, but what Piech wants, Piech gets.
- The hybrid 918 Spyder shall go in series production. If necessary, built by hand, and priced at €500,000. Piech wants it that way.
- To make sure that Piech gets what he wants, his and Winterkorn’s confidante Michael Müller will definitely head up Porsche.

And what’s holding up an announcement of at least some of the plans? The state of Lower Saxony holds the famous 20 percent in Volkswagen, and Lower Saxony’s Premier Christian Wulff will most likely be the next President of Germany. (A job with less power than the Queen of England. The final say-so in Germany rests with the Chancellor, Frau Merkel.) When Wulff is elected on June 30, there will be a vacancy on the board. That will be filled by David McAllister, a good German with a British name. That needs to be papered first. Any grand announcements will not happen until this is done. But what Piech wants, Piech gets.

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Audi: Using 3D configurator in dealerships


Audi announced today that they already have a 3D configurator live in some German dealerships (500 dealerships to come and a worldwide rollout.

Customers can start a configuration in the internet and are able to proceed in the dealership on a 46 inch TV together with the salesman.

The system was developed by rtt and “Büro am Draht”. Press release from Lothar Korn who changed some years ago from Mercedes to Audi says: “„Der Kunde muss sich nicht mehr auf seine Vorstellungskraft verlassen: Eine perfekte 3-D-Simulation zeigt ihm seinen Audi bis ins kleinste Detail – noch bevor er gebaut wird“.

The system should support the sales of the growing model line (42 in 2015) and should show the vehicles already before the market introduction where usually only a few big dealerships have the new model available to show it to the customers.

Mercedes-Benz uses a similar information tool on big flat screens with touch screen for information. But it is not a full configurator but regular product information.

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Audi launching Titanium Package for most models


Audi will be offering its Titanium Package on A4 (both sedan and Avant), A5 Coupe, S4 and S5 Coupe models for the 2011 model year. Essentially, this removes the bright chrome trim on the grille surround and window treatment, and adds some large, attractive wheels and some sportier interior touches. Hot stuff.

The exact Titanium specs vary from model to model, but they include things like 19-inch RS-style wheels, piano black interior trim, sport suspension and sport seats. Exact pricing hasn't been released just yet, but customers will soon be able to order these sexier Audis from dealerships in the near future, with the first examples hitting the streets in the near future.

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Friday, June 25, 2010

Audi has revealed a new livery for its Autonomous TTS Pikes Peak research car, drawing on the look of the original Quattro coupe rally cars of the early 1980s. When the Autonomous TTS was first announced late last year, we were expecting it to be running this weekend in the Pikes Peak Hill Climb. The current time-line for the program is to run the TTS up the mountain this fall and then go for a new world land speed record for autonomous vehicles at a yet-to-be-disclosed dry lake bed.

The sensing hardware of the TTS is using a different approach from earlier autonomous vehicles. Instead of the array of cameras, laser and radar, this car is using only high precision differential GPS along with the inertial sensors that are part of the stability control system. Driving is handled by a pair of computers in the trunk with hardware comparable to a laptop. One machine runs the sensing software and safety algorithms while the other handles the vehicle dynamics. The latter is being developed to let the TTS run like a rally car, drifting on gravel corners in order to get maximum speed.

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Audi A6: Is this the next generation?


The latest issue of Auto Bild is featuring the new Audi A6 and usually they have very good sources and give accurate outlooks.

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Thursday, June 24, 2010

ABT AS8 Based On 2011 Audi A8


German tuner ABT has already come up with their own version of the hot out of the oven 2011 Audi A8. It’s based on the4.2 TDi version and as usual it’s called the AS8. The looks of Audi’s flagship saloon has been discretely modified with a front spoiler, side sills, a rear apron with new tailpipes and rear spoiler.

Also contributing to the looks are the tuner’s CR alloys available in 20 and 21-inch sizes, and the magnificent phantom-black coating. As for the power, ABT has lightly modified the 4.2 liter diesel unit of the A8, which in standard form has 350 hp and 800 Nm of torque, and gave it a bump in power up to 385 hp and 880 Nm of torque. That’s a lot of torque!

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Spied: All-new Porsche Boxster


Why change a winning formula? These pictures show Porsche's next-generation Boxster testing, but judging by this prototype, stylists haven't wandered too far from the original design.

Despite looking like a facelift, every panel on the car will be all-new, along with a re-designed canvas roof.

As with the new Cayenne, which shed 180kg over the model it replaces, Porsche will be looking to use lightweight materials in the newcomer's construction, using lessons learnt from the stripped out Boxster Spyder.

Not only will the lower kerbweight help improve handling, but it's also an integral part of the German firm's push to lower CO2 emissions and improve economy across its range.

There's no word on what will power the new Boxster, but expect a range of efficient, low capacity turbocharged engines.

The all-new sports car will be officially unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in 2011 before going on sale later that year.

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Video: Porsche 911 Turbo - The story continues


TALK about a speed hump! A leaked document detailing Porsche’s product plans until the end of 2012 has revealed that the 911 Speedster is set to make a comeback. And our exclusive image shows how the style-
conscious two-seater could look.

Following hot on the heels of other recent retro-inspired special editions, such as the 911 Sport Classic and Boxster Spyder, the Speedster resurrects a legendary name not seen since the early Nineties. That model was the 964 Speedster which appeared in 1989 – a low-roof cabrio with unusual rear bodywork inspired by the
356 Speedster of the Fifties. Exactly 936 examples were built in standard and wide-body styles – a relatively short production run – and the modern incarnation will be an even rarer beast. Only 100 units will be produced, making it one of the most exclusive and distinctive Porsches ever to turn a wheel.

As you can see from our picture, the classic Speedster silhouette will be retained, albeit with a modern twist. The cut-down windscreen and wider bodywork add to the 911’s already low-slung appearance, while the oversize rear humps give the Speedster its signature shape and ensure it’s strictly a two-seater. Much like the Boxster Spyder’s tent-like canvas roof, a semi-permanent fabric hood is likely to be available – hence the red hoops you can see protruding from the bodywork.

Power will come from the same 3.8-litre flat-six as is used in the 911 Sport Classic. It’s based on the Carrera S unit, but engineers will liberate an extra 17bhp to take peak power to 402bhp. Performance-wise, expect the Speedster to live up to its name: 0-62mph will take around 4.5 seconds while a maximum of 190mph is possible. Rear-wheel drive and a limited-slip differential will ensure traditional Porsche handling, too.

However, exclusivity, excitement and a slice of the marque’s heritage won’t come cheap. Our sources say the Speedster is likely to nudge £200,000 when it goes on sale later this year.

And it’s not the only limited-edition model that Porsche is cooking up. A wide-bodied GTS version of the 911 is also due to go on sale next year. Featuring the Speedster’s more powerful 402bhp engine, it will come in both coupé and cabriolet variants costing around £80,000 and £90,000 respectively.

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When it comes to the highly anticipated Audi A7, even a relatively small detail is a big deal. For instance, a spy photographer managed to snap a few new photos of a camouflaged Audi A7 test mule in Ingolstadt, Germany. What makes these images so special is that the car's tail lights lack any sort of disguise, offering a glimpse of what may be in store for the production model.

As you can see, each tail light unit is fitted with two circular LEDs. A far cry from the more angular designs seen on most new models. As vehicle lighting design is one of Audi's many strong suits, we feel the round design works perfectly with the A7's overall shape. Adding to a 'softer' feel of car's hind-quarters.

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Volkswagen Routan might not be back for an encore


"No decisions have been made regarding the Routan." This according to a source from Volkswagen. Unsurprisingly, the re-branded Chrysler minivan is rumored to be receiving less-than-enthusiastic support from Volkswagen's current management, and the ambivalence might spell doom for the Routan. Volkswagen's sales are down, though it's not necessarily the Routan's fault. The people mover has a consistent four percent of the minivan market and Volkswagen thinks that can be grown.

For now, Volkswagen's concentrating on launching its latest Jetta and building a factory in Tennessee to assemble the majority of its U.S.-market cars. The Phaeton will also be returning to the U.S. market, indicating an intent to foster growth on the top and bottom of its model offerings. Volkswagen has set a goal for itself of tripling U.S. sales numbers, and the Routan puts the brand in a segment it would not otherwise be in here in the U.S., though its small market share may not make it worth the effort.

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

It appears that there are some problems in the Volskwagen Group and cars such as the Porsche 356, Audi R4 and Vw BlueSport may be delayed.

Apparently the problem is this one: Porsche doesn’t want its next Boxster to lose its place in front of the less expensive and more capable 356 while Audi doesn’t need another sports car slotted between the next TT and the R8 (which currently faces a slow demand). The problem is with Volkswagen, who thinks that a new sports car based on the BlueSport Concept revealed at the 2009 Detroit Auto Show will be a hit and honestly to tell you we think they are right. So, for the moment all the three sports cars are on hold and a final decision is expected. However, the things could evolve like this: Porsche could build a smaller coupe and roadster, Audi will develop a smaller car inspired by the R8 while Volkswagen could come out with a best-seller based on the Bluesport Concept. More details to be revealed!

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The Volkswagen group won four classes, including the one that rewards the best of new engines released last year (Best New Engine of the Year) with the new flat-six cylinders and 3.8 litres by Porsche.

The 1.4 TSI engine that fitted models like the Volkswagen Golf, Scirocco, Tiguan, Seat Ibiza and Leon, among many others, was voted “Best Green Engine”, because of the economy and low emissions; it also won the best engine between 1 and 1.4 litres.

For the sixth consecutive year, the 2.0 TFSI won the category up to two litres.

The list of winners of the 12th edition of the International Engine of the Year Awards:

Best New Engine of the Year:
Porsche 3.8 flat six DI (911)
BMW diesel 3 litres (330d, 730d, 530d, X3, X5)
BMW 4.4-litres DI Turbo (750i, X6)
Jaguar 5-litres V8 Supercharged (XF, XK)
Mercedes-Benz diesel 2.1-litres (BlueEfficiency C-Class, BlueEfficiency E-Class)
Audi 2-litres four-cylinder TFSI (Audi A4, A5, Q7, VW Scirocco, Golf GTI)

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

VW Passat convertible to replace Eos: Is this it?


If you're not crazy about the Volkswagen Eos, you're not alone. The convertible was signed off by VW's old management, and according to the company's new leaders, it combines the worst of all worlds -- a retractable hard top along with the old family face sporting a chrome grille and teardrop headlamps. For 2011, the Eos gets an overdue makeover featuring restyled head- and taillights, a new grille, revised bumpers, and a more upmarket interior. The VR6 engine option bit the dust for 2009 (the vast majority of buyers preferred the base 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder), but VW will soon add a frugal TDI edition powered by its 140-hp, 2.0-liter turbo-diesel four in combination with a dual-clutch automatic transmission.

But even this revamped Eos will not live long. By 2014, the Eos is due to be replaced by the 2015 Passat convertible (a.k.a. Cabriolet) -- the only variant of the next generation that will make it to the United States. VW has decided to nix the venerable sedan from its U.S. lineup and will instead field a revamped CC and the aforementioned Cabriolet (illustrated above based on what our spies tell us) -- both minus the Passat badge -- together with next-generation 2014 Phaeton. To close the gap between the CC and the Phaeton, both models will be repositioned. While the luxury sedan moves down half a notch, the CC and the Cabriolet move up one rung.

The Passat convertible will borrow several tricks from the new Audi A5 convertible, including a power-operated soft top with a heated rear window, a pop-up rear roll bar, front seats with integrated belts, optional neck warmers, and a more efficient wind deflector. According to those in the know, the fun-in-the-sun Passat is a proper four-seater with a luggage compartment to match. It's safe to expect a brand-new exterior design and a more upmarket cockpit offering additional driver-assistance systems, improved connectivity, and more intuitive ergonomics with a one-touch controller. The current car's suspension will likely carry over in modified form. Last but not least, there will be more powerful engines, including a turbocharged four-cylinder good for about 250 hp and a twin-turbo 2.0-liter diesel rated at 220 hp, both in combination with four-wheel drive. Since the Passat is tipped to be delayed by at least months from summer 2013 to spring 2014, the droptop might be pushed back to early 2015.

Other new convertibles under preparation by VW include a softtop version of the redesigned 2011 Beetle (which we discussed at length last February) and the 2013 Golf Cabriolet. There might also be an open-air Polo built by Karmann starting in 2012, but it won't reach the U.S. market.

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2012 Porsche 991 Cabriolet rendered


Porsche will unveil the next generation 911 (known as the 998 until just recently, but rumored to be called the 991) in 2011. And even if the car is currently under hard testing, there are still a few people out there who will try their hand at providing a rendering of what it could look like.

Compared to the 997, the 991’s front lights stand more upright with the side mirrors having been moved from the side window corner to the side of the door. The rear wing will be inspired by the one from the Panamera. Also, the quad exhaust tips aren’t fitted as flush as the 997 model.

Porsche will not stray far from the usual formula with the new turbo. It will still be powered by a water-cooled flat-six engine, only now the automatic transmission available will be the quick-shift PDK dual-clutch transmission.

The new generation 911 will be unveiled in 2011, starting with the base models - like the Carrera - with a new version coming out every few months.

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Audi RS3 Spotted


The Audi RS3 in black , with the first time online, the TT RS and RS5 front bumper on it. Here he runs his test laps at the Nurburgring . It seems that the A3 comes in a limited edition RS.

Considering that the A3 on which it's based shares the same platform (PQ35) as the TT RS, there's a good chance that Audi could swap the coupe's turbocharged 2.5-liter FSI inline-five into the engine bay. Unchanged, the five-pot would put out 335 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque to either a six-speed manual or S Tronic dual-clutch gearbox, and naturally, power will be delivered to all four wheels with a similar 40:60 front-to-rear torque split.

Recent batch of spy shots show a slightly modified A3, complete with a RS-ified fascia, lower stance and massive brakes front and rear, although the single, twin-tipped exhaust (and grilled-mounted badge) could be mistaken for a standard S3. More interestingly is the rear wing, which remained fixed during part of the RS3's 'Ring run, but was canted upwards around another section. It could be some kind of adaptive air brake or it could've just come undone while whipping around the track.

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Video: The Boxster - Inner Fire


In-fighting delays Volkswagen Bluesport, Audi R4


Something is rotten in Zuffenhausen. Ingolstadt, too. Once upon a time, in the frozen wasteland that is Detroit in January, Volkswagen unveiled the turbo-diesel BlueSport roadster at the 2009 Detroit Auto Show. The press was awed, the car drove onto the stage amidst a flurry of dancing children, the marketing gurus at ze People's automaker were thrilled and we all expected to see the car hit production with some expediency. That didn't happen, and now we may know why. According to Automobile, the project may have been given the back burner treatment due to internal jousting between Porsche, VW and Audi.

It's no secret that all three automakers have been mulling whether or not to jump on a small, mid-engine platform, but it looks like both Porsche and Audi aren't really interested in filling their ranks with a VW creation. Porsche isn't keen on the notion of selling a new entry model that might dent sales of the upcoming redesigned Boxster, and Audi can't really make a case for adding another sports car to its portfolio.

That leaves VW with one very efficient, very sexy concept and no way to bring it to reality without the cooperation of its corporate cousins. Odds are the scuffle will be ironed out after Porsche is officially brought under the VW tent once and for all, but until then, we wouldn't hold our breath for the VW BlueSport. The Porsche 918 Spyder on the other hand...

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Audi A1 will not receive any electric version


As you may know already, Audi revealed the A1 e-Tron Concept in March at the Geneva Motor Show and honestly to tell you we expected to see this car on the streets but it appears that the German manufacturer has other plans, according to Audi CEO Rupert Stadler.

Apparently, we will not see a pure electric version of the A1 due to the fact that the car is built on the Polo platform. But there are some good news after all: the small hatchback will receive auto start/stop function as well as brake energy regeneration system. Regarding the Audi S1, Rupert Stadler confirmed the car for the Paris Motor Show in September. And the good news continue as the A1 range will expand with a four-door sportback version and with a convertible model.

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Monday, June 21, 2010

Audi RS4 Sedan: Latest rendering


Sources inside Audi tell us the RS 4 will be Avant only and share the same drivetrain as the RS 5. Interestingly, the lateness of the RS 4 to market makes us think the car will have to wait until the 2013-ish facelift of the car.

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Video: VW Polo production line


Here’s official Volkswagen footage of the Polo production line at the company’s Pamplona factory in Spain. The video describes the assembling of the Polo from body manufacturing, dip priming of the body, painting,engine assembly, ceiling, door and front end assembly and final inspection and vehicle testing.

Pamplona is totally dedicated to the Polo line, which is available in the three and five door versions, including the new BlueMotion, with regenerative braking technology and electronically controlled components, the GTI model and the CrossPolo.

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Volkswagen is abandoning its bid to make the Phaeton a rival for the 7-series and S-class in Europe — and it will tailor the next generation of the car to the US and China instead.

The Phaeton, which has sold in tiny numbers since its launch in 2002, has just been facelifted and given some of the internet connectivity originally seen on the latest Audi A8, another of its rivals.

But VW is already planning to switch the next Phaeton to a new platform, and insiders admit that its styling and mechanical make-up will be steered towards the US market, where sales of the car ended in 2009, and China, where VW expects to sell 3000 of the current model this year.

“There’s no doubt that the Phaeton absolutely has to go back to the US,” said our insider. “This is being reflected in the next version. It will look much more like a car for America.” That’s likely to mean a slight increase in size and far more ostentatious styling than the current, ultra-conservative look.

VW is considering a number of options for the car’s underpinnings. The most likely source is said to be the extended version of the Audi A6 that’s sold in China. But our insider refused to rule out the possibility of using the A8’s aluminium platform. “Everything is open to us,” he said.

The focus on markets outside of Europe is likely to ensure that all three of the current Phaeton’s petrol motors — V6, V8 and W12 — survive into the next incarnation. There will also be a hybrid version, which is likely to use a version of the petrol-based powertrain from the Touareg hybrid.

Diesel options are likely to be a 3.0-litre V6 and possibly a V8, which could give the car a performance oil-burner to replace the discontinued 5.0-litre V10 TDI.

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Next-generation Audi TT coming in 2014


For those who got tired by the design of the current Audi TT, we have bad news: the next-generation model is expected to debut in 2014 because earlier this year it received a facelift and Audi needs to make some more money.

Regarding the design of the new car, this is expected to follow the same design philosophy as the previous models while the dimensions will remain almost the same. Under the hood the new Audi TT will offer both petrol and diesel engines. If you’d prefer a car cheaper than the TT, then you might be interested by the upcoming Audi R4, which will be slotted under the TT and will offer a choice of two engines, a 1.4 TSI petrol engine with 180 hp and a 2.0 TDI engine capable to deliver 170 hp.

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