Showing posts with label Audi. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Audi. Show all posts

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Audi A1 1.4 TFSI


2011 Audi A1 1.4 TFSI


Despite the success of the Mini Cooper and America's newfound love of hatchbacks, Audi continues to deny us the all-new A1. There are a variety of reasons for excluding the pint-sized hatch from the U.S. market (marketing, brand image, average transaction price, etc.), but the introduction of the twin-charged A1 here at the Paris Motor Show has us questioning all of them.

Packing a 1.4-liter TFSI (read: both turbo and supercharged) inline four-cylinder engine, the A1 puts out 185 horsepower and 185 pound-feet of torque, sends it to the front wheels through a seven-speed S tronic gearbox and can sprint to 60 in 6.9 seconds on its way to a top speed of 141 mph. Think of it as the luxury alternative to the Ford Fiesta, with a price tag to match: €24,250 or just over $30k at current exchange rates.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Audi A7 3.0T takes on the Mercedes-Benz CLS550

"This car has an identity crisis. The aggressive exterior, brash exhaust note and firm ride say 'sport,' but the interior screams 'grandma!'"



The decision was made to review these "four-door coupes" not only from the driver's perspective, but from all four seating positions.
Strong words, especially when they originate from a stranger named Stephen sitting in the back seat of the $80,995 Mercedes-Benz some 80 miles from where we picked him up. The 31-year-old real estate broker and five other industry outsiders were invited to spend the day with Autoblog to help us compare the 2012 Audi A7 3.0T to the 2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS550.



These two vehicles have met head-to-head before, but not on these pages. To make things a bit more interesting, the decision was made to review these "four-door coupes" not only from the driver's perspective, but from all four seating positions. The unique comparison would require each of the vehicles to carry 700-plus pounds of passengers comfortably from the flatlands of the hot LA Basin up to the cool mile-high elevations of Big Bear Lake and back. The winner would be determined by a simple vote.



As this task called for six warm bodies willing to be chauffeured 160 miles over a long afternoon, Autoblog's Facebook page was enlisted to recruit. Within 24 hours, we had our six smiling volunteers fingered.

Our randomly chosen readers ranged in age from 22 to 35, and in occupation from a college student to a working professional environmental scientist. There were five men and one woman, each with a strong automotive passion and a willingness to hang with us for nearly six hours in exchange for some ice-cold bottled water and a free hot lunch. Our players:



· Alex, a 22-year-old student

· Erick, a 26-year-old graphic designer

· Ian, a 27-year-old information technology expert

· Lisa, a 35-year-old product specialist for an automotive manufacturer

· Manjul, a 32-year-old environmental scientist

· Stephen, a 31-year-old real estate broker



Fellow Autoblog scribe Jeff Glucker and I would be tasked with driving. The plan was to break into two groups of four that would each stick together for the duration of the review. We'd pull over every 30 minutes or so and everyone would swap vehicles - think of it as a modified Chinese fire drill, but with two cars.



To vary the driving environment as much as possible, everyone met at an In-N-Out Burger in Glendora (elevation 774 feet) at the foothills of the Angeles National Forest. Our route would take us across the LA Basin on freeways to the foothills of the San Bernardino National Forest. At that point, we would climb up the mountain to Big Bear Lake (elevation 6,750 feet), take in the scenery and eat lunch. Our return trip would trace our steps in reverse. Mother Nature had her own agenda, but more on that in a moment.







The Mercedes-Benz CLS550 is the veteran in this comparison. Credited with starting this whole "four-door coupe" segment back in 2004 when it was a knocked-off the W211 E-Class platform, the second-generation four-door (it has a conventional trunk) shares underpinnings and engine choices with the latest W212 E-Class. Sleekly styled with an aggressive facade, the four-passenger CLS550 is fitted with bright LED lamps at all four corners. It looks as modern as a Boeing 787 Dreamliner when it flies by. Under its hood is a new direct-injected twin-turbocharged 4.7-liter V8 rated at 402 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent to the rear wheels through a wet seven-speed automatic with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters for manual control. The suspension is independent at all four corners, with cockpit-adjustable air springs. Completing its performance package are four-piston brakes in the nose and single-piston units out back, all clamping down on cross-drilled rotors to slow down a set of staggered 19-inch wheels and Pirelli P Zero tires (255/35-19 up front and 285/30-19 in the rear).







The Audi A7 3.0T is the fresh new face in this pair up. Internally designated Type 4G, the first-generation five-door (it has a large rear hatchback) was introduced less than a year ago to worldwide acclaim. Sharing underpinnings with the MLB-based (Modularer Längsbaukasten) A6, the four-passenger A7 is even more beautiful in person than it looks in any picture. Under the aluminum hood is a direct-injected supercharged 3.0-liter V6 rated at 310 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque (ignore the odd "3.0T" nomenclature because this engine is not turbocharged). Power is sent to the automaker's Quattro all-wheel-drive system through a wet eight-speed automatic with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. An independent multi-link suspension, with fixed sport dampers, controls body movement and unnecessary roll. The brakes are four single-piston calipers actuating on ventilated rotors inside optional 20-inch wheels. The square tire setup puts the same size Yokohama Advan Sport (265/35-20) at each corner.







The price advantage goes to the Audi. Its base MSRP of $59,250 was bumped up with a Premium Plus and Sport package adding the navigation and 20-inch wheels, among other things. The A7's bottom line was $66,220 including destination. The Mercedes started with a base MSRP of $71,300. It was fitted with options including the P01 package, 19-inch alloys, active driver seat, rear side airbags, split-folding rear seats, parking assist, lane keeping assist, blind spot assist and a wood/leather steering wheel. The must-have equipment bumped the sticker price to $80,995 including destination.



We decided early in the game that the price difference, while large, wasn't significant enough to detract a buyer from either model – if you've got the means to spend $66,000 on a car, bumping up to $80,000 probably isn't too much of a stretch. (On a more grounded note, consider the percentage equates to the same dollar gap between a mid-grade Kia Soul Plus and a well-equipped Soul Exclaim.)



These German automakers have each taken slightly different approaches to the rear accommodations in their four-passenger coupes.



2012 Audi A7 3.0T headlight2012 Audi A7 3.0T wheel2012 Audi A7 3.0T taillights2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS550 headlight2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS550 wheel2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS550 taillights



The Audi's two front seats are identical to each other. Easy to slide onto, they are slightly bolstered with shallow bottom cushions that are surprisingly soft. The Mercedes-Benz, on the other hand, has an upgraded driver's seat with active bolstering and massage features (the front passengers make due with a standard 14-way power seat). While nobody complained about comfort in the front seats of the A7, switching quickly to the front seats of the CLS550 was a wake-up call. "I thought the Audi was comfortable. The seat isn't overly bolstered, the leather is soft and I can adjust it to my exact liking. Moving into the CLS550, however, is like trading a water bed for a Tempur-Pedic. Sure, the active bolsters get tiring after time, but turn them off and hit the massage switch and all is forgotten. After I got out of the CLS, I felt guilty for not tipping," said Autoblog Editor Jeff Glucker. "CLS seats were amazing," added Ian.



Our volunteers had a lot to say about the rear seats, mainly because they spent a lot of time back there. They particularly pointed out how the sharply sloped roofs and jutting seat bolsters made ingress/egress difficult. The CLS550, the most dramatically styled of the two, was singled-out first. "I had trouble getting in and out of the Mercedes... I hit my head twice. I had no such problems with the Audi," noted Manjul. Alex took the words out of most everyone's mouth when he stated, "It took something of a conscious effort not to bump my head every time I got in or out of the car." His comments seemed not only directed at both of the test vehicles but all four-door coupes on the market today.



2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS550 interior2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS550 front seats2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS550 rear seats

The Mercedes-Benz CLS550 is noted for its wood/leather steering wheel and a full rear storage console


2012 Audi A7 3.0T interior2012 Audi A7 3.0T front seats2012 Audi A7 3.0T rear seats
The Audi A7 features exposed grain wood trim and an open compartment between the rear seats


The center rear seat in the Audi has been replaced by a hard and rather useless storage compartment - but someone theoretically could sit on it (without a seatbelt) in an ill-advised pinch. On the other hand, the rear seat of the Mercedes is fitted with a more extravagant full center console. Not everyone was impressed. "I didn't like that the center console in the Mercedes took away any possibility of a fifth passenger, even if it would only be a child. It went all the way to the floor dividing the entire back seat in half," noted Lisa.



Motor Trend recently tested these identical vehicles and clocked the Mercedes-Benz CLS550 to 60 mph in a blistering 4.3 seconds. The Audi A7 3.0T also performed unexpectedly strongly, busting through the same acceleration benchmark in just 4.7 seconds (while noting most other A7's do it in 5.3 seconds). However, that was with one test driver on board. Our test cars were not only topped-off with fuel but we were flying with a full cabin, as they say in the airlines.



Seated in the CLS, I set the transmission to Sport mode for a first-gear start and floored the accelerator. The twin-turbo V8 under the hood of the Mercedes seemed only slightly annoyed with the added mass as it pulled strongly off the line and forced all four of our heads against the leather restraints. The Audi was a bit more taxed and burdened with the heavy passenger load, but its smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic kept it in the race several car lengths back as Jeff floored it up the onramp in pursuit.



Both vehicles were very competent highway cruisers, but far from flawless. The CLS has both Sport and Comfort suspension settings. I preferred Comfort for nearly all conditions, finding Sport simply too harsh. My passengers, watching the radar detector bounce violently on its mount while in Sport, agreed. The A7 has Dynamic and Comfort modes for its suspension, but the differences are very subtle – since nobody had brought along a seismograph we were left stumped by the difference.



2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS550 engine2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS550 engine detail
The CLS550's twin-turbo V8 produces 402 horsepower and 443 lb-ft torque


2012 Audi A7 3.0T engine2012 Audi A7 3.0T engine detail
The A7's supercharged V6 produces 310 horsepower and 325 lb-ft torque


Road noise is an issue in both vehicles. Huge tires be damned, as the summer compound slaps down on the grooved pavement reverberating through the passenger compartments of both vehicles. "I was really surprised by how much road noise was transmitted into the cabin of a car costing this much. I drive a 2003 Subaru with a loud exhaust, so my standard for peace and quiet is pitifully low. Our car was equipped with 20-inch wheels and summer rubber, so I'm sure that explains some of it... but still," Stephen sighed, while riding in the Mercedes.



Yet there are plenty of distractions to keep tire noise at the back of your mind. All occupants, including your Autoblog editors, agreed that the Audi took all the honors when the subject was on-board navigation and infotainment. It was impossible for the CLS550's seven-inch fixed display to compete with the A7's slightly smaller, but Internet-enabled, pop-up display in terms of graphics and content delivery. With its own T-Mobile data plan, Audi has not only integrated real-time Google Maps and search features into its system, but it has the capability to deliver WiFi to eight devices within the vehicle simultaneously. Everyone found the Audi's MMI interface more self-explanatory and appealing when compare to the COMAND system on the Mercedes. "Audi is much more stylish, and the infotainment interface is more user-friendly," said Lisa rather succinctly.



"I was blown away by the A7's navigation unit. The trick pop-out screen was cool, if a little gimmicky. Its integration with Google Maps was very well done, especially the topography. It also displays the posted speed limit, if you are into that sort of thing," commented Alex. "The first thing I did when getting in the back seat was hook up my iPhone to the A7's WiFi signal. In my opinion, the navigation system in Mercedes has always lagged behind. As someone who is into the latest-and-greatest in the tech world, this is a deal-breaker," mustered Lisa. "The A7 is akin to driving around with a portable Genius Bar plucked from an Apple store," said Editor Glucker, who didn't hold his punches. "Staring at the radio of the Benz reminds me of a dusty HAM radio. The map displayed by the Benz would have been great if navigation came standard on a 1989 560 SE. Meanwhile, we're not looking at a map in the Audi... we are looking at the actual earth, courtesy of Google."



2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS550 navigation system2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS550 center console

The Mercedes COMAND multimedia system falls short on innovative technology, but it is easier to use


2012 Audi A7 3.0T navigation system2012 Audi A7 3.0T center console
Audi's MMI is Google-enabled and broadcasts WiFi thanks to the vehicle's own 3G connection


After 30 minutes of near-straight freeway driving at speeds of about 75 mph, it was time to head into the mountains. The weather went from sunny and hot, to wet and cool.



Steady rain, and a long chain of weekend traffic heading up the hill, kept our speeds low as we followed the mountain's contour climbing towards the lake. Realizing hydrated passengers are happy passengers, I had brought along a cooler full of ice and 16.9-ounce water bottles. While the insulated chest was strapped tightly into the trunk of the Mercedes with tie-downs, the passengers were forced to find places to store their bottles. The cup holders worked well up front, but passengers in the rear did a lot of grumbling. The average-sized cup holders held firmly in the Audi, but gave most everyone headaches in the Mercedes. "As for the cup holders on the CLS550, the test bottles did not fit. Even on the highway at speed, a slight change in direction basically made them fall out. I ended up putting the test bottles in at an angle to hold them. Audi's bottles held up going up the canyon roads and never did move. It's a better designed cup holder. The Audi had a spring loaded clip that would close to the minimum position and would spring out to fit larger cups, kinda like fingers holding a cup," noted Manjul.



Jeff and I noticed that the Audi's standard Quattro all-wheel drive made a difference in the rain. Not as much on the high speed sweepers as it did around town - most obvious when launching from a standstill. The muscular Mercedes would just start to spin a rear wheel off the line before its traction control would immediately kill the fun, making for some "oh-crap" moments when pulling into traffic. The Audi, on the other hand, was able to manage its grip and put the power down even on wet pine needles. (The just-launched CLS550 4Matic, with permanent all-wheel drive, would have been an equalizer under these conditions, though more expensive still.)



2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS550 vs 2012 Audi A7 3.0T



After lunch, the clouds cracked open and rays of sun dried the road. It was the opportunity for Jeff and me to push the cars a bit harder. The CLS550 was the muscle car, delivering effortless thrust accompanied by an exhaust note that put smiles on everyone's face. The A7, on the other hand, was challenged to keep up and its exhaust note muted. "The A7 sounds pretty good when you rev it, but nothing like the Benz. The relative lack of exhaust tone in the Audi isn't a strike against the car itself - it wouldn't dissuade me from buying one - but it doesn't stack up to the music that was coming from the CLS engine," said Alex. "The CLS exhaust from the back seat is perfect," Ian agreed.



At altitude, and with all seats occupied by adults, the A7 was working hard. Stuck behind a slow car, but with a clear passing zone, the supercharged 3.0-liter didn't give me enough confidence to try the pass - the CLS550 would have taken it with ease. The engine in the Mercedes was strong, but I did find frustration with its seven-speed automatic transmission as it seemed more likely to unnecessarily hunt for gears. This was most apparent when compared back-to-back against the smooth eight-speed automatic in the Audi.



2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS550 badge2012 Audi A7 3.0T badge



Editor Glucker was just as impressed with the performance of the Benz. "It's hard to argue with the 4.7-liter mill mounted under the hood of the CLS550. In fact, you don't want to try and talk over it, because it's more enjoyable just to listen to it. Mean and low, the Mercedes rumbles like a tough guy in a tux. It pulls hard through the majority of the rev range. Audi's powerplant is a totally different animal, yet it is one that fights above its weight class. There is no supercharger whine, or grumbling exhaust note to speak of, but there is a wonderful application of power. Down 92 horses to the mighty Mercedes, the Audi somehow manages to feel nearly as quick. The quattro all-wheel-drive system certainly plays a major role, but I'm still a bit flabbergasted that a car this heavy manages to get along so well with just 310 horsepower."



The passengers relegated to the back seats, and getting tossed around like rag dolls in the process, preferred to ride out the twisty sections in the Audi. "On top of the mountain, the [CLS's] air suspension in the rear was constantly correcting for the car into the turns. I could hear it and while it wasn't bad the fact is that it felt like the sinking Titanic. Go into a fast left-handed turn, the car would sink on the right and then bounce up a bit to stabilize the rear. That's what made me seasick. The Audi did not have that feeling," said a woozy Manjul. He wasn't alone in his queasiness, as Erick agreed with him, "I noticed that sitting in the back of the Mercedes made me feel a little nauseous compared to sitting in the front... sitting in the back was very bouncy for me."







Reaching the base of the hill meant another 30-minute trek on flat 70 mph freeways. Not only did it give Manjul's stomach a chance to settle, but it allowed everyone time to think and compose their thoughts about each vehicle before we arrived back at our familiar In-N-Out parking lot.



A quick check of the trip computers revealed 152 fresh miles on the odometer. The Mercedes-Benz CLS550 returned 20.5 mpg calculated by its trip computer (against an EPA fuel economy rating of 17/25). The Audi A7 3.0T delivered 21.6 mpg over the identical route (against an EPA rating of 18/28). Everyone considered both figures very impressive when the payload, driving route and power output of each engine was factored in. The fuel economy numbers were also further proof that the Mercedes wasn't working nearly as hard as the Audi.



Our chauffeured volunteers, who spent five long hours without ever touching an accelerator pedal, were split four-to-two on their favorite. Lisa, Manjul, Stephen and Erick preferring the A7, while Ian and Alex - two of our younger guests - chose the CLS550.





2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS550 gauges2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS550 dash clock2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS550 start button

Bold analog gauges and a prominent start button are features of the Mercedes-Benz CLS550 interior


2012 Audi A7 3.0T gauges2012 Audi A7 3.0T dash2012 Audi A7 3.0T shifter
Impeccible detail, rich materials and a traditional shifter highlight the Audi A7's interior


Stephen, who was in the Audi camp, couldn't look past the CLS550's styling, both inside and out. "The interior of a car sets the tone in which it's driven. In this case, we've got a whole lot of contradiction. The exterior styling advertises this as a car for the moneyed life of the party and the exhaust note will put your stoplight neighbors on notice. Sadly, the cabin makes it nearly impossible to fulfill either of those prophecies. I cannot imagine sitting in the driver's seat and pushing that car hard. Such a lack of cohesion and display of disorder isn't just surprising in a German car, it's practically shocking."



Ian, who was on team Mercedes, had a contradictory view. "I enjoyed the Benz in almost every way over the Audi. I thought the seats were more comfortable and had more options, the ride when needed felt sportier, and when not needed felt more plush and subdued. The engine, while recognizing the Audi was down on horsepower, just felt stronger and more linear in the Benz. The Audi's only redeeming factor in my mind was its GPS."



The two Autoblog drivers, tasked with preserving life and limb of the valuable cargo, were also split. Jeff liked the A7, while I was mesmerized by the CLS550.



2012 Audi A7 3.0T and 2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS550



"On paper, the Mercedes-Benz CLS550 is a clear winner," said Jeff. "More power, rear-wheel-drive dynamics and the world-class luxury that comes with a big Benz. But this fight is Rocky verses Apollo Creed. Despite the power difference, the Audi managed to keep up on our canyon jaunts. The A7 is an absolute stunner in the exterior styling department and the interior gadgetry should make a Benz owner throw up for spending so much more. I also feel Mercedes should give up the copycat LED daytime running lights because Audi has clearly perfected them. If I were in the market for a four-passenger luxury sports sedan in this price range (let's quit calling them coupes), I would certainly consider both of these cars. Then I would take my first sip of coffee, buy the Audi, a new set of golf clubs, some aftermarket wheels, and put the rest of my cash into a high-yield mutual fund."



The Audi is undeniably sexy and its technology cutting-edge, but your author finds it impossible to overlook the twin-turbocharged 4.7-liter under the hood of the Mercedes. Mountains of torque rocket the four-door off the line with a squeal and it doesn't seem to ever run out of steam. While I am a tech-geek, the callous rumble of a refined V8 combined with hip-hugging seats and a thick steering wheel made me forget all about the Audi's Google-infused navigation system and eye-candy display. Sure, the Audi was quick in the corners, but the Mercedes is so much more fun to drive. If offered the choice, I'd grab the key fob to the CLS550 faster than you can say "managed collective investment," point the three-pointed star towards Vegas and go hang with the high rollers.



2012 Audi A7 3.0T and 2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS550



In the end, five votes went to the Audi A7 3.0T while the remaining three votes fell on the Mercedes CLS550 – the A7 owned the win.



The Audi's victory is surprising, but not completely unexpected. Many of us in the driver's seat automatically assume horsepower and a well-sorted chassis will dominate a comparison. This time, with all seating positions contributing a ballot, it was innovative technology and ride comfort that hoisted the leader to the podium.





Battle of the Four-Dour Coupes



The Audi A7 is simply gorgeous, both inside and out. Toss in a very competent supercharged V6 and the all-weather capability of Quattro all-wheel drive and the stunning four-door just may be one of the world's finest all-around vehicles. While down on horsepower, the A7 captured the win thanks to its passenger-friendly cabin and innovative technology - qualities that matter to all occupants, not just the driver.


The Mercedes-Benz CLS550 established the four-door coupe segment, so it finds itself in a defensive position against the newcomers who take carefully aimed shots at the veteran. The CLS550 is a driver's car, from the throaty V8 and rear-wheel drive powertrain to the cross-drilled multi-piston brakes. Those excellent attributes, however, don't change the outlook to those left staring out the window from the rear seats.



Saturday, 30 April 2011

Audi Q3 sketches released ahead of Shanghai debut

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Audi has confirmed that its 2012 Q3 small crossover will receive its worldwide unveiling at the Shanghai Motor Show later this month. Before the Q3 debuts in the metal, Audi has released a series of sketches hinting what we can expect in a few weeks time.

When the production Q3 debuts it will sit on Volkswagen Tiguan underpinnings, but will be considerably more shapely than its less costly cousin. If these sketches are to be believed, the Q3 owes a little somethin’ somethin’ to Audi’s Cross Coupe Quattro concept shown in Shanghai back in 2007.

The Tiguan’s engines and transmissions should carryover into the Q3, which means a turbo four producing around 200 horsepower with a diesel option for Europe.

[Source: Audi]

Monday, 4 April 2011

2012 Audi R8 GT to start at $196,800

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Audi has announced that the 90 examples of the 2011 R8 GT slated to come to this country will carry price tags starting at $196,800. The R8 GT packs a version of the 5.2-liter FSI V10, but cranked up to 560 horsepower, mated to Audi’s R-Tronic sequential transmission. Backing up the transmission is a four-wheel-drive system with a locking rear differential.

The R8 GT is built using more aluminum and carbon fiber than the standard car, which translates to a 180-pound weight loss. The rear hatch, spoiler and front splitter on the GT are all carbon-fiber pieces.

The weight savings, power increase, and sequential gearbox team up to scoot the R8 GT to 60 miles per hour in 3.6 seconds, and a up to a 199-mph top speed.

[Source: Audi]

PRESS RELEASE:

Audi R8 GT U.S. pricing starts at $196,800 as sales of limited-production sports car begin
• Only 333 Audi R8 GT models will be built worldwide; 90 for U.S sales
• Extensive use of carbon fiber parts makes the Audi R8 GT about 180 pounds lighter than the Audi R8 5.2 quattro coupe
• Modified 5.2-liter engine achieves 560 hp, 0-62 mph time of 3.6 seconds, top speed of 199 mph

Audi of America established prices for the limited-production 2012 Audi R8 GT starting at $196,800 at the launch of sales in the U.S. market. The Audi R8 GT is the lightest, fastest and most powerful entry in the Audi supercar lineup, which has won global acclaim. Only 333 Audi R8 GT models will be produced worldwide, with 90 slated for U.S. buyers.

2012 R8 GT pricing (excluding $1,250 destination charge, taxes, title, options and dealer charges):

R8 GT Coupe (R tronic) $196,800

The 2012 R8 GT receives significant exterior modifications aimed at enhancing its already stellar handling, and it is powered by a modified 5.2-liter V10 FSI engine that produces 560 horsepower (35 hp more than the R8 Coupe 5.2 quattro and the R8 Spyder 5.2 quattro). The 2012 R8 GT employs the R tronic sequential manual transmission. This pairing produces a top track speed of 199 mph, and a 0-62 mph time of 3.6 seconds. Overall, the Audi R8 GT will provide drivers with high lateral acceleration and a low center of gravity.

The signature Audi ASF® lightweight construction of the Audi R8 GT, combined with extensive use of lightweight carbon fiber body parts reduces the weight by approximately 180 pounds when compared to the Audi R8 Coupe 5.2 quattro. Key carbon fiber components are the rear hatch, spoiler and diffuser.

The Audi R8 GT continues the heritage of mid-engine configuration with quattro® all-wheel drive that has distinguished all R8 variants. The axle load distribution of the R8 GT will be 43/57 front/rear. Integrated into the front differential is axle-load-optimized torque split with self-locking differential in the rear axle.

The newest member of the Audi sports car family was inspired by the Audi R8 LMS GT3 race car. To convey its limited-edition nature, the Audi R8 GT will come with a variety of exclusive interior and exterior touches. Each car will have a numbered gearshift knob. The instrument cluster will be white with the R8 GT logo and the interior will feature carbon matte inlays. The seats, headliner, steering wheel and handbrake lever will be black Alcantara® with contrast stitching. Door sills will include aluminum inserts with the R8 GT logo.

On the exterior, the grille, distinctive sideblade and other trim parts will come in exclusive matte finishes. The Audi R8 GT will also be available in an exclusive new color: Samoa Orange.

Optional carbon-fiber reinforced ceramic brakes are available to provide superb fading resistance even in racetrack conditions. Brake calipers with a red anodized finish come with the ceramic brakes. A 12-speaker, 495-watt Bang & Olufsen® sound system is also available. The Audi R8 GT offers other trim and wheel options to personalize the full array of standard features.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Review: 2011 Audi A8

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I have to admit losing track of how many times my hapless copilot uttered this – and countless other unpublishable phrases – from the passenger seat during our drive. But if I’m being honest, it doesn’t hold a candle to the endless string of explicatives running through my own mind.

The reason? I’m piloting a 2011 Audi A8 through a particularly tortuous stretch of California tarmac running between the Monterey Valley and the Pacific Coast, and for the better part of 20 miles, the driver of the tuned BMW 335i in the lead hasn’t seen anything other than the A8’s massive slatted grille in his rearview mirror. Just as impressive – if not more so – is the pair of worked-over E36 M3s that are having a hard time keeping up. And these guys are locals. They’ve been running this road for over a decade, only to have me show and spoil their ragtag rally in Audi’s latest luxo-bruiser.

I’d like to think that my hairpin heroics and high-speed capers are a testament to my own skills, but I’m not that deluded. I’ve been equipped with the standard auto journo-issued hamfists, and to think otherwise is to fall prey to motoring delusion and insult the work of Ingolstadt’s magicians. Audi’s new A8 is just that good, and the steer is just the half of it.

If you’re not enamored by the looks of this latest flagship, you’re not alone. Audi has gotten back to its Germanic roots of offering one sausage in three sizes, so less obsessive types may have a hard time telling an A4 from an A8 from 50 yards out. Me? I’ve always been partial to the D3 chassis (2002-2009), which blended stately elegance with an understated air of superiority. It never looked menacing, but it certainly came across as imposing. Not so with the D4.

Viewed head-on, the aforementioned grille needs a survey crew to estimate its wingspan, while the angular bank of LEDs make the A8 look like Droopy Dog with electroluminescent eyeliner. In profile, Audi’s designers simply embiggened the A4’s roofline by 30 percent in Photoshop, did the same to the rear and called it a day. We can’t blame them, because the sheer size of this latest A8 – a staggering 202.2 inches stem-to-stern with a wheelbase of 117.8 inches – is enough to separate it from the rest of the luxo-pleebs.

2011 Audi A8 side view2011 Audi A8 front view2011 Audi A8 rear view

But if the exterior is too pedestrian for your tastes, once situated in the 22-way adjustable sports seat, any and all reservations are laid firmly to rest. This is how you do a luxury interior, and considering the four rings embedded on the chunky steering wheel, we’ve come to expect nothing less.

The driver’s gauge cluster is standard fare, particularly when compared to the “Virtual Instruments” on the Jaguar XJ, but what it lacks in gee-whiz, it makes up for in clarity and functionality. Nestled between the tach and speedo is Audi’s seven-inch central information display, a screen that keeps everything from navigation instructions to infotainment information directly in front of the driver. The optional Night Vision Assistant with Thermal-Imaging Infrared Camera mounted in the front bumper can keep track of pedestrians and animals crossing the A8’s path, alerting the driver with a quick tone and visual warning. Trick, but nothing we haven’t seen in the latest Mercedes-Benz S-Class.

2011 Audi A8 interior2011 Audi A8 information display2011 Audi A8 MMI touchpad2011 Audi A8 MMI touchpad

But what truly impresses – and where this Audi stands apart – is with the first application of its MMI Touch interface. Situated on the left side of the center console, and perfectly placed to allow the driver to rest his or her forearm on the yacht-inspired shifter, the rectangular touchpad allows you to simply write letters with your fingertip and effortlessly scroll through menus. Gone are the days of endlessly twisting the MMI knob to input an address, find a phone contact, dial up an XM station or navigate a map on the flip-up, central-mounted display. The MMI Touch is hands-down the A8’s killer app, and Audi’s competitors better hope that the patent application has more holes than the Steelers’ defense.

But the crew from Ingolstadt hasn’t stopped there. In addition to the de riguer adaptive cruise control, blind spot detection and Audi Lane Assist (wander out of your lane and the steering wheel gently vibrates), Audi will begin offering an optional factory-installed WLAN hotspot that can not only connect to any number of WiFi devices, it can plumb a fully-integrated Google Earth experience into the MMI system. While it wasn’t equipped on our $80k-and-change tester (it’s not coming to the U.S. for another few months), we had the chance to sample the system at a media event and came away impressed with the execution, but not the graphics. It’s pretty, but with the topographical and satellite imagery in use by BMW and other manufacturers, it doesn’t look as visually polished as even the most standard graphical sat-navs.

2011 Audi A8 Bang & Olufsen speaker2011 Audi A8 Bang & Olufsen speaker

However, polished doesn’t even begin to describe the available Bang & Olufsen Advanced
sound system. Nineteen speakers, 19 channels and 1,400 watts of B&O-patented aural majesty are at one’s disposal. Throughout my week with the car, the system ably provides more than a few “driveway moments” where I sat parked, blasting the Kleptones’ latest while reveling in dynamic highs and forceful bass. And my neighbors were no worse for the wear – with the doors shut and the windows sealed, not an ounce of perfectly matched mid-80s mashups oozes outside the cabin.

There’s certainly more than enough to impress inside the A8, but Audi is billing the standard wheelbase sedan as its driver’s car, leaving the “prestige, sportiness and comfort” to the elongated and plush-packed A8L. So how’s it go?

2011 Audi A8 engine2011 Audi A8 engine detail2011 Audi A8 engine detail

As if I didn’t already give up enough in the opener, it’s magnificent. The combination of the lightweight aluminum space-frame chassis and the 372 horsepower, 4.2-liter direct injection V8 means the A8 is on par with its peers, but the addition of Audi’s rear-biased Quattro all-wheel-drive puts it into new territory. While the engine’s output is far from world-beating, the 328 pound-feet of torque available from 3,500 rpm onwards is more than enough to effortlessly merge with freeway traffic and blow into triple digits without thinking twice. But what impressed more than anything is the utter chuckability of what is – by all outward appearances – a ponderous, massive slab of aluminum and steel.

Forget about the official 0-60 mph time of 5.7 seconds. It simply isn’t a factor. Instead, Audi’s chassis and powertrain boffins have focused on making this big boy dance. And it does. You wouldn’t think that something this large and this lux could be this quick on its feet, responding to steering inputs with immediacy and selecting the perfect of its eight ratios to put the power down, but it does. And it does it with clinical precision that doesn’t leave the driver out of the mix – a neat trick that’s often lacking in the rarified air of the sports executive set.

With the Audi Drive Select set to Dynamic, a Cray’s worth of computing power seamlessly tweaks the adaptive air suspension and S4-derived Sport Differential to nearly eliminate any trace of understeer and allow mid-corner lifts to forcibly tuck that massive schnoz into bends. My driving companions are left shaking their heads and I’m left with an unshakable grin. These kind of antics shouldn’t be possible, but the A8 manages to hack physics thanks to a smorgasbord of trick electronics, a set of unflappable, fade-free stoppers and 20-inch wheels wrapped in sticky summer rubber. And it’s not just what’s added on – excellence is baked-in. Thanks to its stiff aluminum chassis clothed in matching bodywork, this Audi simply has less mass to move around than its competitors. The A8 checks in at 4,409 pounds, while the Mercedes-Benz S550 weighs 4,455 pounds and the BMW 750i checks in at a hefty 4,641-pound starting weight. That may not sound like a massive difference, but consider, too, that the A8 manages to be lighter while toting around all-wheel drive.

If you care about such things, Audi estimates fuel economy at 21 city and 27 highway, and I managed to average out around 19 mpg during a nine-day stretch – easily within spitting distance of both Benz’s and Lexus’ flagship… hybrids.

When the time came to motor back up Highway One for a very late dinner, I set the Select system to Individual (suspension in Comfort, the rest in Dynamic) and amped up the front seat massagers for both me and my companion. “You’re $%#^@#& kidding me, right?” No. No I’m not, my vocabulary-challenged friend. And neither is Audi. For lack of a better phrase, they’ve put old luxury on notice and infused some very welcome “sport” into its flagship.

[Source: autoblog]