Saturday, January 30, 2010

January 2010 Dream Car of the Month - Audi R8

Audi LeMans Quattro Concept

In 2003 Audi displayed a concept car at the Geneva Motor Show and the Frankfurt Motor Show called the Audi LeMans Quattro. After receiving a very positive response to the concept they decided to make a road car based on that design. In 2005 they announced production of the car which would be called the R8 as an homage to the dominant R8 Le Mans race car. The production version of the R8 debuted at the 2006 Paris Auto Show.

Audi decided to tap into some of the work already done by Lamborghini, an Audi owned company, and based the R8 on the very successful Lamborghini Gallardo. The R8 was designed and built by Audi subsidiary Quattro GmbH. The car uses an aluminum monocoque around an aluminum space frame and the suspension uses the magneto rheological dampers from Delphi (GM). Assembly is handled by 70 specially selected workers at Audi's renovated factory in Neckarsulm, Germany.

Audi R8 4.2

The standard R8 is powered by a mid mounted, direct injection 4.2L 32v V8 producing 420HP/317TQ. This is the same engine used in the most recent Audi RS4 however it uses a dry sump lubrication setup in the R8. The transmissions are either a Lamborghini 6 speed manual or an Audi R-Tronic automated paddle shift manual connected to Audi's Quattro all wheel drive system. The V8 powered R8 will hit 60MPH in 4.4 seconds on it's way to a 12.8 second 1/4 mile. Top speed is 187MPH.

Audi R8 5.2

Not satisfied with the success of the V8 powered R8, Audi unveiled the R8 5.2 in 2008 which features a direct injection 5.2L V10 borrowed from the Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4. The engine is detuned a bit to produce only 525HP/391TQ. That bump in power over the V8 propels the R8 5.2 to 60MPH in just 3.9 seconds and a top speed of 196MPH. Some exterior modifications distinguish the V10 R8 from the base V8 powered car such as all LED headlights, different wheels, larger brakes, more aggressive styling, and larger air intakes. It was rumored that Audi was initially testing the R8 with the twin turbo 572HP V10 from the RS6 however that was cancelled after a test car burned up on the Nurburgring due to insufficient cooling.

Audi R8 TDI

The Audi R8 V12 TDI concept was shown in 2008 at the North American International Auto Show. It featured a 6.0L V12 using Audi's TDI turbodiesel technology. Producing 493HP/and 738TQ it is able to propel the R8 TDI to 60MPH in 4.2 seconds and a top speed of 202MPH while returning impressive fuel mileage numbers. It was a possibility for production however Audi halted development in 2009 due to the extensive costs of re-engineering the R8 to accept the much larger engine.

Audi R8 Spyder

In 2009 Audi unveiled the long rumored R8 Spyder at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Powered by the 5.2 V10 it is very similar to the R8 Coupe except for the obvious fabric roof and the deletion of the R8's signature "side blades". At that same show Audi displayed the E-Tron concept which is basically an all electric version of the R8. It is powered by a set of electric motors placed at each wheel and produces a claimed 313HP/3,319TQ (no that's not a misprint).

Since it's introduction the R8 has been very well received. Reviews continually praise it's perfomance, luxury and comfort. Many have compared it favorably to the current Porsche 911 as a truly user friendly, every day supercar.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Detroit 2010 Highlights.

Just thought I'd showcase some of the more interesting stuff so far from the 2010 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

2010 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe
Ever since the Coupe was teased as a concept, everyone with gasoline running through their veins has been anticipating it getting the V treatment. Well, here it is in all it's 556HP glory. It's one of the best looking coupes around and I want one bad. It certainly won't blend in with all the other boring cars out there. Now if they would just give the CTS wagon a bit of V love, they'd have a triple threat.

2010 Dodge Viper ACR 1:33 Edition
Dodge has promised a string of special Vipers to mark the end of production for this iconic American beast. One such model is the 1:33 edition meant to commemorate the Viper ACR's lap record for a production car at the famous Laguna Seca track. The 1:33 features special gearing allowing it to make the most of it's 600HP and run from 0-202mph 14 seconds faster than the 2009 ACR. Only 33 will be built.

2011 Honda CR-Z
When Honda showed the concept CR-Z a couple of years ago they hinted that it would be a return of the CRX. Touting the small car as the first fun to drive hybrid and the first with an optional 6speed manual it looked promising. The production version was revealed in Detroit and it looks as cool as the concept however the specs seem a bit disappointing. Boasting a 1.5L 4cyl with 122HP/128TQ and Honda's Integrated Motor Assist hybrid system, it is only rated at mid to high 30's in MPG depending on the type of transmission, 6speed or CVT. Those numbers are not very impressive considering that a standard Civic gets 36MPG highway and I personally have documented close to 39MPG in my wife's new Civic EX Coupe. Let's hope it's at least fun to drive.

2011 Ford Focus
Ford has finally listened and killed off the U.S. only Focus. Back when it debuted, the Focus was a "world" car meaning we got basically the same car as Europe which was great. Unfortunately, when it was time for a redesign, Ford decided to just reskin the old Focus for us here in America, while Europe got an all new hotter and better Focus. Now in the third generation Focus we are back to the good stuff. We will get basically the same car as Europe when the new Focus goes on sale in 2011. It looks like a keeper too with sweet styling and a 2.0L direct injection 4cyl producing 155HP/145TQ. Hopefully we will get an RS or SVT model.

Buick Regal GS Concept
Here is one Buick I wouldn't mind owning. I haven't said that since the days of the Grand National and GNX. Based on the European Opel Insignia and sporting a 2.0L turbo Ecotec 4cyl with 255HP/295TQ connected to a 6speed manual (yes a manual in a Buick) routing power to all four wheels (AWD!) it would easily be the most exciting Buick in a generation, if it goes into production. Let's hope it does.

Volkswagen Compact Coupe Concept
Volkswagen rolled out a new coupe concept that looks to be a bit based on the not for us Scirocco. The concept is powered by a 1.4L turbo direct injection 4cyl and mated to a hybrid system boosting power to 177HP. Mileage is estimated to be around 45MPG with the 7speed DSG gearbox. If it makes production, it's more than likely a hopped up version with VW's much loved 2.0L turbo will be offered as well.