Flagship – (ˈflæɡˌʃɪp) – The best or most important one of a group or system. Source: Dictionary.com
Often we hear of automakers make claims about their flagship vehicles. When you start to break apart these claims you might find that the word flagship is one thrown around rather loosely. An opportunity to drive the flagship of the Audi brand presented itself and I discovered what truly sets the Audi A8 and A8L apart from the rest of the flagships.
Think Audi A3, BMW 1-Series and Volvo C30 and you can better understand the competitive set Lexus is targeting with its all new CT200h 5-door hatchback to be launched in February 2011. Also think of the CT200h as a product really designed for the European market where it is right-sized and right-styled.
The competitive set in the USA sells less than 1,500 units per month now – or about 18,000 per year – small potatoes in a 12,000,000 unit industry. Lexus is going after 1,000 units per month – immediately intending capturing 40% of this small segment. Can they do it?
Given pricing in the low $30,0oo range, the CT will undercut the IS 250, but Lexus management tells us it won’t squeak in under the $30K barrier which could prove to be a psychological threshhold.
I’m in love. With my husband, of course, but also with the Audi R8 5.2. For a few days this spring, an R8 V10 graced our office fleet, and my driveway. Four days and three days of automotive bliss, in my book. Days of taking any excuse, and creating a few, for getting on any road. Despite its complexity, technology, and power, from its aluminum space frame to 525HP 5.0L V10 engine to its LED headlights and magnetic ride adaptive damping system, is a civilized and powerful conveyance. The only competitor for my affections in this category is a Porsche 911 Turbo, and the Audi has a sexier wrapping, better navigation, and iPod integration. Since I’m dreaming in any case, I’ll take one of each, thank you.
Audi R8 is massively capable and one of the easiest high-powered street cars I’ve driven. It made me feel like a hero, and while I can hold my own, I know too many truly excellent drivers and I know where my limits are. I preferred the Sport setting for suspension. It is stiffer, but not uncomfortably so. One of the beauties of the system: If you come across a particularly rough stretch of road, turn Sport off and the normal setting will dampen the harshness instantly. Get past that quarter-mile stretch of mild frost heaves, put it back to Sport, and you can be just as instantly happy again. In my three days, I stayed in Sport mode searching out sweeping off ramps and looking for safe acceleration opportunities.
It’s not really under debate as to whether or not the Audi S5 is a beautiful road going machine… (both inside and out) It really ‘is’. The current debate now centers on which vehicle the S5 comes closest to competing with and will we will miss the S5’s outgoing 4.2L V8?
The short answer is a (3″) wider 335i with x-drive and NO we are not going to miss the 4.2L V8… except for maybe the exhaust note.
This particular S5 was equipped with everything from a Bang & Olufsen premium sound system to a navigation system and backup camera. The normally aspirated 4.2L V8 does slap you with a $1,300 gas-guzzler tax but if you can afford the car at $53K plus ($66,450 as tested) we’re pretty sure you can afford the tax. Well, all right, so maybe you are like many of our 40,000+ new vehicle respondents who say they want the same or better performance as now with better fuel economy. Not to worry!!! Audi promises to deliver the S5 with a 3.0L Supercharged V6 instead of the 4.2L V8…
As I wrote this, the Audi Q7 TDi we had been evaluating for the past week had just left. Some of us shed tears. Others did not. I am on the “did not shed tears” side of the equation and I’ll take you through my dry-eyed rationale.
The Q7 TDi is a nicely styled, outstandingly crafted vehicle, powered by what we consider its best powertrain – the 3.0L V6 turbo diesel with 225-horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque. Unfortunately, in the Q7, this engine has to pull 5,512 pounds (5,512 !!). Off the line at part throttle the Q7 TDi feels stuck in the sand. Once you are rolling, if you go pedal to the metal, the torque kicks in and the Q7 feels great. I guess this is something you could forgive or get used to, but out-of-the-box the Q7 feels sluggish for having so much torque.
On Monday November 30, Audi AG revealed the all new Audi A8 flagship sedan to the world media in Miami, Florida. There were 850 journalists in attendance from the USA, Europe, South America, China, Japan, Russia… anywhere you can name.
Capping Audi’s Centennial Anniversary, the launch of the A8 is very significant to the company. The A8 is being introduced in Europe and China earlier in 2010 with the USA getting A8 in Winter 2010 or Spring 2010.
Study Team Visits USA and China The A8 has a special place in AutoPacific’s heart. In early 2006, AutoPacific hosted an Audi study team working on finalizing the concept of the A8. The team was in the USA for about three weeks. After visiting the USA, they spent a month in China where Audi outsells BMW and Mercedes-Benz by two-to-one. This group of engineers, planners, designers, financial experts and production managers were extremely enthusiastic, very knowledgeable and anxious to do what was right for the car and for Audi.
The results of their work is the all new 2011 Audi A8. Wow, what a car!
Old Time Extravaganza Let’s call it a shindig. A Hollywood premiere. Audi celebrated its 100th Anniversary and introduced its all new A8 premium luxury sedan to the world on Monday night in Miami Beach at the renowned Founainbleau Hotel.
Audi’s Miami Beach Pavilion Hidden by Palm Trees
Audi constucted a monolithic hurricane-capable structure about a quarter mile up Miami Beach in which to hold the affair. The building will be used for about a week with Audi-related events. Media and glitterati on Monday night, dealers, community VIPs, consumers will all get a chance to see the new A8 during the week of November 30.
The total cost for the program is said to be $9.5 – $10million. This is a very significant sum today and goes back to the way automakers used to launch their cars – before today’s huge buget cuts.
Miami Design Week As a sponsor of Art Basel Miami Beach, Audi has provided transportation to various venues and display space for contemporary art.
“A stunning complement to the Audi range, the A5 picks up a 2009 Motorist Choice Award in the Aspirational Luxury Car Segment. The near-uncompromised coupe delivers on Audi’s ‘Truth in Engineering’ promise. A low-slung stance and sleek lines add beauty and grace to a demanding performance pedigree.” — AutoPacific
“The Audi A5 has the best-in-segment ownership costs and strong retained value.” — IntelliChoice
Owner Satisfaction Highlights
* Image and Exterior Styling
* Fun to Drive
* Overall Quality
* Overall Satisfaction
* Best-in-Segment Ownership Costs
* Strong Retained Value
Awards Show Consumers Enjoy Luxury and Size
(August 11, 2009) — Right brain, left brain; the practical versus the emotional — an age-old dilemma often at the center of decision making when buying a new car or truck. The 2009 Motorist Choice Awards recognize new cars and trucks that give their owners both economic and emotional satisfaction, helping new-car buyers find vehicles that best satisfy all of their personal-transportation needs. The fourth annual Motorist Choice Awards survey, announced today, scores 196 cars, trucks, crossovers and SUVs. With the top overall scores in both owner satisfaction and value, the Lexus LS placed highest of any 2009 model year vehicle.
Large and luxury vehicles dominated this year’s results. The top 34 ranked cars, and 106 of the top 107, are large cars, luxury cars, sport utility vehicles, crossover SUVs or minivans. Only one small car, the BMW 1-Series, scored in the top 100, landing in the 35th slot. Toyota Prius is the next-highest-scoring small car, coming in 107th.
Awards are given for top-scoring vehicles scoring in each of twenty-three segments, as well as for the top-scoring brand. Nine manufacturers earned segment wins, led by Toyota with nine awards (including three for Lexus), followed by General Motors with six (Chevrolet 4, Cadillac 2), Honda with three, and Chrysler with two (Dodge 1, Jeep 1). Audi, Ford, Hyundai, Nissan and Volkswagen took top honors in one segment each.
(And check out our video on YouTube.)
A V10 for the R8
525HP, quattro, optional ceramic brakes and standard LED headlights. Zero to 60 in 3.9 seconds. What more is there to say?
After the jump, catch more photos and Audi’s official press release.