A Sensible Recommendation? Yes, In Fact
de Nysschen with Burke and Lopez
Kristensen, McNish, and Capello
At the close of the Audi Mileage Marathon we talked about last week, Audi of America’s Executive Vice President Johan de Nysschen took a moment between results announcements and meet-and-greets with a few Hollywood celebrities to make a plea to the political structure. Mr. de Nysschen called for a lowering of diesel tax. Good, lowering taxes I like, though for a racing fan like myself, I was more impressed with Audi American Le Mans Series and Le Mans drivers Tom Kristensen, Allan McNish, and Dindo Capello than Mario Lopez or Brooke Burke. But that’s just me, and I digress.
I just finished the fourth leg of Audi’s Mileage Marathon, a coast-to-coast demonstration and competition drive for the best fuel economy from a range of Audi TDI clean diesels. The drive started in New York City on October 6, ending in Santa Monica on October 19. I joined the crew in Las Vegas, which included driving through Monterey, California, and the chance to see the Audi R10 TDI cars take 1-2 in the final American Le Mans Series race of the year at Laguna Seca, their ninth consecutive victory.
A diesel winner. A nearly silent, dominating race car.
The undertaking allowed attending Audi engineers, designers, and product planners to take a deep dive into the extremes of American driving conditions, from a crowded New York City street through the Rocky Mountains, Red Rocks at Sedona, Death Valley to Mammoth Lakes (from altitude of minus 282 feet below sea level at Badwater Basin in the Valley to 11,000 feet in Mammoth Lakes), and finally down Pacific Coast Highway to Santa Monica.
The cross-country Audi Mileage Marathon fleet
This convoy of 23 silver Audi Q7s, Q5s, A3s, and A4s, dressed in nearly as many stickers as the R10 racing car, could not be missed. U.S. and international journalists and Audi engineers, designers, and executives got to see people over the country, talk to them about the car and the benefits of diesel, as well as gain firsthand knowledge of U.S. reactions. When the 3.0L TDI Q7 becomes available in the States next year, Audi will begin to see the results of the overall diesel communication strategy and education outreaches.
This was an astounding event in ambition, scope, and execution, and next week I’ll be telling my driving story. Today, we’re going to talk a little about diesel acceptance and Audi’s positioning.
AutoPacific: Premium sports car owners rated the Audi TT as the category’s winner of the 2008 Motorist Choice Award®. The win was derived from top scores for safety features, feeling safe while driving, ride and ease of getting in and out. The interior of the Audi TT really pushed it to the head of the class, with high scores for instrument layout, controls having a quality feel, quietness inside, interior styling, feel of interior fabrics and materials and driver’s seat comfort. The TT’s traction in all weather conditions was also the best in the category.
IntelliChoice: The Audi TT tied with the Chevrolet Corvette within a very small class. The Audi TT has a strong retained value and was a 2008 Vehicle Satisfaction Award winner.
AutoPacific: The Chevrolet brings home the 2008 Motorist Choice Award® for premium sports car with distinction. Owners rate the Corvette’s power and acceleration as best in class. The Corvette also scored very well in exterior styling, wheel size and style — not to mention high scores in being fun to drive.
IntelliChoice: The Corvette tied with the Audi TT. The Corvette was a 2008 BOVY winner and has best-in-class retained value, insurance, and maintenance.
Green technology at the Woodward Dream Cruise? Hmmm. You could fit a whole Prius under this baby’s hood, I guess.
Audi‘s latest A4 goes on sale in fall 2008, and we recently had a chance for a spin behind the wheel of a Euro-spec car. At first drive, Audi takes everything good on its core model and ratchets it up a notch. Audi showed off the home of their owner’s driving school, the Audi Forum Sonoma at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California. The Audi Forum takes a track experience a step above, and we only wish the day had been longer for more track time.
I promise, you can get the A4 in a color other than red..
We drove Euro-spec 265HP 3.2L Quattro sedans, with six-speed Tiptronic automatic transmissions. Audi is not offering the dual-clutch transmission here. The standard car this fall takes Audi’s 211HP 2.0L TFSI I4 (not the 250HP version once expected), standard in front-drive but available with Quattro. The wagon arrives with Quattro only. We covered the A4’s introduction at the Frankfurt auto show last year and brought you most of the technical stuff then (click here to revisit
Like many vehicles, A4 has grown with each generation. Having fallen for the A4 back in my mid-1990s Automobile Magazine
days, I wondered if this iteration would finally be so big it lost some charm. The A4 has grown about six inches, with a wheelbase just over 110 inches. Instead of being slightly smaller, the A4 is seven inches longer than the either the BMW 3-Series or Mercedes C-Class. Our short drive proved that the A4 is as charming as ever, and more nimble than the size suggests. The cabin is more comfortable, but this new chassis, steering, and suspension ensure a fine-handling sedan.
Owners in the Premium Luxury Crossover SUV segment crowned the Audi Q7 the winner in the 2008 Ideal Vehicle Awards. Across the board, the Q7 did very well, winning for exterior size, interior lighting, exterior styling, seat firmness, handling, wheels and tires and top-notch safety features.
Tustin, California, June 30, 2008 –
An “ideal” is defined as an excellent or perfect example. In the annual Ideal Vehicle Awards (IVA), announced today by automotive research and consulting firm AutoPacific, owners rate their new 2008 model year cars and trucks by how close they come to their ideal, as measured by 15 key vehicle attributes. The cars or trucks that owners would change the least are the most ideal.
A highly scientific poll conducted by calling my friend Doug and asking him, “Hey, who do you think has more screen time in Iron Man: Jeff Bridges or the Audi logo?” determined recently that, yeah, there might be some product placement at work in the entertainment industry.
The star of Iron Man. Also pictured: Guy in a robot suit.
For almost a week, we’ve had an Audi R8 here at our Detroit office. Not the first time our staff has been behind the wheel (see Dan Hall’s October 2007 review), but the first time for me and in a different setting. Unlike Dan’s time on the track and road trip from San Francisco to San Clemente, California, this week we spent driving southeastern Michigan, from Rochester Hills to Utica to Monroe. The R8 almost had me in the first mile, would have were it equipped with the conventional six-speed manual, but by the first five miles I was hooked. More than 300 miles later, my appreciation is growing. And I still want the real manual transmission!
One might assume from looking at the R8’s lovely shape, low and sleek, clearly with space for only two, would not be a daily driver. I disagree. This is an excellent three-season vehicle. Many sports cars, shod with a good set of Bridgestone Blizzaks, can be driven all winter, but R8’s low ground clearance and more extreme performance limits is best enjoyed without snow. R8 is a reward purchase and likely more often a weekend car. But there is no reason it cannot be your every day car. And if not yours, then MINE.
Of many vehicles that have graced AutoPacific’s drive, none has generated this much anticipation or the buzz. Arriving shortly after its supporting role in Iron Man
didn’t hurt, either. This Ibis White R8 was in our keeping for a full week, an unusually lucky stroke, rather than a typical four-day hot-car loan. And we’ve taken just about every opportunity we can to show it off. Err…I mean, to gauge public reaction. We even convinced Katrina’s photographer friend to take pictures for just a photo credit and the chance to get close to the car.
No surprise, this is the hit of the year. It attracts attention with every mile and anywhere it is parked. As huge fuel costs take a bite out of truck and SUV sales, an equally thirsty vehicle like the R8 is in danger of image backlash, of being seen as unnecessarily wasteful. It was heartening to see so much appreciation and enthusiasm everywhere we went. People may joke that the 13/18mpg-rated car requires a third mortgage to keep fed, but unlike trucks, no one seemed to hate the R8 for being a gas guzzler destroying the free world.
Much more gushing after the jump, and even more in Katrina’s blog, too…
Q7 outscored its competition in the Premium Luxury Crossover SUV Segment, handily winning a 2008 Vehicle Satisfaction Award. High-tech luxury and exceptional handling helped the Q7 rise above the competition. Owner satisfaction scores suggest that the Q7 is very well mannered; Safety and Overall Quality rankings were are very high, and owners felt its controls were intuitive.