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I've got your product placement right here.


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.

Q7 Iron Man.jpg
The star of Iron Man. Also pictured: Guy in a robot suit.

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2008 Audi R8: Driving in Rock Star Clothes

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!

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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.
R8 Rear.jpg

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.
R8 Fuel Door.jpg

Much more gushing after the jump, and even more in Katrina’s blog, too…

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Audi Q7 Wins AutoPacific 2008 Vehicle Satisfaction Award in the Premium Luxury Crossover SUV Segment


Q7 VSA.jpg

The Audi 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.

Posted in: Audi, Awards

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Audi TT Wins AutoPacific 2008 Vehicle Satisfaction Award in the Premium Sports Car Segment


TT VSA.jpg

The Audi TT’s design, performance and sophistication all work in concert, allowing it to handily win the 2008 Vehicle Satisfaction Award in the Premium Sports Car Segment. Contributing to its win were the TT’s high marks for Interior and Exterior styling, Brand Reputation and Overall Quality. The most impressive satisfaction score was an almost off-the-charts Fun to Drive factor.Halloween Inflatable kids

Posted in: Audi, Awards

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AutoPacific Announces 2008 Vehicle Satisfaction Awards



Cadillac Top Brand, Mercedes-Benz S-Class Top Car, Toyota Sequoia Top Truck and Top Vehicle

Tustin, California, May 29, 2008 – A study released today by noted automotive consulting firm AutoPacific, Inc. summarizes the results of its 2008 model year vehicle satisfaction research. AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction Award (VSA) is an industry benchmark for objectively measuring how satisfied an owner is with their new passenger car or light truck.
In a year that promises to be the toughest in a decade, owner-based awards like AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction Award will help customers make their purchase decisions.
The brand with the highest satisfaction rating is Cadillac. The vehicle – car or truck – registering highest overall satisfaction in 2008 is the new-for-2008 Toyota Sequoia Large Sport Utility Vehicle. The passenger car with the highest overall satisfaction score is the Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
There are twenty-eight Vehicle Satisfaction Award categories. At the manufacturer level, multiple top ranked award winners include: General Motors (eleven categories), Toyota (nine categories), Ford (six categories), Volkswagen (four categories), Honda (three categories) and Hyundai (two categories).
“Cadillac wins the Vehicle Satisfaction Award as the top brand in a close race. Strong satisfaction performance by Cadillac cars and trucks has Cadillac winning over other leading luxury marques including Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW says AutoPacific president George Peterson. “Top ranked finishes by Cadillac’s Escalade, CTS and DTS helped cement their industry topping position.”
Peterson continues, “Vehicles that are all new received top rankings in several categories: Cadillac CTS, Honda Accord, Mitsubishi Lancer, Scion xD, Toyota Sequoia, Audi Q7, Buick Enclave, Hyundai Veracruz, GMC Acadia, Saturn Vue and Nissan Rogue. These new-for-2008 vehicles were strongly rated by their owners showing that the industry continues to improve as new vehicles are added to the hotly contested American car and light truck markets.”
From a vehicle type perspective, Traditional Sport Utility Vehicles received the highest ratings as a class closely followed by Crossover Sport Utility Vehicles. Peterson says, “Clearly, SUVs continue to be one of the most popular and satisfying vehicle types available in the USA today. Even with skyrocketing gas prices, SUVs are attractive and Crossover SUVs fill the bill for most SUV buyers with better fuel economy.” Cars scored slightly below industry average followed by minivans and pickup trucks.

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[insert "bright future" joke here]


This is fun, right? We’re having fun!

Well, here we are in the World of Tomorrow. The food pills and flying cars are some ways off, but our brave boys in the trenches of science have figured out how to harness those spastic blinky necklaces (pictured) issued by law to every obnoxious child at every fireworks display and use their power for good. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you, the LED headlamp.
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The 2009 Cadillac Escalade Platinum blinds you with science

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2008 Audi S5 and A5: Luxury Touring Coupe in Two Flavors


Comfort, Style, and Grace
Audi has rolled out precisely styled, image-building S5 and A5 coupes for 2008MY. Larger than the TT, A5 and S5 are Audi’s answer to BMW 3-Series coupes. The A5 shares its platform and powertrains with the upcoming 2009 A4, serving as coupe complement to sedan and wagon. The A5 goes head-to-head with BMW 3-Series coupe, Mercedes CLK, Infiniti G37 coupe, and the upcoming Cadillac CTS coupe. We’ve had the chance to check out both flavors of Audi coupe. The S5 offers a 354HP V8, tighter suspension, and more athletic cues, balancing comfort and sport. The 265HP A5 is set for a more comfortable, relaxed ride. Both come with Audi’s style and elegance, not matched by the competition.

Audi A5

Audi S5

The experience delivered on the baseline of usual Audi goodness, though the two have personality differences. A5 is a terrifically comfortable cruiser, stylish and elegant, but also soft. It’s a terrific car for less demanding drivers, with a typically Audi interior. By that, we mean materials that feel solid and rich and an interior layout easy to use and feel at home in. There’s much to recommend the A5 over a Mercedes CLK, and over a BMW 3-Series coupe if weather is an issue. The BMW delivers better on the ultimate driving machine premise, but offers a level of involvement not all drivers appreciate.
Audi A5

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2008 NAIAS Audi TTS: A Good Thing Gets Better.



The VehicleVoice editorial management staff if very good to me. Being primarily on the consumer research side of AutoPacific I’m not the first choice for industry analysis or vehicle evaluations. In spite of this, I get some pretty cool assignments. Having the opportunity to drive the 2007 Audi TT along California’s Riviera this past summer was one of those assignments. The newest interpretation the Audi’s iconic design clearly exceeds its predecessor in every way. The challenge of re-designing an icon, has given Audi an even more beautiful TT. In addition, the upgraded platform, engines and transmissions have transformed the TT from a beautiful car, into a true sports car. So getting to cover the 2008 TTS at Detroit’s North American International Auto Show is a nice assignment. The TTS marks an anniversary for Audi. In 1998 the TT Coupe was introduced to the world and immediately became a design icon.

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2008 Audi R8 V12 TDI Concept: Power and Torque


Can Audi Make Diesel Sexy?
Enthusiasts the world over have been taken in by Audi‘s R8, which launched with a 420HP V8. At the 2008 North American International Auto Show, Audi fits an updated version of their racing V12 diesel into the mid-engined supercar. In racing form, the 650HP 6.0L V12 diesel has been winning since 2006 and, Audi hopes, changing the American impression of diesel engines as smelly, loud, and slow. After the 2007 600HP Q7 V12 TDI Concept, this year Audi checks reaction to a diesel supercar.


On the track, the Audi R10 has proven diesels can perform while R8 and Q7 V12 TDI concepts bring the racing aura to the practical world. Though the R10 purpose-built race car will never be available in an Audi showroom, these TDI Concepts allow you to imagine the power in a car you can buy.
In the very sexy R8’s case, the concept boasts a 500HP and an amazing 737 lb-ft 6.0L V12 TDI (available from 1750 to 3000 rpm. Less than seven inches longer than the standard V8, the compact diesel is small enough for the R8’s engine bay. This V12 is different from that in last year’s Q7 concept and the racing engine, with newly developed high-pressure pumps for the common-rail injection system and the AdBlue system for reducing emissions. The V12 is mated to a short-travel six-speed manual transmission and 40:60 split Quattro. This drivetrain gets the R8 V12 TDI Concept to 60mph in 4.2 seconds.
Audi AG is dedicated to diesels and sees potential for them in the States, and will make a 3.0L V6 diesel available in the Q7 and then the A4 next year. As diesels gain buzz and mainstream attention for their typically higher mpg, efforts like this V12 and Audi’s racing success erode old stereotypes and help to increase consideration. You won’t confuse the V6 for the V12, but racing and winning gives Audi’s diesel program an image boost.
“Grace Silver” Concept Gets Beefed Up Looks, Too
The R8 V12 TDI Concept looks wider and takes larger air intakes, with RS-inspired rhombus-pattern mesh. The concept gets a continuous aluminum spoiler lip between front and rear diffusers and side air baffles below the sills. The glass roof has transparent sections over the passengers, with a functional NACA duct in the middle, complementing the restyled glazed engine compartment cover. Like the production R8, and fitting for a concept starring an engine, white LEDs in the engine compartment ensure the car’s heart can be seen even at night. The duct, which Audi says is a race-car feature, accelerates air drawn to each of the V12’s two cylinder banks. The concept also features all-LED headlights and taillights. The LED headlights are closer to daylight than traditional headlight options, which Audi says results in less driver fatigue in night driving. Inside, there are larger aluminum elements and more carbon fiber accents.

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2009 Audi RS6 Avant: Europe Gets a Treat

Too Bad Americans Shun Wagons: 580HP Avant Won’t Be Part of U.S. Lineup
Audi introduced the RS6 Avant at the 2007 Frankfurt auto show, along with an ultra-efficient A4 concept and a 1.4L four-cylinder TFSI engine for the European A3. The 580HP RS6 Avant, as fuel-efficient as a twin-turbocharged 5.2L V10 engine can be thanks to the direct-injection system, is about as opposite of socially conscious motoring as you get from Audi’s range. The RS6 Avant goes on sale in Europe in April 2008, but in the States not at all.


As a fan of Audi S and RS cars and of Audi Avants, the 580HP RS6 Avant sounds sublime. But the combination of cost and the wagon shape would make finding homes for a 580HP RS6 Avant difficult for U.S. dealers and it is no real surprise Audi of America is not going to try. European pricing for the latest version hasn’t been announced, but a U.S. version would likely have played in the low-$90,000 range. Consider that a 2008 S6 starts at about $75,000 and that the 2008MY base price difference between the S4 sedan and RS4 sedan is a staggering $18,000. An RS6 Avant price tag in the low-$90,000 range puts it too near the $96,000 Audi S8 and close to the base price of a 500HP Porsche Cayenne Turbo. The European release says the RS6 is available as Avant “to start with” and offers hope for a sedan. Though a sedan would have the same price-point difficulty, it would be more likely to attract enough buyers to justify importing this particular rocket.

Even more interesting, the RS6 may provide a hint at the potential for a V10-motivated R8 mid-engine sports car. A V10 is expected for the sports car, and simply giving it the S6 and S8’s 450HP 5.2L V10 is not enough of a jump from the 420HP V8 it launched with. Audi didn’t suggest the 580HP unit will wind its way into the R8, but we think it is only a matter of time before some manner of V10 arrives for R8 drivers.

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