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

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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

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AutoPacific Announces 2008 Vehicle Satisfaction Awards

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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]

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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

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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.

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Audi A5

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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.
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Audi A5


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2008 NAIAS Audi TTS: A Good Thing Gets Better.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.
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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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2009 Audi A4: Frankfurt Motor Show Introduction

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All-New A4 Arrives Stateside Fall 2008
Despite the European introduction in September 2007 at the Frankfurt motor show and sales in some markets by the end of the year, U.S. buyers won’t get to choose the latest A4 until about a year later (click for the European Audi A4 microsite). We can’t wait that long to share the first details with you, of course!

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The new A4 takes the latest family look, introduced with the TT and A5, and does it well from headlights to small decklid spoiler. Whether xenon or halogen headlights are ordered, the shape of the headlight and the daytime running lights accents the car’s design in a new way. The wing running below the main light and supported by the line of daytime running lights adds character and design, instead of a complex “jewel-look” housing. It carries a fast rear roofline, though Audi promises good headroom for all passengers and easier ingress/egress thanks to wider-opening rear doors. The new A4 is about six inches longer than the current car, though it does not look so. Only about an inch wider, the new A4’s proportions hide the larger size. Even in person, it does not look much bigger than today’s sedan.
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Audi’s 2009 A4 moves to a new layout, once called transmission forward. The transmission now sits basically next to the engine. Benefits include more space for better interior packaging and better driving dynamics, due to the car’s overall weight balance being closer to the optimal 50:50. The car also gets away with a shorter front overhang, even allowing for pedestrian and crash safety standards.
A4 Grows to be More Competitive
The size of the new A4 is almost that of the A6, shy an inch or two in each dimension, but close enough for us to conclude that the next generation A6 will be a substantially bigger car. German cars always seem to be a half size too small for the class in which they compete. With the increase in size for the A4, Audi brings their high volume mid-size car almost up to the package it requires.


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Audi R8 – VehicleVoice Drives Audi’s Super Car

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Sonoma, California: Audi’s long awaited R8 has landed here in the States. This past week, VehicleVoice had the chance to review and drive the vehicle at Audi’s New Performance School at Infineon Raceway.
Purpose built to showcase new Audis to the press and host driving events for owners, the new facility at Infineon has the unmistakable Audi presence, with the proper applications of glass, steel, asphalt and, of course, aluminum. Both track and autocross courses were made available to the press for the day.


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2007 Frankfurt Motor Show: The Color this Fall Was Green

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I spent two days crisscrossing the massive Frankfurt auto show, and the focus on reducing emissions and improving fuel economy and “green” solutions could not be missed. Very few manufacturers were not talking about fuel economy gains in their powertrain lineup and many announced hybrid plans or showed hybrid concepts. What we’re seeing here is the culmination of years of research, rather than fiberglass what-if models. Many of these hybrids or other technology-based solutions will be on the roads later this decade.

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Mercedes-Benz will, during the 2009CY, offer a hybrid powertrain in the S-Class and the M-Class, while a smart fortwo mild hybrid system goes on sale in October. Porsche gave updated the Cayenne’s diesel for more power but also promises a parallel series hybrid using the existing 3.6L V6 by the end of 2010CY. General Motors took the system shown under the Chevrolet Volt in January, replaced the gasoline engine with a diesel one, and created the Opel Flextreme as well as showing off an Opel Corsa Hybrid. Volvo put a plug-in hybrid into the C30 to create the Recharge concept. Land Rover is adding stop-start systems in 2009CY, and Audi will bring a hybrid to the Q7.
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Small cars are more prevalent on international roads and therefore more prevalent at auto shows outside the United States. Toyota brought us the iQ, Volkswagen the up!, and Ford the Verve. Renault’s latest Twingo was on the show floor as well, though this was not its debut.
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Notable exceptions to the small and green game were Ferrari and the 430 Scuderia (introduced by Michael Schumacher himself), the Aston Martin DBS (officially introduced at the 2007 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance), the Bentley Continental GTS Speed, the Lamborghini Reventon (of which only twenty will be made, with a price tag around $1.4 million), and Maserati.
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Day two of Frankfurt’s show holds most of the supplier press conferences, leaving us a chance to take photos and see some general reaction. Frankfurt’s convention center has 10 halls, with at least seven of them holding the major manufacturers and others holding aftermarket and supplier stands. Walking the full show requires much time and comfortable shows and several hours. Interest was strong in the Mercedes-Benz F700 Concept (previewing the next S-Class), the Audi A4, Opel’s Flextreme, Ford’s Verve and Kuga, and Jaguar’s XF. Peugeot and Citroen concepts, the 308RCZ and the Airscape, saw plenty of attention, as did Nissan’s very odd-looking Mixim.
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The Volkswagen Tiguan stand was flocked with people getting a chance to get in and crawl around the new model, with plenty also checking out the up! city car. Interestingly, every time I went through hall 6, home to Italian makes Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Lancia, Ferrari, and Maserati as well as Porsche and Hyundai it was completely mobbed. On the other hand, Kia’s Kee coupe concept and BMW’s X6 concepts didn’t seem to grab attendees as much.
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While going green may be good for us, hybrid systems and new engine developments don’t make for great pictures or put the enthusiasm into driving that a great-looking design can. Over the coming weeks, we’ll bring you more detailed coverage of many of these. Stay tuned.
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