Category Archive:

Audi R8 Pricing – If Only I Had $125,000

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Audi’s pricing for the new R8 sports car is about in line with what we at AutoPacific and VehicleVoice have been expecting. The humorous side to their pricing announcement, however, are the option packages and free standing options. These guys must have taken a page from Porsche’s book of optioning their cars. First, their “Convenience Package” including a 6-disc CD changer, Homelink, Bluetooth, auto dimming mirrors should be standard. The other free standing options are OK as options with the exception of the navigation system. Should be standard. Oh, well.

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Audi’s Slightly Edited Press Release
Audi of America has announced pricing for the all-new 2008 R8 sports car. The R8 with a six-speed manual transmission will have a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $109,000 when it launches this fall in the United States. Models equipped with the six-speed R tronic automatic gearbox will start at $118,000. (That’s $9,000 for an automatic transmission – possibly a new record!)
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The R8 is the first mid-engine sports car Audi has ever produced. With a 420 hp V8 4.2L FSI engine and rear-biased quattro® all-wheel drive system, the R8 has the performance capabilities unlike any Audi before it. With a zero to 60 mph time of 4.4 seconds and a top speed of 187 mph, the R8 is the fastest Audi ever produced. The lightweight aluminum frame and body and 44:56 front-to-rear weight distribution give the R8 tremendous handling capabilities, with the balance expected of a mid-engine sports car.


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2007 Audi S4 – Holy Imola!

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Imola is the name of a little town in Italy, located on the plains to the east of the Apennine Mountains. The region is filled with such passion for racing cars it makes Laguna Seca seem like Autopia at Disneyland. If you close your eyes you can envision the great marques making their way through the Italian countryside, nose to tail, a little road rashed, weaving their way through the hills at red line. Ferraris, Alfas, Maseratis, have all cut their teeth in and around the town of Imola. The Mille Miglia even ran through the hills behind Imola. Therefore, it seems quite fitting that Audi used ‘Imola’ to describe the yellow paint stuck to the exterior of this particular 2007 S4.

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Mild Mannered?
If not for the Imola Yellow paint this S4 could have been merely a mild mannered four-door sedan and perhaps a more mature color would have been more appropriate. A more muted color would make the S4 a true Q-Ship. The S4’s main body lacks the muscular fender flares found on its more aggressive brother, the RS4, and the badging is subtle. For the most part the S4 mirrors the basic A4, but packs a bigger punch with a 4.2L V8 with 340 normally aspirated horsepower (A4 w/3.2L V6 is @ 255 hp), a six-speed manual and Quattro AWD. The same 4.2L V8 found in the larger A6 Sedan.
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http:/.vehiclevoice.com/2007/01/audi_a4_32_quattro_sline_teuto_1.html


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2008 Audi A5/S5 Revealed: 2007 Geneva Auto Show

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Four years after introducing the Nuvolari concept at 2003’s Geneva show, Audi brought the production reality to the 2007 Geneva show in the A5 and S5 coupe. Audi is heavily expanding their product range, including the Q7, R8, A5/S5, and upcoming Q5. A return to the coupe market with the A5 is part of a strategy for improving image and sales in the States, where sales are expected to begin in November 2007. The A5 range was given a formal introduction in Geneva, with some help from the band Yello (most widely known for the song “Oh Yeah,” used in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off). A new Yello song, featured at the intro, will be used for A5 advertising worldwide.

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Editor’s Note
We go round and round on this at AutoPacific and VehicleVoice. Not on the A5 specifically, but on the demand, desirability, design of coupes in the United States. Internally, we have a pro coupe camp and an anti coupe camp. I was once reminded by a wizened old mechanic that “It don’t cost any more to carry around an extra two doors and they come in mighty handy.” Guess I have always followed that adage. In fact, I have concluded over the years that coupes are more of an ego trip for car designers and senior management than providing a solid business case. Oh, I know, great reason for Mustang and MINI, but on the whole the market for coupes is much thinner than the number of coupe offerings available.
The A5 is a handsome car and a welcome addition to Audi’s lineup especially in Europe where coupes have a stronger pull. Sure, A5 will sell pretty well, but it’ll peak within 18-months, stabilize and then begin the inexorable slide downward, just like every sporty coupe in the past.


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VehicleVoice#61 – A Tour of the Latest in Concept Vehicles with Jim Hall

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There are few things more fun than walking through a major auto show along side AutoPacific Analyst and former General Motors brainiac, Jim Hall. You have to be patient. He knows everybody and everybody knows him, so the going is often slow. But the one liners you get to overhear as he comes upon the latest in concept cars are worth the wait. So we decided to follow him around the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, but this time,we brought the video camera.
Jim checked out the new Cadillac CTS, due to hit showroom floors this October. If you haven’t seen this performance sedan yet, you’re going to be blown away whether you’re a Cadillac fan or not. Cadillac must have had BMW’s 5 series and the Audi A6 in the crosshairs when they dreamed up this beauty. Even Jim was impressed.
He also reviewed a crop of new concepts –
Lexus IS-F
Lexus LF-A
Volvo XC60
Mercedes S-Class Convertible Ocean Drive
Chevrolet Volt
Jim went to design school, so watching him chat about stamped steel is actually interesting. And you can’t beat descriptions like “swoop du jour” and “Ingmar Bergman on acid.”
Thanks for the stroll, Jim. It was fun.

Show Runtime – 14:44


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Audi A4 3.2 Quattro S-line – ‘Teutonically Tight’

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Finally! A formidable adversary to the BMW 3-Series. I’d call it an adversary, others may call it an antidote or a nice alternative. But what ever you call it, this Audi A4 was pretty impressive. When I think of Audi, I think of Bavaria, when I think of Bavaria I think of BMW. Some may enjoy the current generation 3-Series but I think BMW may have lost their aficionado edge. Some may even say they’ve gone off the reservation. I think the real BMW cowboys left the marque just as Bangle’s design caught on and these enthusiasts are looking for a place to hang their hat. Well, my guess is they’ll find Audi a brand that may meet their demands.
Audi is poised to make waves over the next few years. Some of those waves are going to take prospective new car owners away from BMW and into new Audi’s like this A4 3.2 Quattro.


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Audi, Audi, Audi. To Increase Presence in USA

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Audi’s Johan de Nysschen clearly stated the objectives for Audi of America in an Automotive News World Congress speech given in Detroit last week. de Nysschen is the Executive Vice President of Audi of America Inc. and has plans to make the brand much more aggressive in the United States.

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Traditionally, Audi has positioned itself as a traditional, understated European luxury brand in the U.S. Now, de Nysschen says, these days are over.
Audi’s Solid Sales Year Leaves it Still in the Shadow of Lexus, Mercedes and BMW in the USA
Audi sold 90,116 vehicles in the USA in 2006 last year, but has languished in the shadow of its Bavarian competitor BMW from Munich and the unfocused Mercedes lineup from Stuttgart. In Europe, Audi competes much strongly with BMW and Mercedes than it does in the USA, and in China Audi is kicking butt.
This mis-match is not lost on Audi of America and Audi AG management, they want to increase Audi’s position in the USA and de Nysschen is implementing plans to make that happen. Early in his regime at Audi of America, Johan de Nysschen participated in a VehicleVoice video podcast. It would be instructive to watch that podcast again. Very informative.
Audi’s “Separation Plans”
de Nysschen is very high on having all aspects of Audi of America separate and unique from Volkswagen USA. During a dinner at the 2005 Frankfurt Auto Show there was a wide ranging discussion concerning whether Audi should relocate their headquarters in teh USA and where it should go. I volunteered that Bermuda would be a fine choice, but the New York suburbs in New Jersey seemed to be a front-runner as did the suburbs of Atlanta. Shortly after that show, Audi of America it was going to relocate down the street from Volkswagen of America but in completely separate facilities. Apparently, that plan has been put on hold for budget reasons.
But even without physical separation, Audi has gone a long way inside the Volkswagen of America building to make itself different and more upscale.


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My Favorite Rides of the Year

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At this time of year, everyone wants you to know about the best cars, trucks and SUVS of the year. AutoPacific has already taken a big step in that direction, but with a twist: Partnering with Intellichoice, AutoPacific shared the best vehicles of the year, as picked by you – and that’s saying something! The Awards are called the Motorist’s Choice Awards and this year included the Lexus LS430, The Chevrolet Avalanche 1500 4×2, the Infiniti QX56 and the Audi A6 4.2 Quattro. Where else can you go to get the best possible input from your own peers about the latest vehicles in the marketplace? Since you’re here, we think you’ve come to the right place.
Watch the Podcast: AutoPacific & IntelliChoice Motorist’s Choice Awards

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My Personal Choices for Best Rides of the Year
It’s part of my job to drive a new vehicle nearly every week. In some cases, more than one vehicle at week gets the once-over, not only by me, but by a number of the analysts and experts at VehicleVoice and AutoPacific. As the resident speed-guy, I might have a slightly different take on things and while I do try to avoid going to court, I do need to put my foot down. And that’s part of what my list is about. The other things I’m taking into consideration are everyday drivability, cost, and return on investment. And as you know, everyone is concerned about fuel costs and gas mileage. Not me! Not yet… So, let’s get to it.


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Ward's 10 Best Engines of 2007

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WardsAuto.com has announced its 10 Best Engines for 2007. Let’s see how VehicleVoice agrees with the Wards’ results… they are presented in alphabetical order:

Audi AG 2.0L turbocharged DOHC I4 – Audi A3 –
We agree wholeheartedly with this engine selection, but Ward’s gives it short shrift by identifying only the Audi A3 as having this engine. It is also found in the Audi A4, Volkswagen Eos, Volkswagen GTi, Volkswagen Jetta and even the Volkswagen Passat. A real nice driving 4-cylinder turbo that is the workhorse of the spirited Volkswagen/Audi lineups.
BMW AG 3.0L DOHC I6 – BMW Z4 3.0si – BMW in-line sixes are always works of art. Smooth, effortless, always feel that they are putting out more horsepower than their ratings. Ward’s has selected the higher horsepower version found in the Z4 3.0si – it puts out 255-horsepower and has 220 pound-feet of torque. This engine is also found in the BMW 530 sedan.
BMW AG 3.0L turbocharged DOHC I6 – BMW 335i – We don’t really go with turbocharged engines much. There is usually no replacement for displacement. But the 3.0L Turbo in the 335i is a sweet piece. Turns the 335i into a Q-ship with near M3-levels of performance.
DaimlerChrysler AG 3.0L DOHC V6 turbodiesel -Mercedes-Benz E320 Bluetec/Jeep Grand Cherokee CRD – We appreciate the sentiment, but until a diesel can be sold in all 50 states, we won’t agree that it is one of the best engines. Diesels deserve a significant place in the USA automotive landscape, but regulations, technology, fuel costs, fuel availability have all conspired against widespread diesel acceptance.
DaimlerChrysler AG 5.7L OHV Hemi V8 – Chrysler 300C – Chrysler Group has built a franchise around the HEMI. The low cost, Mexican-produced, overhead valve, high output engine almost singlehandedly resurrected Chrysler from its early 21st Century doldrums. Don’t forget the HEMI can be found in all large, rear wheel drive Chrysler, Dodge products as well as the two largest Jeep entries.
Ford Motor Co. Duratec 35 3.5L DOHC V6 – Ford Edge/Lincoln MKX – Ward’s specifies the Ford/Lincoln Crossover Sport Utility Vehicles as the vehicles where the new Duratec 35 is found, but don’t forget the Lincoln MKZ (Zephyr) and the Mazda CX-9. While this higher output V6 is sorely needed by Ford and will eventually find its way through the Ford lineup, somehow the horses feel weaker than its 263-horsepower output suggests. We’ll reserve judgment on this one.
Ford Motor Co. 4.6L SOHC V8 – Mustang GT/Mustang Shelby GT – The 4.6L is the workhorse V8 for Ford’s rear wheel drive platforms. A very reliable, bulletproof powerplant, the 4.6L has proven to be very flexible up and down the horsepower scales. Driving the higher horsepower versions in the Mustang is a delight.
Mazda Motor Corp. 2.3L DISI turbocharged DOHC I4 – MazdaSpeed3 – A very willing and berserk powerplant in the MazdaSpeed3, the 2.3L Turbo provides more than enough power to generate nutso torque-steer in the MazdaSpeed3. Torque steer has always been a bugaboo in high output front wheel drive Mazdas and the combination of power and chassis dynamics in the MazdaSpeed3 may have set a new high (or low).
Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. 3.5L DOHC V6 -Infiniti G35 – We assume that Ward’s is referring to the higher output VQ found only in the Infiniti vehicles for 2007/2008. A significant upgrade from previous VQ V6s, the Infiniti has been finessed to new levels of power, smoothness and “engine music”. Still a bit of a lump in the fuel efficiency category, however. And the VQ’s refinement has pretty much been sub-par compared to the Audi, BMW and Lexus (Toyota) sixes against which it competes.
Toyota Motor Corp. 3.5L DOHC V6 -Lexus IS 350 – Another Japanese V6 putting out over 300-horsepower from 3.5-liters. Sweet, quick revving, quick. But unlike the Nissan VQ in the Infiniti, the Lexus 3.5L seems to lack the passion that really stirs the senses. Maybe it is the “engine music” thing. But it’s far more likely the effect of the Toyota engine’s astonishing refinement.


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VehicleVoice#46 – Audi TT Roadster World Debut

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This year the L.A. Auto Show celebrated it’s 100th Anniversary, and it did so in style. With 13 North American debuts and 23 World debuts, the 2006 Los Angeles International Auto Show earned the adjective international.
One of the cars making its first appearance before the automotive press and the general public is the all new 2007 Audi TT Roadster. AutoPacific Vice President and Senior Analyst Jim Hall has been looking at cars professionally for a long time now, and he just so happens to be a huge Audi fan, not to mention the owner of the World’s Most Expensive (older model) TT. So who better to give this new open-air Audi a walk around?

Show Runtime – 1:39


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LA Auto Show – Audi Dreamin'

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Audi had two introductions at the November 2006 version of the Los Angeles Auto Show, to excite the senses of sports car drivers preferring both closed and open top driving, as well as expanding budgets from under $50,000 to well over $100,000.

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TT Convertible
Audi introduced the 2008 TT in Berlin just ahead of the New York auto show, where it was displayed for U.S. buyers. There’s quite a delay between that launch and sales, however, as Audi of America decided to launch coupe and convertible together. And here in Los Angeles, we got our first look at the convertible. (Both go on sale in late spring or early summer in the States.)
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The TT convertible eschews the current craze for power retractable hardtops and launches with a softtop. As with the coupe, two engines are expected to be available for U.S. buyers, including a 200HP 2.0L turbo-charged direct-injection four-cylinder and a 250HP 3.2L direct-injection V6. The 2.0L is a standard front-driver, while opting for the V6 gets quattro all-wheel drive. The standard transmission is a six-speed manual, with Audi’s terrific six-speed automated manual, now called S-tronic instead of DSG, available as an option.
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R8 Supercar
AutoPacific brought you the Paris reveal of this supercar (click here), but this is the first U.S. auto show introduction for Audi’s new superstar, the R8. The R8 is the production evolution of a concept that was first shown in Frankfurt in 2003 as the LeMans Quattro. With this car, Audi is taking on the Porsche 911 with a thoroughly sleek, modern shape and automobile. The R8 uses an aluminum space frame like the concept did and is related to the Lamborghini Gallardo, though the two diverged substantially between development and production. While the model launches with Audi’s direct-injection 420HP 4.2L V8, more powertrains will join the range down the road.
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