Audi has been a busy little bee these past few months, but not too busy to work on a replacement R8 supercar. This time around, however, things are a little different.
Last year, the original R8 came with a V8 engine, and was shortly followed by a V10 engine. This time around, we do not get an eight-cylinder option, but rather just the rather shouty V10 engine from Lamborghini. Why? This is due to stringent tax laws on engines over 4.0 litres in major markets like China. However, fear not, because rumours around Geneva suggest a cheaper and less powerful R8 may be in the works to combat this problem.
So, for now, its just the V10, specifically the 5.2 litre V10 producing either 532 bhp in standard form or 601 bhp in “Plus” form. Obviously, this being Audi, that power is sent to all four wheels via a newly-developed Quattro four-wheel drive system. Couple this power to a 66 kg weight reduction, and the 2015 R8 will sprint to 62 mph in 3.2 seconds and keep sprinting to a top speed of 205 mph for the “Plus” model, and 3.5 seconds to 62 mph and 201 mph top speed for the standard model. The V10 also features silly fuel-saving technologies, because apparently people who buy these cars care about these things.
The design is an evolution of the current model, with sharper detailing all over the car. It is on the inside, where things are very different. The interior follows heavily from current Audi models, which are some of the best in the business in terms of infotainment and overall design and usability.
There will also be an R8 e-tron electric vehicle which will produce the equivalent of 456 bhp and reach 62mph in 3.9 seconds and have a range of 280 miles. Don’t buy the e-tron if you have a shred of dignity, buy the shouty V10 instead.
The new R8 is currently on show at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show.
Last week, Audi revealed a concept known simply as the Prologue. They claim it is merely a concept for now. Do not believe them. This is the new Audi A9, a coupe A8 to go toe-to-toe with the Mercedes S-Class Coupe. However, besides being a preview to a new model, the Prologue is also a showcase. A showcase towards Audi’s new design language, and a whole new interpretation of in-car entertainment.
The Prologue is 40mm shorter and 70mm longer than the production A8. The current concept is powered by a twin-turbo 4.0 litre V8 producing 597 bhp, and two torque figures. As standard it produces 516 lb/ft of torque, with that figure rising to 553 lb/ft using an overboost function, which works during short bursts of full acceleration.
All this power is transferred to all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic gearbox, making the Prologue capable of hitting 60 mph in 3.7 seconds. So definitely not slow.
Despite all this power, the engine has been designed to be as efficient as possible, with cylinder deactivation and a 48-volt electrical system. All this tech enables the Prologue to chieve a claimed 32.7mpg and emit just 199g/km of CO2. Most of this tech will not be limited to just the A9 but will also make its way to the next generation A8 too.
The most impressive part of this car, besides its design, is the interior. Audi have set the standard for premium interiors, almost overshadowing its rivals. The Prologue is no exception. The instrument cluster, as is the norm with most premium cars nowadays, has been replaced with a screen, displaying all the relevant information to the driver, such as speed, revs, and navigation. However, what makes this interior especially noteworthy is the fact the interior is a series of touchscreens along the rest of the dashboard. There is also a touchscreen which rises from near the gearlever. This rising screen acts almost as the command centre of the infotainment system. Overall its a somewhat different interpretation of a premium interior.
Finally, this car is meant to usher in a new design language for Audi, which will find itself on the next generation A8, A9, A6 and A7. Audi are claiming that they want more differentiation in design between their models, in order for the general public to better distinguish between their models.
2014 was the year the latest generation M3 came, saw and conquered the compact sports saloon market. If there is one thing that BMW has always done, is assess the current situation of what an ideal sports saloon should be and react accordingly. The latest generation is no exception. For 2014, BMW has laid their glorious 414 bhp V8 engine to rest, arguing that eight cylinders has no place in today’s polar bear friendly, tree-hugging society. So instead its back to the straight-six engine, a tried and tested formula.
This twin-turbo six-cylinder now produces 425 bhp, and hits 62 mph in 4.3 seconds if you opt for the manual gearbox and 4.1 seconds if you go for the dual-clutch gearbox. Great, who doesn’t love a new BMW M3?
Me, actually. Its nothing personal to BMW, they apparently make some great cars, but I find them a tad dull nowadays. Everybody who has a little cash goes out and buys a BMW because that is what everyone buys. OK, fair enough, they are built like tanks, they are fast and economical and do everything you could ever want. I accept all your arguments as valid and true, but it is not very exciting, is it?
Let us take their design. Today all BMWs look like pigs with their huge kidney grilles. What happened to the days of the cool understated designs of BMW, like the E39 5-Series?Those were lovely. Even the interior was quite lovely despite that car being designed in the plastic-centric, 90s. Nowadays, if you step into a modern BMW, you might as well be sitting in a 1980s office block. Its so uninspiring, so lacking in any sort of flair. Audi is miles ahead in the interior design department, as is Mercedes, with both offering a sense of class in their interiors that the BMW cannot even begin to match.
Thankfully, there are car manufacturers who have seen that there are those who yearn for a sports saloon that is not a BMW. Within the next couple of years, they will grace us with their alternative to the cold-hearted M3.
First up, is Jaguar with their new XE compact saloon. This is there first proper jab at the 3-Series since the woeful X-Type that really isn’t worth mentioning. While the details are rather sparse at the moment, what is being hinted does sound quite interesting. As is the norm with current Jaguars, it will be built from aluminium, keeping weight to the minimum and a range of newly designed four-pot engines ensures adequate performance and excellent economy. However what is of particular interest is the range-topping XE-R. Rumours seem to suggest that this latest “R” will get the V6 engine straight out of the F-Type. Imagine that awe-inspiring engine in a four-door! Taking the kids to school has never been noisier.
Secondly is the long-awaited Alfa Romeo Giulia QV. Last May, Fiat held a press conference to highlight where the company would be heading over the next five years. Among those plans is the replacement for the 159. Yes, that is still happening. No, I do not know what it is going to look like. However, here is what I do know. Like the XE, it will have a set of new 4 cylinder engines for the economy minded buyers. For those with feet of lead and a yearning for tyre-smoke, there shall be a new V6. Yes you read correctly, the Alfa V6 lifes on, and Alfa’s answer to the M3 will make use of this new V6 engine producing nearly 500 bhp. From a six cylinder motor! My kind of car, really.
Volvo has also been pretty busy on the sports saloon front too. Yes, those crazy Swedes have made a car that doesn’t cushion your ear if you hit an amoeba. A car to take them into the exclusive club of the fast saloon category. A car to take on the might of the M3. Well, sort of. The S60/V60 (depending on whether you want a station wagon or a saloon) is about 85 bhp down from the M3, but at 345 bhp, it is still a worthy member of this highly exclusive club. All that power also comes from a revised six-cylinder motor. The downside? It is not exactly a full production car, it was built in limited numbers.
What else have we got to look forward to in this segment? Well since Mercedes recently revealed an all new C-Class, its pretty safe to assume there will be an AMG on the way too. Audi also has a brand new A4 in the pipeline and I am pretty sure that an RS4 will be a given too. The future of the fast saloon lives on, in incredible style.
One of the highlights of the Geneva Motor Show was, or was meant to be, the 2014 Audi TT, the third generation of this iconic sportscar. I say meant to be, because while many were expecting another triumph of design as the A5, the R8, the original TT and the A7 were, this new TT is just, on the exterior at least, just generic Audi parts bin.
The exterior design is not a special, or an especially good-looking thing. It has got some fiddly-looking LED lights, the now standard Audi trapezoidal grille, an overall face that is rather forgetful.You might even mistake it for the original from some angles. The profile view of the car is that distinctive shape we have come to associate with the TT, and the rear looks like a freshened up version of the original TT’s rear end. I am also inclined to say that the tail lights remind me very much of the Peugeot 407 Coupe.
While the exterior is a bit of the let down, the interior is a different story entirely. Audi are making strides in the interior department, and the new TT is the greatest stride they have made so far. First up, there is no central infotainment screen. There is very little in the way of buttons. As soon as you step inside, you are greeted with a sporty-looking steering wheel, behind which there is a large screen behind the steering wheel which we will come to later, three air vents, with a digital read-out of the air-conditioning temperature in the middle of the air vents, a few toggle switches below the vents, and that’s about it.
The beautiful thing about this car is that there is no central screen on the dashboard. Instead, there is a massive TFT screen behind the steering wheel including information like your speed, revs, fuel level and so on, but also incorporates the navigation and infotainment screens, all controlled via the rotary dial found on the central armrest. This, in theory at least, keeps the driver looking forward. Whether or not this will prove to be more of a distraction on the road remains to be seen, however in principle, this sounds like a grand idea.
Apart from this new take on interior design, the rest of the cabin is beautifully appointed. Leather is of top quality, with gorgeous quilted stitching, and the entire cabin is dotted with intricate aluminium inserts, making the overall appearance very elegant indeed. Yet, at the same time, it is a successful mix of sporty and elegant.
Now how about the internals? The new car is 50 kg lighter than before, despite having a longer wheelbase. From launch, there will be a choice of three four-cylinder petrol engines, producing between 227 and 306 bhp. The more powerful version will be the TTS version and claims a 0-62 mph time of 4.7 seconds and a top speed pegged at 155 mph. There will also be a 181 bhp 2.0 litre diesel engine, if you are into that sort of thing. Gearboxes will be either the 6-speed manual or Audi’s 6-speed dual clutch.
While the exterior is not as dramatic as an RCZ, the interior puts every one of its rivals about five years behind. The engine choices also sound very promising, especially with Audi’s dual clutch gearbox. Judging by the specs of this new car, the nickname “hairdresser’s car” will no longer apply to this Audi.