Auto blogThu, 23 Oct 2014 16:00:00 EST
Audi has announced that it will be recalling 850,000 A4 sedans, wagons and Allroad models across the globe due to a software problem that could prevent the front airbags from deploying. All 850,000 vehicles were built after 2012.
Audi has already adjusted production of new A4s to eliminate the software glitch. Meanwhile, the German manufacturer was quick to emphasize that Takata did not manufacture the affected airbags.
According to Reuters, 250,000 of the affected A4s were built for the Chinese market, while another 150,000 were sold in Germany. Audi didn't provide a breakdown beyond those two countries, although it'd be a surprise if there weren't at least some affected airbags in the US market.
We've seen the coupe. We've seen the convertible. We're still waiting on word of the next variant, but before it arrives, Audi has revealed the racing version of the new TT.
Set to form the backbone of the inaugural Audi Sport TT Cup, the competition-spec sports coupe is closely based on the production version packs the same 2.0-liter turbo four and six-speed dual-clutch transmission as the road-going TTS, delivering the same 310 horsepower, but with a push-to-pass boost of an extra 30 hp.
It's also got an active differential, and while the full specifications have not yet been revealed, it's clear that Audi has also outfitted the TT racer with more aggressive aero, track-spec rolling stock and a stripped-out cockpit (complete with the Audi PS1 Safety Seat from the R8 LMS Ultra) to get weight down to from 2,700 pounds in stock production form to 2,480.
Of all the factories which the Volkswagen Group operates around the world, the Audi plant in Neckarsulm may not be the very largest, but it is among the most diversified. That's where Audi builds versions of the A4, A5, A6, A8 and Q7 lines. It's also been home to the R8, but now the German automaker has moved supercar production to a new facility just a few miles down the road.
Back in August, Audi stopped production of the R8 at its main Neckarsulm site and moved it to the new Böllinger Höfe site in Heilbronn, restarting production just three weeks later. The new assembly line brings together various workshops that had been scattered about the Neckarsulm complex under one roof, and will surely make production of the next-generation R8 that much smoother.
The Böllinger Höfe facility is about a quarter the size of the main Neckarsulm plant, and will also house a small-scale production line - similar, we gather, to what Audi subsidiary Lamborghini recently built in Sant'Agata Bolognese - and a massive, state-of-the-art logistics center with capable of handling 4,500 containers each day.
Carbon fiber has been utilized for decades to build racecars, as a means to cut weight while maintaining strength. But until recently, the space-age material has been largely absent from the street on anything but supercars because of the expense to use it. Recently, BMW signaled a major shift in that trend when it starting using carbon fiber reinforced plastic panels on the i3 and i8. This relatively small scale start might be just the beginning; the German company believes that a breakthrough to inexpensively manufacture the lightweight stuff is just on the horizon.
MAI Carbon Cluster Management GmbH counts BMW, Audi, Airbus, the German government and many other organizations as supporters, and it's researching how to make carbon fiber cheaper to produce, according to Automotive News Europe. The company thinks it can reduce costs by 90 percent in the near future. "We've certainly reached a halfway point on our cost-cutting target for suitable carbon-fiber parts," said project head Klaus Drechsler to Automotive News Europe.
Unfortunately, it isn't entirely clear just what MAI Carbon is doing to make such a huge leap possible. However, a recent post on the company's website talks about a new form a carbon fiber using a thermoplastic matrix that could be cured in less than three minutes. That's compared to about 90 minutes in the traditional process with an autoclave.
Audi may not be the only automaker out there toying with self-driving automobile technology, but it is arguably the fastest of them. A few years back, it raced unleashed a driverless TTS on the Bonneville Salt Flats, then sent it up Pikes Peak and around Thunderhill. But now it's taking things a step further with the vehicle you see here.
This RS7 Sportback has been fitted with steering, brakes, throttle and transmission hooked up to a computer system that combines GPS, high-frequency radio signals and 3D imaging camera to drive the vehicle autonomously not just in slow-paced, stop-and-go traffic, but around the track at the same pace a professional racing driver would push it: full throttle on the straights, full braking before the corner and 1.1-g of cornering force.
As promised, Audi plans to unleash the self-driving RS7 - which it calls "the sportiest piloted driving car in the world" - at Hockenheim next weekend prior to the DTM season finale, where it is anticipated to pull a 2:10 lap time. The next stage will be to set it lose on the Nürburgring Nordschleife, all 154 turns and 13 miles of it, which ought to pose a heck of a challenge to the engineers from Ingolstadt. In the meantime you can scope it out in the high-res image gallery above and the second teaser video below.
What kind of watch do you wear?
Especially today, when wearing a wristwatch is practically obviated by the near-ubiquitous use of cellphones, the timepiece found on one's arm makes a statement about how people perceive themselves.
A sport watch from Nike or Garmin would seem to indicate enthusiasm for athletic pursuit. Inexpensive fashion statements from Nixon or Nooka could signify a love of high design. Splashing out on a true luxury timepiece from Rolex, Bell & Ross or Breitling serves as a sort of human plumage display to connote, "I have thousands of dollars - at least - of disposable income."
If you've been thinking that Audi is in need of a new design direction, you're not alone. Clean though its designs may be, they tend to be more evolutionary rather than revolutionary. But it seems Ingolstadt is on the verge of launching a new design language with a new A9 concept.
The teaser image above was obtained by Germany's Auto & Design magazine, giving us our first glimpse at the concept Audi is expected to unveil at the upcoming LA Auto Show. The concept is tipped to be based on the same MLB platform that will underpin the next-generation A8.
The concept itself could lead to a new production flagship model as well, slotting in above the A8 sedan and A7 five-door. Details remain scarce at the moment, but we'll be watching to see how this development progresses.
The days may be numbered on the current Audi R8, but if our latest round of spy photos is any indication, Audi's first supercar is going to go out with a bang. This camo'd tester was spotted parked somewhere in Europe, and if doesn't at least belie a faster R8, it certainly indicates that a more aerodynamically intense model is coming.
The tall rear wing is the most obvious aerodynamic change. It's joined out back by a none-too-subtle diffuser and the cannon-like exhausts of the R8 V10 Plus, while the front and side of this particular R8 are home to new side sills and winglets on the lower front fascia.
We'll be keeping our ears to the ground for any more on what looks to be another variation of first-generation Audi supercar. Until then, let us know what you think this car may foreshadow. A new halo model? A gentleman racer? Have your say below.
An automaker like Audi will always have a number of different research and development projects going at the same time, and some of them might take on very different approaches. At one end, you'll have its racing programs, and at what you'd assume would be the other, self-driving prototypes. But Ingolstadt is preparing to bridge that gap by running an autonomous prototype at racing speed around the famed Hockenheimring.
Set to take place on Sunday, October 19, during the DTM season finale at Hockenheim, the driverless RS7 will motor at speeds up to 150 miles per hour, right up "to its physical limits with millimeter precision."
Audi anticipates that "the world's sportiest piloted driving car" will run a lap time of just over two minutes, at which the RS7 would stand not only to be the fastest driverless car ever to lap the circuit, but also potentially the fastest four-door - if it can beat the 2:02.71 lap time set by a BMW M3 sedan in 2007.
Audi's public relations team must really be getting fed up with research and design boss Ulrich Hackenberg. Aside from basically confirming that the next Audi R8 will share its bones with the Lamborghini Huracán and noting that it may take advantage of the Asterion Concept's hybrid powertrain technology, he's now let slip that the second-generation Q7 will arrive in January at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show.
"If you make a trip to Detroit, you'll see it," Hackenberg reportedly told Indian Autos Blog during Paris Motor Show festivities.
That's a bombshell, particularly as we've heard plenty about its potential powertrain technologies, including spy shots of diesel-powered models, plug-in-hybrids, sporty SQ7s and electric turbochargers, but there's been absolutely nothing concrete about when and where the car would debut.