Auto blogSun, 27 Jul 2014 14:15:00 EST
Formula 1 and endurance racing are already harvesting energy from turbos on the track, and now it's apparently time for a similar idea of boosting the efficiency of forced induction to hit the streets in a high-performance, diesel SUV.
In a recent interview with the UK's Autocar, Audi technical boss Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg let the big news slip. "The new Q7 will be available in the market next year but the electric turbo will come a bit later in the Audi SQ7 available in 2016," he said. The e-turbo system was already rumored for the premium SUV but for the standard model, not this just-announced performance version.
Audi has been experimenting with the e-turbo system for a little while, as an electrically driven supercharger. It showed up on the RS5 TDI concept that used a 3.0-liter, twin-turbocharged diesel V6 plus the electric system to diminish turbo lag. In that application, it provided an impressive 385 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque and an alleged sprint to 62 miles per hour in 4 seconds. Although, Dr. Hackenberg didn't make it clear if this was the exact layout for the SQ7.
The Chinese market has proven to be a boon to German luxury automakers. However, the way that the companies have allegedly been controlling their supply of spare parts has begun to draw the ire of the nation's government. According to insiders speaking to Bloomberg, officials from the country's economic planning organization have opened a probe into Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and some Japanese carmakers over claimed price inflation and limiting supply.
Specifically, the investigation centers around two aspects of how the companies do business, according to Bloomberg. Investigators want to know whether the original equipment component makers are able to sell spare parts only to automaker-authorized dealers or if they are also available to independent shops. There is also the issue of whether the price markup on replacement pieces is too high. The tight controls could be partially explained by China's reputation for producing counterfeit parts.
Evidently, the investigators haven't checked parts prices at car dealers elsewhere in the world. At least in the US, paying more at the dealer for factory components just goes along with owning a vehicle. If evidence of price fixing is found, the companies could face fines the equivalent of millions of dollars, according to Bloomberg.
Let's say you just got a big promotion at work or the kids are moving out of the house, and you finally have some extra money. You decide to blow it all at once and treat yourself by upgrading your ride. Naturally, you look to a luxury automaker. What do you choose?
Models like the Audi A3 and Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class may be tailor-made to introduce buyers to the premium segment, but a new study finds that they don't garner the highest rates of non-luxury customer conquests. It turns out that a Volvo leads among folks moving up to a premium brand, and it isn't even one that's made anymore, at that.
A recent study by Polk and IHS Automotive looked at what models had the highest rates of buyers upgrading from a non-luxury segment. The information comes from its new vehicle registration data through April 2014. All ten top models boasted conquest rates of over 50 percent, but the Volvo C70 led the field with 68.01 percent of its customers coming from non-premium brands.
The continuously variable transmission is one of those technologies that seems to make a lot of sense on paper, but in reality, almost always numbs the driving experience. That's one reason why Audi, according to reports, is planning to phase them out.
One of the first automakers to implement use of the CVT, Audi mates CVTs to larger engines than many other manufacturers, which typically install them on scooters, hybrids and small-displacement hatchbacks. But the time of the Audi CVT (which it calls Multimatic) may be near its end as a report from Australia indicates that Ingolstadt is moving toward a two-gearbox lineup that does not include the rubber-band transmission.
Instead, Audi is said to be focusing its attention on the S-tronic dual-clutch transmission and on conventional torque-converter automatics - although the development of beefier DCTs could spell the end of the Audi slushbox, as well. We've reached out to Audi for comment, so watch this space for confirmation.
Thu, 24 Jul 2014 11:57:00 EST
The Gas Guzzler schedule, with mpg ratings and charges that haven't changed since 1991, lays out which fuel-swillers owe what to Uncle Sam.
I started thinking about the "Gas Guzzler Tax" - considerably less well known as The Energy Tax Act of 1978 - when I was driving Dodge's new Challenger SRT Hellcat last week. Unsurprisingly for a car that can burn 1.5 gallons of gas per minute at max tilt, theoretically able to empty a full tank of premium in about 13 minutes, the Hellcat will be subject to the Gas Guzzler Tax schedule when it goes on sale.
It may be obvious at this point, but here in the United States, European manufacturer routinely give us the short end of the stick. Now, I'm not talking about models or brands that don't come here, like the Mercedes-Benz A-Class or the entire Renault line. No, instead, I'm referring to cars that are sold right here in the Land of the Free in one bodystyle, while Europe enjoys the same vehicle with a wider variety of configurations.
A prime example of this is the Audi S4/S5 line. In America, we can have the supercharged twins in two-door coupe, four-door sedan, and cabriolet body styles. Meanwhile, our Euroland cousins get the same trio of bodystyles, as well as the A5/S5 Sportback, a characterful 'four-door coupe,' and a versatile hauler, the S4 Avant. At first glance, Audi of America lacks a vehicle that can compete with the latter's blend of performance, versatility and subdued looks. So, what's an American with around $60,000 and an obsession with quick, conservative haulers to do? Well, he can buy an SQ5. (Though it bears mentioning, our US-spec SQ5 is vastly different than what's available to our European friends.)
The SQ5 has a huge number of things going for it that make it a viable alternative to a proper hot wagon, and foremost among them are its looks - this is a sleeper. Audi has thankfully decided not to molest the clean looks of the standard Q5 when penning the sportier model.
It's not every day that a Subaru and an Audi can be reasonably compared head-to-head; the two brands tend not to compete directly in their respective segments. However, the latest WRX STI and the S3 Sedan offer the perfect chance to find out if the working-class Scooby can beat its upper-crust competitor.
The UK's Auto Express gets behind the wheel of these two all-wheel drive performance sedans, or saloons as the Brits call them. Across the pond, both of them are rated at an identical 296 horsepower, but the Subaru edges out the Four Rings on torque. Like in the US, British buyers have to pay a little more to get the Audi, but it comes with a nicer interior and more brand cachet, if that means anything to you.
The video starts out with a fairly standard road test comparing the two of them back-to-back - all fairly subjective. But then Auto Express takes the trip to the drag strip, and the results there are much more conclusive. There's a definite winner when they cross the line, but you have to scroll down to see which of these turbocharged models with rallying heritage wins out.
In the buildup to the 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans, Audi delivered an amusing video that worked on the playful rivalry between the German brand and its favorite frenemy, Porsche. We called it sibling rivalry, and at the time, it may have been just that. But just like sibling rivalries, it's all fun and games until someone gets hurt, and that's just what seems to be about to happen in the formerly peaceful Volkswagen Group family.
A new report from Automobile calls out the growing animosity between Porsche, who is backed up by Bentley, and Audi, whose primary ally is Lamborghini. No blows have actually been thrown, although there is a fair amount of "he said, she said" going on.
As Porsche tells it, for example, the new global fullsize SUV architecture being developed by Audi isn't up to snuff, citing size and structure issues, as well as an inability to accommodate a wide variety of engines.
Match up a hot hatch with a supercar of the same vintage, and we'll tell you who will win every time. It's easy, really, as the supercar invariably features a more advanced suspension, stickier tires and most importantly, more power. What if the hot hatch is race prepped, though?
In that particular case, all bets are off. A circuit-tuned suspension, a stripped-down cabin, an ultra-quick sequential transmission and the greatest equalizer of them all, slick tires, are all that's needed to turn the typical hot hatch into a proper dragon slayer.
Perhaps seeking to prove this, Evo has put together an interesting head-to-head between the Audi R8 V10 and a race-prepared Renault Clio Cup. Host Dickie Meaden takes us through each car, highlighting the bits and bobs on both sides which should make this a tight competition. And boy, is this one tight.
Over the years, we've had a chance to test a lot of Audi E-Tron vehicles, from very early all-electric prototypes (back then we only got to sit in the passenger seat) to the A6 L E-Tron PHEV and the A1 E-Tron plug-in hybrid. All of them were concepts and promises, merely whispers of what was possible, even as the Nissan Leaf, Chevrolet Volt and two Tesla models were making waves in the marketplace.
As we learned last year in our Deep Dive of the E-Tron project, all of the concepts, prototypes and rumors have finally come to fruition in this A3 Sportback E-Tron. Previously, we were given a chance to drive a prototype, but it was only very briefly. Last week, we finally got to run a production-representative example through the hilly roads between Vienna, Austria and Munich, Germany. After spending a solid day with Audi's first marketable E-Tron vehicle, we can say that it's a most amazing bit of engineering, in particular for the way that Audi has done so much to hide the fact that this is an electrified vehicle. Not entirely, of course, but the idea was to make the A3 Sportback E-Tron a no-compromise PHEV. And that means it drives and feels, in many ways, like the standard A3 Sportback despite over 700 extra pounds. Oh, and there's a charge port hidden behind the four rings in the grille.