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Auto blogTue, 05 Mar 2013 17:29:00 EST
Thu, 10 Oct 2013 15:03:00 EST
Audi is exploring a variety of sustainable transportation technologies beyond the traditional diesel, hybrid, plug-in and electric options, including the compressed natural gas A3 Sportback G-Tron that debuted today at the Geneva Motor Show.
The most interesting thing about this rather innocuous-looking A3 Sportback is that when run on Audi e-gas, the car becomes completely carbon neutral, emitting no more CO2 than was chemically input in this special fuel's production. Audi has already broken ground on a new plant - powered by renewable energy, of course - that uses electrolysis to produce e-gas, which could then be made available through any natural gas distribution network.
Interruptions like the Canadian Grand Prix, Le Mans, Pikes Peak, that ridiculous Porsche 911 GT3 and the really good, really outrageous Jeep Cherokee, are among the distractions that delayed the conclusion of this tale. If you'll remember, in Part 1 we started off in a parking lot in Sebring with an Audi A8, headed anywhere that would empty our tank, and after five days in Miami and Ft. Lauderdale and Pompano Beach we bolted in the middle of the night for a breakfast date at an IHOP a couple hundred miles away.
We last left proceedings at a Chevron pump beside the West Florida Turnpike, somewhere around midnight in the humid wilds, having done 660 miles and spent $89.40 to put 20.992 gallons in the great white whale. We had done average speed of 31 miles per hour at an average rate of 27.5 miles per gallon. Those kinds of numbers, as we demonstrated, are good enough to put you in the fuel economy orbit of the Toyota Corolla - to be precise, it only cost $6.40 more to cover that 660 miles in the A8 TDI than it would in the Japanese compact. That led us to conclude that there were just a couple of Starbucks Venti lattes between the A8 and the Corolla, assuming we conveniently ignore the two cars' purchase prices. Turns out we were wrong: it didn't take long for a commenter named "mike" to set us straight when he wrote, "It's clear you weren't lying about not frequenting Starbucks...no way could you get two venti lattes for $6.40." Mike, we salute you - our ignorance of terrible coffee has served the higher purpose of emphasizing the strong case made by the diesel Audi.
But that A8... well, the wheels were still on the damn thing and we had to drive them off. That meant five more days of pilot duty to get us from wherever the hell we were to Wildwood and Daytona Beach, FL, then Brunswick, Macon and Atlanta, GA, then Birmingham, AL, and back to Atlanta.
Race teams are always looking for ways to shave hundredths of seconds of their lap times. Case in point: Audi is making some slight changes to its prototype racecar to make it ever so much more slippery as it cuts through the air.
Debuting at the second round of the FIA World Endurance Championship at Spa on May 4, Audi will be testing a long-tail version of its R18 E-tron Quattro racecar. As its name suggests, the long-tail car gets a lengthened rear section with the goal of improving aerodynamics. The long-tail will be run alongside the standard version of the racecar as a testbed for possible changes that might be in store, heading into the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Audi did not say how many inches were added to the racecar, but as you can see in the image above, "long-tail" definitely doesn't take on the same meaning of classic long-tail cars of the past such as the Porsche 917. More information about the car, Audi's team and even some info about the track itself can be found below.