Tag Archives: Audi

Hagerty’s hot list in 2017 explores classic cars of tomorrow from the Alfa Romeo to the Audi

The classic car insurance and valuation firm Hagerty has published its annual “Hot List” of future collectible cars. Those lucky enough to make the cut fulfil two requirements: they cost less than $100,000 and have been produced for the 2017 model year.

The list below is eclectic, containing Italian, German, American and Japanese cars of both the sporting and utilitarian variety. Yet, all have something out of the ordinary to offer to the table. “All ten have that ‘it’ factor that makes them stand out from the crowd,” said McKeel Hagerty, CEO of Hagerty. “In some cases, it’s power, in some cases it’s innovation or drivability, but all of them have the qualities that define a future classic.”

Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio

The Alfa Romeo is the car that the once great Italian manufacturer sees as its chance to reassert itself in Europe and the US. Boasting a glorious turbocharged V6 that outputs 505hp and high levels of performance, it will come as a surprise even to those that habitually buy ‘hot’ BMWs or Mercedes. However, at $72,000 it’s also the most expensive car in this year’s list.

Audi TT-RS

This is the version of Audi’s diminutive coupé that offers performance on a par with its looks. It keeps the five-cylinder engine that has been a constant since the original car rolled out in 1998 but adds a splash of power. With its prodigious turbocharging, the car goes from 0-100km/h in 3.7 seconds.

Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

Chevrolet’s ZL1 is the most powerful Camaro yet. Having the ability to dispatch the 0-60 mph run in 3.5 seconds, this particular muscle car delivers in terms of usability, styling, comfort and simply rarity. With a starting price of $63,435, its certainly in the running for collectibility.

Chevrolet Colorado ZR2

Billed by its makers as being in a class all by itself, this is a pickup that really can head off the reservation. Thanks to shortened overhangs, unique shock absorber and chassis setup, the ZR2 is in a class of its own. However, Hagerty points out that its future collectability will be down to initial production numbers, the fewer, the better.

Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport

With a stellar performance of 0-60 mph in 3.6 seconds and an 11.8 second quarter mile time, the Grand Sport has one foot in the race towards collectibility. A lowered hoodline, a 6.2-liter V8 and a dry sump for cornering on the red line, this special edition Corvette already has a lot going for it. Add the fact that it’s been styled to doff its cap to classic Corvettes of the 60S, this car screams “collectable.”

Fiat 124 Spider Abarth

Based on the Mazda MX-5 Miata, the standard Fiat Spider ups the creature comforts but struggles to keep up with its Japanese twin in terms of poise and handling. However, the Abarth version has no such problem thanks to a tweaked engine and exhaust system.

Ford Raptor

When it launched in 2009, it defined a new pickup sub-segment. This second generation Raptor is Ford’s best yet — faster, more powerful, more able and yet lighter. What’s more its racing pedigree is continuing to grow. With the first generation Raptor gaining headwinds as a collector’s item, this new and improved version is sure to do the same.

Mazda MX-5 Miata RF

For 2017, Mazda has added a sliding hard top to its roadster. With a flick of a switch,  the MX-5 turns into a Targa complete with flying buttress rear quarter details. The suspension is also more supple to compensate for the 40kg of added weight. What’s more, the roof also turns it from a summer car to a year-round sportscar.

Porsche 718 Cayman/Boxster

The latest iteration of the German company’s entry level hard top and soft top sports cars are the first with four- rather than six-cylinder engines. Porsche’s 718 Cayman and Boxster are also the most powerful yet and are even more balanced and poised in the bends. However, one has to acknowledge that these affordable $50,000 sports cars have yet to reach the same stellar pedigree of their cousin the 911.

Toyota GT 86

One of the best driver’s cars at any price, the Toyota is a steal at $26,255. Rather than mess with a winning formula for 2017, the company has simply accentuated the car’s best points even further by tightening up the suspension and ensuring it’s still offered with a manual transmission.

Design Miami Features Major Brand Collaborations

Maison Kitsuné – John Alcorn capsule collection

The only collaboration listed here that’s not being shown as part of the Design Collaborations section of the show, this capsule collection with French fashion brand Maison Kitsuné will be featured in the Market program, which presents design-driven retail. This limited-edition mini capsule collection created in partnership with Design Miami features work by the late 1960s American illustrator John Alcorn, whose illustrations are used as the fair’s identity this year. The collection will also be available at The Webster Miami, online at Maison Kitsuné and in stores in Hong Kong, Paris, Tokyo and New York.

Airbnb – ‘Sobremesa’

Emerging Mexico City-based design studio Pedro&Juana is behind this exploration of shared space, whose name refers to a Mexican tradition of lingering around the table in conversation after a meal. Inspired by iconic Mexican courtyard spaces, the installation will change throughout the week to represent how people live and participate in Airbnb homes them over time. The exhibition also features a program of meals, cocktails and music.

Dean & DeLuca – ‘Stage’

The New York gourmet market and fine food retailer has partnered with architect Ole Scheeren to create a prototype of his design for a food retail concept titled Stage. The prototype features a “glowing, pristine object in polished stainless steel with the undulating topography of a bespoke, high tech display system.” Stage will operate during the fair as Design Miami’s food partner.

Dean & DeLuca's "Stage" by Ole Scheeren © Buro-OS Design Miami 2016

Dean & DeLuca’s “Stage” by Ole Scheeren
© Buro-OS
Design Miami 2016

Fendi – ‘The Happy Room’

The luxury house is bringing an interpretation of a modular VIP room. With simple volumes and rounded shapes, the room by architect Cristina Celestino makes reference to the arch of Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana in Rome and features a contrasting play of different types of marble.

Audi – ‘The extra hour’

Luxury car brand Audi will bring a collaboration with LEGO, which takes its inspiration from the Audi RS 7 piloted driving concept. Emphasizing the idea that this technology allows the user to control time, the installations features 13 numerals arranged around the vehicle to form a giant clock, with the number 25 included to symbolize the “extra hour” enabled by the driving technology.

Louis Vuitton – ‘Objets Nomades’

This installation will comprise iconic creations from the Objets Nomades furniture collection, including the
Stool by Atelier Oi, the Cocoon by the Campana Brothers, the Bell Lamp by Barber & Osgerby, the
Swing Chair by Patricia Urquiola and the Lounge Chair by Marcel Wanders. Louis Vuitton will also unveil  the Blossom Stool, designed by Tokujin Yoshioka, and the Fur Cocoon by the Campana Brothers.

Design Miami, which runs alongside Art Basel Miami Beach, bills itself as a “global forum for design,” with a focus on collectible design. This year’s fair runs from November 30 through December 4.

Audi A5 Cabriolet Breaks Cover Ahead of LA Auto Show

Audi A5 Cabriolet Breaks Cover Ahead of LA Auto Show

Summer is officially over even on the west coast of America but if you’re an optimist, you’ll be glad to hear that the new Audi A5 cabriolet will be making its official debut at the LA Auto Show November 14. In our opinion, nothing says ‘optimist’ better than a drop-top car – especially if you live in the tropics – and that is just the message that Audi is hoping the market picks up on at the show.

Based on the equally new hardtop counterpart that greeted the world at the Paris motor show in September, the second generation drop-top A5 promises to be a much more driver-focused model than its predecessor.

Not that the old A5 convertible was a slouch but thanks to new manufacturing processes and materials, this one should feel stiffer (by 40% says Audi) and more planted and should cut through the air with aplomb due to its more slippery exterior shape. In other words, Audi has drawn on its engineering knowhow to offset the negative qualities of a drop top – cutting off the roof reduces a car’s stiffness, strength and can impact handling.

As well as being stronger, it is also longer and wider than the old A5 so a lower center of gravity for even more fun in the bends but, crucially, greater rear legroom and front passenger shoulder room. Adults in the back will have 18mm more space between their knees and the back of the new, more compact front seats.

Striking up a conversation shouldn’t lead to a shouting match either. The soft top is heavily insulated to keep external noises out and when the roof is down (in just 15 seconds with the touch of one button) driver and front passenger can whisper to each other (or to the car’s voice command system) thanks to integrated microphones in the front seatbelts.

In terms of toys, tick the right boxes and the car can be specified with up to 30 different driver aids from collision avoidance and park assist to a form of piloted driving for traffic jam situations and on routes with a speed limit of up to 65km/h where the car can accelerate and brake for itself and can also step in with steering. It can even adjust performance or give tips to help conserve as much fuel as possible.

This could be a very handy feature if plumping for the hot S5 version with its 3-liter 354hp six-cylinder turbocharged engine. It promises a 0-100km/h time of 5.1 seconds comes with Quattro all-wheel drive and an eight-speed paddle-shift transmission as standard.

Order books for the A5 and S5 cabriolet will open in March 2017.

Audi R8 V10 Plus Exclusive Edition: Laser Lights

For this year’s LA Auto Show, Audi is debuting the new Audi R8 V10 plus exclusive edition that features the newly-legalized laser beam headlamps.

The standard Audi R8 V10 is a 550hp, all-wheel-drive supercar. Now, the exclusive edition is equipped with every option and creature comfort the company currently offers. There are only 25 vehicles in this limited run, which makes this a toy many will want to get their hands on.

Each of the 25 creations will be finished with a special Quantum Grey paint with Solar Orange highlights. The car will sit on glossy black 20-inch alloys, and exposed carbon fiber front and rear spoilers, side air vents and mirror housings.

The cabin of the car is trimmed with leather, a touch that extends to the luggage, decked out as it is with Alcantara. Carbon shell sports seats are standard, as is an extra rear luggage shelf and a 12 o’clock marker on the sports steering wheel in Solar Orange.

For that extra dash of exclusivity, the door sills of this R8 will light up with the legend “one of 25”. The R8 logo can be projected on the ground, acting as a guide for you to find your car in the midst of other vehicles (as if you could lose this car in a crowd).

Despite all those showy moves, Audi wants the laser lights to be the star of the automobile. The laser headlamps sport a wider, more focused beam that is whiter and wider than LED or bi-xenon systems. The projection range is also considerably longer. Audi is a major advocate of the innovation, which people also start seeing as a status symbol. It was legalized recently in the US, where it was subject to government testing and approval, and this Audi R8 V10 Plus Exclusive Edition is a celebration of that fact.

The 2016 LA Auto Show opens its doors to the public on November 18.

New Audi Q5 Gets Aggressive

New Audi Q5 Gets Aggressive

The Paris Motor Show introduced Audi’s second generation mid-sized SUV, the Audi Q5. Developed to stand out against the other offerings in the market, the Q5 is blessed with stronger external styling, more interior space, and greater off-roading ability.

Audi’s Quattro system and rallying achievements gives them the competitive advantage of having vast all-wheel-drive expertise. The car also has a new multi-link suspension set-up, which means that it will be able to shrug off bumpy roads, be better at crossing streams, and perform well as a load lugger. In line with trends in the premium SUV space, the new Audi Q5 is a car that can handle towing a caravan, horsebox or sailboat.

The new model has taken subtle design steps to highlight the car’s capabilities when heading away from perfectly surfaced roads. Its lines are more angular and less swollen. Inside, it has a well-appointed and well-considered cabin with intelligent use of the best natural and man-made materials, since it is an Audi after all. Buyers can choose between a traditional console with an infotainment system, or opt for the company’s virtual cockpit set-up that utilises a multi-purpose, multi-display screen.

The powerplants will consist of four-cylinder and six-cylinder petrol and diesel engines, much like the new A4 and A5 models. Sportier versions of the Q5 will be available in the coming months.

During the reveal, Audi also confirmed that plug-in hybrid versions will also be coming to market in the near future.

Audi, BMW, Lexus, Mercedes Top UX Awards

Audi, BMW, Lexus, Mercedes Top UX Awards

The inaugural WardsAuto Top 10 Best User Experience Awards highlight those cars where technology and infotainment systems are a pleasure rather than a punishment to use.

Why is a user interface like a joke? If it needs to be explained, it’s not very good. This programmer’s mantra is very quickly moving from software and website design and into the lexicon of automotive design.

Once upon a time, the only knobs and dials found in a car’s interior did little more than turn on the air conditioning or re-tune the radio. Today’s cars offer everything from turn-by-turn navigation and 360° camera-assisted external views, to semi-autonomous system, wi-fi hotspots and, of course smartphone integration.

Therefore, to help buyers know which car companies are getting the hang of simplifying this “user experience” issue, WardsAuto created the 10 Best UX Competition and over the past several months has been putting 29 new cars on sale in the US through their paces.

“We’re trying to quantify how easy it is overall to interact with a vehicle,” said WardsAuto Senior Content Director Drew Winter. “Are controls easy to understand, or do you have to consult the owner’s manual? Are the driver-assistance systems, such as adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping, functioning reliably, and do the interior materials enhance the user experience?”

bmw_individual 7 series_the next 100 years_exterior

And the good news is that of the inaugural award winners, announced this week ahead of an official ceremony in October, there is an equal split among US, European and Japanese cars (three entries, each) with the final spot going to Korea’s biggest car company, Hyundai.

However, just as important as country split is that mass-market vehicles like the Ford Escape and the Hyundai Elantra have made the cut alongside the likes of the Audi Q7 and Mercedes E-Class and the latest generation BMW 7-Series which, at $128,445, is by far the most expensive car on the list to win an award.

All of which shows that all car companies are taking the concept of user experience seriously, from simple pairing of smartphones to available USB charging ports and voice recognition systems that actually understand what the driver is saying.

The winners, in alphabetical order, are:

  • Audi Q7
  • BMW 7-Series
  • Chrysler Pacifica
  • Ford Escape
  • GMC Acadia
  • Honda Ridgeline
  • Hyundai Elantra
  • Infiniti Q50
  • Lexus RX
  • Mercedes E-Class

Full Revolution: Audi A5 Coupe

Despite the Paris Motor Show being far off in September, Audi chose to reveal its A5 coupé early at a special event over at their Germany headquarters in quite a surprising move. Still, getting a glimpse of the model outlines the clear differences between this version and its predecessors – especially the sharpness of the exterior, as well as its truly revolutionary inside set-up.

Since the A5 came out 300,000 people or so have put their money on the model, which makes Audi rightfully cautious in keeping the original car’s proportions and visual appeal. The front grille is larger, flatter, and more dominant, and the headlights more aggressive but the sweeping curves that run from nose to tail still take the same path. Audi notes that line tightening has cut the car’s drag coefficient, and it’s taught appearance hides the fact that the new car’s wheelbase is longer – very good news for rear-seat passengers.

Audi-A5-Back

In terms of inner workings though, there are a lot of changes. Thanks to being relieved of a good 60kg, it’s lighter and more efficient, although Audi doesn’t say where and how its engineers managed this. Also, with a good chassis, you’ll get good comfort when traveling with a full load and fun in the corners when driving around.

The interior is everything you could ever want in terms of luxury, sport, and the cutting-edge. You can specify your model to be fitted with an all-digital virtual cockpit – replacing gauges in favor of display panels as well as a host of active safety and active driver aids. Examples of the aids includes a predictive efficiency assistant for fuel usage, an active lane keeping system, adaptive cruise control with assistance in traffic jams, and a host of sensors as well as systems for monitoring exits, assisting with parking, recognizing road signs, and taking evasive action in the event of a potential collision.

Audi-A5-Cockpit

In terms of its drive trains, you can choose between some settings. Front or Quattro all-wheel drive; a six-speed manual or seven-speed paddle-shift box. A choice of gasoline and diesel engines offering up between 187bhp and 282bhp. But for those who want a racier type of model, you’ll have to make for the S5 Coupé, which boasts a 350bhp 3-liter, twin-turbo V6, that enables it to hit 100km/h in 4.7 seconds and on to an electronically limited 250km/h.

This story was written in-house, based on an AFP report.

Connected Mobility To Beat Traffic

Traffic congestion will always be a hassle no matter the car you drive, but with the advent of new technology, there are more and more ways to circumvent these problems. Debuting in Auto China 2016, in Beijing, the Audi Connected Mobility Concept is most notable for the special longboard stowed in a drawer under the rear bumper, to help drivers beat the traffic via alternative means of completing journeys.

Audi-Longboard-Connected-Mobility

The car’s system will analyze information regarding a user’s set appointments and routines, planning out the best route while checking out traffic alerts real-time. If the traffic is too intense, the car will find the best parking space and deploy the longboard for the remaining route. The 1.05 electric longboard has a 12km range and can hit speeds of up to 29km/h before the batteries need recharging.

Beyond that, the longboard can be used in three forms. It functions as a skateboard, but can have its handlebars raised and turned into a scooter. Finally, the longboard can act as a trolley to transport luggage by leaving it on the ground loaded up with cases. Audi claims that the board will automatically follow you as you walk when wirelessly synced to a smartphone or smartwatch.

Audi-Longboard-Connected-Mobility-3

Over the past 12 months, other car companies including Ford, Volkswagen and Mini have demonstrated similar e-bike concepts. Audi stands out by having the board physically integrated into the vehicle itself, as well as its 3 modes of use. We’re all keeping our fingers crossed for the moment when hoverboards becomes the next thing in store.

Images from Audi, via the AFP

6 Stars of New York Auto Show

New York’s International Auto Show opened to the public last Friday, March 25, 2016, and a few pieces caught our eye, courtesy of the wire services. Now, the buzz happens to be about the rechargeable Toyota Prius but for us, we are invigorated by the Mercedes GLC Coupé and the spectacular Audi R8 Spyder. In terms of performance vehicles, a couple of models from brands we don’t normally follow caught our eye. We are thinking of the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 and the Nissan GT-R.

Audi R8 Spyder 2016

Audi R8 Spyder

Loaded with a 540hp V10 engine promising 0 to 62mph (0 to 100km/h) acceleration in 3.6 seconds and a top speed of 198mph (318km/h), the new-generation Audi R8 Spyder caused a sensation at the New York show. It’s expected to land in Europe from September 2016.

Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 2016

Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

General Motors unveiled the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, which comes with a 640hp V8 engine and a choice of six-speed manual or 10-speed automatic gearboxes. Surprisingly, the American automaker hasn’t yet announced performances for this car, which is due to land before the end of 2016. A convertible version, also presented at the New York event, should be available in early 2017.

Mazda MX-5 RF 2016

Mazda MX-5 RF

In a worldwide premiere, the Mazda MX-5 RF showed off an automatically retracting roof and rear window, and a new color finish called “Machine Gray.” It should be available in autumn in Europe, in a gasoline version with manual or automatic transmission.

Mercedes GLC Coupe 2016

Mercedes GLC Coupé

Daimler presented the Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupé at the New York event, billed as a cross between a functional SUV and a sports coupé, with a sleek, sporty, off-roader design and a stylish interior. The GLC Coupé is set to land in eight different versions, including gas and diesel options. A rechargeable hybrid version is expected towards the end of 2016.

Mini Clubman All 4 2016

Mini Clubman All 4

The Mini Clubman All 4 has a lighter build and gets all-wheel drive, promising improved handling, a more comfortable ride in the larger cockpit, and a special mode for boosted efficiency. It’s expected to land in dealerships in the springtime.

Nissan GT-R 2016

Nissan GT-R

The 2017 version of the Nissan GT-R supercar gets a 570hp V6 biturbo engine. It also has a new chrome-finished V-shaped front grille and a redesigned trunk promising increased stability and holding at high speeds, particularly at the front of the car. It’ll be available from summer 2016, with trims including a “Gentleman Edition” with a leather interior.

The New York International Auto Show runs March 25 to April 3, 2016.

Audi Pushes Boundaries with Performance Q3

Not content with the Q3 that comes in a sporty RS guise, Audi’s engineers have upgraded aspects of the car, in a bid to allow it to live up to its full potential. Said to be on the smallest and fastest SUV in Audi’s growing range, the Performance edition Q3 now comes with a new fuel pump and radiator. This has allowed for an extra 27 horses, bringing the total bhp to an impressive 367.

More impressive still is that when this power is fed through a recalibrated seven-speed S tronic transmission to all four wheels it results in a 0-100km/h sprint of 4.4 seconds. That’s faster than a Porsche 911 Carrera but since this is an SUV, the better frame of reference might be the Cayene Turbo S, which it is also faster than, obviously.

And the car is not just quick off the mark; it can gallop up to a top speed of 167mph (270km/h) while other sporty Audis are electronically limited to 155mph (250km/h), and, thanks to equally impressive suspension (the car sits 20mm lower than a standard Q3), it shouldn’t rock and roll in the bends, either. Theoretically, it might just straighten those bends out.

RS sport suspension plus with damper control is also available as an option and that will let owners push the car’s parameters further still or set everything up for ultimate comfort on those days when the whole family’s traveling together. Yes this is still an SUV, believe it or not.

As well as a phenomenal turn of speed, the Performance model differentiates itself from the RS Q3 with unique 20-inch alloy wheels, matte titanium-look detailing around the grille and windows and the option of Ascari Blue as an exterior paint finish. LED front and rear running lights are also standard kit.

Inside, the seats are finished in leather and Alcantara and the dials and gauges get the sports treatment with white faces and red needles.

The RS Q3 Performance will make its debut at the Geneva Motor Show in March but is now available for order in Europe.

Luxury Carmakers Cheer Brilliant 2015 Finish

Even as prices at the pump hold steady at low rates, the premium segment of the auto industry is popping the champagne after an historic 2015. Over the course of last year, Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Volvo and McLaren have all set or are anticipating new sales records. Aside from sales, Ferrari is celebrating its independence and Hyundai is dropping in on the luxury market with the Genesis badge.

For McLaren, a supercar company that’s only been in business for five years, 2015 is the second year in succession that it’s broken the previous year’s record. Even though each model it produces is hand assembled, it delivered 1654 cars this year.

Demand is such that the company is introducing a night shift. “This accelerated development has led to yet another record year, with unprecedented levels of demand for all of our cars, especially the new Sports Series, for which we are currently holding more than six months worth of orders,” said CEO, Mike Flewitt.

Jaguar Land Rover has also enjoyed a bumper 2015, selling 487,065 vehicles – a 5% jump on 2014. “Customer response has been extremely positive, resulting in record retails across UK, North America and Europe. The appeal of our Jaguars and Land Rovers has also been recognized through over 95 global awards in 2015, including 15 for the Land Rover Discovery Sport and 19 for the Jaguar XE alone. 2016 promises to be another exciting year,” Andy Goss, Jaguar Land Rover Group Sales Operations Director, said.

Despite being implicated in the Volkswagen dieselgate scandal, Audi exceeded even its own lofty expectations – selling 1.8 million cars globally and for the first time crossed the 200,000-vehicle mark in the US where it can’t build SUVs quick enough to keep up with demand.

“2015 has proved that Audi is solidly on track and that we are able to master a year that presented various challenges very successfully,” Rupert Stadler, Chairman of the Board of Management of Audi AG, said.

Meanwhile Volvo sold more than 500,000 cars for the first time in its history. “I am delighted to report that 2015 was a year of record sales,” said Håkan Samuelsson, chief executive. “Now, with a successful 2015 behind us, Volvo is about to enter the second phase of its global transformation. Once completed, Volvo will have ceased being a minor automotive player and taken its position as a truly global premium car company.”

Cadillac is also reenergized. After years of struggling to compete, it saw a 7.5% growth in global sales. “This creates a strong foundation for our two all-new products launching in the first half of 2016 — the CT6 prestige sedan and the XT5 luxury crossover,” stated Cadillac President Johan de Nysschen.

Mercedes and BMW remain the popular premium automotive brands to beat. Mercedes clocked up sales of 1.872 million vehicles globally, a 13.4% jump on 2014. “We anticipate additional sales impetus in 2016 from the new E-Class, the world’s most intelligent business saloon,” explained board member Ola Källenius.

BMW has yet to reveal full results from 2015 but the firm had already experienced a record 2014, selling more than 2 million vehicles globally; the Munich-based automaker passed the 2 million mark in November last, the first time it has ever done that by that point in the year. “The steady sales growth we’ve shown throughout the year so far reflects the great new products we currently have on the market,” commented Dr Ian Robertson, member of the board of management of BMW AG responsible for sales and marketing BMW.

This report was compiled by in-house writers, in combination with a wire report and image from the AFP.

7 Contenders for Top Euro Car 2016

The Internet loves lists and the year-end period is full of them. This one in particular caught our eye, with two of our favorites – the BMW 7 Series and the Jaguar XE – making the cut. Behold the shortlist of nominees for European Car of the year 2016, released ahead of the awards ceremony on February 29 at the 2016 Geneva Motorshow. The AFP is right to note that this year’s pack is one of the most competitive in recent times.

There are many car of the year awards around the world but what makes the European event so noteworthy is that it represents the oldest, most mature, diverse and demanding of all automotive markets (North American car enthusiasts, register your complaints with the AFP).

Well, to be fair, it is an especially strong pack of contenders this year and crucially, there’s a very strong chance that the winner could be crowned car of the year for the very first time. Only two shortlisted manufacturers – Audi and Opel/Vauxhall – are former winners. Believe it or not, BMW has never won the top prize…

Audi A4

The latest generation car builds on the foundations of the last A4. It’s not overly aggressive to look at and it’s competent, rather than exciting to drive. But where it impresses is in comfort and refinement and that all-round sense of well-being that’s needed to stand out alongside the latest BMWs and Mercedes.

BMW 7 Series

Despite being runner up on numerous occasions, BMW has never won the ultimate prize. Even though the 7 Series sets new benchmarks for driving dynamics and tech in the highest echelons of the executive sedan sector, the fact that it is such a premium vehicle may count against it. Nevertheless, it is the first car that can be remotely parked via its key fob and has a very clever transmission that uses GPS to automatically pick the right gear to suit the road ahead. The luster of this series is precisely why it is one of our favorites.

897238_jaguar_x.17a7d082025.original

Jaguar XE

Lightweight (check out that almost-all-aluminum body), economical – so much so that it leads the class – and engaging to drive, this is one of the best Jaguars in years and certainly the most complete sedan. Even the infotainment and active safety features are on a par with the best from Germany and Japan.

Mazda MX-5

Despite changing trends and tastes, Mazda has never been tempted to tamper with the MX-5’s recipe. The latest generation is just as much fun to drive as the original car and is just as easy to live with.

2016 MX-5 Club (PRNewsFoto/Mazda North American Operations)

Opel/Vauxhall Astra

With the Astra, a huge dose of premium German quality has been injected into the mass-market family hatchback sector dominated by the Ford Focus and VW Golf. Sharp lines, good looks, full web connectivity and concierge service all come as standard.

Skoda Superb

If the Skoda emblems were hidden, it would be very easy to convince drivers that they were getting behind the wheel of a BMW or an Audi. The Superb really does live up to its name in terms of comfort, rear passenger space, quality and even exterior styling.

Volvo XC90

Like the 7 Series, the XC90’s price might put it out of the running as affordability is a criterion of the judging panel. However, this is the safest car currently on sale at any price and one of the most comfortable. It is also proof that making an off-roader that’s as elegant as it is robust is not a trait exclusive to Land Rover’s flagship Range Rover.

Volvo XC90

Audi scoops five ‘Auto Trophy’ awards

The world’s car fans have spoken: Four of Audi’s cars have been voted best in class and the company’s automotive design the best in the world.

Collecting one of the five awards at the ceremony November 24, Rupert Stadler, Chairman of the Board of Management of Audi AG, said: “We are truly delighted at the readers’ decision, which confirms we are offering highly attractive automobiles with top design in every segment. On that basis, we can also be confident about the continuing success of the Audi model initiative.”

Among its awards, voted on by readers of all car-related publications and web portals owned by the Bauer Media Group, Audi scooped best compact car, best full-size SUV and best supercar for its R8, as well as the top design accolade.

Hosted by German motoring magazine, Auto Zeitung, Audi usually performs well at the awards ceremony, thanks to home advantage. However, what made this year’s wins impressive was that it was the first time in the Auto Trophy’s 28-year history that voting was opened up to car fans globally.

Porsche, Audi and VW expand sales freeze

The outlook for Volkswagen Group and its brands continues to dim as Audi and Porsche joined Volkswagen in announcing sales freezes. Volkswagen and its Audi unit froze sales of diesel car models in the United States November 5 after fresh accusations on the use of software that cheats on emissions tests.

The move came after another Volkswagen unit, Porsche, halted sales of its Cayenne diesel sport utility vehicles following the new allegations from the Environmental Protection Agency. These moves appear unrelated to the Bentley recall announced earlier; Bentley is a Volkswagen unit.

The EPA said Monday that VW, Audi and Porsche cars with 3.0 liter diesel engines were equipped with illegal “defeat devices” which cover up excessive emissions of poisonous gases when the vehicles undergo pollution testing.

Prior to that the company had admitted only that its 2.0 liter diesel engines had defeat devices, and following the EPA’s announcement Volkswagen denied the larger engines were similarly equipped.

The new sales freeze covers diesel VW Touaregs, Audi A6, A7 and A8s, and Q5 and Q7s, all from the 2014-2016 model years.

“We are just being more proactive,” said Audi spokesman Bradley Sterz.

“The difference here is that we are not entirely clear on what data the agency used to come out with this notice of violation. We want to understand how the regulator made its conclusions.”

While we anticipate more bad news from Volkswagen, it is worth remembering that many of the models share platforms, across brands that also includes Lamborghini. It is unsurprising that problems with one platform will affect multiple models across multiple brands.

Audi e-tron quattro concept

Audi plans all-electric SUV to fight Tesla Model X

Audi e-tron quattro concept

German automaker Audi has announced its plan to present a new electric concept at the Frankfurt Auto Show, taking place from September 17-27.

The Audi e-tron quattro concept will offer a peek into the future of the brand’s electric-powered sport SUVs.

Size-wise, the Audi e-tron quattro concept falls between the small Q5 and mid-size Q7, which makes sense since the production version is expected to be called the Q6 e-tron quattro.

The Audi e-tron Quattro is also a pioneer in its class. Designed from the ground up as an electric vehicle, the shape is designed to reduce drag with an aerodynamically optimized underbody that’s completely closed, helping to achieve a low coefficient of drag of 0.25, a record for the SUV segment according to Audi. The brand has also confirmed that the Audi e-tron Quattro will utilize batteries supplied by LG Chem and Samsung SDI that will give the vehicle a range of 310 miles on a single charge.

These lithium-ion batteries will be positioned below the passenger compartment, in between the front and rear axles, which will help lower the center of gravity and provide better balance.

The electric drivetrain, for its part, was developed using knowledge gained in the development of the R8 e-tron electric supercar. On this SUV model, there will be three electric motors, one on the front axle and two on the rear, creating the vaunted Audi all-wheel-drive system.

In designing its first fully electric SUV, Audi is throwing down the gauntlet to Tesla and its upcoming Model X. Supposedly, not content to watch the competition from the sidelines, BMW is assessing proposals for an all-electric SUV that could be derived from its upcoming X7 model.

Audi S8 plus

New Audi S8 plus is the fastest in history

Audi S8 plus

Technicians have taken Audi’s flagship executive sedan and managed to coax an extra 84bhp out of its already potent V8 engine.

The results are remarkable. The S8 plus is a car that can carry five in absolute luxury even at speeds of up to 189mph and one capable of going from 0-100kph in just 3.8 seconds.

The new Audi S8 plus is faster off the mark and has a higher top speed than a current-generation Porsche 911 Carrera.

But those numbers also mean that despite is huge size — the car’s over 5 meters long and just under 2 meters wide — its 597bhp 4-liter 8V engine makes it the fastest S-designated Audi in the company’s current range.

It has permanent Quattro four-wheel drive for assured grip whatever the conditions and clever adaptive air suspension that responds to how the car’s being steered in order to optimize handling and comfort.

Audi S8 plus interior

It also gets carbon ceramic brakes as standard and sits on special 21-inch alloy wheels that will help distinguish the S8 plus from the ‘standard’ S8 and the A8 models.

Other unique exterior features include a carbon fiber blade on the front apron spoiler, carbon fiber flaps on the air inlets and a special trunk lip spoiler. As an optional extra, the wing mirror housings and rear spoiler can be specified in carbon fiber, too.

The S8 plus also comes with Matrix LED headlights as standard, which offer a wide area of bright illumination but won’t dazzle or glare oncoming drivers, plus darkened rear lamps for extra menace.

What’s more, Audi has developed a special matte paint finish called Floret Silver that will be exclusive to the model.

Interior features include 22-way adjustable leather sports seats, stainless steel accelerator and brake pedals, privacy glass, a 14-speaker Bose sound system, power-operated doors and trunk plus keyless entry.

Audi S8 plus side

Meanwhile, safety and assistance features include an advanced parking system which incorporates a top view camera and adaptive cruise control.

The S8 Plus will be available to order from October.

 

all-electric R8 e-tron supercar

Audi R8 e-tron in self-driving CES Asia debut

all-electric R8 e-tron supercar

Electric concept car, the Audi R8 e-tron, is being introduced to attendees at CES Asia in Shanghai with a range of extras that make it capable of autonomous driving.

A raft of extras augment the recent Geneva Motor Show’s Audi R8 e-tron, including a laser scanner, video cameras, ultrasonic sensors and radar sensors, all of which help the Piloted Driving Concept understand its surroundings.

Autonomous Audi R8 e-tron

Those additional gadgets form part of a vehicle that can go 0 to 100km/h (62.1 mph) in 3.9 seconds, knocks out 340 kW of power, and has a driving range of 450km (279.6 mi) according to Audi figures.

CES Asia runs May 25-27, 2015.

Audi e-benzin

Audi makes synthetic fuel breakthrough with ‘e-benzin’

Audi e-benzin

Gerrman carmaker Audi has started producing its first quantities of e-benzin, a synthetic fuel that can be used like traditional petrol but without the harmful sulphur or hydrocarbon emissions.

Synthetically produced without any petroleum it is extremely high-grade and therefore suitable for use in serious performance or seriously efficient cars as both use engines that run with a high compression ratio.

NEXT AUDI R8 TO OFFER OPTIONAL LASER LIGHTS

However, it can just as easily be added to a traditional fossil fuel to dilute its negative impact on the environment.

Audi e-benzin Synthetic Fuel

However, unlike its e-diesel, Audi’s e-benzin, which is being developed in partnership with Global Bioenergies, cannot yet be created without the use of biomass — think biofuels created from rapeseed, sunflower oil or corn.

The total elimination of biomass in the production process is the next step, at which point the fuel will be created using water, hydrogen and carbon dioxide and sunlight.

Reiner Mangold, Head of Sustainable Product Development at Audi AG, described the initial achievement, announced on Friday as: “A big step” in the company’s e-fuels strategy. “Global Bioenergies has demonstrated the viability of the Audi ‘e-benzin’ production process,” he said.

Audi is confident that it can achieve its next target of producing a biomass-free version of the fuel before the end of 2016 and will now begin laboratory and engine tests on e-benzin.

avengers

Audi ad features ‘Avengers’ and ‘Ant-Man’ footage

‘s commercial partnership with Marvel Studios surfaces a clip containing a decent chunk of preview material.

Action scenes from “Avengers: Age of Ultron” are intercut with images of the 2015 Audi TTS and keywords designed to shape its commercial identity.

Some of the footage has been seen in previous “Avengers” trailers, but a good deal is new. The same goes for an “Ant-Man” teaser appended to the ad.

“Avengers: Age of Ultron” launches May 1, with “Ant-Man” to follow from July 17.

Audi Q6 Teaser

Audi Q6 electric SUV teased

Audi Q6 Teaser

During its annual press conference on Tuesday, Ausi underlined its aim to offer 60 different models before the end of the decade and its determination to take on both the Range Rover and the Tesla Model X in the SUV market.

Audi already offers 52 different cars in its current lineup and that huge choice helped it to achieve record sales of 1.74 million automobiles for the financial year.

At the moment, that huge selection contains three SUVs — the Q3, the Q5 and the new range-topping Q7, which made its official debut at the Detroit Auto Show in January.

However, by next year the company is planning to add a baby Q1 model to the line-up which will compete with everything from the Nissan Juke to the Mercedes-Benz GLA.

Although it will resemble the company’s A1 premium supermini, the Q1 will be more aggressively styled in order to be more attractive to young, affluent drivers and to men.

The overwhelming majority of current A1 drivers are women. At the other extreme of this rapidly growing range will sit a Q8 model that will line up alongside the current Range Rover as a competitor.

It will take its styling cues from the Audi Prologue concept car that debuted at the LA Auto Show in November and will be offered with five or with seven seats. It will also have a choice of potent V6 and V8 engines.

The company likens the flagship SUV to one of its premium executive cars, albeit one that will be able to travel as comfortably over a ploughed field as it will along the autobahn.

Perhaps the biggest surprise from the event was the confirmation that a coupe-style SUV is also in development which will be called the Q6 and will be 100% electrically powered.

All four wheels will be powered by electric motors and as such will be a competitor as much for the upcoming Tesla Model X as it will be for the BMW X6 or the Mercedes GLC.

Across its entire future range, Audi pledged to reduce emissions, improve fuel efficacy and to continue its pioneering work into active safety and semi-autonomous driving technologies.

Over the past year it has hired 4,500 new employees with expertise in lightweight construction, connectivity and electric mobility.