Tag Archive | "Audi"

Five Secrets You Didn’t Know about the Audi A6 Saloon

For a car to reveal all it has to offer requires some long-term testing. But sometimes drivers never find out a car’s “little secrets” simply because the opportunity never comes up. Discovering a car’s hidden gems earlier on can lead to better vehicle performance and smarter ownership. So today, We’re going to dig deeper into the little tricks that the Audi A6 3-litre TDI S-Line S-tronic with Quattro four-wheel drive has to offer.

Some tricks make full use of the car’s in-built technology and others simply make your life easier.

Secret 1:  The Virtual Dipstick

Today’s modern engines have done away with some of the mundane weekly checks that our parents used to carry out. Checking the oil being one of them – essential to ensure the engine isn’t going to seize due to a lack of lubrication.

The A6 is quite capable of advising you that it needs a top-up and that you should get it sorted pronto. No sudden stops at the roadside in a panic, just a detour to the garage to get some of that black gold.

Once topped-up the central display will tell you all is well, so you can lose the oily rag and avoid dirty fingers that every dipstick check delivers.

More secrets are revealed when you gain access to the car’s computer such as service intervals information and what pressure the tyres are at and, if you really need to know, the car’s Vehicle Identification Number.virtual dipstick Five Secrets You Didn’t Know about the Audi A6 Saloon

Secret 2: The Self-Suspending Boot Floor

Everyone dreads a flat. Especially when it’s raining and especially when the entire family (including restless kids) are in the car. On this Quattro car, during the test, it was necessary to put the Audi toolkit into use and as usual it was under the boot floor.

Normally, holding the floor up while accessing the kit requires three hands, or at least a shoulder to prop it open. In this case however, the flush fitting handle that lifts the floor up has a little hook on the end of it, which once engaged secures the floor panel to the top boot seal. Simple yet ingenious.

More obvious but worth mentioning are the two gas-struts that keep the bonnet open – no other strut required. It’s the little things that please most owners, right?self suspending boot floor Five Secrets You Didn’t Know about the Audi A6 Saloon

Secret 3: Locking Rear Seats Deter Felons

One advantage of the saloon over the estate version is better security. Any miscreant breaking into your estate car can easily access the storage area simply by clambering over the back seat.

In some saloons, the thief can still get in the boot by dropping the seatbacks. Not so in the A6! That’s because the backrests are lockable so you can prevent access to the boot. That’s clever thinking to protect your valuables. If you want to find out more about this car’s performance check out this Audi A6 Saloon review.

locking rear seats deter felons Five Secrets You Didn’t Know about the Audi A6 Saloon

Secret 4: The Car That Parks Itself.

Self-parking cars are not uncommon. For an experienced driver though, the challenge is trusting the tech to achieve the delicate art of parallel parking. The idea of technology is to make life easier for the user. But to achieve car parking nirvana, you have to learn to trust the tech.

The thing is, this A6 can effectively park itself. It takes an act of will to relinquish the steering wheel but you still need to control the brake and throttle. On the road test, the A6 demonstrated that it was entirely capable of assessing the space available and manoeuvring itself into the gap accordingly.

Subsequent tests revealed so long as the space was of adequate size, the Audi parked itself successfully – no drama or fuss. Although, on one occasion, it wasn’t perfectly straight. Then again, how often do we get it exactly right?car parks itself Five Secrets You Didn’t Know about the Audi A6 Saloon

Secret 5: The Digital Handbook

In the glove box of any new car you’ll find the handbook, which these days are about the size of a hardback version of War and Peace. To get the best out of your car this needs to be read from cover to cover but, in all honesty, how many owners actually do that?

The A6 almost dispenses with this antiquated method of information and instead allows the driver to access a digital handbook on screen. To do this it is first necessary to get to grips with the Audi’s systems before you can get to the guide that takes you through the car’s main controls and systems.

It isn’t meant to replace the handbook (the A6 comes with a printed version), but when those occasions arise the handbook isn’t where it should be, i.e. in the car as opposed to a mouldering drawer in the garage, you can still find out what you need to know, especially in an emergency.

These days we are becoming much more accustomed to in-car technology and 21st Century automotive marvels. It has become much easier to connect your mobile device to stream music and access contacts, it’s just the Audi A6 still has some tricks up its very smart sleeve and it is willing to let you in on the secret.digital handbook Five Secrets You Didn’t Know about the Audi A6 Saloon

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Audi Q7 – Still A Great 4×4

The car you see in the images – and what a fab colour – is the Audi Q7. It’s a big vehicle and although this translates into superb passenger space and seven-seats as standard while the air suspension ensures supreme comfort, it still takes up a lot of room although, with the driver aids on board, it isn’t too bad for parking.

The Q7 first went on sale in 2007 as Audi’s first true SUV, so seven years on how is it standing up against more youthful opposition? Surprisingly well as it happens. Naturally, the design has been refreshed and all the high-tech toys added but with the trend for smaller, lighter offerings from other manufacturers does the Q7 still have what it takes?

q1 Audi Q7   Still A Great 4x4The model shown here in SE trim has the less powerful 205PS version of the rugged 3.0L V6 TDI coupled to an eight-speed Tiptronic ‘box with the usual drive options including ‘Sport’.  The three litre engine (with an unobtrusive Stop/Start system) has plenty of gusto; it gets the massive Q7 up to speed without drama, and it’s very smooth.

The 62mph sprint is accomplished in under nine seconds but that’s not what this car is about. In the gears there is plentiful power for effortless overtaking and for rolling on to 127mph, should that be allowed, obviously. Audi reckon that fuel consumption should be in the high thirties and I think that’s achievable – if you drive appropriately. Certainly the big beast seemed to be sipping the fuel in use.

Comfort is taken care of by adaptive air suspension – electronically controlled with a continuously adaptive system for all four wheels which regulates ride height and damping automatically. Alternatively, there’s a choice of five modes (automatic, comfort, dynamic, off-road and lift) selected via the excellent MMI (Multi-Media Interface) system. I have to admit the Q7 spent most of its time in dynamic mode which sets the car’s suspension up with firmer performance-orientated characteristics at it’s lowest ride height. I might also have been mostly in sport mode to maximise the engine’s power output.

The comfort is further augmented by the firmly supportive seats.  The driving position is excellent and the interior is generally a nice place to be.  The second row of seats offers plenty of legroom but the third row is strictly for the kids.  Surprisingly, the boot wasn’t as massive as I had expected although 765 litres is probably enough for most purposes. With the third row of seats down it becomes positively cavernous.

The car obviously features the now legendary Audi Quattro four-wheel-drive plus an automatic hill-hold which works very well and then of course there’s the handbrake. When I say handbrake I do of course mean parking brake. This is foot operated to apply and is released by a manual pull lever. It’s quirky, but I like it.

The vehicle featured had the technology package that included Sat-Nav – obviously – Audi’s advanced parking and a host of the other kit you’d expect, itemised below. There’s adaptive Xenon headlights and a really very good Bose sound system complete with a video Jukebox which I liked very much.

Overall then, The Audi Q7 is a luxury motor that focuses on comfortable seating for the whole family, and a safe on-road ride. Not that most buyers will be likely to need much in the way of off-road capability, but the Q7 won’t disappoint if the going gets a bit gnarly and we all know full well that Quattro technology has few peers. Yes, The Audi Q7 is ageing a little but it is doing so gracefully and remains worthy of serious consideration.

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Macan Magic

The Porsche Cayenne is a very desirable vehicle but it is also very big. Now though, Porsche have come up with the answer. The Macan. That’s it in the image and we promise you can get it in colours other than yellow. There has been a trend recently for smaller SUV type vehicles and most manufacturers have something of the sort in their line-ups. The Audi Q5 for example is a scaled down version of the bigger Q7. Now Porsche have followed suit.

The Macan, styled as a sporty off-roader, is due out in time for Spring next year and is rumoured to be priced from around £36,000 which puts it right in the path of the the hugely successful Range Rover Evoque. It will be formally introduced to the automotive world in November at the Los Angeles Motor Show.

This new addition to the Porsche list will be based on the same platform as the above mentioned Q5 but it will be more than just that vehicle in a posh frock. The Macan will make greater use of aluminium components which will make it lighter than the Audi to the tune of 130kilos.

Four-wheel drive is standard and it is expected to be powered, initially at least, by a choice of six-cylinder petrol or diesel engines. It may well be that the new four cylinder Porsche engines will make an appearance later on in the car’s life. As with the other models in the range there will be an S-version and the inevitable hybrid.

Along with the lighter body, the Macan will differ from its Audi sibling by utilising some different chassis parts and suspension tuning unique to Porsche. The cabin will be as well appointed as you would expect from this prestige car maker and will follow the style seen currently in the 911 and Panamera.

Obviously there will be the usual Porsche family resemblance. The tapered rear lights are reminiscent of the 911 but the big grill, bumpers and the butch stance are strictly Cayenne. The company is keen to disassociate the Macan from the idea of car as fashion statement. This may be due to the fact that they are a little late to the small SUV party and are therefore aiming for exclusivity.

The car is to be built at an enlarged factory in Leipzig. This means that there won’t be capacity for another model which may signify that the rumoured Pajun saloon is still some time away. In the meantime they are banking on the Macan which, at some ten thousand pounds cheaper than the base Cayenne, offers a genuine alternative to the big brother.

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Lean Mean Audi TT

Car manufacturers have known for a long time that making a car lighter also makes it better. An instant performance increase without any engine modifications. In recent years the use of aluminium and carbon fibre has been extensive. Now Audi have taken a big step forward with the TT Ultra Quattro. Sadly just a concept for now, it could signal a new direction for the manufacture of automobiles. Lightness is good. Lightness is green.

The TT concept will be shown at the Worthersee Festival in Austria, early in May. Audi have managed to shed an astonishing 300kg from the closest equivalent production model which in turn has boosted performance from the 2.0L TFSI engine. The traffic light sprint is covered in a sparkling 4.2 seconds and the top speed is 173mph.

This is thanks to the construction which includes some materials with very long names. Here goes: Carbon Fibre-Reinforced Polymer (CFRP) and Fibreglass-Reinforced Polymer (FRP) are embellished with a touch of magnesium and it all goes into reducing the weight of the body shell alone by 100kg.

Audi are showing that by utilising an intelligent mix of materials, weight savings are possible even on existing production models. It would certainly help with cost savings on low volume production cars. Although no extra power from the engine is specifically performance derived, modifications to the crankcase and crankshaft, the balancer shafts and flywheel, the sump and other bits and pieces have all served to reduce the engine weight by an amazing 25kg.

No detail escaped the Audi engineers. FRP even replaces steel for the coil springs. The core of these springs consists of long glass fibres which have been impregnated with epoxy resin. Around this very thin core additional fibres at alternating angles. These layers support each other and act when the spring is under load. The operating characteristics are unchanged from the steel counterparts – what is changed is, again, the weight; they’re forty percent lighter.

As can be seen from the image a large motor sport style spoiler enhances the emphatic styling, as do the FRP bucket seats pinched from the R8 GT. Audi, it has to be said, have done it again by enhancing a car that has been around in various forms since 1998. It looks like a new lease of life for the TT and let’s all hope that this car – or something very similar – goes into production in the not too distant future.

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New Cars At The New York Show

2013 seems to be producing a bumper crop of new cars, despite all the recessionary woe. At the latest show in New York the trend continued with a selection from Kia, Jaguar, Audi, Volvo and Mercedes.

The Kia Soul is a car that is either loved or hated for its looks despite being practical and roomy with a decent boot. It strives for a trendy image but has been let down by a mediocre ride and economy. The company have now announced the replacement which will arrive on our shore early in 2014. That’s it in the picture. It is probably a coincidence but it looks a bit like the new Fiat 500L; not that that’s necessarily a bad thing. Suspension and handling have been improved for a better ride and the whole car has a more premium feel to it. Mini owners won’t be trading in but this new car should attract plenty of new fans.

A surprise addition to the Audi range is a saloon version of their excellent A3. It has to be said that it is hard to understand the purpose of this car but Audi rarely put a foot wrong. The company say that the car is aimed at ‘young professionals’ looking for a ‘sporty but fun car’. So why not choose the brilliant sport back then? Audi see their market for this car to be predominately in Russia and the far East and, to a lesser extent, Europe. Early reports say that it’s a roomy car, slightly longer than the hatchback.

Sweden is represented by Volvo and a new set of R-Design cars based on the recently updated 60 series. All three cars get new faces, a new rear diffuser, sports seats and an R-Design exhaust system. The S60 and V60 models have a sports chassis and lowered suspension whilst the XC60  gets a better handling kit of springs and anti-roll bars.

If all this is a bit tame for you and you feel the need for 355bhp then how about the new Mercedes CLA45 AMG express. This car looks fabulous (especially in white with black) and in the traffic light grand prix will whisk you to 62mph in a ferocious 4.6 seconds. Despite this performance Mercedes are claiming 40mpg and emissions at around 160g/km. If that’s a fact then it is quite an achievement and bodes well for performance cars of the future.

It seems that scarcely a week can go by without there being a new Jaguar – and here it is. This time it’s the super-hot XKR-S GT which the company describe as the ‘ultimate road-going XK’. Presumably until the next one. Only thirty will be built and they are all going to North America. If there’s enough clamour in the UK then a small run of LHD versions could be built but don’t hold your breath.

The Rolls Royce Wraith also featured as did the new Range Rover Sport that Motor Blogger featured on March 20th. As we said – a bumper year!

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Audi’s New Plug-in Hybrid

The world of hybrid technology goes from strength to strength as manufacturers get to grips with economy and emissions and a host of new regulations. They are all working hard but one of the highlights of next month’s Geneva show will almost certainly be the Audi A3 e-tron.

The A3 is already a success story in its various guises, including the stunning new S3 Sportback. Now, the new e-tron offers a new glimpse into the future of the German car maker’s intentions with a car that has the potential to achieve 188mpg and exhaust emissions as low as 35g/km.

The hybrid integrates a conventional petrol engine and an electric motor as you‘d expect. The battery can be charged at the wall socket or rejuvenated on the road via the petrol engine. The combination of the two will offer impressive performance, exceptional efficiency and most crucially of all as far as buyers are concerned, freedom from the perils of range anxiety.

A modified 1.4L TFSI engine delivering 150PS will provide the usual power and is linked to the 75kw electric motor by a clutch built into a newly designed six-speed ‘e-S tronic’ auto gearbox; all of which drives the front wheels. The combined motors generate 204PS of power and an impressive 350PS of torque.

The Audi A3 e-tron will travel up to 31 miles on electric power alone at speeds of up to eighty miles per hour or it will run on petrol power alone. In hybrid mode, which is driver selectable, both units work together which is known as ‘boosting’. When the driver stops accelerating both motors will deactivate temporarily allowing the car to glide and thus save on fuel whilst recuperating energy.

There is no doubt that the Audi success story continues. Whilst some car makers struggle, Audi had its best ever sales last year, shifting nearly 1.5 million units worldwide. That’s up over ten percent on the previous year despite the world recession. Not being ones to rest on their laurels however, the company plan an investment in the future of some 13 billion in research and new models over the next few years.

This means that in just three or four years the Audi range will have expanded to some 42 models, including variants. There’s the regular range, the S range and the RS range with hatchbacks, Avants and Sport backs. There will also be a new generation R8. Vorsprung durch Technik, indeed.

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A New Era of Engines

Motorists are beginning to despair for their future motoring. The rising cost of fuel, for which the government must take a large portion of the blame, has really started to bite. Many people rely on their cars, whether it is for work or because they live in rural areas, for example. Public transport is often cited as an alternative but bus companies won’t service unprofitable routes and the cost of train tickets for regular travel is for many people greater than that of running a small vehicle. Fortunately, car manufacturers are not sitting idly by and, now that the government in its wisdom has decided to tax electric cars from 2015, are working hard on ever more fuel efficient engines.

In addition to hybrid technology and the fuel-sipping motors already on offer, there are other systems undergoing viability testing. Mazda, for example, are confidently trumpeting their ‘SkyActiv’ diesel technology. Briefly, the idea is that instead of raising a diesel engine’s compression, they lower it which allows the fuel to ignite earlier in the combustion cycle. Although this produces a smaller ‘bang’ the effect lasts longer promoting torque and refinement. Because the compression ratio is lower the engine does not have to be so hefty, resulting in a lighter unit which has better torque and achieves a 20% fuel saving.

Another interesting new concept is flywheel technology http://panniekazino.com/ which has already appeared on some experimental vehicles. Flywheels can store the energy on hybrid vehicles that would be otherwise lost under braking, for use again under acceleration. They are much cleaner and cheaper to make and, now that the science has moved forward, smaller and lighter as well. The downside is that they can’t store power for long and are dependant on brake use.

As has been seen on the new Bentley V8, cylinder deactivation is already a viable fuel saving solution. This is of course terrific if you have the necessary £140k but thankfully, Volkswagen is preparing small four cylinder units, using pretty much the same method as the Bentley, that will have what is described as ‘variable displacement’ technology allowing the car to run on just two cylinders at appropriate times. Meanwhile over at Mercedes Benz their engineers are working on the Diesotto engine which aims to give petrol engine performance with the fuel efficiency of the very best diesel.

On the new and highly regarded EV, the Vauxhall Ampera, when the juice runs out a small 1.4L petrol engine steps in to act as a generator. Manufacturers are looking at ways to improve on this basic idea. Jaguar demonstrated gas turbines on its concept supercar the C-X75 – although it is thought that these won’t make production. Audi meanwhile are currently working on a small Wankel rotary engine of only 250cc for its A1 e-tron range extender concept. Add to all these experimentation ideas the cyclone external combustion engines – too complicated to detail here – and fuel saving electrically operated engine valves and you can get an idea of how car makers are pushing the envelope to keep motoring alive.

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The Wind In Your Hair

There’s nothing quite like it, is there? Going topless in your car on those balmy, halcyon days of summer – both of them. The convertible car is something of a tradition in these septic isles. Not so many years ago moustachioed smooth operators with oil-slick hair would entice a popsy into the open-top Jag with the offer of a fashionable headscarf, the rascals, and soft-tops have been popular with Brits ever since.

Apparently the UK is one of the biggest markets for soft-tops and convertible tin-tops in the world. We can’t get enough of them, yet in a rather bizarre turn of events, many of us don’t take the tops down – at least according to Audi.

The German company is predicting a late surge in demand for convertibles despite the patchy summer. Perhaps they know something we don’t. Nevertheless it seems that, like a coy boy, we shy away from actually doing the deed and letting the wind do it’s work on our hair. This sort of begs the question, ‘Why buy the things in the first place, then?’

Audi, who have four soft-tops in their range, conducted a survey this August and found to their astonishment that forty six percent of owners rarely or never lower the roof. It seems we admire the sophisticated looks but baulk when it comes to experiencing the great outdoors at speed. In short it is the appeal of owning a convertible that informs our decisions rather than the practicalities.

Women are more likely than men to come out of their shells. Whether this is to do with some sort of feisty female rebellious streak or just to get rid of the late-night kebab smells from the cabin is not known. Nevertheless the ladies lead the way with some 39% electing to slip the top off. Men, on the other hand can only muster a pathetic 32%.

The for and against lobbies are also governed by age. The 25 to 34 age group are most likely to chance it and for some reason that science will never be able to explain, those living in the East Midlands are the keenest when it comes to open-air driving. Living in that region probably hardens them to the elements, like gnarled hill farmers. Who knows?

The British climate is not conducive to convertible motoring. This year is no exception and as a result waiting times for some of Audi’s convertibles are coming down, so if you are anticipating a long Indian summer then get your order in now. Especially if you live in the East Midlands.

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1939 Auto Union Goes Home

From time to time a racing car appears that really stirs the blood. Such a car was the Auto Union (that’s Audi to us these days) twin-supercharger Silver Arrow. The car originates from the 1930’s and a very rare example that surfaced in Russia some time ago has been obtained by the delighted Audi company which has bought it back home. What is more appealing is the fact that, after all this time, it seems to be in almost completely original condition.

The exquisite Silver Arrow (that’s it in the photo) was conceived and built in the ‘30s. At the time both AU and Mercedes were racing cars of a, for the time, very modern design. The Merc’s were front engined but Auto Union decided to put the motor behind the driver. This was obviously a good idea because that’s how things are today in F1. These cars dominated the Grand Prix scene, driven by the famous names of the time, until 1939 bought the storm clouds of war to Europe.

With 12 or 16 cylinder engines these cars, notoriously difficult to drive, were reaching speeds in excess of 300 kilometres per hour. That’s an astonishing 186mph in British money and, if you consider the almost total lack of safety precautions at the circuits, made the racing very exciting indeed.

What became known as the supercharger era was brought to an abrupt end by the Second World War. Most of the racing Mercedes were saved for the nation but, when the Russians occupied what became East Germany they nicked all the Auto Unions from as part of their booty. As time went by they disappeared.

After the war, in 1949, AU was resurrected at a new factory in Ingolstadt where it remains as Audi to this day. Only one of the cars remained and that had been bomb damaged during the conflict.

Curiously, it was an American collector called Paul Karassik, whose wife was German, who got wind of the existence of one of the cars and he set to work. Karassik originally came from a White Russian family and spoke the language fluently. Cutting a long story short he overcame immense difficulties – before the fall of the iron Curtain – to buy and bring out all the components of two cars, minus bodies, and flew them to America. Two examples were assembled and two new bodies built by a British coach-builder.

The years passed and eventually Audi were able to obtain both cars over time. They already had one other and it is now believed, with the arrival of the latest car, that all the remaining examples are back home where they should be. A happy ending to a piece of automotive history.

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Too Much Of A Good Thing?

Technology is all around us, all of the time. As fast as a new gadget or gizmo is released so it is almost immediately superseded by a new model. How long can we go on like this? Ultimately, there is only so much that technological wizardry can do for us before it all becomes stale and we start to yearn for a simpler time. Cars are a good case in point.

Back in the dark ages of twenty or thirty years ago ABS was about as advanced as things got. The act of driving required of a driver some measure of ability to safely maintain progress without getting into a tank- slapper on every corner or arriving at a braking point in a lock-up slide. Now we have ESP, lane departure warnings and cars that can reverse themselves. Is it any wonder that driving skill is being subsumed by the technology that is trying to save us from ourselves.

The latest piece of kit that is likely to arrive on cars in the near future will replace the good old rear view mirror with a video screen in front of you, using the latest smartphone technology. Apparently, one of the benefits will be to reduce dazzle from high beam lights behind you – and we all thought that was what dipping mirrors were for. It will also help with those cars which have small rear windows. How many of those in common use can you name?

This is something that has come from Audi ’s boffins and it is going to be tested on their Le Mans car. They are not promising anything yet but this could well turn up on new road cars in the near future. It seems that the camera/screen combination will adjust almost instantly to combat blurred images and vibrations from bumpy roads – so that’s most of Britain then. It may well also incorporate other driver information.

Meanwhile, over at Morgan Cars, they have announced their new Plus 8. Unlike most of the bland, complicated offerings from mainstream manufacturers this car has a powerful V8 motor and good old rear-wheel drive but there are few electronic aids. Anti-lock brakes and power steering are all you get for your money. It has proper round dials, round wing mirrors and round headlamps; in short, a proper car that will be unforgiving of sloppy driving. In the middle of the windscreen there’s the bog standard mirror we’re all used to. In a nod to modern times, however, it does get a CD player!

Manufacturers put this techno stuff on cars because they can, not because we need it. It makes motors increasingly more complex and reliant on dealers at ever escalating costs. Repairs are often out of the question as replacement parts are usually the only option and, boy, do we pay for it. It is no good playing the safety card because technology will make drivers more careless, not less, as they let the car do their thinking and driving for them. What’s next for the driving test? Mirror, Video, Manoeuvre?

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