Like A House On Fire …

 

The new T-model of the C-class.

The new T-model of the C-class.                         photo: Ian Kuah

The C-Class T-Model and Globaliter Media

really got on

The C-class is the latest star in the firmament of Mercedes-Benz’ mid-sized model range. We much prefer it to the E-class; it is sportier, handles well and leaves the impression of a compact S-class.

The T-model in particular caught our attention, and did not disappoint. It is a truly accomplished and practical everyday car with wide-ranging talents. Well almost. We are already looking forward to the launch of the six-cylinder and AMG versions that will surely unlock the full potential of this brilliant car.

So here is our review in German:

Außen hui, innen huiuiui

Appealing to drivers of all ages. Fresh on the outside, very S-class inside.

Appealing to drivers of all ages. Fresh on the outside, very S-class inside.  (photo: Ian Kuah)

Raumschiff T-Modell der C-Klasse: Mission Lifestyle macht aus dem Lastesel ein Lustauto

Sie ist Anfang dreißig, hat zwei kleine Kinder und einen anspruchsvollen Geschmack: „Ich muss Kinderwagen, Fahrräder und anderes Familienzubehör transportieren, lege aber Wert auf ein schickes Auto. Das neue T-Modell ist für mich perfekt.“ Aussagen wie diese sind für den Hersteller Musik.. Schließlich will Mercedes-Benz die junge Generation für das neue T-Modell der C-Klasse gewinnen, ohne die ältere Stammkundschaft zu verschrecken durch all zu viel Neues und Ungewohntes. Mit dem neuen „Transport und Touristik“-Modell, so die Bedeutung des Kürzels „T“, könnte dieser Spagat durchaus gelingen. Im September ist Verkaufsstart.

 

Traversing the Rhine.

Traversing the Rhine.                                                                         (photo: Roeder)

Zu Lande, aber auch zu Wasser, nämlich beim Übersetzen über den Rhein mit der Fähre, gab der neue T-Faktor bei Mercedes in seiner äußeren Erscheinung ein schnittiges, sportliches Bild ab. Zumal bei Kaiserwetter rund um Weinberge und Weindörfer in Hessen und in Rheinland-Pfalz. An Funktionalität als Lastesel zugunsten von erhöhtem Flair als Lustauto hat das Nachfolgemodell null eingebüßt. Ganz im Gegenteil. Wie ein Sesam-öffne-dich geht die Heckklappe per Fußbewegung unter dem hinteren Stoßfänger ohne irgendeine Berührung auf. Wer beide Hände voll hat, weiß diese Annehmlichkeit namens „Hands-Free Access“ zu schätzen.

Load me, if you can. The T-model can take up to 1,510 litres.

Load me, if you can. The T-model can take up to 1,510 litres.      (photo: Ian Kuah)

4,70 Meter lang, 2,02 Meter breit, 1,44 Meter hoch. Die neue Generation ist um 9 Zentimeter in die Länge geschossen. Und hat dennoch abgespeckt, und zwar intelligent und nachhaltig um rund 65 Kilogramm. Das Ergebnis sind bis zu 20 Prozent weniger Spritverbrauch und mehr Sportlichkeit. Der ebene Laderaum hat zugelegt, misst jetzt 490 bis maximal 1.510 Liter und ist somit der größte seines Segments. Dabei lässt sich die Rückbank in praktischer 40:20:40 Aufteilung elektrisch umklappen. Auch die Ablagen im Innenraum sind deutlich größer geworden. Kurzum: Mercedes-Benz verspricht mit seinem Neuen ein Mehr an allem. Besonders im Innern der zwei C-Modelle kommen Luxusgefühle auf. Das ist S-Klasse in der Mittelklasse. Und die hat auch komplexe Systeme, die teilautonomes Fahren genauso ermöglichen wie das Einleiten einer Teilbremsung bei bis zu 200 Stundenkilometern.

Ready for travelling anywhere. C-class T-model.

Ready for travelling anywhere. C-class T-model.

In vielem, wie Cockpit und Motoren, gleichen sich die nicht eineiigen Zwillinge Limousine und T-Modell. Vieles ist aber auch anders. Und da hat bei „Mercedes connect me“ der jüngste Zuwachs in der Sternfamilie die Nase derzeit vorn – als bestvernetzter Pkw im Konzern. Ein weiterer Beleg dafür, wie rasant das „Internet der Dinge“ voranschreitet. Das bedeutet auch, dass die S-Klasse nicht mehr alleiniger Innovationstreiber und -träger ist.

Bisher gibt es die C-Modelle nur als Vierzylinder und da mehr Diesel, nämlich anfangs fünf, vom C 180 BlueTec mit 116 PS, bis zum C 300 BlueTec Hybrid (204 plus 27 PS). Ab Dezember kommt der Benziner auch als Sechszylinder auf den Markt, und zwar als C 400 4Matic mit 333 PS (245 kW, 480 Nm). Anders beim Diesel. Dort übernimmt die Rolle des Sechszylinders nächstes Jahr der C 300 Bluetec Hybrid (204 PS plus 27 PS vom Elektromotor). Beim Ottomotor wird später noch ein Plug-in Hyrid folgen (211 PS plus 68 PS Elektromotor).

Especially the 6-cylinder petrol version will show other cars its rear.

Especially the 6-cylinder petrol version will show other cars its rear.  (photo: Ian Kuah)

Der Einstiegspreis für das beliebte Modell, das die Deutschen der Limousine deutlich vorziehen, liegt bei rund 35.000 Euro. Mehr als 400.000 T-Modelle der C-Klasse wurden seit Ende 2007 verkauft. Allein im vergangenen Jahr waren es fast 50.000 Fahrzeuge. Mit seinem Kürzel trägt der „T“ zwar keinen so spektakulären Namen wie der Shooting Brake von Mercedes-Benz, also der Kombi des CLS. Gut möglich aber, dass er zum Shooting Star aufsteigt und somit ein wichtiger Fixstern im Mittelklasse-Segment von Mercedes-Benz bleibt, weil er alle Altersklassen für sich gewinnen kann.

Susanne Roeder

©roe

The Deidesheim vineyard has taste. G-class is just it.

The Deidesheim vineyard has taste. G-class is just it.                 (pboto: Roeder)

Audi A8 Revisited

Sculptures of an Exhibition: The new Audi A8 starring at Langen Foundation in Hombroich, Neuss Northrhine-Westfalia.

Sculptures of an Exhibition: The new Audi A8 starring at Langen Foundation in Hombroich, Neuss, North Rhine-Westphalia.

Four Rings and Three Dimensions

It is the Audi flagship, the epitome of hightech, luxury, comfort and ease, spiced with sportiness: the Audi A8. Four years after the third generation was launched, a distinctly made over version is waiting to enter the limelight. And since this car encapsulates most of the Audi prowess, there is also a long version, as Mercedes-Benz and other OEMs have their long versions, built especially for chauffeuring the rich and mighty. In a nutshell and therefore simplified: Faced with the choice between Audi or Mercedes-Benz, those focussing on ever-increasing security features will opt for a Mercedes, whereas drivers for whom sportiness is the essence will go for Audi, knowing full well that the brand with the four rings has always had sufficient state-of-the art safety on board. This verdict is made irrespective of the very personal tastes as regards design. And we are fully aware that  for simplicity’s sake we have not mentioned the third of the German “big three”, namely BMW, also acclaimed for its sportiness.

Man does not really like rain that much, quattro loves it. Plus the power of the of the S8: We were indeed having fun, as can be seen. Smiling faces, because this car is so direct, so easy to drive.

quattro loves rain. Plus the power of the S8 with its 4.0 litre V8 TFSI engine on board. We had mighty fun irrespective of the rain. Smiling faces, because this car is so direct, so agile in spite of its size, so easy to drive.

Some of our colleagues criticise Audi for its signature claim “Vorsprung durch Technik”, maintaining the car manufacturer had lost its technical supremacy. But how about Daimler’s slogan “Das Beste oder nichts”, “The Best or Nothing”? Looking at the design of quite a number of their cars our answer in the direction of the Stuttgart brand would at

Best in Class

Best in Class

present be: “I’d rather have nothing.” Audi certainly is not half as apodictic as Daimler with their claim. The four rings are simply saying that technical leadership is the key to success. As any linguist would argue with reference to the OEM’s slogan: Audi is not maintaining to be the best in everything. The premium car manufacturer is rather driving home the fact that technical breakthroughs help towards being benchmark, which, of course, is what the brand is striving for. What Audi does not and has never maintained is that the car manufacturer holds the laurel in every respect. Having said that, without any preconceived notions pro or against Audi leadership in certain fields can be measured objectively.

So what is it that makes a flagship, and what specifically do people expect from a luxury limousine? Abundant space for man and luggage, sufficient state-of-the-art safety features, comfort features like adaptive air suspension, seats with massaging functions

Audi Flagship = A8

Audi Flagship = A8

and possibly air ionisation, connectivity, a high end sound system, luxurious interieur as a whole and appealing design are aspects that immediately spring to mind. And as much as individual brands differ in how they meet all these requests, they definitely take them into account. Audi has certainly succeeded in fitting all of these premium features into the new A8. In fact, the OEM has passed the test with flying colours. Why can we be so certain? Not only is Audi first to introduce a very intelligent lighting system called Matrix LED lighting, the algorithms for which were developed inhouse, the technology coming from supplier Hella –, but also have the engines become yet more powerful and more efficient. And even if 350 Euro may sound negligible in relation to the sizable total amount, it is the sum which the new A8, available in Germany with prices starting at 74,500 Euro, costs less than its predecessor. The 3 litre V6 diesel with eight-speed tiptronic and quattro as entry level model feels quite sufficient for the majority of drivers, and one can certainly feel the character of the new A8 for this entry price. In other words, the A8 has become more perfect, if there can be such a degree of comparison, and slightly less expensive.

Just another few days and the new Audi A8, S8 and A8 L W12 will arrive at German Audi dealerships.

Just another few days and the new Audi A8, S8 and A8 L W12 will arrive at German Audi dealerships.

The A8 has successfully maintained its place as sportiest full size sedan in the premium segment. The new A8 is scheduled to arrive at German dealerships in November. When driving the various models of the A8, with a clear preference for the S8, we have been able to experience just that: excellent comfort, superb craftsmanship, strict lightweight construction and a broad portfolio of high-end technologies. Audi has indeed managed to update its A8 flagship exhaustively.

Vorsprung durch Technik: Shine a Light

New assistance systems and the innovative Matrix LED headlights make for even safer and more superior driving. The engines are more powerful and more efficient. And it is still there, the technical leadership in quattro. Nothing can compare to this uniquely efficient technology that leaves the driver with a feeling of utter sportiness and as though in total command of the car, even if it is the superior technology that is in control in cases where an amateur driver might run into dire straits.

How the Audi Matrix LED headlights work.

How the Audi Matrix LED headlights work.

quattro is unbeaten to this day. But let us take a closer look at that discipline in which Audi has lately become benchmark, too: lighting. As shown in an online sneak preview from August (see our previous text http://globaliter.de/heres-to-another-fab-member-of-the-rrrrrrrrrrrrsssssssssss-family/) Stephan Berlitz, chief lighting developer, explained the main functions to the interested journalists in the fittingly futuristic ambience of the Langen Foundation. Berlitz amazed his listeners with the announcement that the stunning lighting device allows more than one billion light distributions.

Here's looking straight at you...

Here’s looking straight at you…

Fortunately, the appearance of the headlights has changed. These lights that in the thorough facelift of the third generation, i.e. of the internally called D4/4H, had this effeminate eyelash or garland look have become straight in a convincing way and so unmistakably Audi. With Matrix LED Audi even more has attained a unique physique, as the headlights with their 25 LED lights per headlamp shine their light into every corner of the surroundings, without blinding either man or animal. So even if it may seem a soppy love song, the Audi matrix LED headlights can also be described emotionally. Seeing that Audi vehicles are driven all over the world, the headlights certainly manage to “shine a light in every corner of the world” and, what’s more, in an extremely intelligent manner:

The car has been improved so significantly as regards technology, efficiency and assistance systems, and has been carefully made over with respect to its outer and inner appearance that it will take at least another three years before the fourth generation will be constructed right from scratch.

Dressed to Kill

A8 ante portas: Testing the grounds of Schloss Bensberg in view of becoming a classic of the future at a Bensberg Classics event.

A8 ante portas: Testing the grounds of Schloss Bensberg in view of becoming a classic of the future at a Bensberg Classics event.

The new A8 has gained a more masculine and at the same time more elegant and slender overall appearance. Here are the most noticeable modifications: The flagship has received an even more clear-cut shape with straight lines and edges, as in the case of the bonnet

The three dimensions of the Audi Rings.

The three dimensions of the Audi Rings.

which more than before stretches angular across the singleframe grill and towards the new headlights. The singleframe grill itself has become slightly reduced but just as ready to hit the road. The rear with its separation edge and chrome trim is of a self-assured concreteness. The car is planted yet more solid on the ground. The operating Audi surgeons have every reason to be pleased with their facelift. It is very becoming to the physiognomy of the car. What also caught our attention as we glanced at the A8 sideways is its sculptured three dimensionality, which becomes most noticeable at the chiselled Audi rings protruding from the grill and calling for attention.

20 Years of Audi Space Frame

Less is more in each new Audi, meaning less weight. What twenty years ago began with the revolutionary Audi Space Frame has been expanded into scrutinising every part and

The body of the new A8 weighs just 231 kilograms - thanks to its ASF architecture and an intelligent blend of aluminum and high-strength steel.

The body of the new A8 weighs just 231 kilograms – thanks to its ASF architecture and an intelligent blend of aluminum and high-strength steel.

parcel of an Audi car with a view to reducing weight. As it highlights sportiness and of course means higher efficiency lightness is a top priority. Thus the new aluminum technology wheel underscores the Audi claim to leadership in lightweight construction. Besides the great design freedom, it also reduces the car’s unsprung masses substantially. Its innovative structure saves 4.35 kilograms (9.59 lb) compared with a conventionally fabricated forged wheel of the same design. That in itself means a total weight reduction per car of 17.4 kilograms (38.36 lb). Its surfaces in Iridium/Contrasting Gray emphasizes the three-dimensional effect and gives the new A8 wheels with an exclusive and unique look.

Three-dimensional effect of the new A8 wheels.

Three-dimensional effect of the new A8 wheels.

Added to the refreshingly facelifted design both outside and inside, the Audi flagship hosts the latest enhancements of Audi connect. Connected mobility has in fact been a key issue with Audi for many years. And again, the company with the four rings was first to study connected traffic in great depth. Audi MMI (Multi Media Interface), the operating concept of the Audi infotainment system, was introduced to the A8 back in 2002. Since then development has been rapid indeed. The latest generation of Audi connect not only displays parking lots and parking garages wherever wanted, it also indicates current prices of petrol stations, thus helping the driver to find the station with the best price.

Rolling understatement with 12 cylinders: A8 L W 12 small in Cuvée silver, metallic.

Rolling understatement with 12 cylinders: A8 L W 12 small in Cuvée silver, metallic.

“The Big”: A8 L W12

Although the A8 is an impressively spaceous limousine, there is yet the even more spaceous version, the long-wheelbase A8 L W12. “The Big” is truly an exclusive powerplant. Its W12 petrol engine produces 500 PS (368 kW) and delivers an impressive 625 Nm of torque at 4,750rpm. Once the Big rolls it glides along at impressive speed. Don’t get me wrong. This car is also amazingly quick right from the start:The sprint from 0 to 100 km/h is completed in 4.6 seconds, the electronically governed top speed of 250 km/h being just a formality. A speedboat, not a tanker.

Fast and luxurious: "the BIG".

Fast and luxurious: “the BIG”.

The A8 L W12 is expected to specifically appeal to the Chinese. However, Audi totally refrained from a plush interior just to please the Asian taste. It would be so un-Audi! On the

This is how the W12 engine works: It consists of four rows of three cylinders. Two rows face each other in a mutually offset configuration at 15-degree angles, respectively, and collectively form a single broad bank. The two cylinder banks thus form a 72-degree V configuration. The crankshaft has a crankpin offset of twelve degrees so that the twelve cylinders ignite in the ideal interval of 60 degrees.

This is how the W12 engine works: It consists of four rows of three cylinders. Two rows face each other in a mutually offset configuration at 15-degree angles, respectively, and collectively form a single broad bank. The two cylinder banks thus form a 72-degree V configuration. The crankshaft has a crankpin offset of twelve degrees so that the twelve cylinders ignite in the ideal interval of 60 degrees.

contrary, the Big delights in sheer understatement. Its interior is subdued, straight and echoes the Audi spirit of perfect quality. It is absolutely luscious to drive or be driven. Should one describe the sensation of driving or being driven, one might say that the Big has reminiscences of Mercedes-Benz limousines which generally focus on the feeling of cosiness, where the Audians in the majority of their models want the spotlight on sportive driving sensation. The Big certainly feels markedly different from any other A8. This is partly due to the long wheelbase and partly to the W12 engine which consists of four rows of four cylinders resulting in utter smoothness. Incidentally, the W12 engine amazes with a size of barely over 50 centimeters in length and is roughly 70 centimeters wide and tall.

S-ums the A8 up Adequately …

Who would want to question the S8 oozing sheer driving delight? Not us. Okay, it is a rather large car, measuring 5.135 metres in legth, 1.849 metres in width and 1.640 metres in height. But does that stop it from having a markedly sporty character? Not for a moment. The sprint from 0 to 100 km/h (62.14 mph) only takes 4.1 seconds.

The Audi S8 is sheer driving delight, realising the perfect mix between sporty character and top level luxury.

The Audi S8 is sheer driving delight, realising the perfect mix between sporty character and top level luxury.

The S8 with its V8 turbo is the sportiest model of the A8 family. The sound of the eight cylinders are sonorous bliss making the Bang & Olufsen Advanced Sound System and rear seat entertainment superfluous. The S8 furthermore offers a generous list of standard equipment, including LED headlights, ambient lighting, convenience key, four-zone automatic air conditioning, Bose surround sound system and MMI navigation plus with S8-specific welcome screen. Although the whole A8 lineup is very impressive, given the choice we would not hesitate but take a seat in the S8. Sports car or not, the optional massage functions in the seats of the S8 are a very welcome feature. For the sportive driver who wants to delve into luxury, the S8 perfectly captures two cars in one to perfection.

The emblem of true sportiness.

The emblem of true sportiness.

On Such a quattro Day

We were in luck: There were spells of pouring rain awaiting us. Just the right thing for quattro. Rain, sleet, roads full of leaves or snow – such weather conditions are best for bringing out the quattro in the A8. In October we definitely had rain in abundance. But, needless to say, our Audi managed the unease marvellously well, no matter whether the S8, the A8 L or any other of the A8 models we were able to testdrive.

To those who seek sportive luxury, the A8 is just the car. It is equipped with a fast and smooth-shifting, eight-speed tiptronic. The electronically controlled automatic transmission is paired with quattro permanent all-wheel drive. Audi complements this with the optional sport differential, which distributes the power between the rear wheels as needed. It is standard with the A8 4.2 TDI clean diesel quattro and the S8. Additional sportiness stems from the sporty character of the chassis.

I can Hear your Heartbeat

human heart anatomy edThe heartbeat of all the A8 engines is reassuringly strong, sonorous and sporty. There are two TDI diesel engines, the 3.0 TDI with 258 PS (190 kW), or alternatively the 4.2 TDI with 385 PS (283 kW), and two TFSI petrol engines, namely the 3.0 TFSI V6 with 310 hp (228 kW) and the 4.0 TFSI with Cylinder on Demand (COD) and 435 hp (320 kW), all of which feature forced induction and direct injection. And they quite obviously satisfy the requirements of the Euro 6 emissions standard. Every second A8 sold in Europe is a 3.0 TDI.

There is also a hybrid version of the A8 and of course the S8 and the long version, the A8 L W12. It is particularly the even sportier S8 that made our hearts beat faster. With its 4.0 TFSI engine the S8 produces 520hp (382 kW) and develops 650 Nm of torque between 1,700 and 5,500 rpm.

Whereas the S8 has the feel of a spacious sportscar, the A8 L W12 is luscious luxury in completion with yet sporty elements and understated appearance in the interieur. Albeit a truly big car, the Big does not come across as colossal, but as elegantly muscular from the outside.

Mighty engine for a mighty car: 4L V8 TFSI beaing in the Audi S8.

Mighty engine for a mighty car: 4L V8 TFSI beaing in the Audi S8.

All engines consume up to ten per cent less energy. And how incredibly complex these astounding pieces of technology have become. Makes the human heart appear almost ridiculously simple by comparison. Engineers have truly become the magiciens of the present.

And for those bewailing the introduction of COD (Cylinder on Demand) let it be said that once four or six cylinders are switched off the sound does not diminish, but leaves the impression as though all eight / twelve cylinders are constantly doing their job. For this the acoustics engineers have carefully hideden four microphones in the ceiling.

Catch Me If You Can

100,000 of the second generation of the Audi flagship were sold from 1994 to 2002. 150,000 A3 have already been sold since 2003. We are convinced that the intelligently and thoroughly facelifted new A8 will sell well. Analysts maintaining Audi would lose out on the  two competitors BMW and Mercedes-Benz do not seem to be aware of the fact, that it does not always need a totally new generation. In a way, the made over third generation A8 is as good as a fourth generation.

It is premiere time for the Audi fleet shuttle quattro – the futuristic Audi can now be seen in the movie “Ender’s Game” with the actor Harrison Ford in the sci fi Audi.

It is premiere time for the Audi fleet shuttle quattro – the futuristic Audi can now be seen in the movie “Ender’s Game” with the actor Harrison Ford in the sci fi Audi.

So, why start from scratch prematurely? Considering the quality and benchmark hightech inherent to the A8 this is not only unnecessary, but also counterproductive, both economically and strategically. After all, the Audi brand is conservative in the original sense in that it has established its DNA. And what other than corrobarating this typcially A8 DNA does the facelift of the third generation do? In other words: Why topple a winner and start from scratch? A rhetorical question. After all, the appearance and technology of the new A8 has been signifcantly sharpened. And the automobile industry has always been cyclical, each OEM having their own timing for when to launch the next generation of an existing car or indeed a totally new model. Audi will for instance be launching the Q6, a new SUV. The question needs to be asked: Are not analysts trying to hype up this issue?

So while Audi is refining and fine-tuning its successful flagship it is embarking on the future in other spheres. It may be spacy, it may seem science fiction. At any rate, the company with the four rings is dealing with the future, be it future urban mobility which Audi addresses in its Audi Urban Future Initiative, or futuristic cars, as in the sci fi film with Harrison Ford. Because who knows whether or not the future is now.

Honestly, what does “technical leadership” actually mean? It quite simply means always being a step ahead. Although the amount of horesepower is undoubtedly impressive, the technical data will not amount to much unless the whole product is a success. This also necessitates that man and machine are feeling as one, whether while speeding or cruising along, or in using all the luxury features and assistance function – intuitively.

Our verdict? In the case of the new Audi A8 we would certainly award the car with a triple A. So there is indeed no need to come out with the fourth generation, just because Daimler has recently launched its new S-class. No, Audi can placidly keep that ace up its sleeve till 2016 in the pleasant feeling that the engineers have yet developed the existing A8 significantly further and produced an altogether stunning, consistent and well composed premium car.

Summary / Zusammenfassung:

Audi hat den Bogen raus. Das Design ist stimmig und von hohem Wiedererkennungswert. Und der Claim “Vorsprung durch Technik” ist auch im neuen A8 wirkungsvoll umgesetzt. quattro ist unschlagbare Nummer 1 in der Automobilwelt. So auch im A8. Der hat auch das Neueste vom Neuen in Sachen Audi connect, nämlich so nützliche Angaben wie die aktuellen Kraftstoffpreise an Tankstellen und andere intelligente Online-Services. Auch alle Audi A3 Varianten sowie die meisten anderen Audi Modelle haben diesen Service neu an Bord.

Mit dem grundlegenden Facelift haben die Ingolstädter der dritten Generation neues Leben eingehaucht. Wozu also eine vierte Generation, wenn die dritte verdammt gut ist? Auch das ist Nachhaltigkeit und ein Abrücken von der Wegwerfgesellschaft, die immer etwas Neues braucht, nur um der Neuigkeit halber. Warten wir also gelassen ab, welche technologischen Highlights Audi in drei Jahren in seinem Flaggschiff zündet.

Susanne Roeder

©roe

For those interested further in Langen Foundation, based at the Rocket Station in Hombroich, see under: http://langenfoundation.de/en/architecture/the-raketenstation/.



Design, Heritage and Pedigree

RS 7 + SR in love small

Here’s to another Fab Member of the RrrrrrrrrrrrSssssssssss Family: Audi RS 7 Sportback

What is in a number? Read this one: 560 hp. Very impressive. 4.0 litre V8 TFSI engine. Sounds good. It is actually the same engine as in the latest RS 6 Avant, that premiered a few months earlier (see post “The Lord of the Rings” from May). But what an altogether different car the RS 7 Sportback is. In shape and feel.

Magic letters that make driving bliss.

Magic letters that make driving bliss.

And yet V8 means downsizing, an irrevocable trend it seems. The predecessor in the former RS 6 Avant was a V10 engine with a plus of 20 horsepower,  however less maximum torque. Not to mention the thunderous power of V12 engines, typically in Ferraris or Lamborghinis, also in the Aston Martin Vantage and DB9 Volante, the Mercedes-Benz 600 SL and other models from Stuttgart of years gone by, the Jaguar XJS, the BMW 750i, 750Li and quite a number of other cars designed for the street. But in all fairness, it has to be said: What the engineers have managed to wring out of this V8 is simply mind-boggling.

Added to which the two letters “RS” are the decisive factor denoting dynamism if not dynamite. They are a promise that this is Audi at its best. Where the “S” factor is already pretty awe inspiring, “RS” simply takes one’s breath away.

Spirits of Ancient Engines…

Let’s face it: Engines with an impressive number of cylinders obviously have become a thing of the past, ousted by an increasing number of limitations imposed on the car

V 10 engines: Pieces of evidence of a glorious past.

V 10 engines: Pieces of evidence of a glorious past.

industry worldwide. They are no longer deemed politically correct, soon to be carefully mothballed like Egyptian mummies, and thus preserved for posterity. In decades to come, people will marvel at these wonders of technology from days of yore. Mind you, one of my neighbours has one of those wicked 12 cylinder pickups, with a brutish booming roar. A great sound indeed, unless it explodes into the peace and quiet of the very early morning hours, which, alas, it frequently does. It certainly makes the other neighbour’s V6 Chrysler pickup sound pathetic, almost ethereally electric. Well, not quite. Views are divided over large SUVs, which is why the car industry is in the process of shrinking them. The Audi Q3 is one such example. The entire Volkswagen Group is pursuing this course of cutting down on size. In the case of Volkswagen this is facilitated on account of its recently established MQB system (Modularer Querbaukasten), a modular toolkit strategy for its transverse, front-engined, front-wheel drive automobiles: Audi set out with the Q7, followed by the Q5, followed by the Q3. VW does it, even Porsche does it (from Porsche Cayenne to Porsche Macan which is soon to debut). The VW Taigun as baby Tiguan may soon be on its way. The first and biggest VW SUV, the Tuareg and counterpart to the Porsche Cayenne, once considered absolutely hip, seems to have become mega out within a couple of years. The new motto: The smaller the hipper. SUVs of a sizable size therefore might soon belong to an endangered species, especially in politically hypercorrect Germany. Just as fur coats and their wearers were maligned and fell pray to the attacks of sprayers in former years, the new scapegoats might well be SUVs and other premium cars. Once loved dearly and hyped as status symbols, they now run the risk of being scratched or set on fire, their drivers denounced as a threat to the environment. Little do these dimwits know that A, B or C segment cars are profitting from the cutting edge technology first developed for premium cars. My late friend Dorothy, MBE, who married a German just before war broke out, summed it up adequately: “You Germans, you overdo it both ways.”

Even Formula 1 has been cut down to eight cylinders and it does not stop here. Next year motorsports aficionados will witness the return of turbo engines to what is arguably the epitome of motor racing, with engines powered by no more than six cylinders. “Ludicrous”, you may well say. The fact is that the difference to street cars continues to decrease. Or to put it differently: Formula 1 is getting forever closer in becoming a laboratory for future passenger cars and therefore has a convincing raison d’être. This is also why a  totally electric Formula 1 is likely, although it is difficult to see what joy this is to bring to spectators. It will have nothing in common with proper Formula 1, where sound and vibrations are imperative.

More cylinders than in the F1 race cars as from 2012 – even though only on demand.

More cylinders than in F1 as from 2014 – even though only on demand.

Compared to Formula 1 Audi and other OEMs manufacturing premium cars are courageous. They try to satisfy public demand for performance, and do so by means of ever increasing efficient performance. Coming back to the RS 7 Sportback, as in the case of the RS 6 Avant, not only does the engine have a total of eight instead of ten cylinders, these engines have what is called “cylinder on demand” (COD).

COD means that  you are placidly cruising along or driving in town with only four cylinders doing the work. At low to moderate load and engine speed, the system deactivates cylinders two, three, five and eight by closing their valves and shutting off the fuel injection. The 4.0 TFSI runs as a four-cylinder engine in this mode – until one presses firmly down on the gas pedal. The operating points in the active cylinders are displaced toward higher loads, increasing efficiency and simultaneously reducing consumption in the NEDC (New European Driving Circle) by around ten percent. The good thing about this is the average driver with a sporty ambition will not notice any difference in handling. The same cannot be said for a lot of cars.

Apart from COD the engineers at Audi are specifically proud pointing out another innovation, which shows that losing weight is a top priority for cars nowadays. Less weight means less fuel consumption and increased driving dynamics. The process of losing

Weight saving via clever shape: Front brake with wave brake disc.

Weight saving via clever shape: Front brake with wave brake disc.

weight concerns the whole body of the car as well as any separate item that can conceivably be further improved. Besides using a clever mix of materials – the RS 7 consists of a hybrid aluminum design making it weigh roughly 15 percent less than a comparable all-steel body –, a lot also depends on finding the optimum shape. As in the case of brake discs. The RS 7 Sportback features a wave design that does not only look interesting, the internally vented brake discs result in a sizable reduction of almost three kilograms (6.61 lb). Ceramic discs are optional amounting to an astounding minus ten kilograms in weight. As expected from Audi, there is also a sporty note to the brakes: The electronic stabilization control system (ESC) has a Sport mode that can be deactivated altogether. These weight saving wave brake discs are also standard on the RS 6 Avant.

The third outstanding technical feature that the RS 7 Sportback boasts is the eight-speed tiptronic gearbox as standard which has been specially matched to the sporty character of the car. It allows you to choose between D and S modes or change gears yourself. While the lower gears of the tiptronic are closely spaced for sporty response, the eighth gear is tall to reduce fuel consumption.

The marvels of hightech as state of the art.

The marvels of hightech as state of the art.

What Power. What Elegance. What Class.

The basic technical data about the Audi RS 7 Sportback are swiftly told: 4.0 liter biturbo V8; 560 hp/412 kW; maximum torque: 700 Nm at 1,750 to 5,500 rpm; official top speed: 305 km/h (189.52 mph); sprint from 0 to 100 km/h (62.14 mph) in 3.9 seconds; average of 9.8 litres of fuel consumption per 100 km; eight speed tiptronic transmission; tank capacitiy: 65 litres; net weight: 1,985 kg; size of boot: 535 to 1,390 litres. The car will arrive in the showrooms in the fourth quarter of the year, at a base price of € 113,000.

Sculpturesque beauty. Dynamic elegance at its best.

Sculpturesque beauty. Dynamic elegance at its best.

There is no doubt about it. Car manufacturers generally build good cars nowadays. And the bare facts and figures about the RS 7 certainly convey an impression of power. But what are the ingredients of a truly fascinating car, a car that is both thrilling to drive and to look at?  Such a car must definitely have an appealing design, outrageous speed, convincing torque, utmost precision in everything and unfailing attention to detail.

A Stroke of Genius & Homage to Yesterday

Not only is the driving experience bliss. Just looking at this car as it stands firmly poised on the ground is thrilling. So why on earth did it take Audi so long to come out with such a wonderful car? After all the A7 made its debut as late as 2010, followed by the S7 in 2012. And finally, the RS 7 Sportback proudly presented itself to the world during the Detroit Auto Show at the beginning of this year. The Audi designers were surely inspired not only by trends in architecture and fashion, but most of all by the car manufacturer’s impressive pedigree.

With hindsight ... The RS7 pedigree: Audi 100 Coupé. Some call it the most beautiful Audi of all times.

With hindsight … The RS 7 pedigree: Audi 100 Coupé. Some call it the most beautiful Audi of all times.

This car certainly has its own outstanding identity. A personality that sets it apart and yet harks back to another icon of style, the Audi 100 Coupé S. The latter was produced forty years ago, from 1970 to 1976, and is a typical creation of the 1970ies. It did not yet have quattro, because development of the phenomenally successful all-wheel drive à la Audi started in 1977, that is 46 years ago. It premiered in the famous Audi quattro. And like so many other innovations and masterpieces of hightech, it is inextricably linked to one name, that of Ferdinand Piëch.

Only three years after the premier of the Audi quattro in 1980, the quattro GmbH was founded. From the outset, the one hundred percent Audi subsidiary has been dedicated towards premium quality. What started with exquisite leather in 1983 for high-quality interior of Audi cars developed into a workshop for the car manufacturer’s top models. All RS models are consequently produced in the home of quattro GmbH, Neckarsulm near Stuttgart in Baden-Württemberg.

Loss of Weight, Expansion of Waistline

911 2.0 Coupé from 1964 and the present 911 Carrera 4S Coupé.

911 2.0 Coupé from 1964 and the present 911 Carrera 4S Coupé.

The evolutionary process of the epitome of an iconic sportscar, the immortal and forever nimble sportsman 911, best demonstrates how over the years the waistline of cars has never stopped expanding . In fact, the overall size of the 911 has been growing from one model to the next. The Porsche Musuem in Zuffenhausen (Stuttgart) has a section showing the silhouettes of all Porsche cars as lines. These silhouettes delineate both the careful evolution of the legendary sportscar and its increasing dimensions, from the very first Porsche 901, later to be called 911, to the present 997 half a century later. So even if cars have started to battle extra weight, their proportions have grown. Just as man is growing and growing in size.

Nonsensical message. Both genders, male and female have since its birth been indiscriminately been dreaming of the 911.

Nonsensical message. Since its birth both genders, male and female, have indiscriminately been dreaming of the 911.

Porsche may call the present Porsche (internally called 997 and in its seventh generation) masculine or muscular. The fact remains that the very first slim 911 models look daintily nimble and feature an aura of dignity and grace that marketing people might call feminine. Maybe that is behind all this nonsense about Porsche being a man’s car. As seen in one of the latest postcard campaigns on account of the 50 years jubilee (see above).

Dancing cheek to cheek - Porsche 911 2.0 Coupé & Porsche 911 Carrera 4S Coupé.

Dancing cheek to cheek:
Porsche 911 2.0 Coupé & Porsche 911 Carrera 4S Coupé.

Masculine, feminine, bullish, graceful and slender – design follows a certain Zeitgeist. At the same time it has to make allowances for and is constrained by so many functions and technical demands that progressive growth in dimensions is almost inevitable.

Apart from life saving safety features cars are nowadays packed with space devouring hightech, most of all premium cars. The inner life of a car body is intricate and most complex. Right from the outset, designers work hand in hand with the engineers in their opposing quests for millimetres on the one hand and artistic freedom on the other.

Hence there are solid reasons behind the expanding dimensions of current car bodies, namely technological progress and relentless drive for luxuries such as a state of the art multi-media interior and an all consuming focus on maximum safety.

... and back to back: Audi 100 Coupé S and A7.

… and back to back: Audi 100 Coupé S and A7.

So what are the inner values of the RS 7? Audi has been renowned for its immaculate interiors. No squeaky dashboards, meticulously exact gap dimensions inside and outside. High-quality interior décor. The sport seats in the RS 7 are another definite highlight. They are extremely comfortable and with their superbly stitched leather they are a captivating sculpture themselves.

The RS 7 is remarkably spaceous. Even in the back there is ample space. In a word: This five-door supercar is a classy sculpture on very fast wheels. Not quite as sleek and slender as its relative of the 1970ies, but yields a posture of a dynamic elegance which stands alone.

Sleek and slender: Audi 100 Coupé S.

Sleek and slender: Audi 100 Coupé S.

The long engine hood, the 2.92 meter (9.58 ft) wheelbase and the short overhangs create a sculpture with powerfully harmonious proportions. With its low, flowing roof line, the 5.01 meter (16.44 ft) RS 7 Sportback is striking from any angle.

It is a superb statement of design, a paragon of dynamics and technical perfection. That such perfection does not go unnoticed is hardly surprising. Only a few weeks ago Audi AG was awarded the J.D. Power Plant Assembly Line Quality Award for producing models that yield the fewest defects or malfunctions.

Epicentre of quattro and Best Production Site in Europe

The Audi production site in Neckarsulm has received the internationally esteemed J.D. Power Award in gold for being best in class in Europe and Africa. Neckarsulm is the plant with the highest diversity of Audi models produced. It is where all the top line premium cars are built and is the home of customer racing. The simple reason being that quattro GmbH is located right in the midst of the factory with its comprehensive technical know-how and expertise. This generates maximum synergy and efficiency.

quattro GmbH is also the place where every conceivable cliental wish is granted for an individualised car.

Best in Europe – Production Site in Neckarsulm. Here: A 6 assembly line.

Best in Europe – Production Site in Neckarsulm. Here: A 6 assembly line.

And with 30 years of quattro GmbH, this is an anniversary that could not possibly pass without setting another record. With four new RS models this year alone, a total of eight RS models is now produced in Neckarsulm.This year will have seen the introduction of the RS Q3, the first RS model in the SUV segment, the third generation of the RS 6 Avant, the RS 7 Sportback and the RS 5 Cabriolet. The other four models are the RS 4 Avant, the RS 5 Coupé, plus the TT RS Coupé and Roadster. And of course, quattro GmbH is also where the R 8 is manufactured.

In Neckarsulm we were among the first to be honoured with a guided a tour of quattro GmbH, the Fort Knox of Audi. It is at a certain point – Audi calls it “Zählpunkt 6″, because all the various production phases are numbered – in the Audi production site that all the RS models are removed from that production process and taken to the quattro workshop, where they are enhanced and emerge as the very highend RS models that set them apart from their next of kin more or less conspicuously. Out of the 800 Audi people working for quattro GmbH, 22 at present work in production. There is a maximum capacity for 40 “Audians” in the present layout of the workshop.

Let's hit the road, yessssssssss

Let’s hit the road, yessssssssss

Thank you Audi for having filled the gap with the A7 and most of all, producing it in the inimitable RS version. Mission most successfully completed. Without a shadow of a doubt, we, too,  have selected this late arrival to the Audi family as worthy of prizes in all categories of design, power and meticulous craftsmanship.

This is a car in which we felt at ease instantly and with which we have started a flirtatious love affair. It gives you wings, makes you fly – even at 230 km/h and more, the car is easy and pleasant to drive. It feels like cruising mode, whereas it is easy to feel uncomfortable at 120 km/h in quite a number of cars, some of which had best be restricted to traffic in towns. All one needs to do in the RS 7 is heed the other motorists in front and beside oneself.

Icon of Pop meets Car Icon

50 years later: Still going strong. Where will Audi be in another 50 years? All electric? At present certainly not.

50 years later: Still going strong. Where will Audi be in another 50 years? All electric? At present certainly not.

Time for some music. Lead singer: Nobody less than PaulMcCartney:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wjCt0sI-cFA

So here we are, moving to the tune of a new car age. And here is to this fabulous car, the RS 7 Sportback –  the dawning of great design, steeped in tradition:

I’m Your Baby — Do You Love Me?
I Can Drive A Cadillac
Across The Irish Sea
But When I’ve Finished Doing That
I Know Where I’ll Want To Be
‘Cos I’m Your Baby, And You Love Me.

Spirits Of Ancient Egypt
Spirits Of Ancient Egypt
Spirits Of Audi ONE-O-O
Spirits Of Audi ONE-O-O.

A Car with which I instantly fell in love. The shape, the speed, the sheer presence of the Audi RS7 Sportback. Quite simply a work of art and a masterpiece at that.

The Car with which I instantly fell in love. The shape, the speed, the sheer presence of the Audi RS 7 Sportback. Quite simply a work of art and a masterpiece at that.

Summary / Zusammenfassung

Der RS 7 Sportback ist ein superber Wurf der Audi Ingenieure und Designer. Eine Skulptur auf Rädern aus einem Guss. Besonders in Daytonagrau Matteffekt hat es uns die Sportlimousine angetan. Dieses Auto ist von Anbeginn eine Stilikone, die schon jetzt ihren Platz im Museum of Modern Art in Washington verdient hat.

Warum die Ingolstädter so lange mit dem A7 gewartet haben? Geniales Design braucht den zündenden Funken.

Susanne Roeder

©roe

 

PS: And for those who criticise this blog for length, why not join this lively discussion started by Brian Driggs on LinkedIn: Who does the deep, long tail automotive journalism these days?

http://www.linkedin.com/groupAnswers?viewQuestionAndAnswers=&discussionID=260209991&gid=85806&commentID=153724772&trk=view_disc&fromEmail=&ut=33zQBWedXCMRQ1

But I have to admit, I got somewhat carried away with the subject.

PPS from 21st August 2013:

And as an addition to Audi Design and engine power: At last they have unveiled the long awaited made over flagship, the new Audi A8 and S8, today, 21st August 2013. Which begs the question: Will an Audi RS 8 be in the making? There are no such plans, as we were told. However, should enough aficionados be determined to hand out the necessary euros …. who knows. But see for yourselves: