Happy Birthday to You, quattro!


On Many More Outstanding Jubilees to Come!

“30 years quattro GmbH – Pure adrenaline” can be seen as exhibition in the Audi Forum in Neckarsulm, Baden-Württemberg, till 4th January 2014 (free admission, Monday to Friday from 8 am to 6pm, Saturdays from 8 am to 5pm). On account of this jubilee Audi is showing some unique Audi quattro cars, accessories through the ages, Customer Racing and, not least of all, some of the people who have shaped 30 years of incessant success, growth and passion.

Beary sportsman from the current quattro accessories selection.

Beary sportsman from the current quattro accessories selection.

In 1983 the name “quattro” was entered in the trade register in order to protect the name from being copied by other carmakers. The positioning of the new brand was quite a challenge, remember those who were involved with the project in its early days. From 1983 to 1994 quattro GmbH sold nothing but accessories – from keyrings, perfume, glasses, caps, little cars for children and other toys, to watches and leather merchandise like briefcases and wallets. Maria Leichtfuß, assistant to the first director of quattro GmbH, Dr. Jens Neumann recalls the early days of the high-end section of Audi engineering: “We felt like pioneers embarking on an adventure of passion. It was a great pleasure for us to inspire the accessories with the spirit of quattro. These simple seven letters infused Audi with something unique, something very special, the delight of power, empathy, and success. This spirit has persevered for more than 30 years – and it will last – since it  is implanted in the hearts of true Audi customers. quattro, this is more than just a word – it is a passion!”

7 = 7, passion = quattro

Audi debuts with its first individualised car.

Audi debuts with its first individualised car.

The year 1995 marked a decisive turning point in the history of the quattro brand: It is the year in which the first individualised Audi, an Audi A8 was presented during IAA in Frankfurt. 1995 was also the IAA where the Audi TT Coupé was presented as concept car, which as opposed to its predecessors quattro Spyder (1991) and Avus quattro came very close to series production. Designer Freeman Thomas had enjoyed great freedom, which resulted in a concept car from which the series production differed only in details. In 1998 the first Audi TT were delivered. Soon after, quattro had become a fully-fledged carmaker with a particularly sporty edge in the highend segment.

Audi TT concept car. Built only once, in search of yet higher performance.

Audi TT concept car. Built only once, in search of yet higher performance.

As of 1996, quattro GmbH was also vehicle manufacturer with their own chassis number for their vehicles. Werner Frowein is another name inextricably linked with the rise of quattro GmbH. Under his leadership from 1998 and ended only by his retirement in 2012 and Franciscus van Meel as his successor, the Audi RS 4 and RS 6 plus the high-performance models Q7 V12 TDI, RS 5, TT RS and RS 3 emerged and of course the super sports car R8.
Audi motorsports: The quattroworld at a glance. "Successful motorsport is part of our brand DNA," Wolfgang Dürheimer, former Member of the Management Board for Technical Development.

Audi motorsports: The quattroworld at a glance. “Successful motorsport is part of our brand DNA.” (Wolfgang Dürheimer, former Member of the Management Board for Technical Development)

The development of the rather exclusive quattro GmbH is breathtaking indeed – from accessories to handmade Audi quattro cars and, as top of the line, Customer Racing, the commitment to motorsports. Customer Racing started in 2009, and just four years later one hundred racing cars based on the Audi R8 have already been handed over to their proud owners.

In spite of having to jet all over the world, to a large extent living from a suitcase, Romolo Liebchen, Head of Customer Racing, considers his job as very rewarding. Liebchen who has been with Audi since 1989, took over the project management for the R8 LMS customer sport, the racing version of the Audi R8, back in 2008: “This has been the best decision in my life”, he says beaming all over his face.

Invented for passionate wo/men: Audi Customer Racing.

Invented for passionate wo/men: Audi Customer Racing.

quattro’s road to success as a very distinct brand full of passion has reached yet another climax in the 30 year jubilee: For the first time in its history more 200,000 quattro cars will have been built this year. This corresponds to an increase of sales by 30 per cent, comparedt to 160,000 cars sold last year. As site manager Fred Schulze proudly points out: “It is here in Neckarsulm that we develop all quattro models for our clients all over the world.”

13,000 hp can be marvelled at on three floors. Due to the tremendously gripping topic,  for the first time this special exhibition takes place on all three levels of the Audi Forum. One fabulous exhibit chases another, including precious pieces from private collectors. The exhibition conveys what the quattro GmbH has been known for since its foundation: high performance, exclusivity and hightech.

Gimme 5 Cylinders, Please!

Let’s therefore talk a bit more about cars now, as the history of this brand is just amazing. There is for instance the yellow “TT”, which only at first sight qualifies as a TT. Looked at more closely it becomes obvious that for a TT the car is too long. As a matter of fact the car is a hybrid in that it is the percursor of the Audi TT RS. The engineers were were racking their brains how to get more performance into the car. This meant working on how to fit six cylinders into this car rather than the hitherto four. Eventually, they took the A4 platform, a longitudinal platform which provided the adequate aggregates for the performance aimed for, and put the lid on the chassis, i.e. the typical TT top hat. The car in this configuration was only built once. Along with a number of other rare exhibits it can be seen in Neckarsulm till 4th January 2014. Soon after the engineers had the clever idea of reviving the 5-cylinder which fitted nicely into the TT platform. A perfect win:win situation, because not only did it allow them to adhere to the original TT platform, but most notably more performance was reached.

"Ur-quattro", the origin of the gripping quattro success story, owned by an Audi quattro enthusiast.

“Ur-quattro”, the origin of the gripping quattro success story, owned by an Audi quattro enthusiast. Below see some photos of this car in action.

Besides this unique piece there are many more delicious examples of engineering and craftsmanship to be seen. Take for instance the red “ur-quattro”, ancestor to what instigated a “quattro-mania”. For the purpose of the exhibition Audi borrowed this car from an absolute quattro and racing aficionado, whose entire collection of quattro cars wears Walter Röhrl’s signature on their bonnets. Or fancy owning a totally individualised Audi 100

A private collector's car. In immaculate condition and fully individualised: Audi 100 long version.

A private collector’s car. In immaculate condition and fully individualised: Audi 100 long version.

long version with specific leather all around, even the rooflining is clad in matching leather in ribs look. Both cars are in perfect nick and look as if they had just left the painting plant.

On the ground floor what immediately attracts one’s attention in the back are the two representatives of Customer Racing. The racing trim of the first polished to bring out its best shine, the other left in its original state after having completed a demanding race. It is in the eye of each individual beholder which car (s)he prefers.

Two versions of Customer Racing cars.

Two versions of Customer Racing cars.

It was … yes, of course, Ferdinand Piëch who introduced the 5-cylinder petrol engine to Audi, to the Audi 100 back in 1976. The engine proved so successful that the car manufacturer has kept it in its portfolio. Franciscus van Meel, too, is enthusiastic about the five-cylinder in-line turbo with its indistinguishable, particularly sonorous and earthy sound. In fact, van Meel could not resist announcing the new five-cylinder turbo in the Audi RS 3.

quattro Today

quattro means gripping hightech, which is symbolised by the technical quattro lizard that has a lot of grip on whichever surface.

quattro means gripping hightech, which is symbolised by the technical quattro lizard having a lot of grip on whichever surface.

“With eight RS-models and the Audi R8 we currently offer the largest range of models in the history of the quattro GmbH,” says Franciscus van Meel, Managing Director of quattro GmbH. And he is extremely proud to announce that to date more than 90,000 cars have left the manufacturing plant. In the meantime, 850 highly motivated quattro employees make sure that these top of the  line cars can be built.

Audi is benchmark in China.

Luck in Chinese. Audi is benchmark in China.

No end to growth is in sight. And like everybody else in the car manufacturing business, quattro GmbH is set to sell increasingly more cars in China. This is part of the plan for increasing internationalisation. As Fred Schulze points out: “We are by far the most successful premium car provider in China and will retain this position. In the course of the year we have surpassed the two-million mark. The first million sold cars took us 22 years, for the second million we will have taken three years. We were the first OEM in China. And our A6 is the most successful premium sedan in this country.” From these words one may deduce that Audi is not afraid of being overtaken by Mercedes-Benz that have announced a model-offensive in Asia.

One car that really is thrilling, as it looks unsuspiciously unobtrusive, is the RS 6 Avant. A wolf in sheep’s clothing… A perfect one-in-all that answers almost any need – except that of a cabriolet driver. Here is a little film encapsulating the spirit of quattro:

In an altogether different vein Ingolstadt, too, is commemorating 30 years, focussing exclusively on quattro motorsports. This exhibition according to Thomas Frank, Head of Audi Tradition, is a unique display of 30 years of motorsports and should not be expected to be seen in the same constellation for a long time. “Home of quattro” – meaning motorsports, not the place of production, as this is Neckarsulm/Heilbronn – can be seen in the Audi museum mobile in Ingolstadt from 15th October to 30th November, daily from 9 am to 6pm. Admission is free.

The Sport quattro S1 made its debut in 1985 during the Rally Marlboro in Argentina.

The Sport quattro S1 made its debut in 1985 during the Rally Marlboro in Argentina.

Some of us will still remember the breathtaking venture when the brand with the four rings set out to do the impossible and climb a ski jump. As early as 1986, they had rally driver Harald Demuth do the stunt. Watching the later version of this adventure, it looks almost an easy test of courage, which is no doubt why Audi subtitled: Copying not recommended!

But how better demonstrate how gripping in a double sense quattro can be …

As Years Go By …

Customers ask for increasingly more individualisation in their cars. quattro GmbH wants to meet these demands. Xmas Wish edThey therefore have imposed themselves an ambitious target: By 2020 they want to be the best premium car supplier. And who knows – after visiting one or both exhibitions in Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria and seeing that Christmas is approaching fast, some of us may well feel inspired to have a word with Father Christmas and urge him to make a childhood wish come true:

Susanne Roeder


PS: And as can be seen from these photos, the “Ur-quattro” does not simply sit around lazily in a garage, but enjoys lots of rides right across Europe, as for instance in Zillertal (Austria) or Hamburg. Mind you, the owner is naturally so besotted with his car that he does not dream of driving from Bavaria right to Hamburg, but has the car take a ride on the train.

Meeting his mates in Zillertal.

Meeting his mates in Zillertal.

What is snow to a quattro? But a laugh.

What is snow to a quattro? But a laugh.









The owner of the Ur-quattro is a genuine "Quattronista" !

The owner of the Ur-quattro is a genuine “Quattronista” !

quattro take you down to their place by the river... Hamburg, here we are.

quattro take you down to their place by the river… Hamburg, here we are.

We can climb the highest mountains ... easy peasy!

We can climb the highest mountains … easy peasy!








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:


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



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?


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:

The Lord of the Rings

Audi and its pinnacles of performance: Sssssssssssss und RrrrrrrSssssssssss …

Audi in Red: Die ungleichen quattro-Sportler S3 und RS6 Avant

Audi in Red: Die ungleichen quattro-Sportler S3 und RS6 Avant

Audi lupus est – Der Wahre Wolf im Schafspelz

Audi sitzt in Ingolstadt und Neckarsulm, nicht in Wolfsburg. Das ist ein Glück, denn die geschichtlichen Konnotationen und das Antlitz der wölfischen Burg sind nicht eben schmeichelhaft. Es geht auch nicht um den Wolfsburger Lupo, den Zwerg der VW Familie. Es geht um die etwas schnellere Variante der ohnehin drehmomentfreudigen Modelle mit den vier Ringen. Wieso Neckarsulm? Viele Nicht-Baden-Württemberger wissen noch immer nicht, dass hier ein gleichwertiger Zweitsitz von Audi ist. Mehr noch. Audi Enthusiasten und eingefleischte quattro Fans wissen, dass hier die schnellen RS Modelle und weitere Premium Audis (A4, A6) gebaut werden und dass hier der Sitz der quattro GmbH mit ihren exklusiven Ausstattungsmöglichkeiten für die Fahrzeugindividualisierung wirkt. Von 1969 bis 1984 war Neckarsulm sogar der Hauptsitz. Der Name: NSU Auto Union. Denn wie heute war VW auch Ende der 1960er Jahre in Kauflaune und übernahm kurzerhand die NSU Motorenwerke AG. NSU, einst stolzer Name für den Fahrrad-, Motorrad-, Automobil- und Motorroller-Hersteller, der nach der Gründung anno 1873 sieben Jahre später in die Stadt, wo die Flüsse Neckar und Sulm zusammenfließen, umzog. Doch wer denkt heute  bei den Kürzeln NSU noch an Automobilbau? Gibt man heute NSU bei Google ein, findet sich gerade mal die VW Aktie an erster Stelle, doch dann seitenweise die rechtsradikale Szene samt Einzelheiten zum NSU Prozess. Schade, dass Audi den Begriff NSU nicht schützen lassen konnte. Audi_Ringe

Dessen ungeachtet lockt Audi dieses Jahr mit einem Leckerbissen nach dem andern, egal ob aus der NSU- oder IN-Schmiede. Der Audi S3 und RS6 Avant sind zwei Highlights, die wir vor kurzem ausgiebig fahren durften. Sehr unterschiedlich, aber beide in ihrem Segment herausragend und faszinierend. Das Fazit vorab: mehr davon! Man möchte schlichtweg weiterfahren. Doch das Angebot, den RS6 Avant direkt vor die eigene Haustür und weiter nach Neckarsulm zu fahren, stieß auf taube Ohren. Die Audi Mannschaft ist an Lob gewöhnt. Zu Recht. Das Handling beider Fahrzeuge ist wieder mal beeindruckend präzise, die Verarbeitung lässt keine Wünsche offen. Lediglich der Preis. Da bildet sich auch ohne Lenkrad in der Hand und sportliche Fahrweise die eine oder andere Schweißperle auf der Stirn. Der Fahrspaß à la “Vorsprung durch Technik” im S3 beginnt bei 38 900 Euro. Für den Fünftürer, den neuen S3 Sportback, kommen bescheidene 900 Euro dazu. Fast das Dreifache muss man für den neuen Spitzensportler RS6 Avant berappen. Das neue Flaggschiff kann man ab 107 900 Euro sein eigen nennen. Über Extras können es schnell 130.000 Euro und mehr werden. Aber wer das Auto gefahren ist und es sich leisten kann, will es haben.

Let’s hit the road, yessss!

Let's hit the road, yessss - with sheer unlimited power

Let’s hit the road, yessss – with sheer unlimited power

Satt und gefräßig steht der wahre Lupus Audiensis vor uns da. Satt im Design. Gefräßig, weil er viel Strecke machen will und das blitzschnell wie ein Pfeil. Wären wir uns in und um den Münchner Flughafen herum begegnet, wir hätten uns vermutlich den Vogel gezeigt oder die Lichthupe betätigt. Zu Unrecht, denn er erledigt alle Manöver souverän. Der RS6 Avant ist einfach sauschnell, ein Rennwagen mit Tarnkappe. Man tritt aufs Gas, und er rast davon. Blitzschnell hat er weitere Reserven parat. Ein hammerhartes Fahrerlebnis. Ohne Geisterfahrer zu sein, wird die Gegenfahrbahn zur fast so häufig befahrenen Spur wie die eigene. Natürlich macht es auch Spaß, als Frau das Stereotyp zu bedienen und mal so richtig die Geschwindigkeitskrallen ausfahren zu können. Sieht ja so harmlos aus: Frau am Steuer und kurz vor Ortseinfahrt. Der Mercedes-Benz S-Klasse Fahrer vor uns macht sich schon mal breit – ein Tritt aufs Gaspedal; und er wird zum Punkt im Rückspiegel. Überhaupt können wir in aller Regel relativ unbehelligt durch die Gegen brausen. Bei Audi erklärt man das so: “Der RS6 hat eine höhere Akzeptanz als ein reiner Sportwagen. Denn er bietet ein gewisses Maß an Seriosität in allen Lebenslagen.”

Einen noch unvorstellbareren Job leisten die Bremsen, wenn wir direkt vor Ortseingang brutal in die Eisen steigen. Die RS-Bremsanlage und Keramikbremsen als Sonderausstattung

Von 305 auf 50: Höchstleistung im Runterbremsen

Von 305 auf 50: Höchstleistung im Runterbremsen

greifen sofort knallhart durch. Denn egal wie sehr ein erfahrener Fahrer die brachiale Kraftentwicklung samt famosem Drehmoment von 700 Newtonmetern. Hätten wir gewollt, wir hätten ihn per Kickdown in 3,9 Sekunden von null auf hundert gebracht, ohne Grummeln des Motors. Diese Eckdaten des 560 PS starken geräumigen Kombi dienen nicht der Prahlerei. Sie sagen schlichtweg: dieser Biturbo-V8 kann, wenn er will. Leicht geworden ist er auch. Um etwa hundert Kilogramm hat er abgespeckt. Zu einem erheblichen Teil ist das der Veränderung von einem V10 zu einem V8 Aggregat geschuldet. Ein Downsizing, das zudem trotz Zylinderabschaltung (Cylinder on Demand) von acht auf vier Zylinder im Teillast-Bereich absolut überzeugt. Der Motor ist allzeit bissbereit. Kein Turboloch, ein permanent griffiger Motor, der keinen Quälbereich kennt. Und dazu dieser satte Sound, der bullig dröhnt und mit seinen Sportrohren bollernde Salutgrüße an die Umwelt verteilt.

Der Audi Bolide knurrt auch im Stehen. Er duldet keinen Stillstand. Doch das Leben auf den Straßen der Neidgesellschaft Deutschland, von den Zuständen in der Schweiz ganz zu schweigen, wird dem Herr der Ringe alles andere als leicht gemacht. Freie Fahrt für freie Bürger. Dieser Spruch der 1970er Jahre gegen die damals drohende und auch aktuell immer wieder debattierte generelle Geschwindigkeitsbegrenzung auf 130 km/h war mit Sicherheit nicht klug gewählt. Allerdings wäre es zu begrüßen, wenn diese leidige Diskussion um Begrenzungen im Hightech-Land Bundesrepublik endlich ad acta gelegt werden könnte. Der Hochgeschwindigkeitszug TGV rast mit 320 km/h davon, Flugzeuge fliegen mit unvorstellbar schneller Geschwindigkeit durch die Lüfte. Nur das Automobil soll quasi stillgelegt werden. Abgeriegelt wird schon seit Jahrzehnten. Denn auch der RS6 Avant mit Dynamikpaket plus könnte mehr als 305km/h.

"Passen's auf sich auf!" Zuspruch einer Pfarrfrau, auf die der RS6 Avant auch Eindruck machte.

“Passen’S auf sich auf!” Zuspruch einer Pfarrfrau, auf die der RS6 Avant auch Eindruck machte.

Warum also nicht das eine tun, ohne das andere zu lassen? Der Verkehr nimmt weiterhin zu. Speziell im Transitland Deutschland. Mit Sicherheit lässt er sich flüssiger gestalten, wenn auf dreispurigen Autobahnen nach und nach verschiedene Geschwindigkeiten für verschiedene Spuren gelten. Die rechte Spur sollte für 80 bis 120 km/h vorbehalten sein. 125 bis 150 km/h könnten auf der mittleren Spur und Geschwindigkeiten ab 160 km/h auf der linken Spur gelten. Kommt dann ein Fahrzeug deutlich schneller angeschossen, können langsamere Fahrer zügig in die mittlere Spur wechseln, um danach wieder rauszubeschleunigen. Die vierte Spur, wo es sie gibt, sollte grundsätzlich für Geschwindigkeiten ab 190 km/h vorbehalten sein. Zusätzlich könnte es angekündigte Bereiche geben, in denen der Schwerlastverkehr überholen, also von der rechten auf die mittlere Spur ausscheren darf, um nicht über weite Strecken hinter einem erheblich langsameren Artgenossen festzuhängen. Keiner soll zum schnellen Fahren verurteilt werden. Dann bitte auch nicht zum Langsamfahren.

Start these engines instantly!

Nach der Power-Familienkutsche RS6 Avant –  nein, das ist kein Widerspruch. Es ist eine der überzeugendsten Formen des Horaz’schen “dulce et utile” im 21. Jahrhundert, eben die perfekt gelungene Symbiose von “Nutzfahrzeug” und Angenehmem, quasi einem Rennwagen mit Straßenzulassung. Nach dieser granatenmäßigen Power-Familienkutsche also scheint der S3 vergleichsweise harmlos. Scheint. Denn handzahm ist er mitnichten, der Power-Kompakte aus Ingolstadt.

S 3 und Susanne - aber bitte in Misanorot Perleffekt

S 3 und Susanne – aber bitte in Misanorot Perleffekt

Mit Charaktereigenschaften wie 300 PS (221kW), die einen Sprint von null auf hundert km/h in 4,8 Sekunden (S tronic) oder 5,2 Sekunden (manuell) ermöglichen, mit einem Drehmoment von 380 Newtonmetern zeigt auch der S3, dass er mit Fug und Recht zur Riege der Leistungssportler gehört. Er ist knackig, frech und wie gewohnt präzise steuerbar. Der Zwei-Liter Turbomotor mit seinen vier Zylindern ist schon aufgrund seines sparsamen Verbrauchs von 6,9 (S tronic) oder 7 Liter Normverbrauch ein weiteres Highlight in der quattro-Phonie der sportlichen Allradler. Auch der S3 wird wieder mit einer RS-Variante aus Neckarsulm getoppt, allerdings muss man auf ihn noch ein paar Jährchen warten. Und wer will das schon.

30 Jahre quattro GmbH

Außer einem Feuerwerk neuer Modellgenerationen und Facelifts feiert Audi dieses Jahr auch 30 Jahre quattro GmbH. Alle RS Modelle werden in der Manufaktur und hundertprozentigen Tochter von Audi in Neckarsulm gefertigt. Dazu kommt der Mittelmotorsportwagen R8. Und nicht nur das. Die quattro GmbH, die dem Motto „Power, Speed und Individualität“ huldigt, hat drei Geschäftsfelder. An erster Stelle stehen Entwicklung und Bau der Hochleistungsmodelle, also der RS- und R8-Typen. Ein zweites Betätigungsfeld sind die Fahrzeugindividualisierung und die Accessoires. Passend dazu befasst sich die quattro GmbH auch mit dem Kundenmotorsport, dem Audi Sport Customer Racing, in dem so bekannte Rennfahrer wie Markus Winkelhock und Rahel Frey unterwegs sind.

Rechtzeitig zum Jubiläum hat Audi dieses Fahr vier neue RS-Modelle auf die Straße gebracht: Den Anfang machte der RS4 Avant, dessen dritte Generation seit Jahresbeginn beim Händler steht. Darauf folgten in schneller Folge der RS7, der RSQ3 und zuletzt eben der Herr der Ringe, der atemberaubend schnelle RS6 Avant. Allein im letzten Jahr haben 11.500 RS und R-Modelle ihren Käufer gefunden. Ganz zu schweigen vom Wunsch der Automobilisten nach Individualisierung. Sie hielt im vergangenen Jahr in 160.000 Audi Modelle Einzug. Wer da unkt, der RS6 Avant und seine Artverwandten seien eine aussterbende Rasse, der irrt sich hoffentlich gewaltig. Denn zum einen wird die Gruppe der Autobegeisterten, die gerne sportlich schnell unterwegs sind, nicht versiegen. Zum andern haben Hightech die Verbräuche der RS-Modelle dermaßen reduziert, dass der Normverbrauch des Zweitonners RS6 Avant gerade noch bei 9,8 Liter Kraftstoff auf hundert Kilometer liegt. Das hätte vor wenigen Jahren ein Kleinwagen verbraucht.

Kommandozentrale vom Feinsten

Kommandozentrale vom Feinsten

Reinsetzen und wohlfühlen. Das haben sowohl der S3 als auch der RS6 Avant von Anfang an bei der Fahrerin ausgelöst. Auch nicht ansatzweise das leiseste Gefühl von Unbehagen oder gar Unwohlsein vor schneller Beschleunigung und vielen Pferdestärken. Ausgefeilte Technik, bequeme Sportsitze, ein  und ein Interieur vom Feinsten machen’s möglich.

Susanne Roeder


 PS: Und weil die leidige Diskussion zu Tempolimits rechtzeitig zum Wahlkampf wieder ein Kampfthema wird, möchte ich an dieser Stelle ausdrücklich auf die Meinung von Mobil in Deutschland e.V. hinweisen:
Kein Tempolimit 120 km/h: Nichts spricht dafür, vieles dagegen!