The Audi Performance Experience: Building on 100 years of Excellence
- Written by Geoff Reeves
From a small car company built out of passion and excellence in engineering, Audi sticks to their roots as they celebrate 100 years of automotive development. With stunning exterior designs that pull people in, making the eyes follow their flowing sharp lines, to colorful user friendly technology surrounded by warm comfortable interiors making you want to touch every surface. With attention to detail and luxury, Audi is proving to consumers that they are a forced to be reckoned with… and we haven’t even touched the gas pedal yet.
2010 Audi S4: The 2010 S4 exterior separates itself from the A4 sedan that it’s based on with styling hues that emphasize its already tight European design. Accents include Alu-optic mirrors, chromed ringed fog lamps, vertical chromed bars on the grille, quad exhaust pipes, stylish side rocker moldings and a new aggressive front bumper design to name a few. The S4 shows some flashy personality fitting in perfectly with what is waiting under the hood.
Powered by a V6 333 horsepower Roots-type supercharged engine (325 pound-feet of torque), this four door rocket didn’t make me think twice about needing a V8 engine. Its 0-60 mph time of 4.9 seconds (making it at least .5 seconds faster than its competitors and still getting 28 miles to the gallon on the highway) raced me through San Francisco traffic leaving everyone in my rear view mirror. Integrated new technology, like the S tronic seven-speed dual clutch design, made shifting extremely fast and helps improve the car’s fuel efficiency.
Audi is well known for its “quattro” all-wheel drive capability. However, this time Audi has incorporated it with a new Sports Rear Differential. This adaptation not only varies torque between the front and rear wheels like before, it now varies the torque left and right between the rear wheels enabling the car’s outside rear wheel to push the vehicle through corners. The Sports Rear Differential helps eliminate understeer with a link to the cars electronic stability program, which can be altered via the vehicles presets (Audi Drive Select); Comfort, Auto, and Dynamic. It may also be customized per driver through the Individual mode.
Starting at $45,900 the S4 is not done yet. It wouldn’t be complete without a sporty, redesigned interior letting you choose between stainless steel, carbon fiber, piano black or brushed aluminum trim. Complimenting sport designed seats prove effective through tight turns providing passengers more bolstering around the body. And Audi provides the option of several stylish two-toned seat combinations. Each S4 has detailed badging on the seats, steering wheel, doorsills and gauges giving you a constant subtle reminder that this is an S4.
2010 Audi S5 Cabriolet: Audi takes the S5 one step further by offering a cabriolet for 2010. The new car maintains the elegant roofline in a classic cabriolet soft-top styling making the car lighter than a retractable hardtop, while improving the driving dynamics and fuel efficiency of the vehicle. The top retracts in a fast 15 seconds and can be done at speeds up to 30 miles per hour. Not wanting to compromise the premium optional Bang & Olufsen sound system, Audi engineers were also able to keep the acoustics in the vehicle on par with the coupe when the top is up.
On the safety front, the S5 comes with front, knee, side-seat mounted and side head airbags. Equipped with electronic stability control for handling and stability, the car also has active roll bars behind the seats to support the car in the unlikely event it flips upside down.
Utilizing the Sports Rear Differential and Audi Drive Select like the S4, a 3.0-liter supercharged V6 engine powers the S5 to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds (28 mpg highway) as you rip through the seven-speed S tronic gearbox. These electro-mechanical attributes combined with folding rear seats (the only vehicle in its segment to do so) provides you with the best trunk capacity in its class, regardless of whether the top is up or down. Lastly, for those who want to enjoy the open air when it’s a bit cooler can now do so with a head level heating system incorporated in the seat. These attributes are sure to put a smile on your face - especially knowing the S5 Cabriolet starts at $58,250.
2010 Audi R8 V10: As one approaches this elegant creation you feel as if it is looking at you, tracking you through the top of its LED eyelids, taught, angry and ready to bite – just waiting to be unleashed.
The epicenter of this animal is the aluminum V10 rear-mounted engine that is shared with its corporate cousin, the Lamborghini Gallardo, and is also used in the R8 LMS racecar. The R8 V10 provides 525 horsepower at 8,000 rpm with 391 pound-feet of torque, catapulting you from 0-60 mph in just 3.7 seconds. As you cautiously approach and gingerly enter the brute, you close the door and find yourself wrapped in premium stitched leather, intricate hints of carbon fiber, and aluminum all precisely engineered and placed meticulously. Giving proper adjustments to the mirrors, steering wheel and seat, you slowly feel the car become an extension of yourself. You feel as if you should check in with Air Traffic Control before engaging after burners and take off in this capable 196 mph aerodynamic invention. Built on the lightweight, 463 pound, all-aluminum Audi Space Frame, it provides high body rigidity, strength and optimized axle load distribution. Incorporated with quattro AWD, the R8 V10 also has superior traction, excellent acceleration, stability and a high level of active safety. With an exhaust that purrs at idle and then roars at high rpm without being too obnoxious, the R8 V10 will be make you feel like a kid, reminding you why you liked cars in the first place.
At first glance you would swear the R8 and R8 V10 were twins in regards to exterior design. But, like a parent who can tell their twins apart, the differences are minor but worth mentioning. First, the V10 side blades are slightly wider to feed the appetite of the bigger engine. The rocker panels on the sides of the car provide more dynamic airflow around the car. The headlights are full LED assemblies offering low energy consumption, virtually unlimited service life, and near daylight illumination. And quad exhaust pipes have been changed to single ovals on each side and the diffuser under the rear of the car is bigger providing better performance handling as the air rushes underneath it.
When driving the R8 V10, heads constantly turned. Drivers at stop lights gave me the “thumbs up,” and several cars weaved through traffic in order to catch up to me just to tell me how cool they thought the car was! I smiled graciously and then left them standing still when the light turned green, proving them right.
And under the tutelage of Audi Team Driver Allan McNish, we thoroughly exercised the R8 V10s at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California. On the track, the S tronic tranny really showed its performance capabilities. Handling was exceptionally neutral, and the V10 power prodigious. What a blast!
The new R8 V10 comes in a variety of confident colors, including a pearl hinted Sepang Blue, this uniquely designed, beautifully tailored, brilliantly engineered car keeps getting better and better. The R8 V10 starts at $146,000.
As Audi leaves the last 100 years behind and looks forward to the next 100, they have maintained one basic principle in providing the public with a better driving experience - what they call “truth in engineering.” With growing market share and continued profitability despite these grave economic times, Audi is definitely in the race, if not leading the pack in luxury automobiles. As these new cars roll off assembly lines in late 2009/early 2010, other luxury and sports car companies better keep Audi on their radar.