Pop The Hood: Audi R8 e-tron, New Nürburgring Electric Record-Holder

Ryan ZumMallen on

Welcome to Pop The Hood, a weekly autoMedia.com feature that examines the industry’s latest innovations and what makes them tick. Recently, we’ve poked around inside the Shelby GT500, Hyundai Veloster Turbo, Cadillac ATS and many others. Today, we take a detailed look at the 2013 Audi R8 e-tron, which recently set a new record as the fastest electric car to ever lap the Nürburgring.

We’re living in a burgeoning age of the electric car, and new advancements are being made every day. Today, for instance, Audi announced that their R8 e-tron set an all-time record as the fastest series production electric car to ever lap the 12.92-mile Nürburgring, with an 8:09 lap time at the hands of racing driver Markus Winkelhock. It seemed like an appropriate time to take an inside look at the R8 e-tron, which will go on sale later this year, and could spark wider use of electric technology across the entire Audi range of cars in the future. Here’s how it works: more

New Cars: Turbochargers Appear Poised for Serious Comeback

James M. Flammang on

A decade or more ago, practically every other car seemed to be equipped with a turbocharger—or could have been. After sagging in popularity for a while, turbos appear to be regaining strength in the market, though for different reasons than before. Rather than merely boost power, they can significantly reduce fuel usage. How? By allowing engines to be smaller in displacement, yet deliver satisfying performance.

Honeywell Turbo Technologies, which owns Garrett Turbochargers (a long-time turbo supplier), sees “a dramatic increase in demand for affordable and fuel-efficient downsized turbocharged engines that save money at the pump without compromising performance.” Honeywell projects a million more turbocharged vehicles reaching U.S. customers this year than in 2011: a 2012 total near 3.2 million. Passenger vehicles alone should account for nearly 850,000 additional turbo engines—a 61 percent increase.

Borg-Warner, another turbo supplier, goes a step further, predicting that 40 percent of U.S. passenger-vehicle engines will be turbocharged by 2017—then doubling by 2020. Only 2 percent of American-made gasoline vehicles had turbochargers in 2008, but by 2011 the figure jumped to 9.5 percent.

Turbochargers make use of exhaust gases that would otherwise go to waste, simply exiting through the tailpipe. A turbocharger system captures those gases and sends them back to the engine to be employed again, helping to increase the flow of air into the engine’s combustion chambers, thereby drawing in more fuel.

Turbocharging dates back to the early 20th century, credited to Dr. Alfred J. Buchi, a Swiss inventor. Supercharging is based on a similar concept, but uses a device that’s typically run by a belt, thus draining energy from the engine. Turbocharger impellers, in contrast, are driven by the flow of those spent gases that would otherwise go right out the exhaust. more

Used Luxury Car Prices Expected To Rise In 2012

Ryan ZumMallen on

Got your eye on a pre-owned Acura RL, Audi A8, Lincoln MKZ or another luxury car with a few years behind it? You may want to act now, because dwindling supply could lead to increase costs for used vehicles.

That’s according to the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA), which in its newest Used Car Guide predicts that the availability of used luxury cars up to five years old will decrease by 13-percent this year – causing prices of used luxury cars to rise by about 1.9-percent, after rising by a whopping 9-percent in 2011. The cost of all total used cars could rise as much as 2.9-percent.

"The falling used supply will raise used-vehicle luxury prices again this year, but overall appreciation will be mild by recent standards," said NADA senior analyst Jonathan Banks. more

First Look: 2013 BMW M6 Coupe

Ryan ZumMallen on

Grab your designer weekend bag and head for that hillside villa, because the wraps are off the 2013 BMW M6 coupe and the new Bavarian muscle car is here to make a statement.

Slotted up against very few competitors in the luxury sports coupe segment, the new M6 stands alone with its combination of style and substance. It's more luxurious than the Audi RS5 (coming to the U.S. this summer) and more sporty than the Mercedes-Benz CL63 AMG.

The performance version of the BMW 650i sports an athletic design pulled taut over a powerful frame. LED lighting and a carbon fiber reinforced plastic roof both come standard; adding equal parts elegance and attitude to the M6 coupe. Five-spoke, 20-inch M wheels and carbon ceramic brakes are optional.

If it's possible to make a large car look svelte, BMW has accomplished it here. And while the three-quarter rear view is downright Sebring-esque, the overall package works quite well. The new M6 carries design cues from the Z4 roadster and stretches them over the large dimensions of a 4,200-lb. 2+2 grand tourer. But, being that this is a BMW, there is no shortage of driving fun on hand. more

VIDEO: 2013 Audi R8 Facelift Spotted Ahead of Paris Debut
Ryan ZumMallen on

You may notice something about the new, redesigned 2013 Audi R8: there isn’t much different about it at all. At least, not on the surface. But there is a lot more to this book than its cover.

This new video from WorldCarFans.com shows a lightly disguised R8 leaving company headquarters and heading out onto public roads for some testing and photography. The last few seconds offer a fleeting glimpse of the car, nearly undisguised, rounding corners at the Nurburgring.

The refreshed version of the Audi supercar will officially debut at the Paris Auto Show this September with minor revisions to its front and rear fascias, but otherwise the design hasn’t changed much since its 2006 debut. Its performance, however, is a different story. more

Motorsports Monday: Le Mans, Earnhardt Jr. Triumphs and WRC Tragedy
Ryan ZumMallen on

Welcome to Motorsports Monday, a recap of the thrills and spills from the weekend of racing. Today we cover the 80th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, IndyFest, Quicken Loans 400, Alliance Truck Parts 250 and Targa Florio Rally for the weekend of June 16-17, 2012. Pull down your visor.

Le Mans: Speed can be deceptive in auto racing. We’ve grown so accustomed to seeing cars move at an incredible rate that we’ve also grown immune to it. On big ovals, 200mph can seem like crawling. On street courses, tight turns and short straights make cars dart around the track rather than power through it. But that is never the case at Le Mans; a massive road course that demands ultimate speed at all times. Watching the LMP1 prototypes blast through 3.5Gs in the Porsche Curves is a modern marvel. The braking power it takes to stop a full speed GT car is visibly tortuous. There is no illusion at Le Mans. When these challenges aren’t handled correctly, we’re reminded of just how close these machines are flying to the sun. It’s what makes the Circuit de la Sarthe the pinnacle of motorsports, because ultimate technology, design and strategy are needed to simply finish the event. This edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans provided everything that you would expect, and more. Memorable moments abound, from Romain Dumas literally ripping his Audi apart to keep it running to the Toyota team apologizing to Nissan-Deltawing for an accidental shunt. This is one of those races that turn people into racing fans, and one that racing fans will carry with them for a very long time. This is why Le Mans is Le Mans. Click here to read yesterday’s recap of the race. more

Le Mans 24 Hours: Audi Sweeps Podium With 1-2-3 Finish
Ryan ZumMallen on

A host of new competitors and experimental technologies dreamt of victory in the 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans, but in the end, Audi cars finished 1-2-3 to capture their 11th victory in the past 13 years in the world’s most famous endurance race.

In an uncharacteristically dry 24 hours at Le Mans, speed and technology danced together through the twists of the La Sarthe Circuit in the race’s trademark display of determination that ultimately resulted in triumph, tragedy and, often, pure beauty.

Andre Lotterer brought the No. 1 Audi R18 e-tron quattro across the finish line first, completing 378 total laps and becoming the first hybrid vehicle to win at Le Mans since the event began in 1923. A second R18 e-tron quattro, the No. 2, finished next in front of the No. 4 Audi R18 ultra – identical in appearance but powered by a non-hybrid turbodiesel engine. more

Pop The Hood: 24 Hours of Le Mans Edition with Audi, Toyota and Nissan
Ryan ZumMallen on

Welcome to Pop The Hood, a weekly autoMedia.com feature that examines the industry’s latest innovations and what makes them tick. Recently, we’ve poked around inside the Shelby GT500, Infiniti M35h hybrid, Hyundai Veloster Turbo and many others. Today, we take a detailed look at three of the most innovative racing machines ever: The Audi R18 e-tron Quattro, Toyota TS030 and Nissan DeltaWing.

This year’s running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race may seem like a cakewalk for Audi. After all, the German marque have captured victory in 10 of the last 12 years. But this weekend will put thrilling new technologies on display that could threaten to end their reign, and we’re not just saying that for dramatic effect. Here is an in-depth look at three engineering marvels that will round the famed Circuit de la Sarthe twice around the clock. more

With V6 or 38 MPG, 2013 Nissan Altima Aims For Midsize Segment Throne
Ryan ZumMallen on

It may have been the second best-selling car in America last year, but there was apparently plenty of room to improve the Nissan Altima for the 2013 model year. The new model began production last week and will reach dealerships in late June boasting a bevy of class bests that aim to knock the Toyota Camry off its No. 1 perch.

First and fuel-most, the EPA has granted the Altima with 27/38 MPG fuel economy ratings, best in the midsized car segment for non-hybrid vehicles. That’s better than direct competitors like the Honda Accord and Hyundai Sonata, and much better than the highest-rated car in that class, the Ford Fusion. Ford will release their new Fusion and its Aston Martin looks sometime next year, and it will be interesting to see how that car stacks up in terms of efficiency. But for now, Altima is king of the midsize MPG battles.

And they wont let you forget it. Nissan is touting the 38 MPG number extensively, and it will be available in the Altima 2.5 models that feature a 2.5L 4-cylinder engine. The more powerful 3.5L V6 engine is available in the Altima 3.5 models. more

Apple Announces Automakers That Could Feature Siri Within the Year
Ryan ZumMallen on

At their annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), tech giant Apple announced partnerships with nine major automakers including Audi, Toyota and General Motors, to eventually equip new cars with the Siri voice recognition system available now in iPhones.

Apple said they plan to have Siri-outfitted vehicles on the market within twelve months, handling duties like turn-by-turn navigation, voice command, text messages, phone calls and even online notifications. A new Apple system called Eyes Free – because it won’t force drivers to turn their attention away from the road – will run the functions.

The full list of participating automakers is below:  more

May Auto Sales Recap: Worldwide Sales Down, Big Three Fall Short
Ryan ZumMallen on

Several automakers set new May sales records for the month of May 2012 and Japanese companies returned to pre-tsunami figures, while others like the Big Three fell short of projections.

German rivals BMW and Audi each set record sales figures for the month of May, selling 35,127 and 11,503 vehicles, respectively. It marks the seventeenth consecutive month of record sales for Audi.

Subaru also reported record May sales, up 48.35% over May 2011 and boosted by the success of the new Impreza. The new model has increased sales of the Impreza from just over 2,000 in May 2011 to nearly 6,800 in May 2012.

"Demand for the newly-introduced Impreza has far exceeded expectations,” said Thomas J. Doll, executive vice president and COO, Subaru of America, Inc. “With new product launches just around the corner, we know the upward sales trend will continue throughout the year."

Ford also set a personal sales record for the month of May, but still fell short of predicted figures. Sales increased 23% over May 2011 numbers, but the company did not meet projections from some independent firms. The conundrum underscores a difficult market for American automakers. more

Motorsports Monday: Honda Surging in IndyCar, Le Mans 24 Prep Begins
Ryan ZumMallen on

Welcome to Motorsports Monday, a recap of the thrills and spills from the weekend of racing. Today we cover the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Island Grand Prix in IndyCar, a big DTM win for Audi at the Spielberg Red Bull Ring, drama in Formula One, the FedEx 400 and the 5-Hour Energy 200 for the weekend of June 3-4, 2012. Strap into your racing harness. 

IndyCar: Sunday saw the first running of the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Island Grand Prix since 2008, when it was discontinued largely due to poor track conditions and maintenance. Apparently not much has changed in four years, as the race ended 30 laps early when the street course literally began to fall apart and send drivers careening into the walls. Crews had to work feverishly to lay down new asphalt that dries within 30 minutes and the obvious question is why they didn't just use that stuff in the first place? Scott Dixon overcame the most Detroit thing ever as he led all 60 laps, holding off a furious group of contenders for the second straight victory for Team Ganassi and Honda engines. Simon Pagenaud continued his hot streak with a second place finish and Indy 500 winner Dario Franchitti leap-frogged series leader Will Power late to finish third. After three straight road course wins earlier this season, Power is beginning to lose ground in the championship standings to Dixon (second with 206 points to Power’s 232) and Franchitti (tied for fourth with 176). IndyCar now heads to Fort Worth for the Firestone 550.  more

Motorsports Monday: Briscoe On Indy 500 Pole, Audi Wins Nürburgring 24
Ryan ZumMallen on

Welcome to Motorsports Monday, a weekly recap of the thrills and spills from the weekend of racing, Today we cover the Indianapolis 500, the Nurburgring 24 Hours, NASCAR and DTM for the weekend of May 19-20, 2012. Please take your seats, everyone, we have a lot to cover today.


Indianapolis 500: Grab the Vegemite and crack open a Fosters, mate, because Aussie Ryan Briscoe will start the Indianapolis 500 from pole position on Sunday after qualifying in first place with a 226.484 mph speed. Can Briscoe turn pole into podium? Well, he’s powered by the best engine in Chevrolet, and is part of the dominant Team Penske. But while Briscoe has fifth, tenth and fifteenth place finishes to his name, he’s also finished worse than 23rd four different times. Pressure will come on the front row from runners-up James “The Mayor” Hinchcliffe and Ryan Hunter-Reay. The highest qualifying former winner is Helio Castroneves in sixth. The top qualifier with a Honda engine was Josef Newgarden in sixth as Chevy teams have the clear advantage, and Lotus drivers Simona De Silvestro and Jean Alesi puttered into the final two spots. Hopefully their slow pace won’t pose a hazard on the treacherous course, especially with the new DW12 chassis providing an immense draft force that will slingshot cars around the oval. Teams for Bryan Clauson, Ed Carpenter and Oriol Servia have just a few days to repair their cars after qualifying wrecks. The green flag will drop on the 96th Indianapolis 500 at 12:00pm ET this Sunday.

Nürburgring 24 Hours: Audi, not content with simply winning 9 of the last 11 runnings of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, fought off fierce competition from countrymen BMW and Mercedes-Benz to capture a 1-2 finish in their hometown endurance race over the weekend. The No. 19 BMW Z4 GT3 actually took pole and led into the night, but a driveshaft failure cost it six laps and couldn’t recover. Audi took the lead but when two of their entries collided with each other, the No. 22 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 took over. A suspension failure cost Mercedes the lead, and twin Audi R8 LMS ultra cars slid into the top positions and never let go.

The private entry P 4/5 Competizione, based on the iconic Ferrari 330 P3/4 and built on a Ferrari F430 GT, took twelfth place overall to become the first hybrid to ever finish the N24, and looked awesome doing it.

The win is the first ever overall victory at the N24 for Audi, who have been racing the R8 LMS there for the past four years. “Over the last 24 hours nothing whatsoever was handed to us on a plate,” said Audi Head of Racing Commitments Dieter Gass. “Our victorious drivers and teams produced a fantastic, consistent and error free performance.” It used to be that endurance races determined which car was the best for the public customer. If that were still considered the case today, after a race of attrition, there’s little question which car would be flying off lots this morning.

NASCAR - Sprint Cup: Jimmie Johnson edged out Brad Keselowski in the annual Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte which, like the NFL All Star Game, has no bearing on the season at all, but unlike the NFL All Star Game, manages to keep things competitive by offering a $1 million prize. Are you listening, Roger Goodell?

NASCAR - Nationwide Series: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. overcame an early rush from Sam Hornish Jr. to pull away from the field and dominate the Pioneer Hi-Bred 250 on Sunday, his third straight victory at Iowa Speedway. His Roush Fenway Racing Ford Mustang led 209 of 250 laps and Stenhouse Jr. increases his series lead to 28 points over Elliot Sadler.

DTM: Mercedes saw victory slip through their fingers at the Nurburgring, but not at Brands Hatch. In the third race of the DTM season, Gary Paffet won for the second time in his Mercedes-Benz AMG C-Coupe, leading from pole. The diverse podium featured Bruno Spengler of BMW M3 DTM in second and Mike Rockenfeller of Audi A5 DTM in third. DTM will resume at the Red Bull Ring in Austria on June 3.


Click here to visit our Performance section, and be sure to check back next Monday as we recap the greatest weekend in racing following the Indianapolis 500, Grand Prix of Monaco and Coca-Cola 600. Which are you most looking forward to? more

Pop The Hood: How the 2013 Audi S6 Hits 0-60 MPH in 3.7 Seconds
Ryan ZumMallen on

Welcome to Pop The Hood, a weekly autoMedia.com feature that examines the industry’s latest innovations and what makes them tick. We’ve poked around inside the Scion FR-S, Ford Shelby GT500, BMW 335i and Buick Regal GS. Today, let’s crack open the Audi S6.

The term “sleeper” used to be quite prevalent in the automotive industry, to describe a car that packed surprising performance underneath a pedestrian exterior design.

But the term has basically been phased out altogether, because modern day high performance cars are easier than ever to spot. In the luxury sedan market, one glance makes it pretty clear that the BMW M5 or Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG pack a pretty mean punch. A car with a monstrous 556 horsepower V8 like the Cadillac CTS-V would make the perfect modern day sleeper, but with those 19-inch wheels and bulging hood, it isn’t fooling anybody.

The 2013 Audi S6 boasts its fair share of sporty design features, but looks downright conservative compared to the other three. It even produces the lowest horsepower figure out of the four – by far – making 420 hp from a 4.0L twin-turbo V8.

Which is why the new Audi S6 became the ultimate sleeper car when Car And Driver got ahold of one, laying down a 0-60 mph sprint in just 3.7 seconds that sent the entire Internet into a collective, “Eh… scusi?more

2013 Chevrolet Trax Makes Bold Design Statement, Will Debut in Paris
Ryan ZumMallen on

If the recently released 2012 Chevrolet Trax is any indication, Chevy design is about to head in a whole new direction.

The automaker released the first image of its small sport utility vehicle recently, showing off a brand new model that will officially debut at the Paris Motor Show this September. Chevrolet is looking to deliver SUV muscle with small car performance, and is also promising build quality and refinement that belies its value. more