Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The B5 and B9 RS4s, Side by Side


By: Sebastien Bell
Auditography has made a name for itself by shooting exquisite videos of gorgeous Audis, but it may have outdone itself with its latest video.
Taking Audi’s latest crazy wagon and placing it next to its daddy, this video shows off all the excellence that is the RS4.
Despite being separated by years, the two are actually similar in a lot of ways. Both have a twin-turbo V6, both make around 450 hp, and both are stunning to look at.

Audi hasn’t just been sitting on its laurels, though, and this video is a great example of what has changed in the nearly two decades that separate these cars.
First, there’s just the way they look. While the B5 RS4 is anything but ugly, you can see where Audi made some concessions to safety. I’m here, primarily, of the bumpers. And even though the B5’s are smaller, the B9’s A-pillars really aren’t big and they’re doing a lot more to protect you, which is a bit of a digression but another example of how hard Audi’s engineers are working.
Likely the biggest differentiator, though, comes in the engine bay shot. Just look at how much farther back the B9’s is.
Thanks to its AWD setup, Audi has long been accused of placing its engines too far forward, and you can kind of see why here. The B5 RS4’s V6 is inbetween, if not slightly ahead of the front wheels. Although you’d never call it mid-engine, the B9’s V6 is placed much farther back, which will help with the balance of the car, making it less likely to understeer.
Audi has kept what works and improved what needed improving with the RS4. In a video like this, you can really see the lineage that makes the new one so good.
Really, though, having to pick one of these to drive away in would be nearly impossible.


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Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Welp, the T-Roc is Going to be a Convertible


By:  Sebastien Bell
Hmm. Okay, then.
In the realm of harmless mysteries, convertible crossovers rank pretty high—just above Turkish Delight and below the Shake Weight (seriously, how did that happen?). But VW apparently knows something that I don’t and has decided that what the T-Roc really needs is less rigidity.
The T-Roc cabriolet will be VW’s first drop-top crossover (one wonders why) and will be built in Osnabrück, where Karmann used to make its cabrios and where the Golf Cabriolet was made until relatively recently. So that’s kind of nice.
Apparently, VW has a lot of faith in this project because it’s investing €80 million to shepherd the T-Roc into the realm of reality.
“Volkswagen is evolving into an SUV brand. The T-Roc is already setting new standards in the compact SUV segment,” said Herbert Diess, CEO of the VW brand, in a statement. “I am especially pleased to note that we can count on the Osnabrück team’s decades of experience with convertibles. The Osnabrück plant now has bright prospects for the future.”
The T-Roc cabriolet is part of VW’s well-publicized plan to expand its SUV range considerably. By 2020, the brand wants to have different SUVs on sale around the world. So the T-Roc will make up at least 1/10th of that.
No word yet on just when the T-Roc cabriolet is expected to hit the road, but it’s unlikely to ever see North American pavement, so all you weirdos out there will have to content yourselves with the Evoque convertible and the Rogue convertible.


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Monday, February 26, 2018

Audi Tradition Bringing Classic Audis to More Than 20 Shows in 2018


By: Evan Williams
Audi Tradition is bringing some of its best classics to more than 20 events during 2018. They’ll be bringing out cars from the heritage collection to celebrate the birthday of August Horch and mark 50 years of the Audi 100.
The season starts with the Techno Classica show held in March in Essen. Audi is celebrating 50years of the 100 at the show, with three special 100s on display alongside an Auto Union Type Dand the Audi 200 quattro.
At the Schloss Dyck Classic Days in August, Audi Tradition will be showing luxury cars to honor the 150th birthday of August Horch. The display will feature Horch models from the 1920s and 1930s. At Sachsen Classic, Horch models will take the starting line.
At the 25th Goodwood Festival of Speed, Audi Tradition will be running an Auto Union Type C 16-cylinder racer from 1936. It will be headed up the Goodwood hill. In the German town of Daun, Audi will bring the Audi Sport quattro S1 that Walter Rohrl used to break records in the Pike’s Peak hill climb. An Audi 200 quattro TransAm racer will be at Hamburg’s Stadtpark-Revival event.


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Sunday, February 25, 2018

VW to Shorten US Delivery Times with New Port of Benicia


By: Sebastien Bell
Hot on the heels of a record-breaking January, Volkswagen has opened the Port of Benicia in California. The port will service the US’s northwest, delivering cars for VW, Audi, Bentley, and Porsche.
“Selecting the Port of Benicia as our Northwestern U.S. port is part of our growth strategy in North America,” said Anu Goel, Executive VP for Group After Sales & Services. “In utilizing the Port of Benicia, we will be able to bring Audi, Bentley and Volkswagen products closer to our California customers and provide enhanced customer service in this key market.
The port is a $1.3 million dollar investment for the region and will create nearly 40 jobs. The 645-acre port is expected to bring about 220,000 vehicles into the country over the next five years and will serve 81 dealers.
The ships will bring Tiguans, e-Golfs and 2019 Jettas to the US, as well as A4s, A5 Sportbacks, and Q5s.
The Arteon will also be among the vehicles coming in through the Port of Benicia, helping to lower delivery times for northwestern buyers.


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Friday, February 23, 2018

2018 Volkswagen Atlas SEL R-Line Review – German Comfort Food


By: Tim Healey
We all like comfort food. It’s not sexy, it may even be bland, but it keeps us feeling full and fulfilled. Meatloaf, a basic steak and potatoes, a hot turkey plate – all of these items serve that purpose.
I don’t know enough about German cuisine to guess what constitutes comfort food in Wolfsburg, and I don’t want to stereotype with guesses about spaetzle and schnitzel. Whatever passes for hale and hearty fare in Lower Saxony likely shares a lot with the feel of the 2018 Volkswagen Atlas.
Big, boxy, and brawny-looking, the blocky Atlas has one main mission – get up to seven folks from point A to B simply and comfortably. While there are plenty of modern features, that doesn’t mean there’s frills or design silliness, and while it offers enough power to do the job, it’s not precisely built for speed.
Full disclosure: Sometimes an auto journalist can arrange a press-car loan when traveling. I was in Los Angeles and Orange County for a full week for events, so I arranged for a press loan. I chose the Atlas because I hadn’t driven one yet.
I was prepared for boredom when I picked the Atlas up at the parking garage just east of LAX. My test vehicle was white with an all-black interior, and the boxy shape doesn’t exactly inspire. But vehicles are much more than their styling, so I hopped in and headed out.
Most of my initial mileage came on the freeway, and the Atlas feels best suited to the leisurely cruise. Surely the MQB platform deserves some credit for that – the Atlas may look truck-based to non-car-people, but we all know it shares its underpinnings with the Jetta and Passat and Arteon. I can’t say the Atlas feels as “car-like” as other unibody SUVs, but the ride is still better than what a body-on-frame SUV would’ve provided in the past.
Volkswagen touts its weight-saving measures, but even with the attention paid to cutting pounds, my front-drive tester still weighed in at 4,336 of them. Not obscenely heavy, but enough to tax the 276 horsepower and 266 lb-ft of torque from the 3.6-liter V6. The good news is that peak torque comes into play at less than 3,000 rpm, so it’s there when you need it for passing.
I could’ve spent all my time in the Atlas on the freeway and surface streets, like most Angelinos do, but I had a couple hours to kill and was leaving a hotel that was a short drive away from Malibu’s most famous roads, including the Mulholland Snake. So I did what any owner of a seven-seat kidmobile would do – I took it to the canyons and drove it hard. I think I perplexed the bros who film the Snake for further YouTube perusing – I know the California Highway Patrolman who was hanging out gave me a bemused look as I roared up the hill.
The Atlas reacted predictably – lots of body roll and a sense of unease when pushed a little too hard. Not shocking – it’s not meant for this duty, even if it does have an independent suspensionall around.
At least the steering felt reasonably connected to the road and well weighted, and the eight-speed automatic never fouled up the proceedings.
What was shocking was that the Atlas and I settled into a rhythm once I learned how far I could push it. Again, it wasn’t happy in the canyons, but it became manageable after a while.
Circling back to freeway cruising – not only does the Atlas feel well-suited to that from a ride perspective, it’s also got the proper interior for long drives. My body never complained after a long trek, and I had a few two-hour-plus stints behind the wheel. I had plenty of room up front, as well.
I sometimes roll my eyes at that maudlin Atlas ad featuring a family hauling an elderly woman of Irish descent across America to deposit her late husband’s ashes, but cynical heartstring tugging aside, the ad’s contention that the Atlas is comfortable for long road trips with seven passengers is fair. This thing is purpose-built for that.
The interior is standard Volkswagen fare – lots of Vader black, simple switchgear, few frills. My test vehicle included Apple CarPlay/smartphone integration, leatherette seat surfaces, USB, satellite radio, tri-zone climate control, and heated front seats. Interestingly, you can’t get navigation with the SEL V6.
The R-Line appearance package added 20-inch wheels, unique bumpers and trim, special badging, and stainless steel pedals. It’s not much of a performance enhancer – it’s more about show than go.
Other features included adaptive cruise control, rear-view camera, forward-collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, park-distance control front and rear, lane-departure warning, power liftgate, and blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.
Comfort food is supposed to be affordable, and this is where the Atlas loses the plot. The SEL I tested started at $40,890. That’s without nav, VW’s digital cockpit/configurable-gauge system(you’ll need to step up to Premium trim for that), and all-wheel drive. Desire any of those, and you’re spending more cash.
The only option was the R-Line package. So that’s $1,960, plus the $925 destination fee, for a total of $43,775. A tad steep, at least in this scribe’s opinion.
As a commuter SUV, the Atlas is a fine vehicle – I even managed 20.2 combined mpg despite the hefty weight and V6 power. It’s comfy on the freeway, roomy, and interior materials feel upscale. But the $43K price tag for FWD and no nav gives me pause.
I guess even the upscale joints serve comfort food these days.


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