Tag Archives: Audi R8 Spyder

Drive Review: Ferrari F430 vs. Audi R8

19 Sep

Scuderia Ferrari. No other name in the world of motorsport evokes the same level of pedigree, prestige and exclusivity as cars emblazoned with the famous Ferrari prancing horse. With 15 drivers’ championships and 16 constructors (manufacturers) championships in Formula 1 alone their reputation for winning is unsurpassed. So, when I had the opportunity to pilot on of their modern sports cars I didn’t hesitate.

Now, before I go on a longer rant about Ferrari you need to realize that as a journalist I need to be fair in my evaluation and assessment of both vehicles featured in this comparison. You also should know that Ferrari isn’t the only manufacturer with a laundry list of top-tier accomplishments at some of the world’s best automotive competitions.

Audi was founded in Germany by August Horch in 1909, a full 20 years before Enzo Ferrari established his own company in Maranello, Italy. And, although the Ferrari nameplate is synonymous with victory, it has been the company with the four rings that has dominated the world of endurance racing. Audi has claimed the overall title at the iconic 24 Hours of Le Mans in 11 of the 13 races at the French track since 2000.

So, has all of the experiences these manufacturers have amassed on the racetrack really translated into their road cars. The answer is a resounding one, YES.

Both the F430 and R8 were driven on two different occasions at the Imagine Lifestyles autocross track at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. This allowed me to fairly test each car on an identical track.

The particular R8 I drove in June was an earlier production version that was equipped with Audi’s 4.2-liter V-8 engine, as opposed to the optional 5.2-liter V-10 found in the limited-production R8 GT. Because of this I had a total of 430 horsepower available at my disposal, compared to 525 with the larger V-10. Both engines have plenty of torque of tap, but I found these naturally-aspirated, rear mid-engine monsters really have to be revved up high to squeeze all the juice out. At W.O.T. (wide open throttle) the sound of the Audi all-aluminum V8 was wonderful, but it doesn’t match the sheer scream of the Ferrari’s V8, but was certainly satisfying.

The V8 in my R8 was mated with the optional six-speed R-Tronic automatic transmission. And, as I quickly realized the combination of the V8, R-Tronic tranny and Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive system was a perfect combination of the tight, twisty corners of the autocross track. This was the first all-wheel drive vehicle I had even driven and I was smitten with just how good Audi’s quattro system really was. Behind the wheel I felt confident as I made my way around the course. The feeling of the all-wheel drive transferring power from one wheel to another depending on the situation presented. The transmission was in fully-automatic mode (not my choice), and while I didn’t get to test out the paddle shifters to maximize the power of the engine it performed well nonetheless. The biggest qualm I had with the R-Tronic was that upon applying full load the transmission took long than expected to kick down to the proper gear before launching the car forward.

The Ferrari was very similar in many ways to the Audi, with the main difference being it was a spyder (convertible). It performed well, but it had recently rained so the track was wet. Because of this I was unable to push the Ferrari as hard as I had with the R8, and thus it affected the test. It featured a high-revving V-8 that was only one-tenth of a liter larger (4.3-liter) than the R8. The F430 had a 53 horsepower and 27 lb-ft on the R8, but the difference was minimal considering the Ferrari was rear-wheel drive and the R8’s all-wheel setup allowed for less wheel spin and greater traction. Although in rain-mode the F1 transmission was much quicker and more razor-sharp than the R8’s R-Tronic box.

When thinking of the final verdict on these two cars it was hard to come up with a solid conclusion, especially because of the major difference it weather that had a large impact on the drive. I enjoyed the all-wheel drive of the R8 and the engine and transmission of the F430. The interior of the R8 was far superior to the F430, which had a ton of tan leather, but lacked the stylistic design of the R8 and felt almost plain. While the engine sound and transmission was better in the Ferrari, when I put all the pieces together I found myself drawn to the Audi. I attribute this to the style and setup of the track and the stark differences in New England weather. If the sky had cooperated and the venue had been large and more spread out with room to stretch the cars legs the outcome very well might have been different. I guess I just have to spend some more time in these wonderful machines.

The 560 HP Audi R8 GT Spyder, the most expensive R8 to date

2 Feb

Audi R8 GT Spyder: Photo Courtesy Audi USA

Audi has introduced their newest version of their top-of-the-line sports car. The R8 GT Spyder and its hard-top sibling are the most powerful R8 ever produced, it’s also the most expensive. With a base MSRP of $213,800 (inlcudes $1,200 destination fee and $2,100 gas-guzzler tax) the special-edition drop-top costs $38,650 more than the regular 5.2-liter Spyder. But what do you get for an additional 38 grand?

Well, just as with the R8 GT Coupe the Spyder will be limited to only 333 units worldwide, with 50 coming to the U.S. Beside the exclusivity you get an upgraded 5.2-liter naturally-aspirated V10 that ups the peak horsepower from 525 to 560. The added power is transferred to the road via Audi quattro all-wheel drive and a six-speed R Tronic sequential gearbox.

Audi R8 GT Spyder: Photo Courtesy Audi USA

More horsepower is always a good thing, but it’s useless if their is too much weight. To improve the power to weight ratio engineers have eliminated over 187 lbs with an engine frame made from lightweight magnesium along with carbon fiber-reinforced polymer and carbon fiber composite used heavily throughout the vehicle.

On the road the Spyder will be more agile and nimble due to a sport suspension with stiffened calibration. This tweak also lowers the GT Spyder by 10 millimeters.

The first deliveries of the Audi R8 GT Spyder are scheduled to take place this month. If you’re in the market for this four-ringed beauty you better hurry as only 50 units will come to our shores.

Interior of the Audi R8 GT Spyder: Photo Courtesy Audi USA

© 2012 GermanAutoNews

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Any unauthorized reprint or use of any material is prohibited. No content information whatsoever may be reproduced or retransmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without the express written consent of the creator of GermanAutoNews.com

Lighter and more powerful: The Audi R8 GT Spyder

7 Jun

By Matt McCarron

Audi R8 GT Spyder: Courtesy Audi North America

There is a reason most high-performance vehicles are conceptualized as a coupe before a convertible. Not to mention that owners often opt for the hard top rather than a soft top. Convertibles usually cost more to produce, to purchase and are also inherently heavier. This added weight results in a loss of performance. Not something most want to hear after dropping over six figures on a vehicle.

However, the Audi R8 GT Spyder has managed to turn the above notion on its head. Not only has the supercar refused to add any weight, it has gone on a strict diet of carbon fiber, ultra-light magnesium and aluminum.The R8 GT Sypder is literally covered in carbon fiber-reinforced polymer (CFRP). The cover over the soft-top compartment, large rear side panels use CFRP, as well as the fixed rear spoiler and the redesigned front spoiler and rear bumper.

Body panels are not the only pieces of the vehicle that have received special treatment. The interior seats, composed of glass fiber-reinforced polymer save a remarkable 69.45 lbs. The result of all this ultra lightweight technology is a total weight of just 3,615.58 lbs. That’s 187.39 lbs less than the regular R8 Sypder 5.2 FSI quattro.

Audi R8 GT Spyder rear view: Courtesy Audi North America

The R8 GT Sypder shares the same 5.2-liter V10 as the R8 GT coupe. It produces 560 hp and 398.28 lb-ft of torque at 6,500 rpm, allowing the R8 GT Spyder to accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h (62.14 mph) in 3.8 seconds and reach a top speed in excess of 196 mph. All of this horsepower and torque is transferred to the wheels via a standard automated six-speed R tronic transmission with two fully automatic modes and an additional manual mode. The R tronic transmission also gives the driver the option of using launch control for blistering acceleration from a stop, with gear shifts taking only one-tenth of a second.

As with all models of the R8, the R8 GT Spyder features Audi quattro all-wheel drive. So yes, you can rip around corners and through the twisties with added ease. On top of the all-wheel drive system the driver can have the added security of knowing there is an upgraded aluminum double wishbone suspension and lightweight carbon-fiber ceramic brakes. That being said, if you really want to let loose you just put the Spyder into sport mode, effectively deactivating the ESP stabilization program.

As with the GT coupe, the R8 GT Spyder will be limited to 333 units worldwide, with no more than 90 making their way to U.S. shores. If you want one you better act fast and have deep pockets. All 333 examples of the GT coupes sold out long before they were even built and you can expect the same to be true for the Spyder. Pricing for U.S. spec car has not be released yet. However, judging by the German base MSRP of 207,800 euros, you can expect the U.S version to cost in the area of $304,000.

Interior Audi R8 GT Spyder: Courtesy Audi North America

© 2011 GermanAutoNews

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Any unauthorized reprint or use of any material is prohibited. No content information whatsoever may be reproduced or retransmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without the express written consent of the creator of GermanAutoNews.com

503 hp Audi A1 clubsport quattro revealed

31 May

By Matt McCarron

It’s often said big things come in small packages, and in this case it’s very true. To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Wörtherseetour, an annual even that attracts Audi, Seat, Skoda and Volkswagen enthusiasts Audi has created a no-holds-barred version of their A1.

Audi A1 clubsport quattro: Courtesy Audi USA

The one-off Audi A1 clubsport quattro is sure to be the envy of Audi drivers everywhere.

The 503 hp and 486.79 lb-ft of torque emanating from under the hood come courtesy of a highly-modified version of Audi’s 2.5-liter 5-cylinder engine, with turbocharging and direct injection. All of this horsepower and torque is made more evident because of the car’s reduced weight. Weighing only 3,064 lbs, the A1 clubsport quattro can accelerate from 0-60 mph in 3.7 seconds, from 0-125 mph in 10.9 seconds, and 50-75 mph in fourth gear in only 2.4 seconds.

All of this horsepower and torque is transferred to the wheels via a six-speed manual transmission and quattro permanent all-wheel drive. Speaking of wheels and tires the special A1 rolls down the road on 255/30 low profile tires with 19-inch alloy wheels, and comes to a stop via six-piston calipers and perforated carbon fiber-ceramic discs on the front, and steel discs on the rear.

In order to save weight many luxury items have been removed including the rear seats, infotainment system, MMI monitor and loudspeaker, making the vehicle more suitable for the racetrack. To round out the weight savings the A1 clubsport quattro has lightweight bucket seats taken from the Audi R8 GT and feature a chassis made of carbon fiber-reinforced polymer.

Interior: Audi A1 clubsport quattro: Courtesy Audi USA

The interior and exterior of the A1 clubsport quattro have also been tweaked. The exterior is finished in matte white with many accents to separate it from everything else on the road. Included in these accents are a high-gloss roof arch with carbon fiber-reinforced polymer (CFRP) roof underneath. The aerodynamics are highlighted by large, split air intakes with carbon struts, integrated into a modified front skirt. The front fenders, doors and rear side panels have been widened by a total of 60 millimeters and air outlets are integrated into the rear ends of the fenders.

The interior is also race-inspired with exposed, matt-finished CFRP throughout. Additional instruments let the driver keep track of the oil pressure, boost pressure and electrical system voltage and red loops have replaced the handles on the doors, the glove box and the covers of the storage compartments.

© 2011 GermanAutoNews

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Any unauthorized reprint or use of any material is prohibited. No content information whatsoever may be reproduced or retransmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without the express written consent of the creator of GermanAutoNews.com

SLS AMG Roadster revealed, finally.

5 May

By Matt McCarron

After many rumors that the 2012 SLS AMG Roadster was among one of the three vehicles Mercedes-Benz was scheduled to debut at the 2011 New York International Auto Show, it turned out to be a no-show. So, if it wasn’t debuted at the New York show, then when would Mercedes finally lift the veil of secrecy and show the SLS AMG Roadster to the world. Well, the automotive world got their answer on Thursday when Mercedes revealed the drop-top version of their SLS AMG supercar will make its world premiere at the 2011 Frankfurt International Auto Show in September.

The final details of the SLS AMG Roadster are still being hammered out by AMG engineers, but numerous things have been set in stone. One of the most unusual and intriguing aspects to the roadster is its soft-top. Mercedes claims the soft-top can be deployed or retracted in just 11 seconds, at speeds up to 31 mph, with just the touch of a button.

Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster testing in Papenburg, Germany: Courtesy MB USA

The soft-top, which is comprised of three layers of fabric has been engineered with a weight-optimized magnesium,steel and aluminum construction, capable of with withstanding the vehicle’s top speed of 197 mph, regardless of whether or not the soft-top is covering the interior cabin, or neatly hidden behind the passenger seats. To ensure this structural integrity the SLS AMG Roadster has undergone high speed testing at three different high-speed tracks, in Papenburg, Germany, Nardo, Italy and Idiada, Spain.

In addition to the high-speed testing, the SLS AMG Roadster and its high-tech soft-top has endured a plethora of other testing including a high-intensity rain test and climate change tests where the vehicle was exposed to a variety of extreme climates around the world.

Mercedes says the SLS AMG Roadster still needs to undergo a number of quality test on other parts of the vehicle before it makes its world premiere on September 13 in Frankfurt. However, if the soft-top has survived such extensive and extreme testing, chances are the rest of the vehicle will also stack up to Mercedes’ and customer’s demands. But only time will tell if this version of the SLS AMG holds up to the reviews and acclaim of its hard-top sibling.

© 2011 GermanAutoNews

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Any unauthorized reprint or use of any material is prohibited. No content information whatsoever may be reproduced or retransmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without the express written consent of the creator of GermanAutoNews.com

First ride E30 M3: Superb handling, engine and classic BMW styling

3 May

By Matt McCarron

What do you get when you take an E30 M3 in pristine condition, add a list of modifications as long as the Great Wall of China, some windy back roads and an experienced driver? A memorable experience, that’s what.

When GermanAutoNews was offered the chance to take a ride in an E30 M3, it didn’t take much time to come up with a decision. After all, this is the E30 M3 we’re taking about, a car synonymous with the S14, a high-revving inline four-cylinder that loves to be pushed above 3,000 rpm, and impeccable handling thanks in part to the vehicle’s 52 to 48 weight distribution. However, this wasn’t your run-of-the-mill E30 M3. In fact it’s about as far from the stock North American spec E30 M3 as it could possibly get.

1991 BMW E30 M3

This special E30 M3 was built by Turner Motorsport of Amesbury, Mass. To make this M3 stand out from the pack Turner went all-in with just about every option or upgrade available including a 2.5-liter stroker kit, stage 3 ported/polished head, Evo 3 throttle bodies, Evo 2 camshaft, B&B Triflow muffler, heavy duty clutch, lightweight flywheel, coilover suspension and a whole host of other improvements.

All of these improvements were evident as the M3 rounded the corner of Haigis Mall at UMass Amherst. The vehicle’s exhaust gave off a subtle yet undeniable drone as it made its way toward our camera, and the suspension could be seen trying to keep up with the never-ending bumps and dips that are much too prevalent around the UMass campus. The final component to be experienced before even entering the vehicle was the award-winning sound system, featuring two Focal 27VX 11″ subwoofers,  165EX 3-way and 136EX 2-way speakers and Precision Power 4400 and 2600 amplifiers.

As the ride began we hoped the owner and driver of the M3 would drive the car like it was supposed to be driven. And it didn’t take long to figured out the owner wasn’t intent on leisurely driving around town, all the while being careful to stay under 3,000 rpms and stay at the recommended speed limit.

Actually, from the moment we left the first stoplight it was apparent this was going to be a fun ride. So we fastened our seat belt and away we went. The 2.5-liter S14 screamed with ever-growing intensity as it roared towards redline, while the heavy duty clutch gave the ride a sudden and attention-grabbing snap as it ripped into the next gear. Both upshifts and downshifts came quickly, maybe even somewhat harshly, courtesy of the five-speed Dogleg transmission and upgraded drivetrain.

2.5-liter S14 with Evo II valve and intake cover paint design

The stiff and tight suspension, featuring coilovers along with upgraded camber plates, control arms, strut braces and sway bars made taking corners at high speeds a thing of beauty. There was practically no bending and no nose-diving whatsoever when carving through a corner. The 52 to 48 front to rear weight distribution really showed its worth on the back roads, allowing little to no understeer or oversteer.

As we made our way back toward the campus we really showed the under-appreciated power of the 2.5-liter S14. In today’s high-end, high-performance car industry, where more and more vehicles are approaching or eclipsing 500 horsepower, the 270 provided in this M3 might seem like a pathetic amount. I mean really, the Hyundai Sonata Turbo puts out 274 hp, but that doesn’t matter. The Sonata might have more horsepower, but the S14 delivers all 270 horses to the driver in an unforgettable crescendo of noise and emotion. The S14 screams and howls in ways modern engines just can’t match. In a world where naturally aspirated engines are increasingly being discontinued in favor of forced induction units, the S14 stands alone as one of the truly great naturally aspirated four-cylinder engines of all time.

Our ride in the E30 M3 showed us something. It isn’t the most powerful, quickest or most eye-catching vehicle we have been in. However, when push comes to shove it just might be the best. It combines a raw, un-computerized experience, something that is becoming harder and harder to find in today modern vehicles, and something we will not soon forget.

© 2011 GermanAutoNews

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Any unauthorized reprint or use of any material is prohibited. No content information whatsoever may be reproduced or retransmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without the express written consent of the creator of GermanAutoNews.com

Video: Onboard 1991 E30 M3 with 270 horsepower

3 May

Here’s a video of a very agile and powerful E30 M3. This vehicle has at least 78 more horsepower than a stock North American spec E30 M3, which has 192 hp.  This E30 M3 is a replica of the Sport Evolution (Evo III) version of the E30 M3. The Sport Evo was limited to 600 units and featured an enlarged 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder engine. It produced 238 horsepower and is considered to be the epitome of the legendary E3o model line.

Photos and story will follow soon.

© 2011 GermanAutoNews

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Any unauthorized reprint or use of any material is prohibited. No content information whatsoever may be reproduced or retransmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without the express written consent of the creator of GermanAutoNews.com