Tag Archives: Audi R8

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.

Imagine Lifestyles Autocross Review

16 Sep

Many dream about driving or owning an exotic car. The aggressive looks, powerful engines and legendary names like Ferrari and Lamborghini are all something car nuts want. But unless you’re friends with the rich kid in the neighborhood or have plenty of disposable income your chance of getting into ones of these machines is slim at best. Unless of course you take part in something such as Imagine Lifestyles autocross event at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.

THE COMPANY

Imagine Lifestyles is a luxury rental and charter company based out of multiple major metropolitan locations throughout the United States; including Miami, New York and Chicago. Their website states they offer everything from exotic car and yacht rentals to private jet charter and concierge services. However, for this review we’ll stick to the automotive driving events, or as Imagine Lifestyles calls them “Ultimate Driving Experiences.”

What is Autocross?

For those who are unfamiliar with what autocross is, it consists of a series of cones that are set up in a relatively tight configuration. At autocross competition the goal is to navigate the course in the fastest time without hitting any of the cones. Imagine Lifestyles isn’t exactly like that. Yes, there are still cones and they are set up to form a course, but you’re not racing either the track or anyone else.

The Venue

The Imagine Lifestyles Boston autocross event was held at Gillette Stadium, a place known more for New England Patriots football than automotive events. Ideally the event would be held at a slightly larger open area in the area, such as the United States Army base at Fort Devens in Ayer, Mass., a site for many autocrosses throughout the summer and fall months. However, since Devens is a popular location it was probably easier to rent out one of the large lots surrounding Gillette. I have taken part in Imagine Lifestyles’ autocross events twice, once in June and on Saturday. In both cases the track was set up in lot number 10, directly across from the main entrance from Patriot Place and Gillette Stadium.

The Cars

This is why you come to events like this, so they better be up to par. Thankfully all of the cars Imagine Lifestyle had at both events were what they should be. While walking to the entrance I even noticed a mobile detailing company cleaning one of the cars before it was set to take to the track. That’s a good thing because track time, from the bits of rubber from tires and other factors can do a number on a vehicle. All of the cars were in excellent working order and performed as expected. In addition to maintaining their vehicles they also had a decent lineup of different models and manufacturers to choose from. The event on Saturday only offered Ferraris and Lamborghinis, but among them was a Ferrari 599 GTB, two F430’s (one coupe and one spyder) and a F430 Scuderia. The Lamborghinis consisted of Gallardos, both hard and soft top. The one disappointing things was the fact that the Scuderia sat parked in the corner of the lot. I was hoping to drive it, and later learned that the vehicle was used later in the day when the weather improved. At the event in June there was a larger selection of manufacturers to choose from including an Audi R8, Mercedes SLS AMG in addition to the Ferraris and Lamborghinis.

The Driving Instructors

While you navigate the course you have a driving instructor in the passengers seat. Both instructors I drove with were both knowledgeable and knew what they were doing. Some of the staff claimed that the instructors are “professionals.” This title is somewhat misleading. You won’t find Michael Shumacher, Walter Rohrl or Tony Stewart giving you driving tips. They aren’t so much professional drivers as they as very experienced drivers who have been taking part in autocross and other high performance driving events for years. Professional might be a little stretch, but the instructors are all fully qualified for the job and provide useful information for getting around the track fast, safely and efficiently.

The Staff and Event

All of the individuals working at the Boston event were polite and performed well. There were plenty of “please” “thank you”  and “how was your ride.” The lines were relatively short and moved at a decent pace. On the Imagine Lifestyles website it says to allow adequate time (2-3 hours) from the time you arrive until you leave. The amount of time you wait will depend on what time you sign up for and what car you want to drive (Lamborghinis and Ferraris are popular). I have never waited even an hour and a half for the entire process. Sadly, the amount of time you spend driving the car all boils down to a couple minutes at most. The track isn’t very long and if you drive at a good pace the three laps goes by very quickly. You can purchase an additional three laps ($89), but even six laps doesn’t last long. The event takes place rain or shine, so if it pours (Saturday) then you just have to make the best of it.

The Cost

When you purchase the package on a daily deal website such as GroupOn it says $500 value. It’s not worth that, nor would I recommend anyone pay that to take part in an event such as this. Prices vary. The first event in June cost $159, but that isn’t the only thing you have to pay for. Autocross track insurance is required for anyone who is going to drive. Cost ranges from $49, which gives you $50,000 in coverage with a $5,000 deductible, up to $99 that covers you for the entire cost of the vehicle ($250,000) and only has a $1,000 deductible. If this freaks you out don’t despair. There is really no need to buy anything except the basic $49 insurance. The only thing you can hit are rubber cones, a chain link fence and a few light poles (you would have to have thing go very wrong to hit the latter two.)

The Verdict

If you’re looking to get a special birthday, graduation or other unique gift for the car-crazed person in your life then this would be a good thing to get them. The cost, while not cheap is not going to break the bank either. The Boston location at Gillette Stadium is a good location due to its generally located in the state and isn’t overly far from the North Shore, South Shore, Cape Cod or Metro Boston. The cars are fun to drive and you leave with a satisfied feeling that makes you want to drive more. On a scale of one to 10 I’d give the Imagine Lifestyles autocross event a 7.5/10, with the main downsides being it cost some $$ and it doesn’t last long.

© 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

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

Porsche returning to Le Mans in 2014

1 Jul

By Matt McCarron

Porsche 911 GT1: Courtesy Porsche North America

During the 24 Hours of Le Mans last month one might have noticed there was not much in the way of competition in the top-tier LMP1 sports prototype class. An Audi has claimed 10 of the last 12 overall wins at the world’s most prestigious endurance race. The other two overall wins went to Peugeot in 2009 and a Audi-powered Bentley in 2003. The last time Porsche took the overall at Le Mans was in 1998 when the 911 GT1, driven by Laurent Aïello, Allan McNish, and Stéphane Ortelli.

Despite 13 years passing since Porsche stood on top of the podium at the famed Circuit de la Sarthe Matthias Müller, President of the Executive Board at Porsche AG said it was only a matter of time before the most successful manufacturer in the history of the race returned to once again fight for the overall title.

“Porsche’s successes in Le Mans are unrivalled. We want to follow up on this with the 17th outright victory,” said Müller.

The return of Porsche Motorsport to the LMP1 class should add depth and variety to a class that has become more predictable in previous years. Audi and Peugeot will now have another serious competitor to contend with. More competition in a race like the 24 Hours of Le Mans is always a good thing, especially when the new competition includes a manufacturer with as storied history as Porsche.

Porsche 911 GT1 at Circuit de la Sarthe 1998: Courtesy Porsche 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

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