Tag Archives: Beijing Auto Show

Concepts Abound at 2012 Beijing Auto Show

24 Apr

It’s not surprising the world’s largest automobile market would receive one of the most expansive and encompassing auto shows, and that is exactly what’s taking place at the 2012 Beijing International Auto Show. With the Chinese market growing by leaps and bounds each month German manufacturers Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche all have debuted new vehicles at this year’s show, with a large majority being in the form of concept vehicles.

Audi A6 L e-tron Concept: Photo courtesy Audi North America.

Audi’s has a total of three concepts, the first is the A6 L e-tron, based on their luxurious full-size A6 sedan. The the other is the RS Q3, a high-performance variant of the already-existing Q3 crossover SUV and the last is a Chinese-exclusive Q3 model.

The A6 L e-tron is a plug-in hybrid capable of operating for just over 49 miles exclusively on electric power, while maintaining a consistent speed of 37 mph. That’s not practical for highway use, but with the amount of vehicles on China’s busy roads it’s perfect for stop-and-go traffic and low-speed driving. In addition to the 95 horsepower electric motor the A6 L e-tron has a 2.0-liter TFSI gasoline engine with a maximum of 211 horsepower. Audi’s decision to produce an e-tron on the A6 platform comes as no surprise. The A6 is extremely popular among Audi’s Chinese clientele, and the Chinese have always associated the A6 with success, prestige and power.

Audi RS Q3 Concept: Photo courtesy Audi North America.

On the other end of the spectrum is the RS Q3. This tuned version of the Q3 is powered by a 2.5-liter¬†turbocharged five-cylinder engine with a peak output 360 horsepower, 152 more than the top engine option in the regular Q3. The power plant together with a seven-speed S-Tronic automatic transmission allow the RS Q3 to accelerate from 0-60 mph in 5.2 seconds and hit a top speed of 164.66 mph. Like many performance models, the modifications extend beyond what’s found under the hood. The suspension has been lowered by 25 mm as well as being widened to improve handling. Weight has been reduced with the use of carbon fiber reinforced polymers (CFRP). The front spoiler, door mirror housings and diffuser on the lower rear bumper all employ the use of this lightweight material. As with other RS models like the TT-RS the engine bay of the RS Q3 has a valve cover painted in red with carbon fiber trim pieces adorning various other parts.

Mercedes-Benz Concept Style Coupe: Photo courtesy Mercedes-Benz North America.

Not to be outdone Mercedes-Benz introduced their Concept Style Coupe. The four-door concept has a number of unique design features that could potentially make their way onto future Mercedes vehicles. The front end of the Concept Style Coupe has two distinct powerdomes that are slightly reminiscence of the one on the current BMW M3. Below the hood, the grille is nearly identical to the Concept A-Class that made its world premiere at the 2011 New York International Auto Show. Under the hood is a new 2.0-liter turbocharged gasoline engine with 208 horsepower and Mercedes’ 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system. The headlights are aggressive in their design and are illuminated in red when in standby mode. Ultimately the Concept Style Coupe has many features normally found on concept vehicles. The majority of these won’t make their way onto the production model due to government and safety regulations, but they’re are always cool to look at.

Finishing off the list of German concept vehicles is the BMW i8 Spyder. The two-door, drop-top hybrid is being proclaimed by BMW as their vehicle of the future along with the i8 Coupe and smaller four-door i3. At the front of the i8 Spyder is a 131 horsepower electric motor, and at the rear is a 223 horsepower turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine. Together the unit is estimated to achieve 70-80 mpg.

BMW i8 Spyder: Photo courtesy BMW Group.


Pushing the boundaries of performance and fuel efficiency

1 Feb

By Matt McCarron

High performance and fuel efficiency are not something that tend to go hand in hand. However, German manufacturers, particularly Mercedes-Benz AMG and BMW Motorsport have embarked on a new quest. It’s no longer acceptable to have the car with the most horsepower and torque, or the one with the largest displacement engine. In today’s ever-evolving high-performance race to produced the world’s best super sedan, it’s much more important to leave the competition in the dust, and do it in a cleaner and more fuel-efficient manner.

There are three German manufacturers who produce a high-performance version of their standard family hauler. And although all three, Audi, Mercedes-Benz and BMW can claim to have the highest performing and cleanest burning engine, and subsequently the best vehicle, this comparison will only focus on two of the three. The major reason for this is because the Audi RS6 isn’t offered for the U.S. market. The Audi S6 is a very capable vehicle in its own right, but it really can’t compete with the likes of the CLS63 AMG and upcoming BMW F10 M5. For the record, the Audi RS6 officially gets a combined 17 mpg in Europe and is powered by a 5.0-liter twin-turbocharged V10, producing 580 hp at 6,250 rpm and 479 lb-ft of torque at 1,500 rpm.

The new 5.5-liter twin-turbocharged AMG engine: Courtesy of M-B USA

Mercedes AMG seems to have fired the first shot in the latest super sedan war. In November 2010 Mercedes AMG revealed their all-new 5.5-liter twin-turbocharged V8 engine, replacing it’s predecessor, the 6.3-liter naturally aspirated V8. The 5.5-liter twin turbo offers a 33% increase in fuel efficiency over the 6.3 NA, resulting in an estimated 16 mpg city and 21 mpg highway. The 5.5-liter also produces more horsepower and torque, with 518 hp and 516 lb-ft respectively, 550 hp and 590 lb-ft with the optional AMG Performance Package, as opposed to the 507 hp and 465 lb-ft from the old power plant.

Although Mercedes AMG has been the first out of the gate in the sedan race for the U.S. market, their competition, namely BMW Motorsport have been busy in the secretive depths of Munich and Garching, preparing their answer to the 2012 CLS63 AMG, the all-new BMW F10 M5. Although details of the upcoming ‘bahn-burner have been numerous, few have been concrete. However there are certain things that seem to have been figured out. The F10 M5 will be powered a highly tuned version of the 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8 engine that currently powers the X5M and X6M. Horsepower estimates range from the upper 500’s to even 600 hp.

BMW F10 M5 at Netherlands airport - Courtesy Autojunk.nl

In a September 2010 interview with Kilometer Magazine, BMW Motorsport CEO Dr. Kay Segler said the F10 M5 will reduce CO2 emissions by 20-25 percent. “We had very clear targets, and we worked toward those targets. Twenty to twenty-five percent less CO2 output, day-to-day car and a pure sports car in one, and a beautiful design as well,” said Segler.

The location of the F10 M5 debut is still uncertain. However one thing is for certain, the fast-paced race to produce the greatest super sedan seems to be escalating, and is getting more intense with each passing day. Unfortunately, the verdict on the world’s best super sedan will have to wait for the foreseeable future, or at least until enough automotive journalists have had the chance to drive the F10 M5 to make an educated decision.

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