The tasty RS 7, with a 4.0L bi-turbo V8 belting out nearly 600 horsepower packed into a slinky sportback body, is the sort of delightful lunacy which acts as a speedy tonic to the raft of dour crossovers and SUVs which crowd parking lots at the mall. A new exclusive edition – a trim infuriatingly spelled in all lower-case letters – ratchets up the rarity even if it doesn’t provide any extra German horses.
The price goes up, too. A lot.
It’s a new week, and I’m back with another German car Rental Review for your enjoyment! Today’s rental is one of two American market entrants into the premium compact five-door liftback segment, and not a car one expects to find in an Enterprise lot. Presenting a 2020 Audi A5 Sportback, two years and 50,000 rental miles later.
Last week, Volkswagen’s supervisory board reportedly told management that it needed to work on improving the company’s software division. Though that should hardly be surprising considering how often digital glitches have delayed product launches and forced the automaker to issue sweeping recalls.
Software gremlins stymied the launch of numerous ID-badged EVs, the Mk8 Golf, and a handful of other vehicles from VW Group’s many subsidiaries. But the issues have persisted, with customers citing electrical troubles and noting that the automaker’s novel touchscreen interfaces are brutally unresponsive. Some of the problems were deemed so heinous that the company eventually recalled literally every current-generation Golf sold within its native Germany. But it’s going to have to do a lot more if it’s serious about leveraging computer code as the cornerstone of an evolving business model and the board of directors seems keenly aware of that fact.
Audi and Porsche have been talking about Formula One for ages and it appears that the talk is finally being replaced by action. Volkswagen Group CEO Herbert Diess has confirmed that both will be entering F1 in the near future.
While the exact nature of their involvement hasn’t been explained, it’s assumed that Audi will be purchasing one of the existing teams while Porsche will become a purveyor of engines. Diess has only confirmed that the companies will be getting involved thus far.
Back when everyone still bought into the hype surrounding self-driving cars, automakers were releasing concept vehicles framed as a “lounge on wheels.” The theory was that once autonomous vehicles hit the mainstream, companies would begin dropping futuristic models with swanky interiors because drivers would no longer be responsible for piloting the car for the duration of its journey. However, the public eventually learned that autonomous driving technologies had failed to progress as promised and would likely come with a host of restrictions plenty of drivers wouldn’t be interested in once the wrinkles had been ironed out.
But there are a whole host of markets to be tapped, the public has a relatively short-term memory, and there’s always a chance that some major headway was made during the last few years of development. So we’ve seen a resurgence of mobility talk from the industry, especially as it relates to all-electric vehicles. Case in point is the Audi Urbansphere — an autonomous concept vehicle designed for “Chinese megacities” but allegedly perfect for a metropolitan area near you.
Taking a quick look around parking lots on this side of the pond, one would be forgiven for thinking the station wagon – longroof, avant, variant, shooting brake – is dead and buried. Pockets of (rabid) enthusiasts remain and are likely a large part of the reason Audi decided to sell the tremendous RS6 Avant.
The future is murky for a North American launch of this new all-electric concept, given our propensity for SUVs and crossovers. Nevertheless, we’ll take any opportunity to run photos of a slinky wagon – especially one that could slingshot from 0 – 60 mph in under four seconds.
After two weeks of smoldering in the Atlantic Ocean, a cargo ship loaded with several thousand German automobiles has sunk. Packed with over 4,000 vehicles from Volkswagen Group, the Felicity Ace (pictured) originally gained notoriety for being a successful fire rescue mission conducted in open waters. But it was later revealed that a large number of the cars onboard were higher-end products from brands like Audi, Porsche, Bentley, and Lamborghini — making the salvage operation that followed likewise engaging.
Due to the immense size of the Felicity Ace, it would need to be towed several hundred nautical miles back toward Portugal so it could be serviced. Crews reportedly arrived on February 25th to evaluate the ship and prepare it for the trip back East. However, the cargo vessel began listing until it started to fall onto its starboard side and is now deemed unsalvageable. It’s assumed that the craft will be sinking near its current position, roughly 220 nautical miles from off the Portuguese Azores, taking its vehicular cargo along for the ride.
Volkswagen Group has stalled production in Germany, citing an inability to obtain sufficient parts from Ukraine. The automaker reportedly is lacking sufficient electrical components for its Zwickau-Mosel plant and the Dresden-based “Transparent Factory” — both of which are responsible for manufacturing VW and Audi-branded electric vehicles.
While the automaker declined to identify any specific suppliers, it said that Zwickau-Mosel will be down for at least four days as the Dresden facility will only need three days of downtime. That should put them both back online by the end of the week. But that’s hardly a guarantee and problems abound elsewhere, some of which are starting to feel borderline ordinary, as the industry continues reinventing itself.
A massive cargo ship, responsible for ferrying high-end Volkswagen Group products from Europe to the United States, has reportedly caught fire and is now adrift in the Atlantic Ocean.
Currently said to be smoldering at least one-thousand miles off the coast of Portugal, the crew of the Felicity Ace (not pictured) has been evacuated while the sweet treasures contained within remain trapped aboard. Included are about 1,100 Porsches, 189 Bentleys, and a gaggle of Lamborghinis. The remainder of the nearly 4,000 vehicles tucked beneath the the ship’s 650-foot deck are said to be comprised primarily of Audi and VW-branded automobiles.
Audi and FAW Group, the state-owned partner it is effectively required to have in order to preferential treatment from the Communist Party of China, received some good news this week. Government officials have approved the duo for a new, jointly operated production facility in Changchun.
With Volkswagen Group having shifted its focus toward China in recent years, the market has become all-important for the German company. VW is currently the top-selling brand for the entire region, with its Audi subsidiary typically being the highest volume premium automaker from Europe. Building in China is good optics for brands hoping to remain popular there and has the added benefit of placing manufacturing complexes closer to relevant suppliers, especially if you’re swapping to electric vehicles.
Ken Block is a man of many talents, many of which have nothing to do with driving. But he’s still best known for showboating from behind the wheel in the highly entertaining and well-produced Gymkhana video series. Here, Kenneth and the Hoonigan team choose a visually engaging locale and creatively rips up the pavement in some of the coolest custom-built rally cars ever to grace the screen.
Due to Block’s partnership with Ford, the majority of those cars wore the Blue Oval. But he’s since entered into a new professional marriage with Audi where he’s supposed to help push the brand’s all-electric agenda. The unification has apparently yielded its first mechanical offspring, with the insane-looking Audi S1 e-tron Quattro Hoonitron having debuted on Wednesday. Predictably electric, the vehicle is heavily inspired by the Group B legend that shares the parts of the name that don’t utilize the word tron.
If you’re one of the moneyed set who enjoys a pint-sized car powered by a frantic five-cylinder engine, 2022 will be the last opportunity to pick up an Audi TT RS. With the 394 horsepower rocket set for its swan song next year, you know Audi will be offering some sort of special edition to mark the end of this era.