The Gas Guzzler schedule, with mpg ratings and charges that haven't changed since 1991, lays out which fuel-swillers owe what to Uncle Sam.
I started thinking about the "Gas Guzzler Tax" - considerably less well known as The Energy Tax Act of 1978 - when I was driving Dodge's new Challenger SRT Hellcat last week. Unsurprisingly for a car that can burn 1.5 gallons of gas per minute at max tilt, theoretically able to empty a full tank of premium in about 13 minutes, the Hellcat will be subject to the Gas Guzzler Tax schedule when it goes on sale.
Beyond knowing that it existed, and occasionally seeing a surcharge for it listed on the specification sheet for a press car I'd been loaned, I didn't really understand how the GGT worked or was calculated.
Thankfully, the Environmental Protection Agency makes learning about the GGT (and a lot of other stuff) pretty simple. EPA.gov has a clearly written explanation of the tax and the tax schedule. That schedule, operating with miles-per-gallon ratings and charges that haven't changed since 1991, clearly lays out which fuel-swillers owe what to Uncle Sam. Basically, if a car's combined fuel economy rating is 22.5 mpg or higher it's off the hook - trucks, minivans and SUVs are all exempt from the GGT - if the rating is lower, per vehicle taxes range from $1,000 to $7,700 for the very thirstiest.
Continue reading 40+ cars that barely avoid the gas guzzler tax
It may be obvious at this point, but here in the United States, European manufacturer routinely give us the short end of the stick. Now, I'm not talking about models or brands that don't come here, like the Mercedes-Benz A-Class or the entire Renault line. No, instead, I'm referring to cars that are sold right here in the Land of the Free in one bodystyle, while Europe enjoys the same vehicle with a wider variety of configurations.
A prime example of this is the Audi S4/S5 line. In America, we can have the supercharged twins in two-door coupe, four-door sedan, and cabriolet body styles. Meanwhile, our Euroland cousins get the same trio of bodystyles, as well as the A5/S5 Sportback, a characterful 'four-door coupe,' and a versatile hauler, the S4 Avant. At first glance, Audi of America lacks a vehicle that can compete with the latter's blend of performance, versatility and subdued looks. So, what's an American with around $60,000 and an obsession with quick, conservative haulers to do? Well, he can buy an SQ5. (Though it bears mentioning, our US-spec SQ5 is vastly different than what's available to our European friends.)
The SQ5 has a huge number of things going for it that make it a viable alternative to a proper hot wagon, and foremost among them are its looks - this is a sleeper. Audi has thankfully decided not to molest the clean looks of the standard Q5 when penning the sportier model.
The SQ5 gains a unique set of wheels: 20-inchers are standard, but our tester was fitted with a set of 21-inch rollers. Visually, neither make a huge departure from the standard Q5 though. Other standard features of Audi's S models are also found on the SQ5, including a set of quad exhausts, silver mirror caps and mildly different front grille and foglight surrounds. If anything, the Q5 TDI diesel I tested late last year looks sportier than today's tester.
It's not every day that a Subaru and an Audi can be reasonably compared head-to-head; the two brands tend not to compete directly in their respective segments. However, the latest WRX STI and the S3 Sedan offer the perfect chance to find out if the working-class Scooby can beat its upper-crust competitor.
The UK's Auto Express gets behind the wheel of these two all-wheel drive performance sedans, or saloons as the Brits call them. Across the pond, both of them are rated at an identical 296 horsepower, but the Subaru edges out the Four Rings on torque. Like in the US, British buyers have to pay a little more to get the Audi, but it comes with a nicer interior and more brand cachet, if that means anything to you.
The video starts out with a fairly standard road test comparing the two of them back-to-back - all fairly subjective. But then Auto Express takes the trip to the drag strip, and the results there are much more conclusive. There's a definite winner when they cross the line, but you have to scroll down to see which of these turbocharged models with rallying heritage wins out.
Continue reading Subaru WRX STI vs. Audi S3 in compact AWD dustup
In the buildup to the 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans, Audi delivered an amusing video that worked on the playful rivalry between the German brand and its favorite frenemy, Porsche. We called it sibling rivalry, and at the time, it may have been just that. But just like sibling rivalries, it's all fun and games until someone gets hurt, and that's just what seems to be about to happen in the formerly peaceful Volkswagen Group family.
A new report from Automobile calls out the growing animosity between Porsche, who is backed up by Bentley, and Audi, whose primary ally is Lamborghini. No blows have actually been thrown, although there is a fair amount of "he said, she said" going on.
As Porsche tells it, for example, the new global fullsize SUV architecture being developed by Audi isn't up to snuff, citing size and structure issues, as well as an inability to accommodate a wide variety of engines.
Audi and Lamborghini, meanwhile, are less than thrilled with the work that Porsche has done on the replacements for the next-next-generation R8 and Huracán, neither of which is due until early next decade. According to Automobile, the new platform probably won't be too kind to the various six-, eight- and 10-cylinder engines used by Porsche, Audi and Lamborghini.
More troubling than the "he said, she said," though, is the one-upmanship and competitiveness that's developing. Both Audi and Porsche are developing a luxury car platform, burning through some $4 billion of mom and dad's (Volkswagen's) money in the process.
Naturally, Porsche seems to think its modular standard platform (MSB), which is slated for the Panamera, would also do well in the Audi A6, A7 and A8. Audi, meanwhile, is happy building its own platform for the three largest cars in its portfolio. It's that sort of stunning inefficiency that can doom manufacturers, and it's certainly not something we'd expect from the Germans.
"If we don't call the shots here at HQ, Audi and Porsche will never get their acts together. What these guys fail to understand is that they have to cooperate, not fight each other. We need to prevent individual sports car architectures and excessive proliferation, and to make Porsche's MSB mandatory for both brands," an anonymous chief strategist for VW told Automobile. "Audi and Porsche must stop fighting over architectures and concentrate on diversification by content. It's as simple as that. And as difficult."
Episode #390 of the Autoblog Podcast is here, and this week, Dan Roth, Steven Ewing and Sebastian Blanco from Autoblog Green talk about the 2015 Ford Mustang specs, the 2016 Smart models, a proposal to add real-world numbers to EPA economy tests and the potential downside of autonomous cars. We start with what's in the garage and finish up with some of your questions, and for those of you who hung with us live on our UStream channel, thanks for taking the time. Check out the new rundown below with times for topics, and you can follow along down below with our Q&A. Thanks for listening!
Autoblog Podcast #390:
2015 Ford Mustang specs
2016 Smart FourTwo and FourFour
EPA wants road tests
The downside of autonomous cars
In the Autoblog Garage:
2014 Nissan Leaf
2015 Audi A3 Sportback E-Tron
2014 Scion tC
Hosts: Dan Roth, Steven Ewing, Sebastian Blanco
Intro and Garage - 00:00
Mustang Specs - 34:40
2016 Smart Models - 51:14
EPA Tests - 01:02:57
Autonomous Cars - 01:11:19
Q&A - 01:21:22
Get the podcast:
[UStream] Listen live on Mondays at 10 PM Eastern at UStream
[iTunes] Subscribe to the Autoblog Podcast in iTunes
[RSS] Add the Autoblog Podcast feed to your RSS aggregator
Match up a hot hatch with a supercar of the same vintage, and we'll tell you who will win every time. It's easy, really, as the supercar invariably features a more advanced suspension, stickier tires and most importantly, more power. What if the hot hatch is race prepped, though?
In that particular case, all bets are off. A circuit-tuned suspension, a stripped-down cabin, an ultra-quick sequential transmission and the greatest equalizer of them all, slick tires, are all that's needed to turn the typical hot hatch into a proper dragon slayer.
Perhaps seeking to prove this, Evo has put together an interesting head-to-head between the Audi R8 V10 and a race-prepared Renault Clio Cup. Host Dickie Meaden takes us through each car, highlighting the bits and bobs on both sides which should make this a tight competition. And boy, is this one tight.
Scroll down for the full video from Evo, and let us know what you think of the result in Comments.
Continue reading Audi R8 V10 Plus vs. Renault Clio Cup racecar will make you go hmmm...
The boys at Top Gear UK have a habit of making some big mistakes that offend large groups of people. The show's presenters - mainly, Jeremy Clarkson - have been under fire due to supposedly mumbled racial slurs, staged scenes, generally inappropriate commentary on social media platforms, and more. Here, we list ten of the hosts' biggest blunders.
Second Drive: 2015 Audi A3 E-Tron
Despite already taking a quick spin in Audi's electrified A3 Sportback, we never really got a proper feel for the car - until now. AutoblogGreen editor Sebastian Blanco spent some time with the A3 E-Tron over in Europe, dissecting all there is to know about Audi's (supposedly) no-compromise plug-in hybrid vehicle. Read his discussions about what's good and what's bad in our followup review.
Ford Mustang SVT spy shots
We're chomping at the bit to get some time behind the wheel of the all-new 2015 Ford Mustang. But to pique our interest even further, our spy photographers have just caught the hotter, SVT-tuned 'Stang running around Germany's Nürburgring with much of its camouflage removed. Check out the next, super-hot Mustang in our latest gallery of spy shots, here.
Worse For Your Health: Rolling coal or burning rubber?
Nissan alters all CVTs to act less like a stretched rubberband
Porsche's baby Panamera delayed until 2019 or later
The question of whether Audi will morph the next-gen R8 (pictured above, in testing) into a plug-in-hybrid challenger for the BMW i8 may have been answered. CarAdvice, in Australia, is claiming that any plans for a PHV 2016 R8 have been shelved, and that Audi will go ahead with gas-powered or all-electric models, only.
Even then, the electric R8 E-tron (if it ends up being called that) would be built-to-order, and in much smaller quantities than the gas-powered model.
"In the next generation we will have an electric car on behalf of customers' needs, which is only available [upon special order]," Audi product manager Marie Suzanne Ernst told CA. "So it's not a make of series production, but if a customer wants to have it, he can order it."
That's not to say that the importance of Audi's E-tron program, which includes both PHV and pure-electric applications, is lessening. Speaking to the local Audi outfit, CA was told that e-tron will be a "brand pillar," just like petrol and diesel power. It's just that the plug-in portion of the E-tron moniker won't be making it to the brand's primary halo vehicle.
Is this a good move in your eyes? All things being equal, would you rather spend money on an electric R8 or a plug-in model? Why? Have your say below, in Comments.
Over the years, we've had a chance to test a lot of Audi E-Tron vehicles, from very early all-electric prototypes (back then we only got to sit in the passenger seat) to the A6 L E-Tron PHEV and the A1 E-Tron plug-in hybrid. All of them were concepts and promises, merely whispers of what was possible, even as the Nissan Leaf, Chevrolet Volt and two Tesla models were making waves in the marketplace.
As we learned last year in our Deep Dive of the E-Tron project, all of the concepts, prototypes and rumors have finally come to fruition in this A3 Sportback E-Tron. Previously, we were given a chance to drive a prototype, but it was only very briefly. Last week, we finally got to run a production-representative example through the hilly roads between Vienna, Austria and Munich, Germany. After spending a solid day with Audi's first marketable E-Tron vehicle, we can say that it's a most amazing bit of engineering, in particular for the way that Audi has done so much to hide the fact that this is an electrified vehicle. Not entirely, of course, but the idea was to make the A3 Sportback E-Tron a no-compromise PHEV. And that means it drives and feels, in many ways, like the standard A3 Sportback despite over 700 extra pounds. Oh, and there's a charge port hidden behind the four rings in the grille.
All-wheel drive has become the norm particularly among German automakers. Mercedes offers its 4Matic system on a broad range of models, BMW counters with its xDrive system, Volkswagen has 4Motion, and the only Porsche you actually can't get with all-wheel traction is the Boxster/Cayman. But before all its competitors got on board with channeling power to all four wheels, Audi was making a name for itself with its Quattro all-wheel-drive system.
Now 34 years since the advent of the original Audi Quattro, the House of the Four Rings has built its six millionth vehicle equipped with all-wheel drive - only a year and a half since it hit the five-million mark. In fact these days nearly half of all new Audis are ordered in Quattro spec - more than any other automaker - resulting in a total of 710,095 Quattro-equipped Audis produced last year alone.
The landmark 6,000,000th vehicle was an SQ5 in monsoon gray metallic that rolled off the assembly line on Friday and is bound for a customer right here in the United States.
Continue reading Audi builds its six-millionth Quattro-equipped car