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Report: Army trying to figure out what to do with 20,000 mine-resistant trucks

05/03/2012   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Government/Legal, Military, Special/Limited Editions

MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected)

The venerable HMMWV served the United States military as the go-to vehicle for 25 solid years. Before that, various militarized Jeep models had been pressed into service since 1941, when the army first identified the need for a lightweight, all-terrain vehicle capable of carrying a few troops and all their gear into battle.

It seems the so-called Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicle (MRAPS for short) aren't going to have the same kind of life expectancy as their predecessors. According to CNN, the military is finding it difficult to cook up uses for the 20,000 MRAPS it possesses that are no longer needed for the war in Iraq, where the threat of improvised explosive devises necessitated gigantic V-shaped hulls and several tons of armor.

Due to the sheer size and weight of the machines, along with the specialized nature of their design, the military isn't likely to continue using MRAPS in differing battlefield conditions after troops are pulled from Afghanistan in 2014. So, what will become of these 20,000 MRAPS? So far, the only option on the list is for mine clearing and explosive ordinance disposal. Thing is, they don't need 20,000 of them for that.

In any case, one thing is for certain: Lives were saved due to the ability of the MRAPS to protect U.S. troops from roadside explosives (see above). And for that, everyone is thankful. As far as the future goes... may we suggest heavily armored food trucks? Or perhaps the SEMA Show circuit?

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Jay Leno puts focus on some retro-inspired BMW bikes

07/29/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Aftermarket, Videos, BMW, Motorcycles, Celebrities, Special/Limited Editions, Design/Style

Quartet of retro-inspired BMWs

Jay Leno puts eight wheels on display this week for Jay Leno's Garage from a quartet of retro-inspired BMW motorcycles. They are the creations of husband and wife team Larry and Carol Romestant, who build each one in their home garage.

Larry is a former aerospace engineer who loves BMW bikes, especially the K models. Now, he's combining his passion with a real talent for fabrication to build his own cycles with his wife. With Larry and Carol the only ones working on these projects, it takes them six to nine months to build each one. In addition to the old-school looks, the motorcycles are supposed to be a bit more user friendly than stock. For example, one of them ditches the standard five-speed gearbox in favor of a six-speed unit to be a little more comfy when cruising at high speeds.

Since there isn't enough time to take all four of them for a ride, Jay picks his favorite to test out on the open road. Scroll down to see which one he chooses.

Continue reading Jay Leno puts focus on some retro-inspired BMW bikes

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Jaguar XKR - New HI-REZ pics and press release

06/30/2006   [Original: Jaguar via Autoblog]
Category: Convertibles, Coupes, Sports/GTs, Jaguar

So far we've scoured the internet for news of the new Jaguar XKR, but as of today the British automaker has made the high performance coupe and convertible official by bestowing us with high-resolution image, some not seen before, and an official press release. Below are the highlights of the press release, though you can read it in its entirety after the jump. Check out the pics, as well. Just click on one to see its high-rez version.

All-new 2007 Jaguar XKR At-A-Glance Highlights

  • 4.2-liter, supercharge V8 engine developing 420bhp and 413 lb.-ft. (560Nm) of torque
  • 0-60mph acceleration in 4.9 seconds and 155mph (electronically limited) top speed
  • All-aluminum construction means a lighter, stiffer vehicle, which improves handling and agility. At 3,671lbs (1,665kg), the Coupe is 154lbs (70kg) lighter than its predecessor, while the 3,781lbs (1,715kg) Convertible is 220lbs (100kg) lighter than its previous XKR Convertible
  • Uprated springs and dampers, and recalibrated Computer Active Technology Suspension (CATS) system for enhanced ride and handling
  • Class-leading six-speed automatic transmission with steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles

  • Active Exhaust System to ensure cruising speed refinement, but purposeful V8 roar under hard acceleration
  • Subtle XKR exterior styling enhancements include a sportier grille and front bumper design, vented hood, unique aluminum-effect side power vents and new wheel designs
  • Enhanced interior includes unique aluminum 'weave' design on the fascia (polished burl walnut is optional at no extra cost) and XKR sports seats
  • Intuitive controls and driver-focused technologies are available - including Keyless Entry, Keyless Start, advanced Touchscreen and Active Front Lighting


IRVINE, Calif, June 30, 2006 - Jaguar is proud to announce its new supercharged sports cars - the 2007 Jaguar XKR Coupe and Convertible. Making its global reveal at the 2006 London Motor Show on July 18, 2006, the all-new XKR takes the Jaguar experience to new heights.

Designed in parallel with the naturally aspirated 2007 XK Coupe and Convertible, the new supercharged XKR makes intelligent use of practical, modern technology such as its industry-leading aluminum monocoque body structure. In fact, the new XKRs' aluminum chassis are significantly lighter and stiffer in both Coupe and Convertible form than the steel counterparts they replace.

A 420bhp, 4.2-liter supercharged V8 engine makes the Jaguar XKR capable of rapid 0-60mph performance in just 4.9 seconds (XKR Coupe) and produces an electronically limited top speed of 155mph.

Both XKR Coupe and Convertible exhibit enhanced performance styling cues such as a sportier new grille and front

bumper design, a vented hood and distinctive aluminum-effect side power vents. Its unique option 19- or 20-inch alloy wheel designs and standard quad-exhaust system also add to its overall presence.

"The new supercharged XKR captures perfectly the essence of what makes a Jaguar XK so special," commented Bibie Boerio, Jaguar Cars managing director. "It is a perfect combination of refined Grand Tourer and serious performance sports car that delivers a truly rewarding and exhilarating driving experience."

Building on the excellence of the 2007 XKs introduced in 2005, the 2007 XKR is the epitome of a contemporary sports car and perfectly illustrates Jaguar's philosophy of building beautiful, fast cars. It combines beauty with power, and style with dynamism to deliver a world-class performance automobile.

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Jay Leno's tank car gets twin turbos

08/01/2006   [Original: Popular Mechanics via RideRoom via Autoblog]
Category: Aftermarket, Tuner Tuesdays, Etc.

Automotive enthusiasts the world over have become intimately familiar with many of the exotic, muscle and classic cars contained within Jay Leno's personal collection. One of the most famous is his Tank Car, which was featured as a driveable vehicle (video) in Gran Turismo 4. The imposing hot rod is powered by a 1792 cid V-12 Continental-designed, Chrsyler-built tank engine (hence the name) producing 810 hp and 1,560 ft-lbs. of torque. In these days where a $1.25 million Bugatti Veyron puts out 1001-hp, however, a Tank Car needs to be packing a piece with more than 810 hp. Right?

Wrong, according to Leno, who enlisted his friend and turbo legend Gale Banks to address the Tank Car's glaring power deficiency. The solution was a pair of turbos source from Honeywell/Garrett Turbo Technologies that cost 10 grand a piece and are normally used by Toyota's CART program. Many of the turbo systems components were custom made by Banks and his team out of solid billet aluminum and Robert Bosche company was tapped to convert the engine to fuel injection. The outcome should be an output in the neighborhood of 1,600 horsepower and 3,000 ft-lbs. of torque, more than enough to embarrass a Bugatti Veyron on paper. Not all of that power can be channeled though the Tank Car's 6-speed Allison transmission, though, so the motor will need to be limited at least in First, according to Popular Mechanics.

The Twin-Turbo Tank Car will be making its first public appearance at the Woodward Dream Cruise in a few weeks, and we'll be sure to stop by and check it out on our way up and down Woodward Ave.

Thanks for the tank tip, Tim!

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Spy Shots: Porsche Panamera and GT Coupe

08/03/2006   [Original: The Car Connection via Autoblog]
Category: Spy Photos, Coupes, Sedans/Saloons, Sports/GTs, Porsche

While spy shots of a Porsche Panamera mule wearing the skin of a BMW 5-Series are hardly enough to get the gasoline in your blood to boil, shots of a mule reported to be a coupe variant just might. After the debut of the Panamera sedan in late 2009, Porsche is expected to unveil a new front-engine GT coupe in the tradition of the 928. The spy shots of the GT Coupe show a heavily modified 928 body with extended fender flares and a host of technical development gear. The coupe will share around 60 percent of its parts with the Panamera, according to The Car Connection, and ride on a shorted version of the sedan's platform. It will also share the Panamera's engine line-up, transmissions and suspensions. Porsche appears to be aiming the GT Coupe directly at such expensive two-doors as the Bentley Continental GT, BMW M6 and Aston Martin V8 Vantage.

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More Group B sales action - a Ford RS 200 Evo pops up in classifieds ad

08/12/2006   [Original: Autoweek Classifieds via Autoblog]
Category: Motorsports, Auctions, Etc., Ford

If a Porsche 959 is just too commonplace or not quite raw enough to satisfy your primal rally-car lust, how about a Ford RS 200 Evolution? Where as the German vehicle was much like a well-dressed triathlete with social skills, Ford's entry into the Group B madness of the 1980s had a personality more along the lines of a serial killer.

Cosworth was put in charge of squeezing serious power from the turbocharged 2.1L four-banger, and it succeeded to the tune of something in the neighborhood of 650 HP in the Evolution models. Combine that with the weight distribution afforded by a front-mounted transmission (odd for a mid-engined AWD car), and the RS 200 Evo could supposedly scratch its way to 60 MPH in just over two seconds. The distinctive bodywork was designed by Ghia, while a significant number of parts came from the Ford of Europe parts bin.

200 of the vehicles were originally built, with 24 later receiving the conversion to Evolution status. In other words, if something like this strikes your fancy, we'd suggest not passing up the chance.

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Congressman wants to close SUV tax loophole

09/05/2006   [Original: Wired via Autoblog]
Category: SUVs, Government/Legal

Congressman Ed Markey (MA) has released a new report entitled Tipping the Scales to coincide with a bill titled H.R. 5579, the No Special Subsidies for Gas Guzzlers Act. The report focuses on the tax loophole that exempts people purchasing an SUV from paying a gas-guzzler tax, which is normally applied to the purchase of any vehicle returning less than 22.5 mpg. The report points out that, for instance, someone buying a 20.5 mpg Audi gets dinged by a $1,300 gas-guzzler tax, while someone purchasing a 15.8 mpg Jeep pays no extra tax. Congressman Markey's bill would also close a "loophole" that allows business owners to write off most of the cost of an SUV, but not other types of vehicles.

Fair enough. Joe Average consumers should not be exempt from a gas-guzzler tax on an SUV that will be used for soccer practice runs and towing the family boat. However, legitimate businesses that require the utility an SUV or large truck provides shouldn't be penalized, either. To close the loophole may mean that the landscaper down the street has to pay a gas-guzzler tax on a vehicle that his business requires, which is a different proposition altogether. That is, of course, unless you want to argue that no business requires a body-on-frame SUV, but we're doubting that's the case.

Markey's report estimates that the loophole will cost taxpayers $2.6 billion next year and $15.7 billion over the next decade. While the current tax law at stake here needs some attention, rather than just closing the loophole, perhaps some intelligent people should sit down and revise the law so that it doesn't encourage consumer purchasing of extra large SUVs but also doesn't penalize those business and industries that require vehicles like this.

Oh, and it would be a lot easier to take Mr. Markey's argument more seriously if someone had the caught the reference in his report to a "GMC Yukon Sierra", which technically doesn't exist. You can get a Yukon SUV or a Sierra truck, but you can't get both in one without a head-on collision.

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GM offers HUMMER H3 First Responder package

09/15/2006   [Original: GM via Autoblog]
Category: SUVs, Etc., HUMMER

In a smart little initiative, GM is targeting fire/rescue personnel by offering a special First Responder package on the HUMMER H3. Here's the deal: firefighters and rescue workers associated with fire departments who buy or lease an H3 between October 1 and December 31, 2006 will receive the First Responder package for free.

As for the contents of said package, the purchaser/lessee can select from either an emergency light package (cool!) or a black wraparound brush guard and foglights. According to the GM press release, the light package is valued at up to $2,500 depending on which is chosen (there are two options), making the First Responder package seem like a pretty good deal, indeed.

Personally, I'd have taken it one step further and included a DVD entertainment system along with seasons 1 & 2 of the awesome 70s rescue drama, Emergency! But that's just me...

(Press release after the jump)


Hummer On The Scene For First Responders

DALLAS - In emergency response, every second counts. It's why the nation's first responders choose a vehicle that can get them to the scene of an emergency quickly and safely, regardless of the terrain or weather. It's also why HUMMER is first on the scene for these brave men and women with the exclusive First Responder package on the capable, midsize H3.

Between October 1 and December 31, 2006, when an active member of the fire and rescue community - volunteer or career firefighter or emergency response personnel associated with a fire association - purchases or leases a new HUMMER H3, the vehicle will include the HUMMER First Responder package at no additional cost.

The HUMMER First Responder package includes the purchaser's choice of either an emergency signal package from Whelen Engineering Inc. ( or Federal Signal ( valued at up to $2,500, or a black wraparound brushguard and lower grille-mounted off-road lights.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, 95 percent of the nation's volunteer firefighters are in rural departments where the go-anywhere capability of the H3 combined with its size and efficiency makes the H3 the ideal emergency response vehicle.

An example of the HUMMER H3 equipped with the First Responder package will be first shown to the emergency response community in the GM display at the Fire-Rescue International 2006 show, September 15-16, 2006, in Dallas.

Roughly the same length as a midsize family sedan, H3 delivers HUMMER's best-in-class all-terrain capability, like the ability to ford two feet of water or climb a 16-inch obstacle. And with a responsive 242-horsepower Vortec inline five-cylinder engine, turning radius comparable to a compact sedan and fuel economy ratings as high as 20 miles per gallon, the H3 comfortably navigates city traffic making it just as refined on-road, as it is capable off-road.


HUMMER is a division of General Motors Corp. (NYSE: GM), the world's largest vehicle manufacturer, which employs about 321,000 people globally. HUMMER is one of the nation's fastest growing truck brands, with a product line-up that consists of the H2, H2 SUT, H3 and the H3 x. There are 173 HUMMER dealers nationwide.

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Our Country, Our Truck: GM's Silverado marketing campaign

09/26/2006   [Original: Jalopnik via Autoblog]
Category: Trucks/Pickups, Marketing/Advertising, GM

The PR people at GM have described their new line of GMT900 pickups as, "the most important product release in General Motor's history," and it very well may be. With a new player in the market in the form of the Tundra and a new F-150 due in the near future, the General is banking on the Silverado and the Sierra to shore up the pickup truck segment in its favor.

To that end, its new ad campaign is aiming directly at who GM feels is its target demographic: rural, married men who love their families, their jobs and their country.

The new spots, which will debut during Monday Night Football, are a look back on the last 50 years of American culture, including the good, the bad and the profound. John Mellencamp serenades over images of baseball, farms and other assorted Americana, including an image of the "Towers of Light" that emanated from Ground Zero after the attacks of 9/11 and, oddly, an image of an atomic bomb test.

Our blogging brethren over at Jalopnik have a full report from the media event they attended and give a more detailed synopsis, along with some analysis of the General's newest ad campaign.

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Paris Motor Show: Say Hello to the Audi R8

09/28/2006   [Original: Audi AG via Autoblog]
Category: Sports/GTs, Paris Motor Show, Audi

Earlier this afternoon in Paris, Audi finally pulled the cover off the Audi R8 sports car.

Without further ado, here's the quick rundown on the specifics:

  • All-aluminum body
  • 4.2L 420-horsepowermid-mounted V8
  • 320 lb-ft peak torque from 4,500 to 6,000 RPM. 90% of max available from 3500 rpm and up
  • 0-62 mph in 4.6 seconds
  • Top speed of 187 mph
  • All headlight functions available as LEDs
  • Typically excellent Audi interior
  • Automatically-extending rear spoiler
  • Two transmissions available: 6-speed manual and Audi R Tronic sequential shift gearbox
  • R Tronic can be shifted vis console stick or wheel-mounted paddles
  • Quattro all-wheel-drive
  • Available magnetic ride system
  • 18" wheels standard, 19" optional
  • First time the Audi rings are on the hood instead of the vehicle grille
  • Clear engine cover
  • 3 colors available for the side trim panel
Read the press release after the jump for everything in detail, and stay tuned for relentless coverage from our team on the ground in Paris. We recommend you also check out the R8's official site at Once there, you can get the car's whole story, download wallpapers and ringtones, and even customize one to see how it looks with different paint, trim , and wheels. Want to know how the car looks with a carbon-fiber side panel instead of the brushed aluminum one? The answer is a few clicks away.

Thanks as well to Jason Teller from AudiWorld for sending us tthe press release and many of the relevant links

(Photos, press release after the jump)


The Genes of a Winner: The New Audi R8
Source: Audi AG

Audi has incorporated the name and the genes of the five-time Le Mans winner, the Audi R8, into a spectacular sports car. Three years after the unveiling of the Audi Le Mans quattro concept car, the production version will be making its debut at the Paris Motor Show in the guise of the new Audi R8 mid-engined sports model. It is a fascinating driving machine and the sporty pinnacle of the Audi brand. The mid-mounted 420 bhp V8 FSI engine, quattro permanent four-wheel drive and Audi Space Frame aluminium body form the basis for truly outstanding driving dynamics. The Audi R8 will be available to order from 28 September 2006; first deliveries will be made in the first half of 2007.

As the first Audi mid-engined sports car, the R8 combines Audi's experience gained from numerous motorsport triumphs with groundbreaking design and the acknowledged technological expertise of the brand. This expertise has led to the slogan 'Vorsprung durch Technik' becoming a byword for leading-edge technology both on the race track and on the road.

Audi has recorded countless motorsport victories on race tracks all over the world. Following the rally successes of the Ingolstadt brand in the 1980s, and its triumphs on the touring car circuit, the world of long-distance motor racing was without a doubt the biggest challenge yet faced by Audi's motorsport engineers.

And they mastered this challenge in style too: the Audi R8 won the prestigious Le Mans 24 Hours five times - from 2000 to 2002 and in 2004 and 2005 - and on two occasions even took the first three places.

Le Mans is without doubt the toughest challenge to the Audi Sport Team's engineers because it calls for a level of engineering going far beyond the need merely to keep all the systems focussed on a short, sharp sprint. Alongside the essential virtues of top performance and optimised driving dynamics, the key requirements in long-distance racing are endurance and reliability, allied with optimum ergonomic design.

These are genes which are eminently transferable to a road-going sports car too, and which, allied to its exciting design, make the Audi R8 truly unmistakeable.

The exterior

Even at first glance, the calibre of the car is plain to see. The Audi R8 sits broad and squat on the road, the strongly accentuated rear end appearing to flex its muscles like a sprinter ready for the off.

The characteristic proportions of the vehicle are dictated by the location of the engine behind the cockpit. This layout is a typical feature of race cars. One of the most striking examples of this design - and as such one of the legitimate antecedents of the Audi R8 - was, and still is, the Auto Union Type C Grand Prix car. The central position of the engine is above all a boon to driving dynamics, as it allows for a weight distribution, as on the R8, of 44 percent to the front and 56 percent to the rear.

The car's body is highly compact in appearance. The front end and the gently curved roof arc are drawn in a sweeping line; a line which immediately marks the two-seater out as an Audi.

The side view also reveals familiar contours. The dynamic line above the wheel arches and the shoulder line interlink the front end, side and rear, imbue the doors and the transition to the side air vent with a strong presence, and even more emphatically highlight the typical Audi rounded wheel housings accommodating the big wheels.

The cabin of the Audi R8 is pushed far forward - a typical feature of a mid-engined sports car, and as such a visual cue linking it to the race car of the same name. Behind the cabin, positioned in front of the rear axle, is the V8 FSI engine, a sculptured piece of engineering visible both through the large, shield-shaped rear window and from inside the car.

1.90 metres wide but just 4.43 metres long and 1.25 metres high: these are the proportions of a true sports car. The 2.65-metre wheelbase offers room for the astonishingly spacious cabin and the longitudinally mounted engine behind it. Behind the doors, a large-surface 'sideblade' air deflector sweeps between the wheel arch and the roof section, delivering air for the V8 to breathe as well as for cooling. The paint finish of the sideblades is coordinated with the body colour.

The front end is characterised by the trapezoidal styling of the Audi single-frame grille, flanked on the right and left by additional large-dimensioned air intakes. For the first time, the four-ring badge is positioned on the bonnet, above the grille. The flat strips of the innovative LED headlights, with their clear-glass covers, join flush to the tops of the air intakes.

The R8 is the first series-production car to offer the option of ordering all the headlight functions - dipped beam, main beam, daytime running lights and indicators - as LEDs. LED stands for 'light-emitting diodes', and represents a technology which offers substantial advantages over conventional bulbs based on a much longer life.

Because they take up less space than conventional lights, LEDs provide the designers with greater freedom to be creative. The design of the strikingly three-dimensional main headlights, using LED technology, is particularly eye-catching.

Bionics, in other words drawing design inspiration from nature, has been deployed on the R8's headlights. The light unit has a design reminiscent of an open pine cone. Reflector shells arranged concentrically one behind the other, in conjunction with a powerful LED projection system, concentrate the light from one multi-chip LED, producing a high-luminosity, even form of driving light.

The internal reflectors of the main beam headlight are styled in a shape inspired by the architecture of the Sydney Opera House. And in contrast to them, the daytime running lights delimit the underside of the headlight as narrow strips of light - delivering distinctive signals and providing an innovative visual touch. It will be possible to order LED headlights as options from the end of 2007 onwards.

The interplay of concave and convex lines contours the side-on view of the rear end. Underneath the clearly defined separation edge there is a flat vertical surface framed at its sides by the rear lights - also in LED technology. The third brake light strip runs across virtually the full width of the roof, forming the termination of the transparent engine hood.

The latter feature is yet another visual highlight. The observer looks right onto the V8, the very heart of this sports car. Indirect engine compartment lighting by white LEDs, enabling the engine to be seen even in the dark, is available as an option.

Two large-format diffuser openings in the rear bumper illustrate how intensively the styling of the Audi R8 is dictated by aerodynamics. The two pairs of circular twin exhaust tailpipes each sit at the right and left above the diffuser openings.

An automatically extending rear spoiler is deployed to assist the R8 in using the wind. It provides additional downforce to boost the suction effect produced by the aerodynamic styling of the underbody and by the diffusers. When travelling at lower speeds, the rear spoiler automatically retracts flush with the body.

The full aluminium body is constructed in the Audi Space Frame (ASF) design. Its perfect synthesis of minimal weight and maximum rigidity provides the ideal foundation for optimum driving dynamics, as well as delivering an outstanding power-to-weight ratio of just 3.71 kg per bhp.

The interior

The sporty interior is dominated by a totally driver-oriented cockpit architecture, integrating the driver between the dashboard and the high centre console. The instrument panel above the console is angled slightly towards the driver. The flat-bottomed steering wheel is a typical feature of the sportiest Audi models, and also enables comfortable sports car entry and exit.

Form follows function: this design principle is implemented throughout the Audi R8. Alongside the driver-oriented architecture, also reflected in the styling of the side window sills, the choice of materials also makes for a highly functional look and feel. Looking around when in the driving seat makes one thing clear: just like in the R8 race car, the styling and placement of all the elements in the cockpit of this driving machine is focussed on the essentials. The centrepoint of everything is the driver.

This combination of the aesthetic and the ergonomic is maintained in the colours used and the overall ambience created - dark hues reflect the emphasis on engineering and are again reminiscent of the motorsport world. The impression of professional functionality and ergonomic styling is enhanced by the visible presence of top-quality materials in supreme craftsmanship.

The sports seats are trimmed as standard in a Leather/Alcantara combination, or optionally in full leather. Alternatively, the R8 can also be fitted with bucket seats, specially developed by quattro GmbH. There is plenty of room for the two occupants, with comfort levels well beyond the norm of high-performance sports cars. There is space behind the seats to stow large bags, or even two golf bags. The luggage compartment at the front has a capacity of 100 litres.

With numerous trim variants and applications in Piano finish or Carbon sigma, there are few limits to the range of customisation options for the interior.

The drive train

Turbine-like power up to the highest rev ranges, a high maximum torque, all combined with a fascinating sound, are the characteristics of a perfect sports car engine. An engine that is fascinating both in terms of its enormous power potential and its suitability for everyday use.

In the high-revving 420 bhp eight-cylinder engine, the evolution of FSI petrol direct injection technology has reached a new high. This technology has also enjoyed many triumphs in the Audi R8 race car.

The figures illustrate the outstanding potential of the eight-cylinder unit. At 7,800 rpm the 4.2-litre engine delivers 309 kW (420 bhp) of power output. Peak torque is 430 Newton-metres from 4.500 to 6,000 rpm. And no less than 90 per cent of this maximum torque is maintained consistently throughout a wide engine speed range from 3,500 all the way to 7,600 rpm. As a result of these qualities, the eight-cylinder power unit provides maximum thrust in virtually any driving situation.

The performance figures are equally impressive: the R8 accelerates from a standstill to 100 km/h in 4.6 seconds and reaches a top speed of 301 km/h.

The engine is a high-revving unit. The maximum engine speed is 8,250 rpm. The advantages of this principle are superior power output at high engine speeds and a smooth, eager responsiveness all across the revs range. Added to this are its agility, liveliness and engine sound, which is similar to that of a race car.

The Audi R8's dry sump lubrication - another technology originating directly from motor racing - provides the ideal basis for maximum longitudinal and lateral acceleration. It allows the V8 to be installed lower, thereby lowering the centre of gravity and further enhancing driving dynamics.

Two transmissions are available: a manual 6-speed gearbox or optionally the Audi R tronic sequential-shift gearbox. Here, too, the influence of the motorsport world is clearly evident, with a joystick gear-shift on the centre console and, most especially, the paddles mounted on the steering wheel, which are a long-established ergonomic feature in motorsport. The best illustration of this is once again the Le Mans winning Audi R8, which also enables the driver to change gear on the steering wheel.

'Shift by wire' technology provides for very fast gear-shifting and an outstanding power-to-weight ratio, allied to compact gearbox dimensions. The Sport mode, with its fast shifting, guarantees the absolute maximum in terms of driving fun. An automatic mode can also be selected.

Such a powerful Audi is of course fitted with permanent four-wheel drive, which distributes the power variably to the front and rear axles by way of a viscous clutch. On the Audi R8 the legendary quattro system is adapted to the axle load distribution typical of mid-engined cars.

The chassis

The chassis features forged aluminium double wishbones at the front and rear. At the front they are triangulated, while at the rear the top one is triangulated and the bottom one is a triangulated wishbone with a track rod. This provides for optimum wheel control, and is a geometry which has proved itself to be the ideal solution in delivering agility, maximum steering precision and precisely defined self-steering characteristics.

Direct, hydraulic rack-and-pinion steering provides optimum feedback to assist the driver.

The spring and damper set-up is stiff in order to deliver maximum driving dynamics, while still providing a quite astonishing level of ride comfort. This is particularly true when the 'Audi magnetic ride' adaptive damper system is chosen as an alternative to the standard gas-filled shock absorbers.

The reason for this is that these shock absorbers employ an innovative technology. Instead of the conventional damper fluid, a magnetorheological fluid is used - in other words, a fluid whose viscosity can be influenced by an electromagnetic field. This effect enables the damping characteristic to be influenced electronically at will and instantaneously, by applying a voltage to the electromagnets.

Audi magnetic ride uses this property to deliver the correct damping forces in every driving situation, thus optimising ride comfort and driving dynamics. A computer equipped with sensor technology determines the prevailing driving situation in a matter of milliseconds. Drivers can choose from two driving programs depending on whether they want to drive in a highly sporty style - with the magnetorheological fluid adjusted to a low viscosity - or with the emphasis more on ride comfort.

The Audi R8 is fitted with 6-arm 18-inch wheels as standard, and can optionally be ordered with 19-inch wheels. The 235/40 size tyres at the front and up to 285/35 at the rear provide the necessary road-holding. This tyre configuration also ensures that this mid-engined sports car is always able to translate the dynamism of its drive train and chassis into optimum grip and maximum lateral dynamics.

The mid-engined sports car's long wheelbase and extremely low centre of gravity ensure that it always retains maximum stability, resulting in superb agility, finely attuned responsiveness to any driver input, and high levels of safety.

Equipment and trim

Even the standard equipment of the Audi R8 meets the high demands of customers in this segment. Xenon plus lights, LED rear lights and daytime running lights, 18-inch aluminium wheels, an audio system with 7-inch monitor, an anti-theft alarm and Leather/Alcantara interior trim are just some of the items on the extensive list of standard features.

The range of optional extras leaves virtually nothing to be desired. A Bang & Olufsen sound system, featuring an output of 465 watts and 12 specially designed speakers, delivers surround sound of the highest standard. A microphone-based vehicle noise compensation system adjusts audio levels to changing road conditions and speeds.

The acoustic parking system and a rear-view camera help the driver to manoeuvre into even the tightest of spaces. The radio/navigation system plus, featuring a large-format colour monitor and MMI keypad, combines extensive functionality with extreme user-friendliness.

A range of coordinated and ideally combinable design and leather trim packages from Audi and from quattro GmbH can turn any R8 into the customer's personal dream car.

The wheels range offers design alternatives in sizes of 18 and 19 inches, fitted with 235/35 size tyres at the front and up to 295/30 at the rear. A total of eight exterior colours are available, from Ibis White to Phantom Black, pearl effect.

The craftsmanship

The Audi R8 is being built on a small-lot production line in a specially constructed new block at the Audi plant in Neckarsulm. The entire production process - from the bodyshell construction to final assembly - is organised in the same way as a craft workshop. Small teams of specialists accompany every step of production, subjecting every part and component to intense scrutiny. This ensures that every one of the maximum of 15 cars per day built will more than match the customary high quality standards of the Audi product range.

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