Sun Dec 15 2013 16:35:39 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)
Imagine the world's reddest German supersports sedan sitting in your driveway, just waiting for you. Elbow-high, a fastback roofline to kill for, ticking as it cools. Look at those bratty 21-inch forged wheels. Oh man, dig that honeycomb-pleated fetish leather and ebony wood trim with silver pin striping. You boys looking for a party?
The 2014 Audi RS7 is a super sports sedan of impressive pace and power, unless you want to drive in the cold. Rumble Seat columnist Dan Neil reports on the News Hub. Photo: Audi.
Now imagine trudging out to this same car before dawn, staring at it from under an umbrella in a steady sleet. After days of winter weather, my 2014 Audi NSU.XE +0.31% RS7's Pirelli gumballs are blocks of ice. All the horsepower in the world—and, by my calculation, the RS7 has all the horsepower in the world—hooked to an all-wheel drive system so luminous it's practically a chakra … all 'tis vanity on cold summer tires and slick roads.
Cold weather is the comic downfall of exotic sport tires, which have carefully engineered chemistries to optimize grip and traction in their range of operating temperatures. Sport tires are also designed to shed heat, which means in cold weather they take longer to reach optimal temperatures, if they ever do. They have more tread on the asphalt, for more grip, and fewer water channeling grooves.
Low-profile sport tires, like the rubber bands wrapped around the Audi's (mad, sick, pointlessly enormous) 21-inch wheels, have stiff sidewall carcasses to increase handling precision and steering response. Ohmygod, on dry pavement the RS7 rips into corners with an almost aerobatic moment of lateral g-loading followed by perfectly balanced, confident supercar cornering. This thing is ferocious.
Except when the tires are cold. Then you drive like a little baby reindeer taking its first unsteady steps onto a frozen lake.
All fast cars look foolish when they are covered in ice. And it isn't Pirelli's fault. It is practically written on the side of the tire: "not for use in cold weather." It is just that the mighty RS7's impotence is more keenly felt because grip, traction and putting a hot mess of torque on the ground is so fundamental to the nature of these fast Audis. But a lot depends on the tire and the tire is temperature-dependent.
Meanwhile, my $122,545 loaner, a succubus that molests my mind with every glance, a car so lewd they have to pixilate it in Japan… well, she's got her feet in four frozen turkeys and she isn't going anywhere.
“ When the tires are cold....you drive like a baby reindeer taking its first unsteady steps onto a frozen lake. ”
It isn't that the RS7 isn't a capable alpine tourer. With the right tires on it you could winter over in the Dolomites, no problem. After all, it is all-wheel drive. Actually, I think in this generation of sport-tuned, torque-vectoring Quattro (I detest using the trade name, by the way) we're looking at the final and finest iteration of mechanically coupled AWD systems. The next generation of AWD will likely be led by split systems, with electrical motors driving either front or rear axles. Better better better, spiral of virtues, etc.
Meanwhile, the RS7 is nothing less than an upholstered rally car. Tragically upholstered, but still.
Settle in for a tour of the powertrain. It begins with one of the most bat-guano engines ever built by a German car company: a reverse-breathing twin-scroll twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter four-cam V8—reverse-breathing because the exhaust manifolds and turbocharger assemblies are nestled in the engine V, between the direct-injection cylinder heads. This supercompact engine is fitted together with watch-like tolerances but it operates at blowtorch temperatures, with a max boost of 17.4 psi, a 10.1 compression ratio and a 6,700-rpm fuel cutoff. Among other things it is a miracle of thermal management, to say nothing of emissions control.
Base price: $104,900
Price, as tested: $122,545
Powertrain: Dual twin-scroll turbocharged direct-injection 4.0-liter DOHC V8 with variable valve timing; eight-speed automatic transmission with manual-shift mode: full-time AWD with electronically locking center differential and torque-vectoring rear differential.
Horsepower/torque: 560 hp at 5,700-6,600; 516 pound-feet at 1,750-5,500
Now, why is compactness important? For one thing, the smaller the engine package, usually, the lower the crank center height can be. In an all-wheel drive car, in which the drive components are in line, lower crank height has an outsize effect on lowering a vehicle's center of gravity, a good thing for Audis and Subarus alike. A lower engine profile also means lower minimum hood height, and that unties a lot of hands, packaging-wise, from the styling to the safety to the aero guys.
In other words, if you like the unsparingly modern, clean lines of the RS7's hood, you can thank the engine department. With the ingrown turbos glowing dully, this engine produces an indefensible/wonderful 560 hp between 5,700- 6,600 rpm, sufficient to propel the 4,475-pound four-door to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds, according to Car and Driver, on its way to 11.6 seconds for elapsed time in the quarter-mile.
Oof. That is pretty sudden, all right. Those are colossal numbers. Highways will be littered with blown-off doors. And I can tell you from the few warm days I had the car, the RS7's full-throttle 2-3 upshift comes complete with joyous, booming back-pressure crackle, like the Kaiser's birthday fireworks going off in the trunk.
How fast? The RS7's top speed depends on the wheel-and-tire package clients select. The standard-issue 20-inch tires are recommended for an electronically limited 155 mph. The Dynamic and Dynamic Plus packages include speed-rated tires good for 174 and 190 mph, respectively. U.S. cars, however, are limited to 174 mph. My car has the Rings of Doom: Pirelli P-Zeros 275/30 21's.
All-wheel-drive traction is also essential to the RS7's signature move, its party trick, which is its weirdly drama-free, nearly instant conversion of turbo torque—a girder-twisting 516 pound-feet from 1,750-5,500 rpm—to rolling acceleration. Romp the throttle from between 40 to 70 mph and the car practically teleports itself forward, a mere fine tremble in the seat and wheel even as the car violently peels back the landscape.
Because the engine puts out more torque than Audi's dual-clutch seven-speed gearbox can handle, the RS7 uses an eight-speed automatic with a torque converter, the Tiptronic. And why not? When the elegant shifter is slotted into the S gate, and the vehicle-dynamics switches are turned to, well, Dynamic, the ZF-sourced slushbox does everything a good dual-clutch would do—wring out the revs at redline, blip the throttle on downshifts, shift fast and often. It goes like crazy and is faultlessly refined besides.
Downstream of the transmission is the heart of the AWD system, a stout, fully automated locking center differential, providing a baseline torque split between the axles of 60%/40%, rear/front.
But in moments of high dudgeon, nearly 85% of engine torque can be thrown to the rear axle or 70% to the front.
Farther downstream is the RS7's torque-vectoring sport differential with two wet-clutch-actuated super-positional gears. These allow the outside rear wheel to be driven as much as 10% faster than the inside wheel, helping to null out understeer and rotate the car in the direction the driver wants.
It is all of a piece with the RS7's tire hazing, mind-gagging pace and power, unless, oh baby, it's cold outside.
Mon Nov 04 2013 22:11:07 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)
Relive the days of puffy shoulders and cell phones the size of small cats with this one-owner 1985 Lamborghini Countach with ony 12,660 miles original miles. Check out the tartan rugs, like soooo eighties!
Fri Aug 30 2013 16:40:54 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)
Could this be the most perfect car on the planet? 1956 Austin Healey 100-4 Le Mans edition with louvered hood and higher output.
In late 1955, three years after Donald Healey unveiled his “Hundred,” the 100M made its debut. Modified with the racing experience gained from Bonneville to Le Mans, the 100M received a high-lift camshaft, larger carburettors, higher-compression pistons, free-flowing intake manifold, cold air box and a special distributor. Output increased from 90 to 110 hp, and the suspension received larger anti-roll bars, while a Le Mans-specification leather strap retained the louvered bonnet. Even the later six-cylinder models did not exceed the resulting performance enhancement, and when production ended in July 1956, just 640 examples of the 100M were built.
Mon Aug 12 2013 01:33:41 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)
Sorry about the sound! Camera definitely not designed to record clear audio at 150mph in an open top car!
Another onboard lap of the Nordschleife from the German GP F1 weekend. This time Heikki Kovalainen drives while Caterham F1 Team Head of Communications Tom Webb tries to hold his nerve and capture the magic on camera.
#2 - 1973 240Z. Bought it used from a guy in Acton, MA after the Mustang was rear ended in Framingham. Drove it until it fell apart. Trouble car. Lots of tickets. Big straight 6 with dual side draft carbs and a shell of a body. Manual choke.
The second of the three 300 SLs originally imported into Chile belonged to a German resident, Carlos Muhe. Muhe had achieved some modest success in racing and was allowed by the Chilean government to import a Gullwing. Unfortunately, he suffered an accident driving on a stretch of the Northern Panamerican highway and his car caught on fire. The whereabouts of the remains of this car are unknown to me. Muhe had the remains of the car shipped to Germany where it was totally rebuilt by the factory. Color was changed from white to silver, the car was subsequently sold. I believe it to be in Europe.
Fri Mar 15 2013 19:23:55 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)
On April 27, RM will be selling the Don Davis collection: "An eclectic assortment of rare, high quality, and expertly maintained automobiles that will interest the discerning collector." All I can say is nice stuff!
Fri Jan 11 2013 03:17:06 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)
Six historic Lotus Formula 1 cars were incorporated in this spectacular sculpture by artist Gerry Judah that was the centrepiece of the 2012 Goodwood Festival of Speed, Britain’s largest car culture event. The 28-metre tall sculpture was the 16th created by Gerry Judah for the Festival of Speed, an annual event held in the grounds of Goodwood House in West Sussex, the family seat of the Earl of March.
Each year, Goodwood has featured a marque, a carmaker that inspires disciples because of its style, success on the track, or both. In 2012, the featured marque was Lotus, the British car manufacturer that sponsored Gerry Judah’s installation.
The sculpture was designed to capture the essence of Lotus from its beginnings to the present. A 3-D infinity loop was designed, resembling the grandest, most ambitious Scalextric track ever imagined.
The track itself is a triangular section of 6mm flat sheet metal with a “continuously variable curve developable” surface, which was painted white. These were fabricated by Littlehampton Welding and transported 22 miles to Goodwood in 11 sections by individual articulated lorries and a police escort.
Multiple cranes were used to erect the installation and place six significant Lotus cars onto its surface. The cars, which were loaned by Classic Team Lotus and the Lotus F1 Team, included a green and yellow Type 32B, the car in which Jim Clark won the 1965 Tasman Series in Australia and New Zealand, and a red-and-white Type 49, in which Graham Hill raced to the crown. The other cars were a JPS-liveried Type 72, in which Emerson Fittipaldi became the sport’s youngest champion; a black-and-gold ’79 responsible for Mario Andretti’s world title; a yellow Lotus 99T driven by Ayrton Senna; and the current Lotus grand prix car as driven by Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean.
Gerry Judah worked closely with Lord March and Lotus to determine the design. The winding curves represent Lotus’s natural environment: cars that are built for cornering. The 150-metre-long track is shaped into the shape of a half-hitch, or trefoil, knot.
Sun Dec 02 2012 22:39:23 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)
I'm a sucker for vintage photographs. In most instances they memorialize the subject. As I usually am seeking rare cars or coach builders - they always involve cars, particularly classic cars.
Now, you've probably seen this car, in it's restored form. The coach builder is fairly well known, but didn't make that many cars. The chassis is from a well known manufacturer. The year, pre-war, of course.
I'll be highlighting the car and the coach builder in a future post - sharing pictures of the car as it looks now. Quite a difference.
A free TBC cap to the first person to identify the car and the coach builder. No previous winners please. Be quick too - our readers are an adroit group, I've learned.