Audi announces heavyweight intentions
The German automaker unveils a host of new models, reminding us that it is a global powerhouse.
Audi Urban Concept
Audi is underlining its status as a German heavyweight at the Frankfurt Motor Show with an enormous stand, packed with hot new production models, suggestive concept cars and far-out ideas that would reinvent the passenger car.
The new electric Audi A2 concept is the most intriguing of the bunch, and many expect it to become a showroom reality in the not-so distant future.
One thing is for certain: If there were ever any doubt, Audi really is now a global automotive powerhouse.
Audi A2 Concept
What is it? Audi has reinvented the ahead-of its-time 1999 A2 with a more market-friendly 4-seater concept. With an electric powertrain and cutting-edge technology, Audi is promising a long range for the car, which is rumored to be making production in 2013.
What's hot? The good-looking, zero-tailpipe-emissions Audi A2 seats four in a cabin designed to be exceedingly practical. It has an all-new control layout that fully embraces touch-screen tech and, outside, new lighting technology that's safe and stylish.
What's not? The high-tech, premium-look, all-electric Audi A2 is unlikely to be cheap when it makes production. The old A2 struggled because it was expensive; does Audi risk the same fate with this new one?
How much and when? We would expect a list price just south of $40,000. After all, a Nissan Leaf costs just north of $35,000 without the Government Plug-in Car Grant taken off.
MSN Autos' verdict: Looks great and is packed with tech, but at what cost?
Audi Urban Concept
What is it? Audi's tiny new city car "technical concept" is well worth a closer look. Made of carbon-fiber-reinforced composites, it is powered by two e-tron electric motors and a lithium-ion battery.
What's hot? Offered in Sportback and open-top Spyder guise, the Audi Urban Concept seats two in a staggered layout, within a simple cabin covered by a fighter-jet-style sliding roof. It's the perfect riposte to those who say all Audis look the same.
What's not? As a technical study, it's intentionally radical. But could a tiny, off-the-hook 1+1 electric car with free-standing wheels and an aircraft-style steering wheel be a step too far for some? Audi will be monitoring Frankfurt Motor Show feedback carefully.
How much and when? Although it is radical, the Urban Concept isn't completely unrealistic. After all, Renault has the Twizy, costing from $10,600 without batteries. How about a 2015 Audi Urban for the price of a regular Audi A1, then? But nothing has been confirmed.
MSN Autos' verdict: This radical Audi concept might just be the shape of things to come. But is it too much?
2012 Audi S6, S7, S8
What is it? Audi is launching four 'S' models at the Frankfurt Motor Show: the S6 saloon and S6 Avant, the S7 Sportback and the S8. All use a brand-new 4.0-liter TFSI twin-turbo V8 engine, producing 420 horsepower in the S6 and S7, and 520 horses in the Mercedes S63 AMG-rivaling S8.
What's hot? The all-new V8 engine has fuel-saving cylinder deactivation, turning four cylinders off during light loads. This means the S6 averages up to 29.1 mpg. All remain very fast though; the S8 hits 60 mph in 4.2 seconds. Fast and frugal.
What's not? The styling of Audi's new S models remains understated and none has traditionally been a great driver's car. With latest-generation quattro drivetrain and optional Sport differential, will these new S cars change that? That is the question.
How much and when? All new S Audis will go on sale this winter; prices have yet to be confirmed. Expect the S6 to start around $78,000.
MSN Autos Verdict: Fast and surprisingly economical, but the jury's out on how truly exciting these new S Audis will be.