Audi Sport

NZ Autocar - - Contents -

While the bird it­self might not be all that quick, hu­man Ki­wis are fast paced. Par­tic­u­larly if they have coin to spend on fancy cars. What are we on about? When it comes to buy­ing Audis, New Zealand is num­ber one in terms of pur­chas­ing RS mod­els as a per­cent­age of over­all sales. Of all Audis sold new here, 11 per cent are of the go-fast kind, and if you in­clude the S mod­els too, that to­tal rises to al­most one in three. So we like ’em fast, and this aligns well with the re­cent an­nounce­ment of the new Audi Sport brand, a so-called “brand within a brand”. Audi Sport is the new name for what we used to know as quat­tro GmbH, mak­ers of the RS road cars, and var­i­ous Le Mans race cars. The move is said to ‘bring ad­di­tional fo­cus to the rac­ing and per­for­mance char­ac­ter­is­tics of the brand’, and so Audi Sport will now have a ded­i­cated space and sales peo­ple in your lo­cal deal­er­ship. And it’s not just cars they’ll be sell­ing but the whole brand in­clud­ing end­less vari­a­tions of mer­chan­dis­ing and ‘the ex­pe­ri­ence’ with even more Audi Sport drive days planned, both on track and on ice. And not to for­get the cus­tomer rac­ing pro­gram with the R8 GT cars, two of which are in the coun­try.

Audi NZ used the op­por­tu­nity to launch Audi Sport with the in­tro­duc­tion of a few new and re­vised prod­ucts from the port­fo­lio, one of them be­ing the new R8. Much of the phi­los­o­phy is the same with this car, yet most of the bits are new. There’s still the chas­sis made of alu­minium but it now in­cor­po­rates car­bon fi­bre com­po­nents to make it lighter and more rigid. And there’s a new V10 en­gine re­sid­ing be­hind the cabin, which now makes 449kW. Also thor­oughly re­vised are the AWD and sus­pen­sion sys­tems, and the seven-speed twin-clutch gear­box, along with a Drive Select sys­tem with a new Per­for­mance mode. The styling is evo­lu­tion­ary, the side blades still present but now split into two parts and Audi NZ is only of­fer­ing the V10 plus ver­sion, start­ing at $350k, with the op­tion of $9000 laser lights.

The RS 6 and 7 get a mid-life makeover with NZ-spec cars now be­ing the new Per­for­mance mod­els, which means even more power and a bet­ter spec­i­fi­ca­tion level. This sees a full suite of ac­tive safety fea­tures added along with ac­tive LED head­lights, head-up dis­play and some cos­metic up­grades. Thrust lev­els in­crease from 412 to 445 kW, and there’s now 750Nm avail­able from 2500-5500rpm. The 0-100km/h sprint time drops to a claimed 3.7sec but of­fi­cially the lab fuel test re­sult re­mains at 9.6L/100km. Prices have risen how­ever; the RS 6 now costs $214,900 and the 7 goes for $224,900.

While not part of the Audi Sport range, the new S8 Plus is now the only A8 of­fer­ing, all $250,000 of it. That’s a price rise of $25k but buy­ers get more car­bon bits in­side and

out, and out­put rises from 382kW up to the same 445kay­dubs as the RS 7, and the ex­ec­u­tive board­room on wheels will reg­is­ter 100km/h in 3.8sec. It comes stan­dard with a sports ex­haust, car­bon brakes, 21-inch wheels and lux­ury bits like soft clos­ing doors, ex­tended leather trim and the full driver as­sis­tance suite, in­clud­ing night vi­sion as­sist.

We drove the RS 7 on road, the ac­tive cruise much needed to keep speed in check as the thing lit­er­ally wants to race ev­ery­where. And yet with the drive mode set to Com­fort, it’s su­per-re­fined, quiet and rides well on its over­sized rims. We got a stint in the R8, which was even harder to keep le­gal, so we’re glad we got some time on track at Hamp­ton Downs. And here, the R8 V10 is cer­tainly some­thing. It’s out­ra­geously quick de­spite a lack of tur­bocharg­ing, and we love the in­stant throt­tle re­sponse. The ac­tion of the twin-clutch gear­box has im­proved. Clearly Audi has been al­lowed to use the Porsche PDK soft­ware, now with ul­tra-quick shifts both up and down through the gears. When set to the Per­for­mance drive mode, you just leave the gear­box to sort it­self, and it does so per­fectly. The cars, the RS 7 and S8 are a dif­fer­ent ket­tle of caviar. A smooth driv­ing style is al­ways best on track but it’s a ne­ces­sity when you have two tonnes of fast mov­ing mass to man­age. The tight turns of Hamp­ton Downs can high­light a frontal weight bias, but also how good the var­i­ous dy­namic aids are at negat­ing it. And there’s no bet­ter way to ex­pe­ri­ence the ben­e­fits of all-wheel drive than by stomp­ing on the gas early out of the ex­its as it turns all that ex­cess mumbo into for­ward thrust.

Think­ing about it, there is a bet­ter way, and it’s called the Audi Ice Ex­pe­ri­ence, but that’s another story en­tirely. For more on these pow­er­ful Audi Sport rock­ets, stay tuned as we’ll be bring­ing you full road tests of each over the com­ing months.

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