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The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
The current-generation Jaguar XJ has had underwhelming sales, as the flagship sedan is seeing less than half the sales of its closest competitors in the US. Both the BMW 7-Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class have been outpacing the XJ on the market, and now the British automaker is mulling over what steps to take next for its replacement.
Considering their prevalence today, it’s easy to forget that just five years ago we saw our first set of LED headlights on a production vehicle. Even back then car makers were putting LEDs on concept cars to dazzle show-goers and catch the eyes of the media. But today, LED (light-emitting diode) lights are no longer isolated to just one-off concepts or premium luxury vehicles.
Seinfeld coined the term “shrinkage” on May 12, 1994 in reference to George Costanza’s little problem, but Larry David, the show’s storied creator probably never expected automakers to champion the idea, albeit in a mechanical sense.
Despite being an unmitigated flop in the US and not doing too much better in Europe, VW’s flagship has found a much better reception in China, where long wheelbase sedans are proving a hit with more affluent consumers. In fact this has led to certain manufacturers introducing LWB versions of smaller cars, notably BMW with it’s 3-Series.
Given the relative popularity of the Phaeton in China, as well as VW’s long established presence there, a second generation model makes more business sense now than it did before.
As we previously reported, much of the car’s engineering will be shared with the next generation Audi A8, which will mean some form of aluminum monocoque construction. That said, despite the reduction in mass and smaller displacement engines, likely four and six-cylinder motors, plus the possible option of a Plug-in Hybrid driveline, the new Phaeton will actually be dimensionally larger than the old, with even the short version sporting a 196-inch wheelbase.
The next generation Phaeton is set to bow in 2015 and aimed at the same kind of buyer as its predecessor. It’s “a sedan for the person who’s successful but doesn’t feel the need to show it,” remarked a VW spokesperson. “Volkswagen doesn’t change course between generations of a car. It’s always easier to keep the customers you have than to lose them and go find new ones.”
Whether sticking to the same principles proves a wise move for the second generation Phaeton, remains to be seen. Nonetheless, you can’t help but admire VW for doing so.
[Source: Auto Motor und Sport]
Efficiency is important these days. The government is cracking down on gas guzzlers and imposing strict regulations that force automakers into saving more fuel than ever before.
That’s why it might come as a surprise that Audi of America is opting not to offer their most efficient diesel engine in the upcoming 2013 Q5. That’s right, the German luxury brand sees fit to package the same diesel 3.0-liter V6 that they currently offer American consumers in the Q7.
Why, you might ask? The answer is simple, though less than logical. Audi is afraid of selling a 2.0 turbo diesel Q5 because it gets better milage than the hybrid-electric powertrain they are offering in the same vehicle.
In other words, the diesel engine is too efficient for the discerning U.S. palette. Now, there may be some merit to the theory, considering diesel fuel is more expensive than gasoline. People can be quick to judge at the pump and diesels still carry a somewhat sordid name among American consumers, even today.
On the other hand Hybrids evoke green imagery and environmentally friendly thoughts, which is even funnier when you realize that Europeans have been driving diesels to save fuel for decades.
Regardless of the reasoning, Audi is doing a good job of pandering to consumer egos, saying they chose to offer a more performance oriented diesel and an efficient hybrid.
Speaking of performance-oriented diesels, the company will also be offering Americans the same engine in the A8 later this year. The same logic that spoiled the chances for a 2.0-liter diesel Q5 is also keeping the hybrid A8 out of reach.
“Our current A8 with the 4.2L gasoline V-8 gets the same fuel economy as hybrids from BMW, Lexus and Mercedes” due to its emphasis on weight-saving aluminum construction, Audi of America President Johan de Nysschen said to Ward’s Auto. “Imagine now what happens when you put a diesel in the car. You have all the driveability and driving enjoyment with even better fuel economy.”
In fact, 41% of Q7 and 55% of A3 sales in the U.S. were diesel models, though the fact that Audi still ships from Germany probably restricted supply, so it makes sense that they would be rolling more models out with the oil-burning option.
GALLERY: Audi Q5 Hybrid
[Source: Wards Auto]
Audi has plenty to celebrate this year, having eclipsed their previous annual sales record of 101,629 (set in 2010) with a month to go in 2011. Sales through the Thanksgiving weekend stood at 102,055 vehicles, giving Audi an amazing year to go along with having record-setting months in each of the first 10 months of the year.
To go along with new car sales, Audi also set a new record with their Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) vehicles, besting their 2008 record of 32,108. CPO sales up to Thanksgiving weekend totaled in at 33,102 which was also a 32-percent increase over the previous year’s tally.
This is the second time Audi has exceeded 100,000 in sales since it established its brand in America over 41 years ago. They expect to have a record November month as well, and figures to close the year off with a 12th record setting month.
Audi has a legion of dedicated fans. In fact, a recent Visibli study found that the auto brand has more engaged social media followers than even Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber. That must mean these fans have quite a few stories to share about how the German luxury automaker gained their loyalty.
Audi wants to share these stories with the rest of the world and to do so the company launched the “Remarkable Audi Film” series. Each installment in the series focuses on real people who discuss what Audi means to them. There are no rehearsed scripts – Audi just turns on the camera and lets the story unfold.
In the first installment in the series, Audi talks with award-winning and Grammy-nominated recording artist Ryan Farish, who uses Audi to perfect his music. After burning his tracks on a CD, he listens to how they sound in his Audi TT. In the video below, you can see what happens when he takes the new Audi A8, outfitted with a 19-speaker, 1,400-watt Bang & Olufsen Advanced Sound System, out for a test drive. You can watch the video after the jump.
If you’ve got a story to tell, send it to email@example.com. You may be featured in the next installment of the Remarkable Audi Film series.
Audi has just released official details on a new hybrid version of its A8 luxury flagship sedan, powered by a 4-cylinder engine. The 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder (what else?) is mated to an electric motor and makes a total of 245-hp with 345 lb-ft of torque while achieving an average fuel consumption of 36.75-mpg (on the European test cycle). Even more impressive is that the luxury sedan can travel up to 62-mph on the electric motor alone and can cover 1.86-miles at a speed of 37-mph with zero local emissions.
Separately, the 2.0L TFSI produces 211-hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, while the electric motor puts out 54-hp and 155 lb-ft of torque. Combined, this helps power the A8 hybrid to a 0-62 mph time of 7.7 seconds – a reasonable though hardly impressive time. Three driving modes are available to the A8 hybrid driver, an EV mode that gives priority to the electric drive, a “D” mode that efficiently controls both the electric and gas engine and an “S” mode can be combined with the tiptronic gate to provide a sporty driving experience.
On the outside, the hybrid version sports subtle differences than its gas-only counterpart. The 10-spoke wheels are unique and come in an 18-inch sizing as standard, with a 19-inch upgrade available as an option. Hybrid badges adorn the body while Arctic Silver is an exclusive paint finish to the hybrid model. Standard to the model are metallic paint, three-zone automatic air conditioning, LED headlights and a Bose sound system.
No pricing was announced for the A8 hybrid.
GALLERY: Audi A8 Hybrid
Somebody in Audi management is busting out the champagne and Hoyo Monterrey Excaliburs. This past March gave them a series of sales records, including the best March US sales and the best overall first quarter of all time.
This was the third month in a row where Audi sales have set records, and in the U.S. March sales were the third-best monthly sales overall.
You want numbers? We got numbers, bucko. 25,383 vehicles were sold this first quarter, a 19.1% increase over the previous year’s. The record-setting March 2011 saw 9,818 vehicles moved out of Audi showrooms, an increase of over 1,000 vehicles from March 2010—or 14.3%. From February, sales increased a not-insubstantial 25%. Five Audi models saw sales increases of 20%: the Q7, Q5, TT, R8, and the 2011 Audi A8, which was the biggest winner—compared to sales from 2010, the flagship sedan increased its sales by an overwhelming 788.9%. From just 68 models in March 2010 to 1,371 this past month, the uber-sedan owes its success to its redesign this year.
Hear that sound? It’s somebody at Audi probably getting a promotion. Or another cigar.
Each spring, a jury of 66 automotive journalists from around the globe get together to pick a winner for the World Car of the Year title. The journalists are asked to vote by secret ballot, selecting the winner from 10 cars that have made the final cut.
For the 2011 awards, those finalists have now been announced. They are: Audi A1, Audi A8, BMW 5-Series, BMW X3, Jaguar XJ, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG (shown above), Nissan LEAF, Porsche Cayenne and Volvo S60/V60.
And yes, the much hyped Chevrolet Volt didn’t make the cut this time around, perhaps next year when it becomes more widely available.
Now that the finalists for this year’s awards have been announced, the jurors will ‘re-evaluate’ each vehicle on merit, value, safety, emotional appeal, significance and environmental impact. Once the findings of these evaluations have been tabulated, the shortlist will be whittled down to three vehicles, which will be announced at the Geneva Auto Show next month. The actual World Car of Year winner, will be announced at the New York International Auto Show on April 21st; the final ballots being tabulated by international accounting firm KPMG.
The World Car Awards were first instigated in 2003 to reflect a more global automotive landscape and complement existing national and regional Car of the Year award programs.
Past WCOTY winners have generally been cars that have proved popular in many countries around the world. The first car to actually win the accolade, back in 2005, was the Audi A6, while past winners have included other top selling cars such as the BMW 3-Series; Mazda 2 and Volkswagen Golf.
Audi is getting ready to launch an A8 Hybrid with a four-cylinder engine that will compete with the upcoming Mercedes-Benz S250 CDI, which uses a 4-cylinder diesel motor, and the S400 Hybrid.
With a front-drive only V6 version of the A8 already on sale, the 4-cylinder hybrid model is a naturally progression for that brand, while still maintaining the premium positioning that luxury hybrids enjoy.
Interestingly, BMW denied that they were interested in introducing an engine smaller than 6 cylinders in their 7-Series flagship. “I like selling 7-series cars with six- and eight- cylinders,”BMW CEO Norbert Reithofer said at the Paris Motor Show. “What we need to offer with these cars in the future is electrification.”
[Source: Automotive News]
Throughout it’s 62 year history, Israel has had an uneasy relationship with German cars. While Israel and Germany have strong diplomatic relationships, its government agencies have stayed away from using Mercedes-Benz or Volkswagen cars, even though they comprise most of the Israeli taxi fleet. Instead, Skodas and Volvos have been popular, in recognition of the respective countries efforts to provide arms to Israel and save Jews during the Holocaust.
It looks like that trend will be coming to a close, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be the first Prime Minister to enjoy a fleet of three bulletproofed Audi A8L W12 sedans. Netanyahu’s current fleet of Toyota Land Cruisers and Chevrolet Suburbans are apparently being replaced by the Audis, which will also be used to ferry other VIPs around while in the country.
As you might expect, the A8s will have the best available armoring, since Netanyahu is what the American military would call a “high value target”. Israel’s security services allegedly blew up a prototype A8 to test the various safety features of the car, which should be capable of protecting occupants against gunfire, roadside bombs, grenades and even rocket attacks. Inside, the usual luxury features, like leather seats and a sunroof will go along with more opulent ones like a fridge, DVD player and a humidor.
The three A8s will cost a total of $3 million dollars, replacing the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG as the most expensive model for sale in Israel. Audi’s Israeli importer quoted a base price of $685,000 for a comparably equipped A8 W12, not including the 110% sales tax, so we can only assume that the government got a wholesale discount.
[Source: Ynet News]
Cadillac‘s current flagships, the DTS and STS sedans are overpriced and underwhelming in today’s marketplace. The proposed XTS concept is a sharp looking vehicle but is apparently not premium enough to compete with the big dogs, like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, BMW 750i and Audi A8.
Soon-to-be-departed GM CEO Ed Whitacre apparently ordered Cadillac to get to work on a flagship capable of returning the brand to its former standing as “Standard Of The World”. But with the XTS slated to arrive in 2014 or later, we could be waiting a long time for a big Caddy.
The A7, unvieled today in Munich, will be a four-seater coupe/hatchback/sedan designed to take on the Mercedes-Benz CLS and possibly the BMW 5-Series GT. A four-seater only, the A7 will be powered by a range of 6-cylinder engines, with direct-injection, stop-start technology and brake energy recuperation, which sounds suspiciously like a hybrid car for our tastes. Look for the familiar 3.0L TFSI supercharged V6 to be the sole engine for North America, as it is already certified here and Audi is unlikely to bring the lesser 2.8L V6. Diesels are a slim possibility, but unlikely. With the 7-speed S-tronic dual clutch gearbox, the A7 3.0TFSI can hit 60 mph in 5.6 seconds. The A7 is some 220 lbs lighter than the CLS350, allowing it to get away with forgoing a V8 gasoline engine. The A7 will also share the new quattro all-wheel-drive system that debuted in the RS5, featuring a decidedly rearward bias. Front-wheel drive and a CVT gearbox will be offered in Europe, but again, don’t expect them to show up in North America.
While the A7 Sportback does not share a platform with the A8, the car is designed to slot in just below it, with its swoopy styling acting as a contrast to the more staid, discreet A8. It’s not hard to imagine the A8 as a car that European government ministers (and low key wealthy folks in the Americas) would be driven in, while the A7 is for people who still have a performance itch that needs to be scratched.
Pricing hasn’t been announced for North America but “more than an A6, less than an A8″ is likely a safe bet. An S7 and RS7 pair of performance variants were also announced, likely taking aim at the Porsche Panamera, Aston Martin Rapide and Maserati Quattroporte.
[Source: Twitter, Audi]
Gallery: Audi A7 Sportback
Consumers in China and the United States are fueling the fortunes of German luxury car makers like Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi. Buyers in both countries are going wild for the re-designed Mercedes-Benz E-Class, BMW 5 Series and Audi A8.
“The Chinese appetite for German nameplates is absolutely bottomless,” Sascha Gommel, a Frankfurt-based analyst with Commerzbank AG, told Automotive News. “There are more than 900,000 millionaires in China and many of them are bursting to show off their wealth.”
BMW’s all-new 5-Series is sold out across the world, while Mercedes-Benz is developing a long-wheelbase E-Class just for the Chinese market and hiring 1,800 temporary workers to help meet demand for its vehicles. Audi has also reported strong demand for their new A8 flagship.
“German luxury cars are a synonym for status, comfort and safety,” Gommel said. “Those are the traits you want to embody when you’re courting future partners for business. In China, buying a German luxury car is seen like buying a ticket to future wealth.”
[Source: Automotive News]
Well well, ABT Sportsline didn’t waste any time on this one did they? Even though Audi just released the 2011 A8, ABT already has a fantastic tuning package available for it. The German Audi-tuner says their A8 is a sports car in a classy outfit and we can’t help but to agree.
Let’s start with the exterior where ABT has transformed the luxury sedan with a subtle front spoiler, side skirts and three piece rear wing. There is also a new rear diffuser with exhaust covers. All of the exterior accessories are much like ABT Sportsline’s other aesthetics for other vehicles: mild and subtle. Nothing over the top, which is expected especially on the A8 sedan. ABT also offers a selection of 20- or 21-inch wheels.
Under the hood, ABT also pushes out 35 additional horsepower (350 to 385) and raises torque from 590 ft-lbs to 650 ft-lbs on the 4.2-liter turbo-diesel. There’s no word yet on tuning options for the 500-hp W12.
Overall, it’s a nice, clean and simple option for those with A8s looking to enhance their vehicle without going too crazy.
GALLERY: ABT Sportsline Audi A8
Check out the press release after the break.
The current Audi A4 is one of the few cars on the market to have grown in size and decreased in weight, a smart philosophy in a world where performance and efficiency are now placed on a similar footing. The next-generation A4 is set to go on a crash diet, dropping 300 lbs through the use of composites, aluminum and proprietary engineering techniques.
The weight of a vehicle affects every aspect, from fuel consumption to handling to acceleration and braking. Audi is already experienced with using lightweight materials on cars like the R8 and A8. Hopefully by the time the next A4 is ready to be launched in 2015, the costs will have been sufficiently amortized so that they will be affordable to use on their bread and butter cars like the A4. A lightweight, efficient and sporty A4 would be a real threat to the dominance of Mercedes and BMW, while furthering Audi’s rise to the top of the luxury heap.