Sunday, 10 November 2013

Mercedes to bring 2015 S65 AMG to LA and Tokyo motor shows

Mercedes Benz has officially revealed its offering for the upcoming LA and Tokyo Motor Shows. The German carmaker is bringing the performance-oriented version of its flagship, the new S65 AMG.
The new S65 AMG
The new S65 AMG
The most powerful car in the Merc sedan lineup is propelled by an AMG-treated 6.0-litre Biturbo V12 engine that delivers a mind-boggling 630PS of power and 1000Nm of peak torque. This engine comes mated to a 7-speed AMG SPEEDSHIFT PLUS transmission. With an electronically limited top-speed of 250kmph, the car sprints from 0-100kmph in 4.3 seconds. Efficiency and emission numbers are rated at 8.4kmpl and 279g/km respectively. A start/stop system, reduced-friction bearings and transmission oil heat management work to improve efficiency. The sibling, S63 AMG, had the optional 4MATIC all-wheel-drive, but this has not yet been confirmed for the S65. This may be one of the reasons why the S63 was faster to 100kmph at four seconds than the S65.
On its way to a limited top-speed of 250kmph, the car sprints from 0-100kmph in 4.3 seconds
On its way to a limited top-speed of 250kmph, the car sprints from 0-100kmph in 4.3 seconds
The S65 AMG has a light lithium-ion battery, alternator management, aluminium crankcase, forged crankshaft, carbonfibre engine cover and multispark ignition. The AMG transmission also offers three modes, efficiency, sport and manual. There is also Merc’s ‘Magic Body Control’, that tweaks the suspension of the car depending on the road ahead. The overall suspension setup is custom AMG. Braking duties are handled by mammoth yet lightweight ceramic brakes that are 420mm in diameter.
The S65 gets the muti-slat grille, splitter and larger front air intakes
The S65 gets the muti-slat grille, splitter and larger front air intakes
On the cosmetic front, the S65 gets the multi-slat grille and splitters, quad exhausts, side air intakes, larger front air intakes, V12 badging, Nappa leather, AMG sports seats, bi-spoke AMG steering wheel, steel door panels and new dials in the TFT display. Two new features that make their debut in the S65 are head-up display and a touchpad. The head-up display measures 21cm wide and will show data such as navigation instructions, vehicle speed, and adaptive cruise control. The touchpad will be near the armrest between the driver and passenger and will control the infotainment system. It will recognize words and numbers and also respond to one and two finger gestures, swipes, widening and narrowing finger movements.
Two new features that make their debut in the S65 are head-up display and a touchpad
Two new features that make their debut in the S65 are head-up display and a touchpad
Other optional features include AMG sport pedals, a Burmester system with 24 speakers, massage function for the seats, panoramic sunroof and a 360-degree surround view camera, chauffeur pack and ‘full-pile’ floormats. The S65 AMG is available only as a long wheelbase model.

The car will be showcased simultaneously at both LA and Tokyo. Prices still haven’t been confirmed but expect deliveries in the US markets to start by mid-2014. The S65 will be seeing the Bentley Flying Spur and the Rolls Royce Ghost as competitors.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

EICMA 2013: Ducati unveils new Monster 1200

Ducati unveiled the new Monster 1200 at the 2013 EICMA, where it also showcased the 899 Panigale and the 1199 Superleggera.
The new Ducati Monster 1200
The new Ducati Monster 1200
The new Monster 1200 comes with a 1198cc liquid-cooled Testastretta 11° engine instead of the previous air-cooled V-twin. It delivers 135PS and 117Nm of peak torque. There is also a 1200S that is cranked higher to deliver 145PS and 125Nm. The red frame of the Monster remains the same barring a few ergonomic tweaks. Wheelbase has been increased, and the bike gets height adjustable seat. Braking is taken care of by Brembo with the S getting a slightly upgraded assembly. The suspensions of the 1200 are fully adjustable 43mm Kayaba forks upfront and Sachs monoshock with adjustable spring-preload and rebound damping at the rear. The 1200S, on the other hand, gets adjustable 48mm Titanium-Nitride forks at the front and Ohlin shock absorber at the rear.
The new Monster 1200 comes with a 1198cc liquid-cooler Testastretta 11° engine instead of the previous air-cooled V-twin
Claudio Domenicali, CEO of Ducati unveils the new Monster 1200 at EICMA 2013
Other features are a wet slipper clutch, ride by wire system, three ride modes with eight level traction control and switchable three level 9MP ABS by Bosch. There is also a TFT colour display which changes layout according to ride mode. When in Urban mode, the screen displays basic information such as speed and rpm, in the touring mode the screen offers more complete layout and in sports mode, the screen changes over to track setting with emphasis on engine speed.
Walter Dsilva, head of Volkswagen design and Claudio Domenicali with the 1199 Superleggera
Walter Dsilva, head of Volkswagen design and Claudio Domenicali with the 1199 Superleggera
The other attractions, namely the 899 Panigale and 1199 Superleggera have been detailed by Ducati earlier. The Panigale was at the Frankfurt Auto Show and the 1199 Superleggera was recently revealed.

BMW displays the 2014 S1000R at EICMA 2013

BMW Motorrad has taken the covers off the 2014 BMW S1000R at the 2013 EICMA in Milan.
2014 BMW S1000R
2014 BMW S1000R can accelerate from 0-100kmph in 3.2 seconds
It comes with a tuned 999cc inline four engine that delivers 158PS of power and 112Nm of peak torque. This motorcycle can accelerate from 0 to 100kmph in 3.2 seconds. Other changes include cylinder heads, valve lift curves, cam profiles and the BMS-X engine management feature supporting a throttle-by-wire scheme.
It comes with a tuned 999cc inline four engine that delivers 158PS of power and 112Nm of peak torque
It comes with a tuned 999cc inline four engine that delivers 158PS power and 112Nm peak torque
Race ABS with ASC (BMW’s electronic stability control) is standard. Dynamic Traction Control is also available with two modes, Dynamic and Dynamic Pro. Two riding modes available are Rain and Road. The aluminium frame and suspensions are drawn from the S1000RR but the 2014 S1000R also gets an optional semi-automatic suspension with Dynamic Damping Control.
Traction Control is also available with two modes, Dynamic and Dynamic Pro
Traction Control is also available with two modes, Dynamic and Dynamic Pro
Two radial-mounted, 4-piston brake calipers grip 320mm discs upfront, while the rear has a single-piston floating caliper which bites on a 220 mm disc. The meter cluster displays gear indicator, speedometer, shift indicator light, analogue tachometer, engine temperature gauge, fuel consumption, ride information, etc.
Other attractions from BMW at the Milan show included the 2014 BMW R 1200 GS Adventure, which is a performance bike with touring abilities, and the BMW R Nine T which was revealed a few days ago

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Jaguar F-Type Coupe: your first look

This is your first official look at the production Jaguar F-Type Coupe. And it's a first official look which proves that, erm, the F-Type Coupe has a roof. Which is good news, what with it being a coupe.

Despite this limited view, we are excited. So is Jaguar. "We've been overwhelmed by the positive reaction to the F-Type convertible," says Jag design director Ian Callum, "but for me the purity of creating a sports coupe is a uniquely satisfying process. F-Type Coupe raises the bar yet again."

That's fightin' talk. We won't see the rest of the F-Coupe until its reveal at the Los Angeles show on November 19, but we already know plenty about the hardtop two-seater.

Like... engines. The C-X16 concept that previewed the production F-Type featured a 475bhp hybrid powertrain combining Jag's supercharged V6 and an electric motor driven by a battery mounted ahead of the rear axle.

But the production F-Coupe won't, at least initially, come with hybrid power. It'll launch with the same trio of petrol-gargling engines as the convertible: the 335bhp V6, 375bhp V6S and stonking V8S, good for 488bhp.

The coupe is the second wave in Jag's bid to out-911 the Porsche 911 with its F-Type range. This hardtop will, down the line, spawn a hardcore, lightweight ‘GT3' version (though it's unlikely to be badged as such), probably featuring a bumped-up version of Jag's supercharged V6, and rather less in the way of interior.

It'll also eventually be treated to four-wheel drive, using the same driveline we'll see on Jag's upcoming ‘baby saloon' 3-Series rival and the production C-X17. Using an electronic centre differential, it'll remain RWD in normal driving, with the diff pushing power to the front in slippery conditions.

But first comes the rear-drive F-Type Coupe. In our Scotland shoot-out back in May, the soft-top F-Type narrowly - narrowly - lost out to the Porsche Boxster. Can this hard-top match the brilliant Cayman?

November 2013 It’s a brand new Bugatti Veyron!

Yes, it's another special edition of the car that Top Gear magazine declared the greatest of the last 20 years. It's officially the fastest roadster in the world. It's the Veyron ‘Meo Costantini', a very limited edition of Bugatti's 1200bhp Grand Sport Vitesse.

Unveiled at the Dubai Motor Show, this new special edition is the third in a series of six ‘Les Legendes de Bugatti' Veyrons, dedicated to six people who left an indelible mark on the company's history. You can view the other two here and here.

Meo, then, was a good friend of Ettore Bugatti himself, heading up the factory race team for many years and even driving the Bugatti Type 35 to two Targa Florio victories, in 1925 and 1926. Later in 1926, he also won the Spanish GP and Milan GP, and took second place at Monza. Quite handy, then.

All six special editions are be based on the Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse, complete with its 8.0-litre W16 engine knocking out 1200bhp, 1106lb ft of torque, a 0-62mph time of just 2.6 seconds and a top speed of 253mph with the roof down. Not slow.

This Costantini edition gets a carbon fibre body, with the wings, doors, the ‘parts behind the doors' and corners of the front bumper rendered in aluminium. It's blue - because blue is the classic French motorsport colour - with the silhouette of the Targo Florio race course painted on the underside of the rear air-brake in homage to Meo's double victory there.

Inside, there's a blue-and-cognac colour scheme, blue stitching and Meo's signature embroidered into the headrests too. Plus, vintage car motifs have been laser-engraved onto the leather door trim, to highlight Meo's racing career.

Just three will be made, each costing €2.09 million excluding taxes and transport. That's around £2.1m, give or take. Which makes this Veyron cheaper - and more exclusive - than that oh-so-common Lambo Veneno Roadster...

Dubai police get a Brabus G63 AMG

The Dubai police force has just given us a new reason to get arrested - it's added a Brabus-tuned G63 AMG to its fleet.

Yep, the 690bhp B637 "700 Widestar" is the latest lump of exotica the Emirati rozzers can tool around in. And with a top speed of 149mph, 0-60mph time of 4.9 seconds and a roster of off-road credentials, it'll be able to bring many deserty high-speed pursuits to a close.

It rounds off the Dubai police force's crim-troubling armada of 217mph Lamborghini Aventador (for high-speed motorway chases), 208mph four-wheel drive Ferrari FF (for, er, wintry high-speed motorway chases), and 197mph Bentley Continental (for storing more than one assailant).

Trumps the Italian Carabinieri's Evora, doesn't it? But doesn't get anywhere near Richard's Vitara...

We'll be at the Dubai motor show to mop more exclusive live pics, so keep checking back to see what we've discovered...

Hennessey builds 600bhp Corvette

Earlier this year Hennessey promised us a 1000bhp, turbocharged version of the Corvette C7 ‘Stingray'. We were scared. Blood pressures were raised.

Thankfully, the company behind some of the most bombastic motors on earth has decided to start with a slightly more subtle modification for the American performance icon. Meet the 600bhp HPE600 Corvette.

It takes the entry-level 455bhp 6.2-litre V8 - the most powerful base-engine in a Corvette ever - and adds stainless steel intake and exhaust manifolds, a high flow cat and mid pipes that work with the factory-fit dual-mode performance exhaust. There's also a hydraulic roller camshaft, ported and polished cylinder heads, and a remapped ECU to work with 93-octane unleaded.

No confirmed performance stats, but given the standard 455bhp ‘Vette hits 0-60mph in just 3.8 seconds and runs on to a top speed of 190mph, expect some serious fastness.

Visual accompaniments to this extra power are also available, including monoblock forged wheels, carbon fibre door sills, and Hennessey's ‘CarbonAero' bodywork (a deeper front splitter, side sills and a notched rear wing made from carbon fibre).

It'll cost you $10,950 - installed - for this 600bhp option, complete with a 3-year or 36,000-mile warranty. That, or you can wait for the twin-turbo 1000bhp version and shorten your life span considerably. The choice is yours...

The Lexus RC Coupe has landed

It’s Japan's rival to the BMW 4-Series and Audi A5. It has a pointy face. And there’s a V8 version coming

This is Lexus’s answer to the BMW 4-Series coupe and Audi A5. This is the RC Coupe, due to be officially unveiled at the Tokyo show later this month. It looks pointy. It looks interesting.

The RC Coupe is, in essence, the new two-door Lexus IS. But, just as BMW upgraded its 3-Series coupe to 4-Series, so Lexus too has decided its IS coupe, with its bold new face, needs a bold new name

The RC Coupe takes styling cues from the lovely LF-LC concept, and gets Lexus’s new Predator-spec ‘spindle grille’ atop a mouth large enough to swallow pedestrians.

Does it have the power to match its visual, erm, grrrr? Well, though Brit-spec engines are yet to be announced, we know the RC will be unveiled in two petrol-gargling guises: the 179bhp RC300h hybrid, which mates a 2.5-litre four-cylinder to Lexus’s leccy motor tech, and the more powerful RC350, with a 3.5-litre V6 driving the rear wheels.

Lexus hasn’t revealed any performance figures, but we’d expect the RC350 to make around 300bhp, which should be good for a 0-62mph time somewhere in the six-second region, if not a little quicker.

At some point down the line, we’ll see the BMW M4-rivalling RC-F, expected to pack a naturally-aspirated 4.5-litre V8 making some 450bhp, along with even more aggressive styling.

What else do we know? That the RC Coupe is just a couple of centimetres bigger in every direction than the 4-Series coupe. That you can’t have it with any wheels smaller than 18s. And that it benefits from ‘a new Lexus painting process’ that apparently produces paint more, um, painty than normal paint.

We’ll find out more at Tokyo, before the RC reaches the UK next year. Would you take one over that annoyingly excellent 4-Series?

Maserati Bora concept

This is not a real car. In fact, it's not even a picture of an upcoming real car that will become real. It's a flight of fancy from a modern take on the Bora, Maserati's mid-engined icon of the Seventies.

Alex Imnadze - the man who gave us the Alfa 6C concept a while back - penned this lovely new Maser, imagining a mid-engined GT car that takes the spirit of the Bora and infuses it with some thoroughly modern design overtones.

Yes, it's got Bora written all over it, but that's no bad thing, considering the original was a milestone in Maserati's history. Squint and there are shades of the MC12 hypercar (that's the one that cribbed from the Ferrari Enzo) too, itself the last production mid-engined Maserati. Anyone else getting notes of the Jaguar C-X75 in there, and hints of Veyron along the flanks?

Whatever the influences, it's very tasty. And also very NOT REAL. But considering Alex knocked this out during his spare time in just two weeks - ahead of an internship at legendary design house Bertone working on exterior car design (more on Bertone here) - we can't blame him for that.

Now, the original Bora used a 4.7-litre and 4.9-litre V8 mated to a five-speed manual gearbox, but seeing as it's not 1971 anymore, imagine this with the 6.3-litre, 730bhp V12 from the F12, a racing dual-clutch gearbox, some righteous exhaust noise and trick suspension (OK, so essentially the entire drivetrain from the F12), and we reckon Maser's onto a winner. Or does this require a LaFerrari-style hyper-hybrid set-up?

Crashed Ferrari Dino sells for £156,000

Crashed Ferrari Dino sells for £156,000
It's often said that you won't be a successful artist unless your work fits in a New York elevator. But a sculptor called Bertrand has proved this rule has an exception. He just sold a smashed Ferrari Dino 308 GT4 for £156,000.
Smashed. As in completely totalled. An un-driveable, smashed, totalled 308 - a car so slow and wet it barely qualified for a Ferrari badge in the first place - for one HUNDRED and fifty six grand. A car there's hardly a short supply of that, y'know, work and stuff. A car that'll cost you £25,000 for a tidy example.

The £156,000 Dino in question belonged to Bertrand Lavier, who unceremoniously binned it as part of the so-called "ready-made" movement, which considers everyday objects as art. Whether said binning was intentional or not remains unclear. Either way, Lavier was so overwhelmed by the beauty of the written-off car that he sold it immediately to a Turkish man for $250,000.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Magnum Mk5: Canada’s BAC Mono

460bhp per tonne. 0-62mph in 3.2 seconds. A top speed of 150mph and over 2g of lateral cornering force. Enough fastness, then, to outpace even the sprightliest grizzly bear. Meet Canada's latest trackday lightweight, the Magnum Mk5.

It competes with the Ariel Atom, Lotus Elise and the BAC Mono.

It's made by a man named Bruno, whose father Jean-Pierre built Magnum's first formula racer in the late 1960s. This MK5, then, has been a long time coming. It's built for the track but is actually street-legal, much like our favourite lung-crusher, the BAC Mono. Size-wise, think a slightly swollen Lotus Elise.

The Magnum MK5 features a mid-mounted 250bhp four-cylinder engine that revs to a dizzy 11,000rpm - that'll be a bike engine, then - that feeds the rear wheels through a six-speed sequential gearbox activated by a centre-mounted shifter. There's also a limited slip differential, and F1-style pushrod suspension with two-way adjustable dampers front and rear.

A weight of just 545kg results in that healthy power-to-weight ratio, and reduces the strain on those four-piston calipers and ventilated discs - complete with a custom pedal box and cockpit-adjustable brake bias, hidden under 18-inch lightweight alloys.

There's functional aero on the carbon fibre composite bodywork, while inside you get racing carbon fibre seats, six-point harnesses and a suede-wrapped steering wheel with GPS with mounted lap-timer. Serious stuff.

Prices start at 139,000 US dollars excluding taxes and delivery, which is just over £86k before you add VAT. That's a lot more than an Ariel Atom but a lot less than a BAC Mono.

So. Over the years we have witnessed many ambitious attempts to nail the lightweight track day formula. Most have failed spectacularly: the Mono, X-Bow and Atom are the exceptions, not the rule. Reckon the Magnum MK5 stands a chance?

Ducati 1199 Superleggera

Ducati has released finer details and some gorgeous imagery of the 1199 Superleggera. The super-Gucci Panigale is set to brag the highest power-to-weight ratio of any production motorcycle, thanks to a concoction of magnesium, carbon and titanium trickery. A carbon fibre subframe and bodywork, and an Ergal rear sprocket also add to the diet.
Chassis-wise, the magnesium monocoque base remains, with the addition of Ã–hlins FL916 front suspension and a TTX36 shock, and some Brembo M50 Monoblocs. The already banzai 1199 Superquadro motor gets titanium con-rods and inlet valves, and two-ring pistons: a first for road-legal Ducatis. The result is a claimed 200bhp. The race kit, which includes an Aka’ system, adds 5bhp and sheds another 2.5kg.
With only 500 being made they’re more than likely sold already. We can all dream, though. If you have to ask how much the Superleggera costs, you can’t afford it. But it should be around £54k.

2013 Mercedes A-Class diesel vs BMW 1 Series diesel in India

few days back, we compared the BMW 1 Series in diesel guise with Mercedes’s practical, spacious and well-packaged B-Class. The latter won courtesy the aforementioned attributes. But, the 1 Series clearly emerged as the younger man’s car, and one to buy if driving pleasure is what you seek.
However, Mercedes has an even younger car in its Indian line-up now. And it looks like a million bucks. It is young, dynamic and aspirational, and in fact, more fun to drive than the B-Class. So, if you are young, enthusiastic and, of course, well-off, which German should you sign up for?
The A-Class looks a million bucks in front of the 1 Series
The A-Class looks a million bucks in front of the 1 Series
Like we said, the A-Class looks like a million bucks, and standing next to the BMW, it completely pales the 1 Series. Now, the Mercedes test car came with some optional extras − larger, sexier looking wheels, the diamond studded grille and red adornment for the front and rear bumper. But even without these add-ons, the A has more street presence. The BMW with its extra large eyes and design lines that look dated in the A’s company, looks a generation old. It also looks a tad boring, if you ask me.
We like the A's interiors better but yes, it can do with more features
We like the A’s interiors better but yes, it can do with more features
The A is also better finished and more visually appealing on the inside. It gets an all black interior, but the matte metal finish for the air con vents, the clocks, the COMAND system dial and the door handles, as well as the steering, makes the interior look racy and plush at the same time. The white stitching on the door trim, the front armrest and the seats make the cabin even more alluring. There’s rich looking soft grain plastic all over the dashboard too.
The B's interiors are not modern looking but are feature loaded
The B’s interiors are not modern looking but are feature loaded
The BMW scores equally high when it comes to fit and finish and the quality of plastic all round. But its interior just doesn’t have the same design flair as the A-Class. To us then, the A-Class wins hands down on visual appeal, both inside and out. It is without doubt the one with the higher pose value.
BMW, though, prides itself for producing ultimate driving machines. And the 1 Series lives up to it, especially in the A-Class’s company. The A is an accomplished handler – it is beautifully balanced, turns into corners with enthusiasm and grip, and it can handle quick direction changes without feeling soft or ungainly.
But, drive the 1 Series soon after, and it just connects with the driver better. It lets you in on the happenings sooner and in more detail. It feels more controllable on the limit. And when you really want to cane it, it just has better prerequisites ­­­– a gutsier engine, a keener gearbox and better connect via the steering.
The 8-speed auto makes the 1's engine an enthusiast's delight
The 8-speed auto makes the 1′s engine an enthusiast’s delight
Yes, the engine and the gearbox really set the 1 Series apart. The 1995cc diesel engine displaces fewer ccs compared to the Mercedes, but it makes appreciably more power and torque. It sounds better and more refined too. On the road, the higher output translates into a 0-100kmph time that is two seconds quicker than what the A-Class can muster. The BMW also has a higher top speed.
The 7-speed DCT auto in the Merc isn't quick responding
The 7-speed DCT auto in the Merc isn’t quick responding
It is a quicker in kickdown too, making is less tiresome to drive quickly on the highways, particularly on two-laned highways where quick overtakes are not only frustration busters, but also safer. The BMW gets an 8-speed torque convertor automatic, while the A-Class uses a 7-speed dual clutch automatic. Both come with manual override functions, but only the Mercedes gets steering mounted paddle shifters. But even so, the BMW’s box is more alert to both manual as well as the throttle inputs, which makes it more involving to drive.
On the more mundane but passenger-centric front, the BMW offers a bit more passenger room all round
On the more mundane but passenger-centric front, the BMW offers a bit more passenger room all round
On the more mundane but passenger-centric front, the BMW offers a bit more passenger room all round. It has more comfortable seats too, especially at the rear. And because of its larger glass area and flatter sides, it feels airier too. The A-Class with its racy styling and large front seats and tiny rear windows is almost claustrophobic to be in, at the rear. But again, be it room or comfort, the 1 Series isn’t hugely better.
The RWD 1 Series is back, joined by the young A-Class
The RWD 1 Series is back, joined by the young A-Class
It is a significantly better riding car, though. Compared to the A, which is stiff and noisy, the 1 handles the bumps and potholes and the broken road with more aplomb. It is quiet, better damped, and less rattly. It might sound odd, but if we had to pick the more comfortable car between the two, the BMW would score over the Mercedes.
Now, the decider. The cars you see here are the A 180 CDI Style and the 118d Sport Plus. Both are top of the line diesel variants of the A and the 1, but in terms of pricing, these are over ` 10 lakh apart, with the BMW costing more. Now, while you can’t order the A diesel in any other trim, the 1 Series has two additional cheaper trims to choose from.
The basic – the 118d – costs almost the same as the A-Class but it doesn’t get electric driver’s seat, or the iDrive to go against Mercedes’ COMAND system, or even Bluetooth telephony, headlamp washers or cruise control. The mid variant – the 118d Sport – compares best with the A 180 CDI Style in terms of comfort features, but it costs Rs 4 lakh more.
So where does this leave us? A little confused, I think. But, let’s approach this logically. As a product, the 1 Series does better. It’s got better performance, better economy, more space and a better ride. But, is it really worth the premium that BMW demands over the A-Class? Unless you are like me and simply won’t look beyond the rear-wheel-drive format, no. The A-Class is the better proposition once cost and economy is factored into the equation.

2014 Audi A8 first drive

Audi has been the master of automotive lighting for quite a while, particularly with the usage of LEDs. They were the pioneers of LED day time running lamps, full LED headlamps and also among the first to bring about dynamic turn signals. This time around, they introduce the world’s first fully electronic glare free headlamp in the optional Matrix LED headlamp.
Besides the new headlamps, the A8 sees bigger air dams and tweaked bumpers
Besides the new headlamps, the A8 sees bigger air dams and tweaked bumpers
Of course there are the usual visual tweaks such as the revised bumpers and new trapezoidal exhaust that’s available across all variants. The new tail lamps are sleeker than before and, like the front, feature those trick dynamic turn indicators that stream outwards instead of just blinking. The front end gets a slightly revised bonnet, but it’s the sci-fi looking Matrix LEDs that will capture your attention most in a car that has seen little overall visual change. These headlamps allow the advantage of having the high beam on all the time without inherent rudeness of blinding on-coming traffic. The high beam is split into 25 different LED segments, which can individually be switched on or off. The system works by using a camera that detects oncoming lights and the lamps then proceed to switch off the LED segment/segments that are throwing light in the direction of the oncoming vehicle. The system works in the blink of an eye and can detect up to eight on coming vehicles. The beauty with this system is that it’s completely electronically controlled. Unlike mechanical systems, the Matrix lamps only cut the high beam around the on-coming vehicle, leaving all other parts of the road brightly lit. The cornering light function doesn’t use motors either, increasing the intensity of the LEDs at the edge of the lamps instead.
Trick new Matrix LED headlamps automatically cut the high beam around an oncoming vehicle
Trick new Matrix LED headlamps automatically cut the high beam around an oncoming vehicle
New wheel options on the 2014 A8
New wheel options on the 2014 A8
The side profile stays unchanged
The side profile stays unchanged
On the inside, Audi offers new ‘Unicum’ leather that’s natural looking as it hasn’t been sealed but only treated with a water repellant coating. The clean, wrap around layout we loved in the A8 continues, but there’s now an even larger range of customisation on offer with new colour options, inlays and leather grades. Pay more and you could trim your interior in practically any colour scheme using the ‘Audi Exclusive’ programme. The excellent optional aircraft-style rear seat and entertainment packages continue, and you still have the choice of five massage functions in five intensities. You can spec the A8 with a refrigerator at the rear, power closing boot and power-assisted doors. What’s new is the head-up display that gives you speed and navigation information and is a feature worth paying for. The night vision assist now detects large animals as well as humans. It can detect hazards from a distance of 130m and uses the Matrix LEDs to produce three quick bursts of light to alert both you and the obstacle ahead.
For 2014, Audi offers new leather and interior trim options
For 2014, Audi offers new leather and interior trim options
India will get the long wheelbase A8 with even more space
India will get the long wheelbase A8 with even more space
The new A8 isn’t just a visual realignment and Audi have also fettled the powertrain for more power and efficiency. Internationally, Audi offers three petrols, two diesels and a hybrid, but we’ll focus on the India spec engines. The mighty W12 produces the same 500PS but is now slightly more efficient while the 3.0TFSI gets a 20PS increase and consumes slightly less fuel. The 4.2TDI gets the biggest bump up with 35PS and 50Nm more, and that makes for a total of 385PS and a monstrous 850Nm. Stomping on the throttle is what I imagine getting smacked by the hammer of Thor must feel like. Throttle response is sharp and you get this monumental surge that pins you into the seat, all with a nicely aggressive growl from the V8 diesel. Despite the power increase, Audi claims an impressive 13.3kmpl for the long wheelbase version. However, after experiencing all the engines it was clear that the 3.0TDI diesel makes most sense in the A8. It’ silent, smoother than the 4.2 TDI and offers ample performance with a quoted 6.1 second dash to 100kmph, while 200kmph is crossed with ease. Fuel efficiency is up by over 1kmpl for a claimed 16.7kmpl with an indicated range of over 1,000km. No wonder it’s the highest selling variant in Europe and India.
Sleeker lamps, a revised bumper and new trapezoidal exhausts outline the changes at the rear
Sleeker lamps, a revised bumper and new trapezoidal exhausts outline the changes at the rear
Audi likes to call the A8 the sportiest in its segment, but the truth is that this a back seat car at heart. All variants come with an 8-speed auto and Quattro all-wheel drive. The car feels extremely secure in all situations — you can floor the throttle in the 520PS S8 (that won’t be coming to India) coming out of a roundabout, and the car simply rockets out without a hint of drama. Cruise at speeds nearing 200kmph on damp, de-restricted autobahn roads and the car still feels rock solid. High speed cruising is what the A8 excels at – sure she’ll blast her way up a set of bends but there’s not much involvement thanks to the direct, but dull electronically assisted steering wheel and massive dimensions.
The new headlamps characterize the front but aren't quite as aggressive as the previous LED units
The new headlamps characterize the front but aren’t quite as aggressive as the previous LED units
The new A8 goes on sale in Europe in mid-November at a starting price slightly lower than earlier. We expect the car to land here by year end or possibly at the 2014 Auto Expo. There’s no word on pricing and it could very well depend on the strength of the rupee at the time.