Opinion: Mind-blowing Evija is only the start for revived Lotus

Lotus Evija hypercar revealed - studio shoot

Heavy, jaw-droppingly powerful and costly – the Evija is no normal Lotus

With a claimed power output of 1973bhp, this new hypercar is exciting in itself, but what’s coming could be even better

They call the floating instrument panel the ‘halo’, which is an appropriate metaphor for the entire Evija project

As with the Pininfarina Battista, it exists to help showcase and cast a warm glow over what’s coming from Lotus. We’ve yet to see what else that’ll be but, if Geely’s ownership of Volvo and Polestar is anything to go by, it’ll include an understanding that you make sure good people are in place, and let them get on with things. 

And so to the Evija. What should we expect? Astonishing acceleration, clearly, to levels internally combusted road cars have never reached. And it’s worth noting that, if Lotus can keep the Evija down to the 1680kg being targeted “in lightest specification”, then it won’t weigh so much for a car of this power either: a Bugatti Chiron weighs all but two tonnes, after all. 

But this is still a car that’s ‘not very Lotus’ in the traditional scheme of things. It’s hugely powerful, it’s expensive and it weighs nearly a tonne and three-quarters. 

Is that a shame? Well, being ‘absolutely, resolutely Lotus’ is commendable, and produces cars that are fun to drive at any speed. 

That is arguably more relevant now than ever, but it hasn’t put the company on a sustainable footing for quite some time. So things have to change. This is a ‘halo’, a statement of intent. But I’m more excited about what will follow it.

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Source: Autocar Online

Lotus reveals 1973bhp Evija as world's most powerful production car

Lotus Evija revealed - studio shoot

Evija will kickstart a new era of design and performance at Hethel

New limited-run hypercar to offer Bugatti Chiron and Pininfarina Battista-beating performance in luxurious package

Lotus has revealed the Evija, the all-electric hypercar it claims will be “the most powerful production car in the world”. An output of 1973bhp is promised when it hits roads next year, which is more than the upcoming 1888bhp Pininfarina Battista and Rimac C_Two, and the 1479bhp internally combusted Bugatti Chiron currently in production. 

No more than 130 of the two-seat hypercars will be built, each priced at £2.04 million. “Target specifications” include four-wheel drive, 1254lb ft and torque vectoring, giving it a 0-62mph time of less than three seconds, a 0-186mph time of less than nine seconds and a top speed of 200mph-plus. A production slot can be reserved with a refundable £250,000 deposit. 

The Evija, apparently pronounced ‘E-vi-ya’, will be Lotus’s first new-model launch under Geely ownership, and is the maker’s first all-new model for more than a decade. It will be made at the company’s traditional home in Hethel, Norfolk, and will act “as a ‘halo’ for the rest of the Lotus range” both now and for “new Lotus performance cars to come”. 

The car pictured here in a studio is for show, but Lotus’s design director, Russell Carr, told Autocar that “this is how it’ll be on the road. This is very much the production car. All the surfaces are made to production level.” 

The Evija, which is codenamed Type 130, is low and broad, at 4.59m long, 2.0m wide and 1.12m high. According to Lotus, it “marks the beginning of a contemporary new Lotus design language”. 

“We wanted from the start to do something that was pure, simple, but have a sense of luxury and elegance about it,” said Carr. “On the outside, we started by thinking ‘what are the existing factors from the Lotus DNA that we want to keep?’, and really important for us were the strong haunches you see on the car. It’s very important when you’re sitting inside that you can see the corners of the vehicle – it helps you place the car on the track. It’s also just a very emotional thing to see the bodywork; rearwards as well.” 

“We have the cabin sat low within those fenders, which are really important to us because the car’s all about dynamics,” said Carr, “and if the cabin sits low and the fenders are pronounced, you have the impression that the car’s got a low centre of gravity.” 

Around the overall design simplicity come some advanced aerodynamics (see Carr Q&A, below), which direct air flow over, under and through the car, creating a complex body shape with vast scoops running through the rear three-quarters, and exiting at the back. 

The design is permitted by the adoption of electric drive. “That certainly gives us a lot more freedom, yes,” said Carr. “You’ve obviously got battery packs that can be placed in certain places, and it’s certainly different from a traditional combustion engine, and we’ve tried to exploit that as much as possible.” 

Lotus hasn’t yet revealed how many electric motors the car will have or where they’ll be positioned, but its partnership with Williams Advanced Engineering – which is, among other things, the supplier of batteries to the Formula E grid – will be key to the Evija’s performance. 

Lotus said the Evija will have a 70kWh battery, capable of being charged at up to 350kW, enabling an 18-minute charge with a WLTP range of around 250 miles. The charge port is at the rear of the car. 

Construction is from carbonfibre, both for the chassis and the body. Light weight is core to all Lotus models and the Evija weighs several hundred kilos less than the Battista and C_Two are reported to be, although they have more battery capacity. Even so, at 1680kg, the Evija is likely to become the heaviest Lotus ever. Despite this, Lotus boldly claims it will “set a new standard for Lotus driving performance” and be “the most dynamically accomplished road car in the history of Lotus”. 

Inside, the carbonfibre construction remains visible in what’s a relatively spacious cockpit. “The start point is a floating beam, this open instrument panel you can place your hand right through,” said Carr. “The inspiration for that came from classic racing cars, from the 1950s and ’60s, in which you can see the structure. In those days it would have been tubular, but on this it’s carbonfibre. 

“We wanted to use carbonfibre, and once we got into that we started looking at wishbones on racing cars. We looked at modern racing bicycles as well, and that informed some of the sections and forms that go in there. And that’s really become a very distinctive part of this interior. If you love modern racing bikes or componentry on racing cars, you’ll recognise that.” 

“It’s a nice shape to use as well, with the wing profile, and adds a strong aeronautical flavour on the whole car. It’s very distinctive,” Carr added. “There’s a certain luxury to space and in such cars you can feel very claustrophobic. This feels open.” 

That’s in stark contrast to another upcoming hypercar, the Aston Martin Valkyrie, with the implication that the two British hypercars will be quite different, in ethos as well as propulsion. 

“We wanted, if this doesn’t sound ridiculous, a really usable hypercar,” said Carr. “The Evija is very much a road car. But obviously the performance credentials of this car mean that it can be driven on the track. 

“Certainly from our side the work we’ve done on the aerodynamics means that it’s going to be an extremely quick car, generating a huge amount of downforce, which means it can be driven at high speeds. It’s going to be a stable car wherever it’s driven.”

Q&A with Russell Carr, design director, Lotus Cars

Tell us about the way air moves around this car. 

“Something very Lotus which we’ve taken to another level is the aerodynamics. It’s always been part of our history and motorsport: in the ’60s we were among the first teams putting wings on cars, we had ground effects in the ’70s and streamlining way back in the ’50s. With this car, the philosophy was that we wanted to harness the airflow over the body of the car, but also through the body of the car. We’re not the first people to do it, but we wanted to do it in a very sculptural manner that would give a different aesthetic to the car.” 

What does that mean for aesthetics? 

“When you look at the car from the outside you see familiar volume, we hope a very beautiful-looking car. It’s important that it’s beautiful in the first place. But as you walk around it you start to see openings that go through the car, which allow the air to pass through. As I say, that gives it a different aesthetic, draws the eye through the car and over the car, and gives it a great sense of movement.”

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Source: Autocar Online

Mercedes-Benz A-Class

Mercedes-Benz A-Class 2018 road test review hero front
This new version is the most luxurious A-Class yet, but has Mercedes made it a class leader?

A little bit of luxury in a hatchback-sized package: that’s the promise the Mercedes-Benz A-Class has dangled, cherry-like, in front of Europe’s compact premium car buyers since its introduction more than two decades ago.It became a quite different sort of luxury package, in recent years, from how it was to begin with, the identity of the original 1997 ‘baby Benz’ having been built on greater space efficiency than anyone would risk with a car in the modern, ultraconservative, posh hatchback segment in 2018. These days, among fleet-conscious premium five-doors, conformity rules.Now entering its fourth full model generation, Mercedes’ smallest passenger car has just had its luxury credentials supercharged. As we’ve reported in first drives and in a group test with the A180d diesel, the car has larger dimensions, a new model platform and fresh engines. It’s also fitted with a host of new technology intended to make it safer, more advanced, more convenient and more desirable than any of its rivals.Having originally been sold as something of a packaging marvel, the A-Class’s identity has swung almost 180deg to become one of the largest cars in its segment. Where once Mercedes offered an innovative, if slightly pugnacious, quirky, high-rised mould-breaker, now it brings us a sleek, rich, advanced but unashamedly full-sized hatchback ready to win success according to the rulebook.So can this car flourish where its predecessors have floundered and at last present a fully formed, multi-faceted, truly dynamically sophisticated challenge to the best C-segment hatchbacks on the road, the likes of the Volkswagen Golf and Audi A3?After the A180d dispatched the BMW 116d but narrowly failed to beat the A3 Sportback 1.6 TDI in a group test, it’s the turn of the mid-range A200 Sport turbo petrol version to show if Mercedes can scale the heights of one of Europe’s most important and lucrative market segments.Price £27,500 Power 161bhp Torque 184lb ft 0-60mph 8.7sec 30-70mph in fourth 9.5sec Fuel economy 38.8mpg CO2 emissions 123g/km 70-0mph 50.2mThe Mercedes-Benz A-Class range at a glanceWhen it made its debut the A-Class had a single bodystyle and fairly trim selection of engines, but has since bloomed with saloon, four-door coupé and shooting brake estate versions. The hatchback now has no fewer than four mainstream petrol and three diesel variants, with two AMG-fettled versions on top.The green pump-fuelled line-up begins with the 1.3-litre A180 and A200, which can be had with either a six-speed manual or 7-speed DCT automatic. The A220 and A250 use 2.0-litre engines and can only be had with the automatic gearbox, with the former also available with 4Matic all-wheel drive. Only two of the diesel engines, meanwhile, are Mercedes’ own – the 1.5-litre A180d uses a Renault-Nissan unit.The hotter end of the spectrum is currently championed by the all-paw, 302bhp AMG A35, but Affalterbach’s ultimate version of the A Class’ 2.0-litre four-pot can only be found in the upcoming AMG A45.

Source: Autocar Online

New Chevrolet Corvette: Stingray name confirmed for reinvented icon

Chevrolet Corvette

First official images of the new Corvette show a prototype in its now-familiar camouflage

Mid-engined Porsche 911 rival will be fully revealed on 18 July, bearing the badge of the pivotal second-gen model

Chevrolet has confirmed that the long-awaited C8 generation of its iconic Corvette sports car will receive the Stingray name, a moniker that has adorned various Corvette models since 1963. 

The Stingray badge had its first outing on 1963’s second-generation Corvette, but was discontinued in 1976. It was revived in 2014 to identify entry-level variants of the C7 Corvette, launched in 2014.

The announcement, accompanied by the reveal of the new model’s badge designs, is the first since the model’s 18 July launch date was officially confirmed earlier this year. 

Switching away from a front-engined layout for the first time in the car’s 66-year history, a video (below) showed the Porsche 911 rival being driven hard at the Nürburgring, revealing the expected V8 soundtrack. 

Prototypes of the C8 Corvette, showing the distinctive long rear deck and cab-forward proportions indicative of a mid-engine model, have been circling for some time. Reports from the US suggest there have been delays in development owing to significant issues with the chassis and electrical architecture. 

While it’s not clear yet if those technical problems have been overcome, a Corvette dealer in New Jersey was taking $1000 deposits for the new model, even before the reveal date confirmation.  

In a further break with tradition, the C8 Corvette will be sold alongside a version of the current car. Sources inside General Motors, which owns the Chevrolet brand, indicate that we can expect a slightly revised version of the existing C7 as an entry-level alternative. Although the C8 will carry a price premium over its front-engined sibling, it will be sold at a price that significantly undercuts the junior supercars offered by other manufacturers.

Corvette C7 review

There will be no surprise in the choice of launch powerplant, with the C8 set to reach the market using a developed version of General Motors’ current LT-spec 6.2-litre V8. Although this engine still uses pushrods, and will be unable to match the low-down torque of turbocharged alternatives, the all-alloy unit has many virtues: it is light, responsive, relatively cheap to build and able to generate around 500bhp with minimal work.

It also gives a clear connection between the radical new car and the front-engined Corvette that will continue in production. This could be advantageous given the existing car has an older and more conservative buying profile than other sports cars in the US.

Punchier powerplants are a certainty, however – especially given GM’s history of offering faster variants soon after the launch of a base car.

US media has previously reported that these will include a newly developed overhead camshaft V8, set to be sold in both naturally aspirated and twin-turbo forms, the latter sure to produce at least as much as the 745bhp of the current supercharged Corvette ZR1. Beyond that, a hybrid version will add an electrically powered front axle to the mix, potentially giving a total system output approaching 1000bhp.

Gallery: Corvette Stingray – America’s greatest sports car?

Another big change will be a new twin-clutch transaxle gearbox (likely featuring eight speeds) developed by transmission supplier Tremec and effectively removing the option of a conventional manual version – a significant shift given the relatively high percentage of current Corvettes that are still sold with a clutch pedal.

Like its rivals from Ferrari, Lamborghini and McLaren, the new Corvette will display its mid-mounted engine through a glass cover.

Despite GM’s sale of its European operations to the PSA Group last year, the new car is being developed with significant use of the Nürburgring Nordschleife and we can expect the sort of aggressive aerodynamics necessary for good high-speed performance there, possibly including active elements.

But while the C8 will no doubt be extremely fast, the need to keep costs down means that the use of expensive materials will be limited. The chassis is believed to be an aluminium spaceframe, and it will have the glassfibre bodywork that has been used by every previous generation. Carbon brakes are certain to be available, but the new Corvette is likely to stick to a base specification of cast-iron discs for the same reason.

While the C7 Corvette has a ‘targa’ roof with removable panels, it seems likely that the C8 will shift to a more conventional split between coupé and a convertible, the latter to follow at a later date.

Production of right-hand-drive variants for European, Asian and Australian markets is likely, in part due to the success that the Ford Mustang has enjoyed in the UK and Australia, but also due to strict new laws that prohibit the import of left-hand drive models in certain markets. 

A US source said that the loss of Vauxhall and Opel has not made a significant difference in the case for European sales, with the C6 and C7 Corvettes both sold on this side of the Atlantic in small volumes through accredited dealers, of which the UK has just one. The current Corvette’s 6.2-litre V8, however, falls foul of impending WLTP regulations, meaning it, and its powertrain-sharing Camaro stablemate, can no longer be sold new in the UK from August. 

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Source: Autocar Online

Mercedes-AMG GT Roadster 2019 review

Mercedes-AMG GT Roadster 2019 UK first drive review - hero front

Mercedes-AMG’s entry-level 911-chaser gets interior updates, and keeps a V8 ready to move mountains, but ride and handling remain supporting acts.

The Mercedes-AMG GT super sport car, updated for the latest model year. Clearly anxious to avoid accusations of ‘doorism’, Affalterbach has taken many of the best bits of the new GT63 four-door and lavished them on the two-door GT.Among the improvements inherited by the latter from the former are fully digital instruments, AMG’s latest-generation infotainment system, its new ‘performance’ steering wheel and its latest ‘AMG Dynamics’ multi-modal traction and stability control software.The car’s derivative line-up is mostly as it was. It starts with this entry-level, 469bhp GT, and progresses upwards through 515bhp GT S and 550bhp GT C models – all of which come in both roadster and fixed-roof coupe bodystyles.For those who want to go faster still and spend even more, there’s the 577bhp GT R and the new GT R Pro, the latter of which is offered in coupe bodystyle only, and having only just been added to the range, comes at a price nudging £190,000. Oof.At the other end of the model spectrum, mind, the GT Roadster tested here is now a £116k buy; so, at list price, it’s 10 per cent pricier than Porsche’s recently introduced ‘992’ Carrera S Cabriolet, but still a healthy £20k cheaper than Audi’s cheapest R8 Spyder. None of which takes any account of the many vagaries of the monthly finance deal, I should add.

Source: Autocar Online

Jaguar Land Rover receives £500m government loan guarantee for EV production

Jaguar I-Pace driving

I-Pace SUV is Jaguar Land Rover’s first all-electric production model

UK government demonstrates commitment to supporting mass electrification with new investment and proposed regulations

Jaguar Land Rover has received a £500m loan guarantee as part of a new government initiative to support UK car manufacturers’ electrification schemes. 

In a meeting of automotive industry leaders at 10 Downing Street, Theresa May announced that the guarantee would be provided by UK Export Finance. The nature of the investment means that if JLR were to default on repayments, the government would act as the company’s guarantor. 

The loan guarantee will assist JLR in readying its Castle Bromwich production facility for the next-generation XJ saloon, which has now been confirmed as an all-electric rival to the Porsche Taycan and Tesla Model S, arriving next year. 

The outgoing prime minister also reaffirmed the UK government’s ongoing commitment to sustaining domestic manufacturing, stating that the significant investment will aid JLR, as the UK’s biggest car manufacturer, in its shift to electric vehicle production. 

The move is the latest in a series of government-backed schemes to facilitate the rollout of electric vehicles. Recent changes to the UK’s company car tax system have eradicated benefit-in-kind charges for EV drivers, and Number 10 has spoken out against the difficulties of accessing, and paying for, charging points in normal driving situations. 

Joining JLR at yesterday’s roundtable event were representatives from Aston Martin, BMW, Vauxhall and Nissan, alongside counterparts from energy companies Shell and BP. 

The bodies have come together to form a green mobility transition board, which will see them coordinate plans for the industry-wide switch to zero-emissions powertrains. The conglomerate’s first large-scale project will be the construction of a new ‘Gigafactory’ near Coventry for the production of EV batteries. 

The prime minister announced, additionally, that plans are in place to make mandatory the fitment of domestic EV charging points to all new homes in the coming years. 

The UK’s electric vehicle infrastructure is widely regarded as ill-prepared for the move away from conventionally fuelled powertrains, and the government is under pressure to support manufacturers and suppliers as they race to build and sell the next generation of vehicles. 

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Source: Autocar Online

Mazda MX-5 30th Anniversary Edition now available in UK

Mazda MX-5 30th Anniversary edition 2019 press photos - hero front

Limited-run model arrives with race-inspired additions and colour scheme; just 550 examples on sale in the UK

Mazda‘s 30th Anniversary Edition MX-5 has arrived in the UK, as the company celebrates three decades of one of the world’s most popular roadsters. 

The model was first revealed at this year’s Chicago motor show, where the original two-seat sports car made its debut in 1989.

The limited-run model arrives with exclusive Racing Orange paint, inspired by the 1989 MX-5 Club Racer, and forged 17in, 10-spoke aluminium Rays alloy wheels based on the ones used in the Global MX-5 Cup racing series. Plus, a 30th Anniversary badge features on the front wing.

The car also receives 15in Brembo front brakes – a first for any UK-market MX-5 – and body-coloured brake callipers. The Anniversary Edition rides on Bilstein dampers and uses the most powerful 181bhp version of Mazda’s 2.0-litre Skyactiv-G petrol engine, mated to a six-speed manual gearbox. 

Mazda has also added orange accents throughout the interior, replaced the standard dashboard trim with Alcantara and upgraded the seats to a sportier Recaro pair. The 7.0in-screen infotainment system includes both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring as standard.

Only 3000 30th Anniversary Edition models will be produced, with the UK receiving 550 of those, split between 370 soft-tops, priced at £28,095, and 180 RF hard-tops, which receive a black two-tone roof, costing £29,985.

More than a million examples of the MX-5 have been sold worldwide since its introduction in 1989, with the two-seater entering its fourth, and current, generation in 2014. 

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Source: Autocar Online

Lotus Evija: electric hypercar to be revealed later today

Lotus hypercar render Autocar hero front

What we think the Evija electric hypercar will look like

Lotus’ landmark flagship and first all-new model since 2008 will be shown in London ahead of sales beginning soon after

Lotus will reveal its groundbreaking all-electric Evija hypercar later today.

It will be shown at an exclusive event in Central London this evening, barely a few months after Autocar first revealed the project

Pronounced “eh-vi-ya”, meaning ‘the living one’, or ‘first in existence’, the Evija is shaping up to be the most ambitious car in the firm’s history.

Lotus recently confirmed for the first time exactly how many examples will be produced. 130 are planned to be made available to own, up from previous estimates after “several hundred potential owners came forward to express their interest in the new car”. It will be built in Norfolk alongside the rest of the maker’s range.

The Evija will be Lotus’s first all-new production car since 2008. Lotus also claims it will be the first fully electric hypercar built and to go on sale from a British manufacturer. A preview image has been released showing a side profile of the new car, and Autocar was recently given an exclusive walk-around of a full-size clay model at the firm’s Hethel base.

The model’s previous Type 130 moniker was a reference to a number of innovative models that have appeared throughout the Norfolk brand’s 71-year history, beginning with the Type 14 Elite in 1957 – claimed to be the world’s first composite monocoque production car. The most recent, the Type 111 (the world’s first aluminium and bonded extrusion construction road car) became the Elise

As the official picture suggests, the Evija is low and wide. Lotus design director Russell Carr, who showed the model to Autocar, says it is a similar length to the existing Evora – which is 4.4 metres long – but will sit closer to the ground and be nearly two metres wide.

It uses a carbonfibre structure and will be built in Hethel away from the company’s main production line. The cabin is tightly proportioned and adopts the teardrop form familiar from hypercars like the Ford GT40, to better allow airflow to pass around it.

The most impressive feature is one that isn’t hinted at by the official rendering – two substantial air tunnels in the rear bodywork which have the tail light elements integrated around their exists. It’s a detail that Carr says has been inspired by the venturi tunnels of LMP sports prototype racing cars.

The battery pack will be positioned entirely behind the passenger compartment, with drive sent to all four wheels. No other details are forthcoming at the moment, beyond the fact – as previously reported – that the powertrain is being developed by Williams Advanced Engineering, making this a collaboration between two of the most famous names in Formula 1 history.

Lotus boss Phil Popham promises an “entirely appropriate” level of performance for the Evija’s target market and what will be a seven figure pricetag. The total system output is tipped to exceed 1000bhp. It is also set to offer a range of more than 250 miles.

Both the battery pack and the pushrod-operated rear suspension will be visible beneath a transparent cover, with Carr saying the plan is for the huge aero tunnels to also incorporate lighting elements. The rear licence plate surround will be removable to help improve performance when the car is used on track. Downforce will be generated from a substantial underbody diffuser and there will also be moveable wing elements and a drag-reducing DRS system.

Inside the cabin will feature plenty of carbonfibre and a digital instrument pack, but will also have conventional switchgear rather than a touchscreen interface. “You want to be able to find things without taking your eyes off the road in a car like this,” Carr said.

Carr also claimed there will be more room and shoulder space than in a Ford GT or Aston Martin Valkyrie, with moveable seats rather than moveable pedals. 

“We’re trying to get the balance between prestige and luxury right,” Carr said, “but also to make clear that it’s a very high performance car. We don’t want people to think it’s a stripped-out track day monster, it will be much more practical than that. But equally we don’t want to make a Bugatti either, it has to be a Lotus.”

Other neat details include a camera rear view system which will use deployable pods that motor out of the scissor-opening doors, and which relay images onto display screens. It’s a very similar system to the one the forthcoming McLaren Speedtail will have. “We were frustrated when we saw those,” Carr admits, “we’d been working on them for some time.”

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Source: Autocar Online

Audi RS history – 25 years of Audi Sport models

History of the Audi RS - picture special

The first Audi RS model was released in 1994, with the launch of the RS2 Avant

As Audi celebrates a quarter-century of RS models, we take a look back at the sporting sub-brand’s top hits

It’s 25 years since the formidable Audi RS2 performance estate was launched, packing a snorting Porsche-fettled five-cylinder unit and spearheading Ingolstadt’s long line of hot family haulers. We’ve been considering some of the most significant models to bear the RS badge since 1994, and seeing whether the pioneering RS2’s spirit lives on. 

Audi’s RS brand has been deeply rooted into the hearts of petrolheads for some time now, having solidified its reputation as equal company for the likes of BMW’s M and Mercedes-Benz’s AMG divisions. But where did it all begin?

After the success of Audi’s S2 coupe and the original ‘C4’-derived S4 saloon from 1991, the German carmaker decided to push the envelope further, when in 1994, Audi’s high performance Quattro GmbH division spawned a new halo performance sub-brand called RS – standing for RennSport, literally translating to ‘racing sport’.

Later that year, Quattro GmbH gave birth to the first two-lettered badge Audi in the form of the RS2 Avant. A brawny variation of the Audi 80 ‘B4’ model, the RS2 Avant (only available in estate form) was co-developed with Porsche; adopting the 993-generation 911’s wheels, fog lights and exterior mirrors and Porsche-designed brakes and suspension. 

A highly potent car in its day, the RS2 Avant was powered by a 2.2-litre five cylinder 20-valve turbocharged engine, producing 311bhp and hooked up to a six-speed manual, shooting the car from 0-62mph in 5.4sec and on to a top speed of 163mph. The first RS-badged Audi proved a trendsetter in its day, with room for five adults, luggage and the ability to keep pace with the likes of the Honda NSX and Porsche 993 Carrera.

Fast-forward six years and a new mid-size platform of the ‘B5’ Audi A4 laid the foundations for the next S and RS derivatives, the halo model becoming the RS4 Avant – again only in estate form. The B5 RS4 Avant came propelled with a Cosworth-fettled 2.7-litre V6 twin-turbocharged unit, making 382bhp. 

Engine aside, the B5 RS4 was Audi’s own project, having severed its ties with Porsche. The 0-62mph sprint was now dispatched in 4.9sec and the estate would accelerate on to a limited top speed of 155mph. Demand for the B5 RS4 Avant was so high that Audi doubled its production volumes. Production ceased after only a year in 2001, with over 6,000 examples made.

In 2002, Audi unleashed an entirely new model to its RS line-up – the A6-derived RS6 saloon and estate. With a muscular body, aluminium mirror caps and two large oval pipes for the exhaust, both the estate and saloon had an intimidating presence.

Again, Cosworth handled the engine – its 4.2-litre V8 endowed with two turbochargers for good measure, serving up 444bhp. Partnered with Audi’s five-speed tiptronic transmission, it enabled the RS6’s hefty frame to dash from 0-62mph in 4.7sec, while again being reigned in at 155mph. The RS6 plus debuted in 2004, with power increased to 480bhp and speed limited to 174mph. However, the C5 RS6 was plagued by vague steering feel and a heavily-understeering character.

Audi regained form in 2006, when it launched the new RS4 after a long hiatus. Available in saloon, Avant and cabriolet guise, the B7 RS4 variant was, for a long time, regarded as Quattro GmbH’s ‘sweetspot’ and finest RS model. Drive was supplied by an all-new, high-revving 4.2-litre naturally-aspirated V8, pumping out 414bhp at a heady 7800rpm and mated to a six-speed manual gearbox. 0-62mph was taken care of in 4.8sec while (still conforming to the voluntary agreement) being limited to 155mph. De-restricted B7 RS4s were capable of cracking 180mph. After just 18 months Audi brought a premature halt to the B7 production line.

To this day, the beautifully proportioned B7 RS4 is fondly remembered at Autocar for its fluid ride, engaging handling and superb powertrain. 

In 2008, the engineers at Neckarsulm went on a power craze, launching the ‘C6’ Audi RS6 with a 572bhp twin-turbocharged 5.0-litre V10, spearheading its BMW M5 and Mercedes E63 AMG rivals in the evident ‘power war’ at that time. Despite a chunky kerb weight of 2025kg the beefy RS6 could still hustle to 62mph in 4.6sec, though even on a combined cycle fuel consumption was poor.  Despite possessing very fast acceleration for such a big car, some questioned the integrity of the RS badge – it was refined, almost too civilised and heavier at the front than perhaps was necessary.

The following year and Audi had the Porsche Cayman firmly locked in its crosshairs when it released the TT RS. Possessing a more anabolic appearance and a lower ride height over the standard TT with a large rear spoiler, the TT RS looked a much meaner machine. A 335bhp 2.5-litre five-pot turbocharged engine provided power. In 2012, the TT RS plus was launched, lifting power to 355bhp and removing the top speed limiter, enabling the TT RS plus to hit 174mph. The TT RS was famed for being blindingly quick, unexpectedly economical but with a jarring ride.

Read the first-generation Audi TT RS review

With an aim to rekindle some of the B7 RS4 magic, Audi launched the RS5 coupe in 2010. Powered by the same naturally-aspirated 4.2-litre V8 as the B7, but with mild tweaking to increase power to 444bhp with an all-singing 8500rpm redline, it was only available with a seven-speed twin-clutch gearbox.  Zero to 62mph was covered in 4.6sec and it had genuine all-weather performance. However, it lacked just a touch of engagement and still felt weighty.

That same year, the Audi RS3 was hastened into production. With the TT RS’ 2.5-litre five-pot turbocharged engine shoehorned into the bonnet and mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, the RS3 proved to be a more than capable performance hatchback. Despite the engine character, everyday usability and practicality, the RS3’s dynamic prowess was dampened by its inert steering and lack of chassis finesse.

In 2012, Quattro GmBH reverted back to its traditional format for the new RS4, launching it in estate form only. The styling was turned up a notch, with steroidal wheel arches, triangular air intakes on the front fascia and large oval-tipped exhausts at the rear, which added up to a wonderfully macho-looking car. It utilised the same 4.2-litre V8 444bhp motor from the RS5 with 0-62mph covered in 4.7sec while being limited to 155mph. An optional extra would allow this to be stretched to 174mph.

That year also saw the debut of the C7 RS6, with Audi retiring its predecessor’s mighty V10 powerplant in favour of a downsized 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 making 553bhp. Even with the reduced engine capacity, the new RS6 remains quicker than its predecessor – rattling off the 0-62mph sprint in a staggering 3.9sec and passing the quarter-mile mark just three-tenths slower than a Porsche 997 GT2. 

The latest-generation RS5 has made the switch to a 444bhp 2.9-litre V6 unit. Emissions regulations led to a delay in the UK, with both coupé and sportback versions finally going on sale in 2019. Less potent S-badged performance models now make use of a 345bhp mild-hybrid diesel V6, as the brand seeks to sustain its performance offering in the face of increasingly stringent emissions legislation.

Now, with the refreshed Audi TT RSforthcoming updated RS3, and an ambitious target to futureproof its most potent models, Audi looks set to continue the high-performance sub-brand’s impressive legacy. 

Aaron Smith

Read more

New 2020 Audi A3 to spawn seven-strong model lineup​

Audi will continue to develop performance models​

Audi Sport boss: We are fighting for V10 in next-gen R8​

Source: Autocar Online

James Ruppert: dealer or no dealer?

Audi A4 Avant 1.9 TDI - rear

A leggy but loved A4 Avant fits the Bangernomics bill

Put off by surly sales staff at your local dealership? Try buying privately instead

Is there anything worse than pushy used car sales staff? I suppose it depends what you call pushy. If they have lots of useful information, then surely it’s a good thing. Yet according to the AA, a reputation for pushy sales tactics would dissuade almost a fifth (19%) of motorists, while 18% of car buyers see negative online reviews of a dealer as a turn-off. Online reviews are especially decisive among younger drivers, with 37% of those aged 18-24 saying they would avoid a dealer if they had read about other motorists’ bad experiences on the internet first. 

The AA-Populus poll of 17,230 drivers found that other factors which would put motorists off buying include a dealer who is reluctant to allow a reasonable test drive (12%), stock that does not look as though it has been cleaned or moved for a long time (12%) and a dealer’s lack of familiarity with the cars for sale (11%). Well, we would never put up with any of that, which is why we are looking at some beauties being sold by tip-top private sellers. 

At the few-hundred-quid end of things, how about an Audi A4 Avant 1.9 TDI SE for £399? It’s a 1999 car with 150,000 miles, which sounds like trouble, but this seller has owned it for three years and has all the bills. Yes, it is scruffy and yes, it’s an old oil-burner, but you should get another year out of the cheapo lugger. 

Need a town centre assault vehicle? Best to get a one-owner Volkswagen Up. This 2014 example is the victim of a commuter having to get the train from now on. With a solid 38,000 miles, it hasn’t been parked up for long periods and has a full service history, so £5000 seems fair enough. 

When it comes to specialist performance cars, dealing directly with the (hopefully) caring owner is the best way to buy. They know the car’s history first-hand and, if they are in any way evasive, you simply move on. I rather liked the 2002 BMW M3 that was up for £12,495. It had a solid year of ownership and all the bills, plus a good reason for selling. Its value is never going down and this seemed like a pretty fair price for a car with just over 100,000 miles on the clock. 

I’d take the private buy to its logical conclusion with the uncompromising enthusiast’s car, the Caterham. I picked on a 1997 Supersport R with 30k miles and up for £17,495. The seller may have spannered it together themselves, but best of all there was a big £1500 bill for a pre-sale spruce-up. 

This is what we need more of: private sellers that we can actually talk to. That’s how you get around the irksome issue of partly comatose dealers who don’t care. 

What we almost bought this week

VW Golf 1.4 Match 5dr: Inspired by the Golf being named Autocar’s Used Car Hero, we found this: a 2003/03 Match with 105,000 miles. It has 12 stamps in the service book (nine of them main dealer) and all carried out at roughly 8500- mile intervals. The body and wheels appear to be relatively unmarked. The dealer wants £1500 for it. Now that’s value.

Tales from Ruppert’s garage

BMW 3 Series, mileage – 83,195: Have I told you all my cars are broken? Well, they are. A call from the garage about the Baby Shark brought the revelation that the fuel pump has stopped working, which may explain some of the less than enthusiastic starting behaviour. Trouble is, the nearest replacement is in Germany and 10 days away. Well, that was through their normal supplier. So I suggested they should go with a non-normal one, because so far the car has been away for two weeks. At least that meant I could build a nice new set of shelves.

Reader’s ride

Mini Cooper S: Here is David Robertshaw’s 2005 Mini Cooper S

“Autocar is responsible for the Mini,” he says. “You ran a buying guide on the R53 Cooper S just as I was replacing my Audi A4 Cabrio. I spotted one at a trader nearby, went for a look and broke my used car rule of buying the first I saw, paying £2900. The risk paid off as the Mini has been brilliant for the past two and a half years and 10,000 miles, only needing a new back box and a couple of minor bits for MOTs. It’s fast and handles brilliantly. I intend to keep it a while yet.”

Readers’ questions

Question: I’m leaving a company car scheme and have up to £25,000 to spend on a new or used car. Bear in mind that insurance could be an issue. What do you advise? Bill Smith, via email

Answer: Some insurers, such as Co-op, allow drivers to transfer a company car no-claims discount to a private car. Buy nearly new or older to reduce your exposure to depreciation. Your last car was a Lexus hybrid, so why not go for something equally premium but better to drive, such as the BMW 330e M Sport plug-in hybrid? A new one cost £39,000, but 2017/17-reg examples with less than 20,000 miles are £24,000. John Evans

Question: I have noticed how larger wheels impact on economy. Why? I’d have thought a larger wheel covered more ground in a rotation, so would improve economy. Greg Clarke, Northampton

Answer: The wheel may get larger but the tyre must remain at the original diameter to ensure the car’s gearing isn’t affected, to maintain speedo accuracy and to ensure the wheel fits within its wheel arch. To do this, the tyre’s sidewall becomes shallower, while the tyre becomes wider and heavier, as does the wheel. The result is higher fuel consumption. Ride quality and noise levels can also suffer when wheels larger than the standard items are fitted. John Evans

Read more

Are bigger wheels really ruining ride quality?​

UK new car sales: what is each region buying?​

How to buy a used car – expert top tips​

Source: Autocar Online

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