Audi R8 Spider is here!

Posted in Audi

Audi R8 Spider is here!
Audi will next year launch this open-top version of its R8 supercar. The Spider is one of a growing choice of R8s – buyers bored of the default 911 will soon be able to pick between two petrols and a V12 diesel, plus coupe or targa bodystyles. It’s typical of a car maker not exactly afraid of baffling buyers with extensive choice of engine/gearbox/driven wheels even in its most humdrum ranges.

It’s also a logical step as Porsche makes plenty of capital out of the 911 soft-top versions – and the R8 is aimed squarely at that domestic rival. Our artist’s impression has been built using the exclusive sketch CAR smuggled out of Ingolstadt last year (image, middle right) and isn’t mere fantasy. Expect to see twin speedster humps sprouting above the mid-mounted engine and a subtly truncated aluminium blade ahead of the rear wheels.

Audi R8 Spider: the hood

Our sources in Germany suggest that the roof of the Spider will be a removable targa affair, with detachable panels rather than a canvas hood or folding hard top. Although more flexible, the latter two would be hard to engineer with the mid-mounted engine sitting where you’d need a cubby for the lowered hood and associated mechanism. As most of these cars will be sold in warmer climes of the world’s biggest soft-top market (think Florida), targa panels shouldn’t worry typical buyers.

Today’s R8 coupe costs £78,200 suggesting the Spider will cost nearer £85,000 with the 414bhp 4.2-litre V8 engine option. But there is a raft of engines under development at Audi, creating a supercar range with a car for all tastes.

Engines galore for the Audi R8

Audi has halted R8 development of the higher-powered twin-turbo Lambo V10 from the RS6; there have been fires in prototype development and other options – namely a naturally aspirated V10 – are now most likely. This year’s V12 diesel concept car (image, far right) points to the likelihood of a derv sports car, powered by the 6.0-litre bent twelve delivering a traction-troubling 493bhp and 738lb ft. Sounds mad, but Audi is deadly serious about putting this into production.

A diesel Audi sports car that can reach 62mph in 4.2 seconds and top 180mph? Who’d have thought it! But in this marketing-led age, it makes perfect sense: the perfect complement to Audi’s racetrack activities and a sop to the eco-brigade (of sorts). It’s not going to challenge your A3 TDI for emissions, but the R8 derv concept did have AdBlue technology to clean up its emissions.

Audi R8 Spider is here!

Audi R8: the future

The aluminium sports car has been a smash hit for Audi. There’s still a waiting list of at least 12 months in the UK and even the cheapest second-hand versions are selling at above list price; you can’t buy a used R8 for less than £80,000 (and that’s a left-hooker) while the priciest in the classifieds top £105,000 when we looked yesterday.

Audi hopes to keep the buzz going by gently expanding the range to have three engine options:

• R8: 414bhp naturally aspirated V8
• RS8: 500bhp naturally aspirated V10
• R8 TDI: 500bhp twin-turbo V12 turbodiesel

And two bodystyles:

• R8 Coupe from £78,200
• R8 Spyder from £85,000

An R8 for every pocket, you could say.

Alfa Romeo Mi.To on snow

Posted in Alfa Romeo

In the last post, we saw a test driver putting the Mi.To through its paces around the Arjeplog test track in the extreme north of Sweden. Exciting to watch, sure, but now we can go even further and get an even better idea of what it’s like to drive the Mi.To in extreme weather conditions, thanks to Gian Maurizio, who was chosen by Alfa to travel to Lapland and get a taste of the winter testing experience himself. Check out the video diary of his experience below:

2008 Mazda 6 vs. 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer

Posted in Mazda, Mitsubishi

If you ask us, we think its both cars are from different size categories for a comparison. Nonetheless, here is the first TV review of the 2008 Mazda 6 that should be headed to the U.S. very soon.

Out of curiosity, let us know in the comments section below which car you would pick out of the two.

Video Alfa Romeo 159 GTA at the Nurburgring

Posted in Alfa Romeo

In the video, you’ll see footage of a 159 decked out with enormous AMG Black Series-style vents and four squat tailpipes from which you can clearly hear a monstrous engine resonate. The test mule, spotted near the Nurburgring in Germany, looks like a further development of the one spied last summer. Although curiously, rather than wearing camouflage, it’s all decked out in big Alfa Romeo decals as if to scream “look at me” in true Italian supercar fashion. Initial reports suggested the GTA could get a slightly detuned version of the V8 found in the Ferrari F430, although either the 4.2-liter V8 from the Maserati GranTurismo and Quattroporte or the 4.7-liter unit from the 8C and GranTurismo S (both of which were also developed by Ferrari) would probably be the safer bet. Either way, the Italians are putting the likes of the Audi RS4, BMW M3, Lexus IS-F and Mercedes C63 AMG on notice, while the prospect of similar power for the Brera and Spider hangs in the balance. Follow the jump to watch the video.

Alfa Romeo May Look to BMW for U.S. Production

Posted in Alfa Romeo, BMW

Alfa Romeo May Look to BMW for U.S. Production
Since the news was announced that Italian manufacturer Fiat was seeking partnership for its production of Alfa Romeos in the U.S., most of the speculative matches have involved American carmakers.

But daily publication MF has cited sources close to Fiat that indicate that BMW is just as likely an ally as any of the U.S. domestic manufacturers. The daily claims that while the lion’s share of the attention has been focused on U.S. companies, with Ford being the name mentioned most often, a European company with production facilities in the country would seem to serve Alfa’s purposes as well.

Fiat in talks with Detroit 3 over Alfa Romeo production

Posted in Alfa Romeo, Fiat

Fiat in talks with Detroit 3 over Alfa Romeo production
The worsening exchange rate differential between the strengthening euro and weakening U.S. dollar means importing European manufactured models to North America is now significantly more expensive than just a few years ago. It’s a problem Alfa Romeo has to juggle with as it attempts to re-establish itself in the U.S. next year, but it looks like the carmaker has a number of options up its sleeve to help ride out the storm.

One option officials are looking at is building a new plant in Mexico to supply North America with volume models like the 159 sedan and upcoming Mi.To and 149 hatchbacks. However, a cheaper and more realistic solution would be to utilize the unused capacity of an American carmaker.

Speaking with the Financial Times, Fiat boss Sergio Marchionne said he planned to start North American production of Alfa cars by 2011 or 2012. “I’ve always had the view that we had to produce in America,” he explained. Marchionne also revealed that Alfa will initially lose money on the cars it sells in the U.S. and is unlikely to become profitable until a suitable partner is found. “I can suffer the loss initially, as long as I know I’m going to be producing enough,” he lamented.

In addition to the new Alfa range, Fiat will also relaunch its Iveco commercial truck division in the U.S. as well as the new 500 minicar, which Marchionne hopes will enjoy the same success BMW has had with the Mini brand. The car that will spearhead Alfa Romeo’s launch into the U.S., meanwhile, is the new 8C Competizione supercar and its Spider sibling, however, don’t expect cheaper versions of these to be built Stateside.