Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Chicago 2010: Hyundai sneaks revised-for-2011 Azera into Windy City

2011 Hyundai Azera - Click above for high-res image gallery

Things are looking good for Hyundai. Not only has the brand been named the most fuel efficient automaker in the country, but they are releasing lots of new-and-improved metal. In a market where product is king, that's a good thing. First we saw the 2010 Tuscon and the just about-to-be-released 2011 Sonata. This morning, despite no official Hyundai press conference here at the Chicago Auto Show, we get a freshened 2011 Azera.

The big news are its two engines. The mid-cycle Azera will still use either a 3.3-liter or 3.8-liter V6, just like the outgoing car. However, both Lambda engines now use DCVVT (Dual Continuously Variable Valve Timing) instead of CVVT. Translation: instead of only the intake valves getting varied, the exhaust valves' timing can be manipulated, too. In English that means more power and better mileage.

The 3.3-liter V6 makes 260 horsepower and 233 pound-feet of torque while the big 3.8-liter V6 cranks out 283 ponies and 263 units of torque. Much more impressive than that are their mileage numbers. An Azera equipped with the 3.3-liter mill gets 20 mpg city and 28 mpg highway, increases of 11 and 8 percent, respectively. The 3.8-liter motor allows the Azera to achieve 19 mpg city, 27 mpg highway, increases of 12 and 4 percent.

Part of this frugality is no doubt assisted by Hyundai's all-new, built-in-house six-speed automatic transmission that we got to experience in the Tucson. On the outside, the Azera gets new headlights, taillights, a new grille, new fog lights, bumpers and wheels. Oh, and for those of you that doubted the accuracy our Kia Optima spy shots, the joke is on you. Full press release after the jump.

ALMS champs Highcroft headed to Le Mans with Acura

Highcroft Acura ARX-01b at 2008 Detroit Sports Car Challenge - Click above for high-res image gallery

2009 American Le Mans Series LMP1 champions Patron Highcroft Racing are heading to France this June. The team's season championship has earned it an invitation from the Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO) to compete at the 24 hours of Le Mans. With the changes to the ALMS class structure this year, the P1 Acura ARX-02a has been shelved in favor of an updated version of the former P2 winning ARX-01c.

The Highcroft team will be packing up 01c for the trip to France, the first time any of the Acura prototypes has run in Europe. This will also be Highcroft's first trip to the round-the-clock classic. Highcroft was eligible to run in P1 with the ARX-02, but under current ACO technical rules, it is very difficult for a gas powered car to compete with the diesel Audis and Peugeots.

At this point Highcroft is the only Acura entry for the 2010 ALMS season. Fernandez racing closed up at the end of the 2009 season due to a lack of funding and De Ferran moved to Indy cars. UK based Strakka Racing will become the first European team to partner with Acura running a second ARX-01c in the P2 class at Le Mans and throughout the 2010 Le Mans Series season.

Nissan Juke coming to America

Nissan Juke - Click above to enlarge

We've now officially heard it from the horse's Nissan's mouth. Today at a pre-Chicago Auto Show event, Nissan confirmed what we've been hearing for the last month: the funky Juke will jive its way to America this Fall. The small crossover was presaged by the Qazana concept, and the production version promises to share a number of that vehicle's unique styling features.

We'll get our first official glimpse of the new Juke at the Geneva Motor Show next month, and that debut will be followed up later in the month when the Juke gets its North American introduction at the New York Auto Show. Nissan says the Juke will offer "a sporty crossover alternative to traditional small hatchback vehicles," which we can only assume to be competing models such as the Kia Soul and Scion xB.

The Japanese automaker also tells us that the car's center console was inspired by a motorcycle tank. We never knew we wanted a gas tank-shaped center console until now, but Nissan officially has our interest piqued with that little tidbit. We'll see if the actual implementation is as intriguing as it sounds soon enough; in the meantime, click past the break for the official press release.

[Source: Nissan]

2011 Ford Edge gets three engine choices, more ambitious Sport model

As dutiful American consumers, we've been taught to believe that choice is good. To that end, the splintering of the automotive market into different niches (four-door coupes, small panel vans, high-riding hatchbacks, etc.) is a positive development for buyers. But while the range of total models from automakers has been increasing, individual variation within a given model range has seemingly been reigned in, from a drastic reduction in build combinations of light-duty pickups to the availability of engines and ala carte options in everyday vehicles. Standing in direct contrast to this trend, however, is the 2011 Ford Edge crossover.

Whereas the first-generation Edge has lived since 2006 with a 3.5-liter V6 as its sole drivetrain, the 2011 model will offer no fewer than three powertrain choices. For 2011, the 3.5-liter engine will live on as the Edge line's bread-and-butter, but it is being joined by Ford's first production application of a new EcoBoost 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbo, as well as the larger 3.7-liter V6 for the popular Edge Sport. In the case of the 3.5-liter, it produces 285 horsepower and 253 pound-feet of torque, while the Sport's larger 3.7 Ti-VCT V6 delivers 305 ponies and 280 torques on 87 octane. Ford is not yet releasing power and economy numbers on the EcoBoost engine, but it promises "class-leading" fuel efficiency, noting that the new powertrain should eclipse the original 2006 Edge by some 30 percent.

Follow the jump to find out what else has changed for the Edge, as well as Ford's official press release.

Where the outgoing Sport model was largely a trim-and-tape proposition, the new model has a better shot at living up to its name – not only because it offers more power than other models in the range, but also because it has standard paddle-shifters, bespoke suspension settings and those cartoon-proportion 22-inch wheels and tires. Incidentally, in case you were wondering, Ford promises that the powertrain will happily hover at the redline when in manual 'Selectshift' mode without upshifting, a common performance bugbear. In addition to the altered oily bits, the Sport receives the usual complement of performance cues including a blacked-out grille, smoked head- and taillamp units, chrome oval exhausts, as well as a brace of body color parts (door cladding, rockers and fascias).

2011 Volvo S60 gets driven, animated and crashed

The 2011 Volvo S60 is ready for its close-up at next month's Geneva Motor Show, but before the shindig in Switzerland kicks off, Volvo has released a slew of videos showing off the automaker's newest midsizer.

Aside from some quiet B-roll and a cheesy rock soundtrack, Volvo has demonstrations of its new Pedestrian Detection and Full Auto Brake system, which can identify a pedestrian that's 31 inches or taller through the use of a front-mounted radar unit and mirror cameras. If it detects an imminent collision, the system applies the brakes and brings the S60 to a halt. The animations after the jump get into the nitty gritty, along with a shakedown of the system in Paris from the camera's point-of-view and a crash test of the S60. More details coming from Geneva in less than a month.

How much is that stretched Lancia Delta HF Integrale in the window? $136k, that's how much

With the popularity of the Subaru WRX and Mitsubishi Evo, it'd be easy to dismiss the likes of the Lancia Delta HF Integrale as a relic of the past. But make no mistake about it: The roadgoing version of this Italian rally machine is as exotic and desirable as any supercar to come from the same country. All the more reason, then, to be appalled at this unfortunate conversion job.

It appears that some garage in Italy has taken an Integrale (possibly two, according to reports), chopped it up and stretched it into a limousine. If you're thinking that an all-wheel drive hot hatch is the worst possible candidate for limo-ification, we're with you. Whether the conversion job retains the all-wheel drive system remains a big question mark, however, with power coming from either the Integrale's eight-valve 2.0-liter turbo four or the Evo's 16-valve version.

Oh, and the best part? It's for sale, courtesy of Italian classifieds site Autoscout24, for the princely sum of €99,000 (or about $136,000 by current exchange rates). Have a look in the gallery below, just don't expect to see one of these popping up at the local Chrysler dealership with a Pentastar on the nose.

Officially Official: 2011 Audi A1 finally arrives [w/video]

After two concepts and an insufferable amount of teasing, the 2011 Audi A1 has officially arrived with its sights set squarely on the Mini Cooper.

Inspired by the Metroproject Quattro from 2007, the all-new A1 is a faithful recreation of its conceptual predecessor, complete with a squat stance, short overhangs and four customizable colors for the roof arches. With a profile reminiscent of a stretched and squashed TT, the A1 spans 155.5 inches long, 68.5 inches wide and 56 inches tall, with a 97.2-inch wheelbase. Ten exterior colors are available, along with front and rear LEDs and Xenon headlamps.

Audi's focus on the interior begins and ends with customization, with available LED lighting, black, grey, beige or "wasabi" green contrasting materials, colored air vents and an optional MMI system with a 6.5-inch screen, 10-speaker, 465-watt Bose audio system, 20 gig harddrive and Bluetooth connectivity. Although backseat passengers were apparently an afterthought, the A1 boasts 9.43 cubic feet of storage space in the rear, with 32.49 cubic feet of space available when the rear seats are folded flat.

Motivation will be provided by a choice of either two gasoline or diesel powerplants, with the 1.6-liter TDIs churning out either 90 horsepower and 169 pound feet of torque or 105 ponies and 184 lb-ft of twist. The gasoline mills will be available in either 1.2- or 1.4-liter TFSI variants, with the former putting out 86 hp and 118 lb-ft of torque and the latter delivering 122 hp and 147 lb-ft through either a five- or six-speed manual. An optional seven-speed S tronic (dual clutch) transmission is available, and both gasoline engines deliver an average of 46 mpg. For the time being, the A1 is only available with front-wheel drive.

The 2,303-pound hatch will go on sale in Europe later this year after it's official unveiling at the Geneva Motor Show, with prices starting at around 16,000 euro. Two trims – Attraction or Ambition – are available, with an S Line accessories package and 18-inch wheels coming at launch. All the details can be had in the press release after the jump, but still no word yet on U.S. availability.


The next big Audi – The Audi A1

The A1 is a true Audi – it is both the premium option and the sportiest automobile in the small compacts class. It comes with powerful, highly efficient engines and an agile chassis, and delights with an emotional design and excellent fit and finish. The A1 has a broad portfolio of advanced technologies on board; its infotainment system, in particular, sets new standards in the class.

As the newcomer in the compact segment, the A1 appeals primarily to young, lifestyle-oriented customers, offering them a high degree of freedom for individual design. Audi's latest will hit the streets this summer with a base price of around 16,000 euros.

Design

It has a confident road stance – powerful, distinctive and full of character: The A1 is both the premium option and the athlete in its class. The pronounced encompassing shoulder line, the color-contrasted roof arch and the unusually sharply sloping C-pillars give the three-door an unmistakable silhouette. The dimensions also document the dynamic lines: 3.95 meters (12.96 feet) long, the latest model from Audi is an impressive 1.74 meters (5.71 feet) wide but only 1.42 meters (4.66 feet) tall. The wheelbase measures 2.47 meters (8.10 feet); the overhangs are correspondingly short.

The design of the A1 is tightly integrated into the brand's design language and unique in the compact segment – emotional, bold and progressive. Audi has a reputation for taking a lot of ideas and innovations from its concept cars into series production, and the A1 continues this tradition. Many of the features and innovative ideas from the 2007 A1 project quattro showcar have already made it to series production in the A1.

The front end bears an unmistakable family resemblance, but features unique accents and innovations in the details. The single-frame grille, for example, is harmoniously integrated into the front end and with its angled top corners represents a new evolutionary stage. Its braces are arranged horizontally to emphasize the width of the front. The large, plastically modeled air intakes with their horizontal bars also contribute to the sporty appearance of the A1. The fog lights are located in their outer corners.

The three-dimensionally styled headlights also have their own special look. The A1 looks determined and concentrated to the road. A strongly curved wing structures the interior of the headlights. As with every Audi, the daytime running lights are standard. With the optional xenon plus units, the daytime running lights are implemented using LEDs and a light guide. They appear as a homogenous strip that traces the wing.

Powerful design element: the tornado line

The most striking impression when viewed from the side is the straight, slightly upward course of the lines, which visually stretch and accelerate the A1. The upper edge of the hood extends below the side windows to the rear end. As with the Audi TT sports car, the point where the encompassing hood meets the fenders is the point of origin for a typical Audi design element – the tornado line. It continues in the door and the rear flank. The line runs closely and precisely above the wheel wells, giving the A1 a powerful road stance.

The heavy shaded edge beneath the tornado line, the powerfully arched sheet metal surfaces on the flanks and the rising dynamic line above the sills are also characteristic of the brand's design language. The same is true of the expressively shaped wheel wells, which provide shelter to wheels measuring up to 18 inches, and for the ratio of sheet metal surfaces to the greenhouse, which is two-thirds to one-third. The side mirrors are mounted on the doors like with a sports car; the door handles are distinctly bow-shaped.

Another Audi feature is the sportily flowing roof arch, which is optionally available in one of four contrasting colors. The arch flows into a C-pillar that is flatter than on a coupe, giving the rear end a dynamic outline that is further emphasized by the roof spoiler.

When viewed from the rear, an encompassing luggage compartment hatch emphasizes the width – an exclusive feature new to the compact class. The hatch is distinctively shaped. The wedge-shaped single-piece tail lights also underline wideness and are plastically integrated into the design. In combination with xenon plus, the tail lights use LED technology. Because they cannot be seen when the luggage compartment hatch is open, the Audi A1 has additional LED lamps in its side flanks. This solution is another example of the loving attention to detail and enthusiasm for technology of the Audi engineers.

The tail lights have a sporty red frame, with a curved bar dividing their chambers. Audi optionally equips them with light-emitting diodes and light guides – the tail light then appears as a continuous strip. A sporty black diffuser in the skirt forms the bottom of the rear end and visually places the vehicle firmly on the road. Depending on the engine, the exhaust system ends in one or two tailpipes on the left side.

Audi offers the A1 in ten exterior colors. The solid finishes are Amalfi White, Cumulus Blue and Brilliant Black; the metallic colors are Ice Silver, Phantom Black, Teak Brown, Shiraz Red, Scuba Blue, Misano Red and Sphere Blue.

Body

An Audi truism also applies to the A1: The body establishes the foundation for the quality, for the precise, sporty handling and for safety. Two-thirds of the body comprises high- and ultra high-strength steels of different strength classes.

The strongest of these are the hot-shaped steels. The blanks are heated in a furnace to extreme temperatures then immediately shaped in a water-cooled pressing die. This rapid change in temperature imparts them with extreme tensile strength. Hot-shaped steels make up a good 11 percent of the body. They are used for the lower crossmember in the footwell, in the rear sections of the longitudinal members, in the B-pillars and in the roof frame – anywhere extreme strength combined with low weight is particularly important.

The high- and ultra high-strength steels are a significant factor for the high torsional rigidity of the body and its low weight of only 221 kilograms (487.22 lb). These two values and the dimensions are used to compute the high lightweight quality of the superstructure while also providing the basis for a high level of occupant protection.

The A1 comes standard with two front airbags, side airbags in the backrests of the front seats and two curtain head airbags. Belt tensioners and belt force limiters plus the Audi integral headrest system round out the package of retention systems. Isofix child seat anchor points in the rear are standard. Belt buckle sensors at all seats are another increased safety feature. And when it comes to pedestrian protection, the A1 is also equipped with cutting edge technology.

Low-speed collisions – light bumps in parking lots and the so-called typical claim crash so important for the insurance rating – do not result in any major damage. The layout of the bumpers, the crossmember behind them and the longitudinal members protect cost-intensive components such as the radiator and air conditioners.

Aerodynamically optimized: from the front skirt to the rear spoiler

With 0.32 coefficient of drag for the base model, the newest Audi is among the most aerodynamic cars in its class. This is the result of extensive fine-tuning at the Ingolstadt Wind Tunnel Center. The entire body has been optimized – from the rear spoiler, including the spoiler edges, to the underbody and the wheels. The aerodynamic underbody largely covers the underbody, protecting it and creating favorable aerodynamic air flow.

The corners and other edge regions of the skirts feature a sophisticated design that not only sinks the coefficient of drag, but also improves driving stability at high speeds. The area around the grille is completely sealed so that the inflowing air reaches the radiator with virtually no losses instead of becoming turbulent. Even such subtleties as the flow of air through the engine compartment have been optimized to the finest detail with respect to thermo- and aerodynamics.

Another of the body's strengths is its acoustics. The Audi development engineers devoted considerable attention to the sound radiation of the large sheet metal panels and their rigidities. All regions at which forces are induced during driving were specially reinforced. A lightweight insulation package brings the acoustics in the passenger cabin up to the premium level.

The A1 will be built at the Audi plant in Brussels. Audi invested more than 100 million euros in the modernization of the production facility in order to completely satisfy the most stringent of quality standards.

Interior

Sportiness, precision and youthful freshness – these themes characterize the interior of the A1. The designers looked to airplane wings for inspiration for the elegantly curving instrument panel. The four round, far-protruding air nozzles are reminiscent of the turbines of a jet.

The center console, with its integrated strip of secondary switches, resembles the stern of a yacht and appears to float above the center tunnel. The control unit for the climate control system and the three cylindrical rotary dials of the optional automatic climate control system are another optical and haptic highlight on board the A1. The instrument panel is also home to the head unit for the radio or the optional MMI control and infotainment system. The display, which is standard with the concert radio or higher, is retracted into the instrument panel and extends upward at the push of a button. This installation position, ideal for quick reading, is a unique selling point in this vehicle class.

The instrument cluster in chronographic design with the large round dials – black faces, red needles, and white scales and numbers – is laid out clearly and elegantly. As always with Audi, operation via the steering column stalks is logical and ergonomically perfect. At night the instruments are lit in white, the buttons red.

With the LED interior lighting package, the A1 brings 100 percent LED technology to an interior in the premium compact class for the first time. Not only is the ambient lighting in the doors and roof module realized with LED technology, so, too, are the interior lights, reading lights, footwell lights and makeup lights.
Another design highlight was created with the help of LED light guide technology. If desired, a white corona shines indirectly from the contours of the Bose woofer bezel to visually underscore the high-tech character of the sound system.

The optional driver information system integrates a display between the instruments. As in the large Audi models, the system can be controlled using buttons, rocker switches and roller switches in the optional multifunction steering wheel.

The system bundles information from the audio sources and the optional navigation system. A modern tabs concept in the display and a freely-programmable favorites button make operation easy and intuitive. The driver information system is monochrome and comes standard with MMI navigation plus.

Helpful: the on-board computer with efficiency program

The on-board computer with efficiency program is linked to the driver information system. It displays data relevant to fuel consumption and gives recommendations for efficient driving. An enlarged view of the gear-change indicator signals to the driver when he or she should change gears. Another function provides information on which on-board consumers, such as the climate control system or the rear window defogger, are active and how much fuel they are consuming.

The seats in the A1 offer great hold, guidance and support and seat persons of all sizes extremely comfortably. A height-adjustable driver's seat is standard. The Ambition trim line includes sport seats with lumbar support, and the passenger seat also comes height-adjustable as standard. The easy-entry function for comfortable access to the back is also standard with the Ambition package.

Plenty of storage is available at every seat – two cup holders on the console of the center tunnel, pockets in the doors and the rear side trim as well as a power outlet. On the base model, there is a fold-up compartment on the instrument panel instead of the on-board monitor. Audi also offers an optional storage package with additional stowage options.

The premium character of the Audi A1 is expressed in every last detail of the interior – in the selection of the materials, in their fit and finish and in the tight, even gaps. The surface of the instrument panel is softly backed with foam; all buttons and controls move precisely; even the pull handle that unlatches the hood release does so crisply and precisely.

Standard with the Ambition trim line and optional with Attraction are numerous aluminum-look control elements, including the entry strips, the dials for the automatic climate control system and the light dials. Furthermore, the ring of the three-spoke sport steering wheel, the parking brake handle and the gear shift lever are wrapped in leather and adorned with subtle aluminum clips.

Youthful and new: colors and materials

The materials in the interior vary between the two lines. Attraction features black or titanium gray cloth upholstery with the center console, armrest, map pocket and speaker grills also being titanium gray. The sport seats in the Ambition line have a two-color design featuring titanium gray or wasabi green as a contrasting color to black. The interior is also available in black. The media style package offers velvet beige as an alternative. The optional leather seats available with the Ambition line and the media style package are offered in a choice of three colors and three combinations.

Everything about colors and trim is novel, youthful and lifestyle-oriented. The air nozzle housings are available in a wide range of colors – with matt or high-gloss black standard depending on the trim line. They are also optionally available in high-gloss white, titanium gray, wasabi green, amulet red or velvet beige to match the color of the trim. Audi also offers a range of attractive colors for the door armrests and the console on the center tunnel for all trim lines.

The luggage compartment of the Audi A1 has plane walls; the loading edge is low for easy loading and unloading. It has a base volume of 267 liters (9.43 cubic feet). A double cargo floor is standard.

The split rear seat can be folded down quickly and easily to increase luggage capacity to roughly 920 liters (32.49 cubic feet) if loaded to the roof. Two small latches secure the cargo floor when it is folded up. Audi also offers an optional luggage compartment package with practical storage boxes under the cargo floor, a multi-fixing point with folding hooks, a stretch net, a power outlet, a second light and a strap retainer.

Audi does not compromise quality in the luggage compartment, either. The latch unlocks electronically, including via the remote key fob. It swings up and falls securely into the latch. Its clasp has a separate spring-loaded cover that keeps it from getting dirty – another typical Audi detail.

Infotainment systems

The A1 is a premium automobile for modern people – it offers a range of state-of-the-art infotainment and multimedia systems directly from the luxury class.

The infotainment system comprises modular components based around the standard chorus radio, which has an mp3-capable CD drive and GALA speed-dependent volume control. The chorus radio delivers its sound to four loudspeakers.

The next step up features the new concert radio, a versatile device that is likewise equipped with a CD drive. The separate, retractable on-board monitor – a high-resolution, 6.5 inch color display – is standard with this radio. It also features a dual tuner, an SDHC memory card reader, an AUX-in connection and six loudspeakers front and rear.

The concert radio also unlocks the choice of the optional connectivity package, which includes a navigation system preparation. This allows the customer to add an Audi map-based navigation unit to the radio at a later time. The required hardware is already installed in the radio. The customer can purchase the system activation and an SDHC card with the navigation data through Audi Genuine Accessories at any time. Activation is performed by the Audi dealer. The connectivity package also includes a Bluetooth interface, an SDHC card reader and the Audi music interface.

The top of the line is MMI navigation plus, a high-end media center that is a benchmark in the compact vehicle class. It comprises four primary components – the main unit with a 60 gigabyte hard drive, the radio unit, the MMI control terminal and the color display. The retractable 6.5 inch display features elegant images. It displays its graphics as well as the cover art for the audio titles. The navigation map is also displayed in 3D.

MMI navigation plus can store 20 gigabytes of music files. It offers a Bluetooth interface and the Audi music interface (AMI) to connect modern mobile media players very easily and conveniently. It includes a drive for audio and video DVDs and intelligent voice control – the driver can speak the complete navigation address at once. The driver information system is also integrated into the package.

Classic Audi logic: the MMI control terminal

With its intuitive logic, the MMI control terminal is structured similarly to the units from the large Audi models. A large rotary pushbutton is at the center of the unit. It can be rocked in four directions like a joystick, which makes many functions even more convenient. A variety of hard and soft keys, a volume control, and slots for the storage media are arranged around and above the central controller.

Audi offers a range of additional modules for the MMI navigation plus and the concert radio – a Bluetooth interface for convenient telephony and transferring music and video, a CD changer, a digital radio (DAB) tuner and two premium sound systems: the 180 watt Audi sound system with ten speakers and the Bose surround sound system. The latter includes a ten-channel, 465 watt amplifier and 14 speakers, including a subwoofer. The combination of MMI navigation plus and the Bose surround sound system enables the reproduction of 5.1 surround sound. A special optical highlight: The woofers in the doors are indirectly lit with light guide LEDs.

Drivetrain (performance data are provisional figures)

Audi will initially offer the A1 with four engines. The two TFSI gasoline engines and the two TDI diesels cover a power range from 63 kW (86 hp) to 90 kW
(122 hp). Each of them is state-of-the-art.

All of the engines employ direct fuel injection and turbocharging. This downsizing concept coupled with technologies from the Audi modular efficiency platform give them tremendous power with minimal fuel consumption ranging from 3.8 to
5.4 liters per 100 km (43.56 – 61.90 US mpg).

The entry-level gasoline engine is the new 1.2 TFSI. It generates 63 kW (86 hp) and produces its peak torque of 160 Nm (118.01 lb-ft) already between 1,500 and 3,500 rpm. Coupled with a five-speed manual transmission, the four-cylinder accelerates the A1 from 0 to 100 km/h (0 – 62.14 mph) in 12.1 seconds on its way to a top speed of 179 km/h (111.23 mph). In the EU driving cycle, it consumes only 5.1 liters of fuel per 100 km (46.12 US mpg), which corresponds to only 119 grams of CO2/km (191.51 g/mile).

Downsizing from Audi: turbocharging instead of displacement

The newly developed four-cylinder exemplifies the Audi philosophy of downsizing, the substitution of turbocharging for volume. The engine with two-valves per cylinder displaces only 1,197 cc and has been rigorously optimized for low weight and low friction. Its cast aluminum crankcase has its own cooling loop separate from the cylinder head. The water in the block is not circulated immediately after the engine is started, enabling the engine to come up to temperature more quickly and shortening the phase of increase frictional resistance due to cold oil.

The 1.4 TFSI ups the ante with 90 kW (122 hp). Its peak torque of 200 Nm (147.51 lb-ft) is continuously available between 1,500 and 4,000 rpm. A turbocharger with a water-cooled intercooler pressurizes the 1,390 cc engine with four valves per cylinder.

Together with the seven-speed S tronic, the 1.4 TFSI gets the A1 up to highway speed in 9.1 seconds. Top speed is 200 km/h (124.27 mph). The standard six-speed manual transmission bumps the time for the sprint to 9.2 seconds, but does not affect top speed. Average fuel consumption is just 5.1 and 5.4 liters/
100 km (43.56 and 46.12 US mpg), respectively, in the EU test cycle.

The power output of the new 1.6 TDI comes from a displacement of 1,598 cc. Internal friction in the compact four-cylinder has been systematically minimized. Audi offers two versions of this engine. The more powerful 1.6 TDI unit produces 77 kW (105 hp) and 250 Nm (184.39 lb-ft) between 1,500 and 2,500 rpm, and is coupled with a five-speed manual transmission. The 16-valve engine accelerates the A1 powerfully through the standard sprint in 10.8 seconds before reaching a top speed of 187 km/h (116.20 mph) while consuming an average of just
3.9 liters/100 km (60.31 US mpg).

The second version of the 1.6 TDI generates 66 kW (90 hp) and 230 Nm (169.64 lb-ft) of torque between 1,500 and 2,500 rpm. Coupled with the five-speed manual transmission, it accelerates the A1 from 0 to 100 km/h (0 – 62.14 mph) in 12.2 seconds. Its reaches a top speed of 179 km/h
(111.23 mph) and offers exemplary fuel economy of 3.8 liters/100 km (61.90 US mpg), which corresponds to 99 grams of CO2/km (159.33 g/mile).

All four engines in the A1 use a technology from the Audi modular efficiency platform – the recuperation system uses an intelligent voltage controller for the generator to recover energy during the braking and coasting phases and store it temporarily in the battery. The next time the car accelerates, this energy flows back into the on-board electrical system, relieving the load on the generator.

The four engines also come standard with a second technology from the Audi modular efficiency platform – the start-stop system. This turns the engine off when the car is at rest, if the gear selector lever is in neutral and the driver's foot has left the clutch pedal. Start-stop then turns the engine back on as soon as the clutch pedal is depressed - all the while functioning quietly, conveniently, and quickly.

The start-stop system also harmonizes perfectly with the seven-speed S tronic, the high-tech transmission with which the A1 underscores its exceptionally sporty position. The Audi dual-clutch transmission combines the convenience of a torque converter transmission with the dynamics and efficiency of a manual transmission. It changes gears within a few hundredths of a second without any perceptible interruption of pulling power, smoothly and very comfortably.

Weighing only around 70 kilograms (154.32 lb), the seven-speed S tronic also helps to save weight. Its two clutches run dry – the elimination of the oil supply further increases the already high efficiency of the transmission. Power is supplied to the electrohydraulic actuator as needed.

The driver can operate the seven-speed S tronic via a selector lever or optional paddles on the steering wheel, as in a sports car. There are also two fully automatic operating modes available. In D mode, the transmission management system operates the engine as often as possible at low speeds to save fuel; in
S mode, the driving style is sporty and the engine speeds higher. A hill start assist that holds the A1 when starting on a hill is standard.

Chassis

The front-wheel-drive Audi A1 is the sportiest car in the compact class. It is nimble and agile in the city; steady and precise on interurban roads, and comfortable on the highway. It owes these qualities primarily to the highly advanced chassis with the wide track and balanced weight distribution.

The engineers devoted a great deal of attention to the distribution of axle loads during the development of the A1. Measuring only 81 centimeters (31.89 inches), the front overhang is unusually short. Depending on the engine, only between 61 and 63 percent of the weight rests on the front axle, a low value for a compact car. A number of details contribute to this, such as the position of the battery, which with most engine options is underneath the luggage compartment. With a base weight of only 1,045 kilograms (2,303.83 lb), the A1 is the lightest vehicle in the premium compact class.

The front suspension comprises a MacPherson construction with lower triangular wishbones. The steering impulse from the electrohydraulic rack-and-pinion power steering, which is more efficient than a straight hydraulic system, is transferred via short paths to the pivot bearing for spontaneous steering response and precise, sensitive feedback through the steering wheel.

Direct: the power steering

At a ratio of 14.8:1, the steering is sportily direct, requiring only slight steering angles at the wheel. The high turn-in of the front wheels keeps the turning circle to 10.6 meters (34.78 feet) – both factors give the A1 the ultimate in agility in city traffic as well as on open roads.

Audi painstakingly tuned the front axle bearings, the stabilizer bar and the springs and dampers for sporty and balanced handling. A torsion-beam rear axle with separate springs and dampers features new guide bearings that were developed from the ground up. The Ambition trim line comes standard with a sport suspension featuring taut springs and dampers.

The A1 comes equipped with a new Audi technology regardless of the engine selected – the ESP stabilization system also includes an electronic differential lock. Similar to a mechanical locking differential, it makes the already agile handling even more neutral by largely eliminating understeer and improving traction. If the electronics detect that the load on the front inside wheel is reduced too much, it initiates brief, controlled braking of that wheel. The excess torque then flows to the outside wheel, which can apply more power to the road. Road behavior is even more precise, agile, stable and neutral, further enhancing objective safety and subjective confidence in the car.

With its sport modus, the ESP A1 is custom-tailored for agile driving. The stabilization system controls large, powerful wheel brakes. The front discs are internally ventilated and measure between 256 and 288 millimeters (10.08 and 11.34 inches) in diameter, depending on the engine. The rear wheels are equipped with powerful disc brakes. The Attraction trim line features 15-inch wheels; Ambition comes with 16-inch alloy wheels.

Audi offers optional 17-inch cast aluminum wheels, with some designs featuring modern bicolor designs, and wide-format 215/40 tires. quattro GmbH offers
18-inch cast aluminum wheels and wide-format 225/35 tires.

High performance: the wheel brakes

The sporty performance, top-class safety and comfort required in the premium compact class place high demands on the brakes. The brake system of the
Audi A1 was selected specifically for the performance of the different variants.

Even the models with the entry level engines should therefore have plenty of braking power in reserve. Every vehicle comes equipped with ventilated disc brakes up front and massive brake discs in the rear.

Sport steering wheel

In keeping with the vehicle's sporty character, the A1 comes standard with a grippy three-spoke sport steering wheel that can be optionally wrapped in fine Nappa leather and trimmed with high-quality chrome-design elements.

A particular highlight is the new operating concept of the optional multifunction switch, which enables the convenient operation of the on-board computer, telephone, audio source and navigation system directly from the steering wheel.
Shift paddles that enable fast manual gear changes are optionally available in combination with an S tronic transmission.

Equipment and trim

Audi offers the A1 in two trim levels. Attraction is the richly appointed charismatic version; Ambition the sporty and dynamic variant. Both lines can be combined with the media style package, which offers attractive infotainment and interior design options. Features such as the navigation package can also be purchased later, keeping the A1 fresh and attractive for years to come. The latest member of the Audi family also follows a fresh, young line with respect to materials and colors in the interior.

The Attraction line comes equipped with a number of comfortable features – the chorus radio, a radio remote-controlled central locking system, power-adjustable side mirrors, power windows and a height-adjustable driver's seat. Standard passive safety features include two front airbags, side airbags and head airbags. Belt force limiters, the integral Audi headrest system and Isofix anchor points for child safety seats in the rear round out the program.

The Ambition trim line can be identified at a glance – giving it away are the
16-inch alloy wheels and the fog lights. The interior of the A1 Ambition features aluminum-look touches, a leather-wrapped sport steering wheel and the driver information system. Its sport seats feature an easy-entry function and lumbar supports, and the passenger seat is also height-adjustable.

Optionally available for the Ambition trim line is the S line sport package, which includes, but is not limited to, the following: 17- or 18-inch cast aluminum wheels, S line sport suspension with dynamic suspension tuning, leather-wrapped sport steering wheel and sport seats.

Much of the optional equipment that Audi has designated for the A1 comes directly from the luxury class. These include exterior options such as the xenon plus headlights with LED daytime running lights, the LED tail lights and the optional 17-inch wheels with 215/40 tires. quattro GmbH offers 18-inch cast aluminum wheels.

Audi has also devoted a great deal of attention to the aspect of light and vision. The high-beam assistant uses a camera to detect other vehicles and towns and automatically switch between the low and high beams. It is combined with a light and rain sensor, which is also available separately. The panorama sunroof brings light and air into the interior. The convenience key can stay in the jacket pocket – the A1 unlocks when the driver pulls the door handles and starts at the push of the start-stop button.

Additional options include the alarm system, the LED interior lighting package, the heated and folding side mirrors, the cruise control system, the ski bag, the front center arm rest, the storage and luggage compartment package, the heated front seats, the climate control system, the automatic climate control system and a multifunction, leather-wrapped sport steering wheel. Audi also offers a parking aid in two variants and a wide array of infotainment modules from which to choose. It starts with the concert radio and extends through the retrofit-capable navigation package to the high-performance MMI navigation plus system and the Bose surround sound system with innovative light guide technology.

Dynamic look

The S line exterior package gives the A1 an even more dynamic appearance thanks to such details as chiseled sill tops and a large roof spoiler.

The A1 offers the young, urban public a new lifestyle-oriented concept for colors and materials. If so desired, components such as the seat covers, the air nozzle housings and the inlays in the doors shine in fresh, expressive colors. In addition to the individual options, quattro GmbH also offers numerous packages, such as the S line sport package, the Audi exclusive line or the black styling package. The Audi exclusive customization program offers the customer even more styling options – for both the interior and the exterior.

Video: Unlikely Drag Race #5,349 - Hyundai Sonata vs. Toyota Camry in four-cylinder throwdown

We love a good drag race as much as the next guy, especially when the two vehicles are relatively evenly matched. The four-cylinder 2011 Hyundai Sonata and 2010 Toyota Camry sedans appear to be of similar might, as both vehicles are family haulers aimed at the heart of the midsize market. But do we want the two vehicles to drag race to see which one has the best burst off the line?

Apparently someone thought we did, as evidenced by the post-jump video featuring the upstart 2011 Sonata 2.4 GDI against the title-holding 2.5-liter Camry going head-to-head in the battle of four-pot supremacy. We're not sure who created the video but it could have been created by an Asian market arm of Hyundai, so you can guess who wins this sprint to the finish line. That said, the Camry fares pretty well off the line where some would argue a midsize sedan needs power the most. Hit the jump to watch the video for yourself, and while you're on the other side, head over to Comments and tell us which two closely matched production vehicles you'd like to see in a drag race.
 

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