By Ron Amadon
DAMASCUS, MD. – Okay, this is not a car that could drive down the street, but you can’t tell me that you would turn down a chance to drive one around a track.
It is a completely redesigned Audi R18 that will compete in the FIA World Endurance Championship and the Le Mans 24 hour. Power output is set at 1,000 horsepower delivered by a V6 TDI engine and hybrid powertrain that will also deliver ten percent less fuel consumption than the previous model. When you’re in a 24 hour race that is very important.
How does this relate to the future Audis? It does because many of the energy and weight saving measures in the R18 will be adapted to street ready cars.
“For Audi, production relevance has been a core topic of all racing programs for 35 years,” said Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, head of Audi Motorsport. And, if I may add, it may also ensure that the more energy efficient vehicles of the future may not be dull. Lastly, it is just a breathtaking design.
Much closer to your driveway is the striking Audi R8 Spyder convertible with the V10 engine that will scare the h— of your non-car enthusiast friends. Think 540 horsepower from the 5.2-liter engine with 398 lb-ft of torque, a top speed of 197.6 mph and just 3.6 seconds from 0-62. A seven speed dual clutch transmission is standard, that can in “extreme cases” deliver up to 100 percent of that power to the front or rear wheels. And you can bet on extraordinary handling as surely as your IRS refund coming in later than you expected. To sum up, how about this quote? “With its spontaneous throttle response, quick revving up and inimitable sound, the 5.2 FSI naturally aspirated engine in the new Audi R8 Spyder delivers undiluted emotion,” said Dr. –Ing Stefan Knirsch, of Audi’s Technical Development team. I have driven past models with the V10, and it’s a drive that will be long remembered. So will yours.
Unveiled at the New York show was the Acura NSX GT3 that will campaign in North American competition starting in 2017. It features, of course, custom bodywork and aero components that include a large deck wing spoiler. It will be powered by a 3.5-liter, twin turbocharged V6 using the same design specs as the production model and paired with a 6-speed sequential shift racing gearbox. It is currently undergoing testing and is slated for homologation as an FIA GT3 class racer this fall. And, it’s darn good looking!
At this stage you are probably asking about a fun car that everyday men and women can afford. Well, I have a great answer for you!
Mazda dealers should be drooling over the just announced Miata MX-5 RF hardtop Targa. If they can’t sell every one they get, they can’t sell anything.
Unlike the previous generation MX-5 hardtop convertible, this one brought forth new styling with lines that visually extend the roof into the rear of the car. Some have already compared the look to the much more expensive McLaren 650S. And when you have a car at this expected price range being compared to one that is in the upper echelons, you have done some good work.
Push a button on a warm day and the rear buttresses lift allowing the split folding Targa style roof panels to enter the space behind the rear seats, along with the rear glass. One that is completed, the buttresses return to their position. Mazda said the entire operation takes about 12 seconds and the roof can be raised or lowered at speeds of 6 mph or less.
An acrylic windbreak helps prevent turbulent air buffeting back into the cabin.
Because of the way the moveable roof parts are stored to the rear of the seats, trunk space remains the same as the fabric topped convertible.
The RF is millimeters taller than the convertible, and the suspension and power steering assist have been tweaked a bit. There is also a sound absorbing headliner on the front and middle roof panels that Mazda claims results in a “significantly quieter ride when the roof is closed.”
A nifty touch – A 4.6 inch color TFT LCD screen inside displays an animation of the roof when it is opening or closing.
Beyond that, that car is the same as the soft top MX-5. It will be sold here in the states with the same 2.0-liter four with 155 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm with 148 lb-ft of torque @ 4,600 rpm. A six speed stick or a six speed automatic will be the customer’s choice.
And there is demand. Mazda claims that the retractable hard top model accounted for more than half of all MX-5 third generation sales, popular with those who wanted all season comfort and utility.
Thus far there is no word on price for the RF. Mazda will start taking orders this summer and the first cars should arrive on these shores in early 2017.
For those who love sports car and live in climates with shorter summers, this should be a dream come true.