Paris Motor Show 2006 Recap
The year 2006 has been very big for Audi. The four-rings brand has rolled out many exciting new models such as the V10-powered S6 and S8 cars, the Q7 SUV, the 2nd generation allroad and TT models and the all-capable RS4 sports sedan. Paris is the last big auto show of the year, and also happens to have the highest attendance of all major shows. Bearing this in mind Audi seems to have saved its best for last.
The star of this years show is Audis bid in the premium sports car/supercar category, the new R8. Following an exclusive world premiere party, Audi proudly showcased three R8s as the center of its Paris display. Two of the R8s were equipped with black carbon fiber sideblade panels, while the last one had a body color sideblade. Two of the R8s also featured the 6-speed manual transmission option which has a gated shift pattern taken directly from the Gallardo.
Perhaps the most interesting of the R8 trio was the specially prepared cutaway car giving viewers a first had view of the ASF (Audi Aluminum Spaceframe) construction. This cutaway model also highlighted the new forged aluminum suspension arms, coilover spring/damper combos, and vividly demonstrated the unique packaging considerations which are required in a mid-engined layout.
The top performer in the A3 line-up, the new S3, also made its debut in Paris. Displayed in an attention grabbing Papaya color (with matching interior), the S3 was anything but understated. Powered by a warmed-over 265 hp/ 258 ft-lb version of the 2.0T FSI engine and backed by a 6-speed/Haldex AWD combo, the S3 will reach 60 mph from a standstill in about 5.7 seconds.
The interior of this particular car was furnished by Audi Exclusive. The matching seat center section, stitching, and black piano trim were all nice touches as was the RNS-E navigation system and sport steering wheel (same as US-market RS4). The brake calipers proudly show off the S3 logo. This feature is shared by all current S cars in the Audi lineup.
Returning to Paris for the first time since the world premiere in December of 2005, Audis Le Mans winning R10 TDI diesel was proudly on display next to the winning trophy. Audi will undoubtedly face stiff competition this year at Le Mans as Peugeot is also underway with a diesel prototype class bid of their own.
Two TTs seen in red and white sat in front of a TT themed bar serving up special blends of tea. Upstairs was an Audi Exclusive booth with a highly customized A8 W12 model showcased. Audi Exclusive is a branch of quattro GmbH which offers custom interior options from mild to wild. The A8 on display was an example of understated luxury of the highest degree. In addition to the already long list of options available with an A8 W12 flagship, this Audi also featured a built in refrigerator, fax/copy/scanner, and custom DVD entertainment system. CEOs take note.
Overall the Audi floor was a mix of old and new. In addition to the R8 and S3 car premieres, new technology such as Audis Valvelift System and the rebirth of the 1.8T name (now with FSI) rounded out the surprises from Ingolstadt. An RS4 cab, S6, S8, A8, and other models were on display although not new debuts for Audi.
Although Audi has shown many new models in the past few months, there are still a large number of new designs coming down the pipeline. We expect to see a 2-door coupe range called the A5 and a smaller version of the Q7 SUV called the Q5. The wished-for V10 engine will be added to the R8 lineup. Expect AudiWorld to stay on top of these new developments and stories. Weve been told that a full R8 test drive may be possible early 2007. It will be a long, but worthwhile wait!