December 5, 2006

2006 Essen Motorshow
By: Chris Ostberg

Audi stepped up their game for 2006 at the Essen Motorshow. Among a sea of ultra high performance race cars and tuner specials, Audi’s new TT roadster made its European debut in Essen just 15 hours after being revealed for the first time halfway across the globe in Los Angeles. Audi brought in some of its best drivers, including Frank Biela (Le Mans), Emanuele Pirro (Le Mans), Marco Werner (Le Mans), and Pierre Kaffer (DTM) to present the TT to the public.

In close proximity to the main TT stage was one of the Le Mans-winning R10 TDI diesel racecars complete with the victory trophy. The showcased TT was a beautiful shade of bright red. Underhood was Audi’s potent 250 hp 3.2 liter V-6 engine naturally sending power to all four wheels via a Haldex clutch quattro driveline.

The new and refreshed 2nd generation TT shape has gracefully adopted its new roadster form. The two thick polished roll hoops, which have become a TT roadster trademark, sit directly behind the driver’s head to protect the occupants in case of a rollover situation. Interior highlights include a flat bottomed RS4-like steering wheel and the corporate RNS-E DVD based navigation/MP3 stereo system.

Two examples of Audi’s venerable RS4 super sedan were on display. One variant was a stunning Ibis White Avant with the optional “black optics” treatment and anthracite colored “titanium” wheels. This striking and contrasting color combination makes a very bold and unique statement. Unfortunately, options like the flat bottom steering wheel, racing “shell” seats, and the ceramic front brakes are options not available in North American directly from Audi. Same goes for the the convertible option, which was how the second RS4 appeared in Essen.

An A3 Sportback 2.0 TDI sporting a solid 170 horsepower and 258 foot pounds of torque (while returning an average of 41 mpg!) was shown in a similar Ibis White paint scheme. Shod with titanium toned RS4 style wheels, one could easily confuse this A3 for its big RS4 brother at a quick glance. Audi’s TDI offerings continue to show that performance and practicality do not have to be mutually exclusive. As announced in Los Angeles, TDI technology is on its way to North America within the next few years.

As well equipped as modern Audis come directly from the factory there is always a little room for improvement; this is where the tuners come in. One such Audi tuner present at the Essen show was Germany's Abt. This Bavarian tuning firm proudly displayed a number of Audi vehicles tuned from mild to wild. Among the wild was one of the first supercharged applications for the FSI injected 4.2 liter V-8 found in the Q7. This nicely fabricated and integrated compressor bumps up the Q7’s output to a staggering 500 hp and 406 foot pounds. Abt feels TT owners should not be left out of the fun, so a supercharger is available for them too. Dubbed the TT-R, the 3.2 liter V-6 under the hood has been uncorked and force fed to a more than adequate 310 horsepower.

What happens when you take a B5 RS4 2.7 liter twin turbo engine and stuff it into a modern B7 Avant? You get the 480 horsepower Abt AS4. In a transformation so cleanly executed that no one would suspect that this wasn’t actually a factory installation, Abt’s AS4 has shown that it can match the power and speed of even Audi’s best V-8 RS4.

Resources:
  • Photo Gallery
  • 2005 Essen Motorshow Coverage





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