Saturday, July 7, 2012

2013 Audi RS4 Avant

The wildest A4 returns only as a wagon. 

Audi's high-performance wagons are icons. The mid-1980s saw the 100/200 Turbo Wagon, and things got really wild with the RS2 launched in 1994. It was an over-the-top variation of the Audi 80 Avant created with assistance from Porsche, powered by a 315-hp version of Audi's 2.2-liter turbo five-cylinder and wearing wheels from the 964-gen Porsche 911. (Its side mirrors and front turn signals were from the 993, too.) The RS2 was followed in 1999 by the first RS4, which packed a 380-hp, 2.7-liter twin-turbo V-6. Audi launched the second-gen RS4 in 2005 with a naturally aspirated, extremely high-revving 4.2-liter V-8; this powerplant was engineered by Wolfgang Hatz, now head of Porsche R&D. For the first time, Audi offered a sedan and a convertible in addition to the station wagon. The previous-gen RS4 was sold until 2009. One year later, the RS5 coupe was launched on a platform shared with the current A4, as a sort of RS4 stand-in.
2013 Audi RS4 Avant

But now the RS4 returns—but only as a station wagon, to be launched at the Geneva auto show next month. The engine remains true to its immediate predecessor, as the car is powered by a 4.2-liter direct-injected V-8 that produces 450 hp at 8250 rpm. Maximum torque stands at 317 lb-ft and is available from 4000 to 6000 rpm. The performance is more than adequate: Audi claims a 0-to-62-mph sprint of 4.7 seconds; we’re guessing that’s at least a few ticks on the conservative side. Top speed is limited to 155 mph unless you pay to relax the governor, at which point the fun ends at 174 mph.
The torque delivery is rear-biased, at 40/60-percent; the self-locking crown-wheel center differential can adjust this ratio almost instantly between 70/30 and 15/85 according to road conditions and driver input. A sports differential that can distribute the torque between the rear wheels is optional. While the last-gen RS4 was available only with a slick-shifting six-speed manual, the new model comes only with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. The driver can use paddles or leave the shifting up to the car entirely. In the standard Drive Select system’s more-aggressive settings, the car will blip the throttle to provide rev-matched downshifts.

When braking on surfaces with different friction coefficients, the speed-sensitive electromechanical power setup will provide additional input beyond that of the driver to maintain stability. The car naturally sits lower than its lesser siblings, and rolls on 19-inch forged-aluminum wheels and 265/35 rubber as standard; 20-inch wheels fitted with 265/30 tires are optional. The standard front brake rotors are squeezed by eight-piston calipers, but the piston count goes down by two should you spec the optional carbon-ceramic discs. The options list also includes dynamic steering with a speed-sensitive steering ratio and an electronic damper system. There is at least one nod to those who prefer a more pure driving experience: The stability-control system can be switched off entirely.
Audi has modified the exterior with a wider body that ever-so-slightly recalls the Ur-Quattro of 1980, and the rear end is punctuated by two large, oval exhaust tips. The front and rear bumpers and the roof spoiler are unique; the front is characterized by large, functional air intakes and a silver-painted splitter. The interior is fitted with sports seats; the standard interior trim is carbon fiber, but it can be replaced by piano black, stainless-steel mesh, or aluminum in one of two finishes (brushed matte and something called “Race”). Finally, there’s a flat-bottomed steering wheel.
The price is a cool €76,600 in Germany, which includes a 19 percent tax. That's just about as much as the RS5 coupe. Its competition includes the Cadillac CTS-V wagon and the Euro-only Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG wagon. Will we get the RS4 Avant in the U.S.? Probably not. Even the regular A4 Avant will take a back seat in favor of the A4 Allroad. Bummer

2011 Audi RS5 vs. 2010 BMW M3, 2011 Cadillac CTS-V

2011 Audi RS5 vs. 2010 BMW M3, 2011 Cadillac CTS-V
Comparison Tests

Achtung Heroes: To get the very most out of three scorching coupes, we find it necessary to cross the border.

Magical things can happen when crossing borders: What is illegal on one side can suddenly become legal on the other. Cross into Holland, for example, and cough away in a hazy “café” without worrying about posting bail. Head into Germany, and go every bit as fast as you want, legally. Or  you can drive on Europe’s most famous racetrack. Just head west out of Frankfurt for a two-hour drive to the village of Nürburg, home to the 12.9-mile long Nürburgring Nordschleife circuit. It’s most often rented by big-time race teams and automakers, but the public is allowed to play on certain days for 23 euros per lap (about $28—plus you get a discount for buying multiple laps).
What’s more, German drivers are for the most part alert, educated, and courteous, and every car has to pass a rigorous roadworthiness inspection to keep rusted-out hulks off the autobahns. In many ways, it feels like the complete opposite of the American driving experience—in Germany, you can go 180 mph without fear of an arrest, but flip someone the bird, and you might end up in jail.
So, to test the latest challengers to our comparison-test champ, the BMW M3, we flew across the Atlantic, from the land of speed traps to the land of unlimited speed.
Facing the M3 for the first time is Audi’s new RS5. Looking to avenge the RS4’s loss to an M3 in a December 2007 comparison test, the RS5 is the latest car to emerge from Audi’s Quattro GmbH skunkworks. Based on the elegantly sleek A5/S5, the RS5 has its fenders punched out and its snout stuffed full with a 450-hp, 4.2-liter V-8. All-wheel drive distributes the power to the 275/30R-20 Pirelli P Zero tires while a new seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox provides quick shifts and an amusing launch-control function.
Cadillac has never built a car more perfectly suited to the libertarian nature of the German autobahn than the CTS-V. Now available with two doors, everything ahead of the windshield is shared with the sedan, including the 556-hp, 6.2-liter V-8 and six-speed automatic (a manual is standard). All of the creased sheetmetal from the steeply raked windshield back to the pointy rump and functional spoiler/third brake light is unique to the coupe. Other coupe exclusives—a retuned chassis, a wider rear track (by 0.8 inch), and reworked steering—give the latest CTS-V an extra shot of alertness.
Now in its fourth year of production, the M3 gets BMW’s newly created, M3-specific Competition package ($2500) that adds wider 19-inch wheels (which increases both front and rear tracks by a half-inch), plus revised tuning for the adaptive shocks and a 0.4-inch-lower suspension. Otherwise, the 414-hp M3 is unaltered for its latest smackdown with the Audi and the Cadillac.
It took $2000-plus in premium fuel, more than 1000 miles driven, and a lot of nights spent guzzling pilsners before the mist cleared and we were able to decide whether Cadillac or Deutschland is truly über alles.

2011 BMW 1-series M Coupe

We’ve already driven BMW’s upcoming 1-series M coupe and spoken at length with those responsible for its development; about the only thing we haven’t done is seen the car sans camouflage. Put that complaint to rest, oh ye faithful.
Even the appearance of the 1-series M coupe seen here holds few surprises, as the cars we drove previously wore only light camo. Multiple massive intakes in the front fascia ensure that the engine will never hunger for more air, and the gnarly fender flares look even more menacing in paint than they did covered in paisley-print vinyl. Tucked inside those flares are M3 Competition package wheels, and behind those wheels are M3 brakes. Supporting all of that is M3 suspension with an M3 diff in the rear—noticing a trend? Sadly, there’s no carbon-fiber roof like that on the M3, but the 1-series M will make up for it by not offering a sunroof, as it would add weight and raise the vehicle’s center of gravity. Only three colors will be available: black, white, and orange.
Turbos Instead of RPM
Under the hood, which notably lacks the signature power bump sported by all other M vehicles, from the M3 to the 5400-pound X5 M, is the great differentiator. Where the M3 packs its screaming 8400-rpm V-8—and where screaming, high-rpm engines are supposed to be an M trademark—the 1-series M coupe is powered by the twin-turbo inline-six of yore. Don’t be too disappointed, though, as output has been ratcheted up to 335 hp and 332 lb-ft of nominal torque. As in the 335is, an overboost function makes 369 lb-ft available for brief spurts. Zero-to-60-mph sprints should take about 4.3 seconds.
Inside, black leather is trimmed with Alcantara, orange stitching gives the car an appropriately sporty look, and the leather steering wheel boasts an M button that is programmable to the driver’s preferred chassis, powertrain, and nanny-system settings. The only transmission is a six-speed manual.

2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo

2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo
First Drive Review

An oddity gets more power but remains true to its nature, whatever that is.

Instead, Hyundai wisely leaves the suspension starching to the aftermarket. So, for once, you can opt for the high-horsepower model without being forced onto the bone-crusher suspension. Hyundai did speed up the Turbo’s steering ratio, from 14.2:1 to 13.9, which sends the Turbo veering into corners with more vehemence. We are informed that Hyundai is launching a major campaign to improve the generally mediocre dynamics of its vehicles, up to and possibly including building a new test track. Until then, the Veloster Turbo makes the best of the current situation.
It has plenty of grip for semi-enthusiastic corner chasing, and the wide stance and the relatively modest curb weight mean the roll isn’t excessive anyway. Hyundai’s automatic isn’t crafty about rev matching like some other autoboxes, and if the Turbo’s steering is more kinetic, it is no more communicative. Step up a few grand into the Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ or even a Honda Civic Si or VW Golf GTI if you demand better controls.
Hyundai dresses the Turbo in street-punk clothes. The grille loses the base Veloster’s color band to become one big King Kong scream. Projector headlamps with LED eyeliner sit above pinpoint fog lamps. Rocker extensions and 18-inch razor-blade wheels flash the “Turbo” motif from the sides.
Things look best from the back, where two large, flush-fit exhaust chutes poke from the center of a faux undertray and below a body-color spoiler. However, the full reprobate look isn’t realized until you opt for the $1000 matte-gray finish, the company’s first ever glossless-paint option.
It’s expensive because the matte-finish cars must take an extra trip through the paint booth at Hyundai’s plant in Ulsan, South Korea, thus displacing another car on an assembly line that is already running flat-out, says Hyundai Motor America CEO John Krafcik. In effect, you are paying to paint two cars, and availability will be tight, Krafcik warns.
Inside, heated leather seats with gray or blue accents and an embroidered “Turbo” logo join pushbutton start and a 450-watt stereo as standard. So are other items off the base Veloster’s options sheet, making the Turbo decently equipped at its $22,725 starting price. The fully frosted Turbo Ultimate with navigation—you can’t get nav without the $2500 sunroof, for some reason—will be $25,225. The automatic transmission adds $1000.
With the Turbo, Hyundai recognizes and celebrates the Veloster as a sporty car, not a sports car. If that sounds like damnation with faint praise, it’s not

10 Best Military Vehicles 2012

The HMMWV is so last conflict. Take a look at the latest wheeled ordnance—from here and abroad—that some of the world’s militaries are using. Beige never looked so bad-ass.
The DPV is basically a Volkswagen-powered dune buggy with guns. What’s not to love? Oh, yeah, Navy SEALs kick ass in these, too. Built by Chenowth Racing Products, which has previously constructed Class 1 Baja buggies, the DPV will go 80 mph with two soldiers strapped into its buckets. There are newer buggy-type attack vehicles, but this is the original.
The Dingo’s manufacturer, Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, of Munich, Germany, calls this Unimog-based truck an “all-rounder,” but there’s barely a round thing anywhere on it. It can carry up to eight soldiers for missions ranging from patrol to ambulance. Germany is the Dingo’s largest adopter (possibly because of that nation’s love of sultry styling). And no, it will not eat your baby.
The hateful, fork-armed alien robot in Transformers, code-named “Bonecrusher,” was based on this minesweeping six-wheeler. In reality, the sifting fork of the Buffalo A2 is much smaller than that of the fictional Decepticon. With the Buffalo’s remote-control 30-foot arm, its crew stays safe behind tons of armor while clearing mines. It weighs 75,000 pounds and has a 12.5-liter Caterpillar diesel engine.
“MGS” stands for “mobile gun system,” aptly named because one of this eight-wheeler’s three-man crew has a finger on the trigger of a 105-mm autoloading cannon that is not that different from the original armament of the M1 Abrams tank. And he can fire one of those monster shells every six seconds. A 7.62-mm machine gun and a 50-caliber machine gun handle less fortified threats. The Stryker is capable of 60 mph and shooting on the move. Other variants include an infantry carrier capable of transporting a nine-man squad.
When the Army or Marine Corps need to move a 67-plus-ton M1 Abrams tank, they call upon the HET (Heavy Equipment Transporter) to get the job done. With a 700-hp, 18.1-liter diesel, this beast can reach 50 mph. One version, the M1070A1, has two steering axles to aid maneuverability. The HET is the vehicle Sylvester Stallone’s character from Over the Top wishes he drove.
The LVSR is what’s known in the business as a heavy tactical vehicle. “Heavy” because, in wrecker form, this 35.5-footer weighs 67,600 pounds; “tactical” because of its integrated armor and fully independent suspension. If you’re counting, that’s 10 independently suspended wheels. Jeep Wranglers weep in its presence.
Picking up where the HMMWV left off, this go-anywhere, multi-mission-capable, 13-plus-ton behemoth is the new face of U.S. forces. Since 2009, the Pentagon has awarded Oshkosh contracts valued at $4.5 billion for 8800 M-ATVs. Powered by a 370-hp, inline-six Caterpillar diesel, the M-ATV comes in one of six configurations ranging from a tactical ambulance to a special-forces vehicle equipped with infrared driving lights so that night-vision–equipped operators can advance undetected.
If you can get over all the obvious French-car jokes, the VAB is pretty cool. This troop transporter can be fitted with two impellers (the pods at the rear corners) that turn it into an amphibious assault vehicle, albeit a slow one, even if it’s capable of a quite-respectable 65 mph on dry land. Its ZF transmission is in the same family as the automatic in Hyundai’s Genesis coupe.
“RT-2UTTKh Topol-M” is actually the designation for a Russian intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), but the 16-wheeled mobile-launching platform carrying it is made by Belarus-based MZKT. Just one of these ICBM warheads has roughly 38 times the destructive force of the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki in World War II.
Capable of fording water three feet deep, the HMT 400 trades full-enclosure protection from small-arms fire for maximum visibility and all-terrain performance. It’s used by the U.K.’s army, and while we’re not military strategists, the idea seems “at sixes and sevens” to us.

Beastie Boys Co-Founder Adam Yauch Dead at 47

By Rolling Stone
May 4, 2012 12:55 PM ET
adam yauch
Adam Yauch a.k.a. 'MCA' performs with the Beastie Boys in Irvine, California in 2004.
Chris Polk/FilmMagic
Adam Yauch, one-third of the pioneering hip-hop group the Beastie Boys, has died at the age of 47, Rolling Stone has learned. Yauch, also known as MCA, had been in treatment for cancer since 2009. The rapper was diagnosed in 2009 after discovering a tumor in his salivary gland.
"It is with great sadness that we confirm that musician, rapper, activist and director Adam 'MCA' Yauch, founding member of Beastie Boys and also of the Milarepa Foundation that produced the Tibetan Freedom Concert benefits, and film production and distribution company Oscilloscope Laboratories, passed away in his native New York City this morning after a near-three-year battle with cancer," reads an official statement from the Beastie Boys. "He was 47 years old."
Yauch sat out the Beastie Boys' induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in April, and his treatments delayed the release of the group's most recent album, Hot Sauce Committee, Pt. 2. The Beastie Boys had not performed live since the summer of 2009, and Yauch's illness prevented the group from appearing in music videos for Hot Sauce Committee, Pt. 2.
Yauch co-founded the Beastie Boys with Mike "Mike D" Diamond and Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz in 1979. The band started off as a hardcore punk group, but soon began experimenting with hip-hop. The band broke huge with their first proper album, Licensed to Ill, in 1986; it was the biggest-selling rap album of the decade and the first to reach Number One on the Billboard chart. Further albums Paul's Boutique, Check Your Head and Ill Communication cemented the Beasties as a true superstar act.
In addition to his career with the Beastie Boys, Yauch was heavily involved in the movement to free Tibet. A founder of the Milarepa Fund, Yauch was instrumental in the first Tibetan Freedom Concert in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park 1996, which drew 100,000 people – the largest U.S. benefit concert since 1985's Live Aid. After 9/11, Yauch and the Beastie Boys organized New Yorkers Against Violence, a concert benefit for some of the victims least likely to receive help from elsewhere.
Yauch also directed many of the Beastie Boys' music videos under the pseudonym Nathaniel Hornblower. In 2002, he launched the film production company Oscilloscope Laboratories. As a filmmaker, he directed the 2006 Beastie Boys concert film Awesome; I Fuckin' Shot That! and the 2008 basketball  documentary Gunnin' for That #1 Spot, and his production company released the acclaimed Banksy movie Exit Through the Gift Shop.