2008 Audi A4
*This is the new Audi A4, completely redesigned and sitting on the longest wheelbase of its class. Which means shorter overhangs, greater passenger and luggage space, and a front axle location that is six inches further forward than the previous model's. So weight distribution and handling balance is also improved. Quattro models have a sporty rear-biased 40/60 power split, but all future A4 drivers can enjoy the new Audi look, first seen with the A5. Options include an updated version of Audi's multi-tronic continuously variable transmission and Drive Select technology that allows the driver to customize throttle response, suspension damping, power steering assistance and transmission shift points. And how does a 505-watt Bang & Olufsen audio system sound?
2008 Porsche GT2
Hark The Stuttgart Angels Sing
*Pardon a tingle of excitement as if Christmas has come early, but the new Porsche 911 GT2-the fastest-ever 911-has just been launched. Just look at those large front air intakes and that massive rear wing.
Available solely in rear-wheel drive and with a manual six-speed gearbox, the 997 GT2 accelerates from zero to 62 mph in just 3.7 seconds and reaches a top speed of 204 mph. A quick hosanna, if you please. The 3.6-liter engine is based on the 911 Turbo's, with two turbochargers featuring variable turbine geometry (VTG). It achieves maximum output of 530 hp at 6500 rpm, with 501 lb-ft peak torque maintained consistently between 2200 and 4500 rpm. Its unladen weight of 3175 pounds gives the GT2 a power-to-weight ratio of just six pounds per horsepower. The 50-hp increase in power over the 'regular' 911 Turbo is accomplished by fitting the twin turbos with a larger compressor wheel and a flow-optimized turbine housing, raising pressure to an even higher level.
This is the first Porsche homologated for the road to feature a rear muffler and tailpipes made of titanium as standard equipment. This reduces weight by approximately 50 per cent compared to a stainless steel equivalent. It also has Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes (PCCB) as standard, featuring discs of a composite carbon fiber/ceramic compound that ensures maximum stopping power with a high level of consistency. And having PCCB reduces unsprung weight by around 44 pounds.
The previous model eschewed traction control, but it's probably wise to have the Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) as standard. The new GT2 rides on 19-inch light-alloy wheels, with 235/35 tires at the front and 325/30 items at the rear. No word on price yet, but every kid's college fund is in mortal danger.
Hamann Range Rover Sport
*Hamann calls its widebody kit for the Range Rover Sport the 'Conqueror.' The treatment includes a sportier front end with two integrated high beams and a pair of foglamps, new side sills and wheel arch extensions, roof spoiler, and a rear apron to tie it all together. Five wheel designs are available, going as big as 23 inches (Edition Race are pictured). Engine tuning for the naturally aspirated V8 can push power up to 323 hp, or as much as 475 hp and 450 lb-ft in the supercharged vesion. Hamann also offers a big-brake kit for the front axle and interior mods that include an eight-piece carbon fiber trim package, aluminum pedals and custom upholstery.
ART CLS, GL
*Nuremberg-based ART offers new tuning packages for the Mercedes-Benz CLS 350 and GL. For the CLS, there's a supercharger system and sport exhaust, engineered to push peak power to 374 hp. A body widening kit is also available, along with signature six-spoke ARTstar2 wheels, measuring 20 inches across. Interior enhancements options include custom carbon and leather trim, as well as trick 'steplights' illuminating the door sills.
For the SUV, ART offers aerodynamic components which include dynamic new front and rear fascias (which reportedly won't affect the vehicle's towing abilities), monoART1 wheels (sized upwards of 22 inches), sport exhaust systems and interior accoutrements which also include those slick door sill steplights.
Art Tuning www.art-tuning.de North America: H EuroElites 510.770.8550
*Novitec has called its upgrade program for the Maserati Quattroporte the Tridente, for obvious reasons. It boosts engine output by 13hp through modifications to the ECU and by fitting a new stainless steel exhaust system. So now the Ferrari-sourced V8 belts out 413 hp at 7100 rpm and 345 lb-ft of torque at 4650 rpm. An adjustable Novitec/KW coilover suspension is also available along with NM1 forged 20-inch wheels wearing 245/35 (front) and 285/30 (rear) Pirelli P Zero Rosso tires.
Novitec Rosso www.novitecrosso.com North America: CEC 800.766.0064 www.cecwheels.com
2008 Audi RS6 Avant
The Most Powerful Yet
*The RS6 is back-with a vengeance. It will be the most powerful production Audi in history, about 570-hp worth. Peak torque weighs in at 479 lb-ft, available as early as 1500 rpm all the way up to a 6250-rpm redline. These figures come courtesy of a bi-turbo V10 based on the power unit found in the current S6. Reportedly, the car can sprint to 100 kph, or 62 mph, in 4.6 seconds. Transferring power to the imposing 19-inch (or optional 20-inch) wheels is the latest generation of Quattro all-wheel drive with a standard 40/60 front-to-rear power split.
A new all-hydraulic version of Dynamic Ride Control (DRC) contributes to the car's on-road composure, diagonally connecting shock absorbers through a central valve. It will feature a three-stage driver selectable control to allow a choice between comfort, dynamic and sport settings. A reconfigured version of the Electronic Stability Program is also present, programmed to intervene 'as late as possible' in order to maximize the spirited driving experience. ESP can also be turned off entirely if you think you have the brass.
Other features include optional ceramic brakes and RS-specific interior appointments like Alcantara-accented sport seats, the flat-bottom sport steering wheel and wheel-mounted shift paddles for manual gear changes. And to prove the latest RS car isn't just about high performance, Audi claims 'real world' fuel economy up to 20.3 mpg, plus, of course, the Avant platform's 58.6 cubic-foot load capacity. Unfortunately for us, the new RS6 is not destined for the US market-at least initially.
Hamann 3 Series Convertible
Extra Hop For The Open Top
*Proving no Bimmer is safe for long, Hamann has released its tuning programs for the latest 3 Series convertibles. All models can benefit from sport air filters and chip tuning, increasing power by 13 hp on the 325i and 17 hp on the 330i. The 335i can now exhale through a four-pipe sport muffler and see gains as high as 37 hp. Aerodynamic kits are available, including a front bumper spoiler, side skirts and a rear skirt, and fitted carbon-Kevlar mirror caps. Suspension and brake mods are also on offer, along with three custom wheel patterns sized all the way up to 20 inches.
Hamann Motorsport www.hamann-motorsport.de