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Audi rolls out sporty new wagon

As it turns out, Audi didn't show us all its goodies at the Detroit auto show last month. The company has since announced it will launch an RS 6 Avant in Germany this spring.

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As it turns out, Audi didn’t show us all its goodies at the Detroit auto show last month. The company has since announced it will launch an RS 6 Avant in Germany this spring.

A high-performance derivative of the A6 wagon, the RS 6 Avant is powered by a newly developed, bi-turbo V10 gasoline engine, coupled to a six-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission and rear-biased Quattro all-wheel drive.

The 5.0 L, V10, which features FSI direct injection and dry sump lubrication, will churn out 580 hp and 480 lb.-ft. of torque in Euro trim – enough to accelerate the big wagon from 0-to-100 km/h in a supercar-like 4.6 seconds, Audi says.

Its standard sport suspension incorporates a fluid-mechanical system called DRC Dynamic Ride Control, which automatically adjusts the dampers in milliseconds. Optional is a “sport suspension plus” package that offers three-stage damping adjustment.

The car comes standard with 19-inch aluminum wheels, and 20-inch wheels are available as an option. Beefed-up brakes to match the engine’s power are standard, but ceramic brake rotors are also an available option.

No word yet on if or when the RS 6 will be available in Canada.

JAGUAR LOOKING TO FUTURE

The deal for Ford to sell Jaguar and Land Rover to the Indian auto maker, Tata is not done yet, but reports from England say Jaguar management is already running new-model ideas past its prospective new master.

Three proposals have reportedly been pitched:

a sports car, potentially called the F-Type, to compete with the BMW Z4, Mercedes-Benz SLK and Porsche Boxster;

a two-door coupe version of the XF saloon;

a four-door version of the XK coupe.

The F-Type would undoubtedly be welcomed by the enthusiast community, and could go a long way toward reinforcing Jaguar’s sporting image.

The company did show a striking F-Type concept car at the Detroit auto show, back in 2000, but with no platform on which to build it, at that time, it was a still-born exercise. Now one could potentially be derived from either the aluminum-bodied XK or the steel-bodied XF.

An XF coupe would be the easiest and most economical of the three to build, as it could share most of its engineering and componentry with the sedan. But the market for such cars is far from huge.

A four-door XK would seem an even riskier prospect, although it could command a substantially higher price. Presumably it would compete with Aston Martin’s four-door Rapide and Porsche’s forthcoming Panamera.

Whether any of the three become reality is, of course, conjecture at this point. The Tata deal must still be completed, and then it will be question of how much more it is willing to invest in Jaguar.

Still, it is nice to know the company is looking to the future. And any of the three proposed vehicles could add some excitement to the brand.

Baby Roller on the way

Rolls-Royce plans to produce a junior sibling to the Phantom by 2010, reports out of Europe confirm.

Full-body prototypes have been seen testing, and work is said to have begun to ready the Goodwood, England plant where it will be built.

While it won’t be as big as the Phantom, the baby Roller will be far from a small car. It is expected to share much of its core structure with the next-generation BMW 7 Series.

Sources say it will offer a unique engine, or engines, albeit BMW based – potentially both a V8 and a V12.

Don’t expect its price tag to be small either: count on something upward of a quarter-million.

Traffic fatalities down

Statistics released by Transport Canada show that fewer people died on Canada’s roads in 2006 than in 2005. Fatalities dropped from 2005 by 0.6 per cent, and injuries dropped by 2.6 per cent.

Figures for 2006 are the latest full-year data to be available and compiled. There were 2,604 fatal collisions, leading to 2,889 deaths.

Breaking down those numbers, 1,546 drivers, 617 passengers, 374 pedestrians, 218 motorcyclists, and 73 bicyclists died on Canadian roads.

“Although there was a decrease in the number of lives lost on our roads in 2006, more needs to be done and we must remain vigilant,” said Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities.

Canada’s road safety record has steadily improved over the years. Since 1987, road traffic deaths have declined by 32.5 per cent.

Hybrid Buick for China

GM is adding another hybrid to its lineup. But the Buick LaCrosse Eco-Hybrid, which will go on sale in China later this year, will be exclusive to that market.

The Chinese-built LaCrosse (similar to the Allure sold in Canada) will employ the same BAS (Belt-Alternator-Starter) mild-hybrid technology used here in the Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid, and Saturn Aura and Vue Green Line models. It is said to reduce fuel consumption by 15 per cent compared to its conventional counterpart.

Shanghai GM, a joint venture of GM and Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation, says it will introduce three more green vehicles in China this year. One of those offerings will be a two-mode hybrid that provides 50 per cent better fuel economy than a traditional gasoline-burning engine.

In addition, the company promised to offer vehicles with GM’s E-flex electric drive system and a fuel-cell version of that system in what is now the world’s second-largest new-vehicle market, though not until after 2010.

Until now, GM has sold hybrid vehicles only in North America

Rumblings

Renault-Nissan has done a deal to supply Chrysler with rebadged versions of the Nissan Versa, built in Mexico, to be sold outside North America. The agreement will help Chrysler increase its small-car presence in other countries, and opens the door for the two automakers to “explore future product opportunities.”

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