Audi A3 wins 2014 World Car of the Year

2013 Audi A3 Sportback

The 8V Audi A3 has been named the 2014 World Car of the Year, beating a field of 24 finalists which had been narrowed down to three and included the BMW 4 Series and the Mazda3.

On awarding the A3 the grand prize the judges noted: “It might borrow styling hints from its bigger brothers, but the A3 still offers classic, chiseled contours and even better interior trim levels. With a superb choice of engines and 4 body styles, the A3 range packs a hefty premium punch in the small luxury segment.

“Audi should be complimented for making this A3 ride like no other A3. All the old shimmer over rough surfaces has gone, replaced by a silky smooth ride that approaches limousine quality.”

The WCOTY awards are in just their tenth year and Volkswagen Group cars have won the main award six times, including: Audi A6 (2005), Golf VI (2009), Polo V (2010), up! (2012), and Golf VII (2013).

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Should Nick Murray get his money back?

Nick Murray's 911 Carrera S

Meet Nick Murray. He’s the not so proud owner of a 991 Porsche 911 Carrera S. He took delivery of his car around the middle of last year and, according to him, it has spent around two months back at the dealer getting a variety of seemingly random and unconnected problems resolved.

In this video Murray details his ongoing discussions with Porsche Cars North America and asks them publicly: “Stop jerking me around and give me my money back, so I can buy another car and then you can get rid of me.”

Based on his own evidence it would seem Nick has a pretty good case for a replacement or full refund under applicable US Lemon laws. Watch the video below and see what you think.

[Thanks to Wes for the tip]

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The best car of all?

Citroen 2CV

The Citroën 2CV is one of the most intriguing cars of all time. But is it also one of the best? That’s the case Chris Harris puts forward in his video this week.

A little about the car before you watch the clip. The 2CV was built from 1948–1990 and ended with an estimated production run of 5,114,996 vehicles. At launch it was offered with a 375cc air-cooled flat twin cylinder engine producing a whopping 9hp at 3500rpm. Over the years power ballooned to 29hp at 5750rpm thanks to the eventual arrival at a 602cc flat twin.

Power is sent to the front wheels through a 4-speed manual gearbox with a shift pattern designed for convenience rather than convention.

The 2CV stands out like a beacon today due its basic nature. You get the feeling that it probably still stood out for similar reasons 66 years ago when it was first released. Undeniably, though, the 2CV makes people smile and for that, and a host of other reasons, it has made the motoring world better for its existence.

If you know anyone that owns a 2CV and you think they would let AUSmotive do a Drive Thru review please let us know.

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BMW facing its own recall dramas

BMW M135i

Maybe recalls are the new black. Volkswagen, Porsche, Toyota; everyone it seems is getting in on the act! And now it’s BMW’s turn to put a screw loose. Quite literally, as it happens, in the case of BMW’s well utilised 3.0 litre straight six engine.

According to Scott Croaker from BMW Australia a potential loss of oil pressure can occur if a bolt attached to the engine’s VANOS valve system fails. No oil pressure means your silky smooth M135i engine, for example, goes bang!

While no faults or failures have been reported in Australia at this stage BMW is readying itself for a voluntary recall campaign.

“There was a couple of failures in China,” explained Croaker. “We looked at it closer and realised that the problem was not market specific, it was related to a component.

“As soon as we get the information we will raise the necessary process and issue the recall.”

The total amount of affected vehicles is still to be determined, but is expected to number around 2700 and cover two years of production. The engine is used in models such as the 1 Series, 3 Series, 5 Series, X3, X5 and Z4.

Most people will accept a potential fault with their vehicle, no matter how remote, so long as the manufacturer is open and transparent with them. Communicating and detailing the repair procedure in a timely manner will also win favour. And from limited detail that seems to be exactly the way BMW is handling this issue.

[Source: | Thanks to Wayne for the tip]

Austria’s next top model

Paul Bischof, Red Bull Racing

Austrian twentysomething Paul Bischof is a bit like you and me. He’s a car geek. And he likes Formula 1. But Paul is a bit different, too, and takes his interest in cars to a totally new level. Way beyond the scope most of us can even think of.

He makes 1:10 scale models of racing cars from paper. For example, he made a Red Bull RB7 replica, which consists of around 6500 parts. That’s right, from paper!

He had no idea at the time, but his RB7 model turned out be the best job interview he ever did. This is his story, and you watch the video after the break.

[Thanks to Tiaan for the tip]

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Red Bull loses Ricciardo appeal

2014 Australian Grand Prix

Red Bull Racing’s presentation to the International Court of Appeal has failed and Daniel Ricciardo’s disqualification from the Australian Grand Prix for his car exceeding the maximum fuel flow rate will stand.

The FIA has released a brief statement, which can be read below, and says full details will be published later this week.

At this stage there appears to be no further sanction for Ricciardo or Red Bull.

This result was expected and while Red Bull’s defence had merit, it was always undermined by the fact that the team was warned by FIA stewards during the race that Daniel’s car was in breach of the regulations. When you’re given an opportunity to right a perceived wrong by the referee and you ignore it you can’t really expect them to pretend it didn’t happen.

Red Bull’s statement can be read below, after the the FIA press release.

[Pic: Red Bull/Getty Images]

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BMW Australia settles on M3/M4 pricing

2014 BMW M3 Sedan


BMW Australia has internally confirmed its pricing for the new M3 and M4, which follows from the pricing and specification info we brought you a couple of weeks ago. An official press release is expected later this month.

M3 Sedan6-cylinder 2979cc317/5504.1s8.3M double clutch$156,900
M4 Coupé6-cylinder 2979cc317/5504.1s8.3M double clutch$166,900

*The prices shown above include GST and LCT. They are manufacturer’s recommended list prices (MRLP) only and exclude dealer charges, stamp duty, statutory charges and on-road charges.

A summary of selected standard and optional equipment, with pricing, can be seen after the break. It’s nice to see a 6-speed manual is available as a no cost option.

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American-based F1 team back in the Haas

Gene Haas

NASCAR team owner Gene Haas will be expanding his motor racing empire into Formula 1 following confirmation the FIA has granted his team, Haas Formula LLC, an entry licence.

A World Motor Sport Council release confirmed the entry last Friday: “The FIA has launched a selection procedure for an additional F1 team(s), and applications of a high standard have been received. In close consultation with the commercial rights holder, the FIA has accepted the candidature of Haas Formula LLC and are in the process of conducting further investigations for Forza Rossa.”

Haas spoke to the media overnight and said he was unsure if his team would take the grid next year or in 2016.

“I would like to do 2015, simply because the first year is going to be a difficult year no matter what happens,” he said. “It’s a very big challenge and part of that learning curve is just simply getting to the track and sorting out the logistics of going from race to race, and the sooner we learn that, the sooner we’ll be done with that.”

Haas Formula will rely on technical partners and Haas at one stage made reference to “customer car”. The team is expected to choose Mercedes or Ferrari for its power unit and may bring Dallara back to F1 to build its chassis. Dallara previously supplied chassis to the HRT F1 team, who last competed in 2012.

Team headquarters will be based in Kannapolis, North Carolina, with a European facility to be used for assembly and disassembly.

“Ideally what we would like is to have an experienced F1 driver, probably someone who is familiar with the current engine package rules,” Haas explained when asked who he will target to race for the team. “Then going forward we would certainly like to have a young American driver, that would be the ideal situation. At the moment we haven’t really narrowed it down. We’ve had quite a few people talk to us.”

Former Red Bull and Jaguar technical director Guenther Steiner will take on the role of Haas Formula Team Principal.

[Source: Fox Sports | Pic: Getty Images]

Volkswagen Australia wants satisfaction

Volkswagen Golf VI 118TSI

Volkswagen Australia boss John White has admitted the brand has an issue with customer satisfaction and has vowed to improve.

Speaking to Go Auto, White explained his theories behind the company’s image problem: “Number one was the recall situation, and we’re working our way out of that. Those problems we had with those cars are going away.

“From a network development perspective I think really part of the root cause we have had is our sales went up at a very high rate over the five years to last year and the infrastructure didn’t keep up.”

In our opinion Volkswagen Australia was unfairly targetted in a campaign by Fairfax Media last year which used the death of Melissa Ryan to gain exposure for ongoing customer dissatisfaction with the brand. There was never any reasonable link between the two stories.

The Victorian Coroner found there was no evidence to suggest any mechanical or technical issue from Ryan’s car, a Mk5 Golf GTI with a 6-speed manual gearbox, contributed to her death after she was hit from behind by a B-double semi trailer.

However, while Volkswagen was rightfully cleared in that instance, its response to and handling of the poor publicity collated by Fairfax was amateur at best and woefully embarassing at worst. Most of the complaints concerned the 7-speed DSG (DQ200) gearbox and eventually VW took its head out of the sand and issued a voluntary recall, which affected almost 26,000 vehicles.

But it was too little too late and the damage to its brand was well and truly done. It will take a long time and a committed effort from all Volkswagen Australia staff to win back the trust of the wider motoring public.

“It’s not one silver bullet but there are a lot of things you need to do to improve,” White added. “I fundamentally believe that the only way that we’re going to grow to the next level is to move up in terms of customer satisfaction, because from a loyalty perspective we’re fortunate because we still have high customer loyalty, but to retain them consistently over time you need to move up.”

White has established a customer satisfaction committee with his dealerships and imported staff from China to help implement the cultural change required.

A reduction in product offerings may also ease the burden on dealerships. A decision has been made to stop selling the Up and the Eos and Scirocco are likely to be next in the firing line.

[Source: Go Auto]

Why is the Mercedes AMG F1 W05 so good?

Mercedes AMG F1 W05 turbo design

The Mercedes AMG F1 W05 has been untouchable so far this season. That’s no surprise, though, because the team dominated pre-season testing and has backed that up by winning the first three races of the year. So what makes the 2014 Silver Arrow so good?

In short, the answer centres around the design of its turbo. Despite what SkySports F1 will tell you this was first discussed by Scarbs back in March. But it’s still worth taking a look at this piece from Sky as described by Martin Brundle.

Looking at the image above the car on the left has a conventional turbo design, while the one on the right, illustrating the W05, shows a split turbo arrangement. The air compressor is placed at the front of the engine where it has better access to cooler air, while the turbine remains at the rear to make use of the exhaust gasses.

The net result of that change is that the turbo is more efficient, it allows for better weight distribution and improved aero packaging at the rear of the car.

So why aren’t all Mercedes-powered cars fighting for race wins? The story we’ve heard is that the customer teams did not get the full details of the new PU 106 A Hybrid V6 power unit until they had signed contracts. Whereas Mercedes AMG was able to develop the W05 from the start with full knowledge of the split turbo design, allowing it to better refine its aero and other packaging.

It’s a simple concept that must be incredibly difficult to implement, otherwise you wonder why nobody else has done it. Moreover, you’d have to think this concept has wider applications beyond motorsport too, into the cars we drive on the streets.

[Thanks to Tiaan for the tip]

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Stuck in a job going nowhere?

Mark Webber FIA WEC promo

Mark Webber and his Porsche 919 buddies make their competition debut in the 6 Hours of Silverstone this weekend. Australian readers can watch the race live and exclusive on Foxtel’s Speed TV channel.

To remind you of that fact Speed TV has come up with a very cool and quite amusing promo which you can see after the break.

Race coverage begins at 9pm on Sunday and runs through until 4am on Monday (AEST). If you don’t have Foxtel or can’t park yourself in front of a telly you can tune into Radio Le Mans for audio coverage.

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Stefano Domenicali falls on his sword

Stefano Domenicali

Ferrari is staring down the barrel of another failed season, where failure is anything other than championship success. The surly faces made by President Luca di Montezemolo in Bahrain were obviously seen by Stefano Domenicali and he has officially resigned from his role as Ferrari Team Principal.

Respected F1 journo Adam Cooper covered the news of Domenicali’s departure as it broke via twitter. He’s had this to say on his blog:

Stefano Domenicali has resigned as team principal of Ferrari in the wake of the disappointing start to the team’s 2014 season.

He will be replaced by high flying Ferrari road car executive Marco Mattiacci, who will be in China next weekend.

Mattiacci worked at Jaguar/Ford before joining Ferrari in 1999. He quickly rose up the ranks to become President and CEO of Ferrari Asia Pacific in June 2006, before taking the same role at Ferrari North America in May 2010. He is clearly highly regarded within the Ferrari camp.

[Source: Adam Cooper]

UPDATE: A statement from Domenicali can be read below.

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Finally, some light for Michael Schumacher

2012 European Grand Prix

Michael Schumacher has been showing small signs of inprovement according to his manager Sabine Kehm. Although, the Formula 1 great still has a long way to go in his recovery following head injuries suffered after a ski accident in late December.

“There are short moments of consciousness and he is showing small signs of progress,” Kehm revealed in an interview with German broadcaster ARD. “There are moments when he is awake and moments when he is conscious.

“Of course I am not a doctor, but medically, there is a distinction between being awake and being conscious, the latter meaning there is an ability to interact with his surroundings.

“I don’t want to disclose details out of respect for the family, but we have no doubt at all in the abilities of the doctors treating Michael, they are experts in their field.”

And in a reminder to media and news outlets, including AUSmotive, Kehm shared some thoughts from Michael’s family.

“What upsets the family most is media quoting doctors who are not treating Michael and untruths are constructed from these,” said Kehm. “It has been a problem when outsiders comment and it means we have to set the record straight, even when we don’t want to.”

[Source: Fox Sports]

Sebastien Ogier wins 2014 Rally Portugal

2014 WRC Rally Portugal

Okay, so this update is bringing you news that’s a week old, but you get that from time to time with a blog that’s an unpaid labour of love rather than a full time gig.

You’ve seen already, too, that Sebastien Ogier won Rally Portugal. It’s Volkswagen’s fourth win from four rallies in 2014. Coupled with a string of four victories to close out last season they have equalled the best ever run of eight consecutive WRC victories alongside Citroën. That’s a fair effort for Volkswagen and the Polo R WRC, in just their second year of competition.

Ogier had to fight early in the rally to overcome Dani Sordo and Mikko Hirvonen, both men holding the rally lead before Ogier restored the rightful order. For Sordo he became the first Hyundai driver to lead a WRC event. He was unable to maintain his grip for long but was looking secure for a fourth placed finish until a broken driveshaft ended his event, although he impressed team bosses enough to earn himself an extra drive for the next rally.

Mikko Hirvonen proved there’s still life in him and the Ford Fiesta RS WRC by holding for second, ahead of Mads Ostberg who reminded us that Citroën is still capable of mixing it at the front as well.

Andreas Mikkelsen finished fourth for Volkswagen, managing to get himself ahead of privateer Henning Solberg late in the rally.

For the first time Hyundai ran three cars in a rally and Thierry Neuville and Juho Hanninen came home in seventh and eighth places respectively. They team is showing good pace but is still gaining valuable experience and you sense their challenge will begin in earnest in 2015.

You can’t have a WRC without some spectacular accidents and the honour, or should that be the shame, of the best crash was a fight between young M-Sport driver Elfyn Evans and Volkswagen’s Jarri-Matti Latvala. Both crews were unhurt and Latvala even managed to earn himself a couple of points in the power stage on the final day.

Oh, yes, of course, Robert Kubica crashed out again. In 11 days of racing this year he has crashed out in 10.

Volkswagen and Ogier are again establishing themselves at the top of their respective championship tables and both will be hoping they can set a new mark of nine rally wins on end when they tackle Rally Argentina next month.

Until then check out our 2014 Rally Portugal photo gallery and official team videos after the break.

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Porsche to extend warranty of affected GT3s

991 Porsche 911 GT3

Porsche continues to show best practice when it comes to car recalls as new details concerning the campaign to repair 991 911 GT3s emerge.

An email, which you can read below, has been sent to owners in North America explaining the course of action being undertaken by Porsche. In order to remove the risk of engine fire Porsche will replace the engines of all 785 affected GT3s. Production of the new engines will begin on 22 April.

In addition to the engine replacement Porsche will extend the factory warranty on those models for an extra 12 months. Compensation will also be provided to owners, although details of what that may entail are unknown at this stage.

Porsche attracted unwanted attention in mid-February when photos of a flaming 991 GT3 were posted to the internet. In the wake of that incident further reports of similar fires gave Porsche cause to launch an official investigation.

The cause of the fires was traced to a loose bolt in one of the conrods which could cause an oil leak giving the potential for oil to drip onto hot engine parts.

On 18 March Porsche advised all owners to stop driving their GT3s until the engine was replaced.

[Source: Autoblog | Thanks to Richard for the tip]

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