Audi RS Q3 landing down under for $81,900

Audi RS Q3

Audi Australia has announced initial pricing details for the RS Q3, which is due here in February 2014. And, in a roundabout way, we can thank Mercedes-Benz for Audi’s sharp pricing which will start at $81,900.

The RS Q3 is powered by a 228kW/420Nm version of the inline five cylinder turbo used in the 250kW/450Nm TT RS. The baby RS SUV can reach 100km/h in 5.5 seconds, thanks also to its quattro system and 7-speed S tronic transmission.

Audi Australia proudly boasts this is the cheapest RS model you can buy and say it’s already holding 70 orders for the car.

Preliminary specifications show the RS Q3 won’t be cynically stripped of goodies forcing buyers to tick lots of options, too. Satellite navigation, including a 20GB hard drive, and RS-specific nappa leather seats are a couple of the items included as standard equipment.

What we’re excited about though, is what this may mean for the new RS3, which we’re expecting to be sold in Australia for the first time. You can pencil in the five-pot engine, but you’d reckon it’s key stat will be north of 250kW.

As for the purchase price of the RS3, well, we’re a lot more comfortable now that there will one day be two RS models being sold for less than a hundred grand than we were yesterday.

Formula 1

Here’s your first look at the 2014 F1 calendar

2013 Australian Grand Prix

The Australian Grand Prix on March 16 next year is expected to be the start date for the 2014 Formula 1 season according to a draft calendar revealed yesterday.

It’s shaping as being the biggest F1 season ever with 21 races including the addition of grands prix in Austria, Mexico and Russia. Notably, there’s no slot for the New Jersey Grand Prix.

We won’t be at all surprised if this calendar changes, either. There’s previously been talk of capping the season at 20 races and also concerns over the viability of the Russian event.

Whatever happens with the 2014 calendar, there’s already pressure on the 2015 schedule with the promised return of the Indian Grand Prix.

2014 F1 calendar (draft)

RoundDateGrand Prix
1March 16AUSTRALIA (Melbourne)
2March 23MALAYSIA (Sepang)
3April 6CHINA (Shanghai)
4April 13KOREA* (Korea International Circuit)
5April 27BAHRAIN (Sakhir)
6May 11SPAIN (Barcelona)
7May 25MONACO (Monaco)
8June 8CANADA (Montreal)
9June 22AUSTRIA (Red Bull Ring)
10July 6BRITAIN (Silverstone)
11July 20GERMANY (Hockenheim)
12July 27HUNGARY (Budapest)
13August 24BELGIUM (Spa)
14September 7ITALY (Monza)
15September 21SINGAPORE (Marina Bay)
16October 5JAPAN (Suzuka)
17October 19RUSSIA* (Sochi)
18October 26ABU DHABI (Yas Marina)
19November 9MEXICO* (Mexico City)
20November 16USA (Austin)
21November 30BRAZIL (Interlagos)
As at September 7, 2013.*subject to confirmation of track/contract

[Source: Autosport | Pic: Red Bull/Getty Images]

Formula 1 Porsche Red Bull Racing WEC

Reaction to Mark Webber’s Porsche move

Fernando Alonso, Mark Webber, Jenson Button

The reaction to Mark Webber’s decision to quit Formula 1 and switch to endurance racing with Porsche has captured the attention of the media across the world.

To be honest we’ve been a little surprised by how much coverage there has been, especially in the F1 paddock. Perhaps that says a lot about the high regard in which Mark is held, where his no nonsense and honest approach is greatly appreciated.

So here’s a grab of some of the comments that have been made since Mark’s move to Porsche was announced, starting with the FIA’s Thursday press conference ahead of this weekend’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

It’s interesting to note that Mark said his mind has been made up for some time, which adds more weight to the early rumours which first emerged in June last year and again in April this year.

Q: A momentous announcement from you today. Tell us the thinking behind the announcement of your retirement from Formula One. And how significant is the year, 2013 to 2014?

Mark WEBBER: Well, the timing is perfect for me. Very, very excited about my new chapter and the new challenge ahead. One of the most famous and most well-respected brands in automotive and motor racing in Porsche, so that’s something which personally I’m very satisfied about taking on. The decision has been there for quite a long time for me actually. So, I’ve known for quite a while, I’ve had a plan and I’ve stuck to it. But still, in the meantime, respecting the profession that I have now at this level and focusing on achieving very, very strong results in my last season in Formula One.

Formula 1 Motorsports Porsche Red Bull Racing WEC

OFFICIAL: Webber to race for Porsche in 2014

Mark Webber, 2014 factory Porsche driver

Mark Webber: factory Porsche driver. It has a nice ring to it, don’t you think.

Sure, it’s not the most surprising news—over a year since it was first mentioned—but it’s now official that Mark Webber has been signed to drive for Porsche in the World Endurance Championship, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans, from 2014 on a multi-year deal.

Whether multi-year translates to the five-year deal mentioned in April, or a more circumspect two–three year deal is not certain at this stage.

Mark has been a Porsche enthusiast for many years and his expertise and setup skills developed in Formula 1 should be a great boost to Porsche as it prepares for its 2014 LMP1 program.

“It’s an honour for me to join Porsche at its return to the top category in Le Mans and in the sports car World Endurance Championship and be part of the team,” Mark said. “Porsche has written racing history as a manufacturer and stands for outstanding technology and performance at the highest level.

“I’m very much looking forward to this new challenge after my time in Formula 1. Porsche will undoubtedly set itself very high goals. I can hardly wait to pilot one of the fastest sports cars in the world.”

Porsche will run a minimum of two cars for the WEC series, with three likely for Le Mans. Other drivers confirmed for Porsche are Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas, and Neel Jani.

Now that Mark’s F1 future is known the race will be on to see who replaces him at Red Bull Racing. Will it be Kimi Raikkonen or one of the Toro Rosso drivers, Daniel Ricciardo or Jean-Eric Vergne?


Third-generation Mazda3 revealed

2014 Mazda3

The Mazda3 has just celebrated its tenth birthday and what better way to build on its impressive legacy than by releasing an all-new model. And that’s just what Mazda did overnight, hosting a special preview event in Melbourne, ahead of launches to follow in New York, London, St Petersburg and Istanbul.

As you can see the third-generation Mazda3 draws heavily on the stylish Kodo design language on which the larger Mazda6 is based. The low front-end flows smoothly to a rear-end that we think Subaru probably wished adorned their Impreza. That’s to say the result is, based on the photos provided, cohesive and well resolved. It’s a nice looking car.

The all-new Mazda3 is 60mm longer, 40mm wider and 15mm lower than the old model. It boasts a new and improved interior which introduces a new Human Machine Interface; that means a big screen with all the expected connectivity and infotainment gadgets for the most part. Aside from the faux carbon fibre bits, which rarely look any good, the new interior is a nice progression for Mazda.

An Active Driving Display (read head-up display) will show speed as well as basic sat nav instructions. Althoguh it will only be available on selected models.

In Australia we’ll be offered two engine choices, both are petrol units carrying the Skyactiv-G branding; starting with a 114kW/200Nm 2.0 litre, joined by a 138kW/250Nm 2.5 litre.

Mazda has sold 3.5 million Mazda3s around the world since its initial launch, with almost one in ten going to Australian buyers. We expect its sales success will continue when the car hits local showrooms early next year.

Motorsports Volvo

Volvo confirms entry to V8 Supercars in 2014

Volvo Polestar Racing

Volvo surprised nobody when they officially announced their entry into V8 Supercars today. Volvo Polestar Racing will join Australia’s premier motorsport category in 2014.

The newly created team is being described as a factory-backed outfit, but will draw on the experience of Garry Rogers Motorsport to provide the foundations. Volvo will race two S60 badged creations, conforming to the Car of the Future regulations.

In a prepared statement Christian Dahl, Polestar owner, said: “We are very proud and excited to take on the V8 Supercars together with Volvo Car Australia and Garry Rogers Motorsport, a championship that has grown to become one of the most prestigious and competitive racing championships in the world.”

It’s a homecoming of sorts for Volvo, who won the Bathurst 1000 in 1998 during the 2.0 litre Super Tourer era with Jim Richards and Rikard Rydell. Longtime, or perhaps that should be, ageing Aussie motorsport fans will also recall Robbie Francevic’s 240T, aka ‘The Flying Brick’, which took him to the 1986 Australian Touring Car Championship.

We’ve been critical of the Con of the Future regulations aimed at breaking the Ford–Holden duopoly. With Nissan and Mercedes-Benz already taking the bait, we may need to start eating our words.


BMW 4 Series Coupe revealed

F32 BMW 4 Series Coupe

BMW has now released a full suite of information and images for its all-new F32 4 Series Coupe. Based on the F30 3 Series saloon the Coupe has a slightly restyled front to help emphasise the width of the car.

In profile and three-quarter view the 4 Series has a long bonnet and almost liftback-like appearance to the rear. This didn’t seem as apparent to us on the Concept 4 Series Coupe revealed late last year. Overall we think the production 4 Series looks pretty good, although the front edge of the bonnet does have a droopiness to it that we’d like to see in person before forming a finite opinion.

At launch you can have the 4er in three specifications. Starting with the four-cylinder turbo 420d, you’ll have 135kW/350Nm on tap. If you’d prefer petrol power you can have either the 180kW/350Nm four-cylinder turbo 428i or the range-topping 435i powered by BMW’s much loved turbocharged 3.0 litre straight six producing 225kW/400Nm.

There’s another 70 photos waiting for you after the break, including a handful of pics showing the M Sport kit. That will give us a small taste of what to expect for the highly anticipated M4. In addition to the pics we’ve also given you access to the full 36 page press kit.

Motorsports Porsche

An early look at the 2014 Porsche LMP1

2014 Porsche LMP1 testing at Weissach

On the day Sebastian Vettel extended his deal with the Red Bull F1 team it is quite fitting that the first official photos of Mark Webber’s new car have been published by Porsche today.

Porsche works driver Timo Bernhard was at the wheel for the first test session in the 2014 Porsche LMP1, which took place at the company’s Weissach test facility. Although the timing of the run, so close to the 24 Hours of Le Mans, is coincidental Porsche says.

“We are well on schedule,” says Fritz Enzinger, who heads up the LMP1 program for Porsche. “Our newly formed team has worked with utmost concentration on getting this highly complex vehicle on the track as soon as possible. This allows us a few additional weeks for more testing and further development. From 2014, the regulations are primarily based on efficiency. This makes the competition amongst engineers more interesting and presents us with completely new challenges.”

Highlighting its commitment to the chase for outright success at Le Mans and in the World Endurance Championship, Porsche says it has assembled a team of 200 employees to help achieve its goals.

“I’m very proud that I was the one to take our baby through its first paces today,” said Bernhard. “Already now the car feels great. I look forward to testing the vehicle in the coming weeks and months with my friend and colleague Romain Dumas.”

Formula 1 Red Bull Racing

Vettel re-signs with Red Bull until 2015

Sebastian Vettel

A short and sweet article on the official Red Bull Racing website has confirmed that Sebastian Vettel has extended his contract with the team until the end of 2015.

Vettel is the youngest triple world champion in Formula 1 having won titles in 2010, 2011 and 2012. After victory in Canada on the weekend the 25-year-old currently enjoys a 36 point lead in the 2013 championship standings.

[Source: Red Bull | Pic: Red Bull/Getty Images]

Fiat WRC

Is Fiat the next manufacturer to join the WRC?

Abarth 500 esseesse

The resurgence in manufacturer support for the WRC could be set to take another step with word coming Fiat is keen to join the sport. The Italian auto giant would likely use its performance Abarth brand with a view to start racing in 2013 or 2014.

Already competing in lower level rally competitions such as the IRC, it’s expected Abarth would upgrade its current Punto S2000 to WRC spec. Although, it would be nice to see a Fiat 500-based machine in action.

It will be great news for WRC if this rumour comes to fruition and follows the recent additions of MINI and Volkswagen to the series.

[Source: Autoblog]


I think it’s gonna be a long, long time

MINI Rocketman Concept

This funky little MINI Rocketman concept was one of the stars of this year’s Geneva Motor Show. We’ve previously heard a production model is likely and now we can start to put a date to MINI’s latest plans. According to Auto Express the Rocketman will launch in 2014.

Sized at around 400mm longer and 500mm wider than the original classic Mini, the Rocketman represents a genuine return to mini motoring. The final version will be MINI’s entry-level model and is expected to carry over the 3+1 seating configuration from the concept as well.

The Rocketman will draw from BMW’s i brand, too. That’s likely to mean the use of a carbon fibre shell and aluminium chassis, in order to keep weight down.

Ian Robertson, BMW sales and marketing director, explains “MINI will never produce a car under the ‘i’ brand—this is exclusively for BMWs—but the technology we are developing for the ‘i’ family of cars will certainly be made available for the rest of the BMW Group.”

[Source: Auto Express]


Bugatti planning A8 derived saloon

Bugatti Galibier Concept

Reports from Germany suggest Bugatti will end its sportscar production in favour of a return to luxury saloons. It is understood the next Bugatti creation will be based on the Audi A8 and should come to life in 2014.

At last year’s Geneva Motor Show Bugatti presented the Galibier Concept (pictured above). The Galibier is the most recent four-door saloon from the famous marque and no doubt gives us an idea as to what Bugatti has in mind.

While the all-conquering Veyron has a projected production run of just 300, it is expected the company’s next foray will result in much higher numbers.

[Source: Spiegel Online | translated]