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Audi's bold moves set R8 sports car apart from competitors

June 29, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
For decades, BMW has enjoyed a reputation as an aspirational vehicle brand. But in recent years, German rival Audi has come on strong, particularly with regard to styling.

"Audi's have a particular style. In some ways, they're by far the most stylish of the German cars," said Michael Jordan of Automobile Magazine.

Even so, BMW buyers are often brand loyal. Audi's plan has been to match them almost model for model, and pay special attention to interior design. Other car brands sometimes reference Audi's interiors as their benchmark.

"The materials used, the haptics as we call it, the feel of everything, it all fits and it all makes that story," said Mark Fruechtnicht, an Audi spokesman.

One example where the two brands compete head-to-head is performance coupes.

For many, the 2013 BMW M3 ($60,100 base price) is the ultimate expression of driving dynamics and power. Not for everyone, nor everyone's budget, but it's a legendary performer.

Audi is taking the M3 on in the form of the 2014 Audi RS5 (68,900 base price), using the same formula. Take a stylish coupe body and stuff it with a really powerful V8. The Audi offers the added advantage of all wheel drive.

And, the V8 powered M3 coupe is officially out of production, forever.

If you look at BMW and Audi, they match each other almost model for model across their product lines. But five years ago, Audi came out with the Halo car, an exotic sports car called the R8. "We take this car to events," said Fruechtnicht. "It really attracts that attention and it's bringing customers in and they leave with a A4, A6 and often an R8."

And that Halo exotic is now even better, with more choices in power. The V8 example is fast, the V10 is really fast.

Hey not so fast, says BMW. We've got a supercar of our own in the works, and ours wears a shade of green. The 2014 Audi R8 ($114,900 base price), officially called a concept at this point, has striking looks and a hybrid power train. An exotic car for a carbon-aware future.

In the past, BMW dominated Audi along with other brands in terms of features and cache. Audi's keeping up these days, and the contest will go on, well into the future.


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