x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Audi adds TTRS to racing division as cheaper entry car

Plus a UAE-made solar-powered car, Skoda's latest offering is surprisingly fast yet practical and more Motoring news from around the world.

Though designed for speed, the vRS 2000 remains a seriously practical Skoda Fabia with four doors.
Though designed for speed, the vRS 2000 remains a seriously practical Skoda Fabia with four doors.

Audi adds to racing plans

The pocket rocket TTRS will be the first junior family member to join the Bathurst-winning R8 LMS in Audi's customer racing programme.

The turbocharged, five-cylinder, all-wheel drive coupe is in the middle of an intensive development programme with Audi's quattro division to give its burgeoning racing division a cheaper, less-daunting entry car.

And the TTRS may just be the start of something bigger, with sources claiming quattro is also planning RS3 and RS5 racing models and may even add an A1-based racer.

After proving its reliability at the Nürburgring 24-hour races in 2009 and 2010 and proving its speed with a 1-2 finish at this year's Bathurst 12-hour enduro, the R8 LMS has now found 35 customers from as far afield as China and Brazil.

However, the quattro GmbH customer racing head, Romolo Liebchen, admitted there had been demand for a racing Audi that was cheaper than the R8 LMS, which sells in Germany for upwards of €260,000 (Dh1.4 million).

He said: "We will be expanding the classes and types of races Audi customer race cars can enter and that will start with the TTRS next year."


Skoda unveils grandiose roadster concept car with five seats

Skoda, the car maker that once provoked sniggering in the west, has showcased its most outrageous car to date - the vRS 2000.

The new vehicle is basically a Fabia with no roof and, surprisingly, the Czech car maker has kept the four-door layout of the Fabia intact, making it a seriously practical car while still designed for speed.

The vRS 2000 was unveiled at the Worthersee festival in Austria recently - an event for all Volkswagen Group vehicles - but Skoda provided very little in the way of details as it insists the roadster is solely for a design study.

What is evident, however, is that the windscreen has been cut in half and angled for a superior view and sporty feel. It also features racing seats and flashes of a striking neon green colour throughout.

The vRS 2000 is still very much a concept car and, because of the pricey production costs, might never see the light of day, though many at the event believed it could pave the way for an innovative Fabia in the future.

Also on show at the festival was a 500hp Audi A1 clubsport quattro and a 35th Anniversary Golf GTI with a more moderate 232hp.


Rapide works comes home

Aston Martin confirmed that the production of its Rapide four-door model will move to the company's Gaydon headquarters in Warwickshire, UK, in the second half of next year.

Currently, the Rapide is built at the Magna Styr plant in Austria. Pre-production at the privately owned plant started in late 2009, before the car reached full production in 2010.

Aston Martin's chief executive, Ulrich Bez, said: "In 2008, we had facility restrictions at Gaydon that indicated that production of Rapide at Gaydon would likely compromise production of our other cars. We were not prepared to do this.

"Now, three years on, things are very different - Gaydon is more established, more flexible and more efficient. While our overall volume has not changed significantly, we now produce a far richer model mix - eight model lines (plus five variants) compared to three model lines (plus two variants) in 2008 - so Rapide production is now possible."

The company is refurbishing its Gaydon facilities for Rapide production to start.

The Rapide started as a concept car at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in 2006 and public reaction was so positive that the company put it into production.


Riviera Adventure to do parade lap around Monaco GP circuit

Next weekend marks the start of this year's Riviera Adventure, a five-day, 2,400km driving event that takes in some stunning scenery in France, Switzerland and Italy.

Starting out in Folkstone, England, drivers will cross the English Channel before venturing south through France, into Switzerland, Italy and then taking in Monte Carlo and Lake Varese.

The event is open to all drivers, though about 60 per cent of participants are couples.

The trip takes in the N85 road in France, which is said to be the finest driving road in Europe, as well as stays at five-star hotels.

Participants will drive along the Côte d'Azur and on to Monte Carlo, where a parade lap around the Monaco GP circuit will take place.

The adventure costs £1,900 (Dh11,500) per car based on two drivers sharing accommodation.

If you're interested in participating in the event, which runs from this Friday to the following Tuesday, visit www.circuit-days.co.uk.


UAE solar-powered car revealed on World Environment Day

A UAE-made solar-powered car was revealed to mark World Environment Day last Sunday.

Designed by the Lootah Technical Centre in Dubai and unveiled at an event last Sunday, the car weighs 170kg and can travel at a speed of 45kph.

Denis Lefrancois, of Sustainable Media Group, a joint venture of Globe Events and Lootah International, said: "We want to generate excitement about solar cars. This is a zero-footprint, zero-emissions car that can sustain itself with no battery. We wanted to build a car like this to show how it works but we could open it up to universities to come with ideas to improve it."

Experts believe electric cars are the future because biofuel solutions are no longer viable as the cost of food prices spike globally.

The UAE-made solar car will be on show at the EPIC Dubai Sustainable Living Expo, which will take place from June 22 to 25 in Dubai Mall. Also on show will be environmentally friendly products and solutions.