Audi will look to New Technologies and Lighter Weight Materials to Increase Performance For two and a half decades the performance divisions of Germany's top three prestige automakers, Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz, have battled it out in a race for ultimate horsepower and all out driving dynamics. With battles waged in nearly all market segments the trio of high-priced German carmakers has turned the '80s, '90s, and what we've seen of this new millennium into an interesting spectacle. No true import automotive enthusiast could deny excitement over the news of Audi's original super-wagon, the Porsche-tuned RS2. Designed by Quattro GmbH, no other factory-produced compact wagon could top its explosive power. Nor can anyone turn a blind eye to the overloaded antics of Mercedes-Benz in its latest assault on the super-luxury crowd. With vehicles powered by supercharged V8 and twin-turbocharged V12 powerplants, nothing comes close in the torque department. BMW's most recent rendition of the M5 is perhaps the quintessential super-sedan, built with an F1-inspired V10 and a 7-speed paddle-shift sequential gearbox. But the competition, particularly the one-upmanship that has taken place over the previous five years is soon to be reduced to a battle of two German automakers, at least now that Audi has officially pulled out of the horsepower race. Stephen Reil, General Manager of Development at Quattro GmbH, the man responsible for procuring Audi's RS models, commented on the issue saying, "Continuing to increase the power outputs is not the way forward. With more power the car normally gets heavier and then you need more power again." Weight has always been considered the mortal enemy of sporting cars, as it hampers acceleration, reduces cornering agility and compromises braking capabilities. The "larger and more powerful is better" cycle that gets repeated with each new generation of models has to stop, according to Audi, which bodes well for a concentration on other important developmental areas and hopefully a trend that will shed years of weight gain from upcoming vehicles. Another critical issue involved with the horsepower race is getting the power to the ground. Reil also took the opportunity to bash rear-wheel drive competitors whose recent releases include the 507 horsepower BMW M5 and 603 horsepower Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG saying, "With a rear-wheel-drive car, all you succeed in doing is lighting up the yellow traction control sign." While Audi has never had such a problem thanks to its innovative permanent all-wheel drive system, this is definitely a sign that Audi won't be switching to rear-drive anytime soon. While at first Reis's comments make it appear that vehicles such as Audi's 450 horsepower RS6 may no longer be competing against BMW and M-B in the horsepower race, this shouldn't mean that new Audi's won't be able to measure up on the street and track. Riel added that the Quattro division is aiming to develop cars that blend the best of the high-power output world with "outstanding driving dynamics and road handling." A key idea to delivering Reil's goals of improved dynamics comes not from the Quattro division, however, but from Audi. Earlier this year VAG boss Bernd Pischetsrieder encouraged Audi's engineers to improve the way that the automaker's cars handled and rode. The way that its engineers solved this problem was to shift the engine towards the center of the car, similar to Infiniti's front-midship rear and all-wheel drive architecture that currently places its G35 sedan and coupe at the forefront of the compact luxury class for driving dynamics. The technique used, which improves a car's weight distribution while reducing the mass slung over the front wheels, is also often seen in hotrod and sports car circles. On what car will Audi's Quattro division exercise its new school of thought? Analysts say that the next vehicle up for the supercar treatment is the A3, however a hotter version of the new 2005 A6 is also said to be on the way. Rumors of the car utilizing Lamborghini's 5.0-liter V10 to counter the new 507 horsepower M5 could very well be proven false if Reil's statements are indeed true. But one thing is for sure, we will know the vehicle when it arrives. A new naming scheme for high performance Audis is reportedly being created, one that steps away from the R and S logo types.