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Heavier Metal: 2018 Ram Limited Tungsten Editions Add Heft to Prices

2018 Ram 1500 Limited Tungsten Edition

Remember those Chevrolet commercials in which they dumped a Bobcat full of landscaping blocks into the beds of Silverado and Ford F-150 pickups? The point Chevrolet was trying to make is that steel is harder than aluminum. However, the folks at Ram studied a periodic table of their own. They searched for the elemental antithesis to fragile masculinity, and they found it. Tungsten!

The Tungsten Edition will be an option in the third quarter of this year on Ram 1500, 2500, and 3500 crew-cab and megacab models. Unfortunately, the 2018 Ram Limited Tungsten Edition is just the name of a trim level that will sit atop the already upper-crusty Limited but offers none of that rare, denser-than-lead material that boasts the highest melting point of all metals. Ram Tungsten models are more like Fords that are labeled Platinum—it’s just a way to tell the world the owner dropped more than a few extra nickels on the purchase.

2018 Ram 1500 Limited Tungsten Edition

The Tungsten is distinguished from the more plebeian Ram Limited by a segment-first suede headliner, exclusive white-and-indigo leather not unlike that in the Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit, real wood trim, and body-color exterior components. Standard features on the Limited such as air suspension, a heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats, and Uconnect infotainment with an 8.4-inch touchscreen, plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, stick around for the show at the upper level.  The Tungsten’s chrome grille and badging will distinguish owners from those who couldn’t afford the upgrade.

Ram offers the 1500 Tungsten Edition for $56,515, which is a mere $2245 over the 2017 price for the Limited model. Checking off atomic number 74 on the option sheet can be expected to inflate the price of a fully loaded Ram 3500 to somewhere in the $85,000 range. If Fiat Chrysler is able to successfully thwart dealer markups, that would be within $500 of a wheelie-popping 840-hp, nine-second Demon.


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Here’s Why Waymo Is Partnering with Avis


For a while now, the future of rental-car companies has appeared bleak. Whether because arriving passengers are opting for Uber at airports or because younger drivers prefer car-sharing services that offer hourly rates, traditional rental-car companies have been battered by the ongoing shift in the way people move around. Stock prices have followed: Hertz has seen share prices decline by nearly half since the start of the year, while Avis has lost more than half its value over the past three years.

What rental-car companies have retained through that tumult, however, is an expertise in maintaining large fleets of vehicles. That may offer a path forward.

On Monday, Avis announced it has reached an agreement with Waymo, the self-driving-technology company spun out from Google late last year, in which Avis will offer fleet support and maintenance services to Waymo’s autonomous vehicles.

The collaboration will begin in Phoenix, where Waymo is already operating 100 Chrysler Pacifica hybrid minivans as part of a pilot project that puts these vehicles in the hands of ordinary motorists. There are plans for an additional 500 autonomous minivans in the Waymo fleet, and the partnership will ensure these vehicles are ready for motorists to use around the clock.

The timeline for the arrival of the additional vehicles isn’t clear, but with 600 vehicles, Waymo’s autonomous fleet would be the largest in the nation. For a company like Avis, which already has 11,000 locations in 180 countries, such a partnership will help the company learn the specifics of caring for automated vehicles in a single city, and it could portend a boon when self-driving cars are deployed on a widespread scale.

“Not only does this partnership enable us to leverage our current capabilities and assets, but it also allows us to accelerate our knowledge and hands-on experience in an emerging area as Waymo-enabled self-driving cars become available in the marketplace,” Larry De Shon, president and chief executive officer of Avis Budget Group, said in prepared remarks.

Both companies said the agreement is a “multiyear” collaboration, but terms and a precise time frame were not disclosed. At the outset, Avis will stick to familiar ground. Servicing of the autonomous technology will remain with Waymo. Avis will provide traditional automotive maintenance, including vehicle cleaning, oil changes, tire rotations, and the installation of automotive parts.

This isn’t the first time Avis has attempted to reckon with the changes ahead in travel preferences and modes. In 2013, the company acquired Zipcar, which has more than a million worldwide members and now operates as an Avis subsidiary.

That acquisition demonstrated that the company’s management, at the very least, has considered how rental-car companies might evolve as car-sharing gains popularity. With Monday’s partnership announcement, they may have shown that rental-car companies might still retain a place in the new transportation landscape.

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A Hellcat That Handles: Dodge Introduces Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody

2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody

Just when you thought Dodge had exhausted every permutation of the Challenger with the mind-blowing, 840-hp Demon, the SRT division has come up with yet another way to slice and dice the muscle coupe. And this latest variation is an enticing one: Called the Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody, this new 707-hp beast adds some serious handling chops and a meaner look courtesy of extra width, meatier tires, and a few other tweaks.

You’ll recognize the Hellcat Widebody’s fender flares and front splitter from the Demon. Those bulging fenders increase the car’s width by 3.5 inches, all the better to cover the wider 305/35ZR-20 tires (the standard Challenger Hellcat uses 275/40ZR-20 rubber). Dodge says that these tires improve the Hellcat’s turning and stopping abilities, claiming increased skidpad grip and a two-second-quicker lap time around an unidentified 1.7-mile road course. (We assume these figures are with the Pirelli P Zero performance rubber, rather than the all-season tires pictured.) And even though its 707-hp supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 is unchanged, the extra grip helps the Widebody get off the line quicker, with Dodge estimating a 0.1-second-quicker zero-to-60-mph time and a 0.3-second-quicker quarter-mile.

2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody

Another noteworthy mechanical change for the Hellcat Widebody is a new electrically assisted power-steering system that replaces the standard car’s hydraulically assisted rack. This allows for new selectable steering modes that integrate with the car’s customizable SRT driving modes that include Street, Sport, and Track.

Beyond the performance upgrades, the Widebody’s other priority is looking bad-ass. And it does, with the key changes being its more aggressive stance and new five-spoke wheels with a “Devil’s Rim” design. It otherwise shares the standard Hellcat’s hood scoop, rear spoiler, and menacing front grille; the only tweak to the interior is a new red Hellcat badge in the gauge cluster.

For the privilege of owning this better-handling Hellcat, you’ll pay $72,590 to start, or $7300 more than a standard 2017 Challenger Hellcat. It will be offered with the choice of a six-speed manual transmission or an eight-speed automatic when it starts arriving at dealerships this fall.


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UPDATE: Advance Auto Parts says 475 employees were laid off

Advance Auto Parts released a statement Tuesday stating they made 475 total layoffs in corporate, supply chain and field-based management roles. There was no impact to store level positions.


A former employee says the public silence from Advance Auto Parts is deafening after they were told more than 450 leadership level employees have been laid off since June 19.

Sixty of those positions were in Roanoke, according to the source.

The source said the company’s plan was to “hit” field leadership and corporate to streamline and reduce product costs: “Sales have been poor for years now. They’re trying to come up with a way to remain solvent.”

AAP’s stock has been steadily declining since January when a single share was as high as $174. On Monday, AAP closed at $121.79.

The source also said since the beginning of the year, through attrition, 100 people have left the IT department Roanoke because circumstances are “dire” and that it’s a “tough place to work” right now. They said about 500 people work in IT in Roanoke.

The company’s headquarters is still based in Roanoke but many of the top-level executives are located in Raleigh, North Carolina.

“I really believe all operations will be shifting to Raleigh and they’re going to outsource all the call centers and they’re going to outsource IT. Roanoke is going to be in a tough spot in a little less than two years,” the source said.

The building lease for Advance Auto Parts HQ in Roanoke expires in 2019.


WDBJ7 was sent an internal memo that Advance Auto Parts President and CEO Tom Greco says the company is streamlining decision making to move faster and perform better as a team.

In the memo, Greco says the company has done extensive work on the field leadership structure and as a result will transition from four Divisions to two, a North and South. They hope the change will simplify field structure and improve decision making.

AAP will also turn its attention towards digital to better meet the needs of the DIY consumer. They’re making substantial investments in improving user experience on the website and mobile platforms.

WDBJ7 hasn’t heard directly from Advance Auto Parts despite our numerous requests to confirm this information and the layoffs that employees said began on June 19, the same day Greco sent this memo.

A number of people claiming to be current and former employees of Advance Auto Parts, have been discussing alleged company wide layoffs online. They say the layoffs started on June 19th.

According to a number of posts from, nearly 1000 employees will be laid off. They claim longtime employees and positions from sales and distribution centers are the target of this round of layoffs.

WDBJ7 has made several attempts to confirm the layoffs through a company spokesperson but no one has responded to the requests.

In 2015, Advance Auto Parts laid off 50 corporate positions in Roanoke.

This is a developing story; check back for updates.

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Nice! Thanks! Love it! Gmail’s auto-reply is perfect for the lazy emailer

Confusing times at Google. The company has announced it will stop automatically scanning users’ emails in order to provide targeted adverts. At almost the same moment, though, it has decided to launch an auto-reply system that scans one’s emails and generates possible responses from which you can choose.

The new functionality, added to the app store versions of Gmail, works by analysing a large, anonymised body of emails to generate possible responses. Machine-learning systems then rank these to pick the “best responses to the email at hand”.

So, could a machine do a better job at replying half-heartedly to colleagues and social invitations than me?

After downloading the app, I found that each of my emails now came with three reply suggestions. For someone forwarding me flights options to Norway, I had “Nice!” “Thanks!” and “Love it!” Exclamation marks are the bedrock of conveying feigned email interest in moments when a sender is too bored or frazzled to think of something specific to say. Could that very human blend of laziness and anxiety be learned by a machine? It appeared the machine was up for the challenge, if a bit too keen.

As machine learning starts to take a grip, the computer world is turfing up greater sophistication than we have been used to. When I received an email asking me to write this article, for instance, Gmail’s options included “Yes and yes”, a phrase specific to my own speech. Was Google mining my personality, creating an online homunculus from my linguistic tics? Not long after, my editor responded with “Great, thanks!”– a response that made it equally likely that our personal bots were playing ping-pong with each other. Was modern life about to devolve into one long Turing test?

For an email thread gossiping about a distant acquaintance, and a friend’s response (“Please tell me this was posted today. I am picturing him pacing up and down his room”), I got “What?” “Yes he did”, and “No he didn’t”. None of these worked or tallied with the universal correct answer to almost any email: a gif involving RuPaul.

Of course, Google is keen to emphasise that its system knows its limits. Not everything merits an automated response – only about one-third of emails are covered. When I was told by the son of veteran Eurosceptic MP Bill Cash: “I am no longer a member of Ukip and cannot assist you,” the system chose to remain mute. The right choice, as it happens: so did I.

Most email is unnecessary and most email responses are perfunctory acknowledgements – verbal read-receipts. In the war for control of your inbox, Gmail may have given us an important missile defence shield. Nice! Thanks! Love it!

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In the Auto Industry, the Future Is Software—Not Machinery

From the July 2017 issue

A Volvo lying on its side in Tempe, Arizona, wouldn’t normally rate a national headline. After all, Volvo has long asserted that the best attributes of its cars reveal themselves only in a crash. But this was an autonomous Volvo, part of a small test fleet Uber operated in Pittsburgh, San Francisco, and Arizona. The latter had welcomed Uber with open pro-business arms after the company and the California DMV got into a semantics spat, since resolved, over a $150 permit. The Cal DMV had revoked the registrations for Uber’s 16 test vehicles, and if the bureaucrats were motivated by the fear of a couple tons of undercooked technology circulating among the driving public, those fears seem to have been vindicated by the photos of the capsized Volvo.

It doesn’t matter that, by all accounts, it wasn’t the fault of the Volvo’s computer that a driver turned suddenly in front of the oncoming robo-car, giving neither it nor the human minder aboard time to avoid the impact. Autonomous cars will live in a world of random surprises. Note that around 17.5 million light-duty vehicles were sold last year, swelling the national fleet to more than 240 million vehicles, and only the most infinitesimal percentage of them has any autono­mous ability what­soever. That will be true for this year as well. And 2018, ’19, and ’20. At least for the next decade or three, autono­mous cars will have to contend with the many heteronomous cars already on Ameri­can roads, including those driven by a very common form of idiot who hooks a left in front of oncoming traffic.

Which is why autonomous-car development has moved on from the impossible task of thinking up and programming a computer to respond to every conceivable driving scenario to getting cars wired up with sensors and on the road to see what it’s really like out there. As you read this, these cars are sponging up so much data through their unblinking eyes that it would exhaust the memory of the MacBook Pro that I’m writing this on in under a minute. Road signs and signal timing and lane striping; merges and T-junctions and four-ways; the effects of wind and rain and glare and shadow; the driving style of tailgaters and dawdlers and the distracted and the disoriented; it all goes onto the hard drive.

A friend who works in so-called big data told me recently that the digital information generated by these test cars meas­ures out in petabytes per day, a petabyte being 1 million gigabytes. All that data must be filtered and analyzed for the patterns that we human drivers know from experience. That’s a job for open-source programs such as Hadoop, a platform named after a child’s stuffed elephant, that make it easy to spread really big processing jobs over many computers. The people in the machine-learning trade figure this is the best way to teach a computer to drive; just get it out on the road, the same as your teenager.

Our world is changing; machinery matters less than software. Mazda RD chief Kiyoshi Fujiwara told me at the Detroit auto show this year that in the age of electric vehicles, the powertrain, that core technology that is so important to the identity of a car brand, will become just another purchased component. It is the software, the brains, that the company must own to call itself an automaker. Along those lines, Honda recently opened its RD Center X to focus on robotics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence. It also launched a software lab on the 27th floor of a Tokyo skyscraper that has all the beanbag accoutrements of a Silicon Valley computing mosh pit, the better to attract the keen young programming minds that are now in such high demand in virtually every other industry. Stanford University artificial-­intelligence expert and Honda consultant Edward Feigenbaum explained to Automotive News that Honda’s “current RD leadership saw the need to move beyond the mechanical engineering of the past toward a digital future dominated by software, not mechanism.” Imagine Honda’s museum of the future, where little black boxes with blinking lights are displayed proudly next to examples of VTEC and CVCC.

The kids in my high-school lunchroom talked about the cars they craved, while the few computer geeks huddled in a corner speaking in BASIC and other foreign languages. I haven’t been in a school lunchroom in a while, but by all reports, the ratio has pretty well reversed. The geeks won, judging from all the electronic devices about and the kids who say they want to go into computers. We who delight in the finely orchestrated motion of cams pressing on valves and forests of connecting rods cavorting in a perfect balance of lubricated harmony increasingly look like rust-age dinosaurs. Eventually they’ll put us in museums, too.

US automobile industry adjusts to lower volume

Kelley Blue Book expects U.S. auto sales to fall 3.6% in June to 1.46M units. “With manufacturers continuing to announce production cuts at their plants following weaker consumer demand, it all but solidifies 2017 as a down year,” notes KBB analyst Tim Fleming.

The LMC Automotive/J.D. Power forecast is for a 2.3% drop during the month to 1.48M units, although the overall diagnosis is equally cautious. “While the retail selling rate has declined in four of the first six months, the broader concern remains the negative health indicators behind the sales results,” notes J.D.’s Deirdre Borrego.

During a conference call yesterday with analysts, GM CFO Chuck Stevens said the company expects U.S. light vehicle sales to be in the low 17M unit range for the year, a downward revision from the autmaker’s original forecast for a 17.55M unit mark. Stevens highlighted the “very very conservative” pricing in the industry and “rational” stance on incentives.

The common theme from insiders and analysts is that automakers are now focused on profitability over volume and market share. Recent actions from the Detroit Three support that assertion.

Also in the mix for the industry is the rapid pace of partnerships between auto players and tech giants. Yesterday, the Avis-Waymo and Hertz-Apple deals were small in nature, but giant in implications for investors. The GM-Lyft partnership is already in second gear, while Tesla, BMW, Volkswagen and Toyota all have tech/mobility initiatives revving up.


Related ETF: CARZ.

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Overview of the Automotive Industry in the Greater Mekong Subregion, Forecast to 2021

LONDON, June 27, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — The study provides an overview of the automotive industry in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS). Over the years, the global automotive industry has been focused on the developed countries with saturated growth and developing countries which are likely to be saturated in the short to medium term. In this scenario, the countries in the Mekong subregion are expected to be a boon to automotive companies in expanding their top line in the coming years. The Mekong subregion includes Myanmar, Lao PDR, Cambodia, Vietnam, and the Yunnan and Guangxi provinces in China.

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The research service also offers a detailed insight into the automotive markets in four countries: Myanmar, Lao PDR, Cambodia, and Vietnam. The study examines the economic and social factors, growth prospects, capabilities, and infrastructure in these key countries of the Mekong subregion. It also provides a detailed overview of the new vehicle sales in these countries with 2016 as the base year. The research service covers the new vehicle sales (passenger and commercial) for the period 2010-2016 and also offers the new sales forecasts in these markets for the period 2017-2021.

Key Target Audience
The target audience includes:
• Global and regional automotive OEMs with presence or stake in GMS
• Global and regional automotive component companies with presence or interest in GMS
• Consultancy firms interested in developments in GMS
• Research organizations
• Technological partners

Research Scope
• Profile of key countries (Myanmar, Lao PDR, Cambodia, and Vietnam) including country overview and economic and social indicators
• New vehicle sales of passenger and commercial vehicles in Myanmar, Lao PDR, Cambodia, and Vietnam between 2010 and 2016
• Automotive overview, market drivers and restraints and regulatory environment for automotive industry in Myanmar, Lao PDR, Cambodia, and Vietnam
• New vehicle sales forecasts across GMS countries during the period 2017-2021 in Myanmar, Lao PDR, Cambodia, and Vietnam
• Multilateral and Free Trade Agreements affecting the automotive industry in Myanmar, Lao PDR, Cambodia, and Vietnam

Key Questions This Study Will Answer
• What are the economic and social indicators of development in Myanmar, Lao PDR, Cambodia, and Vietnam?
• What are the new vehicle sales trends in these countries during the period 2010-2016?
• What are the key market drivers and restraints for automotive industry growth in these countries?
• What are the new vehicle sales forecasts for Myanmar, Lao PDR, Cambodia, and Vietnam during the period 2017-2021?
• Which are the key Multilateral and Free Trade Agreements of these countries that have a direct impact on the automotive sector?
Download the full report:

About Reportbuyer
Reportbuyer is a leading industry intelligence solution that provides all market research reports from top publishers

For more information:
Sarah Smith
Research Advisor at
Tel: +44 208 816 85 48

To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:

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Fintech in the Global Automotive Industry, Forecast to 2025

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2018 Audi RS5 Coupe

Shoehorned between Spain and France, the tiny, landlocked principality of Andorra is draped over 180 square miles of the Pyrenees mountains. Fewer than 90,000 people call it home, but many more stream over its borders to enjoy its duty-free shopping, myriad ski resorts, and extremely friendly income-tax code (as in, there isn’t one). While winter sees the country’s peaks blanketed in snow, in summer they’re laced with lush, green scrub and encourage a different type of frolicking: exploring the sinuous, two-lane ribbons of asphalt that climb up from the valleys and back down again. It was across this landscape and past shops stuffed to their rafters with discount booze that we drove the latest Audi RS5 coupe.

For 2018, the RS5 has been updated to ride on Audi’s second-generation MLB platform—the same kit serves under the A4, A5, Q7, and others—and with a twin-turbocharged 2.9-liter V-6. The V-6 takes the place of the particularly sonorous naturally aspirated 4.2-liter V-8 that served in the previous-generation RS5. The V-6 may be down two cylinders, but horsepower is unchanged at 450, and the turbos increase torque from 317 lb-ft to a far meatier 443 lb-ft and also push the output peaks further down the tach: Max power is available at 6700 rpm, 1550 lower than before, and peak torque comes online at 1900 rpm, a full 2100 rpm lower.

The 90-degree six is 44 pounds lighter than the V-8 (the car is 132 pounds lighter overall), all blower hardware included, and its two turbochargers are nestled in the valley between the cylinder banks. This “hot vee” configuration’s largest benefit is to emissions, according to Audi Sport chief Stephan Reil, since the catalysts warm up more quickly, thanks to shorter distances between the turbos, the exhaust valves, and the catalysts. Less plumbing also reduces lag, and this V-6 is indeed one hell of a hard charger, with power, torque, and speed coming in a near instantaneous wave that intensifies proportionally to the angle of your right ankle. Audi estimates the zero-to-62-mph run at 3.9 seconds, or about half a tick quicker than the zero-to-60 time we recorded for the outgoing RS5. We think Audi’s number is just about right.

The Audi-engineered V-6 makes more torque than any of the company’s dual-clutch automatics can handle—Porsche uses its PDK with this engine in the Panamera but doesn’t share that gearbox with other Group members—and so the last RS5’s seven-speed S tronic transmission has been supplanted by an eight-speed ZF automatic. Compared with a dual-clutch ’box, this torque-converter unit’s gearchanges are slower; yet this is not to say it’s slow by any means. The ZF can handle the V-6’s torque, and Reil asserts that customers favor the new transmission’s smoother and more predictable step-off behavior from a stop. There is no manual transmission available, and the ZF automatic’s programming is so good and the plasticky shift paddles so unsatisfying to use that we simply let it work on its own the majority of the time.

A Livable Express

Even as the weaponized version of the A5/S5 brood, the RS5 is easy to live with. It’s tautly suspended yet displays a supple ride quality despite its 20-inch wheels and low-profile rubber. It rides superbly in the optional active suspension’s Comfort and Auto modes, and it smoothed out heaving pavement on French autoroutes and the patched surfaces of Andorran B roads with no bobbing or bounding. Dynamic mode is for fun-time only, though, as the ride can get choppy, inducing a slight bucking during straight-line cruising on anything but the flattest pavement.

The RS5’s handling is also docile. While it’s hugely capable, with high levels of front-end grip, there’s little in its behavior to make even a novice driver nervous. It’s sure-footed in both wet and dry conditions, and you can get up to speed with its behavior as quickly as the car itself piles on miles per hour. This follows Reil’s philosophy for Audi Sport’s RS creations; he believes that a car is too difficult to master if an owner goes to a track all day and is still lopping off chunks of time lap after lap. He wants his team to deliver a machine in which it’s easy and safe to quickly find its limits, and they’ve done so here.

The steering is faithful and accurate, with quick, predictable turn-in behavior, and it’s more natural than before—albeit still lacking in feedback. The car rewards smoothness, the Quattro all-wheel-drive system and standard torque-vectoring sport differential working to keep you on line and delivering max thrust to the ground when you boot the car out of a turn, at which point you can feel the torque shift rearward. The default split is 40 percent front and 60 percent rear; if the car detects slip, up to 85 percent can be sent forward, or 70 percent aft. Push too hard into a corner and there remains a whiff of understeer, but it feels more balanced than before. Nonetheless, this is a car that prefers a rapid pace, not a frenetic one.

In addition to the standard iron rotors, the RS5 is available with optional—and huge—front carbon-ceramic brakes as part of the Dynamic Plus package. We drove cars with each setup, and deceleration was excellent with both. While one carbon-equipped RS5 displayed a bit of top-of-travel mushiness to its pedal, a second one didn’t—it may have been that the first car’s brakes weren’t quite bedded in—but overall this system is predictable and certainly stronger than the already capable standard brakes. Given this car’s luxury GT bent, though, we’d skip the carbon brakes unless we planned on attacking mountain roads or racetracks with some frequency.

The RS5’s active exhaust system features both movable flaps and a resonating cross pipe connecting the left and right sides just aft of the rear axle. The car’s chassis mode controls how eager the flaps are to open, as well as how often, and the engineer in charge of tuning the sound was given a 2000 RS4 (which never came to the U.S. but had a turbocharged 2.7-liter V-6) and told, “Make it sound like that.” He nailed the sound quality. At full throat, the new RS5 sounds pissed off, with fat blats on upshifts and a belligerent growl not far off the old V-8’s. Yet its anger sounds as if it’s coming from next door, in part because the car is well insulated from the outside world and also because Audi doesn’t augment the noise with the audio system. The company cops to enhancing low-range frequencies below 3000 rpm—at which point the car basically makes no noise of its own—with a device located behind the instrument panel, described to us as a “shaker” that uses the car’s own vibrations to act on a metal plate. The modest volume fits the grand touring character of the RS5, but it’s still a bit of a bummer, and the pops it executes on overrun don’t really thrill anyone inside the car. They sound mostly like someone you’ve kidnapped banging on the inside of the trunklid.

Demure Detailing

The RS5’s aesthetic was inspired by Audi 90 Quattro IMSA GTO race car, and the new coupe’s boxy fender flares make it slightly wider than its tamer S5 sibling. Similarly, the RS gets a fatter grille than the A5 and S5, as well as front intakes large enough to swallow the tiny Fiats we encountered by the dozens in the Pyrenees. The overall effect is more sophisticated than feral, however, a motif that carries over to the mostly black cabin, which can be adorned with contrast stitching and red stripes on the seatbelts, but doesn’t get much flashier than that.

The driving position is fantastic, and the forward view from the supportive, multi-adjustable, and massaging front seats is outstanding. Visibility to the rear is decent, too, given the coupe roofline, and the car will accommodate four people of average height with no issues. The two rear passengers have slightly pinched shoulder room, but they have access to four cupholders, so at least they’ll be well hydrated.

Pricing for the coupe starts around $70,000 and will top out about $15,000 above that. Standard equipment includes 20-inch wheels (with a temporary spare tire) and a Black Optics appearance pack that darkens the mirror caps, body-side flourish, rear lip spoiler, and lower front-fascia trim. Yes, that means silver mirror caps—long a hallmark of RS cars—won’t be available here, at least initially. They are among the choices available to customers in other markets, as are carbon-fiber or silver finishes for the Black Optic–ized exterior pieces, as well as a bare carbon-fiber roof that might be offered here if Audi USA can certify its crashworthiness. Options include three packages: Dynamic, Dynamic Plus, and RS Driver-Assistance. The first one is approximately $3000 and nets red brake calipers, adjustable dampers, and RS Sport exhaust with black tips. This is required to order the $6000 Dynamic Plus bundle, which includes the ceramic brakes, a carbon-fiber engine cover, and an increase in top speed from 155 mph to 174. Finally, the assistance bundle brings a 360-degree-view camera, a head-up display, automatic high-beams, lane-keeping assist, and traffic-sign recognition. It also brings adaptive cruise with traffic-jam assist that will accelerate and stop the car and that works at speeds up to 155 mph, while also automating the steering in certain situations below 40 mph.

In the transition to this latest generation, Audi improved both the RS5’s luxury GT abilities and its dynamic capabilities. With its competitors from BMW (the M4) and Mercedes-AMG (the C63) growing more monstrous and hard-riding by the day, the RS5 is unquestionably the most livable of the bunch. Tingling its pilot’s spine is among its ancillary—not primary—skills, and stoicism remains the bedrock upon which this car is built. Meanwhile, the wait continues for something truly unhinged from Audi.

This story originally stated that the RS5’s engine was Porsche-engineered; it was actually developed by Audi. We have updated the story to reflect this information.

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