Audi’s hottest wagon could get 600+ hp, Outback only “car” to ace new side-impact test, ID.4 drops price
Audi hints at 600+ hp Performance variant for RS6
Intake: Nobody who’s experienced the wallop of twin-turbo V-8, all-wheel-drive German muscle that is the RS6 would say the Audi wagon needed more power. But that’s the writing on the wall, according to a report from Australia’s Wheels. An Audi spokesperson recalled that the prior-gen RS6 was offered with a higher-output Performance variant and went on to say that, “We recently launched the R8 RWD as a Performance, so you can be pretty sure that we will follow up the Performance strategy [in the RS6].”
Exhaust: At present, the RS6 makes 591 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque, and it’s unclear how much a Performance variant would add. We know the powertrain has more to give, because the Lamborghini Urus’ version of the 4.0-liter engine has 641 hp. Given that the R8 Performance model swaps out its standard cast iron rotors and adjustable suspension for carbon-ceramics and a fixed-damper setup, in addition to gaining extra power, we’d expect similar changes for the RS6. Standard on the RS6 is an adaptive air suspension and conventional rotors, though a fixed-spring/adaptive damper setup and carbon-ceramics are optional. We’d expect these to be standard on the Performance version and for Audi to extend the same suite of upgrades to the mechanically similar, liftback RS7. —Eric Weiner
Subaru Outback tops IIHS’ more-rigorous side-impact test
Intake: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety let it be known in 2019 that new and tougher side-impact tests were coming to further differentiate models and to challenge automakers to improve driver safety. (The current procedure is 15 years old, and, as of 2019, 99 percent of new models aced it.) The third trial-run of the new test has certainly upped the ante: Seven midsize cars, each of which earn a “good” rating under the old test, did not fare very well under the new. Only three of seven tested earned “good” or “acceptable” ratings. “The Subaru Outback is the only midsize car to earn a good rating,” said the IIHS. “With somewhat higher levels of occupant compartment intrusion, the Hyundai Sonata and Volkswagen Jetta managed acceptable ratings. The Honda Accord earned a marginal rating, and the Chevrolet Malibu, Nissan Altima, and Toyota Camry earned poor ratings.” The more rigorous test, the IIHS said, uses a “higher impact speed [37, versus 31 mph] and a heavier [4200- vs. 3000-pound], more realistic movable barrier representing a more modern striking vehicle” than before. However, it won’t be integrated into IIHS’ official award criteria until 2023, when the Institute will require a “good” or “acceptable” rating for the lower-tier Top Safety Pick award and a “good” rating for the title of Top Safety Pick+.
Exhaust: The IIHS said that overall, the midsized cars did not perform as well as the first groups of small and midsized SUVS tested earlier under the more-aggressive procedure. “One reason,” the IIHS said, “could be their lower ride height.” That might explain why the more SUV-like Outback out-performed the other cars. Regardless, some manufacturers have some work to do. Check out the test results here. —Steven Cole Smith
Watch Nico Rosberg collect the first production Rimac Nevera
Intake: Former Formula 1 World Champion Nico Rosberg has scored another big win. The German-Finnish driver has just taken delivery of Rimac Nevera chassis number one. All 150 examples of the 2000-hp electric hypercar have been sold and Rosberg’s all-black “full Batmobile spec” car will soon be seen on the streets of his Monaco home. Although the car is complete and fully functioning, Mate Rimac tells Rosberg that one feature is still to be installed—the car’s autonomous circuit driving ability hasn’t been yet been enabled. The car can drive itself around a circuit as fast as Rimac’s test drivers in ideal conditions, but the system still needs to work so that it can quickly and safely adapt to changing track and tire grip levels. It’s not a function that Rosberg seems too keen on, anyway: “That would be madness,” he says, “I’m not sure I’d want to do that.” In the video above Rosberg gets a full walk-around of his new car and also manages to quiz Rimac on the successor to the Bugatti Chiron, so it’s well worth a watch.
Exhaust: Rosberg famously quit F1 as soon as he won the drivers’ championship in 2021, having finally beaten Lewis Hamilton. Since then he’s become a TV pundit, YouTuber, and race team owner in Extreme E. With a beautiful family, an envious life in Monaco, and now the very first Nevera in his garage, it might appear that Rosberg can do no wrong—although he did pass up the opportunity to invest in Rimac, and the company’s valuation has quadrupled since. —Nik Berg
VW drops price of Chattanooga-built ID.4 electric SUV
Intake: Volkswagen has a new, cheaper, entry-level model of its 2023 ID.4 electric compact SUV that starts at $37,495 plus $1295 in shipping, with an all-new battery pack, upgraded exterior and interior design, new aluminum-alloy wheels, and an updated center console. Now assembled in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the ID.4 is offered in three trim levels—Standard/Pro, S, and S Plus—with the option of 62-kWh and 82-kWh batteries and rear-wheel- or all-wheel drive. The entry ID.4, now called the ID.4 Standard, is equipped with the new 62-kWh battery, allowing for a lower price of entry and a preliminary, manufacturer-estimated range of 208 miles with 201 horsepower. The ID.4 Pro continues with an 82-kWh battery that allows for an estimated range of 275 miles, while ID.4 AWD Pro models add an asynchronous motor to the front axle, resulting in a bump to 295 horsepower, and an EPA-estimated range of 255 miles. A loaded ID.4 tops out at $53,995, plus shipping, and before the potential $7500 federal tax credit.
Exhaust: Price reductions are always welcome, especially with EVs. That said, we’re torn: $3700 more per car would have gone a long way toward fixing a few of our complaints (nauseating suspension tune, poor interior quality) with the base ID.4. —Sam Smith