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Audi's beating heart - Paris motor show news - 2008

I didn’t read any of the corporate blurb
describing Audi’s stand at the Paris motorshow, but I checked it out and came
to my own conclusions. For me, this is the most confident car company in the
world right now and I liked this stand. A lot.

There was a beating ‘heart’ enclosure at
one end, with stairs running up either side of it, and with huge red neon
lights in the wall surrounding the R10 Le Mans racer - the actual car, still
dirty, striped with scum from the track, rubber bits caught in its wheel wells,
untouched after its last race. A huge beating heart sound came from this area,
set to music, as the red neons flashed to the rhythm.

From there, two long lines of white and
red cars streamed in a glittering, curved display under harsh lights. I assume
it was meant to mean red and white blood cells, coming from the big V12 beating
diesel heart of things that’s all about winning in motorsport and being fast
and reliable and good generally.

I liked all this pizzaz, mostly because of
the R10 in the centre of it. There it was, filthy, with bits of it slashed and
hanging off. It looked great. Surrounded by so many perfectly immaculate,
gleaming cars, this filthy racer - representing all that’s best about endurance
racing: sweat, tears, blood, strain, the ultimate sporting endeavour, and who
cares if it’ corny, they won! - the filthy R10 was made all the more likeable.

I stood there and looked at it for 20
minutes, and took loads of pretty rubbish photos with my mobile phone. Here are
a few of them. Note the slash in the nose, the grime over the lights, the
amount of dirt on the TDI Power logo on the plates on either side of the rear
diffuser. Great to see in the midst of all this gleaming perfection.

Audi have got all this stuff dead right.
It’s right that they’re racing a fast diesel and winning — right for their diesel attack on the
American market, right for their sporting brand. Whether they can keep this
winning streak going against such fierce opposition as Peugeot remains to be
seen. Maybe it’s impossible, maybe not, but I’d like Audi to stay out there win
or lose. Maybe that’ll be the biggest test of the marque’s caliber - how they
react to being beaten.

But what a lineup of road cars to go with
it. From the R8 all the way down to the A1 Concept, the cars are beautifully
sculpted, superbly engineered and absolutely full of the right sort of stuff
emanating from that filthy diesel racer. No, I don’t care if it’s corny, I
Iiked it, and I don’t begrudge Audi its world-beating sales figures either.

Bill Thomas

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