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Audi and its Italian daughters: on a discovery tour

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S the pressure on the shimmering metallic start button of the Audi RS5 Cabriolet is good for you. A large V8 exhales with a roar, massages the muscles warm with low-viscosity oil and lapses into a silky idle. No six-cylinder turbo is as much more economical on the test bench as is used elsewhere. No, there are eight pots with a total displacement of 4.2 liters for 450 high-revving horsepower. They made August Horch happy with tears of joy.

Horch, one of the oldest roots in the family tree of today's Audi AG, was finally the founder of the Horch factory in 1899, which was included in 1926 the stately Horch 8 Type 303 brought Germany's first eight-cylinder car onto the market. This eight-cylinder in-line cylinder was three liters and controlled its two camshafts via vertical shafts. Bevel shaft? Yes, we will meet you again at Ducati. But first of all, the RS5 pushes us with the roof closed, on which raindrops fall, over the motorway towards the Alps, which we of course - must cross on the Brenner Pass.

In the Audi RS5 Cabriolet towards Terra dei Motori

Pure curiosity drives us towards Bologna, into the heart of the Terra dei Motori. This is the name of this biotope for top-class automobiles and motorcycles between the Po in the north, the Adriatic in the east, Piedmont in the west and the Apennines in the south. This region of Emilia-Romagna is and has been home to many people whose thoughts have revolved around performance, technology and design since the early 20th century. Maserati, Ferrari, Stanguellini and Pagani with their great cars go through our heads, while the Audi RS5 Cabriolet pushes us along the winding roads of the Brenner Pass after buying a short-term sticker.

Somewhere in the Alps is sitting down the sun through against the heavy rain clouds hanging between the mountains. Short stop, snap your fingers, the roof of the Audi RS5 Cabriolet is small behind the rear seats, and we cruise the rest of the way in convertible mode. Most of the V8 power remains in reserve. Italy takes the smoking ban more seriously than speed limits, but if you drive too hard, the Polizia are no joke.

Visits to Lamborghini , Ducati and Italdesign Giugiaro

A delay would be rather inappropriate anyway, after all, the dates are at Lamborghini and Ducati in Bologna and ItaldesignGiugiaro in Turin close together. At all three companies, which were gradually integrated into the Audi Group, we want to find out what drives the people there, what makes them ideal partners for the Audi guys, whose products have always been good for innovation - from Quattro about TDI, aluminum lightweight construction and diesel hybrid.

At Lamborghini, we use the Veneno, which is produced in an ultra-small series and which Lamborghini gave itself for its 50th anniversary, as a demonstration object. With the 1199 Panigale R, Ducati once again pushed the idea of ​​the dream superbike and offers customers a lot of technology that is successful in racing for the road. Italdesign Giugiaro in Turin, on the other hand, has designed industrial products and automobiles for 45 years, promised us a meeting with the unconventional Parcour study. First stop after little sleep in a delightful country hotel in Sant'Agata Bolognese, where the test drivers wake us up early in the morning with ten- and twelve-tone music: Lamborghini.

Find out everything about our visit to Lamborghini in the second part of our series 'Audi and its Italian Daughters'.

This is Audi:

With Ducati, Lamborghini and Italdesign Giugiaro Audi AG forms the Audi Group within Volkswagen. Technologies such as the Quattro all-wheel drive, the TDI engine, lightweight aluminum construction and hybrid drives that are successful in sports sharpen the profile of the premium manufacturer. His roots go back to the company August Horch & Cie., Which August Horch founded in 1899 before building Audi automobiles in Zwickau from 1909/10.

In 1932 Audi, DKW, Horch and the automotive division of the Wanderer works in Chemnitz merged to form Auto Union AG. After the Second World War, Auto Union GmbH was established in Ingolstadt, which Volkswagenwerk AG took over in the mid-1960s. In 1969 Auto Union merged with NSU Motorenwerke AG to form Audi NSU Auto Union AG, and in 1985 it was renamed Audi AG. Employees: 68,804, deliveries to customers: 1.634 million, sales: 48.8 billion € (figures for 2012).

'The organization is set up ultra-efficiently'

Three questions for Audi head of development Ulrich Hackenberg about the positioning of the Audi, Lamborghini and Ducati brands within the VW Group.

What distinguishes Audi in the Group?

Hackenberg: Audi stands for sporty, dynamic automobiles from compact to in the upper class. With our portfolio, we enjoy a market success that makes us one of the leading providers in the premium segment. Audi has a long tradition of key technologies such as permanent all-wheel drive, intelligentLightweight construction or efficient drives. We have often brought these technologies straight from the racetrack to the road - Quattro, for example, and the TDI engine.

We are also credited with a high level of design competence and outstanding processing quality. There is a committed team behind the innovations and the automobiles. The organization is set up ultra-efficiently thanks to the well-rehearsed concert across brands and modular construction kits. We build the success of the future on further new key technologies. One of them is the plug-in hybrid drive in the Audi A3 E-Tron. We are thus showing how dynamic the mobility of the future at Audi will be. The A3 E-Tron develops 204 hp, reaches a top speed of 222 km /h - with an electric range of 50 kilometers and an additional 890 kilometers hybrid. And that with a standard consumption of 1.5 liters /100 kilometers.

What is special about Lamborghini?

Hackenberg: The brand is extremely well positioned, which can also be seen from the fact that it only offers two model series of super sports cars. It is an Italian brand with a great tradition and magical appeal. From a technical point of view, Lamborghini stands for consistent lightweight construction in aluminum and carbon fiber, for superior traction through all-wheel drive, for safety and for chassis of the highest precision and of course for an absolutely radical design. A Lamborghini enables uncompromising sporty driving. The V12 engine with 700 hp (515 kW) and a torque of 690 Nm is unique in the world of super sports cars.

What does Audi expect from Ducati?

Hackenberg: With the acquisition of the Italian premium brand Ducati, Audi has built on its roots and returned to the motorcycle business. Audi and Ducati have many interests in common and already in the first year of working together they had an intensive exchange of ideas on the technology level. I spent a few days at Ducati on my summer vacation: I was particularly impressed by the expertise in the high-revving engines with their characteristic sound, but also by the experience with the visualization of technology. Just think of the tubular space frame on the legendary 916, which has been further developed to shape the models to this day and is also an excellent example of how the materials and high-quality workmanship can be made visible.

In addition, our 1,100 colleagues in Bologna have extensive know-how in the areas of lightweight construction, chassis control and valve control. Combined with the clear processes and the high level of expertise, we definitely see the potential for Ducati to position itself successfully in new market segments with additional models.

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