• Home
  • traffic
  • Audi driving test in China: through the provinces with the S8, A6 and Q3

Audi driving test in China: through the provinces with the S8, A6 and Q3

Audi driving tests in China
Subscriptions & booklets

D ie 'customer-oriented quality trip' - that's what it means in technical jargon - starts a few meters from the hotel in Chengdu. Suddenly we got stuck in a solid ball of traffic. It seems as if all twelve million residents of the city met at a single intersection that evening. A mass accident? Not even close. Some impatient wrong-turners are responsible for the chaos, who then seek their salvation on the opposite lane. So it takes time - a test of nerves after a ten-hour long-haul flight and a four-hour domestic flight. But Audi quality expert Werner Zimmermann takes it calmly: 'Then our test drive doesn't start tomorrow morning, but tonight.'

For automobiles, normal everyday life in China means up to 60 percent idling. Traffic jams are to blame, but also the bad habit of leaving the engine and air conditioning running even when parking in summer. The same game is repeated in winter, except that the engine and heating roar when the vehicle is stationary. Even if the Chinese are not stuck in traffic, according to the analysis of the Audi scouts, they usually only let the engines turn up to 2,000 rpm. That is why they are specially prepared for use in China - for example the preload of the piston rings. And that's why every engine must first complete an endurance run of up to 160,000 kilometers before approval. Also to show that it can cope with the sometimes lousy fuel quality, especially in rural regions.

Audi S8 and Q3 at 4,400 meters

The actual test drive begins the next morning an Audi S8 and three Q3s, which will be introduced here in the course of the year. It goes from Chengdu to a mountain resort 477 kilometers away to Jiu-zhaigou at 2,500 meters, but the test crew only reaches the summit on a 4,400 meter high pass.

The whole point of such quality drives is to evaluate vehicles the pilot series, which have already been manufactured with series parts, but - for example in the interior - do not yet achieve the familiar Audi standard. 'The accuracy of fit of the parts has not yet been matched,' explains Zimmermann, who then carries out this detailed work with the suppliers in the factory on the so-called 'master jig'.

There is a list in every vehicle all problems, burrs, inaccuracies of fit or rattling noises are logged.Each part is moved and assessed: Can the cover of the make-up mirror move without resistance, does the temperature regulator lock in accordance with the regulations? If you ask Zimmermann what the Audi team has learned from other car manufacturers, he mentions the Japanese “eye-guide-hand principle”. In other words: Much that the eye overlooks can be felt with the hands. The Japanese once showed the way. 'But now we are ahead,' said Zimmermann confidently. 'But the others are catching up.' And this not only applies to the other premium manufacturers, but also to volume brands from Korea and France for a long time. That's why at Audi you don't want to leave anything to chance. Even the board of directors keeps driving new models in different development phases. 'No other manufacturer does that.' Before the actual release drive, the cars are driven over 10,000 kilometers. Only then does Zimmermann and CEO Martin Winterkorn give the okay for series production.

2,200 men take care of quality worldwide

A total of 2,200 men take care of quality worldwide. 400 to 500 cars are turned through the quality mill every year - and the trend is rising. The growth not only wants to be achieved, but also qualitatively secured - Toyota and the wave of recalls send their regards. 'Something can always happen,' explains Zimmermann. 'But you have to recognize a problem - and then remedy it quickly.' For example, Audi is again training saddlers, 'although we don't manufacture seats. But we need the competence,' the top quality man knows. That is why the cars are driven in a wide variety of countries and the routes are tough. Instead of verges lurking here in China are deep trenches on the left and right that kill every landing gear. In addition, the streets are dredged around 30 centimeters deep every few meters. Sneaky traps, because there are no warnings.

We are driving through the earthquake area in the province north of Chengdu. You have to be prepared for everything, including the fact that half the road is simply missing after a curve. Sometimes even the whole - then it goes on just on gravel. The situation is exacerbated by the Chinese driving style. If someone overtakes, everyone is hooked. You come around a bend and stand in front of a truck that is being overtaken by a bus.

On the tour, we don't necessarily move in the style of a typical Chinese chauffeur who leaves it at 2,000 tours. But after all, the technicians want to see how things are going with the body quality, for example. In Jiuzhaigou we exchanged our Audi Q3 for A6 in the typical long version, the production of which is to start in Changchun north of Beijing in the next few months.

There is still in the interiora lot in the bad

For tax reasons, the Chinese Audi A6 is given a 2.5-liter V6 with 190 hp, which in combination with the continuously variable automatic does not make it a dynamic one. 'But the Chinese like this combination,' says Zimmermann. The pre-production cars have marking lines on the doors. 'This way we can quickly determine whether the doors are lowering,' he adds.

The bodies are not yet in their final trim, but they look very solid - at least there are no rattling noises. But there is still a lot of trouble in the interior: The leather upholstery of the seats from a local supplier is wrinkled, and the fit of the dashboards is not yet right. Except for one. 'But that comes entirely from Germany,' admits Zimmermann with a smile. Then the cockpit closure at the edge of the window arouses the interest of the quality assurance company: The manufacturer has delivered a part in which the tool division has left a burr in the passengers' field of vision. 'That has to be turned off, of course,' explains the Audi man and notes the problem.

After the 1,000-kilometer ordeal on Chinese mountain roads, the lists of defects are long - and the detailed work continues in the Changchun plant. The next endurance test is already waiting for the test cars there: the harsh Chinese winter with temperatures as low as minus 40 degrees. Other candidates are no better off either: They breed in the heat of South Africa or Arizona. This is about the vapors from plastics in the interior and, in the case of extreme UV radiation, the quality of the paint. 'We at Audi are particularly proud of them,' explains Zimmermann, tenderly stroking the sheet metal of an Audi A6. A gesture that shows: With quality fanatics like him, love goes through the car.


Leave a reply

Name *