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- 2012 Paris Motor Show: Audi Perspective
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En route to the Paris Motor Show, we stopped off for a visit to Ingolstadt. While you can sometimes spot a preproduction test mule (like a facelifted R8 Spyder test mule we caught back in July) on the less trafficked areas around Audi’s worldwide HQ, we find there’s often plenty for the sharp eyed aficionado even within the more public and tourist-oriented side by the Audi Forum Ingolstadt.
While visiting the Audi Forum, we’ve developed our own list of places to see. First is the Piazza – a grand bricked area that plays home to car shows and festivals, though on most days simply acts as parking for those who’ve just picked up a new car at the delivery center. If you’re driving an Audi you can likely park here, and there’s always nice eye candy though usually of the full production variety. Interestingly, we visited on the same day Audi held a press event around its FC Bayern Basketball sponsored Audi R8 LMS. In addition to a wrapped Audi A1 in similar motif, the FC Bayern Audi R8 LMS-spec Race Taxi was also there on the piazza though about to be loaded into a transporter.
Instead of parking above on the Piazza, we often elect to go below deck in the underground Audi Forum parking garage. It’s paid parking, though you can usually get your ticket swiped and cleared at the glass-encased welcome office at the entrance to the Piazza. Also, going ‘downstairs’ is worth it as Audi often uses the space for overflow parking for all sorts of things. Audi Exclusive painted cars are usually there – often part of the fleet for the Audi Driving Experience tours that stage out of here.
This day marked still more interesting R8s in the underground parking garage. One very identifiable car is the Gulf-livered R8 GT built for former development boss Michael Dick. Dick had a passion for the Gulf blue and orange look and first applied the look to a first generation Audi TT. A second-generation TT followed, and more recently this R8 GT and a matching A1. Michael Dick recently retired from Audi, so it was great to see these cars in person as we’re not sure how much longer they’ll be around.
In addition to special builds, you can also find early build cars. We’ve even seen test mules of the RS 5 Cabriolet here well before it launched, though this day proved more rich in cars where information and photos have been released, but actual delivery to customers has yet to begin. Practically at the entrance to the garage was one car that first caught our eye – an A3 Sportback that had yet to experience its world premiere at the Paris motor show a few days later.
In the back row of the parking garage deck we were pleasantly surprised to find a facelifted R8 Spyder. On September 24th when we’d visited, the facelifted R8 had been seen already at the Moscow Auto Show. Even still, it hadn’t yet made its debut in Paris (scheduled for later that week) and this is the first time we’ve seen the car unmasked and off a show floor.
One other car we found on the lower level that was definitely worth mentioning is an interesting red A5 S-line. We’ve seen just a few references in Audi product catalogs of an A5 S line competition and we believe this to be an example of the car. The idea is similar to the TT S line competition that’s now hitting dealerships even in the USA – adding black accents like mirror caps, rocker panel blades and more to the typical S line model for a meaner appearance. As the car sat in a darker corner of the garage, we wished we could have pulled it out into the sun and taken a closer look.
Back on the Piazza, we headed over to the Audi museum mobile. This day our trained eye was drawn more in the museum shop where we found a few new scale models on display including a 1:87 scale vintage Audi Sport Volkswagen race transporter complete with rally quattro and trailer, as well as a 1:43 scale resin models of the upcoming R8 e-tron from Italian manufacturer LookSmart. The latter is available in both white and red, these limited edition models were both in stock in the at the museum.
And speaking of R8 swag, we also headed over for a visit to the Audi Collection store above the customer delivery center. This store has all the latest Audi goods, from model cars to clothing and more. While there weren’t any facelifted R8 model cars yet on sale, we did find plenty of Audi R8 LMS models in various scales, as well as R8 and R8 GT clothing.
One new item that immediately caught our eye as part of the new R8 collection was this new Chronograph wearing the updated R8 logo with R overlapping the Audi Sport red parallelogram. Audi has been known to make watches of all types, from 100 Euro entry-level watches to offerings from Sinn, ChronoSwiss and more that have ranged into the thousands or tens of thousands of Euros. While we were unable to ascertain the manufacturer of this R8 Chronograph, its 795 Euro price tag suggests it is a bit more than a custom imprint entry-level unit.
Another new mix of goods added to the Audi Collection store since our last visit was a line surrounding the new A3 3-door. It was a bit premature to find Sportback items on the shelves, but everything from 3-door models such as these 1:43rds to espresso glasses were available for those taking delivery of the new A3.
Care to see more photos from our visit? Click our photo gallery link to the right for even more shots.