Audi sharpens its R18 e-tron quattro with blocky new bodywork

Audi has dominated the 24 Hours of Le Mans for more than a decade, and to keep the streak going it’s made some major upgrades to its R18 e-tron quattro for 2015.

The hybrid R18 won Le Mans each of the past three years, and with a host of aerodynamic and powertrain upgrades, Audi is hoping it will be even harder to beat this year.

The monocoque chassis from previous versions remains, but Audi has thoroughly changed the bodywork, adding air intakes to the front fenders and redesigning the side pods.

New headlights feature the same Matrix LED and laser-light tech from the previous R18, an important asset in a 24-hour endurance race.

The hybrid power train’s basic layout is unchanged, but Audi says various tweaks will result in more power.

On the internal-combustion side, there’s a 4.0-liter turbodiesel V6 that produces 558 horsepower and drives the rear wheels. It’s assisted by a 272-hp electric motor that drives the front wheels in brief bursts.

That motor gets its juice from energy recovery during braking, which is stored in a spinning flywheel mounted next to the driver.

Le Mans rules dictate exactly how much energy can be recovered per lap, with a maximum of 8 megajoules and a minimum of 2 megajoules.

Last year, Audi went with a 2-mj system, while rivals Porsche and Toyota each ran cars with 6-mj systems. This year, the four-ringed brigade is doubling energy recovery to 4 mj.

Using more electric power helps conserve fuel, something that’s emphasized almost as much as overall performance under the current Le Mans rules.

This year, Audi could be facing its toughest competition yet. The R18 will face off against updated versions of the Porsche 919 Hybrid and Toyota TS040 Hybrid, as well as the new Nissan GT-R LM NISMO.

In addition to Le Mans, the 2015 Audi R18 e-tron quattro will compete in the full World Endurance Championship. It’s already done some testing at Sebring, and will make its first race appearance at Silverstone April 12.

Product Review

The Ferrari Portofino is the super stallion you’ll want to drive every day

With the introduction of the Portofino, Ferrari addresses the California T’s stylistic shortcomings while improving comfort, convenience, and performance. There’s little “entry-level” about this super stallion.
Cars

The 2019 Toyota C-HR gains a popular tech feature as its price comes down

Toyota has updated the C-HR, its entry-level crossover, by adding an entry-level trim level to the lineup. Every model regardless of price also comes standard with an 8.0-inch touchscreen compatible with Apple CarPlay.
Cars

FWD vs. RWD vs. AWD: How the wheels that turn change the way you drive

Let's face it, you've likely heard front-, rear-, and all-wheel drive mentioned before in some context or another. But what do these terms mean, especially in terms of performance? We’ve got the answers.
Cars

Fisker plans sub-$40,000 electric SUV with 300 miles of range for 2021

Fisker Inc. plans to launch an electric SUV with a base price of under $40,000, and a range of around 300 miles in 2021. The unnamed vehicle could compete with the Tesla Model Y, if it ever gets into production.
Emerging Tech

Robot assistants from Toyota and Panasonic gear up for the Tokyo Olympics

Japan plans to use the 2020 Olympics to showcase a range of its advanced technologies. Toyota and Panasonic are already getting in on the act, recently unveiling several robotic designs that they intend to deploy at the event.
Cars

Autonomous shuttle rides coming to New York City via Optimus Ride

Workers at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in NY City will soon be able to make their way around the 300-acre industrial park in Optimus Ride's self-driving shuttles. The tech startup says it's the first trial of its kind in the state.
Product Review

2019 Volkswagen Jetta offers German refinement and tech at an affordable price

With enough tech to make villains jealous, the Volkswagen Jetta punches above its class as a forward-thinking sedan. Spacious, comfortable, and efficient, the Jetta is a refined offering. German refinement comes with a serious attitude.
Cars

Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi group uses Microsoft cloud platform for connected cars

The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance is launching a new cloud platform for its cars. Based on Microsoft Azure, the Alliance Intelligent Cloud will enable features like connected services and over-the-air updates.
Cars

The 2020 Porsche Cayenne Coupe is an exercise in form-over-function design

Porsche expanded its lineup of SUVs with a swoopier evolution of the Cayenne named Cayenne Coupe. Don't let the name fool you: it still has four doors. It stands out with a fastback-like roofline that's lower than the Cayenne's.
Product Review

Chris is the virtual co-pilot phone-obsessives need in their car

Driving while using your phone is dangerous, and often illegal. Meet Chris, the digital assistant for your car that wants to help keep your hands off your phone, and your eyes on the road.
Cars

Protect yourself and your ride with our favorite dash cams

Dashboard cameras can assist drivers in car accident claims, settle speeding ticket disputes, and even catch glimpses of incoming meteors, among other things. Here, we've compiled a list of the most noteworthy offerings available.
Cars

Tesla revives its referral program with chances to win a Roadster

Tesla has revived its referral program that ended in February because of cost pressures. This time around the perks aren't quite as diverse, though it does offer regular chances to win a Roadster or Model Y.
Cars

Tesla ends scheduled servicing because electric cars need less maintenance

Tesla will longer offer scheduled maintenance plans, switching to an "as needed" model. This reflects the fact that electric cars need less regular maintenance than gasoline or diesel cars.
Cars

The go kart-like Mini Cooper will soon add zero emissions to its resume

Mini is in the final stages of developing an electric version of the Cooper. The 2020 Cooper SE will receive powertrain components from the BMW i3, including a 181-horsepower electric motor and battery technology.