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The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

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On: Fri, Dec 18, 2009 at 3:28PM | By: John Welch

The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

Audi considers offering the R8 GT3 to American customers;

the Scirocco R is just too scintillating for American tastes;

and GM finally puts the proverbial nail in Saab's coffin.

The Good: Last season, the ALMS tried an interesting experiment. To bolster car counts, the series allowed Porsche GT3 Cup cars to run alongside the big boys - GT2 and the prototype classes. With their narrow body work, the Cup cars were nearly as fast as the GT2 cars on the straights, but their lack of wide rubber and aerodynamic aids slowed them down during braking and cornering maneuvers. This made for a semi amateur class that was able to compete with the full-on professional teams. It also became apparent that the ALMS Challenge class (the name of this new class, obviously,) was eerily similar to European GT3. GT3 features what amount to stock-bodied GT2 cars, sans massive aero devices and 15 inch wide tires. Audi noticed, and Audi happens to manufacture a GT3 car of their own, the R8LM GT3.

Already racing in Europe, the R8LM is Audi's version of the Porsche GT3 - a street car in name and registration only. This pissed-off R8 is decked out with all the racing goodies, lightened chassis, rock-hard suspension, kitted-out interior. These are customer cars in every way the Porsches are; Audi offers support and maintenance with every R8LM sold. This is the reason Audi may wait until 2011 to offer the cars on our shores; they want to ensure that they have the proper support network set up to service customer cars in a timely and fair manner.

"From 2011 on, we want the cars available to customers in the United States," said Dr. Wolfgang Ulrich, Audi Sport Director/Team Manager. "We will have to build up a customer service that provides the good service that is expected from an Audi car in the United States. I think it would be interesting for IMSA to open (the GT Challenge) class. If we can do something to support it, we would like to do it. We have been working with IMSA for some time in building up the American Le Mans Series. I think a GT3 class (or similar) in the American Le Mans Series is something positive." Images for this post were clipped from the Ultimatecarpage.com. Excellent resource that page . . .

The Bad: E-Gaaad, the Volkswagen Scirocco R is one gorgeous hunk of steel and aluminum. The tightly packaged fenders, the gaping, hungry maw, the blistering yet efficient engine. It all seems to good to be true at the Scirocco's price point. Well, for us tasteless 'Murrihkens, it is to good to be true. We won't ever have the opportunity to buy it. That's bad. Real bad.

Car and Driver got a taste of the VW forbidden fruit, forbidden because VW thinks the Scirocco would steal sales away from the mechanically similar GTi. They loved it. The 265 bhp turbo four is donated by the Audi S3, and it is a beast of an engine. Delivering a sub-six second 0 to 60 time, the motor is still able to turn 29 mpg on the highway. And, I mean, Geesus, just look at it!

The car comes with all of the requisite interior trim - "R" logos and badges abound, aluminum trim lining the doors and console. There really is only one perceived problem with this car: WE CAIN'T BUT IT!

The Ugly: Sigh, can't even avoid stupid GM on a Friday. Depressing really. What's today's news? As usual, not good. Per Nick Reilly, president of G.M. Europe: "Despite the best efforts of all involved, it has become very clear that the due diligence required to complete this (selling Saab) complex transaction could not be executed in a reasonable time."

"We regret that we were not able to complete this transaction with Spyker Cars," Mr. Reilly said. "We will work closely with the Saab organization to wind down the business in an orderly and responsible manner."

So that's it then, a long and storied history of console-mounted ignitions and funky wagon shapes is coming to an end. Sad really. Does anybody remember the late-nineties vintage 9-3 Viggen? A truly sweet "hot-hatch" and on these shore one of the originals! A hair-brained turbo four, swoopy yet angular body panels, a fantastic presence - this car had it all! It was also distinctly Swedish, one of the last true Scandinavian designed Saabs. The Viggen isn't really the last kewl Saab though. Even though we don't appreciate it, the 9-3 Sport Combi is a hell of a car as well.

Currently on sale and packing a twin-turbo small displacement V6, the Sport Combi is as satifying as anything based on front-drive architecture. Unfortunately, outside of the North East and Britain, this car and all other Saabs just are not selling in any significant numbers. That makes it hard to come up with a bullet-proof business proposal for any potential buyers. The Chinese aren't going to be able to save this one, guys . . . buh-Bye, Saab, say hello to Buell for us on the way to "Closed Down Vehicle Maker" Purgatory!

Photo Gallery (click a thumbnail to enlarge)



Plove | 3:47PM (Fri, Dec 18, 2009)

I hate you VW. The Scirocco R is the sexiest VW who cares if it steals away the market from the GTi the Scirocco R is the cooler car by far. and really it is a choice of hatchback or coupe.


Plove | 1:54PM (Wed, Dec 23, 2009)

don't even get me started on the corrado. That was the sweetest car. it was the scirocco on steroids. that vr6 was a beast.

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