Oct. 22 (Bloomberg) — If you’re a carmaker, it’s a heck of a lot easier to get publicity out of a new model than one already in your stable. Incremental excellence isn’t nearly as sexy as the thrill of the new.
When a great car gets noticeably better, though, somebody really should take notice, because it means money is going to the engineering department and not just TV ads.
I was reminded of this recently after stepping out of two updated cars from Audi. The latest iterations of the R8 supercar and S4 sport sedan had better handling and were faster and more enjoyable than last time I spun around in them. And I’d liked them plenty before.
Among European carmakers, Audi was always more of a character actor than action hero or brassy starlet. It showed up on time and remembered its lines, but seemed content to let Brad-Pitt BMW and Meryl-Streep Mercedes-Benz take center stage.
Only this decade have the company’s cars become brasher and brighter, most notably with the 2007 release of the $115,000 R8. This was Audi’s Clive Owen: A mid-engine two-seater with sex appeal, style, plus genuine comfort and sporting chops.