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Audi took the risky step of replacing the V-8 engine in its sporty S4 and S5 models with a new supercharged V-6 in an effort to boost fuel economy. Sure the six-cylinder mill is lighter and more fuel-efficient but what about the prestige of a V-8, not to mention the smoothness and aural delight? Audi believes its customers, current and future, will favor a smaller engine and will see this trend of downsizing carry over for its next-generation models--but the automaker’s drastic fuel saving strategies don’t end there.
Smaller engine displacement isn’t the only avenue Audi is investigating as weight reduction is equally important to the automaker. Take the A4 for example. Over the past 20 years, each new generation of the A4 weighed around 10 percent more than the one it replaced. For the next generation ‘B9’ model due around 2015, Audi claims that it will weigh almost 330 pounds less than the current B8 model it replaces.
The information comes from Heinrich Timm, head of Audi's Lightweight Design Center, who spoke recently to Autoblog. To reach this goal, Audi will employ more aluminum, magnesium, and high-strength steel in the construction of the cars.
And it’s not just fuel economy improvements we’re talking about--less weight means faster acceleration, better handling, shorter stopping distances and less overall wear-and-tear. As Timm points out, 220 pounds less weight roughly means a vehicle can accelerate to 60 mph in 20 fewer feet.