Weee are the champions! The 2014 Audi Twin Cup Service World Championship wrapped up last month in Munich, with Canadian representative Aaron Berghoffer sharing first place honours in the competition’s Technology Cup.
A technician at OpenRoad Audi, Berghoffer travelled to Germany with service consultant and fellow co-worker Dragos Paduraru who also participated in the competition that featured 219 entrants from 38 countries. Over two days, the pair worked with other Canadian teammates in their respective categories before coming together on the last day to vie for the championship.
“The Twin Cup is completed as a team — three people from a technology background and three from a service background. The service group completes two 45-minute tests and the technology group completes two 45-minute tests at the same time. We then complete a one-hour test together as a team,” says Berghoffer, adding his trio’s evaluation included measuring and adjusting a rear differential, and diagnosing and repairing an air suspension system.
“The technology cup is awarded to the technology team with the highest score.”
Berghoffer says he found the most challenging tasks to be managing his time wisely and overcoming the pressure to finish accurately. While he and his tech teammates won their category, Canada finishing sixth in the overall competition. This year marked the tenth anniversary of the annual event.
The fine line between the end of winter and the start of spring is often blurred. It still rains more often than not, and you just can’t get yourself to pack away the jackets quite yet. And with summer approaching quickly, you start to notice the faint smell of barbecue wafting in your window, and then the first firm sign appears — convertibles of all shapes and colours begin flooding the streets.
For the 2014 model year, there is no shortage of new drop tops offered by manufacturers ranging from mild to wild. Here are a few favourite picks to hit the open road with this start of the warm season.
With great handling due to its short wheelbase, cute looks and the choice of three powerplants, there’s a lot to like about the MINI Cooper Roadster. Starting at MSRP $28,900, it’s available in standard trim with 121 horsepower, the more powerful Cooper S with 181 hp, and my personal favourite, the John Cooper Works edition with 208 hp and 192 pound-feet of torque. All models still get great gas mileage as well with the latter rated at 7.7 L/100 km in the city and 5.6 L/100 km on the highway.
On the other end of the spectrum, the Audi R8 Spyder Convertible is made to impress. For an MSRP of $148,000, you get a 4.2-litre eight-cylinder engine producing 430 hp and 317 lb-ft of torque, 19-inch wheels and a six-speed manual transmission. Or, step up to the $182,000 V10 model for a horsepower and torque bump up to 525 and 430 lb-ft, respectively. New for 2014 is an optional S tronic seven-speed automatic gearbox that will launch the V10 from 0 to 100 km/h in under 3.5 seconds.
Time is winding down for consumers to pick up the third generation of arguably the most popular roadster in history: the Mazda MX-5 Miata. Introduced in 1989, the first iteration alone sold over 400,000 units. The modern version retains much of that classic two-seater sports car feel with a rear-wheel drive layout, a high-revving 167-hp engine and an available six-speed transmission. Enthusiasts should be on the lookout for a new Miata based on a completely redesigned chassis coming soon.
Like the Olympic Games of the automotive world, the Audi Twin Cup world championship is the ultimate destination for service and technician staff of the other well-known brand symbolized by rings. Held this year in Munich, Germany, teams of six — three from each department — will be competing from 40 nations for the recognition of being the best in their field.
Dragos Paduraru has been a Service Advisor with OpenRoad Audi in Vancouver for seven years, and knows a thing or two about the topic having been part of the Canadian team that finished fifth overall at the 2013 event. He will be reprising his role as ambassador, along with technician and fellow co-worker Aaron Berghoffer, following victories in their respective categories at the nationals in early April. Staff technician Peter Cheung also competed making it to the semi-finals.
Paduraru says he originally joined the competition to challenge himself.
“I wanted to see how well I’m prepared. I know I can do very well in terms of service processes, and also I’m familiar with the parts as well and also the shop a little bit,” he says.
To qualify, anyone working in the appropriate areas within the Audi dealer network can throw their names in the hat. The first hurdle is at the local level where entrants must undergo two rounds of general knowledge testing on the computer.
“The questions vary from very technical ones that are car related, to extremely customer-oriented ones that have nothing to do with the car itself,” says Paduraru, originally from Romania.
The next step is the national stage at the Audi Canada corporate headquarters in Ajax, Ontario where the testing is split into customer or mechanical expertise, such as identifying a car part by blindly putting your hand into a box of items. From there, the top six get the honour of representing Canada at the Audi Twin Cup. Whereas previously entrants competed as individuals, at the worlds they must learn to function as a team.
“Why it’s named the Twin Cup is basically because the service consultants and technicians should work together like a team, like twins. Even the Sedins in hockey, they know all their moves and all their processes. It’s exactly what they want to see at the world stage, a really good performance from both sides.”
As a technician at OpenRoad Audi since 2010, Cheung says the competition offers a unique chance to network with others in his field, and also see how he measures up to them.
“I had the opportunity to see how I stand up against other Audi technicians in Canada and possibly the world.”
Berghoffer joined the company over a year ago and while he is “very excited,” acknowledges that it won’t be easy to dethrone the current champions from South Korea.
The 2014 Audi Twin cup takes place in Munich from July 16 to 19.
Head-up displays (HUDs), which project vehicle speed and other information in the driver’s field of view, have been available since about 1990s on a small handful of luxury cars.
But with most of them based on basic LED technology of the time, information that could be displayed was limited at best. Cost, packaging, and reliability were also issues.
As automakers try to find new ways to reduce driving distractions in recent years, new LCD technology and cost reductions have allowed heads-up display systems to become more widespread like never before.
How it works
Fighter jets have used HUDs for years to keep vital information in front of pilots during combat situations. After all, keeping their eyes trained on the action in the heat of battle rather than on the cockpit instruments can mean the difference between life and death.
While a head-up display can take almost any form, the most common type in a car reflects its image directly off the windshield just below the driver’s line of sight. This is achieved by a special display integrated on the top of the dashboard and a specially coated windshield.
Just as in a jet fighter, the idea is that a head-up display helps the driver concentrate on what is happening on the road by displaying relevant information right in the driver’s line of vision.
What you get as you peer out past the steering wheel is a floating display with your speed and navigation directions. On some cars, the current audio playlist, collision warning and lane departure markings may also be displayed.
In fact, thanks to the move from LED icon-based displays to configurable LCD monitors, automakers can display just about anything.
Today, head-up displays are widely available in many models from luxury marques including Audi, BMW, Lexus, and also the Hyundai Equus. In this category, buyers demand technology and are willing to pay extra for it.
However in the last year or so, heads-up displays have also made it to lower-priced vehicles thanks to a few clever innovations by engineers.
BMW offers an advanced full-colour HUD system on many of their models. You can see your current speed, but the 3×6-inch colour display also shows vehicle warnings (such as lane departure and collision alert), the current setting for the adaptive cruise control, and turn-by-turn GPS navigation indicators. You can also bring up your current playlist, or see who is calling on your Bluetooth connected phone.
BMWs HUD will adjust automatically to current weather conditions due to an ambient light sensor. Via the vehicle’s iDrive interface, owners can further tweak the brightness level, position and rotation of the display, or even what information they want (or don’t want) to see.
The 3.41×10.31 inch display is based on the latest TFT LCD screen technology and backlit by 15 energy efficient white LEDs. Like BMW’s system, a sensor constantly measures ambient brightness in front of the vehicle and the system adjusts the light intensity so that the display can be read perfectly at all times day or night.
Drivers can select what information they wish to have shown via the MMI, including the speed, navigation symbols, and lists of infotainment systems and displays for the driver assistance systems.
HUDs are finding their way into more vehicles, including lower-priced ones such as the all-new 2014 Mazda3.
Mazda’s optional system, dubbed their “Active Driving Display” is the first Mazda product with such a system and is more compact than other HUDs out in the marketplace. Traditional HUDs wouldn’t fit in the Mazda3 due how much space they require.
The Active Driving Display doesn’t project onto the windshield but instead onto a pop-up semitransparent lens on the top of the dash in the driver’s field of vision. Despite being fitted to a lower-priced vehicle, the Mazda3’s system also projects speed, cruise control settings, driver assistance system warnings, and navigation info. However it is not a full-colour display unlike those from the German auto manufacturers.
One extra benefit to this setup is reduced repair costs if the windshield gets damaged. Why? Because traditional Heads-up display systems require a special reflective windshield coating for the information projected on them to be visible. If a stray rock damages the windshield in the Mazda, it won’t be as costly to fix as the car uses a normal windshield.
Like Mazda’s system, the full-colour HUD is not projected onto the windshield surface but instead appears on a semitransparent lens atop the dashboard in the driver’s field of vision.
Turn-by-turn navigation graphics, current speed and speed limit information, safety system warnings can be displayed and seen quickly and conveniently without the driver having to take eyes off the road.
The Vancouver International Auto Show is returning into town this week and I’ve managed to my hands on the advance media preview vehicle list. Here are my top 3 supercar unveilings that I am most excited for at this year’s show!
There’s just something that I love about an uber fast large luxury super sports sedan, and Audi is an expert in this category.
The 520hp 2015 Audi S8 makes its regional debut at this year’s autoshow. Like the more pedestrian A8, it receives some stylistic nips and tucks to both the exterior and interior, along with the expected technology upgrades. Pay particular attention to its amazing new Matrix LED headlights!
Unveiled at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show, the much anticipated plug-in hybrid supercar has finally made its way (in production form) to Vancouver!
This car was first introduced as the BMW Concept Vision EfficientDynamics, and made its silver screen debut in Mission Impossible 4 (part of which was filmed in Vancouver) with Tom Cruise.
With a 7.1 kWh lithium-ion battery pack and an expected all-electric range of 37 kms, BMW conservatively estimates a 0-100 km/hr time of 4.4 seconds. A 3-cylinder 1.5-litre BMW TwinPower Turbo range extender engine eliminates pure electric car range anxiety. When combined with the eDrive technology the system produces a whopping 362hp and 420 ft-lbs of torque.
The everyday driving range of the i8 with a full tank of gas and a full charged battery is expected to be more than 500 kms in COMFORT mode.
Now this is something ultra-special and I’ve saved the best for last. McLaren has chosen this year’s Vancouver International Auto Show as the place for its North American unveiling of their latest model, the 650S.
Sandwiched in between the 12C and the ridiculously awesome hybrid super supercar P1, the all-new McLaren 650S is not exactly your average middle child.
This midrange model from the British exotic car manufacturer is the brand’s latest bid to compete with Porsche, Lamborghini, and Ferrari at the top of the supercar league.
While the 650S also has a carbon-fibre MonoCell backbone like the 12C, it has been tweaked to shave some extra weight. The 650S’s additional changes and improvements required fitting 25% new components versus the 12C.
With the 641hp/500 ft-lbs of torque from its 3.8-litre twin turbo V8 able to catapult the car from 0-60mph in less than 3 seconds, this latest British supercar is something that you will not want to miss at this year’s show!
The Vancouver International Auto Show opens to the public from Tuesday noon on March 25th, 2014 till Sunday March 30th.
Stay tuned for more of auto show top picks (in different categories) over the next couple of days!
On November 11th, 2011, Audi owners were given the oppurtunity to test the limits of the vehicles on a closed track in extreme driving situations. During the event, they were also able to experience some of Audi’s newest lineup such as the Audi R8, S4, and A6 !
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OpenRoad Audi launches the long awaited Audi A7 sportsback. Guests of our event were able to get a hands on feel of the highly sought after vehicle as they enjoyed drinks from our martini bar, amazing food by OPUS, a fully seafood bar. The atmosphere was amplified by our live DJ playing upbeat music alongside the beautiful Audi A7 models.