For a premium car company, Audi has devoted much attention to proving the practical side of their vehicles. From the Audi Ur-Quattro rally that dominated world rally during the 1980s to the technology-laden R18 e-tron quattro currently rolling to victory in sports car’s World Endurance Championship, Audi has demonstrated the extremes of quattro all-wheel drive and TDI diesel engines. However, like other automotive brands, Audi vehicles have enjoyed time to bask in the limelight of showbiz.
This week, the highly anticipated North American release of Iron Man 3 will place Audi in the product placement spotlight. Audisite.com is taking an opportunity to rediscover some of the most famous Audi appearances on the big screen and silver screen.
Audi S8 Sedan
TV/Movie Appearance: Ronin
A 1998 action/crime film, Ronin starred Robert De Niro and was directed by John Frankenheimer. In the world of motorsports, Frankenheimer is known as a cinematic legend for the 1966 Formula 1 racing movie Grand Prix. Showing off a flair for shooting vehicles at speed in Grand Prix, Ronin proved to be another gem from the direction of Frankenheimer. In a typical John Frankenheimer fashion, chase scenes embodied an extra special realism. Insisting high-speed scenes be performed without the many special effects Hollywood typically uses, the Frankenheimer treatment required skilled driving. One of the many vehicles involved in Ronin was an Audi S8 quattro.
Featured in two scenes driven by the character Larry (portrayed by Skipp Sudduth), the 360-horsepower S8 sedan first hustled around dark Paris streets. Later, the Audi S8 appeared in the climax scene where De Niro and his team of mercenaries pursue a man with a valuable suitcase. The combination of brawn and performance eventually proved too much for the Citroen XM. Though the movie used a crew of stunt drivers, actor Skipp Sudduth performed most of the live driving scenes himself in the Audi S8.
TV/Movie Appearance: I, Robot
In a future where sophisticated robots walk the streets, Audi appears to have become the United States’ top-selling automotive brand. Part of the 2004 blockbuster film I, Robot, Audi contributed its four-ring badge to multiple cars featured in-screen. Taxi cabs, police cars and the vehicle driven by Will Smith’s character Detective Del Spooner. In the Chicago of 2035, Spooner drives a two-passenger sport coupe called the Audi RSQ.
Creating an interpretation of where motoring would be in 30 years, Audi contributed The RSQ movie vehicle resembled the Audi TT as well as the yet-to-be released R8 supercar. Riding on spherical wheels, the Audi RSQ was once depicted spinning multiple times around while still maintaining some form of control. While only a prop vehicle, the I, Robot Audi RSQ is associated with a number of advanced technologies. In the construction of the film RSQ, it was reported rapid prototyping robots were used to assemble the cutting-edge design in real life. In the futuristic world, the Audi RSQ featured autonomous driving capability on the freeway system (though Detective Spooner would regularly disengage the program). Audi’s research into Piloted Driving technology could result in a 2035 similar to that in I, Robot.
Audi 200 Sedan and 200 Avant
TV/Movie Appearance: The Living Daylights
James Bond is most famous for his association with the Aston Martin brand. However, agent 007 is known to rely on the vehicles of other automakers. Handling a Lotus Esprit in two movies, Bond has also driven vehicles from BMW, Ford and AMC in some of his high-profile chases. In 1987’s The Living Daylights, a Q Branch modified Aston Martin V8 would have a lead automotive role as 007 rushes away from Russian patrol officers. Through two parts of that same James Bond adventure, Audi vehicles contributed in a strong supporting role.
Two variants of Audi products were involved in ‘The Living Daylights’ At the beginning of the movie, an Audi 200 sedan was driven by James Bond through a border crossing between Czechoslovakia and Austria. Later in the film, James Bond is seen waiting in an Audi 200 Avant model surveying General Pushkin’s arrival to a hotel. Unlike the Aston Martin star car in The Living Daylights, the Audis survived unscathed.
In the 2012 James Bond movie Skyfall, Audi once again appeared prominently at the opening scene. An Audi A5 coupe served as a getaway car for a bad guy.
TV/Movie Appearance: Iron Man Film Series
For what has proven to be the Audi brand’s most recognized product placement, Marvel’s Iron Man franchise adaptation to the big screen has involved the participation of their German engineered luxury cars. The presence of an Audi A8 or most recently a S7 Sportback resides briefly in numerous scenes throughout the trilogy. For all three films, when the fictional billionaire is not wearing his newest Iron Man suit, Tony Stark would be seen driving the Audi R8 supercar.
In the first film, Tony Stark drove the R8 coupe (wearing a ‘Stark 4’ vanity plate) to a charity benefit. The first appearance was little more than a cameo spot in the 2008 film. In Iron Man 2, a white Audi R8 Spyder received a greater screen time. The supercar was featured at the beginning and during a scene where Tony Stark was hauling items needed for his work in creating a new element. For Iron Man 3, Stark has acquired an all-electric e-tron model of the Audi R8. An impressive feat on the basis Audi is not even selling that particular vehicle.
TV/Movie Appearance: Ashes to Ashes
Running for three seasons on BBC, North Americans may not be entirely familiar with the television show Ashes to Ashes. A previous show called ‘Life on Mars’ depicted a present day male police officer suffering injuries and awaking in 1973. The follow-up series ‘Ashes to Ashes’ was a story set with a similar experience occurring to a policewoman shot in the present day world and transported to 1981. Both series names were titles of David Bowie songs. In Ashes to Ashes, an Ur-Quattro, one of Audi’s most defining vehicles, is part of this supernatural world.
Wheeled by the brash detective chief inspector Gene Hunt (portrayed by Philip Glenister), the red Audi Ur-Quattro was a memorable part in the 24-episode Ashes to Ashes television show. A relatively new vehicle at the time the show was set, Audi’s first quattro all-wheel drive vehicle propelled by a turbocharged five-cylinder-engine was depicted as tearing up the streets of London with as much grace as the rally car courses during the early 1980s. Along with the physical appearance of the Audi Ur-Quattro on the show, the vehicle became immortalized with Hunt‘s catchphrase, “Fire up the Quattro”.
Enjoying newfound fame with the BBC show, the Audi Ur-Quattro played an inadvertent role in the 2010 British election. First, the Labour Party used the Ur-Quattro in an attack message against Conservative candidate David Cameron. However, the Conservative party turned around and used the image with the adapted phrase “Fire up the Quattro, it’s time for change”.
Information and photo source: Audi AG, IMDB
During the 2013 Super Bowl, Audi’s “Prom” commercial attracted a lot of buzz. Some groups believed the nature of the boy kissing the prom queen was more sexual assault rather than a daring moment. Giving some context to the ad for the Audi S6 sedan, we have no idea if there was some form of relationship or friendship between the couple. Aside from the content of the Super Bowl commercial, the Audi spot was highlighted by its use of crowdsourcing. A process where a brand or company allows audiences to dictate a product, crowdsourcing will determine the ending from three possible scenarios on YouTube. The ending used in the Super Bowl ad resulted from 24 hours of voting.
For what is going to be Audi’s biggest product placement for 2013, Iron Man 3 is nearing its theatrical release of May 3rd. In preparation for the guaranteed blockbuster, Iron Man creator Marvel Comics and Audi have engaged in an interactive web-based story. Similar to Audi’s commercial, crowdsourcing will play a part in deciding the outcome of the comic tale supported by the automaker and Marvel Comics.
The story titled “The Cold Run” appears in the website SteerTheStory.com featuring an Audi R8 Spyder front and center through the comic. A largely straightforward Marvel comic adventure many comic book readers delighted reading as a kid, Blizzard (a lesser-known figure often portrayed as a villain in the Marvel universe) is chasing Tony Stark and his assistant Pepper Potts. Potts is driving an Audi R8 Spyder while Stark is manning his high-tech suits. Fighting to defeat Blizzard and protect Pepper Potts, the Iron Man “Steer The Story” digital comic book is slowly coming together with two chapters being posted. Two of the three chapters have already been posted leaving fans to decide between two specialized Iron Man suits. Through a Facebook, Twitter or Google+ account until April 22nd, a reader can choose if Tony Stark will don Arctic Armor or Spy-Tech Armor in order to fight Blizzard in the third and final chapter.
In addition to the vote for the armor, budding comic book artists and storytellers in the United States will have the opportunity to end Iron Man’s adventure. Through the guidance of two videos on how to draw aspects such as the Audi R8 and Iron Man’s helmet, fans will start submitting their panels through the Steer the Story contest once voting ends for the suit. To be judged on creativity, quality and cohesiveness to the previous two chapters, the winning third chapter will be posted on May 24th.
Besides contributing to the Iron Man comic “The Cold Run”, the grand prizewinner will receive an Iron Man 3 poster signed by actors and Marvel Judges, a signed Marvel Comic Book art board and a trip to San Diego for this year’s Comic Con. In addition to round-trip travel and a three-night hotel stay, two four-day passes to Comic Con 2013 will be provided. Two finalists will also receive an autographed Iron Man 3 poster.
Along with the Iron Man 3 movie where the Audi R8 e-tron will be part of the supporting cast, the fate of Tony Stark and Pepper Potts in “The Cold Run” should delight fans of the comic book character in its 50th year. Audi would likely want to acknowledge the existence of control rests in all of their vehicles.
Information and photo source: Audi AG, Marvel
With an Audi vehicle selling every 22 seconds, the popularity of the four-ring badge has placed greater emphasis into making the right decisions for the German luxury brand’s future. A month ago, Chairman of the Board of Management of Audi AG Rupert Stadler presented an explicit presentation on the state of the German luxury car brand. As Audi utilizes new technologies and ideas, upcoming production models could be shaped with radical concepts.
Rupert Stadler spoke proudly of the success of Audi as well as affiliate brands Lamborghini and motorcycle maker Ducati. Highlighting several new products, the Audi A3 and Audi A3 e-Tron was enthusiastically pitched. A model line responsible for over three-million Audi products sold, the new Audi A3 has already been confirmed for the United States. In addition to the Audi A3 e-tron combining an electric motor with a gasoline engine, the compact car will also be sold in a variant burning natural gas. Audi’s Stadler also spoke in depth about research into e-gas, e-diesel and e-ethanol. Derived largely from carbon dioxide, the potential with this fuel source category is a renewable product that can reduce dependency on the Earth’s reserves or farmland.
Audi still takes great pride in the construction of performance-oriented vehicles such as the newly-introduced Audi RS7 Sportback and SQ5 crossover. Stadler points out how the premium car maker delivered four new RS models during the 30th year of quattro all-wheel drive. Recent and radical vehicle introductions was the Audi RS Q3 crossover. Audi has assessed that one of every four premium vehicle sold in now a crossover or sport utility vehicle. Expecting the number to increase by 2020, the Audi RS Q3 and the SQ5 products were reactions to a growing luxury car trend.
Beyond the energy source driving future Audi products, Rupert Stadler mentioned how vehicles could be driven in the future. With many young drivers proficient in the use of their smartphone even before they receive their practice permit, the piloted driving puts vehicle control into a more familiar platform. A major attraction at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Audi’s piloted driving technology demonstrated the promise of computer-aided travel under some circumstances. After the January showcase of the system, Stadler gave a bold decoration about Audi’s piloted driving technology. Rupert Stadler is confident aspects of piloted driving will become part of production automobiles in the next decade. In his annual press conference, a more pragmatic tone recognizes the challenges for the computer-guided system. Stadler pointed to the current lack of consistent operating standards for autonomous systems like Audi’s piloted driving as a hurdle. Audi and the German government is in talks with constructing a legal consciences in the use of computer-guided driving in
With the company intending to sell two million cars by the year 2020, manufacturing capacity was a dominating topic in the final one-third of Rupert Stadler’s speech. The chairman of Audi AG has plans to commit 11 billion euros (14.4 million United States dollars) into enhancements to production facilities around the world. Stadler provided an update on Audi’s Mexican plant slated to be up and running by 2016. The future home of the Audi Q5 crossover, the auto company has already begun taking on employees in key management positions for the San José Chiapa facility. The auto plant in Mexico will be Audi’s first manufacturing facility outside of Europe used to exclusively produce vehicles for the global vehicle marketplace.
Improved fuel economy, increased production capacity and the reality we are bordering on autonomous driving is part of Audi’s future.
Information and photo source: Audi AG
Audi engineering has a history of bringing revolutionary pieces of technology to Le Mans victory lane. Late version of the Audi R8 prototype was the first race car to run gasoline direct injection and the R10 was the first diesel powered entry of the 24-hour race to claim a win at the Circuit de la Sarthe. Creating their first diesel/electric hybrid prototype race car, Audi entered the 2012 event eager to make the R18 e-tron quattro the vessel to make their latest conquest of Le Mans. After a full day of continuous racing in France, Audi has now become the first auto manufacturer to win with a hybrid race machine. Combining the TDI engine with an electric powertrain, the Audi R18 e-tron quattro launched to the 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans pole with such a long distance needed to be traveled to achieve greatness.
Winning the LMP1 category as well as the overall 24 Hours of Le Mans, the #1 Audi R18 e-tron quattro completed 378 or 3,201.3 miles from Saturday to Sunday for the 11th win for Audi. Piloted by the 2011 race’s winning driver combination of Marcel Fässler, André Lotterer and Benoit Tréluyer, the Audi R18 e-tron quattro prototype led an effort where the Audi Sport Team Joest took the top three positions.
The race for the Audi Sport Team Joest squad was not without challenges. In the first hour of the 24-hour race, a tire puncture brought the #3 Audi R18 Ultra to pit stop for an unscheduled service while the #4 car was brought in with concern for the rear suspension system. On hour three, the #2 Audi R18 e-tron quattro lost a lap to the leading #1 car when a large collection of tire rubber and debris needed to be extracted from the underneath portions of the prototype sports car.
Hour 5, the Audi mechanics were sent into battle to repair the #3 R18 Ultra car after driver Romain Dumas skidded off track. Running third at that point in the event, Dumas managed to drive his severely damaged Audi prototype race car back to the garage area. After roughly 35 minutes of repairs, the #3 Audi R18 Ultra was returned to the Circuit de la Sarthe racetrack in the hands of driver Marc Gene.
The #2 Audi R18 e-tron quattro prototype race car effort in attempting to claim the 2012 Le Mans 24-hour race went south with less than 3 hours remaining in the event. After a race-long battle as the #2 car driven by the collective talents of Dindo Capello, Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish fought with the #1 Audi R18 e-tron quattro teammate, a collision with the retaining barrier. While the #2 race car required substantial repairs, the Audi Sport Team Joest mechanics returned the R18 e-tron quattro to competition for a 2nd place finish.
The non-hybrid Audi R18 Ultra race car #4 vehicle finished 3 laps behind the winning R18 e-tron quattro. Marco Bonanomi, Oliver Jarvis and Mike Rockenfeller drove the #4 machine that allowed the Audi Sport Team Joest squad the ability to own the LMP1 podium. The fourth and final Audi R18 prototype vehicle completing the 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans finished 5th overall. The #3 Audi R18 Ultra shared by Romain Dumas, Loic Duval and Marc Gené finished their eventful 24-hour effort with a Lola-Toyota fielded by Rebellion Racing preventing a top-four sweep of the overall results at Le Mans
Relishing the German automakers latest success at Le Mans, Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich said, “It’s a great result that Audi is now the first brand to have achieved victory with a hybrid vehicle – and right on the first run, as before with the two other technologies, and – what’s more – with both R18 e-tron quattro cars on the two top spots.” Competing in the 2012 FIA World Endurance Championship, the Audi Sport Team Joest squad will have a full two months to savour the Le Mans win until the 6 Hours of Silverstone.
Information and photo source: Audi AG