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
For a company associated heavily with aluminum construction, why does Audi involve themselves with iron? Part of the first two Iron Man films adapted from the Marvel comic book franchise, the premium car company happily lent its trendy products. Making several cameo appearances, Audi vehicles contributed to the style of the movies (note Iron Man’s eyes when looking at the headlamps of an Audi car). Robert Downey Jr’s character Tony Stark drove a coupe as well as the Spyder variant of the Audi R8 in Iron Man and Iron Man 2. The Audi A8 sedan and Q7 crossover also received screen time during the action-adventure series. The third movie in the current blockbuster Iron Man series will again have Audi products on display.
Serving as the all-wheel drive chariot for high-energy, fictional billionaire Tony Stark will be a white Audi R8 e-tron supercar. In addition, Stark‘s girlfriend Virginia “Pepper” Potts (played by Gwyneth Paltrow) is receiving her own set of Audi quattro wheels. Potts will be seen driving an Audi S7 Sportback in the 2013 film.
First applied to the Audi R8 in 2010, the e-tron powerplant layout pitched the company’s first experiment in production-oriented electric car. Premiering in 2009 at the Frankfurt Motor Show, the R8 e-tron was a 313-horsepower concept was heavily Audi. Even Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive in a zero-emissions car was present in an all-electric setup. While the electric powerplant is now as powerful as a conventional 4.2 liter V8-powered R8, the Audi R8 e-tron’s roughly 1,000-pound weight reduction provided compensation. Acceleration of the R8 e-tron from 0 to 62 miles per hour was estimated at 4.8 seconds.
Since introduction, the Audi R8 e-tron supercar could be seen under evaluation at places including the Nurburgring. Despite optimism and excitement to compare an all-electric Audi supercar, limited production originally planned for the R8 e-tron for late 2012 is now indefinitely delayed. An appearance in Iron Man 3 at least preserves some hope that the e-tron philosophy hasn’t been abandoned by Audi. Perhaps, if Tony Stark lent Audi the power capacity of an arc reactor, the future of an R8 e-tron sports car would reach fruition.
In addition to the Audi R8 e-tron, the Marvel universe revolving around Iron Man already brought a concept car to fictional streets. In the 2012 blockbuster “The Avengers”, a yet-to-be publicly released Acura NSX convertible appeared. Decked out in a red resembling part of Iron Man’s colour scheme, Tony Stark was seen giving Dr. Banner (A.K.A. The Hulk) a ride following their battle to save the world.
The return of Audi’s Marvel universe appearance in Iron Man 3 is quickly approaching. United States release of the highly-anticipated film is May 3rd.
Spoiler Alert: One excerpt of the recent Iron Man 3 trailer shows the untimely demise of an Audi R8 when Stark’s mansion is under attack. At the 1-minute, 31-second mark of the trailer, the white Audi R8 e-tron is seen falling with other debris. If harm simply comes to that car as result of an evil force, that is reason enough for Iron Man to send some repulsor blasts flying.
Information, photo and video source: Audi AG, Marvel