Audi A7 vs. BMW 640i Gran Coupe: CNET On Cars Episode 1

In the inaugural episode of CNET On Cars, host Brian Cooley compares two big German luxury coupes, takes you inside Direct Injection tech, and runs down the Top 5 most powerful cars you can afford.

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Hope you've enjoyed the first episode of CNET On Cars. I'd love to hear your thoughts, via either the comments or email link on this page. With each of our bi-weekly shows, I'll be posting my personal notes about what took place behind the scenes. Think of it as show notes with a story to tell.

A lot of people have asked where we shot the stand ups for this episode. It's a private collection here in the Bay Area that the owners want to keep under the radar, but it's clearly no secret they love Lotus cars and built a replica of the Lotus pits at Le Mans you can see in the background. I think the vintage Auto Union pedal car in the foreground might be the sleeper in the bunch; They got rather nervous whenever we set up our cameras around it!

We were lucky enough to get an early BMW 640i Gran Coupe to pit against an A7 On The Road. Mitch Chang produced this segment, like he does all the CNET Car Tech videos, and called for faster and faster runs on a track so tight it could fit in your bathtub. As we flogged to order, the 640i seemed to dig into the pavement while I felt the A7 was more dancing over it. The white-haired dude you see sharing piloting duties with me is our track host, Kurt Fischer of PCA Redwood Region, who is real hard to catch coming out of corners. He preferred the A7's Quattro AWD, which is about as different from his 1980 911 Weissach's drivetrain as a car can be.

We have a great team at State Farm that pulls together interesting factoids to power our Smarter Driver segments, this week about the myth of hands-free tech making driving safer - especially for teens. Just watching the distracted footage producer Mike "Mondo" McInerney pulled together for that segment makes me cringe!

We made a trip to Ford's Advanced Research Labs in Dearborn to get a real look at direct injection tech for our Car Tech 101. That dyno lab you see in the show is the actual place where they develop their DI technology and, as we shot, their team was running tests on a new design too secret to share. Soon. Ford's Steve Wooldridge is the sort of quiet genius you wish you could call when you're out in the driveway trying to sort out an ignition problem on your own car!

Top 5 Most Powerful Cars You Can Afford gives me the willies: I have this nagging feeling I'm leaving out a car that should be in the list. (I'm sure you'll let me know which one it is.) It's full of the usual American muscle suspects, but for one: The Hyundai Genesis Sedan 5.0. We were editing the show late one night over at Digital Core studios when editor Brent Kirsten just started scrolling back and forth over the Hyundai footage: "What is that?". Nobody is ready for a big V8 Hyundai ass-kicker, but it's here.

On this launch I want to acknowledge a bunch of people who made CNET On Cars happen, with a glimpse of how they did that:

Mark Larkin runs CNET and obsesses on cars even more than I do. He ordered the show, so blame him!

CNET's Editor in Chief Lindsey Turrentine guided this show to fit like a glove on the 90-fingered hand that is CNET.

Bonnie Gannon is in charge of CNET TV and makes things happen that should require a team three times larger.

Our show page was engineered by CNET's Justin Eckhouse, who you can thank for all the tech behind CNET TV.

Love our graphics? Thank Shaun Charity and Viva Tung on Marc Mendell's design team at CNET.

Infusing those graphics with music & sound and mapping them to the show was well done by Chris Pavey.

Mike "Mondo" McInerney is our managing producer; You've seen his shows on HGTV, Discovery and Nat Geo.

Mitchell Chang also edits CNET's Car Tech videos, which number over 1,000 mini masterpieces at this point.

Brent Kirsten at Digital Core in San Francisco did our final cut in one long 36-hour session. Get some sleep, dude.

Check out those shots of the A7 and 640i: The usual inventive work of Charlie Wagner and Celso Bulgatti.

Katy Davies, Jen Boscacci and Diana Primeau are the reasons you'll have a hard time missing CNET On Cars!

And thanks to State Farm for being partner as well as sponsor, and to their Matt Johnson for making that happen before ever seeing a frame of video.

Now to get cracking on episode 2.

 

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