Featured Flick: WOT Roundtable Discusses Audi S4 vs. Volvo S60, Future of Ford in Australia

The Wide Open Throttle regulars of Angus MacKenzie, Jonny Lieberman and Carlos Lago were joined again this week by the stars of Roadkill and Hot Rod Unlimited, David Freiburger and Mike Finnegan to add their hands-on performance perspective to the conversation. The show kicks off with a discussion of the Volvo S60 T6 vs. the Audi S4, with the consensus that the VW Group’s deep pockets and engineering expertise made it almost impossible for Volvo to pull off an upset. Add the Audi’s inherently more high-performance seven-speed dual clutch, and the competition was almost over before it started.

The Volkswagen Group’s significant engineering and financial resources, as well as its inherently superior drivetrain gave Audi the edge. Freiburger said the idea of a high-performance Volvo is somewhat odd to him, saying Volvo makes him think “soccer mom.” Motor Trend’s Jonny Lieberman retorted that he’d been to Volvo’s motorsports museum in Sweden, and that the brand has a long history of performance and motorsports, despite its safe and conservative image.

The last Roadkill adventure of supercharging a Chevrolet Monza with a quint of Husqvarna leafblowers came up, with Freiburger and Finnegan defending the experiment as science, and vouching for the efficacy of the yard tools for adding 20 hp at the wheels. Cost effective? Not really. Fun and wacky? Definitely.

Finally, the sunset of the era of Ford manufacturing in Australia capped off the week’s discussion, following the company’s announcement that local production would end in 2016, the victim of shrinking demand for the brand’s traditional full-size rear-drive sedans, the strength of the Australian dollar, which has made imports cheaper, and Ford CEO Alan Mulally’s insistence on global platforms. In a somewhat ironic consolation, the next-generation Mustang may be sold in Australia.

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By Edward A. Sanchez

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