The Truth About Cars » Audi http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 20 May 2015 17:00:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars » Audi http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/reviews/audi/ Audi A7 vs. Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class – Which One Wins The U.S. Sales Race? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/audi-a7-vs-mercedes-benz-cls-class-one-wins-u-s-sales-race/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/audi-a7-vs-mercedes-benz-cls-class-one-wins-u-s-sales-race/#comments Fri, 15 May 2015 14:00:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1068130 With a broader product portfolio and extra decades of established premium status in the United States, Mercedes-Benz USA sells a lot more vehicles than Audi USA. Through the first four months of 2015, Mercedes-Benz sales were up 9% to 107,344, excluding Sprinter. Audi, globally favored, was up 12% to 56,925. But again, the comparisons are […]

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2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG

With a broader product portfolio and extra decades of established premium status in the United States, Mercedes-Benz USA sells a lot more vehicles than Audi USA. Through the first four months of 2015, Mercedes-Benz sales were up 9% to 107,344, excluding Sprinter. Audi, globally favored, was up 12% to 56,925.

But again, the comparisons are difficult to make because the lineups simply don’t, well, line up. We’ve discussed the CLA and A3 before, but even there, Audi is offering different bodystyles under one banner, which Mercedes-Benz does not. The S-Class has a significantly higher base price than the A8. The E-Class is available as a sedan, wagon, coupe, and convertible – the A6 is sedan only. The GL is significantly pricier than the Q7; the Q7 offers more seats than the ML. The C-Class is new; we might as well wait for a new A4 to draw realistic comparisons. The SLK is a hardtop convertible; the TT is either coupe or convertible.

You get the idea. Only in a handful of zones do the two brands offer truly direct rivals. GLA vs. Q3, GLK vs. Q5, and the matter at hand, Mercedes-Benz CLS vs. Audi A7.

The CLS is a swoopier E-Class, in a sense, just as the A7 is the more style-centric A6. The CLS starts at $65,990, offerings more performance at $73,200, and is just plain crazy as a $106,550 CLS 63 AMG S 4Matic. The Audi A7 starts at $68,300, rises to $82,900 as an S7, and begins its RS7 scheme at $108,900. Similar.

2015 Audi S7

They are two German mid-rung offshoots with six, eight, or overwhelming eight-cylinder power. There’s very little to separate the two.

Yet the Audi A7 consistently outsells the Mercedes-Benz CLS.

The margins are slim, but sufficient so as to be noticeable.

Audi USA sold 6,270 A7s in 2011, the A7’s first (abbreviated) year of sales. Mercedes-Benz USA, having already sold 44,389 CLS sedans in the six years before the A7’s launch, achieved a 165% year-over-year sales increase in 2011, but fell 605 sales shy of the Audi despite having an extra three months in which to sell.

The A7 outsold the CLS by 533 units in the Audi’s first full year of 2012. A7 sales then slipped 1% to 8,483 in 2013, still enough to outsell the CLS (down 0.4%) by 451 units in 2013.

Last year, A7 sales dropped 4% to 8,133 units, but the CLS’s 13% decline made an 1,152-unit victory possible for the Audi.

And through the first four months of 2015, the A7 is ahead by a scant 34 units with 1,835 year-to-date sales.

What makes the A7 so capable of staying ahead of the Benz? Both cars have had recent supply constraints that caused U.S. volume to drag: CLS sales were down 61% through the fourth-quarter of 2014; A7 sales are down 36% over the last six months. But even in those strange circumstances, the A7 stays just ahead. The Audi has outsold the Benz in 31 of the 49 months in which the Audi has been available.

Audi A7 hatchback

Could it be the tailgate?

Sure, the A7 and CLS line up head-to-head in so many ways. But Audi builds the A7 as a hatchback.

Moreover, Audi builds a diesel version of that hatchback.

Yes, America, the diesel hatchback outsells the sedan that they call a coupe. In a manner of speaking.

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Of course the diesel isn’t all that common. Only 13% of the A7s, S7s, and RS7s currently listed by Cars.com’s inventory are fitted with the V6 diesel. But that, in concert with the fact that the A7 offers 60% more cargo capacity, may be all that’s needed.

After all, the A7 is only just barely pipping the CLS on the TTAC sales-o-meter.

Where’s the CLS350d Shooting Brake when you need it?

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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Frankfurt 2015: Next-Gen Audi A4 Set To Bow Prior To Show http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/frankfurt-2015-next-gen-audi-a4-set-bow-prior-show/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/frankfurt-2015-next-gen-audi-a4-set-bow-prior-show/#comments Wed, 11 Mar 2015 10:00:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1020081 Before its MY 2016 showroom appearance, the next-gen Audi A4 will make its global debut prior to the 2015 Frankfurt Auto Show this September. Indian Autos Blog reports Audi Board of Managment member and technical development boss Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg made the proclamation during this month’s Geneva Auto Show: You’ll be happy to see it..at […]

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Before its MY 2016 showroom appearance, the next-gen Audi A4 will make its global debut prior to the 2015 Frankfurt Auto Show this September.

Indian Autos Blog reports Audi Board of Managment member and technical development boss Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg made the proclamation during this month’s Geneva Auto Show:

You’ll be happy to see it..at least in Frankfurt (Frankfurt Motor Show), but we’ll make a pre-presentation (prior to the show).

Said pre-presentation would be staged close to the start of the show September 15, with global media in attendance for the debut.

The new A4 is expected underpinned by the MLB Evo architecture, losing 100 kg (220 lbs) while gaining 13 powertrain options covering gasoline, diesel and hybrid variants. The sedan will hit showrooms in Europe near the end of the year, with more details and images to come as its date with the world draws closer.

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Geneva 2015: Audi RS3 Revealed http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/geneva-2015-audi-rs3-revealed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/geneva-2015-audi-rs3-revealed/#comments Tue, 03 Mar 2015 12:01:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1012786 Revealed last year, the Audi RS3 finally made its public debut at the 2015 Geneva Auto Show. Motivation for the RS3 is a 2.5-liter turbo-five capable of 367 horsepower and 343 lb-ft of torque. The power is fed to the Quattro AWD system via a seven-speed dual-clutch auto, while the aforementioned Quattro system can direct […]

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Audi RS 3 Sportback

Revealed last year, the Audi RS3 finally made its public debut at the 2015 Geneva Auto Show.

Motivation for the RS3 is a 2.5-liter turbo-five capable of 367 horsepower and 343 lb-ft of torque. The power is fed to the Quattro AWD system via a seven-speed dual-clutch auto, while the aforementioned Quattro system can direct 50 to 100 percent of that power to the rear with torque vectoring.

The RS3 is an inch lower than the A3, and loses 121 lbs over its previous incarnation for a weight of 3,351 lbs. Braking is handled with the help of carbon ceramic rotors up front and eight-piston calipers. All corners are shod in 19-inch wheels with 235/35 tires.

Other features include boost pressure indicator, lap timer, Nappa-covered sport seats, and plenty of RS badges.

Alas, while deliveries are set to begin this summer, none will be headed to the United States; Audi is rumored to be considering an RS3 sedan for North America.

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Geneva 2015: Audi Prologue Avant Concept Debuts http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/geneva-2015-audi-prologue-avant-concept-debuts/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/geneva-2015-audi-prologue-avant-concept-debuts/#comments Tue, 03 Mar 2015 10:06:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1012266 A preview of what’s to come for Audi’s four-door sedans and estates, the Audi Prologue Avant Concept debuted at the 2015 Geneva Auto Show. Power for the Prologue Avant comes from the Q7 e-tron quattro’s 3-liter V6 diesel and electric motor, collectively driving 455 horses and 553 lb-ft of torque to all four corners. Zero […]

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Audi prologue Avant

A preview of what’s to come for Audi’s four-door sedans and estates, the Audi Prologue Avant Concept debuted at the 2015 Geneva Auto Show.

Power for the Prologue Avant comes from the Q7 e-tron quattro’s 3-liter V6 diesel and electric motor, collectively driving 455 horses and 553 lb-ft of torque to all four corners. Zero to 62 comes in 5.1 seconds, and top speed is limited to 155 mph. Range is 33.6 miles in all-electric mode.

The concept comes in at 16.8 feet in length with a width of 6.5 feet, putting it within the footprint of the A8. Other features include carbon fiber ceramic brakes, adaptive air suspension, flexible OLED displays, and a “butler” that can ID all of the Prologue Avant’s occupants based on their smartphones.

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Geneva 2015: Audi R8 e-tron Revealed http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/geneva-2015-audi-r8-e-tron-revealed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/geneva-2015-audi-r8-e-tron-revealed/#comments Tue, 03 Mar 2015 07:26:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1011362 Briefly mentioned earlier, the spotlight now fully shines upon the Audi R8 e-tron at the 2015 Geneva Auto Show. The electric motors powering the R8 e-tron are capable of producing 456 horsepower and 679 lb-ft of torque, pushing the electric exotic from nil to 60 in 3.9 seconds. Top speed, as mentioned previously, will be […]

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Briefly mentioned earlier, the spotlight now fully shines upon the Audi R8 e-tron at the 2015 Geneva Auto Show.

The electric motors powering the R8 e-tron are capable of producing 456 horsepower and 679 lb-ft of torque, pushing the electric exotic from nil to 60 in 3.9 seconds. Top speed, as mentioned previously, will be limited to between 130.5 mph and 153.3 mph.

Though range was first stated to be 250 miles on a single charge, Audi says the R8 e-tron can go 276 miles before needing to recharge, an act that could take as little as two hours on a fast charge. The automaker also stated that the exotic is a test bed for a potential electric sedan meant to take on the Tesla Model S.

Price of admission has yet to be announced, but Audi says it will begin taking orders by late 2015.

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Geneva 2015: 2017 Audi R8 Debuts http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/geneva-2015-2017-audi-r8-debuts/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/geneva-2015-2017-audi-r8-debuts/#comments Mon, 02 Mar 2015 19:00:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1010650 Christian Grey will have to move to Europe if he wants the new Audi R8 sooner than 2016. Otherwise, he’ll have to settle for seeing its debut in Geneva. While U.S. showrooms will be waiting until the 2017 model year for the R8 to arrive, those across the Atlantic can get theirs this summer for […]

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Christian Grey will have to move to Europe if he wants the new Audi R8 sooner than 2016. Otherwise, he’ll have to settle for seeing its debut in Geneva.

While U.S. showrooms will be waiting until the 2017 model year for the R8 to arrive, those across the Atlantic can get theirs this summer for the equivalent of $184,000 to $209,000, depending on features selected.

When it does arrive, however, V10 power will be the rule with two options: 540 horsepower and 398 lb-ft of torque, or 610 horses and 413 lb-ft of torque. Either way, the power will be funnelled through a seven-speed dual-clutch auto to an all-new Quattro system that can make the R8 either all FWD or all RWD depending on where demand is greatest.

Meanwhile, those who want more green power can opt for the e-tron version, whose 92-kWh battery pack gives the all-electric model a range 280 miles per charge, double that of the previous e-tron’s 140 miles. Speed will be limited to between 130.5 mph and 153.3 mph, and pricing is not yet known.

Other options include adaptive suspension, variable steering, 19- and 20-inch wheel choices, steel or carbon ceramic brakes, and a driver-focused interior.

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Capsule Review: 2015 Audi TTS Coupe Competition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/capsule-review-2015-audi-tts-coupe-competition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/capsule-review-2015-audi-tts-coupe-competition/#comments Tue, 24 Feb 2015 13:54:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1005770 Perhaps it’s age or jaded eyes. Maybe it’s a desire to move the conversation forward. It might even be experience. One way or another, I’ve become increasingly less likely to allow exterior styling to garner more than a passing mention in my reviews of cars, trucks, SUVs, crossovers, and minivans. • USD Price As-Tested: $54,595 […]

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2015 Audi TTS Coupe CompetitionPerhaps it’s age or jaded eyes. Maybe it’s a desire to move the conversation forward. It might even be experience. One way or another, I’ve become increasingly less likely to allow exterior styling to garner more than a passing mention in my reviews of cars, trucks, SUVs, crossovers, and minivans.


• USD Price As-Tested: $54,595

• Horsepower: 265 @ 6500 rpm

• Torque: 258 lb-ft @ 2500 rpm

• Observed Fuel Economy: 16.9 mpg


But after feasting my eyes upon a second-generation Audi TT sitting in my driveway – even in 90s yellow; nearly nine years after we first saw the second-generation TT and some 16 years since the first TT went on sale; with the third-generation TT already revealed and about to go on sale – how can my lips be silent?

This 2015 TTS Coupe Competition convinces me that the second TT is the most attractive of Audi’s three TT iterations. I grew to dearly love the first, but it could be faulted for looking the same coming and going. The forthcoming Mk3 TT seems somehow more formal, more serious, and less visually distinct from the (handsome) Volkswagen Scirocco.

2015 Audi TTS Coupe Competition yellowThis, however, is a visual stunner in both overall form and in detail. From the bulging fenders to the artfully arched roof and the properly proportioned grille, it’s deserving of credit for its general aesthetic alone. But the aluminum-finished mirrors and rear wing struts are eye-catching details, the 19-inch wheels are conversation starters, the strakes that lead into the foglights bring further cohesion to the front end. Moreover, the design as a whole testifies to the fact that new cars don’t all look the same. And though it originally went on sale around the time Peyton last won a Super Bowl, the Mk2 Audi TT appears wonderfully current.

At least on the outside.

You’ll use a key to start the car. There’s no backup camera or much of the on-alert safety gear (there are backup sensors but no blind spot monitoring, for instance) you now expect in $35,000+ mainstream sedans, let alone premium brand cars costing around $55,000. The navigation screen, which works with a less than impressive version of Audi’s MMI, is a bite-sized 6.5 inches. The cabin certainly doesn’t rank among the quietest I’ve encountered in the last number of months, either.

2015 Audi TTS Coupe Competition rearNone of this is unexpected for a car which traces its design back to the era of the sixth-generation Chevrolet Malibu. (Yeah, it’s that old.) But no matter how good the TTS looks outside, and no matter how high the material quality is inside, these specific elements recall a bygone era, and not in a nostalgic way.

What the outgoing TT lacks in modernity it ultimately makes up for by consistently providing a memorable experience. Granted, the TT, even in this special edition one-of-500 TTS Competition guise, is not among the purest driving sports cars. Yellow baseball stitching and a freaky rear wing can’t make it so. The steering lacks feedback. The brakes may be slightly overservoed in grand Audi tradition. The ride is ultra-stiff when sport mode is engaged and just plain busy when left in normal.

2015 Audi TTS Coupe Competition rear wingYet with less than 3300 pounds to cart around, a quick-shifting dual-clutch 6-speed transmission, and all-wheel-drive traction, 265 horsepower is a far larger number than it initially sounds. The TTS Coupe accelerates to 60 mph in five seconds, shifting more intelligently and promptly the harder it’s driven. It’s a delightfully compact package, and with torque to spare, it darts through traffic like an 80s French hot hatch on nitrous.

While not quite as practical as an 80s hot hatch (or a current Volkswagen GTI, for that matter), the TT does feature a (barely accessible) rear seat, a useable 13.1-cubic-foot cargo area, and the ability to send power to all four wheels. The BMW Z4, Mercedes-Benz SLK, and Porsche Cayman can not make the all the same claims.

Our test car, supplied by Audi Canada, rang in at CAD $65,295. In the U.S., the departing TTS starts at $49,595, an $8350 jump from the base TT. The Competition package adds $2500. Audi’s navigation package adds another $1950. The total climbs to $54,595, or $1400 less than a base Corvette.

But the Corvette chases a different market, right? Sure, in the sense that the Corvette is intended for a buyer who still exists.

2015 Audi TTS Competition interiorSee, the TT’s market may have moved on, not just from the TT but from its compatriots. Oh, the arrival of a new TT will produce a short-lived spike in demand. But is it any wonder BMW’s own sales boss, Ian Robertson, questioned whether the sports car market will ever fully recover from post-recession lows?

Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Porsche combined for more than 40,000 TT, Z4, SLK, and Boxster U.S. sales in 2003 but only 15,000 TT, Z4, SLK, Boxster, and Caymans last year. While the Corvette was roundly outsold by the aforementioned quartet in 2003, Chevrolet sold 34,839 Corvettes in 2014.

Corvette vs. TT? Hey, if I’m the self-appointed final arbiter on the subject of Audi TT styling, shouldn’t I also be the one to decide which car to buy when all 500 global copies of the Coupe Competition are snatched up?

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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Capsule Review: 1994 Audi RS2 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/capsule-review-1994-audi-rs2/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/capsule-review-1994-audi-rs2/#comments Wed, 18 Feb 2015 13:00:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1003466 Ten Cars We’d Go to Prison For. Jeez guys, you could just head North a little ways. Nobody’s going to force you to cheer for the Leafs or listen to Celine Dion. Anyway, here’s what it’s like to drive something rare, obscure, fast, and practical. The Audi RS2 – she’s a beauty, eh? First, a […]

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Ten Cars We’d Go to Prison For.

Jeez guys, you could just head North a little ways. Nobody’s going to force you to cheer for the Leafs or listen to Celine Dion.

Anyway, here’s what it’s like to drive something rare, obscure, fast, and practical. The Audi RS2 – she’s a beauty, eh?

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First, a little history about what makes this odd little Euro wagon so special. Through the 1980s Porsche was in fairly tight financial straits, and would turn eventually to building cars for first Mercedes-Benz and then Audi. The first was the 500E, which had an interesting and complicated shuttling back-and-forth between its parent companies during construction, and an owners’ list that reads like a who’s-who of Formula One at the time.

One little historical tidbit that’ll pique the interest of Porsche fans is that the 500E was built in the Rössle-Bau factory inside Porsche’s Zuffenhausen complex; this, the same line that produced the 959 supercar. The first partnership married an overtaxed Mercedes-Benz R&D department with Porsche’s seriously under-employed production facilities. The 500E likely saved Porsche with an infusion of much-needed cash, but Mercedes kept a firm hand on the tiller of the project, and the resulting car was more Merc’ than Porsche – an invigorated version of the W124’s bank vault ideal.

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With the RS2, Porsche’s next off-brand project, the reins were loosened considerably. Unlike Mercedes, which just wanted Porsche engineering, Audi wanted an infusion of Porsche prestige into their car. In fact, the badges on this unassuming compact Euro-wagon actually bear a hybridized badge that incorporates both the four rings of Audi and the Porsche name.

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As pictured above, the 500E and the RS2 overlapped each other for the last two years of the former’s production, but while the Mercedes would be an interesting one-off, the RS2 would establish a new direction for Audi’s performance image. It is also considered by many to have created the ideal of the hot Euro wagon.

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For regular TTAC reader Rob Stevenson, the seed was first planted as a young man on a trip to Europe, seeing one of these machines light the afterburners coming out of a parking lot – forbidden fruit, the dream car forever out of reach, that sort of thing. And yet here it is today sitting alongside downhill mountain bikes in his North Vancouver garage, dressed in unassuming black paint and wearing a set of fat, optional 18” boots.

Canada’s 15-year grey market rule is most often associated with JDM imports: Delicas, Skylines, and kei cars. However, there are any number of specialty Euro-market cars floating around locally, from M5 tourings to Lancia Delta Integrales, to Alpinas. Rob found his RS2 after a lengthy search and effectively ran his own version of the European delivery programs provided by a number of luxury marques; he bought the car before it was eligible for import into Canada, then flew to the UK and had a delayed honeymoon with his wife driving his dream machine throughout Europe.

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The RS2 has a number of visual clues showing its mixed parentage, like a illegitimate child with the nose and ears of Henry I. The simple boxy shape is pure 1990s Audi, based on the 80 (B4) Avant. However, here we can see the wolf’s fangs peeking out from behind the humdrum sheep’s clothing: the side mirrors and turn signals are the same as the 993-generation Porsche 911, the wheels are cup-style Porsche alloys in a unique bolt pattern, the rear hatch has a broad stripe of red intended to match the back of a contemporary 911.

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Pop the hood and Porsche’s fingerprints are even more obvious. Rob opened the hood at a local 911-heavy cars and coffee event, and more than a few PCA members wandered over to scratch their heads at the Porsche script carved into the head of the 2.2L five-cylinder engine that just barely fits into the engine bay. Longitudinally-mounted, the five-pot is long enough to necessitate moving the radiator to an offset position.

Audi already had this twenty-valve engine in the S2 coupe, where it was making 227hp, similar to an old Subaru WRX. Porsche raised the boost to 20psi with an uprated KKK turbocharger, massaged the camshafts to improve flow-through, and fitted bigger fuel injectors, more efficient intercooling, and a specially-tuned Bosch ECU. The result was 310hp, a respectable figure even now, and pretty damn impressive for 1994 standards. The RS2 seated five, had a trunk big enough to fit a labrador retriever, and had enough steam to laminate said dog to the rear hatch glass.

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The first impression, upon climbing behind the wheel and cranking up the grumbly straight-five, is how little this car is. The B4-chassis Audi wasn’t far off the Mk3 GTI in dimensions, and compared to the massive RS7 I showed up in, Rob’s car looked like a Hot Wheels.

On the move, there’s a signature feel here that will be immediately familiar to anyone who’s driven any moderately performance-oriented Audi. The steering is very light, perhaps even floatier thanks to the extra-wide tires. Even so, there’s the sensation of grip and weight, a more substantial feel than in a WRX. There’s the sense here that the car’s built for high-speed autobahn runs – a machine to be loaded up with skis and boots and a brace of tow-headed children and then blasted straight at the Alps on a wave of forced induction.

Standing in for an Alp today is one of Vancouver’s North Shore mountains, and I head out from its summit with gentle throttle, as this is someone else’s car. But Rob’s not having any of that, so let’s let that Porsche-fettled fiver off the leash.

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The RS2’s party-piece is a hugely abusive dump-clutch holeshot that returns acceleration figures impressive even in a time where the Tesla P85D exists. English magazine Autocar famously returned a 0-30mph time quicker than either the McLaren F1 or even an actual Formula One car of the time. Through the quarter and in roll-on acceleration, it’s capable of going toe-to-toe with the first of the wasser-boxer Porsches.

On the uphill, revs climb slowly, with not much going on, 2000rpm, 2500rpm, 3000rpm, 3500rpm. You can’t help your inner Dark Helmet asking, “and what have we got on this thing, a Cuisinart?” But then four grand hits and it’s a jump to ludicrous speed.

Nothing sounds quite like a boosted five-cylinder engine at full growl, all gravel-spitting rally fury and whooshy overboosted hiss. It’s like someone cutting a robot snake in half with a Huskqvarna. Far from being a family pet, this little wagon’s a snarling menace.

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The RS2 was the first of the breed, the first of a line that’s currently capped by the Aries-red liftback I brought along for photos, but the two are very different. Grandpa RennSport is all Ur-Quattro for the family man, a raw and visceral thrill. Its gawp-mawed descendant feels a lot more like somebody fitted a ZF 8-speed to Spaceball One.

Over a brief run, the RS2 is wonderful. But to live with?

Stevenson is an engineer, specializing in fuel-cell technology, so he has both the skill and temperament to put up with an older German vehicle that was never supposed to make it to our shores. He does much of the work himself, and as a long-time Audi owner, knows where to look to find some of the trickier stuff. His RS2 is also on collector plates, so he’s not relying on it to get him to work (for that, there’s a Tacoma or a stick-shift Cobalt SS sedan with the GM performance boost.

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Just under 3000 RS2s were made in 1994 and 1995, but even with that relative rarity, the car is not yet as expensive to purchase as early 993s and late 964s are getting. All that, of course, will likely change in the next five years, as the cars become importable under US 25-year grey market law.

In the meantime, this particular RS2 is doubly special, not just because it is a rare machine with an interesting history and thrilling potential, but because its specific story should appeal to every gearhead. Here is a car that captivated a young man’s imagination, and through dint of effort that fantasy became a reality. No skirting the law; no endless dollars thrown at a problem.

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Persistence, and a dream, and Canada’s relatively reasonable importation laws. And say, have I mentioned we’ve got poutine?

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An Audi A Day, At Fifty-Nine Bucks: Silvercar For Dummies http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/audi-day-fifty-nine-bucks-silvercar-dummies/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/audi-day-fifty-nine-bucks-silvercar-dummies/#comments Fri, 30 Jan 2015 14:30:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=990450 From now until the end of February, visitors to eight major markets in the United States will be able to rent a 2014 or 2015 Audi A4 2.0T Quattro for fifty-nine dollars a day. If you drive through an automated tollbooth with the car, you’ll be charged the actual amount of the toll charge. If […]

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From now until the end of February, visitors to eight major markets in the United States will be able to rent a 2014 or 2015 Audi A4 2.0T Quattro for fifty-nine dollars a day. If you drive through an automated tollbooth with the car, you’ll be charged the actual amount of the toll charge. If you forget to fill the car up, they’ll fill it for street price plus five bucks. The company is called “Silvercar” and you can get their app on your smartphone in just seconds.

At this point, you can just read the next article, right? Given that an Altima or Fusion from Hertz will run you between $35 and $55 per day at most of those airports, what’s to think about? Either you don’t care what you rent, in which case paying for an Audi seems stupid, or you are anxious to not be seen driving a rental car, in which case paying $59 a day for an Audi instead of $149 a day for a Cheap-class Benzo is beyond obvious.

What? You want to know how it works? Okay. Click the jump.

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Silvercar works much like FedEx did back in the early days of FedEx, which is to say they emphasize a narrow range of service and attempt to excel within that range. As previously noted, they operate in just eight markets, and they don’t have a conventional airport rental office. This is presented as an upscale feature — your Silvercar concierge will meet you with your car! — but in practice it means taking a shuttle to a parking lot somewhere so Silvercar can avoid airport concession fees. This is about as upscale as it sounds.

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My Silvercar experience lasted six days and started at LAX, where I took a shuttle out to a parking lot and met my concierge. He directed me to use my smartphone to scan the QR code on the windshield. Insofar as it as night time, this did not go well. Eventually we settled on using his phone for a light and my phone for a scanner. I mention this to show that the company is still working out some issues, like how do we rent a car to someone when the ball of fire that lights the world is sleeping with Persephone or something like that.

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The actual specification of the Silvercar itself is quite fascinating to a former Audi owner such as myself. It’s not a car you can buy in the United States, at least not from a dealer. It has a full suite of infotainment features including a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot and navigation, but it has single-zone climate control. Also, the keyless entry features are disabled, no doubt to prevent various issues at their garage facilities. Some of the cars have Sport aero, others don’t. There are no shift paddles on the wheel, either. However, it’s the single-zone climate that will reliably identify former Silvercars in the used lots of the future.

LA to Barcelona 014

In Silvercar spec, the A4 exudes complete and total acceptability but not much else. The combination of the small engine, Quattro drivertrain, and semi-dim-witted eight-speed automatic isn’t magic, although when you really need to force the issue the Audi will hustle in a way that a four-cylinder Malibu or Sonata simply cannot. Driving this back-to-back with a 2014 Camry SE, I had to wonder where, exactly, the sixty-percent markup was going.

In any kind of race with my Accord V6, this Audi wouldn’t see which way the Honda went. However, a thirty-mile canyon run with The Smoking Tire‘s Matt Farah and his tuned-up Fiesta ST showed that the Audi has absolutely trustworthy chassis behavior. There are few cars out there that I’d want to take to tire-squeal territory on a completely unfamiliar mountain road — but that’s also an indictment of the A4’s relatively low limits. Low, but wide; you can make a few mistakes and the nose-heavy balance will combine with a bit of torque-to-the-rear and fix things pretty well. Under no circumstances will this car behave neutrally. If you want that, go get a Camry and learn to hop off the throttle in midcorner. Seriously.

There’s also the fact that this generation of Audi has been around for eight years now, without much in the way of improvement. While I’m pretty happy with the MMI navigation and audio interface, having used it for two years in my lime-green S5, every passenger I had in the Silvercar was utterly disgusted with the twist-and-press school of entering addresses or searching for music.

Although Silvercar has a return method that is very similar to their pickup method, I chose instead to visit their base of operations near LAX to inspect the facility and see just how fly-by-night it was. The answer: not at all. They had perhaps eighty cars in stock, all of them clean and in outstanding shape. The whole place was quiet and dirt-free. The return process was easy enough, and I suspect they’d have run me to the airport had I asked.

As a way to try-before-you-buy with an Audi A4, Silvercar makes excellent sense. As a limited-scope replacement for a rental car, it makes excellent sense. At full retail price, whatever that price turns out to be, when these Audis have thirty thousand miles on them? At that point, you might want to consider that Camry from Hertz.

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Geneva 2015: Next-Gen Audi R8, R8 E-Tron Bowing In March http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/geneva-2015-next-gen-audi-r8-r8-e-tron-bowing-march/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/geneva-2015-next-gen-audi-r8-r8-e-tron-bowing-march/#comments Tue, 20 Jan 2015 15:00:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=985506 Audi announced Monday it would be bringing its next-gen R8 to the 2015 Geneva Auto Show in March, with two versions set for the ramp. CarAdvice.com.au reports one of the versions bowing in Geneva will be an all-electric model promising future owners a range of around 250-310 miles per charge. The range figure is the […]

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Audi announced Monday it would be bringing its next-gen R8 to the 2015 Geneva Auto Show in March, with two versions set for the ramp.

CarAdvice.com.au reports one of the versions bowing in Geneva will be an all-electric model promising future owners a range of around 250-310 miles per charge. The range figure is the result of Audi tech development board member Ulrich Hackenberg pulling the plug on the previous R8 e-tron project due to its low 136-mile range:

First I did agree to stop such a project. The project had to be re-engineered because the range was 220km – it was not enough. So what I made with the team was to continue to work on this, and we could realise between 400 and 500 [kilometres battery range]. Or something beyond 400km.

The revised R8 e-tron will be joined by a gasoline-powered version that will lose its manual transmissions entirely, going all in on dual-clutch automatics instead. Hackenberg says that such gearboxes are best “for the record of [one’s] personal lap time” over rowing one’s own.

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New Apps, Infotainment Systems Turn Up At 2015 CES http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/new-apps-infotainment-systems-turn-2015-ces/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/new-apps-infotainment-systems-turn-2015-ces/#comments Thu, 08 Jan 2015 14:00:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=973610 Autonomous alien luxury pods and royalty-free hydrogen patents aren’t the only things coming onto the stage during the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Today, we’ll show you the latest and greatest from BMW, FCA, Audi and Ford, with the help from our brothers and sisters over at AutoGuide. BMW introduced non-contact gesture controls […]

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FCA Uconnect Access Services

Autonomous alien luxury pods and royalty-free hydrogen patents aren’t the only things coming onto the stage during the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Today, we’ll show you the latest and greatest from BMW, FCA, Audi and Ford, with the help from our brothers and sisters over at AutoGuide.

BMW introduced non-contact gesture controls for its Control Display touchscreen infotainment system, allowing drivers to input a given address with directed gestures made between the instrument panel and gear shift, among other tasks. Another system, Touch Command, will use a standard Samsung tablet to handle all infotainment and comfort functions, and provides wireless access to all onboard electronics for all passengers.

Over at FCA, the automaker debuted new additions to its Uconnect Access suite of apps: Vehicle Finder, Send Destination to Vehicle, Monthly Vehicle Report and Vehicle Health Alert. All four allow owners to keep tabs on their vehicle’s systems, easily navigate to a given destination, and know where their vehicle is at all times. The new suite will debut in H1 2015 on select FCA products equipped with either 8.4A or 8.4AN Uconnect systems.

Audi showed off the new interior of the next-gen Q7 — set to bow in Detroit next week as a 2016 model — to the media in attendance at the 2015 CES. The dashboard arrangement is derived from the TT, featuring a 12.3-inch Audi Virtual Cockpit display with 3D maps and other important information. An additional pop-up central display uses a rotary knob and touch-sensitive pad to operate, while two large, removable, Wi-Fi-enabled tablets mounted in the back of the front headrests provide navigation info and entertainment for those seated in back.

Finally, Ford has added on AccuWeather and Life360 to the AppLink suite of apps on-board the new, QNX-based Sync 3 system. The Life360 Sync 3 app has a special Drive Mode feature that sends text messages to a driver’s friends and family so that they know not to contact the user while driving, with a follow-up text sent upon arrival at the user’s destination. AccuWeather, meanwhile, will use GPS to give minute-by-minute weather forecasts to help drivers better deal with and plan around inclement weather.

BMW CES 2015 01 BMW CES 2015 02 BMW CES 2015 03 BMW CES 2015 04 Uconnect_Access_Smartphone_App_ Vehicle_Finder Send_Destination_to_Vehicle_FCA Monthly_Vehicle_Health_Report Audi Q7 CES 2015 01 Audi Q7 CES 2015 02 Audi Q7 CES 2015 03 Audi Q7 CES 2015 04 Ford CES 2015 01 Ford CES 2015 02 Ford CES 2015 03 Ford CES 2015 04

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BMW Takes US Luxury Sales Crown Back From Mercedes http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/bmw-takes-us-luxury-sales-crown-back-mercedes/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/bmw-takes-us-luxury-sales-crown-back-mercedes/#comments Wed, 07 Jan 2015 12:00:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=972809 After a year-long battle for the top position on the U.S. luxury sales podium, BMW takes back the crown Mercedes-Benz won in 2013. Reuters reports the Bavarians moved over 9,000 more units by the end of 2014 over the wonder boys back in Stuttgart, coming out to a total of 339,738 for BMW, 330,391 for […]

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After a year-long battle for the top position on the U.S. luxury sales podium, BMW takes back the crown Mercedes-Benz won in 2013.

Reuters reports the Bavarians moved over 9,000 more units by the end of 2014 over the wonder boys back in Stuttgart, coming out to a total of 339,738 for BMW, 330,391 for Mercedes. Both automakers also experienced growth in U.S. sales during the last year, though BMW’s 9.8 percent boost over 2013’s numbers raced past Mercedes’ 5.7 percent increase.

Taking third on the podium was Lexus with 311,389 units sold in 2014, though its rate of growth bested the top two finishers at 13.7 percent over 2013.

Rounding out the rest of the U.S. mainstream luxury pack, Audi took fourth from Cadillac, the latter to be the only make to see a decline in growth in 2014, falling 6.5 percent to 170,750 units; Audi sold 182,011 over the same period, 15.2 percent more than it did in 2013.

Acura and Infiniti took sixth and seventh respectively, with 167,843 to 117,300 units moved. Both also experienced the lowest rates of growth in sales in the outgoing year: 1.5 percent in Acura’s favor, 0.8 percent for Infiniti.

Lincoln finished dead last with 94,474 units sold, but had the biggest rate of growth out of its fellow competitors compared to 2013 at 15.6 percent.

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Supercars To Go, Fifth Place: Audi R8 4.2 R-Tronic http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/supercars-go-fifth-place-audi-r8-4-2-r-tronic/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/supercars-go-fifth-place-audi-r8-4-2-r-tronic/#comments Tue, 16 Dec 2014 20:48:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=961697 Let’s start with this: Under no circumstances is a Lamborghini Gallardo “just an Audi R8″. The Gallardo was already old hat by the time the R8 arrived, having gone through three model years and one major revision. If anything, the R8 is a Gallardo, not the other way ’round. Except it isn’t, which is both […]

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Let’s start with this: Under no circumstances is a Lamborghini Gallardo “just an Audi R8″. The Gallardo was already old hat by the time the R8 arrived, having gone through three model years and one major revision. If anything, the R8 is a Gallardo, not the other way ’round.

Except it isn’t, which is both good and bad.

I’ve driven most variants of the Audi R8, starting from a 4.2 six-speed on the day that I met Murilee Martin for the first time all the way to the V10 Plus S-Tronic during last year’s R&T PCOTY. It would be an understatement to say that I’m fond of the model. There’s so much to admire: the aesthetically satisfying yet completely usable interior design, the superb amount of passengerr space compared to pretty much any other supercar, (including the Gallardo, which has a much lower roof) and the way it combines exotic-car looks with everyday practicality.

I was surprised at how often my single-serving students at the Xtreme Xperience mentioned Tony Stark and “Iron Man” as the reason they’d chosen to drive the R8. I never really thought of it as the “Iron Man” car. Apparently everybody else does. Not that the Audi doesn’t continue to look futuristic in its ninth year on the market. You can argue that it’s better-looking than the Gallardo. It’s certainly more noticeable on the street; through the miracle of fourteen thousand sales and a rather conservative shape, the baby Lamborghini no longer turns many heads.

Most people can comfortably wear a helmet in the R8. It’s not that difficult to park or maneuver at low speeds. The stereo and navigation are Audi-standard. Entry and exit is easier than in, say, a Viper (had to mention it for the sake of the B&B’s self-satisfaction!) and the seating position is also somewhat better than what you get in the Italians or the McLaren. If you had to cross the county in one of our Final Five, you’d take the Audi, no question about it. Even the climate control is luxury-car-spec, as I discovered when testing the original 4.2L cars during a Texas summer.

In isolation, the R8 feels rapid. There’s a brilliant noise from the 8250-rpm 4.2L V8, the R-tronic single-clutch automated manual doesn’t get confused on-track, and the acceleration seems more rapid than the 12.8-second quarter-mile time suggests. The front axle is always working, but it rarely works very hard. In wet conditions, it’s very confidence-inspiring and it can take full throttle in anything short of a full-on rainstorm.

Yet the modest tire size and significant stagger (235 in front, 285 in back) both make it easy to reach the R8 limits on-track and contribute to the Audi’s pace being noticeably lower than that of the other cars in this comparison. More so than any other car I drove that weekend, the R8 offers gentle, progressive, controllable understeer and very little sense of the heavy engine behind you. It’s the Cessna 172 of supercars: slow, stable, easy to get out of trouble. Dropping the tire stagger to 30mm or so, as I’ve done with my Porsche 993, would go a long way towards restoring the natural balance of the chassis, at the expense of predictability.

As the car with the oldest transmission technology in the group, the R8 has the worst automatic mode. For my students, I left the car in manual and shifted it for them. It was simply in the wrong gear at the wrong time otherwise. In manual mode, as noted above, it works fine, as long as your expectations are based on single-clutch hardware. This is not a Ferrari 458, which will handle repeated and random stabbing at brakes and throttle with instantaneous gearcharges perfectly chosen to maximize power or stability depending on one’s twist of the manettino. But it’s a bit better than the F430’s single-clutcher.

If you’re careful with the front tires, the R8 delivers a surprising amount of midcorner speed. It did, however, prove tricky in the turn known at Hallett as “The Bitch”. The Audi was simply more sensitive to low grip there than any of the other cars, likely because of the combination of narrow tires and significant rearward weight distribution of 44/56. (The Gallardo is usually quoted at 43/57 but I’d be surprised if the difference between the cars was a full percentage point.) Still, overall I’d say my students got more out of the R8 than they did out of anything but the GT-R.

So why fifth place? Well, it’s just this: The R8 looks like a supercar but it struggles to stay with V8 M3s and C6 Corvettes around a road course. The weight of 3,650 pounds or so is pretty considerable for the 415 horsepower on tap, particularly given the fact that torque peaks up at 4500rpm. It’s more show than go. If you choose the Audi R8 V10 Plus model, you’ll get a dual-clutch transmission and nearly a Gallardo’s worth of power — but the R8 V10 Plus doesn’t feel as light on its feet or as enthusiastic around a racetrack as the Gallardo LP-560. And in so doing, you’ll lose the V8 model’s characterful noises and real-world focus.

The best R8 to get is a six-speed manual 4.2V8 post-2012 model. If you get one of those, you’ll have all of Tony Stark’s style and daily usability to rival a Lexus ES350. You’ll just have to put on your turn signal when a real supercar appears. The next four cars in this test are on another level of performance entirely.

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Loaner Car Review: 2015 Audi A3 (1.8T) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/loaner-car-review-2015-audi-a3-1-8t/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/loaner-car-review-2015-audi-a3-1-8t/#comments Wed, 10 Dec 2014 13:30:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=956522 Three years ago, I posed the question of what you’d do if your car was consumed in a natural disaster and your insurance settlement allowed you to get a brand new version of the same car. Back then, the question was about whether I’d replace our 2005 Acura TL with a 2012 edition. Now, the […]

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A3 front headlight detail

Three years ago, I posed the question of what you’d do if your car was consumed in a natural disaster and your insurance settlement allowed you to get a brand new version of the same car. Back then, the question was about whether I’d replace our 2005 Acura TL with a 2012 edition. Now, the question concerns whether I’d replace our 2008 Audi A3 with the 2015 Audi A3.

You see, my wife and I have a lovely 2008 A3 3.2 (reviewed by our own Robert Farago in 2006) and it’s been reliable and fun to drive, even over the craptastic roads around our house (two nearby are on a recent top-ten list of worst streets in Houston). There’s a recent problem with the idle, though. Normally it purrs quietly at 600rpm, but it will occasionally decide to crank up to 1300rpm, wherein the whole car vibrates like crazy. I took it to the dealer, for the second time, in attempt to get it fixed (FWIW, it’s still not fixed). So what did they give me as a loaner? A brand new 2015 A3. So far as I can tell, it’s close to the bottom-of-the-line base $30k “Premium” model with the 1.8 liter turbo and FWD, although it does have the $1900 über traffic-aware nav system option which lets you doodle the letters in on the MMI knob. Also, this car seems to have the “cold weather package” ($500) and “aluminum style package” ($450).

"aluminum style" package

Interior / telematics: The first thing you notice is that the new A3, like all Audis, has a very refined interior. Nice leather seats. It’s a comfortable place to drive, although there are So. Many. Buttons. You see those two toggle switches above the central spinner thing? Those pick the main infotainment operating mode (nav, phone, media, radio), then the spinner thing lets you make your choices with all the UI simplicity of Atari Tempest. The four buttons next to the spinner correspond to additional options presented in the four corners of the pop-up screen. You can select things by pressing the spinner and you’ve got further a menu button and a back button below it! Everybody remember when Steve Jobs said the Mac had only one button on the mouse so you’d be unlikely to ever press the wrong button? Yeah, that’s the problem we’re talking about here.

shift knob and MMI controller

How about taking a phone call? Luckily, from my older Audi, I just happened to know that you can answer and hang up the phone by clicking the unlabeled left scroll-wheel on the steering wheel. Yes, it clicks in. You might naïvely think that you answer the phone by pressing the “talk”-looking button on the right side of the wheel. Dummkopf! No, too obvious. Also, check out all those other steering wheel buttons. So. Many. Buttons.

steering wheel detail

I used the nav to get to across town to a restaurant. The nav computer didn’t know the name of the restaurant, which has been there for well over a year. Instead, I entered the numbers and letters of the address by spinning the wheel and doodling with my finger on top of the spinner. (It’s unclear there’s much of a speed advantage either way, particularly with the non-trivial error rate on the gesture recognition.) Voice input? Not for general-purpose addresses or points of interest, although it apparently can connect to your personal address book. Rant: all of this just totally embarrassing. Dear car manufacturers: please just let Apple and Google do the job properly (via CarPlay and Android Auto, respectively). Buyers: wait a couple months until the auto manufacturers properly support this stuff, as they’ve claimed they’d do in the 2015 model year.

entering digits into the navnavigation display

So, the A3 is a technological usability disaster area, but does it at least do its job once you figure it out? The stereo system, Audi’s base model, so far as I can tell, is leaps and bounds better than our 2008 A3’s optional uprated Bose-branded system. (Friends don’t let friends buy Bose. Or Monster Cable. But I digress.) The 2008 A3 is tolerable for listening to NPR, but a polyphonic muddle for music. In contrast, the 2015 A3 is seriously good: strong bass that differentiates well across different frequencies. Tight, clear treble. Bluetooth Audio works properly, including some (but strangely not all) album art. And who really cares that there’s no CD player in the dash? (Incidentally, I recently rented a Buick LaCrosse, which also had a kick-ass stereo. I don’t know if this is a new industry-wide trend, but I strongly support it.) Summary: the A3 now has a quality sound system. No Bose about it.

Music display

Option-wise, the base A3 is missing a lot of things you might want or expect from a luxury car. Notably absent from this A3 (here sorted in order from “come on, really?” to “would be nice”): automatic climate control, memory seats, automatic-dimming rear-view mirror, HomeLink garage door opener, power passenger seat, rear-view camera, keyless entry/ignition, parking sensors, blind-spot warning, or adaptive cruise control. Some of that is available as options on the more expensive A3 models. At least the rear seats fold down so you can get some cargo utility, and all A3’s seem to include automatic headlights and rain-sensing wipers. (Curious note: Audi’s web site claims that “dual zone automatic climate control” is included in the base model. This particularly A3 proves that statement false.)

HVAC controls

Driving: I’m now deep into this essay and haven’t said anything about how the A3 drives. Based on not nearly enough time to really push it, I’d say: not bad. It’s got the stereotypical Teutonic stiff suspension, where you feel all the bumps but the sharp edges have been shaved off. The engine is zippy and there’s no noticeable torque steer, although there’s a definite lag while the transmission ponders whether it wants to shift gears when you stomp on the gas. (You can move the shift gate to the right and have block-rocking instantaneous DSG manual shifts. There are no flappy paddles on the base-model A3.) For contrast, our A3 3.2 performs much better when you leave it in drive. It’s not that it has any less lag, but rather than it has a whole lot more torque. Shrink the engine down and you have to shift more often.

The brakes are strong but way too grippy, requiring a super-sensitive touch to avoid jerking your passengers around in stop-and-go traffic. Likewise, Audi probably needs to tweak the DSG’s computer to smooth out low-speed launches. (Our 2008 A3, when it was new, just desperately wanted to dump the clutch into first gear with even the slightest amount of gas, which was just unacceptable. They did a software upgrade on the transmission after a year or two and it’s been smooth as silk ever since.)

steering wheel at night

Mileage: in stop-and-go traffic around town, I was seeing 15-20mpg, which is roughly in line with most other cars I’ve tested or owned. However, I had some spare time on Saturday morning so I took it for a spin on mostly empty freeways, sticking to the right and going with the flow. As you can see from the photo, this yielded an astonishing 37.4mpg (indicated) over the course of a 28-ish mile drive (of which maybe one mile was on surface roads before I got on the freeway). Compare those numbers to the EPA estimates (23 city / 33 highway) and make of it what you will. I’m impressed.

37.4 mpg!

37.4 mpg!

Overall: Should you buy a totally stripped out A3? At that price point, you’re right in the thick of well-optioned standard sedans (e.g., Camry, Accord, Altima, Mazda 6) as well as entry-level luxury competition from other manufacturers  (e.g., Acura TLX or the aforementioned Buick LaCrosse). I hate to end with a cop-out, but it’s really hard to say that there’s any one winner at the $30k price point for four-door performance sedans. Too many shadows, whispering voices. Cars on web sites, too many choices. That said, if my 2008 A3 was consumed by Godzilla and I was looking to get a good replacement for it tomorrow, I’d be looking primarily at the Volvo V60, the Volkswagen GTI, or the replacement A3 hatchback when it finally comes back to the U.S. market.

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Volkswagen Unveils Plans For 5 Series/E-Class Fighter http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/volkswagen-unveils-plans-5-seriese-class-fighter/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/volkswagen-unveils-plans-5-seriese-class-fighter/#comments Wed, 10 Dec 2014 11:00:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=957841 The world is not enough for Volkswagen AG, as it now has plans to introduce a mid-size sedan to slot between the Passat and the Phaeton. AutoBild reports the proposed model will do battle with the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes E-Class, with sedan and wagon variants on the table, with U.S. and Chinese markets […]

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The world is not enough for Volkswagen AG, as it now has plans to introduce a mid-size sedan to slot between the Passat and the Phaeton.

AutoBild reports the proposed model will do battle with the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes E-Class, with sedan and wagon variants on the table, with U.S. and Chinese markets receiving the sedan while the Europeans can buy either style.

Regarding platforms for the sedan, VW is considering either its MQB architecture — following the next-gen Passat in 2017 — or Audi’s MLB platform, which underpins the A6. Power is expected to come from four- and six-cylinder gasoline and diesel engines, and would be linked to all four corners via DSG and Audi’s Quattro AWD system.

The proposed base price for the model would begin at €37,500 ($46,500 USD), and would be assembled in either China, Mexico or North America. The new model would go on sale sometime near the end of this decade.

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Next-Gen Audi Q7 First VW Product With Diesel PHEV Option http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/next-gen-audi-q7-first-vw-product-diesel-phev-option/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/next-gen-audi-q7-first-vw-product-diesel-phev-option/#comments Mon, 08 Dec 2014 11:00:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=956754 When the next-gen Audi Q7 turns up in showrooms next year, it will be the first among Volkswagen AG’s offerings to have a diesel PHEV option. Automotive News reports the plug-in option will follow standard gasoline and diesel models, and will be sold in the United States and Europe. The Q7 PHEV will only be […]

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When the next-gen Audi Q7 turns up in showrooms next year, it will be the first among Volkswagen AG’s offerings to have a diesel PHEV option.

Automotive News reports the plug-in option will follow standard gasoline and diesel models, and will be sold in the United States and Europe. The Q7 PHEV will only be the second diesel PHEV sold in Europe, joining the €56,200 ($69,000 USD) Volvo V60.

The announcement follows statements made this summer by development chief Ulrich Hackenberg, who said the Q7 and the A8 would come with a diesel PHEV option, combining a 3-liter V6 engine with an electric motor, but didn’t say which would be the first out of the gate with said option.

As for the move itself, Hackenberg and CEO Rupert Stadler both proclaimed PHEVs would be the company’s best solution for low-emission vehicles, with greater range than pure electrics being the biggest factor.

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Expanding Portfolios Overwhelm Automakers, Consumers Alike http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/expanding-portfolios-overwhelm-automakers-consumers-alike/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/expanding-portfolios-overwhelm-automakers-consumers-alike/#comments Tue, 18 Nov 2014 11:00:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=946586 With as many plentiful lineups as the eye can see, consumers are beginning to feel overwhelmed, as are the manufacturers who are coming to realize that too many choices are just as bad as offering too few. Yahoo Finance reports automakers like Porsche, Audi and BMW are reaching a point where their respective lineups may […]

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With as many plentiful lineups as the eye can see, consumers are beginning to feel overwhelmed, as are the manufacturers who are coming to realize that too many choices are just as bad as offering too few.

Yahoo Finance reports automakers like Porsche, Audi and BMW are reaching a point where their respective lineups may soon — if not already — overlap themselves, prompting consumers to go as far as to use Excel just to find the exact model and array of features they desire.

Auditing firm PricewaterhouseCoopers forecast the growth among German automakers would peak at 230 total models in 2018, then begin to flatten out as they cut production costs and improve differentiation among their portfolios, while also injecting what they sell with the latest technologies available at the time.

However, while automakers like Porsche and PSA Peugeot Citroën are implementing caps or drastically cutting down their offerings, others, such as Mercedes-Benz and Opel, plan to add more vehicles to their lineups. The expansions could lead to situations where models can only be seen in virtual showrooms — such as what has happened for BMW — as well as most consumers walking away from buying any vehicle or feeling less satisfied with the one they do buy, due to feeling overwhelmed.

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Lexus Europe Boss: Teutonic Trinity “Impossible” To Beat http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/uyttenhoven-teutonic-trinity-impossible-beat/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/uyttenhoven-teutonic-trinity-impossible-beat/#comments Tue, 11 Nov 2014 15:00:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=944057 While American premium brands Cadillac and Lincoln look to the Germans for inspiration — and their places on the podium — Lexus Europe chief Alain Uyttenhoven proclaimed that the Teutonic Trinity — BMW, Mercedes and Audi — were “impossible” to beat on a global scale, settling for fourth if possible. According to Just-Auto, Uyttenhoven says […]

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2014 Lexus CT200

While American premium brands Cadillac and Lincoln look to the Germans for inspiration — and their places on the podium — Lexus Europe chief Alain Uyttenhoven proclaimed that the Teutonic Trinity — BMW, Mercedes and Audi — were “impossible” to beat on a global scale, settling for fourth if possible.

According to Just-Auto, Uyttenhoven says the parent company is “out of its adolescence,” a turbulent time that included taking a one-two combo from the Great Recession and the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. Global sales prior to the occurrences topped out at 518,000 in 2007, with 2013 sales hitting a new peak of 523,000 units sold. That figure is just a quarter of what Audi aims to sell by 2020.

He adds that after establishing a reputation for high quality, customer service and environmental responsibility, Lexus will now focus on “emotion.” Thus, more high-performance vehicles with better driving dynamics, and likely more Predator grills. Diesels in Europe, on the other hand, will need more work:

The next big discussion will be about particulates. CO2 is not behind us, but we have to go to 99g/km by 2020. So, diesel has been growing because that CO2 average is easier to achieve with diesel. But the cost of purifying a diesel car is going to rise, so in the future, these engines are going to cost a lot more… For us, [petrol] hybrid is the answer.

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Capsule Review: 2014 Audi SQ5 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/capsule-review-2014-audi-sq5/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/capsule-review-2014-audi-sq5/#comments Sat, 01 Nov 2014 12:35:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=938313 The number of double-takes was odd, I thought. In the summer, with the top down in a red Camaro ZL1, rubberneckers are a dime a dozen. But the SQ5 is a subtly enhanced version of the Audi Q5, a small crossover that’s been around for more than five years; the best-selling model at one of […]

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2014 Audi SQ5The number of double-takes was odd, I thought. In the summer, with the top down in a red Camaro ZL1, rubberneckers are a dime a dozen. But the SQ5 is a subtly enhanced version of the Audi Q5, a small crossover that’s been around for more than five years; the best-selling model at one of America’s/Canada’s fastest-growing luxury brands. Sure, this one has optional 21-inch alloy wheels, valued at $800, but are big wheels enough to cause the majority of passersby to turn for another look?

Ah yes, the noise, that’s what did it. Audi’s supercharged 3.0L V6 does have the tendency to bark melodically, particularly when Audi Drive Select is used to switch engine noise (along with engine/transmission and steering) to Dynamic mode, up a notch from Comfort and Auto. Added to that was the 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system, which was used extensively at wake-the-neighbours volume. How civilized.

Less civilized is the amount of understeer and the way that understeer is encountered prematurely. Yet that’s only a surprise because of the dynamics manifested by the SQ5 most of the time – it’s not a high-riding SUV that you drive like an SUV. At all. Naturally, when taking corners like the TTS you forgot it wasn’t, the SQ5 plows sooner and with more disconcerting pressure on the outside front tire than you expected. After all, you forgot you were driving a 4400-pound, 65.3-inch tall utility vehicle, not a 3858-pound, 55.4-inch tall S4.

2014 Audi SQ5That you could forget something so obvious is a testament to the SQ5’s overall balance. Of greater interest to those who prefer the SQ5 over conventional Q5s like the 220-horsepower 2.0T and 240-horsepower 3.0L TDI because of the SQ5’s rate of acceleration, ride quality is firm but compliant over the worst roads, if slightly busy in routine driving.

But what acceleration it is. The SQ5 is less expensive than other hyper-quick SUVs, the AMGs and M-badged BMWs, less costly than the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT, as well. Audi’s supercharged 3.0L, with 354 horsepower and 346 lb-ft of torque, is mated here to an 8-speed automatic, not the 7-speed dual-clutch from the similarly engined S4.

Not at any moment do you feel as though the meat of the power band is located elsewhere, although Comfort mode does seem to use very economy-minded programming for the 8-speed auto, refusing to drop down a gear without a real kick in the pants. Audi’s famed Quattro all-wheel-drive means firm prods of the throttle always result in instantaneous forward motion almost regardless of surface. (We’d strongly recommend something other than 255/40R/21 Dunlop SP Sport Maxx GTs if you’ll be driving in snow. Nothing kills the benefits of all-wheel-drive quite like skipping out on winter tires.)

The true brute force of the supercharged V6 is felt not from rest but at speed, however. Squirting around traffic to get to an off-ramp ahead, rather than behind, of a line of slow-moving CR-Vs and RAV4s is a task completed with shocking quickness.

TTAC 2014 Audi SQ5All the while, SQ5 pilots are ensconced in a typically classy Audi interior. There are letdowns. For starters, the interior doesn’t feel fresh, perhaps because of the overarching darkness. Even the optional aluminum inlays ($1100) don’t spice up the ambience. I wouldn’t say the SQ5 offers luxury-like silence, either, with wind noise being rather prevalent. There are a number of blanked-out switches in prominent locations, too, which always causes you to wonder what you’re missing out on after spending $53,595, or $68,745 fully equipped ((U.S. market pricing including destination). Audi’s MMI is simple, though, with shortcut buttons spread around a central control knob, and everything feels so very expensive. As it ought to.

Rear seat space does not stand out, not for its snugness or its abundance of space. Yet cargo dimensions are a letdown. The Q5 is 183 inches long from bumper to bumper and 75.2 inches wide. That’s nearly five inches longer and nearly four inches wider than the Honda CR-V, but the CR-V offers 24% more seats-folded cargo capacity and 28% more space behind the rear seats. The SQ5 remains a flexible cargo carrier, but the sloping roof which helps to make all Q5s so handsome reduces the SQ5’s ability to take a young family away on vacation.

2014 Audi SQ5 interiorThe SQ5 is not alone in this luxury crossover cargo conundrum: GLKs and X3s are also down on luggage capacity compared with America’s similarly-sized top-selling utility vehicles.

The Audi SQ5 is the fast Q5, an older and popular vehicle, and thus a common vehicle. It’s also tiny in the back and, not unexpectedly, quite a guzzler. We averaged 18.7 mpg during the week Audi Canada allowed the SQ5 to visit our driveway, in keeping with its ratings and appropriate for a pickup truck. Fortunately, Audi adds a healthy dose of standard equipment to the SQ5’s performance credentials, the kind of stuff we often see on premium brand option sheets: panoramic sunroof, power tailgate, three-zone automatic climate control, keyless access, twelve-way power seats with driver memory.

One could make an argument that with this amount of power, unavailable in the Q5’s direct rivals, and this level of equipment, the SQ5 is making an overture to the value-conscious corners of our brains. Meanwhile, the SQ5 is also playing another tune, courtesy of Bang & Olufsen and a supercharged 3.0L, in order to tug on our heartstrings.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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Consumer Reports: Infotainment System Woes Mark 2014 Reliability Survey http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/consumer-reports-infotainment-system-woes-mark-2014-reliability-survey/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/consumer-reports-infotainment-system-woes-mark-2014-reliability-survey/#comments Tue, 28 Oct 2014 10:00:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=936826 Consumer Reports released its Annual Reliability Survey for this year, focusing some of the attention on the woes experienced by a handful of infotainment systems. According to the publication, the absolute worse of the pack in 2014 was Infiniti’s InTouch system in the new Q50, with over one in five owners wanting to take a […]

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Infiniti InTouch - Infiniti Q50

Consumer Reports released its Annual Reliability Survey for this year, focusing some of the attention on the woes experienced by a handful of infotainment systems.

According to the publication, the absolute worse of the pack in 2014 was Infiniti’s InTouch system in the new Q50, with over one in five owners wanting to take a crowbar to the whole thing. The brand itself took a beating, dropping 14 points to 20th out of 28 as a result of the Q50’s issues, as well as the overall reliability issues in the QX60. Other infotainment systems ironing out the bugs included Ford’s MyTouch, Honda’s HondaLink and Fiat Chrysler Automobile’s UConnect.

Concerning overall reliability, Lexus once again took the top of the podium, while Toyota and Mazda respectively brought home silver and bronze, and Honda finished in fourth. Buick, meanwhile, was the only brand among the Detroit Three to place in the top 10, jumping from 16th to sixth on the strength of its entire portfolio.

As for why the other Detroit brands failed to reach the top 10, Consumer Reports says domestic small and compact cars, along with full-size trucks, are holding everyone back. Tesla also didn’t make the list, but that was due to criteria than low quality: the publication only rates brands with a minimum of two models, a situation that will be remedied when the Model X rolls out next year.

Finally, Audi took fifth behind the Japanese makes, while Porsche took ninth ahead of Kia. BMW and Volvo remained within the top 20. Only Mercedes-Benz took a hit among the Europeans this year, falling 11 spots to 24th thanks to the new CLA and S classes.

The Consumer Reports 2014 reliability survey obtained its information from 1.1 million vehicles, the largest survey of its kind in the publication’s history.

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Lamborghini, Rolls-Royce SUVs Still Waiting For Green Light http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/lamborghini-rolls-royce-suvs-still-waiting-green-light/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/lamborghini-rolls-royce-suvs-still-waiting-green-light/#comments Thu, 23 Oct 2014 10:00:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=935290 Saving away for either a Lamborghini Urus or the Rolls-Royce SUV with no name (yet)? You may end up in an Aventador or Wraith instead if neither one are green-lit. According to AutoCar, the £180,000 ($289,000 USD) new-age Rambo Lambo is awaiting the go-ahead from Audi, which an anonymous insider claims will come when economic […]

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Saving away for either a Lamborghini Urus or the Rolls-Royce SUV with no name (yet)? You may end up in an Aventador or Wraith instead if neither one are green-lit.

According to AutoCar, the £180,000 ($289,000 USD) new-age Rambo Lambo is awaiting the go-ahead from Audi, which an anonymous insider claims will come when economic and geopolitical conditions calm down:

We are convinced the Urus can significantly boost global sales, but the financial conditions need to be sound. Right now, there are signs we may be heading for a downturn in the markets due to various factors, including trouble in the Middle East, although this is not reflected in the current sales situation, which puts us ahead of 2013.

Over at BMW, the Grey Poupon delivery wagon — set to move out of mainly Chinese showrooms at £200,000 ($321,000) — is still in the design phase. Board member for the high-end premium brand, Peter Schwarzenbauer, said the proposals are closing in on BMW’s vision for the SUV, but if the execs can’t be convinced that the final design resembles a Rolls-Royce, the vehicle will not be built.

Both SUVs are expected to enter production in 2017.

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Projects In Germany, US Closer To Low-Cost Carbon Fiber Manufacturing http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/projects-germany-us-closer-low-cost-carbon-fiber-manufacturing/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/projects-germany-us-closer-low-cost-carbon-fiber-manufacturing/#comments Thu, 16 Oct 2014 10:00:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=931938 Though carbon fiber is being used more extensively in new vehicles, the high costs associated with building a vehicle out of the material have kept it to the likes of the Lexus LFA and BMW i Series. This could soon change, however. Bloomberg reports MAI Carbon Cluster Management GmbH, with financial backing from BMW, Audi, […]

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2014 BMW i8 04

Though carbon fiber is being used more extensively in new vehicles, the high costs associated with building a vehicle out of the material have kept it to the likes of the Lexus LFA and BMW i Series. This could soon change, however.

Bloomberg reports MAI Carbon Cluster Management GmbH, with financial backing from BMW, Audi, Airbus, Siemens and around 70 other manufacturers, have made progress on reducing the cost of carbon fiber, with the goal of slashing 90 percent of the total cost. Klaus Drechler, head of the €80 million ($102 million USD) project, as well as professor at the Technical University of Munich, explains:

We’ve certainly reached a halfway point on our cost-cutting target for suitable carbon-fiber parts. We’ll see a lot more carbon-fiber use in the next generation of cars. The key is to really drive automation [in production]. There are different scenarios about how carmakers can use carbon fiber — extensively like BMW, with a carbon-fiber chassis, or with smaller components.

Similar cost-reduction efforts are being carried out in the United States at the Oak Ridge Carbon Fiber Composites Consortium in Oak Ridge, Tenn. The consortium, established in 2011, has partnered with Ford, Dow Chemical and other companies in developing lower-cost carbon fiber materials.

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Paris 2014: 2016 Audi TT Roadster Bows http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/paris-2014-2016-audi-tt-roadster-bows/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/paris-2014-2016-audi-tt-roadster-bows/#comments Thu, 02 Oct 2014 20:30:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=924785 You’ve seen the Audi TT Sportback. Now, it’s time for the 2016 Audi TT Roadster to shine at the 2014 Paris Auto Show. The 2016 model rides on the MQB platform with a wheelbase that has gained 1.5 inches over the current TT, while the overall length is just an inch shorter. Weight comes in […]

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You’ve seen the Audi TT Sportback. Now, it’s time for the 2016 Audi TT Roadster to shine at the 2014 Paris Auto Show.

The 2016 model rides on the MQB platform with a wheelbase that has gained 1.5 inches over the current TT, while the overall length is just an inch shorter. Weight comes in at 2,910.1 lbs. with manual transmission and front-wheel drive, and the chassis is stiffer thanks to solid steel tubes inside the A-pillars, steel ribbing in the sills, and various V braces throughout the underside.

The soft-top is 6.6 lbs. lighter than the top now in play, can be operated up to 31.1 mph, takes up little of the TT’s 9.9 cubic-feet of trunk space, and can open or close within 10 seconds.

Up front, the U.S. market will receive a 2-liter turbocharged engine delivering 230 horses, 310 in the TTS model. A spoiler deploys at speeds above 75 mph.

Finally, a revised Quattro system puts more power to the back, allowing for safer, more controlled drifts on low-friction surfaces.

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Paris 2014: Audi TT Sportback Revealed http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/paris-2014-audi-tt-sportback-revealed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/paris-2014-audi-tt-sportback-revealed/#comments Thu, 02 Oct 2014 12:00:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=923233 Following up on the TT Allroad Shooting Brake and TT Offroad, Audi revealed the TT Sportback at the 2014 Paris Auto Show. This TT adds two rear doors to the original three, along with an 11-inch boost in overall length, a 2.4-inch increase to the width, and an additional 4.7 inches for the wheelbase, no […]

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Following up on the TT Allroad Shooting Brake and TT Offroad, Audi revealed the TT Sportback at the 2014 Paris Auto Show.

This TT adds two rear doors to the original three, along with an 11-inch boost in overall length, a 2.4-inch increase to the width, and an additional 4.7 inches for the wheelbase, no doubt giving plenty of room for the two passengers fortunate to sit in the back. The two rear passenger doors also have frameless windows, just like the TT coupe.

Under the hood, a 2-liter TFSI turbo-four drives 400 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque via a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic to all corners, each bearing a 21-inch wheel mounted on 255/30s, and containing an 18-inch disc. The drivetrain is also efficient at the pump — delivering an average of 33.6 mpg — and off the line; nil to 62 arrives in 3.9 seconds.

Inside, the driver receives their info via a virtual cockpit system inside a 12.3-inch display, which can be operated either via steering-wheel controls or the touchpad on the MMI terminal near the shifter.

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Audi Leaves CVTs Behind For Dual-Clutch Automatics http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/audi-leaves-cvts-behind-for-dual-clutch-automatics/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/audi-leaves-cvts-behind-for-dual-clutch-automatics/#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 10:00:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=873010 CVT haters, rejoice: Audi’s latest set of Multitronic CVTs will be the automaker’s last. According to The Motor Report, the automaker believes it has done all it can with CVTs, and will instead focus on the S-tronic dual-clutch automatic family of transmissions. Both the S-tronic and traditional automatic offerings will fill the void left behind […]

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34 - 2012 Audi A7 - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

CVT haters, rejoice: Audi’s latest set of Multitronic CVTs will be the automaker’s last.

According to The Motor Report, the automaker believes it has done all it can with CVTs, and will instead focus on the S-tronic dual-clutch automatic family of transmissions. Both the S-tronic and traditional automatic offerings will fill the void left behind when the models so equipped with Multitronic are updated or replaced.

However, Audi may also do away with the traditional automatic, as well. Currently, the automaker is hard work on an S-tronic built to handle the torque loads and AWD that are being handled by eight-speed autos at present. No word on when the traditional auto’s day may come to pass.

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