The Truth About Cars » TT http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Fri, 31 Jul 2015 14:07:35 +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 » TT http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Small Luxury Convertible Is Probably Dead http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/the-small-luxury-convertible-is-probably-dead/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/the-small-luxury-convertible-is-probably-dead/#comments Thu, 23 Jul 2015 12:00:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1123801 I think the time has come to wave goodbye to one of the auto industry’s most fickle segments: the small luxury convertible. Once formerly strong and full of life, the segment now consists of a bunch of cars that leave people asking: Do they still make that? Allow me to explain what I mean. Back […]

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I think the time has come to wave goodbye to one of the auto industry’s most fickle segments: the small luxury convertible. Once formerly strong and full of life, the segment now consists of a bunch of cars that leave people asking: Do they still make that?

Allow me to explain what I mean. Back in 1989, Mazda came out with the Miata and taught everyone that maybe the two-seater convertible wasn’t quite dead yet. So all the luxury automakers decided they wanted a piece of that sweet droptop action, and they all scrambled to the drawing board to make expensive Miatas with steering wheel volume control buttons.

They all came out right in a row. First there was the BMW Z3, which went on sale for the 1996 model year and starred in a James Bond movie soon after. I remember how cool this thing was, because I remember how much of a departure it was for BMW to build it in the first place. Here’s an automaker who has only offered sedans and one slow-selling large coupe for the last few decades, and now they’re coming out with a fun looking, two-seat convertible that’s kind of affordable? THIS IS SO COOL! Eight-year-old me had a model Z3 sitting on a shelf in my room.

Then there was the Porsche Boxster. Oh, the Boxster, an enormous sales success when it first came out; the car that made Porsche realize that maybe, just maybe, they can continue in the business of selling cars without going into the business of declaring bankruptcy. The first Boxster models came out in 1997, and the first few years were their best-selling of all-time.

Then there was Mercedes. The first-generation Mercedes SLK came out for the 1998 model year with a totally new idea: a retractable hardtop. A retractable hardtop on a small Mercedes convertible, while the brand’s flagship SL-Class still had to make do with a normal old folding cloth top and a removable hardtop that was about as easy to move as a Great Dane who’s asleep on the remote control.

Like the Z3, the SLK was also so damn cool when it came out. The retractable roof was in all the ads. It was the first time anyone had ever seen such a thing outside the Mitsubishi 3000GT, which sold approximately 11 total units. And most importantly, it was a strong competitor to the brand-new rivals from BMW and Porsche. Back then, this segment was heating up like the compact crossover segment is today.

And then, yet another challenger emerged: the Audi TT. Originally on sale for the 2000 model year, the front- or all-wheel drive TT caused quite a stir when it debuted by being the first Audi ever not to completely suck. And then the stage was set: Audi had the TT. Mercedes had the SLK. BMW had the Z3. Porsche had the Boxster. And then the redesigns came.

First the Z3 was redesigned in 2004 to become the far more aggressive, bolder, sharper looking Z4. Next, the SLK and Boxster were updated in 2005, both with more modern appearances. Clearly, the automakers thought this segment still had some legs. And finally, the Audi TT got a full redesign for the 2008 model year, bringing everyone back into close competition once again. And then…

Half-heartedly, most of these models have since been redesigned once again. The Z4 lost its flame surfacing and gained sort of a “me, too” appearance designed to offend precisely nobody, and inspire the same number. The SLK received another redesign, though nobody knows this outside of spouses of Mercedes dealers. The Boxster, admittedly, earned an excellent redesign — though its price point has taken it well beyond the level of the original 2-seat roadster. And Audi’s hemming and hawing about a potential TT redesign has been one of the most reluctant things I’ve seen from the auto industry in decades.

The reason for all this is that this segment has completely died out, and nobody wants these cars anymore. Back in the ‘90s, convertibles were all the rage, and people loved the idea of hopping in a BMW roadster and going for a spin. Now, sedans are back. We want functional. We want practical. And we don’t want to pay fifty grand for an SLK250 with something called the “Airscarf.”

For proof, some numbers. Back in 2005, with its last redesign, the SLK hit nearly 12,000 units in America. With its most recent redesign in 2012, it didn’t even manage to reach 5,000 sales. The Z4 did almost 20,000 U.S. units in 2003. Last year, just barely 2,000. And the poor Audi TT has dropped from more than 10,000 sales in its first year to just over 1,000 last year. Even the Boxster is down from well over 10,000 U.S. sales in the late 1990s to just over 4,500 after its most recent redesign.

And so, ladies and gentlemen, I’m currently predicting the death of the luxury roadster segment. When it happens officially, remember that you heard it here first. Even James Bond can’t save it now.

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Audi Introducing EV Crossover In 2018, Q8 Flagship SUV In 2019 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/audi-introducing-ev-crossover-in-2018-q8-flagship-suv-in-2019/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/audi-introducing-ev-crossover-in-2018-q8-flagship-suv-in-2019/#comments Fri, 22 May 2015 19:00:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1073122 Audi is set to launch a new flagship SUV in 2019, as well as an EV crossover in 2018, both part of the automaker’s 2020 model expansion plan. The 2019 Q8 and yet-to-be-named EV will help reinforce Audi’s place in the Chinese and U.S. auto markets, with the aim of beating BMW and keeping Mercedes-Benz […]

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Audi Q7

Audi is set to launch a new flagship SUV in 2019, as well as an EV crossover in 2018, both part of the automaker’s 2020 model expansion plan.

The 2019 Q8 and yet-to-be-named EV will help reinforce Audi’s place in the Chinese and U.S. auto markets, with the aim of beating BMW and keeping Mercedes-Benz at bay, Automotive News Europe reports. The Q8 will share its platform with the Q7 and feature styling similar to the BMW X6, while the EV will likely be based upon the Q5 and boast a 310-mile range.

By the time the two vehicles hit the market, Audi will have to face down increased competition from the likes of Bentley, Maserati, Jaguar and Tesla, the former three gunning for the high-end luxury SUV market with their respective models — Bentayga, Levante and F-Pace — while Tesla will be waiting for the EV with its own, the Model X.

Prior to their debuts, the automaker will introduce a new Q7 and TT this year, followed by the Q1 subcompact crossover in 2016. The overall plan is to have 60 models available for sale around the world by 2020, up from 52 right now.

[Source: Audi]

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New or Used: Makeup Case Not Included http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/05/new-or-used-makeup-case-not-included/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/05/new-or-used-makeup-case-not-included/#comments Sat, 28 May 2011 20:39:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=395775 TTAC Commentator Ronman writes: Hi Sajeev and Steve, hope all is well. I have a query for a friend. He is a photographer in California, and has recently felt the urge to buy a convertible. His requirements are kind of eclectic with a sort of tight budget. Here it goes: he wants a convertible so […]

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TTAC Commentator Ronman writes:

Hi Sajeev and Steve, hope all is well. I have a query for a friend. He is a photographer in California, and has recently felt the urge to buy a convertible. His requirements are kind of eclectic with a sort of tight budget.

Here it goes: he wants a convertible so that he can enjoy the sun in his neck of the woods, he wants one that drives well with some decent power and with the top down he would like to be able to use the car for tracking shots and the like. He would prefer a hardtop for safety reasons (theft) as some of his gear might be in the car at times. Also since his budget spans from 12 to 16k, he would prefer the used car he is going to ultimately buy not be a pocket burner in terms of maintenance. So a model that can be acquired with extended warranties would be preferable.

He’s already tested a 2002 SLK280, but he’s wondering what would be nicer on the mid term, the SLK, a similar vintage Boxter, or Audi TT convertible. I had advised him about the presence of the Honda S2000, Mazda MX5 (he said it’s too girly), and the Pontiac Solstice or Saturn equivalent (not sure if those slot in the budget) however he did mention that if it’s worthwhile he would try to up his budget somewhat. a 2 seater convertible is not a strict thing but it is preferable. So what do you and the B&B think?

Sajeev Answers:

Ronman, with those needs and that budget, your buddy is looking at what I sometimes call “The Dark Ages” of German value engineering. Buying a used model from this era (especially with no service records) is beyond stupid. The Boxster’s IMS engine failures and (some) Audi’s engine sludging are well known, but it takes more forum digging to learn all the expensive problems on the other models. And he better, unless he doesn’t mind surprise repairs that can be in the thousands.

Not that the new stuff from Germany is simply outstanding in terms of long term value, so I’d recommend your friend buys a hardtop MX-5. The GM Kappas are a good alternative, but finding a hard top might be tough. Maybe a Thunderbird, if he needs more space/comfort and wouldn’t mind the occasional retro kick in his photography.

And honestly, is a MX-5 any more “girly” than a TT or SLK? But I suspect he’ll buy whatever he likes on the test drive. And if its an SLK, TT or Boxster without reassuring amount of service records, be totally okay with rubbing it in when he complains about the repair bills.

Steve Answers:

Let’s see. Your buddy thinks the MX-5 is girly? Based on what?

I have yet to see one of those come with a standard make-up case. Seriously. Everyone from Jeremy Clarkson to yours truly likes the MX-5. Even a guy I met who deals with some of the nastiest scum of the Earth as a public defender in Northwest Georgia drives one. Four kids and built like a marine, I’m sure he would have gone for an old Wrangler if he was concerned that folks would see him as ‘girly’ in a car that a lot of guys like.

This isn’t even a question given his criteria. He should buy the MX-5 and load it up with whatever he likes. It’s wonderful to drive. Reliable. Sporty, and damn simple to keep up and maintain. All the German models your son mentioned were built at a time when German quality was a painful oxymoron. Skip em’.

Need help with a car buying conundrum? Email your particulars to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com , and let TTAC’s collective wisdom make the decision easier… or possibly much, much harder.

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What’s Wrong With This Picture: The Facelift Vanishing Point Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/04/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-the-facelift-vanishing-point-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/04/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-the-facelift-vanishing-point-edition/#comments Thu, 08 Apr 2010 14:53:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=351770 Just as certain celebrities reach a critical mass of surgical alterations, where a new nose or chin can go completely unnoticed, the 2011 update to the Audi TT barely registers. And like any aging celeb, it looks remarkably good… until you put it next to a photo of an original. Compared to Peter Schreyer’s timeless […]

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Just as certain celebrities reach a critical mass of surgical alterations, where a new nose or chin can go completely unnoticed, the 2011 update to the Audi TT barely registers. And like any aging celeb, it looks remarkably good… until you put it next to a photo of an original. Compared to Peter Schreyer’s timeless bauhaus lines, the TT is showing the wear and tear of Hollywood living, with its heavy eyeliner and tacked-on curves. Not that we’d turn down a date, mind you…

2011tt 2011tt1 2011tt2 2011tt3 2011tt4

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