Razor sharp – handling in the new Audi TT is astoundingly good

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Razor sharp. That’s how I would describe the handling of the new Audi TT. After steering the boat-like Mulsanne for a week, this coupe feels like an F1 car through the corners.

In fact, the first left-hander I tackled in anger, I over-compensated and almost lost the TT in a hedge. It’s staggeringly good and every inch as precise as a Porsche 911.

I can recall testing the last generation TT cabriolet, back-to-back with a Boxster. The TT may have enjoyed quattro four-wheel drive but the Porsche felt more balanced and settled through a corner.

Now I wouldn’t be so sure. The new Boxster is, of course, a barnstormer but I reckon the latest TT would be on a par. And the Audi costs less – plus our test car isn’t a grippy quattro. It’s astoundingly good!

Can the new Audi TT possibly be as good as the reviews make out?

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I’ve owned a first and second generation Audi TT. I loved the original because it had a stylish interior that has yet to be surpassed – and I liked the latter model because it was good at everything.

Well, good at most things. It wasn’t very happy driving forward at speeds in excess of 70mph without suffering significant steering wheel vibration. Despite three weeks in Audi warranty care, they never solved the problem and at times, didn’t seem to care.

So that left a rather bad taste in my mouth which also cost me a packet. Hence I approach the new Audi TT with some trepidation. Can it possibly be as good as the reviews make out?

I’m certain the steering wheel won’t vibrate in our test car but it’s going to have to be very good to tempt me away from a Porsche Cayman – the current coupe of choice. More tomorrow….

Audi TT Roadster 1.8 TFSI – Fun In The Sun

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How much you like the TT Roadster may well depend on how you value the badge on the boot. I can’t say the Roadster is that much better than a Mazda- MX-5 but Audi is premium brand – and that means a great deal to many people when making their buying choice.

The TT is fighting its corner against stiff opposition, from the likes of the BMW Z4 and more expensive Porsche Boxster too. Personally, I prefer the look of the BMW and Porsche, simply because the TT is starting to look a little dated these days.

Otherwise, the Audi is a fine handling car that brings the joy of open top motoring down to a reasonably affordable level. The cabin is well screwed together and easy on the eye – apart from the grey leather in our test car! – and the boot is a decent size too.

Z4 owners would say it doesn’t have the added security of a tin folding roof, Porsche drivers would point out the TT is nowhere near as pretty. Truth is, it will come down to personal taste because all three cars, plus the cheaper MX-5, are great fun and a joy to have on the driveway.

Thursday – Fine Tuning

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What is it about the Veloster that’s missing? All week I’ve been trying to put my finger on it. Maybe the lack of power, the okay steering, or the trim materials that are way behind an Audi TT perhaps?

It’s hard to find a major fault with this Hyundai but there are a lot of niggling issues which, when added together, make this feel like a car that falls just short.

And that’s a shame because the edgy styling, both inside and out, suggest the Veloster is going to be a lot better than it actually is. I really wanted it to be a great car but it needs some work to compete with key rivals in the coupe sector.

People just love to stare at the Veloster and you can understand why. However, it’s only when you live with it for a week that the realities of ownership appear.

I wanted to love the Hyundai – it deserves to be loved – but it’s a car that needs some fine tuning to find a place in my heart.

Monday – Living Up To The Promise?

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The Veloster doesn’t quite live up to it’s promising looks. While the interior is refreshingly different, there’s enough space to carry four adults and it really does turn heads, the 186bhp 1.6 turbo lacks the punch a funky coupe like this needs.

It’s zippy enough around town (0-60mph in 8.4 seconds) but get it on a motorway and the Hyundai feels like it is straining. Not only that but the fuel consumption drops away dramatically to around 33mpg. Not quite what I expected, if I’m honest.

There’s also an issue with the suspension in this Turbo model. It’s been beefed up compared to the standard car, which is great for cornering but firm otherwise – especially if you are carrying a full complement of passengers.

And unlike an Audi TT or an Astra GTC, the Veloster somehow doesn’t sit comfortably on the road at high speed. It’s more susceptible to cross winds and fidgets.

Still, at this price, the Hyundai does represent great value for money. And unlike an Audi TT or Astra GTC, you are driving something just that little bit different…

Sunday – Weather Warning

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‘Big storm coming…’ The woman in the newsagents wasn’t wrong. The coast of Cornwall has been battered by winds all day. It’s gusting so badly down here that the alarm on the Veloster went off twice this morning.

The drive down last night was a rain-lashed affair. Four up in a coupe is never a pleasant prospect but the Hyundai behaves more like a saloon than a 2+2. And that single rear side door comes in really hand for adults getting into the back. No fighting with front seat mechanisms.

Plenty of head room in the back too – although like the Audi TT, you have to be careful shutting the boot lid with the potential for heads getting in the way. Unlike the TT, the Veloster has plenty of rear leg room, mainly due to the deep seat base.

At night time, the large display screen on the dashboard is exceptionally bright and can be a distraction. It can be turned off easily enough but every time you adjust the heating, it comes back on again!

Fuel consumption was also a disappointment. At motorway speeds, the Hyundai is only averaging 33mpg. Shame because it was returning 42mpg in slow moving traffic on A-roads the day before.

Monday – Final Thoughts

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Jeremy Despite a few niggly faults, the RCZ is an exceptionally good drive – even with the entry-level 1.6 petrol engine under the bonnet.

The 156bhp version delivers a 0-60 mph time of 7.8 seconds but, for some reason, it just feels faster. It helps make the Peugeot responsive and more engaging to drive than you might expect. The RCZ is a delight to steer in to a corner.

I found that the A-pillars do restrict visibility rather a lot and there is a nasty blind spot  in the door mirrors – otherwise the vast expanse of glass in the cabin gives the RCZ a more spacious feeling than the class-leading Audi TT coupe.

I think my main complaint about the car is the driving position. Apart from the high foot pedals (see earlier reports), the seats are unsupportive and the steering wheel is just plain ugly.

There’s no doubt the RCZ would be a fantastic secondhand buy but the next generation model needs to address these issues to turn a good car into a great one.

 

Saturday – Pedal Low

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Jeremy Just back from a 300-mile round trip to horsey Newmarket in the RCZ – plenty of driving time to get more of a feel for the Peugeot.

What’s good about this designer coupe is that despite carrying only 156 horses under the bonnet, it feels remarkably composed and refined on the motorway. The 200bhp model must be even better.

What’s not so good is that returning via central London, the Peugeot was seriously tricky to drive in stop-start heavy traffic. The reason? It’s those high foot pedals again. Every change of gear was awkward. You also need to be aware that the RCZ also has a big blind spot in the door mirrors.

I’m still in two minds about this car. I like the styling, the concave rear screen, the curvy bits and the new front end. However, the driving experience and interior just don’t match the promise of the cool design.

Friday –

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Jeremy  I’ve just been reading Richard Hammond‘s review of the new RCZ in the Mirror. Me and the little chap used to present on Men & Motors PI (Pre Internet) – in those days he rode a motorbike to work and was slightly taller…

He’s obviously a big fan of the Pug coupe and especially the styling. I have to say I agree with him because any manufacturer that dares to break the jellymould of car design deserves a slap on the back.

The latest RCZ benefits from the new corporate nose of Peugeot, first seen on the 208. It’s not that different to the last one but on the RCZ, that means slightly more angular headlights and those annoying daytime running lights too.

One feature I agree with Hammond on is that there is something odd about the driving position. I can get comfortable in the seat but the foot pedals are so high they must have been designed for somebody with two knee joints.

It’s weird. The electric seats will recline and adjust for height but at 5ft 10ins, I began to feel like, well, a Richard Hammond. No idea why this is but I’m hoping Jessica can shed some light on things when she squeezes her 5ft 11ins frame inside next week…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday – Curves In All The Right Places

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Jeremy I’ve always loved driving the Audi TT and the VW Scirocco looks pretty neat too – apart from a rather odd rear end. So when I saw the Peugeot RCZ for the first time, I was eager to give it a go. Now I have one parked outside and I’m impressed.

There’s no doubt Peugeot’s designer coupe turns heads. It looks fantastic from most angles and I can tell you it is exceptionally well built, with a quality interior and, surprisingly, a huge boot.

I’ve only covered about 20 miles so far but the 156bhp version is livelier than I expected. It feels faster than the 8.3 second 0-60mph time, so I can only imagine the 200bhp petrol is even more fun.

The rear +2 seats are much smaller than the TT, especially leg room, which is non-existent. But up front, it’s a comfortable and refined place to sit, wrapped in an electrically adjustable driver’s seat that’s also heated.

I’m still not sure about the profile of the boot though. The back end seems to extend slightly further than it needs to. I’m turning a blind eye for now but I would have gladly accepted a smaller boot for a more pert bottom!