I was too busy lapping up Saturday’s sunshine in the R8 to write. Whereas today has been less than exciting in the deluge – I keep thinking about all those buggers who carefully planned to take this week off to ‘enjoy’ a camping trip with the family. Painful.
As the A8 skipped down the A303 towards the coast, I could see dads in their people-movers cursing the rasping tailpipes of the Audi. At least they have kids to help them pick their retirement home one day. I’ll probably be found half-eaten by the dog.
The R8 appears to have no less than five different gearboxes – and to think my first car in 1981 only had four forward gears. Yes, you can whack it into ‘auto’ or ‘manual’, then choose ‘sport’ mode for each, or use the + and – option on the gearchanger. In fact, there’s more because the R8 has flappy paddles on the steering column.
I’m not a big fan of the flappers but hey, in a high performance car like the R8 they are great full. Using them to change down in sport mode emits a bubbling, angry sound from the twin pipes. More than enough to annoy everybody within earshot.
And the Audi is exceptionally good fun. It’s extremely forgiving, allowing even amateurs like me to feel like they have been hurtling around racetracks for years. Again, it reminds me of the Golf GTI, or a Porsche Boxster.
Jump in, turn the key and you’re a driving superstar. Nobody will know it’s the car rather than your skills that are providing the thrills.
I’ve just returned from interviewing the legend that is Jonny Wilkinson. It meant a 510-mile return trip to Newcastle, which gave me more than enough time to sample the delights of the R8.
I must say, I’ve never been a fan of the looks – if you want a supercar and can afford a six figure fee, then why not buy a ‘proper’ one? Of course, it turned out I was wrong. The Audi is all that and some.
The full story on the R8 will unravel over the next seven days but let’s start with a negative. This out-going model has drawn criticism of late for its outdated cabin. And what really let this car down was the lack of a 7-digit input sat nav system.
I’ve only been to Newcastle once before and trying to find a nameless street with the Audi system was a complete nightmare. You don’t want to keep Jonny waiting, do you.
The R8 also uses the Audi rotating dial system for selecting letters and numbers to input. It’s way too sensitive and easy to click on to the wrong digit.
I found the whole infotainment system in the R8 a complete pig’s ear. I’m visiting an organic pig farm near Swindon this afternoon to talk bacon with the owner. Perhaps I’ll ask what she thinks.
Anyway, DON’T buy an R8 if you rely on sat nav a lot. I’ve checked with Audi Swindon and they tell me it’s not possible to pay for an upgrade either. Porsche offer such a service for older cars for about £320.
Let’s hope the new R8 fixes the problem.
It really is is difficult to spot the difference between this latest TT and the last model. My best advice is to look carefully at the headlight cluster – 2015 TT has much narrower lenses.
The interior is an improvement over the previous TT too but what really stands this latest version apart isn’t the aesthetics, it’s the drive.
New TT is sensational. The steering inspires confidence, the brakes have great feel and, well, everything about the TT just feels right. You will want to own one because it makes you feel good.
Shame then that the one feature the TT has never had is exclusivity. You just know that in two years time, every Tom, Dick and Harry will be driving one.
Like the brilliant VW Golf GTI, the TT is a victim of it’s own success. So buy one now – before they become too common…
If the TDI and TFSI TT don’t offer enough grunt for your taste then this month Audi unleashed the answer – the all-new TTS.
With power output upped to 310bhp, the TT is suddenly brushing on supercar status. The 0-60mph time is trimmed to 4.6 seconds and the car is available as coupe or convertible too.
Prices start at around £39,000 – which seems like good money when you consider the TTS is almost as quick as a Porsche 911.
Many people will be waiting for the RS version of the TT that is destined to be even quicker. As the TDI is no slouch, I can’t imagine what that’s going to perform like!
There has been several defining diesel moments in my life. One was when a neighbour used to wake me every morning by firing up his 1980s Audi diesel. Painful.
Another was when BMW launched the 2003 5-Series range in Spain. I drove the 535d back to England, convinced the diesel market had changed forever because the car was so damn good.
The most terrifying was being a passenger in Peugeot’s Le Mans winning car – at Le Mans. Shame we never saw that one on the public road.
And now there is the Audi TT TDI. This engine/coupe combination is simply class-leading. It takes diesel power to a new, much higher level that rewards the driver not just with economy, but with great performance.
Sure it takes the TDI around 7.5 seconds to reach 60mph but the torque is incredible. The TDI is no longer a poor relation to the petrol unit. It’s quite possibly the better car…
Come September I’m buying a new car. For me, that involves six months of research and delicious car ‘porn’. At least I can now rule the Maserati Gran Turismo out of the equation.
I’m currently in Northern Ireland, driving the Maserati around County Down. Turns out the 2+2 is stunning in the metal – but lacks the drivability of the Porsche 911, Jaguar XKR, or even the Golf R.
The Mazzer is, like all Maseratis, beautiful but flawed. It’s a supermodel with a scar on her cheek, you simply can’t escape the fact that the Gran Turismo has a deep secret – it doesn’t drive well.
Entering the equation instead is the new Audi TT – except I need the RS version to come along sooner rather than later. Razor sharp handling, high tech interior – it’s a no brainer…
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!