I’ll probably be found half-eaten by the dog because I have no kids. At least I have the Audi A8 for company…


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.

The £103K Audi with no 7-digit input for the sat nav. Make sense?


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 This out-going model has drawn criticism of late for its outdated cabin.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.

The only area where the new Audi TT doesn’t score is exclusivity…


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…

Audi’s new TTS is quick – so what is the RS version going to bring to the party?


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!

My landmark diesel moments from the last 30 years of clattering…


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…

Buying a new motor involves six months of research looking at car ‘porn’


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 – handling in the new Audi TT is astoundingly good


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!

The Audi TT’s digi dashboard is groundbreaking – expect other manufacturers to follow the same design path


I wondered if Audi could up their game on the latest TT dashboard – they’ve done it in style. While the original TT  was an interior masterclass, the last, out-going model was a massive disappointment, with switches and dials we’ve seen elsewhere in the Audi range.

However, the 3D digital dash of the latest model is groundbreaking. You just know that other manufacturers will be copying the format and that we will see a rash of digi dashes on the market over the next few years.

In practical terms it means no ugly screen in the middle of the dashboard any more because the sat nav is now displayed in the instrument binnacle, right in front of the driver. Simple, brilliant, safer.

You can flick between the different systems – perhaps choosing the classic speedo, rev counter view – which all appear as graphics. Add to this the flat bottomed, multi-function steering wheel and it won’t be long before we have a totally ‘clean’ dashboard’ in future cars, without buttons or dials…

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


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….

The A6 Avant Ultra is a big car but it has the same DNA as other more sporty Audi models


There’s a narrow stretch of country road on the way to Kingham Station in Oxfordshire where you have to ‘breath in’ when a car approaches from the opposite direction. This morning I met a large, meandering lorry…

The A6 Avant is a big motor – it’s wide and long. Fortunately, it also handles extremely well, so when the ABS cut in and I steered towards the hedge, the Audi did exactly what I asked of it.

Moments before, I had been wondering at the feel of the Audi steering. To be honest, I’d prefer it a little heavier but the lorry moment persuaded me otherwise. I escaped with just my passenger door mirror pushed back.

So, to anyone who thinks the A6 Avant is just too big for them and something smaller would do, I’d say, ‘don’t worry, go for it.’ It may not be a TT but it has plenty of DNA from other faster, more sporty Audi models to keep you entertained and safe…