In the South African used car market today, the 2014 Mini Countryman and Paceman stand out as notable choices from the past. Here’s a reflective analysis of their features and performance from back then:
The Larger Minis:
Engine & Drivetrain:
To conclude, for those exploring the South African used car scene today, the 2014 Mini Countryman and Paceman served as stellar examples of combining Mini’s distinctive flair and dynamic driving experience with a demand for more space. Although they might not have matched some competitors in terms of cargo space, their unique charisma and driving joy are still evident.
Source: Kelley Blue Book
1 November 2023
WRITE-UP: 2021 Toyota Fortuner
The Toyota Fortuner is a robust 4×4 wagon designed to accommodate seven passengers, making it an ideal choice for adventurous families. It shares its platform with the popular Toyota HiLux ute but offers more family-oriented features.
Late in 2020, the Fortuner range received updates to stay competitive in the South African market, facing rivals like the Ford Everest, Mitsubishi Pajero Sport, and its sibling, the Toyota Prado.
Were these changes worth it at the time? This review addressed that question and also touched on some frequently asked questions about the Toyota Fortuner.
Toyota Fortuner 2021: GXL
What We Love About the Toyota Fortuner
The Fortuner fills a niche for buyers who need more off-road capability than a Toyota Kluger but aren’t ready to splurge on a Prado. It caters to this niche admirably.
What We Dislike
Compared to some rivals like the Everest and Pajero Sport, the Fortuner doesn’t conceal its ute-based origins as effectively. Additionally, its pricing was quite close to that of the Prado, which can make the decision tougher for customers when comparing these used models against each otherThe rear seats could probably have been designed a bit better.
Standard Features in the Toyota Fortuner
The 2021 Fortuner range consists of three grades, all equipped with the same diesel-auto-4WD powertrain. Here’s what the base model includes:
At the time of the vehicle’s launch you can add GPS navigation to the base model GX for an additional fee.
The next trim level is the GXL which sports added features like standard sat-nav, smart keyless entry, push-button start, climate control air-conditioning (single zone only), a wood-look “premium” steering wheel, paddle shifters, roof rails, LED fog lights, rear privacy glass, and chrome exterior door handles. The GXL could also be equipped with an optional pack that included leather-accented seats and eight-way power-adjustable front seats.
Topping the line-up is the Crusade that came with standard leather-accented seat trim, electric front seat adjustment, heated front seats, 18-inch alloy wheels with a full-size spare alloy wheel, an 11-speaker JBL sound system, a power tailgate, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, and puddle lamps.
While the Fortuner offered various accessories, including bull bars, underbody protection, a snorkel, and different alloy wheel options, there was no panoramic sunroof available.
The Fortuner offers competitive safety technology in its class, at the time, including auto emergency braking, pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane departure warning, and lane-keeping assist. However, it lacks blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.
The Toyota Fortuner is a genuine 4×4, designed for off-road adventures. It featurs high and low-range 4×4 capabilities, a body-on-frame design, and respectable approach (29 degrees), ramp-over (23.5 degrees), and departure angles (25 degrees). Those updates also gave it a more approachable and attractive exterior design.
Ground Clearance and Wading Depth
The Fortuner offers a running clearance of 216mm and a wading depth of 700mm, which is decent for tackling tough terrain.
For those needing to tow, the Fortuner can handle a braked trailer load of 3,100kg or an unbraked trailer of 750kg.
Under the hood, the Fortuner packs a 2.8-liter turbo-diesel engine producing 150kW of power at 3,400rpm and 500 Nm of torque between 1,600 and 2,800rpm. It comes exclusively with a six-speed automatic transmission and is available only in 4WD.
Toyota offered a range of accessories for the Fortuner, from bull bars and underbody protection to alloy wheels, LED headlight covers, and interior options like cargo organisers and floor mats. Aftermarket accessories from various suppliers were also available.
The 2021 update brought an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to the Fortuner’s interior. All grades came with USB input, AM/FM radio, Bluetooth phone, and audio streaming, but there was no DVD or CD player. The GXL and Crusade models came equipped with an 11-speaker JBL stereo system with a subwoofer.
The Fortuner offers seven seats in a 2+3+2 layout. Leather seats were optional on the GXL and standard on the Crusade.
The Fortuner’s 2.8-liter turbo-diesel engine provided brisk acceleration, with 0-100 times of less than 10 seconds. It came exclusively with a six-speed automatic transmission.
While no car was entirely free from issues, the Fortuner had a reputation for reliability. Some earlier models had concerns related to the diesel particulate filter (DPF) clogging, but this issue had been resolved.
The Toyota Fortuner retained its value well in the used car market, making it a sought-after option for buyers.
The Toyota Fortuner 2021 remained a strong contender in the used SUV South African market. With its robust off-road capability, comfortable interior, and competitive pricing, it was an appealing choice for those who needed a rugged SUV for both daily driving and adventurous trips.
Source: Cars Guide
11 September 2023
What’s the essence of the 2014 Jaguar XF?
The 2014 Jaguar XF represents a luxurious sports sedan, accommodating five passengers and available in five variants: I4 T, V6 SC, Supercharged, XFR, and XFR-S. It locks horns with competitors like the BMW 5 Series, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, and Audi A6.
At the time of launch, what was new on the 2014 Jaguar XF?
The XFR-S version, available in limited numbers, and the recently introduced Vision Pack, boasting intelligent high beams, adaptive front lights, a self-dimming rearview mirror, and blind spot monitoring are noteworthy. Features like keyless entry and voice control for navigation, climate, and audio systems are included in the Premium Pack. The XFR model has an optional Performance Pack, furnishing the Sport exhaust and the chassis and brake improvements found on the XFR-S model.
In 2014 how did the 2014 Jaguar XF stack up against other luxurious sports sedans?
Typical for this category of vehicles, the basic price takes a significant leap as more features are added. The XF’s performance and pricing bear close comparison to the BMW 528i. On the basic level, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class provides a considerably more powerful engine for just a bit extra cash.
What characteristics of the 2014 Jaguar XF stood out?
The 2014 XF is equipped as standard with a 240-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, but there are a variety of other options. These include a 340-hp, supercharged 3.0-liter V-6; a 470-hp, supercharged 5.0-liter V-8; a 510-hp, supercharged 5.0-liter V-8 and even a 550-hp, supercharged 5.0-liter V-8, depending on your chosen model. The engine is paired with an eight-speed automatic gearbox.
Basic features consist of 18-inch wheels, LED tail lights, a boot lid spoiler, four tailpipes, leather seats, heated front seats, and wood finishes. Options include 19- or 20-inch wheels, automatic high-beam headlights, air-cooled front seats, a navigation system, and a powered rear sunshade.
Safety features included as standard are side-impact airbags and active head restraints for the front seats, anti lock brakes, and an electronic stability control system. Optional safety features are a rearview camera, adaptive cruise control, a blind spot alert system, and a collision warning system.
Should I go for a pre-owned 2014 Jaguar XF?
The Jaguar XF sports an elegant and modern cabin design, eye-catching styling, and ample boot space, but the rear seat might feel a bit tight and some might find the road noise slightly disruptive.
We give attribution to this article from the original source: Cars
Image attribution: New Car Test Drive
11 August 2023
The new Ford Ranger Raptor is popularly considered as the most powerful double-cab bakkie in the South African market. To showcase its capabilities, Ford chose the Namib Desert as the location for an off-road experience for the media. The Ranger Raptor stands out with its imposing presence and aggressive styling. It features a wide front end, sculpted bonnet, and Matrix LED lights with distinctive C-Clamp daytime running lights. The bakkie also has a durable steel bash plate and flared wheel arches, complemented by 17-inch BF Goodrich KO2 all-terrain tires.
Under the hood, the Ranger Raptor is equipped with a potent 3.0-litre twin-turbo petrol V6 engine that delivers an impressive 292 kW and 583 Nm of torque. Its power is channelled through a specifically calibrated 10-speed automatic transmission to the permanent 4-wheel-drive system. The suspension system includes rear Watts Link coil springs and Fox 2.5-inch Live Valve Internal Bypass shock absorbers, providing stability and optimal performance during high-speed off-roading.
Inside the cabin, the Ranger Raptor offers a sense of occasion with fighter-jet-inspired leather-trimmed seats and a multifunction steering wheel. The 12.4-inch digital instrument cluster and 12-inch touchscreen infotainment system powered by SYNC4 provide essential information and entertainment options. The Raptor also features drive modes, including on-road and off-road settings, controlled through the centre console dial.
During the test drive in the Namib Desert, the Ranger Raptor proved its capabilities with its powerful engine and impressive performance. It offers exhilarating acceleration and agility on sand, making it one of the fastest double-cab bakkies in South Africa. The Raptor’s off-road features, such as Trail Control and front differential lock, enhance its ability to conquer challenging terrains with ease.
The Ranger Raptor’s ground clearance, wading depth, towing capacity, and load capacity make it a versatile and capable vehicle. However, its fuel consumption is high due to its performance-oriented nature.
In conclusion, the Ford Ranger Raptor is a remarkable high-speed off-road machine that surpasses its competitors in terms of 4×4 capability. While additional costs for service or maintenance plans should be considered, the Ranger Raptor remains unmatched in its segment, with no direct rivals currently on the market.
We give attribution to this article from the original source: Cars
Image attribution: Cars
6 July 2023
Today, a greater number of shoppers desire certain crossover benefits, such as AWD, elevated ground clearance, cargo flexibility, and a taller driving position. However, they do not wish to contend with the bulkiness and unwieldy handling of a larger utility vehicle.
Therefore, a new generation of small crossovers, exemplified by the 2016 Audi Q3, have emerged as a profitable business option. These vehicles cater to those seeking to upgrade from a smaller luxury car for more space or to downsize from a larger, more fuel-guzzling SUV for something more manageable and fuel-efficient.
If you are interested in owning a crossover but do not wish to incur excessive fuel costs or struggle with parking difficulties, now is an excellent time to explore this market segment. Whether you are already an Audi owner looking to upsize or downsize to the new Q3 or are new to the brand, you will discover numerous desirable Audi features.
The design incorporates all of the latest Audi hallmarks, including a distinctive grille, a sporty stance, and innovative LED lighting that produces a unique illumination signature at night.
The Q3’s onboard features are perhaps its greatest strength. The familiar Audi MMI interface allows drivers to manipulate numerous functions on the central display using a control pad and knob. The graphics are sleek and neat, similar to the elegantly simple instruments, and the overall appearance of the cabin. The design is graceful and modern, with a restrained and formal aesthetic at first glance. However, upon closer inspection, it reveals several subtle details that add to its premium look and feel, rather than relying on one or two significant style elements. Even the lack of sharp edges and the use of matte black and aluminum finish for trimming contribute to the clean design and little touches that elevate the Q3’s cabin.
At the rear, the hatchback’s rake creates a broad cargo area, although it is not particularly high towards the back. Nevertheless, I had ample space onboard to carry a substantial load of Costco groceries, my canine companion, some camping equipment, and the like. The power tailgate can be opened with one button and closed and locked with another, making it convenient when unloading a handful of shopping without having to dig out the key fob.
The rear seats fold almost flat to expand the cargo area, and when upright, there is sufficient space for two adults to lounge in comfort.
However, the Q3’s strong points lie inside the cabin. The MMI interface is easily operated using a control pad and knob, providing access to numerous functions displayed on the central screen. The graphics are clean, much like the instruments, which are beautifully simple, and the overall look of the cabin is modern, neat and formal, with subtle details that convey a premium feel, rather than relying on major styling elements. The Q3’s clean design and attention to detail are what elevate its cabin above others in its class. Additionally, the backseat has a rake to the hatchback, which means the cargo area is wide but not particularly tall towards the rear. Nevertheless, there is ample space for hauling items such as groceries, camping gear, or a dog, and the power tailgate can be opened or closed at the touch of a button. Rear seats can be folded flat to provide more cargo space, and when flipped up, two adults can sit comfortably.
In terms of size, the Q3 is ideal for a couple who typically travels alone but occasionally requires extra space or as a smaller, secondary luxury utility vehicle for families without big children. It provides plenty of headroom, even with the panoramic roof, and the driving position is elevated yet accessible, making it easier for senior dogs, puppies, or mobility-challenged passengers to enter and exit.
The Q3’s 2.0L TFSI turbo 4-cylinder engine delivers 200 horsepower and a bit more torque, resulting in refined performance that feels effortless. Even when driving gently through traffic or cruising up hills with the cruise set, the Q3 moves smoothly and effortlessly thanks to its low-end torque reserves. When needed, the acceleration is strong, and the engine never seems strained, even at redline. Although there are no other engine options available, most drivers will find the Q3’s power sufficient. Additionally, my test drive resulted in fuel consumption of under 10L/100km on premium gas.
It’s important to test the ride quality of any Q3 with the S-Line package since the tester’s experience revealed that the sporty suspension, coupled with the large 20-inch wheels and low-profile tires, offered minimal cushioning for rough roads. This meant that the ride quality was dependent on the road surface. If responsive handling is not a priority, it might be better to opt for a model with less wheel diameter and more sidewall for a more comfortable ride.
With the S-Line package equipped, the Audi Q3 handled smoothly on the highway, albeit with higher road noise levels than expected for a luxury crossover, and a bumpy ride on rougher surfaces. Nevertheless, among sporty crossovers with large wheels, the Q3 S-Line leans towards the more comfortable side. Driving enthusiasts will appreciate the Dynamic drive mode selector, which provides a pleasing and instant response to input. The steering becomes heavier for a direct road feel, and the throttle and steering responses are more precise. The Q3 handles corners well, steers quickly, and feels lively when cruising around bends at speed.
It is worth noting that the optional LED headlights are excellent, providing clean white light that is gentle on the eyes, peripheral illumination into the tree line beside dark highways, and can reflect off surfaces far up the road.
There are no significant complaints. The controls may feel a bit outdated, and the backup camera has a slight delay before activating in reverse. However, with pricing starting under R805,000 and a top-of-the-line tester starting in the low R920s, the 2016 Audi Q3 is an excellent choice for anyone seeking a new, sporty and luxurious little crossover. The interior is outstanding, the drivetrain is proven, and the vehicle is packed with thoughtful and delightful features and design touches.
We give attribution to this article from the original source: Auto123
3 May 2023
What is the Mercedes Benz GLC 300d? In addition to its presence in a successful niche segment, compared to other family members with ‘AMG’ in their name, the GLC is a more reserved yet attractive option, particularly in the AMG Line trim. Its 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine offers both efficiency and power, making it a strong competitor against the BMW X4, and potentially Audi’s Sportback Coupe. The GLC offers two diesel engine options and one petrol option, with the 180kW senior diesel engine being the focus of this review. Want to know what it feels like?
The Benz is a modern car, with most new features added to the cabin, except for the slightly older climate control switches. The 10.25” infotainment screen is available, and the passenger can operate functions through the touchpad. The car also has ‘Hey Mercedes’ voice control, which is quick and intuitive. However, the boot space is smaller compared to the GLC SUV, but still offers 500-litres of loading space. The load space is shallow with the cover in use, but there is spare space under the floorboards for small items, including the spare tire or tire repair kit.
At the time this original source article was written, the Top Gear SA team took the GLC300d on a 2,000km road trip from Johannesburg to Dokodweni’s beaches, then through the Drakensberg hills and back to Johannesburg. The road conditions varied, including freeways with speed cameras, stop-go traffic due to roadworks, gravel roads, and beautiful asphalt ribbons in the mountain passes. They reported that, despite the 20-inch wheels in the AMG-Line package, the ride was not as bad as expected, and the car handled bends and rough tarmac confidently. The GLC300d’s 9G-Tronic transmission behaved excellent for cruising and fuel-efficient, with a 5.8l/100km economy figure on our trip. However, sport mode did not handle as comfortably, with some delay between engine and transmission.
Considering the GLC300d for its attractive Coupé-SUV look? While practicality isn’t a top priority, the GLC still impresses in this segment. With good rear adult occupancy and a surprisingly comfortable and easy loading backseat, it’s worthy of passing the family test. The boot space is also better than many good-sized sedans, and local data company True Price reports high scores for the GLC’s resale value.
Of course, there are other options to consider. The BMW X4 range is different in styling and drivetrain, with either much less or much more power thanks to the M40d. If performance is a priority, the GLC’s AMG-siblings are also worth considering.
The GLC is a typical Merc in terms of performance. The 300d version is powerful and with standard 4MATIC suspension, it can go many places with ease. However, it excels primarily in terms of styling, which is what sets it apart. Although there are equally capable competitors out there, if you are sold on its design, the GLC is probably the better looking option. This will undoubtedly lead to fewer arguments.
We give attribution to this article from the original source: Top Gear South Africa
20 April 2023
The Suzuki Jimny is a charming and plucky two-door off-roader that oozes character. The beauty is in the simplicity. Cute, with a modern and aggressive appearance. Powered by a 1.3-litre four-cylinder engine with 63kW and 110Nm, the Jimny may seem small, but it has enough power to tootle around town nicely. However, don’t expect top-notch performance, as this car is not designed for speedsters. In fact, it’s not ideal for highway driving, as it feels a bit disconcerting when doing over 100km/h and can be buffeted by strong winds.
But take the Jimny off the highway and onto off-road terrain, and suddenly, it comes alive. With its soft suspension, low-range gearbox, lockable differential, and exceptional ground clearance, the Jimny is a brilliant off-road vehicle that refuses to get stuck even in the toughest of conditions. It’s no wonder that it is used by some armed forces around the world.
While the interior of the Jimny is basic and simple, it is comfortable and practical, with redesigned seats, air conditioning, a CD player, electric windows, and ISOFIX anchor points for baby seats. And although it may not have fancy gadgets, it more than makes up for it with its superb off-road ability.
Overall, the Suzuki Jimny is a unique and different vehicle that is easy to parallel park and drive through narrow streets in the city, but truly shines when taken off the tarred roads. It’s like a Labrador puppy that’s happiest when unclipped from its leash and charging through streams and up embankments. So, if you’re not in a hurry, the Jimny is definitely worth considering.
If you are looking for a plucky little off-roader for those impromptu weekend bashes, have a look at a quality pre-loved version or let us know and we will see what we can find for you!
Original content sourced from: bit.ly/40gRNuj
30 March 2023
Since its launch in South Africa in 2013 the Renault Duster was geared towards a variety of buyers. From soccer moms and dads carting their kids around, to young city-dwellers in addition to adventurers with active lifestyles. We found that it suits a myriad of roles quite nicely. Let’s have a look at the popular 2014 model.
The seats could be more comfortable – they are the same ones taken from the Duster’s sibling, the Sandero. Long distances would not be very comfortable without a cushion or two. They don’t provide much lumbar support, but the white stitching is a nice aesthetic touch. The interior is spacious in the front, but wouldn’t be fantastic for taller passengers in the rear. The 408-litre boot is wonderfully convenient for large luggage – and for storing motoring scribes as you’ll see in our forthcoming video review.
The Duster includes all the necessities from air-conditioning to satellite audio controls on the steering column. It has a nifty colour screen interface with Bluetooth and USB accommodation. A standard navigation system is part of the package too and overall the system is easy to use. The sound system works well enough for the leisurely stuff on Highveld Stereo, but won’t be sufficient for high-bass hip-hop tunes.
Under the hood
We tested the 1.5-litre turbocharged diesel derivative. Ample momentum comes from its 80kW and, 240Nm output. Top speed is claimed at 171km/h. It accelerates to 100km/h in sedate 12 seconds, and though it won’t win any races, it feels punchy enough on the urban commute. It won’t break the bank either with a claimed fuel consumption of 5.3l/km which can easily be achieved when driving sensibly. There is enough overtaking grunt on the freeway too. But once again, the only thing against its favour on the long-haul are those flat seats.
Driving the change
We enjoyed the Duster both off-road and on it. The first gear is quite short, but Renault did this purposefully to give it some low-range, obstacle-crunching ability. Once shifted into second gear, the Duster gets into its stride. It handles well around corners, feeling safe and secure. The sixth gear allows for smooth cruising at a comfortable 120km/h on the highway. It demands a certain respect on the road, and has a few heads turning because it is not seen around every street corner.
Practicality and dependability are two great aspects of the Renault Duster. All in all, we found it to be a companionable gentle giant. It’s honest and doesn’t pretend to be something it’s not.
The Technical Stuff:
Model: 2014 Renault Duster 1.5 Dynamique dCi 4×4
Engine: 1.5-litre, four-cylinder, turbocharged diesel
Power and Torque: 80kW and 240Nm
Fuel Consumption: 5.3l/100km
Original content sourced from: http://bit.ly/3yOKnSS
22 March 2023
The latest BMW 3 Series sedan comes with several new updates, including the updated iDrive system, which is the same one found in the i4. This system features a larger curved display and a new digital instrument cluster that are combined into one panel, with climate control integrated into the display. The display panel includes a 12.3-inch instrument cluster and a 14.9-inch infotainment screen, with touch and voice control reducing the number of physical buttons and controls. The 8-speed automatic transmission lever has also been redesigned and is now more discreetly positioned.
The front end of the 3 Series has been updated with a revised grille, new double bars, and revised contours, and the standard LED headlights are now slimmer with an inverted L theme for the LED daytime running lights. The rear of the 3 Series has slimmer taillights and larger tailpipe finishers, with the M High-gloss Shadow line and 17-inch light-alloy wheels now standard.
The new 3 Series will be available with one turbo-diesel and up to four turbo-petrol engines, with capacities ranging from four to six cylinders, and featuring 48V mild-hybrid technology. It generates between 110-285kW with fuel consumption ranging from 1.8-8.7l/100km. The mild-hybrid technology provides rapid response and increased efficiency for the diesel and petrol engines. The car comes with an eight-speed Steptronic transmission and gearshift paddles on the steering wheel, while the range-topping model has the xDrive all-wheel-drive system. An eight-speed Sports transmission with sharper shifts, Launch Control, and Sprint functions are also available as options.
Very soon some of these beauties will become available as demo or used models and we will be keeping an eye out to grab them for our clients!
1 March 2023
For 2008, Audi redesigned a car that was nothing short of a phenomenon when it came to market for 2000. When I first tested it, I couldn’t get anywhere for days, as I was constantly held up by admirers who wanted to know what this car was. Now it hardly gets noticed, thanks in part to copycats of various prices. Credit (or blame) the TT for some of the more daring exteriors and real or simulated metal interior trim that have followed.
With new drivetrains and technology, the 2008 redesign brings us a slightly larger, still striking and definitely better TT, but the improvements are more incremental than dramatic. Available both in coupe and roadster body styles, the TT’s trim levels are now the 2.0T and the 3.2, reflecting their 2.0-liter turbo and 3.2-liter engines, respectively. This review addresses both coupe trim levels, with driving impressions from a TT 3.2 coupe test car. If you want to compare this model to the earlier generation, look to 2006; the 2008 came early in 2007, so there was no 2007 model.
Exterior & Styling
Despite having grown 5.4 inches longer and 3.1 inches wider, the TT comes across as much the same size, but a lower roof changes the proportions somewhat and the hood appears longer. The main change in front is a face that has gone from cute to sinister, with furrowed brows and a large mouth that evoke Audi’s newest phenomenon, the R8 super coupe.
The most noticeable styling change is the disappearance of the fixed rear spoiler, which was added to cars after a recall soon after the first generation hit dealerships. Aerodynamic lift had caused incidents of snap oversteer and spinouts in European TTs driving at high speeds. The lift issue remains, but now there’s a powered spoiler that raises when the car hits 75 mph then retracts again at 50 mph. (A switch also deploys it if you want to show it off.) Now the originally intended sloping roofline is back — without the hazard.
I also love, love, love the taillights. Traditional translucent red-plastic lenses are two-dimensional and boring, but the recent alternative has been clear plastic over bright chrome bezels — particularly cheap-looking when combined with dark paint colors. I was shocked when Lexus adopted this low-class treatment. Now take a look at the TT’s taillights: a red-tinted lens over compound reflectors. It has the interesting three-dimensionality that the modern era demands — without the cheese factor. Well done, Audi.
Aside from the badges, two things distinguish the 3.2 from the 2.0T: The 3.2 has twin tailpipes and a piano-black-finished grille, and the 2.0T has a single pipe and titanium gray on its grille. Both trim levels get 17-inch alloy wheels. Eighteen- and 19-inch rims are optional.
Going & Stopping
The good news is that the 2.0T has the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that we love in everything from the Audi A3 and A4 to the Volkswagen GTI, GLI and Passat. The bad news is that the 2.0T comes only with front-wheel drive and an automatic transmission. This is a shame. First off, choices are good, and you get fewer here. Second, a manual 2.0T with Quattro all-wheel drive could conceivably have delivered better gas mileage and/or a lower sticker price than the 3.2.
My 3.2 coupe had a standard six-speed manual that did the job, neither impressing nor depressing with its medium-tall shifter and relatively precise (if there could be such a thing) feel. I still prefer the short, sharp, connected-feeling shifter of the Infiniti G35.
The six-speed automatic, which is optional in the 3.2, is Audi’s excellent S tronic (formerly called Direct Shift Gearbox). If you insist on an automatic, at least this one brings something you can’t get from the manual: faster 0-to-60 mph times (no matter how good you are on the stick). S-tronic uses two separate clutches: one for the odd gears and one for the even. It hands off from one gear to the next in no time — literally, practically no time. S-tronic is technically an automated manual — closer to what you might imagine an automatic transmission to be. (A conventional automatic is a different animal altogether with lots of fluid flowing around and typically more clutches than there are gears in a heavy, heat-generating, inefficient mess.) The point here is that S tronic has all the efficiency benefits of a manual plus blindingly fast shifts. In fact, it gets you better mileage than the manual.
There’s also a clutchless-manual mode — which is to say you don’t operate the clutch — that lets you shift up and down sequentially using the gear selector. It also has shift paddles on the steering wheel. Whatever.
The S-tronic I’ve driven in other cars is impressive indeed, but I have to point out that its downshifts are as slow as its upshifts are quick. Give it a try; while downshifting through the gears, you’ll feel the engine release the driveline momentarily and you lose all engine braking until it hooks up again.
The TT’s V-6 engine is what I consider a staggered inline-six, with odd- and even-numbered cylinders offset by 15 degrees in a single head. I appreciated the 3.2-liter’s low-rev torque, but the 2.0-liter turbo is so good, and its own torque delivery so broad, that the advantage of a larger engine isn’t as dramatic as it once was.
Ride & Handling
My car had the optimal grip of 18-inch summer performance tires, which also come in all-season versions. The standard 17-inch tires are also summer types, but all-season versions are a no-cost alternative. If you want to drive in winter, you need them. Don’t think Quattro is going to save you; summer tires are hazardous when cold and wet, and the TT doesn’t have enough ground clearance to keep you moving.
The original TT’s ride quality was livable, but it was definitely sports-car firm. The 2008 is also firm, but my test car had the newly optional Audi Magnetic Ride adaptive suspension. In place of the usual oil, Magnetic Ride’s shock absorbers contain fluid with suspended magnetic particles that adjust firmness when supplied with electric current. (The advantages include roughly five-times-faster response time than conventional adaptive shocks, using fewer parts.)
The Mag Ride’s default ride quality is definitely more comfortable than the previous, “dumb,” shock absorbers, but there’s no making up for the car’s wheelbase, which, though almost 2 inches longer, is still relatively short. Shorter wheelbases mean bouncier rides. Activating Sport mode by pushing a button adjacent to the shifter firmed up the ride and decreased body roll in turns.
Audi replaced the old semi-independent torsion-beam rear suspension with a fully independent multilink design. This is another theoretical improvement, which is why I’m surprised by how much acceleration squat this car exhibits — especially taking into account its adaptive suspension, which is typically calibrated to firm up the rear or front shocks to combat acceleration squat and braking dive, respectively. It does its butt-scooting routine in moderate to heavy acceleration from a standing start, and even when shifting hard from 1st to 2nd gear. If the TT were a dog, it wouldn’t be allowed on the carpet.
Audi improved the TT’s dynamics, but probably not enough to satisfy detractors who labeled the first generation as not enough of a sports car. Based on a front-drive platform with a transversely mounted engine, the original TT with Quattro had a 60/40 (front/rear) weight distribution, which ensured understeer. In practice, it was impossible to get the rear end to drift around when cornering — at least in any controlled way.
This time, Audi used a lot of aluminum, including the hood and the front end, and kept the steel mostly in the rear for weight distribution purposes. So the new TT Quattro’s weight distribution is … 59/41. Uh, you gotta crawl before you can walk? In effect, the changes don’t improve balance much; they keep it from being worse.
When driven aggressively on the track, the TT feels like the same car in good ways — solid, grounded, darty — and like a new car, also in good ways. The steering feedback is improved, but there’s still something missing compared to its rear-drive competitors. The car’s weight shifts more naturally, and you can get it to rotate on its axis (with the stability system switched off). It’s not going to win over any rear-drive devotees. The previous generation’s Quattro system split torque evenly between the front and rear axles as a default, which was only so much help. According to Audi materials, the new car’s Quattro is calibrated differently: “In normal conditions, the clutch directs 85 percent of the torque to the front wheels, but in extreme circumstances it is able to transmit as much as 100 percent of the forces to one of the two axles.”
Applying the throttle definitely combats the understeer more effectively in this car than in the previous model, but doing so is … an event, a purposeful action on the driver’s part. Compare this to all-wheel-drive cars from BMW, Infiniti, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche, all of which send a majority of their torque to the rear wheels — as a default, not under “extreme circumstances.” In these, you generally don’t think about what torque is going where — you just drive them and they feel like reasonably balanced, surefooted cars. If it seems unfair to compare these rear-drive-based cars to the TT, know that Audi’s A4 and A6 both support front-wheel drive, yet the RS4 and S6 based on them apportion 60 percent of their torque to the rear axle, and the result is compelling. Changing to this calibration would make the TT a much better car.
Once you’ve collected your wits after braining yourself getting into the TT, you’ll find more headroom than you’d expect (swelling notwithstanding). Sightlines, or pure claustrophobia, may be the real issue for some; the roofline is low and the doors rise high. The rear view isn’t bad, partly because the car is low enough that you can see other vehicles. Still, the Parktronic sonar rear parking assist option might be worthwhile. Apart from being low, the roof slopes down on the sides, and this can block taller people’s view — at least of things like traffic signals. Fortunately, a height adjustment is standard for both front seats, which are manual in the 2.0T and multiway powered in the 3.2. The steering wheel also tilts and telescopes.
The standard seats in both trim levels have leather side bolsters and Alcantara center panels and door trim. I was relieved to learn that Alcantara is a synthetic suede, and not the hide of a dwarf llama. The full Nappa leather seats and trim in my test car come in the Enhanced Interior Package option along with seatback pockets and storage beneath the seats.
Though the car itself is larger, the only increased dimension inside is shoulder room. There’s still plenty of real aluminum trim, but the dimpled-ring motif that touched everything from the door handles to the heated-seat knobs has been replaced by knurled rings — but only in the most obvious places, like the air vents, shift knob and stereo and climate controls. The rotary knobs are better than the previous-generation ventilation system’s peculiar fan-control dial, but I found them too slippery.
Aluminum braces that flanked the shifter in the previous generation encroached on occupant legroom, but they were also a distinctive element that is now gone. The same goes for the flip-up aluminum door over the stereo. The buttons and display are all larger now, leaving a more conservative center control panel. The side mirrors are larger and less cool, but the bigger size was badly needed. It seems like someone went through the TT and put function ahead of form, which is probably best, and nowhere more so than the disastrous — though cool-looking — cupholders, which are now simple wells.
The two rear seats — often mistaken for cup holders — aren’t really about function, unless their function is to fold flat and increase the cargo area, which they do aptly. Headroom is the limitation there — unless the front occupants slide their seats fully back, in which case the legroom is the limitation, because there is none.
Storage provisions are much improved and include a larger (but not large) glove compartment and real door pockets where there used to be nets. There’s no center storage console, though.
A new model, the TT hasn’t been crash tested by our preferred source, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Being a low-volume seller, it’s been subject to almost no testing in the past, either, and that may remain true for the 2008 model.
Airbags include the required front pair, front-seat-mounted side-impact airbags for chest protection, and knee airbags for both front occupants. The rear “seats” get no coverage. More importantly, Audi mentions no side head airbags, and this is a concern. Head airbags dramatically improve survivability in most crash tests, and the TT is a low-riding car that puts the bumper of full-size pickups and SUVs near eye-level. Having clocked myself a couple of times on the roof’s prominent side rail while taking aggressive right-hand turns, I hate to imagine what would happen if it came at me.
Along with the traction provisions already mentioned, the optional adaptive headlights are an arguable safety feature; they aim in the direction that the steering wheel is turned to illuminate curves.
The TT’s cargo capacity is better than you’d expect from the outside. The hatch represents 13.1 cubic feet under a large opening, which isn’t bad. Fold the 50/50-split rear seats down and it increases to almost 25 cubic feet of pretty versatile cargo volume. You get the most space if you remove the rigid cover that hides the cargo area when the liftgate is closed. It’s a bit cumbersome, but it’s mounted to the liftgate so it’s less of a hassle than the retractable type in day-to-day use. Audi says the 66.9-inch cargo floor length accommodates two golf bags.
TT in the Market
The price of entry for an Audi TT is $35,575 for a 2.0T coupe. A TT 3.2 coupe packed with options hits $52,625 (destination charge included). In a familiar tale, many of the seeming stand-alone options — such as the Parktronic, Magnetic Ride, iPod interface and adaptive headlights — are priced individually and sometimes affordably, but they’re available on the 2.0T only with the Premium Package as a prerequisite. It’s $2,150. On the 3.2 trim level, many of these options are a la carte, but the car itself is $6,700 more than the 2.0T — $8,100 more for the automatic.
At these prices, coupe competitors include the Mercedes-Benz SLK and CLK, Porsche Cayman, and even the Chevy Corvette and Ford Shelby GT500. If performance is your top priority, I’d have to go for the ‘Vette or Cayman. For versatility, the SLK’s retractable hardtop gives you coupe and convertible in one; you have to choose one or the other with the alternatives mentioned. Looking for a bargain? Try the Chrysler Crossfire or Infiniti G37.
As before, the TT could get by on its looks alone, yet it’s fun to drive and a more capable sports car than you might have been led to believe. There’s more competition than ever, especially among roadsters, but the reworked TT should hold its own … even if it’s no longer a phenomenon.
1 March 2023