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Audi Hints at the Future with New TT Sportback Concept

Concept could deliver 400 horsepower and 56 mpg.

by on Oct.02, 2014

Audi's TT Sportback concept features a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out 400 hp.

Apparently, two new versions of the TT roadster weren’t enough for the brass at Audi, so the luxury arm of Volkswagen AG has decided to bring a third alternative to Paris for this year’s auto show.

For now, the 400-horsepower TT Sportback is being described as nothing more than a concept, but from the way officials were talking during a Wednesday night preview, they seem very interested in the idea of adding a third body style to the Audi TT family, alongside the familiar coupe and roadster models.

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The Sportback name has become a familiar one to Audi fans, though with the new TT concept it describes a five-door, coupe-like hatchback, rather than a wagon. The show car features a true four-seat layout with storage bins separating the two back-seat passengers. (more…)

Audi Takes Global Luxury Sales Lead

But BMW isn’t ready to concede defeat.

by on Mar.11, 2014

The redesigned Audi TT makes its Geneva debut.

Two months does not a year make, but in a significant breakthrough Audi AG is claiming to hold the lead in the hotly contested global luxury car maket.

The largest of the luxury brands of Volkswagen AG, Audi has been gaining ground on traditional rivals BMW and Mercedes-Benz in recent years, and is hoping to solidify its first-place position with a flood of new products planned for the coming year, an assortment of which were previewed at the Geneva Motor Show last week.

A Sporting Choice!

For the first two months of 2014, Audi delivered 242,000 vehicles, giving it a modest 383-unit lead over BMW.  It fell 429 cars short of its Bavarian rival during the same period last year.

And Audi intends to widen the lead, Chief Executive Officer Rupert Stadler said Tuesday at the brand’s headquarters in Ingolstadt, Germany, promising that, “We will increase deliveries in all regions of the world, including Europe.”

But Audi’s rivals aren’t ready to concede defeat.


Audi Hopes to Steal the Show with All-New TT

Third-generation model introduces Audi’s new design language.

by on Feb.21, 2014

Audi offers up a sketch of the new 2015 TT.

While its dimensions are relatively compact, Geneva’s PALExpo Convention Center will make plenty of big news next month when the annual Geneva Motor Show rolls into the city by the lake.  But Audi is hoping to deliver a real show-stopper when it lifts the cover’s on the all-new, third-generation remake of its little TT.

The basic shape is likely to seem familiar to Audi fans, with the time-tested crescent roofline and sloping hood, but the overall look is nonetheless substantially updated, the German maker suggesting with these sketches that the 2015 model will introduce us to its latest design language.

Auto Show News!

Among the highlights of the new Audi TT are the Matrix LED headlamps and the “virtual cockpit interior.”  The design advances some earlier design cues, as well, such as the creased hood of the R8, the new TT wearing the familiar four-ring Audi logo on its hood, rather than the grille.  There are also some details lifted from the Allroad Shooting Brake Concept introduced during the Detroit Auto Show a little more than a month ago.


First Drive: 2012 Audi TT RS

Return of a performance line.

by on Oct.18, 2011

Audi brings back its performance badge with the launch of the 2012 Audi TT RS.

We’ve never understood why Audi has been so stingy with its performance line-up.

True, there was a time when BMW’s M models and the Mercedes-Benz AMG offerings would come and go, disappearing for a model-year or two, but these days they are mainstays of their respective brands.  Not so the comparable Audi RS line, which hasn’t planted its badge on a U.S. offering in three years.

The good news is that the performance brand-within-a-brand is back, making its return debut on the 2012 Audi TT RS – with the RS5 set to follow.  That’s not the best-kept secret, we have to admit, Audi having set out to slowly build buzz with some carefully crafted social media campaigns over the past 18 months – which only made us more eager to climb behind the wheel when given the chance.

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Our destination: New England and upstate New York, a perfect time of the year considering the fall colors.  Or, at least it would be were it not for the steady drizzle that threatened to drench our initial enthusiasm.  Then again, considering the 2012 Audi TT RS will only be offered with the German maker’s Quattro all-wheel-drive system, we came to realize it really was the perfect opportunity to test the car’s mettle.


Mercedes Reportedly Readying SLA Mini-Roadster

Could tackle Audi TT and reported BMW Z2.

by on Sep.06, 2011

A decade-and-some later, Mercedes may finally introduce a version of this SLA concept roadster.

Better late than never, apparently.  More than a decade after showing off its Vision SLA, a concept for a Miata-sized luxury roadster, Mercedes-Benz appears to be ready to bring it to market.

Industry sources indicate the soft-top would not only be the smallest 2-seater in the tri-star line-up but would also be the first to drive the front wheels when it comes to market, apparently as early as next year, if industry scuttlebutt proves accurate.

Be in the Know!

That fits with comments made by Mercedes’ U.S. CEO Ernst Lieb, earlier this year, following the unveiling of the latest A-Class concept vehicle at the New York Auto Show.  At the time, Lieb not only confirmed a version of the A-Class will come to the States but hinted that Mercedes would probably have as many as four distinct body styles based on the new platform.

The smallest offering in the Mercedes line-up would go up against the likes of the Miata, or in the luxury segment, the Audi TT and the 1-Series roadster reportedly being developed by BMW.


Driverless Audi Results in Four Pikes Peak Injuries

Helicopter filming PR stunt crashes. Pilot in critical condition.

by on Sep.17, 2010

The aerial hazards of making an Audi TT commercial resulted in one serious injury.

A helicopter tracking a driverless Audi TT on a Pikes Peak run crashed this morning, critically injuring the pilot and causing non life-threatening injuries to three other airborne passengers. The Audi escaped unscathed.

The crash happened close to the top of the 14,110 foot peak south of Denver Colorado and indefinitely shut down a tourist rail link to the summit.

Presumably the accident was caused by either equipment failure or pilot error based on my experience after decades of reading aviation accident reports. However, that won’t be known until the National Transportation Safety Board releases a preliminary or final accident report, which given the work practices of U.S. Government agencies will be months or much longer in the making.


It was at earlier Pikes Peak Hill Climbs, of course, that Audi demonstrated its four-wheel-drive prowess a generation ago. Audi rally cars, starting with the S1 quattro (sic), used the all-wheel-drive technology to win the 12.42-mile “Race to the Clouds.” The drivers of those quattro rally cars – Bobby Unser, Walter Roehrl and Michele Mouton – earned places in motorsports history at Pikes Peak.


First Drive: 2009 BMW Z4

What's wrong with doing too much, too well?

by on Apr.28, 2009

BMW hopes to win over snobbish roadster purists with the launch of its all-new update of the Z4.

BMW hopes to win over snobbish roadster purists with the launch of its all-new update of the Z4.

Climbing into the southern extremes of the Swiss Alps, I muscle the ancient roadster into a corner, well aware of the way its skinny tires have begun to slide on the wet pavement.  The guardrails are few, even though the drop-offs are becoming increasingly steep.  As I steadily climb higher, the rain morphs into snow, the wind whipping it in through the open cockpit.

Spend a few hours behind the wheel of an antique BMW 315 and you understand the classic definition of roadster.  Fun, absolutely, but it’s also primitive, cramped even dangerous when road conditions are less than perfect.  So it’s not hard to understand why I jumped at the opportunity to swap out for the car my traveling companion had chosen for the day, a 2009 BMW Z4.

The name may be familiar, but the ’09 roadster is a very different beast from the one you might already know.  It is, for one thing, the first complete makeover of the Z4 since 2002.  Among other things, the Bavarian maker has opted, this time, for a foldaway hardtop, rather than the canvas roof that the old Z4 shared with BMW roadsters dating back to my pre-War 315.


Sneak Peek: 2010 Audi TT RS

Top-performance from a two-seater.

by on Feb.27, 2009

Audi TT RS: Cabrio or Coupe

Audi TT RS: Cabrio or Coupe

Audi’s got an assortment of new products to reveal in Geneva, next week, but is lifting the covers a bit early. We’ll have some pics of the all-new allroad for you, as well as the top-range model of the Audi TT line-up, the TT RS, shown here.

Those add-on initials stand for either Renn Sport or racing sport, as you prefer, but there’ll be no debate about the performance of the new car, which relies on Audi’s inline-five-cylinder engine. The I-5 configuration has a long history within the VW luxury brand. The first time the Germans used an I-5 was in the Audi 100/5000 in 1977. Seven years later, the 200 Turbo, with an inline-five making 170 horsepower, became the world’s fastest four-door model.

The new 2.5-liter five cylinder engine for the TT RS combines direct injection and turbo technology to punch through the 300 hp barrier. The light weight model, based on Audi’s Spaceframe technology, should be able to reach 60 mph in less than 5 seconds.