Alfa Romeo 4C Spider 2015 review
Paul Gover reviews the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider at its international launch in Italy.
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Audi's new TT is already the toughest looking TT the firm has ever produced, and that's before getting the Audi Sport treatment. The new Roadster is less hairdresser and more toe-cutter than the old one.
Like the Coupe on which it is based, the Roadster has also been given a going over by Audi's go-faster folks. Can the sportiness survive the Roadsters rooflessness?
Like the Coupe, you get a nine-speaker stereo with DAB+, Bluetooth and USB, climate control, 19-inch alloy wheels, leather and alcantara trim, interior ambient lighting, reversing camera with front and rear sensors, cruise control, auto LED headlamps with LED running lights, auto wipers, satnav, keyless entry and start, lane departure with steering assist, 12.3-inch virtual cockpit screen, and electric front seats with lumbar support.
The third-generation TT is arguably an instant design classic
Over the Coupe you get a set of heated front seats, the obvious electric folding fabric roof and a wind deflector between the funky roll hoops.
Our car also had neck-level heating ($800, sounds like a white noise generator), metallic paint ($1400, although there is a choice of five no-cost colours), fine Nappa leather ($1400), optional blade design wheels ($850), leather package ($800, puts real leather on doors etc.), interior bits in quartz silver ($470) and the $1900 Assistance Package which adds blind spot monitoring, auto-parking, high beam assists, heated and folding exterior mirrors.
This brings the grand total to $113,420.
The third-generation TT is arguably an instant design classic and a much better homage to the 90's original than the second iteration. It's a far more confident design and Audi has jettisoned self-conscious retro to project the car into the now.
The rolled top roll hoops are gone, replaced by squared-off, satin-finished and chamfered units that mean business. The fabric roof looks just right when up and stows quickly by electric motors, with no need for a modesty lid when it is packed away.
The TTS body kit is restrained but brings just the right amount of aggro while remaining calm enough that you'll have to look twice to make sure you've picked the TTS.
Inside, the brilliant-looking and very comfortable seats from the Coupe remain while the cabin is basically the same from where the roof detaches down. You can get a better view of the devilishly clever dashboard design which is shaped to look like a plane wing, with the turbine-style air vents. Nothing is changed for the transition to open-air motoring apart from the deletion of the rear seats to accommodate the roof, a far more useful task for that part of the car than the seats in the Coupe.
The boot is genuinely useful, with just 25 litres lost to the roof, leaving 280 litres of cargo space, ten more than the tiddly Audi A1. There's room for papers behind the front seats.
The TTS comes equipped with four airbags (no roof means no curtain airbags), ABS, brake force distribution and brake assists, stability and traction controls, driver attention detection and lane departure warning with passive steering assistance.
The optional Assistance Package adds side assist blind spot monitoring.
The TT Coupe scored four ANCAP stars, there isn't a rating for the Roadster and it goes without the curtains which disqualifies the car from a four star rating.
The nine-speaker stereo (there's an optional B&O) does a perfectly fine job of playing music roof up or down. Controlled by the MMI rotary dial on the console, you (or your passenger) can use the touchpad on the wheel to scribble out your satnav destination.
There's no screen other than the fully digital Virtual Cockpit, meaning the driver has the best view of what's going on with the navigation, music and phone functions. There's a proper USB port in the console storage bin and the Bluetooth performance was excellent.
The TTS is powered by a boosted version of the 2.0 TFSI found in all but the lowest end of the range. Generating 210kW and 380Nm, the TTS sprints from 0-100km/h in five seconds dead while returning a claimed 6.9L/100km on the combined cycle.
The TTS Roadster is just as much fun to drive as the Coupe, probably more so
We didn't get anywhere near the claimed fuel figures, but we kept it in Dynamic mode pretty much the whole time. The engine features stop-start to help save fuel in town and drags around an extra 85kg over the Coupe.
Despite that weight penalty, the TTS Roadster is just as much fun to drive as the Coupe, probably more so. Once you switch the car to Dynamic mode, the exhaust starts growling and snorting out of its four exits and with the roof down, you get to hear a lot more of what's going on, including the hard-spinning turbo.
The 2.0 litre four cylinder doesn't have the character of the turbo five in the upcoming TTRS, but it sounds pretty good with the leash loosened. The steering weights up well in Dynamic mode and of course sharper throttle and gear shifts mean a more obviously sporty drive.
The damping stiffens up considerably to better match the stiffer springs which are slightly at sea in normal mode. The handling isn't just down to the suspension and steering, of course – the new TT is built on the VW Group's MQB platform, with some bits of hybrid spaceframe tech, the same principles applied to the new R8.
If you just want to cruise – and let's face it, Roadster owners will probably want that – it's mostly comfortable although choppy surfaces tend to bounce it around a bit and, again, as with the Coupe, it's not hard to reach the front suspension's bump stops on big compressions.
There's not much to choose from in this segment, certainly nothing with this kind of aggro or fun in a similar package. BMW's 2 Series Convertible is too generic, even in M235i form and doesn't have anything like the looks. The Z4 is older than Methuselah and Mercedes' SLK is a completely different car.
Even though Audi has the space to itself, it has still produced a terrific car and hasn't had to sacrifice much at all in the process of ditching the roof. It's certainly harder than the standard Roadster, but the TTS is still an everyday proposition while delivering plenty of fun for the weekends, slow or fast.
|2.0 TFSI Quattro S-Line||2.0L, PULP, 6 SP||$41,100 – 52,580||2016 Audi TT 2016 2.0 TFSI Quattro S-Line Pricing and Specs|
|2.0 TFSI Quattro Sport||2.0L, PULP, 6 SP||$41,100 – 52,580||2016 Audi TT 2016 2.0 TFSI Quattro Sport Pricing and Specs|
|S 2.0 TFSI Quattro||2.0L, PULP, 6 SP DUAL-CLUTCH AUTO||$44,900 – 56,760||2016 Audi TT 2016 S 2.0 TFSI Quattro Pricing and Specs|
|2.0 TFSI Quattro S-Line||2.0L, PULP, 6 SP DUAL-CLUTCH AUTO||$36,000 – 46,640||2016 Audi TT 2016 2.0 TFSI Quattro S-Line Pricing and Specs|