2016 Best Drives: Audi TTS Smooth Operator

I have always liked the Audi TT, the first generation was cute and at the same quirky.  Back in Boston,  I remember driving a coupe in sub-zero temperatures.  It was my first experience with a non exotic car- mainstream dual clutch DSG gear box.

Generation two of the TT was a major league step up in styling, my wife and I purchased a new 2008 silver TT with a 3.2 liter V6 with a six manual and 19 inch wheels.  When my daughter was born in 2010 for the first six months of her life, the TT was our family car. Since my car was a two seat Corvette. The back seat is usable for small adults and even in our case a rear facing infant car seat.

2016 marks the third generation of the Audi TT and the vehicle is all new for 2016. It enters its third generation with new design inside and out, cutting-edge technology such as an all-digital “virtual cockpit” instrument display, and revised quattro all-wheel-drive (AWD) system for better handling. My test vehicle is the flagship TTS Coupe thats offers higher-grade performance.

As a whole, the 2016 Audi TTS is a technological powerhouse and performance marvel. But you’d be hard-pressed to find another with the handling, technology and  at least in coupe form that has the everyday practicality of the Audi TTS.  It kinda of Audi R8 with fewer cylinders and without an exotic mid engine layout

Inside the TTS you will quickly realize this is no mere digital instrument display. Powered by an NVIDIA quad-core computer processor, this 12.3-inch display harnesses serious tech horsepower to display a multitude of information at 60 frames per second. This enables the driver to keep eyes focused forward instead of having to glance sideways for map directions.

The Quattro all-wheel-drive system has long been synonymous with the Audi itself, and its abilities have been proven in rally cars worldwide. Even if you’re not sliding an Audi TTS around a dirt track, it’s easy to appreciate this system’s grip in spirited drives or on slick roads during inclement weather.

The virtual cockpit is just one aspect of the TT’s captivating cabin. Even the vents are impressive and elegantly simple.  The dashboard is styled to resemble an airplane wing, and the TTS’s dash is grained with a more technical and futuristic pattern than in the entry-level TT. The materials are of high quality and feel upmarket without trying to mimic traditional luxury the centerpiece of the whole  is the instrument cluster..

This enables the driver to keep eyes focused forward instead of having to glance sideways for map direction. Another cool feature: The heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning controls, as well as those for the heated seats, are integrated into the design of the vents, which minimizes clutter. It’s all truly contemporary and rich-looking, the main downside being, well, a massive risk of distraction; it also essentially excludes the passenger from the proceedings, but we’ll let you decide if that’s a net win.The TT’s front seats offer great ergonomics.

The 3rd-gen TT has the squat, muscular shape of its predecessor but with newly taut lines, a big trapezoidal grille and features like full LED headlights. There are nods to the original TT’s Bauhaus-inspired design: prominently rounded wheel arches and exhaust outlets that sit near the middle of the car. As with the last-gen model, the Audi TT’s body is made from aluminum.

The 2016 Audi TT comes surprisingly well-equipped out the gate. Standard features include Audi’s virtual cockpit digital display and MMI touch-based control system, 9-speaker/155-watt AM/FM/CD/HD Radio with two USB inputs and Bluetooth connectivity, automatic climate control, full LED headlights, leather interior with 12-way power-adjustable heated front seats, and rear park-assist system in lieu of a standard rearview camera. My test vehicle the top line 2016 Audi TTS comes with magnetic ride control, 19-inch wheels, and TTS-specific exterior and interior aesthetics.

The options list is mercifully short for the new TT. My TTS had the technology package ($3,250), which adds navigation, Audi’s connect 4G LTE service with Wi-Fi, the side-assist blind-spot monitoring system, and rearview camera. An audio deal comes in the form of the 12-speaker/680-watt Bang & Olufsen sound system  $950 has never sounded better. Other options include Nappa leather seating and 19-inch wheels  My loaded TTS came in at $57,250.00

The Audi TTS uses the familiar 2.0 liter four cylinder found in many VW group products.  But in the TTS is turned up full blast to make 292 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque. That enables the 2016 TTS to blast from 0-60 mph in just 4.6 seconds. All 2016 Audi TT models come with quattro all-wheel drive (AWD) and Audi drive select, which lets you adjust the car for sportier or more relaxed driving styles. All models also use Audi’s 6-speed S tronic transmission, an excellent dual-clutch automatic. My TTS test vehicle achieved 23 mpg  city and 27 mpg highway.

Although it is based on the VW Group’s MQB front-wheel-drive platform, the TTS exhibits almost no understeer and turn-in is impressively quick. I was quite impressed by the electrically boosted power steering, which is accurate, weighty, super smooth and responsive enough that only the hardest-core purists will wish for a hydraulic setup. The TTS also stays nicely planted on all road surfaces thanks the excellent Quattro all wheel drive system.

As a daily drive with rear seats folded down the cope offers a lot of cargo room.  The smoothness of the steering along the great AWD system really impressed this driver.  Congratulations Audi on the all new TTS one the best drives of 2016

The Long Drive Rankings

Front Engine-AWD 6 speed automatic

Highlights

Styling

Performance

Dash Layout

Stereo System

Navigation

AWD

Lowlights

Snug interior for some

Cost

The Long Drive Rankings 1 Low 10 High

Exterior Styling 8
Interior styling and quality 8

Handling 8

Braking 6
Fuel Economy 8
Stereo System 9

Performance 8
Trunk-Cargo Capacity 8

Navigation 9
Audio System 9.5

 

2016 Best Drives: The Sexy Cat Jaguar F Type R

A rare combination that only happens a few times  in ones lifetime is in my driveway. A vehicle that is both memorizing to look at and a magic carpet ride to drive. A while back, I sampled the 2015 Jaguar F Type R coupe and loved every minute of my time behind the wheel. Recently, for my birthday week, I had the pleasure of sampling the updated 2016 F Type R Coupe and I am blown away.

Everywhere I went in the greater Orlando FL area, people were waving at me, blinking their headlights and giving me thumbs up. Let’s begin with the sound of its 5.0 liter supercharged 550 Horsepower V-8 engine. Switch the F Type into Dynamic mode or flip a switch on the center console and you will be rewarded with the most glorious exhaust note in the entire automotive world.

This beautiful British Royal princess burbles like a NASCAR V-8 being tuned in a Daytona garage, snorts like an exotic Ferrari on steroids and generally raises cane all over town, An automotive radio talk host colleague of mine says “Oh, its too loud”, he could not be more wrong. I feel like a 5 year old on Christmas morning when it makes this glorious “snap, crackle, Boom” sound and it’s legal straight from the factory. I had people in an auto body repair shop running outside to see the motorcycle that was revving its engine. No, that’s no Motor Cycle that’s the F Type R.

For 2016, F Type receives a number of serious updates including standard all wheel drive in the R. On the street, that translates into mash the accelerator pedal and you will launch to sixty in 3.9 seconds or less. Accelerate hard into a corner no worries the power is at all 4 wheels and a suite of electronic aids including an active rear differential and electronic-assisted power steering make it a breeze. The F Type R for 2016 makes a bad driver good and a good driver a super hero and is simply a joy to drive.

The design penned by the brilliant Ian Callum is the automotive equivalent of a super model. It is beautiful from any and all angles

The driver-orientated cockpit of the 2016 Jaguar F-Type separates the passenger and driver with a wide console, and provides a left-hand grip for the passenger. The coupe’s high roof means good headroom even for tall folks, plus adequate legroom, too. Drivers get a large, visually sharper TFT display between the two gauges, with orange paddle shifters, a start button, and Dynamic mode selector on some models.

The infotainment touch screen’s simple interface conveys what you want to know, without the “Tokyo by night” neon overkill so common in today’s vehicles. The beautifully assembled interior boasts stitched leather throughout, including the headliner in coupes. Jaguar Smart Key and a 14-way power driver’s seat are new this year, as is the panoramic glass roof on the coupes.

My test vehicle was equipped with a $12,000 carbon-ceramic matrix brake upgrade. It was my first weeklong exposure to these exotic brakes optional on Porsche and a few other brands. Now I get what the fuss is all about. The Carbon Ceramic brakes provide not only shorter stopping distances but also zero brake fade even after numerous high-speed stops. There are worth every penny. If you can afford the Jaguar F Type R Coupe what is another 12 grand on the bottom line?

The 5.0-liter supercharged V-8 that resides under its glorious hood puts out 550 horsepower and 502 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy is rated at 15-mpg city and 23 highway. During my week I averaged low 20’s MPG remarkable for this kind of power and performance. The 8 speed automatic is lightning fast and perfectly matched to the engine.

Ladies and Gentleman, Boys and Girls, this is one of the finest cars in the world at ANY price. Speaking of price my loaded F Type R Coupe came in at a little over $128,000. If you can afford it buy it, and if you can’t start buying a few lottery tickets and start saving up for a ride of a lifetime.

Now I can’t wait to sample the new ultimate F Type the SVR for 2017

The Long Drive Rankings

Front Engine-AWD 8 speed automatic

Highlights

Styling

Performance

Stereo System

AWD

Lowlights

Cost

The Long Drive Rankings 1 Low 10 High

Exterior Styling 10

Interior styling and quality 9

Handling 9

Braking 10
Fuel Economy 5
Stereo System 10

Performance 10
Trunk-Cargo Capacity 8

Navigation 9