Blogs: The government doesn’t care about high fuel prices, it likes them

The spin doctors in the government will implore the politicians to look gravely concerned at the price of fuel and its impact on ‘Nuzullanduz’, but in reality they’re rubbing their hands with glee. Politicians know that our economic woes aren’t really caused by factors inside New Zealand; they’re caused by international finance and politics, international oil prices, international milk prices, and whether the War on Terror (or WoT, as I call it, usually with some kind of punctuation) looks like it’s being won.

Reducing the tax take on petrol won’t kickstart our economy – it’s too tied into macro-economic factors like the carry trade from Japanese investors borrowing money at 0.1% and investing it here at 8%.

Oh, but hang on just a minute: Helen Clark and Michael Cullen care for ‘middle Nuzulland’, don’t they? Well, not really. What the government cares about is balancing its budget while avoiding economic meltdown and rioting in the streets. NZ spends a lot of money on roads and the high cost of petrol will force people into public transport (objective number one), putting less stress on the road network so that less roads have to be built, and therefore less maintenance needs to be paid for their upkeep (objective two).

As I’m writing this it’s twenty past nine, and I’m watching Transit’s website that shows the Esmonde Rd onramp. It’s drizzling. This time last year it wouldn’t have cleared until nearly 10am. Look, it’s almost clear. On a Monday!! Unheard of outside of school holidays.

So, when you look at the price of petrol and think that the people in power care, take a long hard look in the mirror. Then curse George Bush with all your might, and then wonder WoT the hell you can cut out of your weekly budget to meet the extra fuel bills.

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FPV (Ford Performance Vehicles): FPV F6 2008 Review

FPV F6 f

Ford sent us down to Clearwater Resort just out of Christchurch for the FPV launch where we got to drive the GT, GT-P, GT-E, Super Pursuit, F6 ute, and of course the shiny new F6 you see here.

Clearwater is so quiet that the night before we were due to drive the beasts my tinnitus kept me awake¦or was it the anticipation of the F6. Already one of my all time favourite cars in its previous Typhoon incarnation, this new F6 is a full three seconds quicker around Winton.

Clearwater is a golf resort, and I would have loved to have used the greens for a big grasskhana, but unfortunately we were confined to the roads around Christchurch and Hanmer Springs. Powering out of a corner onto a long arrow-straight stretch of Canterbury blacktop the F6’s turbo inhales a whirlwind of air generating 310kW, and a lofty plateau of 565Nm of torque — from 1950rpm — 5200rpm the torque curve is more of a horizontal line. Full acceleration in the F6 is like being strapped in an escape pod jettisoned from a crippled spaceship. Except in this space, you can hear your passengers scream. And that’s all part of the fun. If I took a devout Catholic for a ride the first utterance under a heavy right foot would be “Sweet Mary mother of Jesus,” or something similar. I’ll leave what the Satanists would say to your imagination.

Sub-five seconds to 100kph. That’s a good benchmark for a two-wheel drive car that’s as heavy as this. It means that the performance company it keeps contains the Audi RS6 quattro ($251,000), mid-range Porsches ($200,000+), the Subaru WRX STI and Mitsubishi Evo X four-wheel drive rally stars (around $70,000), and the BMW M3 ($170,000+). All this grunt for a paltry $69,990! In my mind, unless you specifically want to pretend you’re a V8 Supercar driver, there is absolutely no point to the V8 version of this car.

As well as an extra 40kW under the bonnet, inside there’s a redesign of the entire dashboard with a spiffy screen to show you audio and air conditioning functions, and the only Ford badge in the whole car: on the steering wheel. The powered seats get an F6 badge, and have sufficient lateral support without being too constraining. There’s a good sized glovebox, though you can’t reach inside it while driving.

But it’s the engineering in the drivetrain that’s the most impressive.

The goal that FPV set itself was to produce a car which maintains its power and performance regardless of the road and atmospheric conditions, and not to lose that power through an inefficient drivetrain. Consequently (according to FPV), the 310kW F6 puts more than 10 extra kilowatts onto the tarmac compared to the HSV V8 equivalents, such as the Clubsport R8.

It’s plain to see the 29,000 hours of effort that has gone into the creating this new F6. Despite having all that extra power and torque it’s 1l/100km more efficient (a 7% saving). A larger intercooler — frontal area is increased by 49% and it has 45% more heat rejection — sits gleaming just above the front splitter, in danger of receiving stone damage. The F6 has a low-loss short-path air intake, revised cam timing, and the compression ratio in the four-litre inline-6 has been reduced from 8.7:1 to 8.47:1. The turbo boosts to 0.91bar (13.3psi)

Ford’s use of the ZF six-speed auto with sequential sports shift as a no-cost option will be welcomed by the majority of buyers (most plump for the easy gearshift option). However, if I bought one, I’d have the Tremec TR6060 six-speed manual — my dislike of high-powered rear-wheel drive automatics has been expressed before with other cars because you just don’t have the control you need in the wet.

245/35R19 tyres try their best to get the power to the road. They are stretched thinly around a beautiful set of 19-inch mags that conceal the red callipers of the Brembo brakes.

And that’s not the only ‘badge snobbery’ you can have with the F6. Ford Performance Vehicles has taken its brand seriously this time and stamped its logo all over the Falcon, rather than having the car badged as a Ford.

Last year I made it no secret with the Typhoon that it was one of my favourite cars. So with a whirlwind of hype to live up to, does the more concisely named F6 blow me away or send a chilly wind up my trouser leg? Well, I love it. I love the wastegate as you lift off the throttle, reminiscent of Anakin Skywalker’s pod racer. I love the fact that the traction control lets you have a little bit of fun. I like the way the turn-in is sharp — much more so than the V8-driven FPV GT. I’m a big fan of the daring styling at the front, and the garish colours available to accent this. I really like the way the cross-drilled and slotted four-pot Brembo brakes can haul the F6 to a stop like it’s deployed the Space Shuttle’s parachutes. And the interior is tasteful and comfortable. FPV has set up its own little six-cylinder performance niche in which not a single manufacturer can offer anything with the practicality and performance for the price.

To read the full specification of the FPV F6, click through to the next page.

Price from: $69,990

What we like

  • The list is long and packed with substantial analogies to all things great and good.

What we don’t like

  • Needs convex mirrors to eliminate blind spots
  • It may have the starter button from an Aston Martin, but it’s still annoying
  • No grille to protect the intercooler from stones

ENGINE

High performance 4.0 litre turbo charged DOHC 24 valve in-line 6

Max power (DIN) – 310kW @ 5500rpm

Max torque (DIN) – 565Nm @ 1950-5200rpm

Fuel management system – sequential multipoint electronic fuel injection

FPV high-flow exhaust system

Garrett GT3540 turbo

Aluminium air-to-air intercooler

FUEL CONSUMPTION

ADR81-01 (L/100km) – manual/automatic 12.3/12.1

Comparative CO2 emissions (grams/km) – manual/automatic 294/289

TRANSMISSION & DRIVELINE

ZF 6-speed high-torque automatic transmission with Sequential Sports Shift (no cost option)

TR6060 6-speed manual with leather and satin chrome gear knob

RIDE & HANDLING

FPV Performance independent double wishbone front suspension

Performance Control Blade Independent Rear Suspension (IRS)

FPV 19″ x 8.0 Alloy wheel fitted with 245/35ZR19

Dunlop Sport Maxx tyre

Matching alloy spare wheel

Locking wheel nut

Limited Slip Differential

PERFORMANCE BRAKES

355 x 32mm cross drilled ventilated front rotors with Brembo 4-piston calipers & 328 x 26mm cross-drilled ventilated rear rotors with single red piston caliper

PREMIUM BRAKES

355 x 32mm cross drilled ventilated front rotors with Brembo 6-piston calipers & 330 x 28mm cross-drilled ventilated rear rotors with Brembo 4 piston calipers (optional)

INTERIOR

FPV build number badge unique model identifier

Unique FPV Starter Button

Human Machine Interface (HMI) with Internal Command Centre (IC)

High series mixed mode colour screen

Blue dial illumination with white LCD and FPV welcome message on start up

Turbo boost pressure gauge

LCD information in cluster

Audible shift alert indicator – manual trans only

CFC-free Air conditioning – dual zone temp control

FPV floor mats (optional)

FPV scuff plates (front only)

FPV leather console lid with dark silver stitch

Sports leather steering wheel with cruise control and audio switches

Adjustable pedals (automatic only)

Alloy pedal covers

SEATING

FPV sports seats

New Technique embossed cloth with Ebony Lux suede bolsters with F6 logo embroidery

New Technique embossed leather with Miller suede bolsters with F6 logo embroidery (optional)

4-way power driver seat

Driver and front passenger lumbar support

60/40 split fold down 2nd row seat back

AUDIO F 6

Premium audio system with 7″ colour display

6-disc in-dash CD with iPod® integration

Bluetooth® mobile phone integration

Auxilliary Audio plug-in (MP3 capability)

Satellite Navigation system

EXTERIOR STYLING

FPV oval badge on front grille & rear

FPV fender feature badge

Unique F6 310 badging on side doors and rear

Side mirror turn indicators

F6 rear spoiler with centre strut and LED stop light

Bumper accent detail – Graphite

Fog light insert – bright chrome

Front foglamps – satin chrome bezel

FPV machine faced alloy wheel with Graphic accents

Optional F6 Graphite wheel

SAFETY & SECURITY

Driver and front passenger airbags

Curtain airbags plus front seat side thorax airbags

Beltminderâ„¢ system

Dynamic Stability Control (DSC)

Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD)

Traction Control System (TCS)

4-channel Anti lock Braking System (ABS)

Reverse sensing system

FPV ID Datadot identification

Alarm

Words and photos Darren Cottingham


Blogs: FPV F6 – cleared for take-off

The F6 reminded me that I really do have the visceral needs of a six-year-old. When I was 6, the endless acceleration of a jumbo jet taking off was probably the most captivating and exciting thrill; now it seems quite slow. That’s because I’ve now got an FPV F6. It can’t quite match the squillions of horsepower thrust aft by a Boeing, but then I’m not carrying 600 lardy passengers and their holiday accoutrements. So, it’s pretty bleedin’ quick, alright. Just gently massaging the accelerator brings in the cabin the sound of great tornados of air being whirled into the engine by the turbo. Then there’s the instant and rather savage gathering of momentum forwards.

Rod Barrett, who runs Ford Performance Vehicles, said that if the F6 didn’t do a sub 5-second 0-100kph he’d be very disappointed. The original F6 Typhoon cracked it in 5.2 seconds.

I can’t think of a better performance ‘family’ car to buy for just shy of $80k. In terms of bang-for-buck, this gives a nuclear explosion, laying waste to the competition and leaving a big mushroom cloud of tyre smoke. Sure, the WRX STI Spec R is cheaper and will undoubtedly be slightly quicker, but it’s been tickled with the ugly feather and the stereo is rubbish.
But both cars took me back to a time when I would egg my parents on to drive faster – I loved the speed, I loved the acceleration, and you just can’t change some things.

Mini: Mini Cooper S 2008 Review

Mini Cooper S f

Elvis shocked the world with his pelvic gyrations in the 1950s, but it was the 1960s that brought about the sexual revolution. The baby boom generation, born in a time of new freedom, reached adulthood and spurred a meteoric rise in drug culture, and a great liberation of the music scene, none of which was more iconic than the Beatles.

The Beatles owned Minis, while their screaming fans wore minis, and driving one of the diminutive cars became a fashion statement through into the 1970s. My parents owned one. Some of my friends owned them. Even my extremely untrendy biology and maths teachers owned them.

While the masses saw the “image”, John Cooper, a builder of open wheeler and rally cars, saw the potential of the Mini in competition — lightweight, a wheel at each corner, and easy to repair. Cooper was a friend of Issignonis, the designer of the Mini. Issigonis wasn’t keen on the idea of the Mini as a performance car, but Cooper persisted and the two men collaborated to launch the Mini Cooper in 1961.

With an increase in power from 25kW to 41kW from the naturally aspirated 997ccc racing-tuned, twin SU carburettor engine, the Mini Cooper also featured a closer-ratio gearbox and disc brakes at the front. A Cooper S was released in 1963 with a 1071cc engine, then a 1275cc engine in 1964.

Fast forward over five decades and Mini is no longer a British-owned icon, having been sold to BMW. New MINI (BMW insists people spell it with capitals; we think it looks wrong so we’ll continue with Mini), is 55cm longer, 30cm wider and 400kg heavier than the original Mini.

This Cooper S version has ditched the puny naturally aspirated motor and now sports a turbocharged 1.6-litre engine, giving 128kW at 5500rpm and a healthy 240Nm of torque at a low 1600rpm — good enough for a 0-100kph time of 7.1 seconds, and small enough to give a sensible 6.9l/100km fuel consumption. The small and unobtrusive bonnet nostril gives the game away over the naturally aspirated Mini.

The Mini is a car that embraces you and makes you feel a complete part of the driving experience. The funky interior contains a lot of circles. The speedometer, which is the same diameter as the full moon, dominates the centre of the dashboard, and contains an inset LCD giving information about the stereo. All the air conditioning vents are circles. The rev counter, which sits right in front of you like in a racing car, is also circular, as are the buttons and insets on the steering wheel, and the gear knob.

There are also various switches that are protected by their own little roll cages. Cool. Unless you’ve got really fat fingers.

Back to the driving experience: acceleration is good, but overwhelms the front wheels in first and second as the turbo comes on boost. It’s the braking and handling that are the stand out performers. The Cooper S brakes like a racing car — there’s very little front-end dive under heaving braking. Even when the surface is undulating, or when pushed hard into a corner, the Cooper S stays very flat, and the rubber in the tyres finds all the grip it can to change the direction. There’s nothing wrong at all with the cornering — even coming into a cambered corner while braking heavily didn’t upset the Mini, which merely showed a slight antilock brake-induced chirp from the inside front as I began to turn in.

A car like the Mini Cooper S could be a better daily driver than a balls-out rally-inspired four-wheel drive like the Impreza WRX and Mitsubishi Lancer Evo. The WRX is in the same price range and, while more practical and faster, isn’t as stylish. The question would be whether you could ever make up your mind from the large number of options offered.

Price: from $43,900 (manual), or $46,900 (automatic). This car was fitted with an optional wheel and racing stripes package.

What we like

  • With the rear seats folded down there’s a surprising amount of room
  • Handling is spectacular
  • It brakes like a racing car
  • It’s still funky
  • Easy to drive around town

What we don’t like

  • Traction control struggles to reign in the front wheels’ tendency to want to spin
  • Some switches are a little too funky, making them difficult to operate
  • Will the Fiat 500 Abarth become more trendy?
  • Could get expensive when ticking that options list

New Cooper S Price
Manual $43,900

Automatic $46,900

Engine

Type (cylinders / valves) 4 / 16

Capacity (cc) 1598

Power output kW at rpm 128 / 5500

Max. torque (Nm) at rpm 240 @ 1,600

Dimensions
Length / Width / Height (mm) 3714 / 1683 / 1407

Luggage Capacities (m3) 0,160 – 0,680

Fuel capacity (litres) 50

Performance
0-100 km/h1 (seconds) 7.1

Maximum speed1 (km/h) 225

Fuel Consumption

Fuel Consumption / Range (ltr/100km / range) 6.9 (725) *

Technical

Brake dics, front (ventilated) and rear

Safety

Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) – including EBV & Corner Braking Control (CBC)

Automatic Stability Control & Traction (ASC+T)

Driver and front passenger airbags & front side airbags plus pyrotechnic front seat belt tensioners

ISO fix child safetly seat attachment with front passenger air bag deactivation

Tyre defect indicator monitoring tyre pressure

Exterior

Alloy wheels 6.5J x 16″ in 7-Fin styling (195/55 R 16 tyres) with run flat option

Heated exterior mirrors and washer jets

Front fog lamps

Remote central locking with deadlock facility and crash sensor

Interior

Air conditioning including cooled glovebox

Height adjustable driver’s & passengers seats with height adjustable seat belts

Interior lamp package includes map and vanity lights

Interior surfaces of facia in alloy look “Patina”

Leather-bound height adjustable steering wheel (3 spoke sports on Cooper S)

Stainless steel brake, clutch & acclerator pedal

Sports seat for driver & passenger

Upholstery, cloth flock velours Space

* Fuel consumption figures have been established using a test cycle procedure for exhaust emission calculation. Actual fuel consumption figures may differ from those achieved in the test procedure, depending on driving technique, road & traffic conditions, environmental factors and vehicle condition.

MINI Option List

Automatic (6 speed automatic transmission with electronic control)

Interior surfaces and handbrake lever with silver trim

ASC & T

Dynamic Stability Control (DSC III)

ITS head air bags for front passengers

Exterior mirror package (electrically foldable and heated)

Alloy wheels 6.5J x 16″ in 5 star styling Daytona (195/55 R 16 tyres) with run flat option

Alloy wheels 7J x 17″ in S spoke styling (205/45 R 17 tyres) with run flat option

Alloy wheels in “White”

Bonnet stripes “Black”

Bonnet stripes “White”

Chrome line exterior

Headlight washer system

Metallic paint

Mirror caps in body colour

Mirror caps chrome plated

Park distance control

Rain sensor & automatic dipping interior mirror

Roof & mirror caps in black

Roof in body colour

Roof, & mirror caps in white

Xenon headlamps high beam (incl headlamp washers)

Anti theft system

Automatic air conditioning with microfilter

Chrome line interior (chrome features to instruments bezels, cup holders,gearlever) Cockpit chrono package

CD changer 6 stack

Hi Fi speaker system “Harmon Kardon”

Headlining in anthracite

Interior surfaces in body colour, door frames, dash board and console struts

Interior surfaces in silver, door pull frames, pockets, console struts etc

Interior dashboard surfaces in Anthracite

Interior trim strips in high gloss myrtle wood trim

Mini Disc player in dash (replaces CD unit)

Multi-function for steering wheel with cruise control

Navigation system proffesional

Non-smoker kit (storage bins instead of ashtrays)

On board computer

Preparation for CD changer installation

Seat heating for front seats

Steering wheel wood 3 spoke

Sun protection glazing (tinted glass in rear windows and rear screen)

Sunroof glass electrically operated

Telephone preparation (incl aerial, cables etc for hands free operation excludes handset)

Upholstery, cloth / leather combination Satellite

Upholstery, leather “Gravity”

Upholstery, leather “Soft”

MINI tlc ( 5 Year / 80,000 kilometre Scheduled Servicing)

Words Darren Cottingham, photos Brad Lord


Blogs: Failure to look is the largest cause of accidents, not speed

Praise the deities, the RAC (Royal Automobile Club) in the UK has come out with some common sense regarding the UK’s proposed 20mph (32kph) speed limits in towns. Apparently 68% of all crashes are because at least one of the drivers/pedestrians/cyclists didn’t look. Driver behaviour (which includes speed, but also contains a raft of other actions) is responsible for 26%. So, the RAC argues that driver training is what’s required as much as speed limits.

The RAC goes on to say that 95% of pedestrian casualties and 92% of cyclist casualties are killed or injured on urban roads. Well, excuse me for pointing out the blatantly obvious: that’s because the majority of pedestrians and cyclists use these roads. You don’t see that many people walking out in the middle of nowhere. OK, perhaps the RAC is using statistics without explaining probabilities and ‘stuff’.

Anyway, Elizabeth Dainton, R&D Manager for the RAC Foundation is speaking at a conference today (10th) at Aston University on speed management. She’s going to explain that much more research is needed before 20mph zones are comprehensively rolled out across the country, and that they shouldn’t be implemented at all in areas where the public is opposed, business needs fast transport routes, etc.

Ms Dainton will present the aims, objectives and history behind 20mph zones, whilst drawing on one of the most extensive studies on their effectiveness, which found that average speeds fell by 9mph and annual accidents by 60% in select 20mph zones. Although casualty reductions for current 20mph zones are impressive, Ms Dainton will explain that there are limits to their overall use.

These limits are:
* Enforcement: Traffic calming measures are needed if existing speeds are high. These are unpopular and expensive. Physical enforcement is the only option available due to low levels of traffic police and a lack of camera enforcing technology.

* Public acceptability: Three quarters of the public support 20mph zones in residential areas, but no research is available to assess whether a more comprehensive network of zones would be welcomed. Physical traffic calming measures are disliked by 57% of the public. Camera enforcement is also a bone of contention for many, which is likely to make the eventual introduction of average speed cameras to enforce 20mph zones difficult.

* Roads for movement are needed: 20mph zones may reduce casualties in certain circumstances, but the economic vitality of an area also needs to be considered. It is essential that local areas have ‘roads for movement’. A whole network of 20mph zones is not viable or desirable.

But the main problem I see in 20mph zones are that now people will feel even more safe to just amble into the road without looking. But, at least if they get hit there’s less chance of dying. I’ve said it before: people crave some level of danger in their lives. If you keep removing danger from everyday life more and more people will take up bungy jumping.

Blogs: TVR founder dies

I always wanted a TVR. The thought of a large V8 slotted into a fairly light body with no driver aids was exciting. My mum never said that eating TVRs for breakfast would put hairs on my chest, but I think it would. I’ve never driven a TVR; just admired their funky interiors with their interesting instrument layouts, and the engine note – a symphony of eight cylinders. Or 6, if you go for the Tuscan.

Trevor Wilkinson founded TVR, loaning three letters of his first name to the brand. He owned the company until 1965, when he moved to live in retirement in Minorca, Spain.

TVR’s ownership since Wilkinson is far too complex to explain in just a couple of paragraphs, but it now rests with Russian Nikolay Smolensky. Its most radical car to date was the 800+hp Speed 12.

tvr

Audi: Audi A4 2.7TDi 2008 Review

Audi A4 fq

I had yet another conversation yesterday with a friend who is a German car fan. She said she tried an older Audi and was disappointed. “That’s because any Audi that’s more than about five years old is in a totally different league than new Audis,” I said. And it’s a lesser league. If you last drove an Audi a while ago (like when the A3 first came out, for example) and think that the marque represents stiff and unexciting driving, the later Audis will persuade you otherwise. Some more than others, though.

I have driven all four variants of the Audi A4, starting with the 1.8T through to the 3.2 quattro, but I’m going to focus on the 2.7 TDi because that is the best of the bunch, representing the best price vs. performance. The 3.2 quattro, while entertaining and a proper quattro experience, is a bit on the expensive side at $102,900. The two-wheel drive 2.7TDi is a mere $78,900 in comparison, and besides, I’d negotiate hard at the dealer and go for the excellent A5 if I was spending that kind of money.

Does all this two-wheel drive abundance give a potential branding issue for Audi: it is traditionally associated with quattro, there is only one model in the New Zealand lineup that is quattro, and it’s the best part of $25k more than the next one down. Is this going to bite Audi on its precision-engineered buttocks, or does the purchasing public not care in the slightest whether their traction control-enabled A4 has all four wheels transmitting power to the road?

Glynn Tulloch, Audi’s Managing Director was a bit hamstrung when ordering the cars from Germany (only the one quattro model was available), so was understandably upbeat about his two-wheel drive models. A heated debate raged between six of us scribes at the A4’s launch, and I would have to side with Glynn (unlike most of the others).

People will buy the A4 because they like the look, the colour choice, it’s the right price for them, and it has a four-ringed kudos they can wave in front of the neighbours, most of whom will be automotive philistines. Audi might lose a few sales, but I’d wager a tenner that it will be hardly any, and if they do, it’ll probably be to parent company Volkswagen.

Audi flew over one of their high-ranking engineers from Germany who explained how the whole car had been totally reworked since the previous version (which is good, because I didn’t like the previous one much).

The supplied A4 2.7 TDi came with a couple of the options that you may want to tick (and some absent that I would definitely want). The first one is the navigation. The lady who directs you is so much more alluring than the one offered by Mercedes — its one sounds like a newsreader. The other is the Bluetooth-enabled phone kit, which I don’t find as useful, but road warriors may as they wend their way down the highways and potholed byways of this fair country.

I wended my way all the way to Algies Bay — somewhere I hadn’t been before. Very nice it was to, as a fairly generic beach. The road back to Auckland contained a number of sweeping high speed curves which gave the Audi no trouble at all. In fact, everything was dispatched with a diesel-driven torquiness that quietly and relentlessly assures the driver of significant competence. Fitting, then, that it was the suspension engineer that came over from Germany. He drives a Lotus Elise when not on company time (he told me not to tell anyone, but I think that’s a selling point for the A4!)

What I did wish I had as an option was the brilliant dynamic steering option that I also tried on the launch — it allows you to choose how the steering responds while you’re driving, reducing the number of turns lock to lock for the twisty bits, and increasing them when you’re doing high speeds on comfortable motorways when you need stability.

The A4 had Audi’s drive select which lets you choose between comfort — great for cruising, and gives the best economy; normal, for everyday driving; and dynamic for spirited driving.

Other than that, you might want to visit the options list to get the A4 you really want. Heated seats aren’t standard, and the parking sensors are only at the back unless you spend more money. You’ll probably also want to upgrade the sound system if you’re a music fan.

But back to the range so that you can make a decision. You don’t want the 1.8 turbo — the eight-speed automatic gearbox mated to that engine just doesn’t work like it does with the diesels, and the 16-inch wheels look too small compared to the 17s on the 2.7. The 2-litre diesel is OK, the 3.2 quattro is very good and has lots more kit, but that puts it into A5 territory. Mmmmm. A5. That leaves us with the business-like 2.7TDi — my pick, and only eleven grand more than the 1.8. 7.7 seconds to 100kph is perfectly acceptable from the 140kW and 400Nm on offer, and with a combined fuel consumption of just 6.6l/100km, it’s easy on the wallet at the pump.

It’s the perfect car for those who want a steady, assured, solid-feeling vehicle that gets four rings on your driveway for a sensible price.

Price: from $78,900 (2.7 TDi).

What we like

  • Comfortable and business-like A to B experience
  • Styling
  • Good economy/power ratio

What we don’t like

  • Doesn’t feel special like an A5 does — we could be driving any comfortable car, including some that are significantly cheaper.
  • Heated front seats aren’t standard
  • Therefore you’ll want to spend some money on the options list (and not just for heated seats)

Words and photos Darren Cottingham

Model

Audi A4 2.7 TDI with diesel particulate filter

Engine / electrics
Engine type V6 diesel engine with VTG turbocharger, DOHC;
TDI® direct injection
Valve gear / number of valves per cylinder Roller cam followers with hydraulic valve-play compensation / 4
Displacement in cc / bore x stroke in mm / compression 2698 / 83.0 x 83.1 / 16.8:1
Max. power output in kW (bhp) / at rpm 140 (190) / 3500 – 4400
Max. torque in Nm / at rpm 400 / 1400 — 3250
Engine management / mixture preparation Common rail injection system, 1650 bar with piezo injectors,
direct injection with eight-hole nozzles, VTG turbocharger with intercooler; swirl and tangential intake ports, regulated swirl port; Bosch EDC; volume, injection start, charge pressure, EGR control
Exhaust emission control Oxidising catalytic converter, water-cooled exhaust gas recirculation, coated maintenance-free diesel particulate filter
Emission class EU 4
Alternator in A / battery in A/Ah 150 / 520 / 110
Drive / transmission
Drivetrain type Front-wheel drive with electronic stabilisation program ESP
Clutch Electronically controlled multi-plate clutch, oil-cooled
Gearbox type Continuously variable multitronic transmission with DRP, sport program
Gear ratio in 1st gear / 2nd gear 2.478 / 1.351
Gear ratio in 3rd gear / 4th gear 0.996 / 0.782
Gear ratio in 5th gear / 6th gear 0.635 / 0.528
Gear ratio in 7th gear / 8th gear 0.443 / 0.369
Reverse gear / final drive ratio 2.998 / 5.625
Suspension / steering / brakes
Front suspension Five-link front suspension, upper and lower wishbones, tubular anti-roll bar
Rear suspension Independent-wheel, trapezoidal-link rear suspension with resiliently mounted subframe, anti-roll bar
Steering / steering ratio / turning circle in m (D102) Maintenance-free rack-and-pinion steering with power assistance / 16.3 / 11.4
Brake system, front/rear Dual-circuit brake system with diagonal split, ABS/EBD and ESP with brake assist; tandem brake booster; front: ventilated discs / rear: discs
Wheels / tyres 7.5J x 16 cast aluminium wheels / 225/55 R 16
Performance / consumption / acoustics
Top speed, km/h 226
Acceleration 0-100 km/h, s 7.7
Fuel Diesel, to EN 590
Fuel consumption: urban / extra-urban / combined (l/100 km) 8.1 / 5.7 / 6.6
CO2 emissions: urban / extra-urban / combined (g/km) 216 / 152 / 176
Standing / drive-past exterior noise level in dB (A) 79 / 71
Servicing / guarantee
Oil change 15,000kms or 12 months
Audi Cover/Vehicle/paint/rust perforation warranty 3 years / 3 years with unlimited mileage / 3 years / 12 years
Weights / loads
Unladen weight in kg 1685
Axle load limit at front / rear in kg 1180 / 1080
Trailer load limit, unbraked in kg 750
Trailer load limit on 8% / 12% gradient, braked in kg 1900 / 1700
Roof load limit in kg / permissible nose weight in kg 75 / 80
Capacities
Cooling system capacity (incl. heating) in l 9.0
Engine oil capacity (incl. filter) in l 7.4
Fuel tank capacity in l 65
Body / dimensions (2)
Body type Galvanised, unitary steel body, crumple zones at front and rear
Number of doors / seats 4 doors with additional side protection / 5
Drag coefficient Cd / frontal area A in m2 0.28 / 219
Length (L103) / width excl. mirrors (W103) / height (H100-M) 4703 / 1826 / 1427 (mm)
Wheelbase L101 / track at front/rear W101-1/W102-2 2808 / 1564 / 1551 (mm)
Height of loading lip in mm (H196) 673
Luggage capacity in l, acc. to VDA block method V210/V212 480 (with rear seat folded down: 962)

Model

Audi A4 1.8 TFSI

Engine type Inline 4-cylinder spark-ignition engine with exhaust-gas turbocharger and intercooler, DOHC
Valve gear / number of valves per cylinder Intake camshaft adjustment, roller cam followers / 4
Displacement in cc / bore x stroke in mm / compression 1798 / 82.5 x 84.1 / 9.6
Max. power output in kW (bhp) / at rpm 118 / 4500 — 6200
Max. torque in Nm / at rpm 250 / 1500 – 4500
Engine management / mixture preparation Fully electronic engine management with drive-by-wire throttle control, sequential high-pressure injection with adaptive idle-charge control, overrun fuel cut-off, adaptive lambda control; mapped ignition with solid-state high-voltage distribution via single-spark coils, cylinder-selective adaptive knock control;
air-mass measurement, integrated boost-pressure control
Exhaust emission control Close-coupled ceramic catalytic converter, oxygen sensor before and after catalytic converter
Emission class EU 4
Alternator in A / battery in A/Ah 120 / 220 / 44
Drivetrain type Front-wheel drive with electronic stabilisation program ESP
Clutch Electronically controlled multi-plate clutch, oil-cooled
Gearbox type Continuously variable multitronic transmission with DRP, sport program
Gear ratio in 1st gear / 2nd gear 2.492 / 1.574
Gear ratio in 3rd gear / 4th gear 1.147 / 0.892
Gear ratio in 5th gear / 6th gear 0.715 / 0.579
Reverse gear / final drive ratio 3.015 / 5.970
Front suspension Five-link front suspension, upper and lower wishbones, tubular anti-roll bar
Rear suspension Independent-wheel, trapezoidal-link rear suspension with resiliently mounted subframe, anti-roll bar
Steering / steering ratio / turning circle in m (D102) Maintenance-free rack-and-pinion steering with power assistance / 16.3 / 11.4
Brake system, front/rear Dual-circuit brake system with diagonal split, ABS/EBD and ESP with brake assist; tandem brake booster; front: ventilated discs / rear: discs
Wheels / tyres 7,5 J x 16 lightweight forged aluminium wheels with 225/55 R16 tyres
Top speed, km/h 225
Acceleration 0-100 km/h, s 8.6
Fuel Super unleaded, 95 RON
Fuel consumption: urban / extra-urban / combined (l/100 km) 9.9 / 5.5 / 7.1
CO2 emissions: urban / extra-urban / combined (g/km) 236 / 131 / 169
Oil change 15,000kms or 12 months
Audi Cover/Vehicle/paint/rust perforation warranty 3 years / 3 years with unlimited mileage / 3 years / 12 years
Unladen weight in kg 1539
Axle load limit at front / rear in kg 1035 / 1050
Trailer load limit on 8% / 12% gradient, braked/unbraked in kg 1500 / 1300 / 740
Roof load limit in kg / permissible nose weight in kg 75 / 80
Cooling system capacity (incl. heating) in l 7.0
Engine oil capacity (incl. filter) in l 4.6
Fuel tank capacity in l 65
Body type Galvanised, unitary steel body, crumple zones at front and rear
Number of doors / seats 4 doors with additional side protection / 5
Drag coefficient Cd / frontal area A in m2 0.27 / 2.19
Length/ width excl. mirrors / height 4703 / 1826 / 1427
Wheelbase/ track at front/rear 2808 / 1564 / 1551 (mm)
Height of loading lip in mm 673
Luggage capacity in l, acc. to VDA block method 480 (with rear seat folded down: 962)

Model

Audi A4 3.2 FSI quattro

Engine type Aluminium V6 spark-ignition with petrol direct injection engine, DOHC, camshaft adjustment, 2-stage variable intake manifold, demand-controlled high-pressure and low-pressure fuel system
Valve gear / number of valves per cylinder Audi valvelift system / 4
Displacement in cc / bore x stroke in mm / compression 3197 / 85.5 x 92.8 / 12.5
Max. power output in kW (bhp) / at rpm 195 / 6500
Max. torque in Nm / at rpm 330 / 3000 – 5000
Engine management / mixture preparation Fully electronic engine management with drive-by-wire throttle control, petrol direct injection, cylinder-selective lambda control; mapped ignition with solid-state high-voltage distribution, cylinder-selective adaptive knock control with two sensors
Exhaust emission control Two close-coupled primary catalytic converters, two main catalytic converters, four heated oxygen sensors
Emission class EU 4
Alternator in A / battery in A/Ah 150 / 380 / 80
Drivetrain type quattro permanent four-wheel drive with self-locking centre differential, ESP
Clutch Hydraulically operated single-plate dry clutch; dual-mass flywheel
Gearbox type 6-speed tiptronic with DSP and sport program
Gear ratio in 1st gear / 2nd gear 4.171 / 2.340
Gear ratio in 3rd gear / 4th gear 1.521 / 1.143
Gear ratio in 5th gear / 6th gear 0.867 / 0.691
Reverse gear / final drive ratio 3.403 / 3.517
Front suspension Five-link front suspension, upper and lower wishbones, tubular anti-roll bar
Rear suspension Independent-wheel, trapezoidal-link rear suspension with resiliently mounted subframe, anti-roll bar
Steering / steering ratio / turning circle in m (D102) Maintenance-free rack-and-pinion steering with power assistance / 16.3 / 11.4
Brake system, front/rear Dual-circuit brake system with diagonal split, ABS/EBD and ESP with brake assist; tandem brake booster; front: ventilated discs / rear: discs
Wheels / tyres 7.5J x 16 cast aluminium wheels / 225/55 R 16
Top speed, km/h 250
Acceleration 0-100 km/h, s 6.2
Fuel Super unleaded, 95 RON
Fuel consumption: urban / extra-urban / combined (l/100 km) 13.5 / 6.7 / 9.2
CO2 emissions: urban / extra-urban / combined (g/km) 321 / 159 / 219
Oil change 15,000kms or 12 months
Audi Cover/Vehicle/paint/rust perforation warranty 3 years / 3 years with unlimited mileage / 3 years / 12 years
Unladen weight (excl. driver) / gross weight limit in kg 1696
Axle load limit at front / rear in kg 1105/1145
Trailer load limit on 8% / 12% gradient, braked in kg 2100 / 1900
Roof load limit in kg / permissible nose weight in kg 75 / 80
Cooling system capacity (incl. heating) in l 9.0
Engine oil capacity (incl. filter) in l 6.2
Fuel tank capacity in l 64
Body type Galvanised, unitary steel body, crumple zones at front and rear
Number of doors / seats 4 doors with additional side protection / 5
Drag coefficient cD / frontal area A in m2 28/219
Length (L103) / width excl. mirrors (W103) / height (H100-M) 4703 / 1826 / 1427 (mm)
Wheelbase L101 / track at front/rear W101-1/W102-2 2808 / 1564 / 1551 (mm)
Height of loading lip in mm (H196) 673
Luggage capacity in l, acc. to VDA block method V210/V212 480 (with rear seat folded down: 962)

(1) depends on driving style and operating conditions
(2) details of dimensions with unladen vehicle weight
(3) provisional figure

DIMENSIONS

Length; 4703mm

Height; 1427mm

Wheelbase; 2808mm

Fr Track; 1564mm

R Track; 1551mm

Car shown is 1.8T as Audi gave us an unusual beige model for the 2.7 and we didn’t get any good photos.


Blogs: We’ve returned to the early 1900s

In the early 1900s there were literally hundreds of car manufacturers vying to become established. Through the century companies went bankrupt, got taken over, merged, or rose to dominance until by 1999 we were left with only a few large automakers, and a number of bespoke and kit car independents. But now, with China and India rising up, and new technologies such as electric and hydrogen, the door is open once again for a multitude of manufacturers to eek out market share.

Large car companies often can’t move fast enough to capitalise on really new trends, hence Tesla and its Roadster. The vast majority of these companies will be hoping to get bought out, but some will die, others will get assimilated, and perhaps one or two will rise to become global players. The next few decades will be very interesting indeed, and I’m positive we will see new marques added to our fleets.