Audi releases fresh pics of the new R8

February 2nd, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Audi R8 2009

The Audi R8 5.2 FSI quattro is ready to become ‘the’ car for 2009. To make sure we all know about it, Audi has just released some fresh new pics of the beast. To check the original news item on the R8 click here, for a refresher. The latest, greatest R8 packs a 5.2L V10 under its glass engine cover. The powerplant punches out 525 horsepower and 391 lb-ft of torque. The new V10 motor has been well praised but will it be a good fit in the R8? All should be revealed soon. In the meantime, check out the photos.

Audi A3 FSI Cabriolet S Line 2008 Review

September 27th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham


Summer arrived the day after I picked up the Audi A3 FSI Cabriolet S Line. A perfect weekend, the Saturday spent playing a gig at Ponsonby Market Day and dancing with a transvestite (we’ll leave that story to another day┬Žunless incriminating pictures appear in other media), and the Sunday spent lazing in the garden before a mid-afternoon jaunt to Orewa, cruising along the waterfront. It was the ideal car both for the Ponsonby Road set, and the beachfront cruise.

However, my lack of opportunities to dance with transvestites, and my usual shunning of the sun due to my inherent inability to tan left me wondering whether I would plump for the cabriolet when the hard top Sportback is a better car both dynamically and practically.

But I’ve got the cabriolet, so it’s best that I give you an honest appraisal of that.

The new A3 was launched at Pukekohe Park Raceway in June at the same time as the quite remarkable TT-S quattro (read the review of the TT-S here). I drove most of the variants except (from memory) the 3.2 quattro at the time around the back roads of the Franklin District, and the improvements over the outgoing A3 (which was a bit tired) were very welcome.

The new A3 features the 118kW/250Nm 1.8-litre turbo mill from parent Volkswagen Group’s range, mated to the fast-changing, six-speed S tronic (DSG) dual-clutch gearbox. This will get you from zero to a messed-up hairstyle in just eight seconds if you leave it to do its thing, or you can control the gears using either the gearstick or the paddles behind the steering wheel.

The A3 is a good-looking car with the soft-top folded down (a process that takes a stupendously quick nine seconds to open and only eleven seconds to close.) The hood will operate at up to 30kph.

This S Line variant has some additional body trim such as 18-inch wheels with 225/45R18 tyres (the standard car gets 17-inch wheels with 205/55R17), S Line badging, sports suspension and sports seating. The remainder of the car is the same, including the performance, with the fuel consumption a sensible 7.6l/100km combined, and 180g/km of CO2.

The usual Audi safety features are present, including ABS, electronic brake force distribution, electronic brake assist, traction control (ASR), electronic differential lock, electronic stability program (ESP), and hill start assist which holds the brakes on for a short while as you engage a gear to stop you rolling back on a hill.

With convertibles there is often a compromise, and it’s usually the boot space and additional road noise. The A3 doesn’t seem to suffer that much from road noise because the roof has noise insulation, but I have a slight change to one of the Bible’s more famous quotes: it’s easier for a camel to go through eye of a needle than it is to get a bulky load into the A3 Cabriolet’s boot. Because of the roof folding mechanism, the boot aperture is impractically small to the point of being annoying because it is not even a foot high. This isn’t a problem for your groceries, but you’ll be using the back seats for more than passengers on some occasions. One consolation is that the rear seats fold forwards so larger (but not taller) loads can be accommodated. The boot lid also requires more of a solid push than you’d expect to get it to close properly.

But you’ll undoubtedly give up a smidge of practicality in return for the joys of roofless motoring. Driving at motorway speeds with the roof down gives a small amount of buffeting — nothing major, as it’s actually better than having the front windows open with the roof up, which gives a noticeable fluttering and more apparent wind noise!

Audi’s speed-dependent power-assisted steering is standard, making for easier manoeuvring at lower speeds. Parking radar is included for the rear, which is an absolute necessity because the rollover protection hoops and rear seat headrests block much of the view through the back window. The Audi A3’s rear seats have a more generous amount of legroom than many cars of this size have in convertible guise — I am a gnat’s kneecap under six-foot and I can sit in the back with enough legroom even when the driver’s seat is also set up for me.

So, four people can be transported in atmospheric admiration, whisked along by the smooth engine, confident in the car’s abilities and safety features. I could go on about how it handles well, how it’s got a good dollop of overtaking power, and how the S tronic gearbox is fabulous as ever. But I think that will fall on uninterested ears. I’ll guarantee that 99.9% of people who buy an A3 Cabriolet won’t care because they won’t be the type of people who like to push a car to the limit.

This is a car aimed at the image-conscious — the type of people who don’t care that a Fiat 500’s suspension is hideous or that the new Mercedes-Benz CLC 200 is based on a seven-year old platform. Nope, they just want an optically pleasant car to cruise the beachfronts, and perhaps return to Ponsonby Road to sip a latte and watch fools like me dance with a transvestite.

Click through to the next page to read the full specifications on the Audi A3 Cabriolet S line.

Price: from $68,900 (S Line), or from $59,500 for the base Cabriolet

What we like

  • Rear seats are functional with plenty of legroom as opposed to token
  • Rear seats fold down to increase load space

What we don’t like

  • Boot aperture isn’t friendly
  • Rearward visibility very restricted
Audi A3 Cabriolet 1.8 TFSI
Engine / electrics
Engine type Inline four-cylinder spark-ignition engine with petrol direct injection, exhaust
turbo-charger with intercooler, 4 valves per cylinder, double overhead camshafts
Valve gear / number of valves per cylinder

Chain drive / 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 (160) / 5000 – 6200

Max. torque in Nm / at rpm

250 / 1500 – 4200

Mixture preparation

Direct injection/fully electronic with drive-by-wire throttle control,
Bosch MED17

Exhaust emission control

Close-coupled ceramic primary catalytic converter and ceramic underfloor catalytic converter with catalyst heating function via homogeneous split dual injection

Emissions class

EU 4

Alternator in A / battery in A/Ah

140 / 280 / 60

Drive / transmission
Drive type

Front-wheel drive


Two electro-hydraulically controlled multi-plate clutches in an oil bath

Gearbox type

6-speed S tronic dual-clutch gearbox with electro-hydraulic control

Gear ratio in 1st gear / 2nd gear

3.462 / 2.050

Gear ratio in 3rd gear / 4th gear

1.300 / 0.902

Gear ratio in 5th gear / 6th gear

0.914 / 0.756

Gear ratio in reverse gear


Final drive ratio

Final drive ratio in 1st – 4th gear / 5th, 6th and reverse gear

4.375 / 3.333

Suspension / steering / brakes
Front suspension

McPherson struts with lower wishbones, aluminium subframe, tubular anti-roll bar, track-stabilising steering roll radius

Rear suspension

Four-link rear suspension with separate spring/shock absorber arrangement, subframe, tubular anti-roll bar

Steering / steering ratio / turning circle in m (D102)

Electromechanical steering with speed-dependent
power assistance / 16.2 / approx. 10.7

Brake system, front/rear

Dual-circuit brake system with diagonal split. ESP with electronic
brake-force distribution EBD, ABS; hydraulic brake assist; brake servo
with dual-rate function, electronic differential lock EDL, front: ventilated discs, rear: 15″ discs


205/55 R17 tyres

Performance / consumption / acoustics
Top speed in km/h


Acceleration, 0-100 km/h in sec


Fuel type

Super unleaded, 95 RON

Fuel consumption: urban / extra-urban / combined, l/100 km

10.6 / 5.8 / 7.6

CO2 mass emission, g/km


Standing / drive-past exterior noise level in dB (A)

80 / 73

Servicing / guarantee
Oil Change

15,000kms or 12 months

Audi Cover/ Vehicle/paint/rust perforation guarantee

3 years / 3 years with unlimited mileage / 3 years / 12 years

Weights / loads
Unladen weight in kg


Axle load limit at front / rear in kg


Trailer load limit on 8%/12% gradient, braked/unbraked in kg


Roof load limit in kg / permissible nose weight in kg

– /75

Cooling system capacity (incl. heating) in l


Engine oil capacity (incl. filter) in l


Fuel tank capacity in l


Body / dimensions
Body type

Unitary steel body

Number of doors / seats

2 doors with additional side protection / 4 seats

Drag coefficient Cd / frontal area A in m2

0.33 / 2.12

Length (L103)/ width excl. mirrors (W103)/ height (H100), mm

4238 / 1765 / 1424

Wheelbase (L101) / track at front/rear (W101/W102), mm

2578 / 1534 / 1507

Height of loading lip in mm (H195)


Luggage capacity in l, acc. to VDA block method (V210)


1) depending on driving style and operating conditions

A3 Cabrio Specification and Option Sheet
Electro – mechanical power steering – speed dependent
Exhaust Catalyst
Audi Cover Assistance – 3 Year Cost Free Motoring
Galvanised Body – 12 Year Anti-Corrosion Warranty

Safety and Security

ABS with EBD (Electronic Brake Pressure Distribution) and Electronic Brake Assist
Active Front Head Restraints
ASR with EDL (Electronic Differential Lock) and ESP (Electronic Stabilisation Program)
Front Driver & Passenger Airbags with Side Airbags in the in the Front Seats & Sideguard Head Airbag
Front Passenger Airbag Deactivation
Front Ventilated Disc Brakes
Hill Start Assist
ISOFIX Child Seat Anchorages Front & Rear
Rear Disc Brakes
Anti Theft Alarm With Interior Surveillance and Vehicle Immobiliser


Alloy Wheels: 18″ 7-twin spoke design
Tyres: 225/45 18
Automatic Hood, Fully Automatic With Acoustic Insulation, Activated Up To 30km/h
Auto Headlight with Rain Sensor, Coming-Home and Daytime Driving Mode
Body Coloured, Electrically Adjustable Exterior Mirrors
Front Fog Lights
Headlights with Headlight Range Adjustment: Halogen
Metallic Paint Surcharge: no-cost option
Rear Parking Aid
Spare Wheel: Space Saver
Sports Suspension: S line
S line Door Trim Strips in Body Colour
S line Rear Spoiler Integrated into Boot Lid
Sports Front and Rear Bumper Design
Sports Front Grille with S line Badging


Active Speakers
Air Conditioning: Automatic
Audi Factory Audio System: Concert
Auto-Dimming Interior Mirror
CD Player
Centre Armrest
Cruise Control
Dashboard Inserts: Aluminium
Driver information system
Height Adjustable Front Seats
Height And Reach Adjustable Steering Columnl
Interior Trim: Alcantara /Leateher
Leather Multifunction Steering Wheel: 3-spoke S line with paddle shift
Outside Temperature gauge
Seating: Sports
Split Folding Rear Seat
Windscreen with Grey tinted strip

Words and photos Darren Cottingham

Audi A6 2.8 FSI 2008 Review

February 17th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

Audi A6 FSI 2008 fq

Prepare to turn right. Please turn right. Please do a u-turn if possible. Well, it wasn’t possible, because I was on the Esmonde Rd on-ramp deliberately taking a quicker route than the exceptionally polite satellite navigation system knew. The sat-nav is a very interesting and welcome addition to the A6 and its soft, feminine, educated UK accent makes the fact it doesn’t know the short cuts inconsequential.

The sat-nav display is situated on a screen in the centre of the dashboard, which also serves as the focal point for adjusting functions available within the Audi MMI (Multi Media Interface) Using a combination of a data wheel and buttons, users can navigate through the screens to choose radio and TV stations, CD tracks, and tailor just about every aspect of the car to their discerning needs. The dual air conditioning and heated seats retain a separate control interface whereby a dazzling number of configurations can be chosen for where the air is going, and what temperature it is.

I like fiddling with gadgets, so the opportunity to spend a week with a car like the A6 is appealing. Of course, I’m not going to read the manual, so I was still finding new screens on day five. That’s like five days of Christmas.

One of the things that was immediately apparent to me in the A6 was that I really liked being in it. This week I’m going through an executive phase and the A6 is perfect for turning up to meetings — sleek, salubrious and perfectly chilled in the summer heat, having watched a bit of TV at the lights on the in-dash screen.

In fact, I feel like I should be wearing a suit. Sitting at traffic lights in Herne Bay an elderly gentleman questioned my age (33), assuming that someone of my youthful looks wouldn’t be able to afford a car that looks more expensive than it actually is.

The line of evolution goes back to the Audi 100 range produced from 1968 to 1997 in four iterations. The name was changed to A6 to align with international branding. Series 1 Audi 100s (C1) produced in 1968 had front wheel drive and produced a paltry 80bhp, 130 less than this new quattro 4WD A6’s aluminium V6 engine, and 355bhp less than its bigger brother the S6.

210bhp is never in jeopardy of overwhelming the quattro four-wheel drive system that puts its power through the optional wide 225/35R18 wheels, and the large sedan will reach 100 in an acceptable 8.4 seconds. The six-speed auto ‘box has a sports mode and sequential manual mode, and there’s a self-locking central differential for additional grip and safety.

The V6 is quite quiet, even under acceleration, and it will whisk the car to a top speed of 237kph (it’s interesting that the cruise control can be set to 250kph, despite the car’s top speed.) Doing that won’t get you anywhere near the Audi’s claimed 9.7l/100km economy (I recorded 9.9l/100km, which isn’t far off).

The one flaw in this Audi is that it feels as if it’s been hewn from a boulder of igneous rock. It’s solid. Very solid. And it feels heavier than its 1680kg would suggest. A combination of factors cause this: the steering is slightly heavy (but not overly so), the bonnet bulges out in front of you, it doesn’t make a thunderous fuss about getting up to speed, and the quattro four-wheel drive system feels like its pushing in the slower corners. This sense of size is confirmed when you check out the size of the boot, which is so large it has reverb, and the room available for the back seat passengers.

But let’s go back to the navigation system. These days you don’t need a map book with a sat-nav system. In the Audi’s case a small unit sits out of the way in a compartment in the boot and houses a navigation DVD. The system knows where you are, so all you have to do is enter in your destination. The sat-nav can be set do calculate the quickest or shortest route, avoid motorways and ferries, and include stopover locations. For example, a stopover location can be set at Matamata if you want to travel that way from Auckland to Taupo, rather than via Cambridge.

The total trip distance and an estimated arrival time are provided, both of which update in real time if you make a diversion or travel faster/slower than expected.

An extremely useful function is special destinations. This allows you to select petrol stations, hospitals, car parks, and other useful generic places either in your immediate vicinity, or in the vicinity of your chosen destination.

At $109,900 the Audi packs a lot of punch. This is the base model and (because the S6 is $195,000) I really can’t see why you’d need to go any further up the range. I’d even be tempted to buy an A6, it’s that good.

Click through to the next page to view detailed specification of the Audi A6 sedan.

Price: from $109,990. Price as tested (with optional 18-inch wheels, TV reception, iPod preparation and heated seats, $114,200)

What we like

  • I’m now a corporate player
  • Enormous boot
  • Lots of toys — TV, sat-nav, endless controls for the car
  • Comfortable
  • Plenty of power
  • Quiet ride

What we don’t like

  • Feels heavy and large (because it is — 1680kg and 4.9m long)
  • You’ll want those 18-inch wheels
  • Odd pricing: TV reception = $2,600, Audi advanced parking = $1,500, but you can buy them as a package for $2,500.

Words and photos Darren Cottingham


Cubic Capacity: 2773

KiloWatts/Hp: 154/210

Torque (Nm/ rpm): 280 / 3,000 – 5,000

Cylinders / Valves Per Cylinder: 6/4

Fuel Injection system: FSI (Direct)

Drive Train: quattro

Transmission – Tiptronic With DSP & sport program: 6 speed

Servotronic Steering assistance

Suspension: Std

Acceleration 0-100 km/h (secs): 8.4

Top Speed (km/h): 237

Fuel consumption combined in l/100km: 9.7

CO2 emission: 231g/km

Audi Cover Assistance – 3 Year Cost Free Motoring

Galvanised Body – 12 Year Anti-Corrosion Warranty

Safety and Security

ABS with EBD (Electronic Brake Pressure Distribution) and Electronic Brake Assist

ASR Traction Control System, with EDL – Electronic Diff Lock and ESP

Front Passenger Airbag Key Deactivation

ISOFIX Child Seat Anchorages Front & Rear

Active front head restraints

Driver & Passenger Airbags, Side Airbags Front And Rear, and Sideguard Head Airbag System

Head Restraints Front & Rear

Anti Theft Alarm With Interior Surveillance and Vehicle Immobiliser


Alloy Wheels: 18″ 7 Spoke Design

Tyres: 245/40

Auto Headlight activation with rain sensor, coming-home and daytime driving mode

Automatic dimming exterior Mirrors – Electric & Heated with Memory function

Full Size Spare Wheel

Headlights Halogen


Air Conditioning with sun sensor & humidity sensor

Auto Dimming interior mirrors

CD Changer for MMI

Cruise Control

Dash Inserts Walnut Digital Sound Package

Electric Front Seats with Lumber and Drivers Memory

Electromechanical Parking Brake

Front Centre Armrest

Height And Reach Adjustable Steering Column

Illuminated Vanity Mirrors

Interior Trim Volterra Leather Leather Gear Shift

Leather Multifunction Steering Wheel with shift paddles

Mobile Phone Preparation with Blue Tooth

Multi Function Trip Computer

Multi Media Interface (MMI)

Parking Aid in front and rear

Split Folding Rear Seat

Storage Package

Road Tests

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