Audi: 2015 TT Coupe S Line review

March 12th, 2015 by Darren Cottingham

When I did judo as a kid we were taught techniques after being thrown that would make it difficult for your opponent to turn you onto your back to avoid osaekomi waza, or pinning techniques. You made yourself low and wide to hug the mat, and adjusted your bodyweight to stay flat. This is what the Audi TT feels like to drive. It feels as if you wouldn’t be able to turn it over to expose the soft underbelly. Around the corners its grappling technique with the tarmac is black belt, sports car quality. Continue reading “Audi: 2015 TT Coupe S Line review” »

Audi: 2014 A3 1.8 TFSI Cabriolet review

September 24th, 2014 by Richard Edwards

Spring in Auckland is quite the mixed bag weatherwise. One day, driving wind and rain, the next driving wind and rain, and so on. But occasionally you get a stunner, and I was lucky to get that – for just one day – while the new A3 was parked in the Car and SUV driveway.

The best thing that has happened to the A3 cabriolet over the old model is the introduction of another model to the range – the sedan. Having that pen-work already done means Audi was able to make the car look and function more like its almost-iconic A4 cabriolet – and now that model is gone bridge the gap to the A5 drop-top. Continue reading “Audi: 2014 A3 1.8 TFSI Cabriolet review” »

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¦unless 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 A5 quattro S line 2008 Review

May 21st, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

Audi A5 S Line fq

The Audi A5 quattro S line is like Tony Blair in his heyday: it’s got the looks, it’s powerful, and it’s smooth. I might be a die-hard Tory, but even I’m convinced that owning this Audi would be no labour of love. Tony took the helm and really drove the ‘New Left’, so I’m taking the helm of the new A5 and seeing if it’s really Right.

I drove its more amply endowed big brother the 4.2-litre V8 S5 back in February. I remember liking it, but not enough to buy one — there was something about the manual gearbox I wasn’t too sure about, and the hill start assist just didn’t work well, making a smooth uphill getaway with the hydraulic handbrake occasionally difficult.

The A5, however, has a six-speed automatic ‘box; a really good one, at that, with a sequential manual mode. And it’s enhanced by the Audi Drive Select, for which there are three settings: comfort which gives you the best economy, auto for everyday driving, and dynamic for sports driving with earlier downshifts and later upshifts.

With its low, lithe, aggressive stance the A5 is a car for the virile executive. A two-door coupe, it’s for the businessman (or woman) that could fill a stadium with children, but chooses not to. It’s for those that appreciate sleek design and understated power, and want the handling to go with it.

When it gets down to it, the discerning driver will probably only want to make one change in the A5 S line, and that’s the stereo which is straight from Mediocre-ville.

The Audi A5 actually had the hardest job in the world with me because the week before I had a Subaru WRX STI Spec R — one of my favourite cars. It still impressed me. And that’s not because the WRX STI is also cursed with a stereo that sounds like you’re listening to it with the bass turned off and the mid-range put through a guitar pedal. It was because of the sense of oneness that driving the A5 gives you.

I’m not going to give you a list of specifications here (you can click through to the second page to read that); I’m going to describe what it’s like to get in and drive the A5.

nlock the door, give a firm pull on the handle — coupe doors are longer and heavier. Climb in and drop into the leather seat. This is the point where the car closes around you. This isn’t in a venus fly-trap type of way. Imagine it a bit like Sigourney Weaver in Aliens when, as Ellen Ripley, she dons the power loader suit to fight the big mamma alien. You are now an integral part of the machine and it will do your beck and call.

Fire up the 3.2-litre V6. It’s quiet, but there’s enough of a vibration to let you know it’s ready for some fun. Leave the Audi Drive Select in comfort mode and drive sedately (yet in anticipation) to your favourite stretch of twisty tarmac. While you’re doing this you can explore a multitude of electronic gadgets befitting a car that costs almost $118,000 — cruise control, Bluetooth phone integration, how long the lights will stay on after you’ve locked the car, trip computer, etc. Don’t bother with the stereo unless you’ve upgraded it, but do notice how many people look at you in the car — it’s an eye-catcher.

Once you’ve reached the aforementioned length of sinuous tarmac, switch the A5’s Audi Drive Select into auto (or dynamic if you really want to go for it), and unleash the 195kW and 330Nm via the quattro four-wheel drive. The A5 deals blows left and right as the tarmac ducks and weaves, occasionally screaming in pain. Grip from the 255/35R19 tyres is immense as the outside wheels throw you back onto the straights. Braking is like coming out of hyperdrive, and on the other side of a corner, accelerating away is satisfyingly brisk (100kph is reached in 6.1 seconds).

I like the A5 S line more than the S5, even though it has less power. It’s a driver’s car — one you like to get in and just drive for the sake of driving. But New Zealand’s roads are like the Alien queen xenomorph — ugly, sneaky, writhing, and ready at any moment to inflict carnage and leave a gooey mess. The A5 therefore is the perfect combination of Sigourney Weaver’s power loader and Tony Blair — subtly persuasive, insidiously powerful and hugely competent.

Click through to the next page to view the full specifications and options for the Audi A5 quattro S line 3.2 FSI V6 quattro and the 3.0 TDI V6 quattro.
Price: from $117,900

What we like

  • Everything we like about the S5, but more
  • Audi Drive Select
  • Five-spoke alloy wheels are beautiful
  • Warranty — 3-year, cost-free

What we don’t like

  • Mediocre stereo — buy the Bang & Olufsen upgrade
A5 S line Specification and Option Sheet (prices correct at time of press (May 2008) 3.2 FSI V6 quattro 3.0 TDI V6 quattro
Retail Price $117,900 $118,900
Cubic Capacity 3197 2967
KiloWatts/HP 195 / 265 176 / 240
Torque (Nm/rpm) 330 / 3000 500 / 1500
Cylinders / Valves Per Cylinder 6 / 4 6 / 4
Fuel Injection System FSI Common Rail Diesel
Drive Train quattro quattro
Transmission – Tiptronic With DSP & Sport Program 6 speed 6 speed
Servotronic Steering Assistance o o
Adaptive Sports Suspension with Audi Drive Select o o
Acceleration 0-100 km/h (secs) 6.1 5.9
Top Speed (km/h) 250 (regulated) 250 (regulated)
Fuel consumption combined in l/100 km (CO2 emission) 9.7 (232) 7.2 (191)
Audi Cover Assistance – 3 Year Cost Free Motoring o o
Galvanised Body – 12 Year Anti-Corrosion Warranty o o
Safety and Security
ABS with EBD (Electronic Brake Pressure Distribution) and Electronic Brake Assist o o
ASR Traction Control System, with EDL – Electronic Diff Lock and ESP o o
Front Passenger Airbag Key Deactivation o o
ISOFIX Child Seat Anchorages Front & Rear o o
Driver & Passenger Airbags, Front Side Airbags and Sideguard Head Airbag System o o
Anti Theft Alarm With Interior Surveillance and Vehicle Immobiliser o o
Alloy Wheels 19″ 5-arm style Design 19″ 5-arm style Design
Tyres 255/35 R 19 255/35 R 19
Auto Headlight Activation with Rain Sensor, Coming-Home and Daytime Driving Mode o o
Automatic Dimming Exterior Mirrors – Electric & Heated with Memory function o o
Front bumpers, Side Radiator Grilles, and Diffuser Inserts in Sporty Design o o
Headlights Halogen Halogen
Lower Sections of Bumpers and Door Strips Painted in Body Colour o o
Rear Diffuser in Platinum Grey o o
S line Logo on the Front Wings o o
S line Logo on Door Sill Trims o o
Space Saver Spare Wheel o o
Air Conditioning (three -zone) with Sun Sensor & Humidity Sensor o o
Auto Dimming Interior Mirrors o o
CD Changer for MMI o o
Cruise Control o o
Dash Inserts Aluminium Aluminium
Driver Information System o o
Electromechanical Parking Brake o o
Heated Electric Front Seats with Lumber and Drivers Memory Sports Sports
Height And Reach Adjustable Steering Column o o
Interior Trim Milano Leather Milano Leather
Mobile Phone Preparation with Blue Tooth o o
Multi Function Trip Computer o o
Multi Media Interface (MMI) o o
I Pod Preparation o o
Parking Aid Front & Rear o o
Sports Steering Wheel – 3 Spoke with Shift Paddles, Multifunction o o
Split Folding Rear Seat o o
Storage Package o o
A5 S line Specification and Option Sheet 3.2 FSI V6 Quattro 3.0 TDI V6 quattro
Exterior Options
20″ 7-Double Spoke Design $1,500 $1,500
Bi- Xenon Plus with Headlight Washers $2,500 $2,500
Bi- Xenon Plus with Headlight Washers and Adaptive Lights $3,500 $3,500
Audi Side Assist $1,600 $1,600
Electrically Operated Roll Up Sun Screen for Rear Window $1,000 $1,000
Tyre Pressure Monitoring Display $200 $200
Panoramic Sunroof $3,200 $3,200
Leather Trim and Packages
Seat Heating for Front and Rear Seats $900 $900
Valona leather $1,200 $1,200
Advanced Key $1,800 $1,800
Audi Hill Hold Assist $150 $150
Driver Information System with Colour Display $400 $400
Garage Door Opener (Homelink) $700 $700
Inlays, Walnut Brown $500 $500
Inlays, Fine Grain Ash Beige $500 $500
Inlays, Laurel Nutmeg $500 $500
Lighting Package $800 $800
Ski Bag $500 $500
Vavona Inlays $1,000 $1,000
Audi Dynamic Sound System $1,000 $1,000
Bang & Olufsen Sound System $2,500 $2,500
Navigation $5,500 $5,500
Sound and Go package (Advanced Key + Bang & Olufsen Sound System) $3,500 $3,500

Words and photos Darren Cottingham

Audi Q7 4.2 TDi Quattro S-line 2007 Review

December 8th, 2007 by Darren Cottingham

Audi Q7 2007 fq

I was glad I had Audi’s Q7 4.2 TDi Quattro S-line this weekend. Its voluminous carrying capacity was put to good use transporting our band’s equipment to a daytime gig in the Waitakeres. I wouldn’t usually use a $150,000+ car to do something as mundane as act as a workhorse for my musical obligations, but it made sense because it will carry a lot, and it gave me a chance to drive it on narrow, twisting roads. In everyday guise, the Q7 will seat seven people, five of them in absolute comfort, and the two right at the back in moderate comfort, as long as their legs aren’t too long. Fold the seats flat and it’s large enough to haul a lot of gear, though the boot aperture itself is not large because of the high floor.

A neat trick that the Q7 has up its ample sleeve is adaptive air suspension. Using a button in the boot you can make the car squat by 55mm to make loading easier. There are five suspension levels, and the car is able to be raised considerably to enable quite severe off-roading to be attempted. In fact, the suspension has 95mm of variation, though other than the loading mode, the lowest ones are only activated at sustained high speed (120+ and 160+kph).

Another great function for loading is the automatic tailgate — it will raise and lower at the push of a button.

With a mammoth 760Nm of torque and 240kW the 2450kg Q7 has a startling turn of speed, achieving 100kph in just 6.4 seconds. This goes some way towards hiding its large dimensions, but you’re still aware you are driving a car almost two metres wide and 5.1m long.

Our test car was fitted with the optional 21-inch alloys with 295/35 tyres. Push the Q7 hard and it understeers like you’d expect a large SUV to. But the Q7 is a car that is most pleasant to cruise in. It is supremely comfortable to drive or be a passenger. Leather seats all around have six-setting heaters and electric position and lumbar settings at the front. The second row of seats reclines. Dual climate control with sun and humidity sensors and multiple vents in the rear keep the cabin temperature just right, and there is a plethora of bottle and cup holders for all seats.

Audi has done a great job of ergonomically designing the controls for the Q7. While there are over 60 dials and switches within the driver’s reach, many of the more intricate functions are carried out using Audi’s MMI display in the dashboard, which warrants a manual of its own. A dial and buttons placed just in front of the central binnacle allow easy scrolling and selecting of options for audio and car settings visible on the screen.

The audio system itself has a fabulous sound. My usual test CD (Gladiator soundtrack) filled the cabin with the full range of deep ominous double bass through to sparkling and delicate dulcimers and windchimes. The test car’s optional Bose eight-speaker system will accept an iPod input and display track listings and other information on the MMI’s screen. This screen also can function as a TV display with the optional TV reception kit, it will integrate with your mobile if it’s Bluetooth-enabled, and it is the centre of Audi’s parking assistant.

A relatively distortion-free reversing camera displays what is behind you with two animated lines that react to steering inputs showing the driver where the Q7 is turning. There are proximity sensors both front and rear and a superimposed diagram of the Q7 shows whether you are getting close to obstacles. Individual sound boxes positioned around the car beep more and more frenetically to give you a spatial awareness of which corner’s pristine paint finish is in jeopardy. The system is good enough to manoeuvre in tight spaces without even looking outside of the car.

The screen allows you to see if children are standing behind you

The optional Lane Change Assistant is welcome on a long car like this. The system incorporates a small light on the inside of the wing mirrors. If a car is moving into your blind spot, the light illuminates softly. If you indicate to move into the lane it flashes brightly as a warning.

As well as that very obvious safety feature the Q7 features ESP (with an additional towing stabilisation mode that will attempt to correct an out-of-control trailer), the usual ABS, EBD and EBA, and a swag of airbags including a full length curtain airbag right to the back of the car.

So that covers just a small slice of what the Q7 does. The two manuals are an inch thick between them, and the options list is extensive. A new owner could be immersed in menus and settings for hours, fine tuning the parameters.

There really isn’t anything much to complain about with the Q7, as you would expect for a car in this price bracket. It has everything you would expect in terms of safety and performance and if you’re in the market for a large, plush SUV which will pull a heavy load (well over three tonnes if the trailer is braked), this ticks all the boxes.

Price: Q7 range from $122,900. Base for this model: $151,900. As tested $158,100

What we like

  • Power
  • Noise
  • Parking/reversing assistant (it’s essential with a car this size)
  • Lane change assistant (optional)
  • Towing ability
  • Comfort

What we don’t like

  • Small boot aperture (if loading matters to you)
  • Lose something down the side of the front seats and it’s almost impossible to extricate (minor, I know)

Words and photos Darren Cottingham

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