Monday, August 21, 2017
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new cars


A convincing small coupe

The UK is the biggest market for the Audi TT in Europe, so the latest version needs to drive well on our challenging roads to stand a chance of matching the sales success of its predecessors. Yet for all its sporty design flourishes, the model that’s most likely to Audi TT (2)seduce tax-conscious British buyers is the new 2.0-litre TDI Ultra, the latest of the brand’s fuel-sipping range of diesels that now includes the A4, A5, A6 and A7, with plenty more to come. Of course, buying a slinky coupe is not always a strictly rational purchase, but this Ultra version of the TT promises effortless 150mph performance with affordable family car running costs. Is there a catch? Well, at launch this model will only be available with front-wheel drive, equipped with a six-speed manual gearbox. That does keep the price down though, and in the Sport trim we tried the Ultra is actually the cheapest version of the new TT you can buy, starting at £29,770.

Pristine fit and finish, classy materials and beautifully damped switches are all par for the course with any modern Audi, but the TT brings in a high-tech, minimalist approach Audi TTto cabin design that feels really sporty. A 12.3-inch screen tucked into the instrument binnacle is the window to all the car’s systems, and it’s a real showstopper. A digital set of dials, trip computer, media output and sat-nav (when added) can all controlled via the steering wheel or by an intuitive rotary dial between the front seats, so you never need to divert your eyes far from the road. The system will take some getting used to if you’ve spent time in a car with a screen in the centre of the dashboard, but most functions are easy to find and adjust, and the simple actions quickly become second nature – even if your passenger is going to feel quite left out.


The most important Alfa Romeo for decades

Just under 4 metres long, 2 metres wide and 118 cm high. The design choices of the Alfa Romeo 4C are just as bold as its dimensions. Rather than use extreme power, the decision was taken to minimise weight instead. This challenge underlies the design of every component of the car.

Alfa Romeo 2The result is amazing: an unladen weight of under 895 kg propelled by 240 BHP, giving a weight to power ratio of under 4 kg/HP. A figure that promises genuine supercar agility and performance. This impressively low weight has been achieved by using ultra-light materials like carbon fibre, aluminium and composites, all chosen for maximum dynamic efficiency. Fast, powerful and evolved. On the 4C, advanced materials combined with Alfa Romeo’s innovative processes and values have created a true concentration of efficiency.

Sport suspensions, self-ventilated brake discs and different diameter tyres: the Alfa Romeo 4C boasts an advanced ride control system, conceived to keep weight down to a minimum.

The suspension adopts race-derived technical solutions to optimise performance and deliver unrivalled driving pleasure. At the front, the Alfa Romeo 4C features a double wishbone configuration that gives direct and unfiltered feedback from the road. At the Alfa Romeorear, advanced MacPherson suspension ensures superb road holding and driving fun, even in the most extreme manoeuvres. Both front and rear suspension systems are made from aluminium and high strength steel. The braking system is designed for high performance race track use. The perforated, self-ventilated front discs and Brembo calipers take the car from 100 to 0 km/h in only 36 metres. And to ensure maximum grip and prevent skidding under all conditions, the 4C is fitted with different diameter tyres, 17”-18” or 18”-19”, with the larger size on the rear for the best possible handling.


Most hotly contested special edition

The first deliveries of the Ferrari 458 Speciale A will commence in February, but we’ve got bad news if you haven’t ordered one yet: they’re all sold.

In fact, the iconic Italian brand was only able to satisfy 40 per cent of demand for the $635,000 plus on-road costs convertible supercar in Australia, leading the region’s boss to label it “the most hotly contested special edition in Ferrari’s history”.

Ferrari (2)The 458 Speciale A (the ‘A’ stands for ‘aperta’, which means ‘open’ in Italian) is effectively a folding-roof version of the 458 Speciale hardtop. It’s powered by Ferrari’s most powerful naturally aspirated V8 – the 4.5-litre unit churning out 445kW and 540Nm. Tipping the scales at 1340 kilograms, the open-air model matches the fixed-roof Speciale’s 3.0-second 0-100km/h sprint and 1 minute 23.5 second lap time around the company’s Fiorano test circuit.

As with the 458 Speciale, the Speciale A gets louvre vents near the headlights, a more aggressive front bumper and air intakes, winged side sills, rear diffuser and five-spoke forged alloy wheels, along with lashings of carbonfibre throughout the cabin. The Ferrariretractable aluminium roof takes 14 seconds to either open or close.

Partially explaining its unprecedented popularity is the fact the 458 Speciale A appears likely to be something of the last of its kind. The naturally aspirated model is set to be succeeded at March’s Geneva motor show by an updated 458 powered by an up-rated version of the twin-turbocharged 3.9-litre V8 from the California T. The engine produces 412kW and 755Nm in the entry-level convertible, but could reportedly be tweaked to pump out up to 500kW for the updated 458.