Welcome to the Hooniverse News! As always, this is a weekly recap of some of the biggest stories in the automotive industry without the fluff or bull. I just throw in a little opinion of mine because I can. This week:
Audi’s fastest TT RS ever debuts with new skin
Porsche copy/pastes to create the 718 Cayman
Volkswagen shows a promising EV future with the T-Prime GTE
Fiat confirms pricing on the 124 Spider… it’s not bad
What’s your automotive news?
Audi TT RS
Audi revealed the stunning Mk3 TT in an all-new form back in 2014. It debuted with new turbo four cylinder engines that could produce up to 310 horsepower in the slightly sportier TTS model, a sum more than adequate for a small sports car that also lost a considerable amount of weight. Of course, “more than adequate” isn’t always enough. Rejoining the Audi family is the 2017 TT RS Coupe and Roadster, a meaner, faster, and more agile take on a car that was already improved in those areas.
The biggest story here is the motor they’ve crammed behind the cabin. It’s a 2.5-liter TFSI (turbocharged) five-cylinder engine which cranks out 400 horsepower and up to 354 lb.-ft. of torque. That’s all channeled through a seven-speed S-tronic gearbox and Quattro which distributes it amongst all four wheels as needed. This engine alone makes it the most powerful TT ever produced and the fastest to 62 mph at 3.7 seconds. It has the usual 155 mph speed limiter as standard but it can be raised to 174 mph by request.
Supporting that significant power bump (60hp more than the last TT RS) is a freshly-tuned RS Sport Suspension with available magnetic active damping, standard ventilated and perforated front brakes or optional carbon ceramics, optional 20″ forged lightweight wheels, and more downforce-minded body surfaces including but not limited to a fixed rear wing.
The TT RS also benefits from racing-derived interior enhancements like an RS multifunction steering wheel, low mounted sport seats with extra side bolstering, and a button on the center console that releases more glorious five-cylinder noises. That steering wheel also has two satellite buttons to start/stop the engine or switch between driving modes, meaning you no longer need to take a hand off the wheel to quickly engage sport mode when approaching a good piece of tarmac.
The TT RS does include the now standard Audi Virtual Cockpit, a 12.3-inch screen that makes up the gauge cluster, but the RS comes with a special screen that displays tire pressures, torque, g-force, and a shift light among other things. Other optional extras inside include an enhanced MMI (multi media interface) with a WiFi hotspot, the ability to tweet from the road (“using twitter while drivin in my audi LOL #rebel #teamfollowback), and have incoming messages read aloud. On the roadster model, they’ve included a microphone for the hands-free calling system right into the seat belt so you no longer have an excuse to ignore calls from your boss.
The 2017 Audi TT RS will launch in Europe this fall with a base prices of €66,400. The last TT RS was available in the US so I’d say there’s a good chance we’ll see this one too.
Porsche 718 Cayman
This week Porsche unveiled the third-generation Cayman, which for all intents and purposes, is exactly like the new Boxster that was unveiled a few months ago but with a different roof. It even adopts the same 718 moniker as well. So if you’re low on time today, I’ve got your back.
… Anyone still left? Among the major changes made to the new 718 Cayman, the biggest one is regarding its new mid-mounted power plant. The glorious naturally-aspirated flat-six is gone in favor of the same turbocharged flat-fours which originally debuted on the 718 Boxster. The 718 Cayman receives a 2.0-liter unit with 300 horsepower and 280 lb.-ft. of torque while the 718 Cayman S gets a 2.5-liter unit with 350 horsepower and 309 lb.-ft. of torque – all those figures are identical to the 718 Boxster’s. Even their 0-60 mph times are identical: 4.5 seconds on the base 718 Cayman and 4.0 seconds on the 718 Cayman S.
Other upgrades include improved chassis tuning with firmer springs and sway bars, a quicker steering ratio, wider rear tires, torque vectoring, and Porsche active suspension management (PASM) with a 10mm drop in ride height as an option. The 718 Cayman S can also be ordered with PASM Sport for the first time, which lowers the car by 20mm and probably does other sportier things as well. Braking is also improved across the board; the base 718 Cayman gets the old Cayman S’s brakes while the 718 Cayman S gets larger 13″ front, 11.7″ rear discs with larger four-piston calipers borrowed from the 911 Carrera.
Design-wise, it seems Porsche has put the Cayman (and the Boxster) on the same kind of path they put the 911 on decades ago. It’s not a revolutionary design by any means but they’ve changed just enough to keep it fresh and modern. Same goes for the interior which gets a new upper dashboard, new air vents (!!!), and enhanced Porsche Communications Management system with available real-time traffic info, Apple CarPlay, Google Earth and Street View (also known as the windshield), and WiFi connectivity.
The 718 Cayman and 718 Cayman S are on sale now and will reach US dealers by this November. Prices start at $53,900 but the 718 Cayman S commands at least $66,300. Both the Caymans are now priced lower than their Boxster counterparts.
Volkswagen T-Prime Concept GTE
Volkswagen has a new SUV flagship on the way and this concept they’ve debuted in China is our first look. It’s called the T-Prime Concept GTE and it’s one of seven new plug-in hybrids VW plans to release in that market, some of which would presumably go elsewhere too. Whether or not this particular model comes to the western world in production form is not known yet, but in any event it’s still a sign of things to come from a brand that’s now heavily invested in EVs.
There is a real drivetrain in this concept which could change before production but is impressive nonetheless. Since it is a hybrid with a plug, there’s a normal turbo four-cylinder gasoline engine tucked away in there. That plus the electric motor produce up to 375 horsepower and over 500 lb.-ft. of torque combined. 0-60mph takes six seconds flat and it can travel on full EV mode for up to 31 miles. It also runs on an eight-speed automatic transmission which is controlled by the driver in a most peculiar way…
VW went above and beyond with the interior. All the controls inside are completely digital and are managed by voice and gesture control as well as touch-sensitive screens and surfaces. It has what VW are calling the world’s first Curved Interaction Area – a curved infotainment display that blends all controls and displays into one massive screen. That transmission I mentioned earlier is controlled by a glass scroll wheel because conventional switches, levers, and dials are too reliable.
The exterior of the T-Prime is also above and beyond, I’d say. It’s an all-new design with recognizable VW styling cues, modern details, and a sleek profile. They went more into detail about the exterior styling and what it all means for the brand, but it wasn’t very interesting.
[Source: Volkswagen via Autoblog (because VW’s media site is weird)]
Fiat 124 Spider priced at $24,995
Nearly 50 years after the original won the hearts of many, the Fiat 124 Spider is officially back and it now has a price tag. Confirmed pricing was revealed and it has the base 124 Spider Classica starting at $24,995, the well-equipped Lusso at $27,495, and the sportier Abarth (shown above) at $28,195. In standard form at least, Italian styling and a turbocharged engine only requires an extra $800 over the base Mazda MX-5 it shares a chassis with. In top trim, however, the Mazda is actually bit more expensive when comparing the Grand Touring MX-5 at $30,000 to the 124 Abarth at $28,195.
But nevertheless, the 124 Spider looks to be a great package for the money. The Classica comes standard with sixteen-inch wheels, premium cloth seats, halogen headlamps, some other stuff, and a 160 horsepower/184 lb.-ft. of torque 1.4-liter turbo four-cylinder engine. The Lusso shares the same engine but more luxury features like seventeen-inch wheels, silver-painted exterior trim, heated leather seats, piano black interior trim, and leatherette wrapping on the instrument panel. The Abarth adds an extra five horsepower, Bilstein suspension, mechanical limited-slip differential, front strut tower brace, Gun Metal exterior trim, a stripe for added power, Brembo brakes, and Recaro seats. A manual transmission is standard on all models but an automatic can be added for about $1,400.
Fiat is doing something special for the first 124 cars that enter US soil. Those cars will be offered as a limited-edition Prime Edizione Lusso starting at $35,000. That nets a special numbered plaque, exclusive Azzurro Italia (blue) paint, Saddle brown leather seats, a matching blue leather bag, special journal and a special pen (because reasons), and a poster of the original design illustration.
The all-new Fiat 124 Spider will be available in US showrooms this summer.
[Source: Fiat Chrysler America]
What’s your automotive news?
That’s all I’ve got for you this week, so now it’s your turn. If you saw anything, fixed something, broke everything, or otherwise did anything even remotely car related that you want to share with your fellow hoon, sound off in the comments.
Have a good weekend.
[Image © 2016 Hooniverse/Greg Kachadurian]