MPUMALANGA, South Africa – Audi has showcased its latest TT to the eager South African motoring media and the car proved superb – the designated test route: absolutely abysmal.
If you need another example of our government turning a blind eye to the slipping creature comforts we have grown up to appreciate and expect as ratepayers.
Might I mention stable electricity, safe drinking water, a parliament that faces up to its responsibilities and not scrapping on TV, then I must add to that growing list the generally poor state of the roads in and around the White River/Hazyview/Graskop/Sabie areas of Mpumalanga.
MOTORCYCLISTS, TAKE CARE!
This area, in my opinion, is actually unsafe for road users – even during daylight – due to the huge potholes that more than once actually straddled right across the road.
Motorcyclists would be especially vulnerable, I’d imagine. Stay away, guys/girls…!
I’m talking about really deep potholes, broken-up road edges and lifted tar – almost as high as a tsunami, if you know what I mean – found around some of the once gorgeous sweeping bends found in the areas mentioned above.
IMAGE GALLERY: 2015 Audi TT
Again, many are so well hidden you are right on top of them and would undoubtedly prove wheel/suspension breakers at the very least if you hit them, life threatening at worst.
Not so many years ago (maybe as little as five) this picturesque area of South Africa, with the Kruger National Park as a world-class backdrop, was often singled out as the chosen venue/playground for global motorcycle manufacturers who would rush here to showcase their latest machinery to the world’s news media because the roads were in superb condition – arguably better than most found in Europe.
FIRST LOOK: 2015 Audi TT
South Africa could also virtually guarantee ideal weather; there were fewer cars on the roads (well, that and a distinct lack of traffic cops!)
Sadly Honda, Suzuki, Yamaha etc no longer consider Mpumalanga as a motorcycle product launch venue – and I don’t think Audi (which owns Ducati) will either, if I’ve got my facts right.
And that’s a shame.
On a more positive note I can tell you that this, the third generation Audi TT, is a real barnstormer. Originally designed as a concept car, it has matured in 17 years into a sports car that has really done well for the company.
Globally, in 2014, Audi sold 1.7-million cars – 578 932 of them in China, its biggest market, and by comparison a not-too-shabby 18 500 here in South Africa.
RAPID COMPACT COUPE
We rank 16th in world sales – two places above Austria and the Netherlands – with TT selling 4811 cars since being made available for local consumption.
Yeah, yeah, but what’s it like to drive? OK, OK…
A rapid compact sports coupe, reasonably roomy for the front occupants, rattle-free – and oozing build quality – as we have come to expect from this German manufacturer, with pricing starting at R558 000 (2.0T, front-wheel drive).
The only transmission offering is a six-speed dual-clutch S tronic box that works really well. Forget manual changing of the cogs – that’s so last year! The TT has a multi-function, kart-like steering wheel with paddles for changing up when in a hurry. Down the ’box, on the left, upshift on right.
But there’s an even bigger leap to be found within the TT: a ‘virtual cockpit’ that cleverly combines the instrument cluster and the entertainment screen (satnav, audio system, phone, radio and media menus), all combining to form one huge central digital unit (31cm in size).
TELL THE DIFFERENCE?
Under the bonnet there’s a 169kW/370Nm (same motor fitted to two and all-wheels drive (quattro) models. I alluded earlier to the TT being rapid: the all-important traffic-light grand prix takes only 5.9sec to 100km/h) by which time you would need to be checking the road very carefully for potholes ahead if you happen to be in Mpumalanga.
Those lucky folk who live in the Western Cape shouldn’t have any fears in this direction!
To be candid I found it very hard to discern between the FWD version and the quattro during the afternoon run afforded me by Audi and as such would have to think long and hard about spending close to R95 000 for the luxury of quattro.
But I can tell you that both models follow the road like a barracuda after a shoal of sardines – and so they should with their 17” wheels shod with 225/50 tyres. Korean Hankook tyres being the slightly surprising choice of Audi South Africa.
Creature comforts across the coupe range (roadsters may be considered for the SA market if the demand develops include xenon headlights, keyless entry, Audi drive select, Bluetooth interface (two USB ports), lights/rain sensors, Alcantara upholstery, sports seats, digital aircon and cruise control.
Audi TT Coupe 2.0T FSI S-tronic - R 558 000
Audi TT Coupe 2.0T FSI quattro S tronic - R 642 000
The cars are sold with a five-year or 100 000km Audi Freeway Plan.
SHARPER, NEATER, CLEANER LINES: Audi's 2015 TT comes to South Africa in two- or all-wheel-drive with thoughts of a convertible in the future. Image: Audi