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Cooley On Cars
2016 Audi TT Roadster: All digital, all driver (CNET On Cars, Episode 77)Audi's third-generation TT gets it right, making diesels clean and does anything scare teens behind the wheel?
New Audi TT, pocket full of high tech fun. Making Diesels clean, no really! Why black boxes don't need to be required in cars. It's time to check the tech. We see cars differently. We love them on the road and under the hood, but we also check the tech. And are known for telling it like it is. Ugly is included at no extra cost. [MUSIC] The good, the bad, the bottom line. This is cnet On Cars. [MUSIC] Welcome to The CNet on cars, a show about high-tech cars and modern driving. I'm Brian Cooley. Well, you may have noticed Audi's not stingy about pushing some of its best tech into it's more affordable and smaller cars and the third generation TT is no exception. Drive train is dramatically improved, styling, as you can see, is quite different Virtual cockpit is getting a lot of buzz around the industry and it comes in roadster and coop forms of which we got the former, so let's get it on the road and check the stats. The Audi T T once refered to a bit smirkingly as this little lady bug of a thing among sports car purists not anymore this third generation gets an awful lot of things right and puts an edge on the product technologically, on the road, and to the eye. [SOUND] Audi was kind of sneaky with this one. Back in January 2014 we got an early look at what would be the style of the new TT, but it was in a concept mini electric station wagon. The front clip though arrived almost unchanged for this new car. And I got to say, it's the handsomest TT yet in three generations and unlike a lot of Generation update. This one's dimensions don't meaningfully change anywhere. Length, width, height, even weight, all about the same as the outgoing car. [MUSIC] We have a roadster with a cloth top, there's also a coupe that has some little tiny back seats in there, our car instead, where they back seats would go is where the top does go. That coupe by the way can also be had. As a hotter performance TTS, the Roadster doesn't come that way. [MUSIC] Your first reaction when you get in the new TT is where did everything go? It looks like we're back in the 60s. It's a blank dash with some vents. That's because the star of the show is the virtual cockpit over there in front of the driver. That's a 12.3 inch virtual all LCD instrument panel. The gauges are virtual and they can either be full front and center like you see or, with a click of a button, they move backstage and you can go full map. For example. Pretty impressive. Driving all this is a Quad-Core NVIDIA GPU, and they've added a couple of new, interesting buttons on the wheel. Those get you into submenus. Now one of the first thing your passengers are gonna say is, wait a minute, where's my ability to control stuff? You actually can see That screen pretty well from here. But it's far from optimal. This is clearly not a car where the passenger's supposed to be fussing with stuff, but instead hanging on for dear life. And of course you've got your MMI controls down here. Excellent voice. Command, touch bad on top of the knob. This is all pretty standard Audi stuff, as is the 4G LTE connection that powers all this, including an excellent online search and the ability to go photorealistic on the maps at certain elevation levels. The other interesting thing about cabin craft that Audi has done here is to get rid of your traditional bank of HDAC controls and instead embed everything in the knobs on the vents. Five vents, five knobs. The outer ones control your seat climate and heating, and these other ones handle temperature and fan and airflow direction. It's super clear, fast to use nice system. And blessedly, Audi's dumped the MBI, the proprietary multi-device interface and now uses good old USB. A 16TT is powered by a 2 liter inline-4. Turbo charged and direct injected, of course. 220 horse, that's up 9 from last year. 258 pound feet of torque, that's the same as last year. One choice of a gearbox in the US, a six speed, dual clutch, automated manual. No six speed manual available here. And all wheel drive, Quattro of course. 0 to 60 happens in 5.6 seconds. Slightly quicker if you get the Coupe. Faster still if you get the Coupe TT/S. Our car weighs about 3400 pounds, including that rag top mechanism. It does about 26 average, 30 on the highway. [MUSIC] Underway, three words in this new GT, light, bright and tight. That's what it feels like in terms of power train, in terms of openness and in terms of perceived weight on the ground. [MUSIC] All of that light late perception is from power that comes on with almost no turbo lag. I really have to salute them for really doin a good job on that. Especially when it's a two liter four and it's sitting under that turbo. So, there's not a lot to fall back on but the power it comes on is very effortless. And when it does come on it flows into one of the fastest dual collection gear boxes out there. Now, we've experienced this gearbox before and it is a good one. But, what's so great about it are the lightening fast shifts when you press it, and the extremely good Good table manners when you don't. We've seen Audi Drive Select before. This, I believe, it's the first time when it can also affect the logic of the quattro All Wheel Drive System. For example, in dynamic mode which is sport mode, it can tell the quattro system to behave with a bias toward the rear wheels by default. One of my favorite enginery accomplishments you can't see and that is this sort of invisible tub that I'm sitting in formed by the windshield, the header, and this Power wind buffer behind me. When that's up and everything else is up behind me, you've got a very isolated climate controlled scenario inside of here. It's augmented by these little neck heaters back here on these optional port seats. Over you neck. Bottom line is you're going to love fall evenings on the road, top down in this car. The top goes up and down quickly, about ten seconds either direction and truck space doesn't vary. It remains smallish no matter where the top is. But at least you know what to expect. We're going to start about 46,400 for a TT Roadster. By the time I add some tech, those nice neck heating seats, and a surprisingly affordable B&O audio option I'm somewhere in the low 52 range. The cabin tech is hard to beat in this car, though your passenger may say otherwise. The ride handling and the power and the delivery and the whole light bright tight way it drives are outstanding. I love the looks now. There's not much to dislike about the new TT. [SOUND] Find our full road test review on that 16 TT with the drop top at cars.cnet.com. Well sometimes it seems like almost nothing will scare a teen out of distracted driving, except, dying, that does it. and yet as soon as they tell you that, they turn right away and pick up their phone while they're behind the wheel. We've got some new insights for into that [UNKNOWN] for the smarter driver when cnet on cars returned. [MUSIC] [BLANK_AUDIO] [MUSIC] The intersection of driving inexperience and obsession with mobile text is a dangerous place to be. Chloe watch out! And that's exactly where you'll find many teen drivers. Raise your right hand if you've ever been distracted in your car. Everybody, right? A brand new State Farm commissioned survey of 1,000 drivers aged 16 to 19 found they both fully understand the dangers of distracted driving and do it. Texting is number one in the world of cognitive dissonance. 95% of teens say yes it distracts them from driving And forty four percent still do it anyway. Watching videos behind the wheel came in number one, in terms of how distracting teens acknowledged it was. 15% said they still do it. Talking with a passenger was, of course, almost universal. And 49% of teens realize that, that too, is a form of distraction. Red lights are seen as a sanctuary by our teen drivers. Though the law doesn't typically distinguish that from any other part of driving. And that statistic is no comfort if you're the one behind a teen texting madly as that fresh green light ages. This teen panel reported deterrents to distracted driving come in two main forms, number one, not wanting to crash. And about half that many, by the way, say they know someone who did have an accident. While driving distracted. And number two, not wanting to get busted. By the way, only 6% say having a safe driving contract with their parents was a deterrent. [NOISE] Teens may not be envision a world where they put the phone down, As much as one where they don't need to. The vast majority believe that crash avoidance tech, will prevent crashes, by distracted drivers. It pays to double check your teenage drivers connection between what they know, and what they do. Welcome back to CNET on cars, coming to you from our home at the Mount Ten Motor Club just north of the Golden Gate bridge. What is VW gonna do for these 430,000 cars? Will this VW admission cheat scandal has a lot of people asking if diesels ever really can be clean without all kinds of complicated, expensive gear like urea injection Action system, that add complexity and cost to the car. VW said they were doing it without that expensive complicated gear. See how clean it is. Of course, they were lying. So now we're going to do a car tech 101 to explain the current state of the art and the potential future State of the art of cleaning up diesel. [MUSIC] For ages, [UNKNOWN] as slow, and more noticeably filthy, automotive diesel engines when in for a big makeover over the last Couple of decades. Common rail injection is a form of fuel injection that can spritz diesel into the cylinders at very high PSI in very precisely controlled bursts. That kind of control of the amount of fuel and how often it sprays into the cylinder Combined with turbo charging revolutionized both the power output and CO2 emissions coming out of diesel engines starting in the late 90s. Around 2006 ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel became the norm in the UK, Europe and US. It reduced the dirty sulfur content in diesel fuel from 500 parts per million to 15. Taking that out reduces the energy content in a gallon of fuel slightly but primarily sets that stage for a key pair of cleaning technologies to kick in. Selective catalytic reduction puts a special catalytic converter in a diesel cars exhaust system. Inside that can is sprayed a mist of urea fluid that combines with heat and the special metal surfaces in the catalytic converter for a reaction that scrubs diesel emissions way down in several key areas. The downside of SCR is that you have to add this expensive plumbing to the car's underside and refill the car's supply of urea fluid from time to time. Typically it's 10 to 15,000 mile intervals. Some dealers will do it for you as a courtesy during routine service or you can do it yourself with a bottle of the stuff from Amazon or an auto parts store. It's like adding washer fluid but it's one more thing to fiddle with. The TDI from Volkswagen. Right about now we should have smelled something fishy. VW was meeting stringent new US diesel emission standards from 2009 on Without SCR on most of its diesels. Which seemed like a trick no other car maker could pull off. As we now know, they weren't pulling it off either. These events are deeply troubling. [SOUND] Retrofitting one of these bulky complex SCR exhaust systems and urea tanks To the effect that TDI, VW's and Audi's out there is one way VW may have to address the current cars that are on the road and violating emission standards. But what if diesel exhaust could be cleaned up, before it's even exhaust. That's what they're working on at the Oakridge National Labs. Where they're developing diesel engine tech that injects fuel into the cylinder early in the combustion cycle. Something which almost defies the definition of a diesel. That along with a new breed of sensors to manage the fuel timing precisely based on nuanced real-time measurement of cylinder pressure, could be a big breakthrough. The diesel engine is by it's nature a dirty beast, but its fuel flexibility, lovely torque, and high MPG Keeping an important player in combustion auto engines, even if keeping it there requires a constant stream of new cleaning tech. [MUSIC] In a moment, your email. Why you don't find a CVT in a Lamborghini, but a black box in almost every car. When CNET on Cars continues. [MUSIC] [BLANK_AUDIO] [MUSIC] The 570S might be McLaren's new entry level model, but it could be the most important car from Working's finest ever. [NOISE] The 570S is the first car in the McLaren sport series. [NOISE] Attention has gone in to make this a real car you can use everyday. [MUSIC] Buy more from the Xcar team of cnet UK and cnet.com/excar. Welcome back to cnet on cars. I'm Bryan Cooley. This is the part of the show where I take some of your emails. This first one's coming in from Andrew B. Who says, here we are almost over with 2015. When are we going to see black boxes, black box data recorders, required in all vehicles? This is an interesting question, Andrew. Now, I've got a black box right here, as you can see. It is a box. It's not black. This particular one is out of a late model Toyota. It's basically an ABS computer. Many sensors feed into these connectors here, and there's a computer processor or two on the mother board. What makes this a black box, though, is that it records a snapshot of your driving behavior and keeps that at all times. It's a running snapshot, if you will, of Probably about 30 seconds on this one, it could be longer, could be shorter. That's data a lot of folks find are very useful if they investigating a crash, or very unnerving if they are the one whose crash is being investigated. Interestingly, they are not required in the U.S. Nothing in the federal code says that a car has to have a data recorder. That said, Because of all these advanced systems that these cars use today, virtually all the cars sold in the US do have one in there because without that memory, that ability to look back a little bit on what's been happening with the car, a lot of systems like ABS and stability control just can't operate. So they're there for another reason. The other thing about black boxes to know is that they are regulated to some degree by US code. That they have to gather a certain number of data points, I believe it's 15 right now, and structure that data in a certain way. Many cars will harvest far more data points than that, but the Feds only have a say about a small number of them and how they're stored in the car. So if your car has one, the law does say something about what it has to hold. Check your own state laws to find out who has access to the data in your car's black box especially In the event of an accident. Okay, our next question comes in from Zaid M.R., a long time CNET On Cars viewer. He's e-mailed in before. This time he says is it true that turning on the air conditioning while driving at high RPM could cause some of the air conditioning equipment, or plumbing, to rupture? I hear this one a lot, not as much as I used to. But people still ask me, if I turn it on when I'm at high speed and that whole system has to suddenly be engaged like that, is that gonna blow or break something in the AC system? In my experience, I think it's just a myth. People have been snapping their AC on from the off position on the freeway by the millions. Probably daily for decades. And I don't really know that I'm aware of a lot A/C failures that happen in that moment. Typically A/C tends to degrade badly. Hoses go bad and tend to leak out the refrigerant. Compressor clutches will go. Compressor internals will wear out, but I think this one's a myth. Maybe there's an A/C technician out there in the audience. Let me know if I'm missing some nuance here. Shoot me an email at OnCars@cnet.com. Okay, our last email in this show comes in from William V who says could you explain briefly the technology behind CVTs, continuously variable transmissions, and why they're not used for more performance cars? He says one would think the ability of a CVT to maintain an ideal engine power band at all times, But make it a perfect gear box for sports, performance, and racing equipment. It absolutely would seem that way William, and I'm with you on that. Being able to keep an engine in that RPM sweetspot is one of the holy grails of performance. But there's a problem, CVTs don't have really strong positive engagement because they are not made up of cogs and teeth. To wait for traditional transmission or really hard locking clutches and torque converters. They're kind of a constant ripping mechanism. As a result they don't handle really high power all that well. That's not where they've found their main role. Though they do maintain the sweet spot in engine but mostly. Economy, not to seek maximum power and torque output. A CVT, as you probably know, is made up of a bunch of pulleys and belts. A variable pulley, a metal steel belt that is able to slide between these varying pulley flanges all the time. That's the nature of its slightly slippery technology. We did a whole episode on transmissions back in May of 2013. It was episode 18 that explains this really well. I'll put a link in the show notes so you don't have to go hunting for it. The show notes for this episode are over at cnetoncars.com. Another issue around CVTs and performance cars Is that they don't sound the same. A care with a CVT tends to be constantly be in about the same rev range, more or less. It doesn't run all the way down and all the way up the way a geared transmission can or could. And therefore it's not going to be very satisfying to the performance driver who likes the sound of running through the gears. In a real transmission. [SOUND] Thanks for watching. Hoped you enjoyed this episode. And you know how we built this show. It's around your comments, questions and interests. And you get those to me via OnCars@cnet.com. I read every one, answer as many as I can. I'll see you next time we check the deck. [MUSIC]