Packing a high-tech turbocharged 2.0 liter four-cylinder engine delivering 265-horsepower, the Audi TTS Roadster drives like it’s on rails and looks downright sexy. It looks so good in face, we wanted to share before we had the time to compile our full review. Enjoy the early Road Test Gallery and look for our Road Test soon.
2009 Audi TTS Roadster
Engine: Turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder
Power output: 265-horsepower @ 6,000rpm – 258 lb-ft torque @ 2,500rpm-5,000rpm
Transmission: 6-speed dual-clutch gearbox w/sequential shift control & paddle shifters
Powertrain: Audi’s Quattro AWD, including a Haldex electronic center differential & Hypoid gear front/rear differentials
Curb weight: 3,373 lbs
Photographer: Zane Merva
There’s one primary thing a convertible needs to do – look good. If it doesn’t look good, it’s not going to make you look good and what’s the point? After all, deep down, nobody buys a convertible because they are introverted yet worship the sun. Drop the top on a convertible and it’s the picture of Dorian Gray: you’re 20 lbs. lighter, 10 years younger and 30 percent more optimistic about life in general.
The 2009 Infiniti G37 does supremely well from that perspective. This hardtop convertible excels at drawing attention to you in the form of unsolicited praise for its beauty (even from a cop walking the beat). Plus, this “magic car” plastered an ear-to-ear smile on my four-year-old daughter as we went for a top-down cruise on a sunny Saturday afternoon.
Her happiness almost made me overcome my complaints about this car in terms of its major design flaw: it wasn’t built as a convertible. Basically, Infiniti put a hardtop convertible on its brilliant G37 coupe and called it a day.
It’s a beautiful thing to watch the three-piece roof close quickly as it tucks away into the trunk. That is until you try to use the trunk and discover it has less storage space than the glove compartment. The G37 comes with an optional wind deflector. If you decide not to use it, there’s no room for it in the trunk. So, you’re stuck with it in the backseat, which is the G37’s true trunk.
Now, other hard-top convertibles have compromised space in their trunks, but not as badly as the G37. It’s a deal breaker if you’re in the market for a convertible that can actually seat three or four for a weekend getaway. However, if you’re an Empty Nester with neither kids nor college payments to worry about, get thee to an Infiniti dealer and check out this all-new G37.
It’s a great coupe on a whole bunch of levels. As mentioned, it’s eye candy, which is always nice. No price is available on this model yet, because it doesn’t go on sale until June. (The model loaned to me for a week by Infiniti was a pre-production G37 but I could detect no problems with it.) I would ballpark this convertible starting at around $40,000 before options are thrown in.
The interior is hard to beat and is first class all the way. The G convertible’s interior includes standard leather-appointed seating, an available Bose Open Air Sound System that dynamically changes equalization based on outside noise, top position and vehicle speed, an adaptive dual zone climate control system that adjusts fan speed in accordance to top position and vehicle speed, and available climate-controlled seats that provide both heating and cooling functions. (Trust me, you’ll love that cooling function on hot summer days.)
A power walk-in device with position memory provides easy access to the second row seats (the front seats move forward automatically at the touch of a button to allow passengers into the rear seats). An available rear wind deflector helps reduce wind turbulence when the top is down. Remember, though, only the tiniest of creatures can fit in the back and there’s no place to store that wind deflector when it’s not in use and the top is down.
Every 2009 G Convertible comes equipped with a standard 3.7-liter VQ-series V6 rated at 325 horsepower. The engine is mated to either an electronically controlled 7-speed automatic transmission with available magnesium paddle shifters or a responsive close-ratio 6-speed manual transmission. The G37S Convertible Sport 6MT adds sport-tuned steering and larger sport brakes, along with 19-inch aluminum-alloy wheels and W-rated performance tires.
The G37 I drove came with the six-speed manual transmission. Frankly, from what I’ve read, (and this could be considered heresy among automotive journalists) I think I would have enjoyed the automatic transmission more in the long run. The manual transmission is best left to enthusiastic drivers because it requires an emphatic stomp on the accelerator to get up and go. If you’re idea of fun is ambling along back roads, opt for the automatic.
According to Infiniti, the convertible, with the six-speed manual transmission, averages 16 mpg city and 24 mpg highway and runs on premium fuel (as will the convertible). But what’s a few more pennies at the pump when you look this good behind the wheel? Official EPA numbers have not been published on the government website yet.
(Questions and comments about this review and other automotive concerns can be e-mailed to [email protected] All queries are answered.)
Wheelbase: 112.2 inches
Length: 183.3 inches
Width: 72.9 inches
Height: 55.1 inches
Curb weight: 4101 lbs.
Engine: 3.7-liter, V6
Horsepower: 325 @ 7000 rpm
Torque: 267 @ 5200 rpm
EPA estimated mpg city/highway: 16/24
Base price: $43,900 (est.)
As-tested price: $48,190 (est.)
Also consider: (a comparative vehicle) Audi S4, BMW 3 series, Mercedes Benz CLK Class
Awkwardly styled, the Sebring Convertible is the Pat Boone of automobiles – it hits the notes, but there’s no soul in its singing. The convertible does look slicker than the standard Sebring sedan and its hunchy shape, but the hood is still too short and the retractable hardtop’s roofline still doesn’t look quite right. Maybe it’s because of the high trunk out back? The roof looks like it was plopped on, Automoblox-style.
There are some angles where the Sebring looks good. Catch it in the right light, and all those strakes and character lines manipulate the reflections just so. It doesn’t happen often, but the right shading down that strong Chrysler family swage in the body side will have you exclaiming “wow, if you stand here, close one eye, and squint, it actually looks good. If you can ignore the strakes in the hood.”
Middle management pencil pushers will focus on the spec sheet and convince themselves that the Sebring offers much of what you can find in the BMW 3 series for a lot less. It makes its case on paper, initially. Standard four cylinder power can be upgraded to either a 2.7 liter or 3.5 liter V6, big alloy rims conceal four wheel disc brakes bolted to a four wheel independent suspension, an available MyGig system bundling navigation and multimedia together with a LCD in the dash, leather seating, power folding hardtop, it all sounds very nice, though the price can scrape high into the 30s.
Upon first setting eyes on the Sebring, the reaction to the price goes from a shrug to “are they on drugs?” In Chrysler’s defense, the good people at the Sterling Heights plant have solidly screwed all the pieces together, the Sebring Touring we tried was well-assembled. The fine construction job only goes so far when the pieces aren’t very good. While the outside has to deal with being generally ungainly, the interior is molded from plastic so cheap it’d make a milk jug blush. Door and dash panels are large swaths of injection molded cheapness. Surface textures are off-putting, and most everything is rock hard to the touch.
The Touring wore seats that were generally comfortable and attractive with two shades of leather and contrasting stitching. The dashboard’s design appears more disjointed in pictures than it comes off in practice, though the attempt to dress things up with featureless expanses of silver colored plastic again screams cheap. A redesign isn’t really what’s needed, just new molds that will impart some high quality surface finishes so the HVAC controls don’t have to float in limbo. It’s easy to sit back and call for millions of dollars in molds and materials upgrades, but that’s what this car needs.
Actually, the Sebring needs one last thing: new engines. We’re astounded you can even get a four cylinder in the Sebring, even the 2.7 liter V6 feels inadequate. Chrysler’s Phoenix engines are slated to hit the production stream for the 2010 model year, and we hope they’re as good as promised so the wheezing, braying sixes Chrysler now has can go to the grave.
It’s good at what it does; normal adults fit in all the seats, front and rear, and the trunk is nice and big, useful even when the top is down. Given the exterior size, the interior feels a little more intimate than you’d first expect, though, and the trunklid rises on very stiff struts yet has no grab handle, making closing difficult. The Touring comes well equipped and is solid on the road, but the price is unforgivable. Chrysler wants BMW money for the Sebring, but there’s a big difference between the two. The BMW drives with aplomb, while the Sebring drives like a bomb. Not entirely, but its limits are low, easily pushing the Turanzas into abuse territory and there’s not much feedback from the helm.
For a car that doesn’t purport to be sporty (never mind what Touring badging implies), the Sebring hits all the right notes to satisfy the likes of Michael Scott, and it will please the audience that’s always bought Chrysler convertibles. It is nice to have a convertible with a useable trunk, and the retractable hardtop makes it possible to have a no compromises closed car when the weather doesn’t support top-down motoring. It’s not a cracking good bargain, but choices are limited when it comes to commodious domestic-branded droptops, and for that, we can hope that the Sebring goes to finishing school and sticks around.