Fashion in the Big Apple: 2006 New York International Auto show

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April 12, 2006

By: Matt Daniels

The New York International Auto Show (NYIAS) may not be the largest North American auto show nor does it receive the most international publicity, but it is an important show for manufactures. The greater New York area is an enormous market and trends that originate here can and will spread easily across the entire nation. Audi in particular has chosen this show to launch new models on North American soil; the allroad quattro, B6 A4 lineup, RS6 and the redesigned A6 all made their first appearances here in recent years. This year was of course no exception.

The big news from New York was the arrival of the all-new Audi TT Coupe. Having made its world debut only six days ago in a rather conservative unveiling in Berlin, Audi of America chose a more chic entrance for the TT. New York City is clearly known for its fashion and design trends. Audi took advantage of this reputation by partnering with acclaimed fashion designer Doo.Ri Chung and Supermodel Tajana Patitz to provide a link between fashion and automotive design.

A fashion runway was set up in the middle of Audi’s booth and after an introduction from Audi of America’s Vice President Johan de Nysschen, Doo.Ri Chung showcased a number of pieces from her spring collection. As the last model left the runway the true star of the show finally made its appearance. The rear curtain parted and the all-new TT began its “stroll” down the runway. The model was a 2.0 front track and it arrived from Germany late Monday. In fact, it was one of the TT’s that was shown at the world debut in Berlin last week.

Audi announced the TT Coupe will be available for sale in North America in the spring of 2007 as a 2008 model. By that time the roadster version will have also made its world debut and will be available shortly after the Coupe.

No new information about the TT Coupe was released with the press launch and North American technical details are still being finalized at this time. What we do know, of course, is that the new TT Coupe will be released with Audi’s versatile 2.0T and 3.2 engines. The 2.0 model will be available in front-wheel drive, like its predecessor upon its debut in 1999, but we should expect to see quattro with the 2.0 at a later date.

3.2-equipped V6 models will come standard with quattro. Both models will benefit from a six-speed manual transmission as the standard offering or the optional DSG automatic, now called S tronic. North American specific pricing for the new TT isn’t available, but we can expect to see a slight increase over the current model.

Our first impressions of the new TT are extremely positive. While it has grown in every dimension, has adopted the corporate single frame grille and has more angular lines, it is still easily recognized as the Audi TT. On the inside the design has evolved in many ways as well. The center console is angled toward the driver and Audi’s MMI interface is included as standard equipment.

We were sad to see that many of the solid aluminum trim pieces didn’t make the cut for the new model, being replaced by “aluminum-look” knobs and controls instead. There are a number of aluminum accents in the interior, but not as well executed as the predecessor. In our opinion the real aluminum trim pieces and other details made the interior of the TT truly unique in the Audi lineup. That said, however, the new interior is a little more user friendly and also allows for the use of Audi’s MMI and a navigation system. It is a nice evolution of the outgoing model – even if it’s not quite as unique as the current model.

The TT Coupe wasn’t the only Audi news the 2006 NYIAS. A big (and unexpected) announcement was the base price of $66,000 for the Audi RS4 which is actually a few thousand less than we had all expected. With a $2100 gas guzzler tax and $720 destination price, the actual cost will be $68,320. Only one option package will be available: the $4500 Premium Package consisting of memory seats and mirrors, auto dimming mirrors, power rear sunshade, manual rear sun shades, Homelink and a DVD navigation system. Rear side airbags will be available for $350. No cost options are 18” wheels and replacing the carbon fiber interior trim with aluminum, piano black or wood trim.

The redesigned A4 and S4 Cabriolets, which were shown at the Frankfurt show last September, also made their first appearances here. The most notable change is that they now sport the brand’s signature single frame grilles. The S4 Cabriolet also gets slightly different bodywork than the A4 Cabriolet, with larger air intakes, unique grille treatment and “V8” badges on the front quarter panel. Engine choices mirror those of their sedan and Avant counterparts – the 2.0T and 3.2 V6 engines for the A4 Cab and the same 340hp V8 for the S4 Cab. Pricing was not announced on these new models, but it should be in line with the current models.

If that wasn’t enough for Audi’s new models there was also a new S8 on display and while it was not on the booth floor during the press conference, we’re told that the new S6 was also going to be displayed. North American information was not released on either of these models.

So while it may not be the biggest or well-known show, Audi made a big splash this year in New York. With five soon-to-be-selling models being shown there was an abundance of Audi eye candy. We’re looking forward to the break in the auto show season so we can catch up on driving all of these exciting new models.

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