2015 Audi TT

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Review: 2008 Audi TT

This 2008 review is representative of model years 2008 to 2015.
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
Rating: 8

Bottom Line:

Audi's new TT sports coupe is larger and more refined, with a more imposing appearance.
Pros:
  • Larger
  • Bolder styling
  • Available all-wheel drive
Cons:
  • Back seat not for adults
  • Typical small sporty coupe ride
  • Pricey options

Audi skips the 2007 model year for its TT coupe to introduce its redesigned 2008 TT. The new model is larger and racier looking, but loses some of the intimate charm of the first-generation TT.

The first TT arrived as a 1999 model with the visual charm of the iconic 1950-65 Porsche 356. The new TT was styled by Walter de'Silva, who heads the Audi and Lamborghini styling departments. He clearly wanted to break away considerably from the old TT design, while retaining somewhat of a family resemblance to it.

The new TT is initially being sold as a front- or all-wheel-drive hatchback coupe. A roadster follows later this year. It's nearly identical to the coupe, but has some of the old TT's snub-nose look.

Audi's larger new grille, being put on all its models, looks oversized on the new TT coupe. It looks considerably different than its predecessor and appears sleeker and longer than its additional 5.4 inches of length might suggest. The new car also is 3.1 inches wider and a little higher. And there are wider tracks for more stabililty.

Desirable All-Wheel Drive
Standard are 17-inch wheels, while 18-inchers are optional. The suspension layout has been redeveloped and retuned. The result is fairly sharp handling, although this nose-heavy car with the standard front-wheel-drive setup lacks the ultimate balance of a rear-wheel-drive sports coupe. You'll notice that if it's driven hard through curves. The all-wheel-drive setup evens out handling a lot by providing better traction.

Stopping power with newly developed disc brakes is nearly as good as that of a Porsche, which says a lot, and the brake pedal has a linear action.

Handling and economy are helped by the TT's Audi Space Frame, a groundbreaking aluminum technology that combined aluminum and steel for the first time. It actually was developed by Audi in the 1990s for its top-line A8 sedan, but has never really been appreciated by most Americans.

The first-generation TT was quick, with a tight cockpit, sports car handling and a rough ride. The 2008 coupe no longer looks chunky, with flared fenders and an arched roof.

Head Bumps
However, that roof makes it impossible for adults to sit in the rear without bumping heads on the hatchback glass.

The wheelbase is a few inches longer, but still is short at 97.2 inches. That wheelbase and the sports suspension give the car a jumpy ride on some freeways and a rather bumpy one on mediocre city/suburban streets.

The beltline is high and occupants sit low. That means getting in or out of the front seat calls for agility. Entering or leaving the back seat is best left to toddlers or small pets. Long doors are awkward in tight spots.

The front seat area no longer feels cramped with the larger dimensions, despite a console that consumes lots of space. Bucket seats provide excellent support.

Offbeat Steering Wheel Design
Gauges can be easily read in the upscale interior. But the steering wheel looks and feels offbeat because it's squared off at the bottom instead of being perfectly round. The ignition switch is almost buried on the steering column.

Sound system controls are just adequately sized, but climate controls are large. Doors have storage pockets, but front cupholders are too far back on the console for a natural reach.

The standard $34,800 TT front-wheel-drive coupe comes with a sophisticated turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that produces 200 horsepower but feels more potent because of its lengthy torque curve.

The engine works with Audi's "S tronic" dual-clutch gearbox, a clutchless sequential manual transmission that allows fast manual shifts by taping the gear selector lever or using shift paddles behind the wheel.

Available V6
The new TT also is available with a 3.2-liter V6 with 250 horsepower and all-wheel drive. It's priced at $41,500 with a conventional 6-speed manual transmission and light, long-throw clutch. It also can be had with all-wheel drive and the S tronic gearbox for $42,900.

My test TT coupe had the docile V6 and 6-speed manual and was very fast during merging and passing on freeways and highways.

Quick Acceleration
The 2.0-liter TT does 0-60 mph in 6.1 seconds, while the V6 version hits 60 in 5.3 seconds with the S tronic and in 5.5 seconds with the 6-speed gearbox. Top speed of all TTs is electronically limited to 130 mph.

Fuel economy of the coupe with the 2.0-liter engine and S tronic is an estimated 23 mpg in the city and 31 on highways. Premium fuel is recommended, but regular grade fuel can be used for what Audi calls a slight performance loss.

With the V6, which calls for premium gasoline, the figures are 17 and 24 with the manual and 18 and 24 with the S tronic.

The power steering is quick. Some may feel it's overly light in town, but it firms up at highway speeds because it's an electro-mechanic unit with speed-dependent power assistance.

Comprehensive Options
While well-equipped, the TT has a comprehensive list of options. They include a $1,400 Magnetic Ride system that adds electronically controlled shock absorbers that adjust in milliseconds to driver input for "a sporty or comfortable" ride.

Also available are 18-inch (vs. standard 17-inch) wheels and a $1,950 DVD-based navigation system. A $1,100 Enhanced Interior Package adds Nappa leather-covered upholstery, door trim, armrest and hand brake lever.

An upscale sound system and SIRIUS Satellite Radio are in a $1,000 package. And Xenon-plus headlights with an adaptive light cornering function to see better around curves costs $800. An iPod Interface is $250.

Large Cargo Area
There's a large rear hatch and a high cargo opening, but that opening's edge has a protective plastic lip to prevent scratches to luggage and other objects. The cargo area is long and low. Rear seatbacks flip forward and sit flat to appreciably enlarge that area.

The outside hood release is easily found without lots of finger-pinching groping, which isn't the case with many cars. And the oil dipstick—usually the most looked-for underhood item—is directly in front of the engine.

The TT coupe is expensive, especially with the V6 and options, but is more refined and comfortable than its predecessor. It's easily a much better car.

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BB02 - 8/27/2014 2:25:38 AM