Car reviews - Audi - TT - Coupe range
Packaging, quality, design, hip-hugging seats, performance of 2.0-litre four, communicative steering
Room for improvement
Some tyre roar
21 Nov 2006
By LUC BRITTEN
GoAuto 21/11/2006JUST about all of us have encountered the type of person – and we include politicians in this appraisal - who has managed to carve out a stellar career that has absolutely no bearing on their abilities.
Somehow, they've just managed to fall into the good-luck, charm school and graduated with honors into jobs with six-figure salaries and egos to match.
The rest of us mere mortals are left to marvel at how the stupid folk – and we include all hair types here, not just blondes – are taking over the world.
The same goes for cars.
Some become status symbols or icons way beyond any real, or imagined, abilities on the road.
You only have to look around at some of the classic car auctions this year.
Those old GT Fords and Holdens from the 60s and 70s are now fetching prices way beyond any connection with reality, purely on the merits of their "classic" looks.
Some of them still drive as badly as they did when they came out of the factory. Shockingly heavy steering, pathetic drum brakes, indifferent quality and lumbering V8s that perform well in a straight line but get beaten through the twisty bits by any twin-cam four of the same era.
There's a reason so few of them sold – not only were they expensive, they were horrendous to drive day-to-day!It's weird to acknowledge that today, because only a few hundred or so of these "classics" remain, their small numbers now translates into big dollars.
Which brings us to the Audi TT.
Those who remember the first-generation car understand that it was basically a VW Golf underneath with a very cool, Bauhaus design on top.
It looked fantastic. It was a sportscar. Or so the hype had us believe.
But there was no escaping its bread-and-butter hatchback origins and with only two-doors and minimal rear seat room it was less practical than a Golf.
The TT was a great head-turner but in reality, it was a poser. It was front-wheel drive with a turbocharged 1.8-litre four cylinder and earlier quattro models displayed some tricky handling traits.
Much later, V6 engines arrived, as well as a better rear suspension in the quattro. All redressed the hairdressers' car tag but the TT was still no Porsche chaser.
Now that may have changed.
The second-generation TT still subscribes to the stylish design of the original but is marginally bigger outside and roomier inside without losing the proportions that made the original so good.
Some of the original styling touches are carried over, like the aluminum fuel filler, clam-shell bonnet, aluminum-look interior air vent bezzles and the deep console.
New is the Audi "corporate" front, with its deep single frame radiator grille and eyebrow headlights and wider three-dimensional tail-lights.
Fortunately, the duck's bum rear spoiler of the old car has been ditched in favour of a Porsche Boxster-style electric one that raises above 120km/h and lowers under 80km/h. It can also be electrically raised if you want to pose around town.
The body too is now Audi's space frame aluminum, which is lighter and stronger than the old car. According to Audi the space frame accounts for 69 per cent of the car's body.
The TT uses a mix of aluminium and steel, bonded and riveted just like an aircraft, to deliver an impressively solid car.
Adopting the space frame construction method has also shaved kilos off the car’s weight up to 80kg for the 2.0 FSI and 20kg for the 3.2 V6 quattro.
The move to a lighter weight body has also helped performance. The 2.0 FSI turbo four develops 147kW between 5100rpm and 6000rpm and 280Nm from 1800rpm.
This translates into a zero to 100km/h sprint time of 6.4 seconds in S-tronic form or 6.6 seconds in the manual. Top speed is 240km/h while the car's combined fuel cycle is 7.7L/100km.
The 3.2-litre quad camshaft V6 develops 184kW at 6300rpm and 320Nm between 2500rpm and 3000pm.
As expected, the V6 is a tad quicker, hitting 100km/h in 5.7 seconds and its top speed is 10km/h faster than the four. Its combined average fuel figure is 9.4L/100km.
Other important improvements have been made to the suspension.
The old torsion beam rear end has been dumped in favour of a sophisticated four-link design (there are parallels here because the Golf IV has a four-link design too) and the MacPherson strut front end carries over. Both front and rear tracks are also wider, aiding the car's on-road stance.
The steering is now electro-mechanical and before you all pooh-pooh it Audi has managed to put some meaty feel and feedback into the system. Its commendably good.
So how does it all go on the road?The TT – in either 2.0 FSI or 3.2 V6 guises – can now ditch the hairdressers' tag for good.
The turn-in is crisp, the ride firmish but well managed and the steering is now a complement to the car.
The only issue we had with the suspension was that the low-speed ride could be a tad sharp over some bumps. At higher speeds though, it ironed out all bumps with aplomb.
Another new thing to appear is a magnetic ride damping system, the same as that used in HSV Holdens. We didn't try it but if it's as good as the HSV system it will be worth the extra $3000 on the 2.0 FSI and 3.2 V6.
The entry 2.0 FSI models come with either a slick six-speed manual or a version of the VW DSG auto-manual, which Audi calls S-tronic. The 3.2 quattro uses the S-tronic system as standard.
Both are good and the six-speed is butter-through-knife accurate and the clutch weighting is spot on. Not since the RS4 has a manual been so good.
The 147kW turbo four is an impressive unit. Floor the accelerator and the TT will spin right past the redline in a linear, free-revving fashion. There's barely a hint of torque steer through the front wheels and the car will just sling-shot ahead through traffic.
A bonus is the gruff exhaust note of the four, a point shared with its 3.2 V6 sibling.
Speaking of the V6, the 3.2-litre is crisp, powerful and delivers plenty of urge from low-down the rev range.
Quattro all-wheel drive is a given and apart from pushing the car wider in the corners than the 2.0 FSI, its all-weather safety factor is a huge bonus.
Inside the TT is just as well decked out as its sedan cousins. The standard of fit, finish and quality is very high and the soft red backlit gauges are a welcome Audi feature.
You sit quite low in the new TT. Audi says the front seats are set lower than the old car, while headroom is impressive – even for a 2m-plus passenger. As a 2+2 though, rear seat legroom is for children – or luggage.
The footwells are deep and the cockpit area well laid out. The steering is reach and height adjustable and just about all drivers will find the right driving position in the heavily bolstered sublime sports seats, which have just the right amount of cushion and back support.
The cabin is snug and enthusiasts will appreciate the layout of the controls and how easily the six-speed manual – like the steering wheel paddle shifts the V6 – falls to hand.
So does Audi’s enthusiasm about its newest member of the lineup live up to the hype?If our initial drive is any guide, the TT finally puts style and function on an equal footing.
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