For 2006, the Audi TT is unchanged, save for a new red interior colour on the coupe, and satellite radio preparation.

Named for the Tourist Trophy auto race first held on the Isle of Man in 1905, the TT is available as the 225 or 250, the model names referring to the horsepower. The 225 carries a 1.8-litre turbocharged four-cylinder, while the 250 uses a 3.2-litre six-cylinder. The 225 comes with a six-speed manual transmission; the 250 is mated exclusively to a Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG), a revolutionary design adapted from Audi’s Le Mans racecars. It’s fully automatic in Drive, but can be shifted through wheel-mounted paddles; the transmission’s performance is light-years ahead of most manual-mode systems, shifting with split-second precision and no interruption of power. A “Launch Mode” feature offers maximum acceleration from standstill.

Save for their engine and transmission differences, the 225 and 250 coupe are similarly-equipped, with anti-lock brakes, 17-inch alloy wheels with summer performance tires, high-pressure headlight washers, heated windshield washer nozzles, aluminum fuel filler door, rear spoiler, self-leveling Xenon headlights, fog lights, power windows, cruise control, power heated mirrors, power locks with keyless entry, CD player with six speakers and automatic climate control.

The 225 and 250 roadsters share the coupe’s features, but add a power glass rear windscreen, two fixed roll bars, and power folding top with heated rear window. Because of the space needed to fold the top, the roadster holds two people to the coupe’s four-seater configuration.

Extremely attractive, the TT coupe features a firm but not uncomfortable ride, tight suspension, lively performance and enough room for the folks up front, although rear-seat passengers will not be happy with the cramped quarters. The 3.2-litre ups the sports car factor, and the DSG is nothing short of amazing in its precision.

Revolutionary when it first arrived, the TT is still a stunning vehicle, but it has some serious competition, including the Nissan 350Z roadster and the BMW Z4. Although they’re not normally considered anywhere remotely near the Audi’s range, the redesigned Mazda MX-5 Miata and the Pontiac Solstice also offer top-down exhilaration and powerful styling for less than half the Audi’s price.

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