The TT’s stylish body is built on a platform shared with the Audi A3 and VW New Golf, although much modified. All TT’s have standard 16 inch radials and alloy wheels, all-wheel-drive, 5-speed manual transmission, climate control, and leather upholstery. TT prices start at $49,500.
Bold styling, but is it a sports car?
Either you love the new Audi TT or you hate it – it’s that kind of car. The TT’s unconventional curvy bodywork elicits strong responses from observers, most of whom are impressed, and a vocal minority who passionately dislike it.
One thing’s for sure, you won’t mistake an Audi TT for anything else.
The TT is based on the same platform as the VW New Golf and Audi A3, although the platform has been modified to improve handling and to accommodate the standard all-wheel-drive drivetrain. The ‘TT’ designation stands for Tourist Trophy, a race held for touring cars and motorcycles on the Isle of Man from 1905 to 1922. Although Audi never participated in these races, some NSU motorcycles did, and NSU later joined Audi in 1969.
In the U.S. and Europe, TT’s are available with front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive, but for Canada, only the turbocharged all-wheel-drive Coupe model is offered. Priced at $49,500, it’s designed to compete with upscale sports cars like the Mercedes-Benz SLK, BMW Z3 2.8, and possibly the Porsche Boxster and Honda S2000.
The TT has the same turbocharged 1.8 litre 20 valve DOHC four cylinder engine found in the Audi A4 1.8T. This fairly sophisticated powerplant features five valves per cylinder, direct ignition, and electronic throttle control. A five-speed manual transmission is standard, but an automatic transmission is not offered in the TT.
Since the TT has a transversely-mounted engine, Audi had to revise its all-wheel-drive system. The TT has a new electro-hydraulic Haldex differential which is positioned near the rear axle. It’s more compact than the standard Torsen differential, but its function is the same: to transfer torque between the front and rear wheels depending on which has more traction.
Like the regular Quattro system, the TT’s AWD system is virtually invisible to the driver on dry surfaces, but contributes to increased traction on slippery surfaces. A standard electronic differential lock improves traction even more.
The TT’s fully independent suspension consists of front MacPherson gas-charged struts, and rear independent multi-links with coil springs and gas-charged shocks. Also standard on the TT are four wheel disc brakes with ABS and an electronic rear brake pressure regulation system to prevent rear wheel lockup.
Tires are standard 205/55R-16 inch radials mounted on five-spoke alloy wheels – an optional Performance Package offers 225/45YR-17 inch radials and 17 inch alloy wheels as well as xenon high intensity discharge headlights.
Imaginative Interior Design
The TT’s visually-striking interior design shows a lot of design imagination. Generous use of aluminum, stainless steel, and ‘Valcona’ leather trim blends with a prominently circular design theme – circular aluminum trim rings around the dash vents, ventilation dials, gearshift lever, and cupholders, and an indented aluminum ring in the centre of the steering wheel.
In the centre of the dashboard is an aluminum flip-down panel with large ‘TT’ letters that hides the standard 80 watt AM/FM/cassette stereo. In addition, the door handles and glove-box handles are made of aluminum, and the foot pedals are made of stainless steel. The TT’s unique centre tunnel is joined to the dashboard by leather-padded metal struts.
Leather-upholstered front sport seats offer excellent side bolstering, and come with standard seat heaters. The center dash area has unique heater and fan dials that need be turned only a quarter-turn to adjust temperature and fan speed. Interior storage compartments are minimal, consisting of a small glove-box and storage bin. However, there is trunk with 10.8 cubic feet of space – and with the 50/50 split rear seatbacks folded down, there’s 18.6 cubic feet of cargo area – as much as a trunk in a full-size sedan. The TT’s lift-up hatchback allows easy access to the cargo area.
For safety, the TT includes three-point seatbelts with pretensioners and force limiters, and front and side airbags – the side airbags are designed to protect both the head and chest areas, and are built into the front seats. TT’s also have aluminum side-intrusion bars in the doors, strengthened side sills, and a reinforced roof for roll-over protection. Every TT includes a first-aid kit and a bright warning triangle.
The TT’s engine produces a steady, even power progression and is surprisingly quiet, even under hard acceleration. 0 to 100 km/h takes just 7.4 seconds, and the quarter mile takes 16.1 seconds, according to Audi’s performance figures. The engine’s low-end torque is adequate, but there’s no doubt the engine is happier in the higher rev ranges. Turbo boost is progressive and doesn’t create any unwanted torque steer. When cruising on the highway in fifth gear, the engine turns over a relaxed 2600 rpm at 100 km/h.
The standard 5-speed manual shift lever has easy, deliberate throws, but the drivetrain flexes a bit when shifting under hard acceleration. Handling is generally flat and stable, but there is some nose dive under braking. This is due in part to the TT’s 60/40 front/rear weight bias, not as balanced as rear-wheel-drive sports cars which usually have a 50/50 front/rear weight distribution. While the TT may look like a sports car, it’s more of a luxury sporty coupe, in my opinion.
The TT’s seating positions are unusual. The window ledge is relatively high and the arced roof is rather low – I experienced a feeling of mild claustrophobia. Rear three-quarter vision is hampered slightly by the thick C pillars. In addition, you have to be careful not to bump your head on the roof when getting in and out.
The TT is a four-passenger coupe, but the two rear seats have minimal headroom and virtually no legroom, and are difficult to access. This area is more useful as a place to put parcels – or when the split rear seatbacks are folded down, as an extension of the trunk.
All Audi TT’s include standard automatic climate control with pollen filter, leather seats and door inserts, 50/50 split rear seats, AM/FM/cassette, power windows with one-touch up/down operation and ‘pinch protection’, cruise control, power central door locking, anti-theft vehicle alarm, privacy cargo cover, and tie-downs in the cargo area.
An optional Audio Package adds a 175 watt Bose sound system with a six disc CD changer located behind the driver’s seat.
As a distinctive 2+2 sports coupe/hatchback, the TT really stands out from the crowd – but its bold styling creates some compromises in practicality and comfort.