• Jul 23rd 2009 at 11:55AM
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2009 Audi TTS – Click above for high-res image gallery

The Audi TT is a highly entertaining package -- good looks, great personality, terrific cabin feel, solid handling and a good price. Yet with the TTS here and the TT-RS on the way (well, not for us Americans, but...), the TT becomes something like The Girl Next Door who you just found out has two hotter siblings. That doesn't mean you have to stop loving The Girl Next Door... but you're eyes may have a tendency to wander. Autoblog spent a week with the middle sister who was out to steal our hearts with an upgraded turbocharged engine, brilliant all-wheel drive and a flamboyant paint job. Follow the jump to find out if she kept our attention.

Photos Copyright ©2009 Jonathon R. Ramsey / Weblogs, Inc.

Choosing the S version of any Audi is like ordering a large combo meal – it avails you of more of everything. Your grand hunger for speed, handling and details is meant to be sated by more horses, a better suspension and sharpened bodywork. The TTS addresses this under the hood by adding dollop of forced-induction goodness to the already turbocharged 2.0T FSI engine, juicing its numbers by 65 hp and 51 lb-ft of torque over the base TT for a total of 265 hp @ 6,000 RPM and 258 lb-ft @ 2,500 RPM. The 3.2-liter V6 TT is also down, by 15 hp and 22 lb-ft. Outside, the TT S lords its burliness over both its staid siblings with an angrier front fascia, rear skirts and rocker panels, chrome mirror accents and 18-inch split-spoke wheels.

If all of that proves insufficient, you can dress the car in Solar Orange, or, as we preferred to call it, Orange Julius. And there's nothing wrong with that... if that's what you like.

We're still not sure which came first: the Metrosexual or the TT.
But the performance – and color – issues aren't the only hurdles for the TTS to overcome. The initials "TT" don't merely serve as a model name, they are a way of life. TT, which stands for Tourist Trophy, is a holophrastic moniker that describes a car as well as its buyers, much the same way as "M3" and "Lexus". Just like the chicken and the egg conundrum, we're still not sure which came first: the Metrosexual or the TT. That means that anything wearing a TT badge needs to stand for something, and stand for it well.

Starting from the outside, one of the endearing qualities of the TT family is the perfect mix of spatial contradictions. We think of it as a small car, which lends itself to the idea of being a sports car. Yet it isn't that small – it's two feet longer than a MINI and 18 inches shorter than a G37 Coupe. Open the door and the cabin appears half buried in the ground, and small to boot. In truth, the car is no hassle to get into, and the cabin feel is just the right kind of enveloping: well and truly roomy yet still cozy, even intimate. The seats carry you far in comfort. The controls are merely a thought and a modest reach away.

The ergonomics, knobs and switches in the current TT don't make the same impact as those that sprang on scene in The Cabin, but they too are mindlessly simple to employ – save the MMI's handling of iPod tracks. When you flip through a folder, it lists the track's number, not the name, and although we're intimately familiar with the contents of our iPod, we have no idea which song is #86 and which one is #8624. That shortcoming has been addressed in the latest version of MMI and earlier versions can be upgraded, but still...

Cargo space is also laudable, especially when we fall back into that small car feeling. On a run to the airport, the hatch area had room for a large carry on bag, a larger suitcase, a backpack and a laundry bag, and there was still room. And we hadn't got to the back "seats" yet. The surrounding quotes are necessary because the TT S doesn't have thrones for rear passengers – it has a leather-trimmed parcel shelf that resemble seats. Forget about putting people back there. No, really, just fuggetaboutit.

The TTS, like any middle sister, faces a difficult life.
We admit it's taken us a while to adore the styling of the new TT over its predecessor. The original Bauhaus version was a stylistic knockout, but we've come to appreciate this new version as it's just too easy, too simple, too inviting and too relaxing to run at high speeds. For some reason, every TT we've piloted finds its sweet spot at 80 mph. In our hands, that's the car's groove, and when it's there it sings. Do anything less and it feels like driving though treacle.

It was the stretches we spent getting to 80 that made us go "Hmph." The TTS, like any middle sister, faces a difficult life: it can't outdo its more expensive supermodel TT-RS sibling, but it has to be sufficiently more impressive than its younger, less experienced sister. And as we said, those other "lower" versions are terrific little cars.

The accelerating experience quickly demonstrated the difficulty of the challenge. The single, more powerful turbo on this car's 2.0-liter four-cylinder comes equipped with gobs of lag. Be anything less than bad-cop-coercive with the accelerator, and you feel like the engine and turbo are deciding among themselves when they're going to hand over the power. Stoplight dashes are dispatched with ease as the turbo quickly kicks in when you floor it from a standstill. But when on the roll, if you goose the throttle, the TTS doesn't try downshifting or laying on the turbo first; it tries to pull itself up with torque. Frankly, there just isn't enough of it. If you're on the roll at 40 and know you're going to want to get to 80 with quickness, you might want to call ahead and make a reservation for some boost.

The palliative for this condition is Sport mode. Contrary to all the cars with utterly useless Sport modes, we'd go so far as to say that to really enjoy the TTS you need to flick the proverbial switch. The fact-acting DSG drops down a gear or two and instead of having boost delivered like a pizza, in thirty minutes or less, you get what you want with microwaved quickness. Get things above 2,000 rpm and it gets good; get up above 3,000 and it's as sweet as you like. Blast offs at any speed are not only fun, they're fun to listen to. First gear is left behind after a couple of feet, and you get right into the thrill of the engine revs, turbo and DSG acting in triple-time sequence: rev - chuff - shift, rev - chuff - shift, repeat.

Nevertheless, as with nearly all remedies, there is a side effect: in Sport the TTS is noisome, a tad frenzied. You won't notice when you're flogging the sucker, but on the urban cycle there isn't much to distract you from the din. When the car downshifts in Sport and revs are given a workout, the car tends to buck when raising the stakes from fourth to third. The only way to dispense all that is to put the car back in Drive, and that means a return to leisurely going – or a brutally firm right foot.

Pick your speed, your turn-in point and attack the apex. There's nothing more to do.
Traverse that hurdle – say, by punishing the car in the canyons – and the dynamic experience is demonstrably more polished than the base TT. The regular TT needs to get settled into a turning stance before you tackle a corner; you pick your speed, dial in some steering, let the car settle, then really turn in and get to work on the accelerator. Not so with the TTS, which, with its lighter, firmer aluminum suspension is always in its turning stance. Pick your speed and your turn-in point and attack the apex. Nothing more to do. Even chicanes and quick changes of direction won't unsettle it.

What can unsettle it, just a by a tiny fraction, is not being mindful with braking. The brakes are superb and easy to modulate, but when the going gets thick they have a tendency to unceremoniously clamp down, upsetting stability. The TTS is 3,252 pounds, but that welcome svelteness for flickability and on the top speed run – the car gets to 60 in 4.9 – turns into a little dancing number when hard on the anchors over uneven roads. On nasty roads, the car can be downright skittish, but isn't always. It would rather not deal with bumps through turns, but it doesn't mind them. Even with all that, the TTS is still a sight better than the non S versions. These were things we simply learned to adjust to and deal with, not things that kept us from refilling the tank to go on another run to the Hall of the Mountain Kings.

It was at this point we realized this hotter sister still hadn't convinced us to leave The Girl Next Door, the regular old TT we fell in love with first. Then we found out what the TTS costs: Our kitted-out Orange Julius will come home with you for $52,075. The base price is $45,500, with things like navigation, the Premium Plus package and the Silk nappa leather package making the difference.

Audi has filled the TTS with the details it's known for: terrifically cross-stitched leather interior, a hood latch that's the wonderfully easy to find and use, knobs on the steering wheel that save us from having to figure out buttons, MMI, fantastic sound, a tactile bounty, that cabin, the new skirts and the chrome tips, and just the look of the damned thing. But... most of those features are on the regular TT. A TT 2.0T FSI starts at $35,200. Try as we might – and we don't feel we have a reason to try that hard – we can't find it in our hearts or in the seats of our pants to show up with $10,300 to add an S to that name. And if the TTS is $45,500 to start, we shudder at the coming MSRP of the TT-RS, which sounds sure to force a supermodel budget upon you for its supermodel looks.

On the other side, compare the TTS to a Cayman and it's hard to go the way of the Porsche. The Cayman starts at $50,300, and by the time Porsche and its relentless options list have beat you down you're going to be well and truly over that number. What's more, the Cayman is slower than the TTS to 60 mph by over half a second. To match the Audi, you'll need to throw your checkbook on top of the Cayman S, with its 4.9-second sprint to 60, and then you can keep that "60" theme going with the Cayman S gut-punch purchase price of $60,200. Sure, dynamically you're going to give up some tenths to the Cayman S if you're in the TTS, but even if you left the Porsche dealership in that mid-engined hotrod for MSRP, there are a lot of things you could to a TTS with the $8,000 you saved by going for the Tourist Trophy.

As for us, well, we'd still go with the regular old TT – maybe splurge on the 3.2-liter if it had been a good bonus year. The middle sister is hot and all, but The Girl Next Door, so wonderful in her own honest way, remains just too good to walk away from.

Photos Copyright ©2009 Jonathon R. Ramsey / Weblogs, Inc.

Second Look - Audi TTS Roadster

Herr Ramsey filled you in on the particulars regarding his experience with the hard-hatted TTS, but Autoblog also scored some quality time with its canvas-lidded variant, the TTS Roadster.

While Jonathon's TTS was slathered in showy 24 carrot paint, this author's roadster arrived resplendent in white with a stunning baseball glove leather interior. The TT has long endured the shopworn barbs of being a 'handbag car,' and our roadster seemed to play this up, outfitted as it was to be a showy runway star. Despite the fact that we Autobloggers are hardly fashionistas, it's hard to ignore that Audi makes some of the best interiors in the business – easily the best among their fellow German competitors.

Similarly, it's hard to overstate how viceless and forgiving this car's performance is. Ramsey talked a lot about turbo lag, but this author found it to be markedly less intrusive. Audi says that all 258 lb-feet of torque are available from 2,500-5,000 rpm, and thanks to the DSG's seamless gear-to-gear nature and the engine's willingness to rev, thrust is never far away. Better yet, the tractability of the dual-clutch transmission seems to have been improved since last we sampled it, with no odd parking-lot-speed judderings to harsh our mellows.

Historically speaking, chopping the roof off of a coupe has resulted in a bowl-of-Jello structure, but thanks in part to Audi's metallurgical marvels, rigidity isn't really at issue. While the coupe's structure is made up of 69% aluminum and 31% steel, the roadster is 58% aluminum and 42% steel (much of that change is the lack of a tin roof) and the arrangement just plain works – there's almost zero cowl shake, mirror flutter or other knock-kneed behavior.

Dropping the power top is a simple operation, and once down, it's easier to take in the 2.0-liter's bizarre yet endearing electric zizz soundtrack, periodically punctuated as it is by flatulent little exhaust blips during manual gearchanges. That may sound unbecoming, but it isn't – although it is a bit video-game-ish, not at all like the sonorous mechanical whir offered by, say, a Porsche Boxster.

In any case, credit to the Roadster's robust, unfussed ride must also be given to the Delphi magnetic ride suspension, which does a great job of firming up when you want it to, but not crashing our tester's optional 19-inch alloys over potholes.

All-in, we greatly enjoyed our time with our $57,125 Prestige package'd TTS Roadster. It still doesn't manage to be as engaging a driver's car as, say, a Boxster S, but it's a far better all-seasons car with a world-beating interior and a driving style all its own.

- Chris Paukert

[Image: Steven Ewing]

Autoblog accepts vehicle loans from auto manufacturers with a tank of gas and sometimes insurance for the purpose of evaluation and editorial content. Like most of the auto news industry, we also sometimes accept travel, lodging and event access for vehicle drive and news coverage opportunities. Our opinions and criticism remain our own – we do not accept sponsored editorial.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      I too was a sceptic so I ask, how many of you commenting on the "slushbox" DSG have actually driven one? First of all the DSG isn't an automatic transmission, it has clutches, 2 actually and shifts in 200 ms via manual clutch engagement. I too questioned the DSG but since my Esprit S4s has made my left leg look like Popeye's forearms I decided to give it a go,,,,guess what lads, it's friggin brilliant and an 010 black TTs roadster is now on it's way to my garage to live beside my Lotus workout machine. A little inside tip from an auto industry insider, the DSG is the tranny of the future, it will be across the board within the next few years as everyone is going that way,,,don't knock it until you try it, you might be big time surprised.
      • 6 Years Ago
      They've smoothed it out too much. It used to have growl, now its almost indistinguishable from the convertible A4.
        • 6 Years Ago
        go look at it in person. those aluminum side mirrors are a dead giveaway (p.s. they almost made me throw up)
      • 6 Years Ago
      "The 3.0-liter V6 TT is also down"
      "As for us, well, we'd still go with the regular old TT – maybe splurge on the 3.0-liter if it had been a good bonus year"

      Well, all of you will have a hard time plurging on the 3.0 liter as it doesn't, and hasn't ever, existed. Do update the article when you manage to purchase one, I'm curious how.

      It might help to actually check the car maker's website if you're unsure what engines they offer in their cars.

        • 6 Years Ago
        I'm feeling the pain on that burn, and it wasn't even directed at me.... ouch :D
        • 6 Years Ago
        • 6 Years Ago
        Our bad, that was just a displacement typo. The horsepower and torque mentions for the 3.2L were still correct, though. Thanks for pointing this out so we could fix it.
        • 6 Years Ago
        No worries...


        There's a 3.0T motivated TT embargo you're trying to break?


        Maybe a TT-RSs with 400hp like the Q5 show car? :P

        no? damnit.
      • 6 Years Ago
      No 6 speed no care.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Agreed, i'll take an LF-S with true slush box over a manual RS4 any day.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Holy shnikes! You're right.. what a piece of crap. We're all forced to have slushboxes in our future. WOW.. HOW SPORTY! WTF. Audi sucks.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Hear! Hear! Although rumor has it that the 2010 TT may be available with the 2.0T and a 6 speed manual since the V6 option is going away. Anybody at Autoblog able to confirm that?
        • 6 Years Ago
        Isn't a car like this supposed to be fun to drive? What is wrong with Audi in that they cannot offer a SPORTS CAR TRANSMISSION in a sports car?

        Its bad enough that they even make an automatic for a car like this, even WORSE that they don't offer a real transmission.

        Are these Germans so dumb that they can't make 10% of them with real transmissions and still be profitable? Please don't tell me that those with manual transmissions would sit on a lot and rot........if you believe that you are a total sucker!

        This car is for Grandpa!

        • 6 Years Ago
        Agreed. The DSG kills this car for me (although, to be honest, Audi's plasticky 6-speed still wouldn't put it up there with the 370Z or RX-8).

        Anyway, the TT is more like "the nicest GTI you've ever driven" than a sports car. It makes the numbers, go- and grip-wise, but you can't play with its balance on the limit like a sports car. It's kind of a sports-car simulator.
      • 6 Years Ago
      A 4 cylinder buzz box!!, That $57,000+ can get you a car with a real engine, an M3, with a real v8 engine and perfect sound.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Audi's have always been overpriced compared to BMW. The price jump to get an S has always seemed a little ludicrous for all of their models. Yes I know the interiors are nicer but still...
      • 6 Years Ago
      Follow me, don't follow me...
      • 6 Years Ago
      Its a nice looking car but for that amount of cash I just couldn't see myselft picking it over a loaded 370 or a C6 vette.
      • 6 Years Ago
      And as some others have said, a choice of no manual tranny means instant disqualification! Funny they should do this - Audi - as the S3 in South Africa is only offered in manual. No auto. Which goes further in my mind to establish the TT and other incarnations as something more posey than for performance.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Why can't we comment on AB4.0?
        • 6 Years Ago
        That's exactly what I wanted to post: We need an edit feature, and we also need a registration. This email confirm thing is f-ing annoying
        • 6 Years Ago
        The commenting system was fine until Neff spilled coffee on the server. Now my avator randomly disappears and reappears.

        Seriously, the commenting system could use a complete overhaul. It would better if they based on iDrive.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Read the password in the email that is sent to you, login in, set it and then you don't have to confirm the email.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Ironic, isn't it? I was planning to say "so does this mean you'll finally fix the comment system?" Here's hoping...
      • 6 Years Ago
      for instance and regarding the manual vs auto gearbox, I have a smart roadster with the sluggish smart pseudo auto gearbox,and I simply cannot imagine it with a manual gearbox!And all it´s defects add some character to it,it´s a true drivers car,i love it! :)
      • 6 Years Ago
      Turbo lag kills the whole appeal of the car.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I must say, I was interested in the car until I read "turbo lag". Might as well save up for the Cayman. Well, if I go that route, I might as well save up for the Evora. Now I just need an income to allow me to save $80,000 in just a few months...
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