2009 Audi TT Expert Review:New Car Test Drive
New Car Test Drive
Great performance, beautiful interior, stunning looks.
The Audi TT appeals to sports car enthusiasts and weekend cruisers alike. The powertrains are responsive and quick. The steering is sharp and the handling is crisp.
Quattro all-wheel drive gives the TT enhanced handling tenacity and remarkable bad-weather capabilities. The interior is stunning, with a brilliant design and layout, beautiful detailing, tight panel gaps and first-class materials. But what really sets the TT apart, and has since the introduction of the first-generation version some years ago, has been and still is its wonderful exterior design, giving it a style and a look that is unlike anything else on the road.
The TT is available as a coupe or roadster. The coupe is claimed as having 2+2 seating, meaning two adults in front and maybe two other, non-complaining and hopefully smaller person in back, but it's really a two-seater. The roadster has no pretensions of being meant for anything other than two people. The coupe also offers a certain degree of luggage space under its rear hatchback.
The Audi TT offers a choice of a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine or 3.2-liter V6, and with front-wheel drive or quattro all-wheel drive. There are a variety of trim levels and a wide range of options, including some really neat leathers and interior options, and we think it's well worth taking time to carefully consider them all.
Audi TT 2.0T models have a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that makes 200 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque; they are available in front-drive or quattro versions, but the only transmission choice is the six-speed S tronic, a dual-clutch transmission that can be operated either as a manual or an automatic. The 3.2 models have a 3.2-liter V6 that produces 250 horsepower at 6300 rpm and 236 pound-feet of torque from 2500 to 3000 rpm; all 3.2 models have quattro, but there is a choice of a six-speed manual or the six-speed S tronic.
The Audi TTS is powered by a version of the 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder that's been up-rated to 265 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 258 pound-feet of torque from 2500 to 5000 rpm. It's available only with quattro and the S tronic dual-clutch transmission.
Fuel efficiency for the TT line is remarkable given the levels of performance. The 2.0T is EPA-rated at 23/31 mpg City/Highway, the 3.2 with the manual is rated at 17/25 mpg, and the TTS is rated, somewhat astoundingly, at 21/29 mpg.
The 2009 Audi TT 2.0T coupe ($35,200) and 2.0T roadster ($37,200) come with leather/alcantara upholstery, automatic climate control, tilt-telescope leather-wrapped steering wheel, cruise control, six-way manually adjustable front seats, center console, aluminum interior trim, heated power mirrors, power windows, power locks, remote keyless entry, AM/FM/CD player, digital clock, trip computer, variable intermittent wipers, rear defogger, theft deterrent system, rear spoiler, and fog lights. Coupes come with a split-folding rear seat. Roadsters get a manual convertible top with a heated glass rear window; a power top is optional ($900). The 2.0T models come with front-wheel drive, 225/50R17 all-season run-flat or summer performance tires, alloy wheels, limited-slip differential. The 2.0T comes with the S-tronic direct shift gearbox (DSG), which is a clutchless manual transmission that can be operated as an automatic or as a manual via the gearshift or steering wheel paddles.
Audi TT 3.2 quattro coupe ($42,070) and 3.2 quattro roadster ($45,140) come with AM/FM radio with six-disc CD changer, steering wheel audio controls, auto-dimming rearview mirror, compass, HomeLink universal garage door opener, rain-sensing wipers, and automatic headlights. On 3.2 quattro roadsters, the convertible top is power operated. Audi TT 3.2 models all come with Quattro all-wheel drive, 245/45R17 all-season run-flat or summer performance tires. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, the six-speed S tronic is optional.
Audi TTS coupe ($45,500) and TTS roadster ($47,500) are equipped similarly. All come with Quattro all-wheel drive.
Options include a navigation system ($1,950); Bluetooth ($450); Alcantara inserts and other interior trim upgrades; wheel and tire packages; heated seats; sound system upgrades.
Safety equipment includes front airbags, seat-mounted side airbags, front knee airbags, ABS with electronic brake force distribution and brake assist, traction control, stability control, active head restraints, and a tire-pressure monitor. Roadsters have rollover bars mounted behind the seats, and coupes have LATCH-style rear seat child-seat anchors.
When it was first introduced, the TT's rounded look and geometric shapes were unlike anything on the road. It was well-received, and the design solidified the TT as a choice for those who wanted something different. Audi has done a fine job of making the new TT an evolution of the old, and the current TT is sharper than the previous model, with more angular lines and crisper edges.
Audi's single bar grille, the corporate face, is black plastic on 2.0T models and painted gloss black on 3.2 quattros. The side of the car features a character line that leads to prominent wheel flares. The coupe's graceful roofline resolves into a rounded rear end. Rather than opting for a convertible hardtop, Audi has chosen a traditional soft top for the roadster. Both body styles have a spoiler that pops up at 75 mph and retracts at 50 mph. A button allows you to deploy or retract the spoiler at any time.
At 164.5 inches long and 72.5 inches wide, the Audi TT fits right in the heart of the premium sports car segment. It is longer and wider than the BMW Z4 and Mercedes-Benz SLK. It is more than six inches shorter than the Porsche Boxster and Cayman, but is still more than an inch wider.
Below the surface, the TT is built on the Audi Space Frame (ASF) architecture. Audi says the space frame is made of cast, extruded, and stamped steel and aluminum components, as opposed to a traditional unibody structure that has only steel stampings. The coupe's space frame is 69 percent aluminum and the roadster's is 58 percent aluminum. The roadster is reinforced behind the seats to make up for the rigidity lost due to the lack of a top. Audi claims the new coupe is 50 percent more rigid than the last model, and the roadster is 120 percent stronger. Audi says the new-generation roadster is more rigid than the last coupe, an impressive claim.
The base roadster's top is manually operated, but most TTs will come with the power top, which is extremely easy to use. There are no latches, and it opens in 12 seconds and closes in 14. For those sudden weather changes, the power top can be operated while the car is moving as fast as 25 mph, a handy feature.
The TTS features an uprated version of the 2.0-liter engine. Modifications made to the engine to bring it to the TTS level include revisions to the block, cylinder head, connecting rods, pistons, turbocharger, fuel injection system, engine management, intercooler, air path and the exhaust system.
Inside, the Audi TT is wonderful. Highlighted with real aluminum trim, the interior is well put together, with tight tolerances and sturdy, soft-touch materials. The design is contemporary, simple, and attractive. The gauges are trimmed in silver with black faces, and trip computer information is displayed between them.
All of the controls are within arm's reach and they move with precision. Without the optional navigation system, the controls are easy to find and operate. With the navigation system, however, the TT gets a version of Audi's Multi Media Interface (MMI). This system absorbs the audio controls, and adds several steps to simple tasks like changing the radio station. MMI might appeal to techies, but most of us would prefer something less complicated.
Sports cars are often difficult to enter and exit. While getting into the TT requires a step down, it's not extreme and, once inside, the TT has ample room for most drivers. A 6-foot, 7-inch friend said he fit well in the TT, but found the Z4 to be cramped. The front seats are comfortable and have nice bolstering to help keep you in place in fast turns. Visibility is good to most angles, but there is a notable blind spot to the right rear in coupes and in roadsters with the top up.
The leather upholstery is attractive, and the Enhanced Interior package makes it even more so, with contrasting stitching and a leather-covered instrument pod. Audi offers numerous interior color options, as well as the Baseball-Optic leather package that features a Madras Brown color and thick stitching inspired by baseball gloves, a TT tradition. It's pretty swell.
The rear seat in the coupe is too small for all but small children, and even they may complain. It's really best used for packages and briefcases.
Cargo space in the coupe is decent even with the seats up, but with them down it expands from 10.2 to 24.7 cubic feet. Folding down the rear seats creates a flat load floor and plenty of cargo space. The TT coupe has more than twice the cargo space of a Z4 coupe. There's plenty of room for a serious grocery run or luggage for two. Cargo space in the roadster is tighter overall, with 9.1 cubic feet. The convertible top doesn't intrude on trunk space, however, and a pass-through for skis is available that improves the roadster's versatility. Cubby storage is limited in the TT, however. Neither the coupe nor the roadster has enough interior storage for small items.
The Audi TT is fun to drive. All TTs have sharp handling. Despite a front weight bias, the TT doesn't have a tendency toward plowing the nose, but instead feels responsive and nimble. It feels stable at speed, and is perfectly willing to be tossed into tight corners. Steering is quick, predictable, and direct.
In driving a 2.0T roadster with 17-inch wheels and a 3.2 quattro roadster and coupe, each with 18-inch wheels, the 2.0T exhibited a bit more body lean and tire squeal in turns, but still gripped the road well. The 3.2 quattros felt sharper, especially the coupe. Neither roadster exhibited much, if any, cowl shake. The Audi TT roadster is one solid convertible.
Handling becomes even sharper when the available Audi Magnetic Ride Suspension is chosen. It utilizes a fluid in all four shocks that, when subjected to an electric charge, changes the shock's damping characteristics from comfort oriented to firm and sporty.
The brakes did not fade in the face of aggressive driving and maintained a consistent feel. Audi's electronic stability control doesn't intrude too soon, allowing some slip without prematurely cutting the throttle. With the Audi Magnetic Ride Suspension, the electronic stability control is programmed to give the driver even more leeway.
Ride quality is quite comfortable. Audi TT models with 17-inch wheels soak up small bumps well, but sharper irregularities can jolt passengers. The ride becomes firmer and busier with the optional 18-inch tires, so try these before you buy, especially if you live in an area with rough roads. We're not sure it's worth it.
Acceleration performance is quick and responsive. The turbocharged four-cylinder of the 2.0T has little turbo lag, making it quick from a stop and responsive at speed. It runs out of steam above 6000 rpm, though, so it's best to shift before that point. Audi says the 2.0T can launch the TT coupe from 0-60 mph in 6.1 seconds, and the roadster in 6.3 seconds. The 3.2-liter V6 has more punch, is more responsive than the 2.0T at all speeds, and is capable of 0-60 mph in 5.3 seconds with the S tronic transmission and 5.5 seconds with the manual gearbox.
The TTS, with its 265 horsepower, is a whole 'nother matter, and is billed as the fastest TT ever. Audi says the TTS coupe will accelerate from 0-60 mph in just 4.9 seconds, and the TTS roadster will make it in 5.1. The TTS has its top speed electronically limited to 155 mph.
The six-speed manual transmission is easy to shift and has fairly short throws. The S tronic DSG has Drive and Sport modes, both of which shift quickly and without a jolt. The Sport mode holds lower gears longer to keep more accessible power on tap. The driver can shift the DSG via the steering wheel paddles or shift lever.
Quattro all-wheel drive is front-biased, but can alter the bias from front to rear as conditions require. Quattro is a great choice for those who live where the weather often turns harsh. Audi is a leader in all-wheel-drive technology.
In normal cruising, the cabin is quiet for a sports car. Tire noise can become pronounced on rough surfaces, but wind noise is well-checked. There is some sporty exhaust note but, after all, this is a performance car.
The Audi TT offers quick performance, crisp handling, remarkable efficiency, and a beautiful interior, all wrapped in a stunning, highly distinctive body that will not be mistaken for anything else on the road. Quattro all-wheel drive gives the TT 3.2 all-weather capability. The hatchback coupe offers cargo versatility while the roadster offers top-down fun. If you're looking for a sporty weekend toy, or even a year-round sports car, make sure the Audi TT is on your shopping list. As with most German cars, options can drive the price up quickly.
NewCarTestDrive.com correspondent Kirk Bell filed this report from Chicago.
Audi TT 2.0T coupe ($35,200); 2.0T roadster ($37,200); 3.2 quattro coupe ($42,070); 3.2 quattro roadster ($45,140); TTS coupe ($45,500); TTS roadster ($47,500).
Options As Tested
Audi TT 2.0T roadster ($37,200).
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