2005 TT New Car Test Drive
Audi's sports car heritage is as rich as any manufacturer's, dating back 100 years to competition at the Isle of Man. In the 1930s Audi achieved real fame with its awesomely powerful Auto-Union grand prix cars, and today it continues to rush forward with the RS6 sedan winning in the Speed Challenge touring car series, and the R8 prototype, fastest sports car in the world, dominating the 24 Hours of Le Mans and international endurance racing, including the American Le Mans Series. It's this heritage that drives the 2005 Audi TT. The TT got its moniker from the legendary Tourist Trophy race, which started on the Isle of Man in 1907.
But the TT is not an uncompromising car that would rather be on the track; it's an eminently civilized sports car that employs tricks learned from racing adapted comfortably for the street. Of particular note is the new six-speed gearbox that's mated to the 3.2-liter six-cylinder engine on Audi's most powerful TT. Is it a manual transmission? Is it an automatic? Car and Driver magazine's engineering editor calls it a manual, while Audi's press material calls it an automatic; we'll call it a hybrid because it doesn't make much difference to the driver what it is, only how it works. It works like both; and, unlike some automatic transmissions with a manual mode, it's the best of both.
The TT, Audi's first true sports car, comes as either a coupe or roadster. It offers solid Volkswagen mechanicals and durability, as well as VW's attention to detail in a sporty upscale design with high-quality materials and excellent fit and finish. The styling is retro yet pure, the interior is very stylish, the handling is exceptionally stable and the brakes are among the best.
There are six models of the Audi TT: a coupe and roadster each with three engines. Leather upholstery, a CD audio system, and HomeLink are among the standard features, along with 17-inch wheels and Xenon high-intensity discharge headlamps with automatic adjustment.
The 180-horsepower 1.8 T Coupe ($33,500) and Roadster ($35,500) come with an intercooled turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine, front-wheel drive and Tiptronic six-speed automatic transmission.
The 225-horsepower 1.8 T Coupe ($36,900) and Roadster ($39,700) offer more power and feature the proven quattro all-wheel-drive system and a six-speed manual gearbox.
The 250-horsepower 3.2 Coupe ($40,150) and Roadster ($43,150) come with a new 3.2-liter compact V6 engine, quattro all-wheel drive and the new six-speed transmission Audi calls DSG, for Direct Shift Gearbox. It's operated either with the short lever on the floor or small paddles on the steering wheel. Or it can be left in Drive and not operated at all.
All Audi TT models come with the latest in active and passive safety features: anti-lock brakes (ABS), an electronic stability program (ESP), electronic brake force distribution (EBD), and an electronic differential lock (EDL). The 180-horsepower 1.8 T comes with traction control (ASR) to make up for its lack of all-wheel drive. Roadsters come with fixed roll bars in polished aluminum finish behind the seats. All TT models include seat-mounted head and chest side airbags and next-generation dual front airbags; three-point safety belts with pretensioners and load limiters; and the LATCH system for child safety seats.
Options include Papaya Orange paint ($1000); the baseball optic leather interior treatment ($1000); a Premium Package with HomeLink and heated seats ($700); a Bose audio system package ($1200); the power folding top option ($800); 18-inch wheels and tires ($775); a navigation system ($1350); XM satellite radio and, back by popular demand, the Alcan leather steering wheel.