2008 Audi TT 3.2 Quattro
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Posted 27 April 2007 - 07:30 PM
The TT is still beautiful, and now it's a great car, too.
Well, the company did it. Audi managed to make the second-generation TT as stunning to look at as the last. Even after we saw the 2008 TT in pictures, far before we ever saw it in metal, we doubted that it was really good-looking—it had to be trick photography, right? A sequel canʼt be as good as the original, can it? Sure it can, and hereʼs proof. Thankfully, the latest TT is more than a smokinʼ body—itʼs now an honest-to-Nuvolari sports car, too. (One of the first-gen carʼs greatest feats was remaining a favorite of enthusiasts—in spite of its less-than-stellar dynamics—almost solely on account of its staggeringly beautiful design. Yeah, weʼre that shallow.)
Grip, Balance, Go, and Stop
Turn the TT into a corner, and youʼll discover three things: There are huge amounts of grip (0.93 g); the TT Quattro feels more balanced than the front-drive TT, even with a similar 59.4/40.6 front-to-rear weight distribution; and Audi still has trouble figuring out how to tune truly communicative steering. The 2008 TTʼs steering is pretty good, but because its speed-sensitive, variable-assist system is always just a step or two ahead with the boost, the feel through the supercool flat-bottom steering wheel is always a tad too light, and itʼs hard to discern what the front wheels are up to. The TTʼs brakes offer good response and stopped the TT from 70 mph in a mere 159 feet.
Our example was fitted with the $1400 optional two-mode magnetic shocks, similar to those found in the Chevy Corvette and Ferrari 599GTB Fiorano. Sport mode doesnʼt spoil the ride, and thereʼs a noticeable uptick in body control when itʼs selected. Weʼre kind of old-school and like a bit of body lean into corners, though, so we kept it mostly switched off with little penalty to handling.
The TT rides on the same platform as the Volkswagen Rabbit, Jetta, and GTI, as well as Audiʼs own A3 hatchback. Our test car was equipped with a 250-hp, 3.2-liter naturally aspirated V-6 and a smooth six-speed manual transmission, but the base engine is the VW Groupʼs awesome 2.0-liter turbo four mated to a six-speed, dual-clutch automated manual (the dual-clutch box is an option for V-6 TTs, and a traditional six-speed manual will be available on 2.0Ts after launch). The V-6 is happy to rev right to its 6600-rpm redline, and with three-quarters of peak torque available from 1000 rpm, thereʼs grunt for the taking all over the tach. It sounds fantastic, too—an ominous, meaty howl underlaid by a thousand sledgehammers striking home—so naturally, we took every opportunity to rip down through the gears just to hear it at full throat.
The 2.0T Is Just as Fast
The beefier sound seems to be about the only reason to go for the TT 3.2 over the 2.0T, from a strictly powerplant standpoint. Get this: According to our tests, the 200-horse 2.0-liter is actually quicker to 60 mph than the 250-hp 3.2—6.0 seconds versus 6.1—when the former is equipped with the dual-clutch automated manual (Audi calls it S tronic) and the six-pot is hooked to a conventional six-speed manual. The 3.2 jumps off the line quicker, thanks in large part to its standard all-wheel drive—allowing it to hook up better—and the fact that the 2.0-literʼs power band doesnʼt really get jumpinʼ until the turbo kicks in. Still, it canʼt catch the 2.0T until 100 mph, and even so, the smaller-engined TT has the edge by 110 mph.
Granted, much of the front-wheel-drive-only 2.0Tʼs advantage is gained at the scales, where it checks in almost 300 pounds lighter than the all-wheel-drive 3.2, and the dual-clutch tranny is admittedly faster at switching cogs than we are, but itʼs always surprising when a base car plays in the same league as the top-shelf model, especially when itʼs at a 50-hp disadvantage. Weʼre interested to see how the 3.2 will do when we get to test an example with the S tronic transmission.
Letʼs Step Inside
The interior is typical Audi, with high-class materials, top-notch fit and finish, and of course, beautiful design. The supremely comfortable sport seats are trimmed in Alcantara in the 3.2, and the top-notch TT adds other stuff, such as seat heaters and a six-CD in-dash changer, over the 2.0T. The TT cabin is a comfortable place to be, but space is at a premium. In the front, the center console hogs a ton of kneeroom; in the back, the plus-two seats are only for briefcases, or perhaps amputees with short torsos—thereʼs a sticker that warns you not to clonk taller rear-seat occupants in the head when you close the hatch.
Pricey, but Is It Worth It?
The base price for our 3.2 test model was $42,275. A 2.0-liter TT, on the other hand, starts at $35,575, so youʼll need to determine if four-wheel drive, a few additional luxuries, and for now, the right to stir your own gears is worth the $6700 premium—and thatʼs before extras. Our test car was equipped with an additional $5800 worth of options, including the adjustable magnetic shocks, an interior package, and bixenon headlamps, for an as-tested price of $48,075.
In the end, if youʼre going for a hard-core sports car, youʼre probably not looking at the TT, no matter how improved it is in that regard. Plus, if you want to be practical about it, you can get the 3.2-liter engine in an A3 3.2 Quattro and have nearly the same amount of fun—plus room for five people and their stuff. But sensibility flies out the window with the TT, and most folks are going to be drawn to Audi dealerships by the TTʼs styling and luxury, qualities it has in bunches. In that case, weʼd say go for broke with the options list and have a ball—you only live once, and rolling in a fully specʼd TT would be a damn fine way to do it.
VEHICLE TYPE: front-engine, 4-wheel-drive, 2+2-passenger, 2-door coupe
PRICE AS TESTED: $48,075 (base price: $42,275)
ENGINE TYPE: DOHC 24-valve V-6, iron block and aluminum head, port fuel injection
Displacement: 195 cu in, 3189cc
Power (SAE net): 250 bhp @ 6300 rpm
Torque (SAE net): 236 lb-ft @ 2500 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 6-speed manual
Wheelbase: 97.2 in Length: 164.5 in Width: 72.5 in
Height: 53.2 in Curb weight: 3255 lb
C/D TEST RESULTS:
Zero to 60 mph: 6.1 sec
Zero to 100 mph: 15.4 sec
Zero to 130 mph: 31.2 sec
Street start, 5–60 mph: 6.6 sec
Standing ¼-mile: 14.5 sec @ 97 mph
Top speed (governor limited): 131 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 159 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad*: 0.93 g
EPA city/highway driving: 17/24 mpg
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