KBB Editors' Overview
By KBB.com Editors
- Updated Date: 3/25/2011
Few automotive designs in recent memory have so impacted the enthusiast community as Audi's TT, which first debuted (as a concept) in 1995 and made its way to the U.S. in the 2000 model year. And with its redesign for 2008 the team at Audi didn't mess it up. To be sure, the more organic shape may be slightly less distinctive - and over time what shape isn't? - but they also made it better, with a chassis structure utilizing aluminum and steel, available magnetic ride damping and - as of 2010 - offering the TT exclusively with a quattro drivetrain and the S tronic dual clutch transmission. With persistent rumors that Porsche intends to offer a revival of its storied 356, we'd argue that Audi already has...and called it "TT."
You'll Like This Car If...
If you hope to enjoy both the daily commute and weekend romp (or track day), few will deliver that combination more credibly than Audi's TT. The Coupe gives you 2+2 seating, while the Roadster gives you a still-unique partnership of open-top motoring and chassis rigidity.
You May Not Like This Car If...
If the only German you know is "Bayerische Motoren Werke" you'll be happier staying in place with the 3-Series Coupe/Convertible or, if you dare, the newish Z4. And despite the all-season versatility of Audi's quattro drivetrain, those in the Southwest and South don't need it and - in many instances - don't want it.
What's Significant About This Car?
Having simplified the TT lineup in 2010 (dropping the V6, front-wheel drive and manual transmissions), news for '11 is limited to the addition of a high-performance (265 horsepower) TTS, along with a new 2.0 liter TFSI engine in the TT. Beyond that, changes are limited to a new wheel program and modest exterior/interior upgrades.
Our first impression of Audi's newest TT was formed while behind the wheel of the Roadster, navigating a winding coastal road near the San Francisco airport. Top was down, sun was shining - and a driver in MG's classic TC was approaching in the opposite lane. The juxtaposition of two classic shapes in an environment tailor-made for the driving enthusiast capsulized the appeal of the TT platform. While it may lack the overt communication of Porsche's Boxster, or the evolving nostalgia of BMW's Z4, behind the wheel the TT inspires on any number of levels, and through any number of seasons. Add the beauty of S tronic shifting (or not) and you have a great weekday device or terrific weekend tool.
The TT's standard all-wheel drive elevates it above any other vehicle in its segment. And while the perception of all-wheel drive suggests it adds more value in New England or the Rockies, the reality is that it enhances the driving experience virtually anywhere. Audi and quattro are - at this point - almost synonymous, and as one of Audi's two halo vehicles, its addition as standard equipment is completely appropriate.
S Tronic Transmission
While wishing that Audi had retained the option of a conventional manual trans, there's no argument with the attractiveness of S Tronic. If you want to casually shuffle around town, stick it in full automatic mode and just go. And if you're on your favorite stretch of winding road, opt for manual shifting and just GO! All of this duality, and a 10 percent increase in fuel efficiency when compared to a conventional 5-speed automatic.
The original TT interior was a compelling combo of arresting shapes, quality materials and nostalgic textures. One of its details would propel you into the next century, while some nuance - particularly the textured surface above the centerstack - might recall a World War II fighter. The second gen may have muted (ever so slightly) that original impression, but most of the design cues remain intact, although placed in a more spacious environment. The 2+2 aspect of the Coupe is restricted to small children or - more likely - a weekend's worth of luggage. In the Roadster, there's no +2 option, but its rear shelf does provide room for soft luggage, computer bag and sunscreen. Expressive interior colors allow a TT prospect to build one's very own designer edition.
As this is written New York's Museum of Modern Art has but two automobiles on permanent display; we'd argue that Audi's original TT should be the third. And the attractiveness of the second gen is two-fold: Its outer beauty can be readily seen, and it enjoys the inner beauty of a lightened and more rigid structure. The Audi Space Frame utilized in the Coupe and Roadster allows the TT to be both larger and lighter, providing more generous interior room without spoiling the original's visual balance. And regardless of which wheel/tire package you opt for (18-inch is standard spec/19-inch is available), the car sits planted on its chassis - and the chassis remains planted in a corner.
Notable Standard Equipment
Standard quattro makes the TT the only all-wheel-drive sports car in its class. And building a TT to your own specifications is made easy with a simple spec - virtually everything you need to enjoy the car is in the TT's Premium Plus trim: Sirius Satellite Radio, power front seats with adjustable lumbar, and shift paddles affixed to the race-inspired steering wheel. Opt for the TTS and you'll enjoy 265 horsepower in combination with a combined EPA rating of 24 miles per gallon.
Notable Optional Equipment
The Prestige bumps the TT's base price by some $6K, while adding navigation, fine Nappa leather sport seats, HomeLink, a Bose premium sound system, along with a host of comfort/convenience amenities. For those parked - or parking - it would seem to be a valuable add. For those with a greater interest in driving, we'd save that $6K for gas, food and lodging. And if driving, the available magnetic damping (standard on TTS - $1,900 option on TT) provides Comfort and Sport settings, both determined by your mood and the road's surface. The Baseball Optic interior is dramatic - and adds an additional $2K to the window sticker. Batter up!
Under the Hood
Under the hood you have your choice of one of the most recognized powerplants available, or - even better - a higher horsepower variant of one of the most recognized powerplants available. New for 2011 is an enhanced variant of Audi's venerable (and undersquare) 2.0 liter turbo, with direct injection, Audi's Valvelift system, 211 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. The TTS ups the ante with the same torque figure and 265 horsepower. The standard TT drivetrain will propel you from 0-60 in under six seconds; the TTS will achieve the same figure in under five! Both engines deliver identical EPA ratings: 21 city/29 hwy/24 combined.
2.0-liter in-line 4 turbocharged
211 horsepower @ 4300-6000 rpm
258 lb.-ft. of torque @ 1600-4200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/29
2.0-liter in-line 4 turbocharged
265 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
258 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2500-5500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/29
Given the TT's relative rarity - and innate desirability - we're inclined to perceive the sports car's well-equipped (Premium Plus) base Manufacturer's Suggested Retail price (MSRP) of just over $39,000 as a deal. Elevate yourself to Prestige and the MSRP is closer to $45,000, but that's still well south of the competitive segment - BMW's Z4 and M-B's SLK. The Roadster is approximately $3K more expensive in all iterations. And opt for the "Sturm-und-Drang" of the TTS and you'll part with almost $51,000 for the Coupe, but that's still significantly less than BMW's Z4 or M3. Projected resale for the TT is slightly better than the Z4 - and should prove to be better (after three years) than the SLK.