2007 Audi TT Preview

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High Gear Media Staff High Gear Media Staff  
October 18, 2006
2007 Audi TT Coupe - side

2007 Audi TT Coupe - side

Enlarge Photo


 

You won’t be surprised to learn Germany has been the biggest market for the Audi TT coupe since it was launched in 1998. Britain is second, and together they account for 50 percent of all sales. But what might amaze you is that America is third, ahead of glamorous Mediterranean hot spots like Italy , France , and Spain . Audi’s home nation also tops the table for the TT convertible, but this time the USA is in second spot.

Review continues below

 

In a country famed for its love of very large trucks, a small and sporty passenger car from Europe has clearly found some fans. So American drivers will probably love the all-new version of the TT coupe — it’s bigger in every direction. The car is 5.4 inches longer, 3.1 inches wider, and 0.3 inches higher, and there’s 1.8 inches more in the wheelbase.

 

The all-over increase is the first thing you notice when you see the car, and the same is true when you sit inside. There’s more shoulder room for all occupants, and even though it’s around an inch it feels like more. The front chairs are set down to the ground, too, which means there’s great headroom.

 

Weighty issues

 

Audi representatives talked about how the newcomer will make “lighter work” of the roads, and, bad marketing pun aside, it’s true there’s been a lot of effort made to keep the weight down. The most obvious example is that the conventional all-steel construction has been ditched in favor of a space frame that’s an aluminum and steel hybrid. Developed from the flagship A8 sedan, it’s 48 percent lighter than it would have been if made from steel. The result is impressive; the 3.2-liter V-6 model weighs 3109 pounds, a massive 331 pounds less than the equivalent old version.

2007 Audi TT

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At launch there’s a choice of two gasoline engines in the TT. The entry-level car is a 2.0-liter turbocharged TFSI developing 200 hp and fitted with front-wheel drive. The flagship is the 3.2-liter V-6 with 250 hp and Audi’s quattro all-wheel-drive system. In Europe a six-speed manual transmission is standard on both cars, with the twin-clutch automatic (formerly badged DSG, now known as S-tronic) available as an option. More engines will follow in due course.

 

Heritage in place

 

The exterior styling leaves you with no doubt that this is a TT. Featuring Audi’s now-familiar trapezoidal front grille with chrome edging, it looks less fussy than on some of the firm’s cars. Setting the fog lamps in black surrounds on a black mesh air intake has certainly helped the understated look.

 

The new TT is aerodynamically improved over its predecessor, despite the lack of the fixed rear spoiler. That’s been replaced by a speed-activated one hidden in the trunk lid.

 

Moving inside, the most visible cabin change is to the steering wheel, which features a flat base and is borrowed from the RS4. A multi-function version is available as an option. Standard spec includes all-leather sports seats (or leather/alcantara on 2.0 models), electronic climate control, an MP3-compatible audio system with single CD player, and 17-inch alloys. The V-6 models also get heated front seats, an uprated braking system, and 18-inch rims. Optional extras include a short-shift manual gearbox for those who favor an even sportier drive, a DVD navigation system with 6.5-inch color monitor, acoustic parking sensors, and an electronic tire-pressure monitoring system.

 

However, one of the most innovative extras is called Magnetic Ride and it’s available with either engine. It continuously adapts the damping characteristics to the profile of the road and the driver’s gear-shifting habits. It works through the shock absorber pistons, which are filled with a special fluid rather than conventional oil. When an electric current is passed through, the suspension set-up is instantly altered. One of our test cars had it fitted but the route didn’t provide the opportunity to assess it properly.

2007 Audi TT

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At grips with the new TT

 

Mays T-Bird

Mays T-Bird

Enlarge Photo
On the road, the first thing to get to grips with (literally) is the odd-shaped steering wheel. It certainly marks the car out but why has Audi done it? For British journalists it brings back memories of the Austin Allegro of the 1970s — and that was a very bad car — but Audi says it looks good and doesn’t interfere with the process of driving. It’s right too, all fears proved unfounded on our short test route, mainly because the car’s sporty nature makes you want to keep your hands in the classic “9 and 3” position.

 

We tried out both the 3.2 and the 2.0 and preferred the latter, even though it’s the slower car. With a 0-60 mph time of 6.4 seconds, it’s plenty quick enough (it’s down to 5.7 seconds in the 3.2) while the ride in the more powerful version is too harsh. Which gearbox you opt for will come down to personal choice, but both are fine and easy to use. The short-throw manual should make for an even sportier drive but it wasn’t available for test.

 

Room in the rear is still very tight for all but the smallest passengers. Despite what Audi says, this is only just a 2+2 machine. Overall the new TT offers much of the same driving thrills the outgoing model, but with a lighter package the handling feels even better.

 

With the new TT, Audi has laid down the challenge to the likes of the BMW Z4, Mercedes SLK, and Mazda RX-8.

 

Coupe 3.2
Base price:
$37,500 (est., 3.2)
Engine:
3.2-liter V-6, 250 hp/236 lb-ft
Drivetrain:
Six-speed manual or six-speed automatic (S-tronic), all-wheel drive
Length x width x height:
164.5 x 72.5 x 53.5 in
Wheelbase:
97.1 in
Curb weight:
3109 lb
Fuel economy
(EPA city/hwy): N/A
Safety equipment:
Dual front, side, and curtain airbags; anti-lock brakes, traction, and stability control

Major standard equipment: Leather sports seats; electronic climate control; AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system; heated front seats; 18-inch wheels
Warranty:
Four years/50,000 miles

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