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2011 Audi TT Review

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The 2011 Audi TT straddles the line between sporty cars and true sports cars--or is it the DMZ?

In its short decade-and-some-change on the market, the Audi TT has taken a couple of paths to stardom. At its debut, the TT was a Deco-perfect piece of sculpture, with an instant patina of retro timelessness penned into its ballooned fenders, the baseball-stitched interior, and lots of lovingly integrated circles--in the headlights, in the air vents, in the steering wheel. It didn't matter that its engines were more run of the mill, or that its handling gave up its more pedestrian VW Group roots. It was lovely, and it was truly fun to drive, especially in roadster form.

Then came an about-face: the TT had to grow up and get tougher. For what reasons, no one's really explained. In 2008, it was redesigned to fit in with the rest of the Audi lineup, and the TT lost some--okay, lots--of its distinctive appeal while it chased real sportscars down imaginary straightaways. Zero-to-60 mph times fell, and roadgoing grip rose, and the TT nudged noticeably toward true sportscar territory.

For 2011, the TT is pushing even harder for recognition as a sportscar. The lopey V-6 is gone, and so are the automatic transmissions. Only turbocharged four-cylinders and dual-clutch transmissions are on the drivetrain menu. The TTS still rips out 54 more horsepower through some toying with its wastegate and intercooler--and there's a TTRS model afoot, teased to sportscar fans through Facebook.

There's very little change on the TT's plate this model year, other than some rejiggered option packages and some new interior colors. It's drifting out of the limelight a bit in the second half of its current act, but it remains one of those tossable everyday drivers that tries to keep up with more hardcore machines, even as Audi promotes an R4 concept car that looks an awful lot like an imminent replacement.

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