by Brad Leach - 08/11/12
The Audi TT in these photos belongs in a museum. A design museum.
Not our opinion, that’s the thought of rival car designers who regularly list the iconic Audi TT as one of the contemporary automotive designs. They liken the Audi TT to the German Bauhaus fine arts and architectural designs.
That’s all a bit too ‘deep’ for us. Let’s just say, after our latest acquaintance, the Audi TT is a ripper drive and a Car Showroom favourite if ever there was one.
This week we got behind the wheel of entry-level Audi TT Roadster – the 1.8 TFSI. What’s new for the 1.8 TFSI is the seven-speed sequential S tronic automatic transmission.
Priced at $72,500, the Audi TT Roadster 1.8 TFSI S tronic isn’t cheap but remember just $65,450 buys you into the TT family – the six-speed manual 1.8 TFSI Coupe. And the TT Roadster brings a beautiful leather-trimmed interior and the usual Audi luxury.
Everyone is obsessed with the TT’s ‘Supermodel’ looks but this 2+2 roadster has substance – plenty of punch from the turbocharged 1.8-litre and ‘German-Precise’ on-road dynamics means it’s more than just a car to drive to the spa.
Propulsion comes from Audi’s familiar turbocharged, direct-injection, four-cylinder 1.8-litre TFSI engine. Maximum power is 118kW between 450-6200rpm and peak torque of 250Nm arrives between 1500 and 4500rpm.
Drive is to the front wheels (some TT models are Quattro all-wheel-drive) via Audi’s outstanding seven-speed S tronic automatic transmission with steering wheel paddle shifters for manual changes. That is a new development for the TT 1.8 TFSI which was previously only available as a six-speed manual.
It’s certainly rapid – zero to 100km/h in 7.2 seconds which is impressive but not quite on the same page as the ripper 2.0-litre TT S (5.2 seconds).
Naturally the Audi TT 1.8 TFSI is EU5-compliant for emissions which are rated at 124g/km. Fuel consumption is rated at 6.4l/100kms (combined cycle).
‘Water Cooler Chat’ at the Car Showroom office often gets heated. Ours isn’t a normal office and our chats aren’t about football…we debate cars. And when the subject is interiors, you can guarantee Audi will unanimously be close to the front.
The TT is Audi at its best. Beautiful Valetta leather sports seats are both supportive and good-looking. The relatively high centre console provides clear definition between the drivers’ space and the passengers’ and places the gear lever at just the right height.
Then there’s the usual stylish flat-bottom leather-wrapped steering wheel which adjusts for rake and reach for a superb driving position. In front is the hallmark TT dashboard and instrument panel with the sporty round gauges and instrument binnacle all wrapped in quality soft-touch materials which are an Audi strong point.
Now this will surprise you – we took the Audi TT Roadster to golf.
Fold the rear parcel shelf flat and you have 700-litres of space (250-litres in regular mode). Shift the passenger seat forward and you have enough length to store your golf bag. We parked next to our golf buddy with his Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet and we were set-up and heading for the first tee minutes before he’d finished retrieving his various appliances from all parts of his car.
Our office ‘Water Cooler Chat’ about the looks of the Audi TT Roadster also got a bit ‘willing’ at times with a point of view expressed that the ‘soft-top’ TT actually looks more athletic/racy than the coupe. Well, working with an iconic design like the TT, Audi’s designers weren’t about to rush it out the door until they were 100 per-cent satisfied.
Our test car did look great in the Car Showroom garage with the cloth soft-top, while closely mimicking the coupe’s design, delivering its own interpretation of the Audi TT look.
We know the Audi TT story. The glorious two-seater using Audi’s ‘Aluminium Space Frame’ technology to keep weight down (all-alloy from the front to behind the B-pillar and steel from their rearwards).
In the Volkswagen Group way, the soft-top on the Audi TT is a simple one-button operation (some rivals need more buttons/levers to open their roofs than they needed to lower the undercarriage of the Space Shuttle). In the TT, just 12 seconds is required for the roof to complete its maneuvering and this can be done at speeds up to 50km/h.
The TT Roadster sits on the usual glorious Audi alloy wheels – this time 16-inch models.
Don’t let the photos fool you. After our week in the Audi TT Roadster we’re convinced its all-round visibility while not perfect, is no more restricted than the Coupe.
No changes underneath, the Audi TT Roadster and coupe both sitting on MacPherson strut front/four-link multi-link rear suspension.
Of course the challenge with soft-top cars like the TT is they need some extra stiffening to maintain the chassis dynamics of their coupe siblings…and that means extra weight. Audi’s an old hand at that game and the TT Roadster 1.8 TFSI tips the scales at 1320kgs – just 80kgs more than the 1.8TSI Coupe and in fact 155kgs lighter than RS Quattro model.
With grip and chassis balance like the TT, our trip up and down our mountain roads test route in the Audi TT Roadster was rapid. We did it with the roof open and closed and to be honest you will not pick a difference in road behavior (although your hair-do will be noticeably different).
Like the Volkswagen Golf GTI, the Audi TT is one of our favourite front-wheel-drive chassis – those clever Germans have this thing tweaked, trimmed and tuned just how performance drivers demand with wonderful turn-in, reasonable intervention from the ESC and good acceleration out of corners aided by the superb seven-speed S tronic.
Around town, we must compliment Audi for the sound-deadening of the TT Roadster. Unlike some high-price rivals, in this soft-top you don’t hear every tappet rattle from passing trucks.
Like some Golf models, the Audi TT isn’t in love with Australia’s dodgy secondary roads – those rough, coarse-chip bitumen beauties would be classed as ‘tracks’ in Germany and on them the TT does seem very firm.
This one was a ‘keeper’ (AKA we weren’t keen on taking it back). Sure the TT has the looks even other designers get excited about, but we’re car guys here and we love the drivetrain just as much – Audi’s seven-speed S tronic sees to bring out the best of the turbo 1.8 and the result is a driving experience even hard-nosed enthusiasts just have to love.
You would have thought practicality might have been the TT Roadster’s downfall – but it wasn’t (OK it’s a two-seater, but we’ve had plenty of larger cars which lacked the capacity for our Saturday trip to golf).
And overlaying all of this is that hallmark Audi quality.
Performance, style, quality…well we can’t think of anything the Audi TT Roadster is missing.
BMW’s 1 Series in 120i form undercuts the Audi TT roadster in price but isn’t quite as edgy in the looks department.
Mercedes-Benz SLK is also a Car Showroom favourite. The SLK 200 is a few more dollars than the TT but you should definitely drive both.
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