“Longer, wider, taller and way more accomplished than the first generation car, the 2007 Audi TT is in another league”
Test Model: 2007 Audi TT Coupe 3.2 quattro with 6-speed S tronic transmission.
Recommended Retail Price: $88,900 – although you can own a TT Coupe 2.0 Turbo FSI manual for $68,900 which is an equally inspiring drive.
Where it sits:
The 3.2 litre quattro coupe at $88,900 is the muscle car in the TT line up; with significantly more power and torque than its front wheel drive 2.0 litre turbocharged siblings, it sits just below the top shelf 3.2 quattro Roadster at $92,500. You can however, step into a TT Roadster for a modest $77,500 if you choose the 2.0 TSFI powerplant (and that’s with S-tronic). Entry price into the world of TT is $68,900 for the 2.0 TSFI coupe and if you tick S-tronic – $72,500.
The Audi TT is probably the most recognised automotive shape on the planet today. Its futuristic body literally blew the design envelope apart, when it was launched as a production car in 1998.
The New York Times called it “historically significant” and nominated the TT as the “car of the century”.
You need to go all the way back to 1980 and Audi’s lethal road & track weapon, the “quattro” to find a car that defined this company’s core brand statement “Vorsprung durch Technik” (Progress through Technology) as much as the TT.
The reason – the 2.1 litre “quattro” turbo coupe, was the first production GT to employ proper full time four wheel drive since the super expensive Jensen Interceptor FF of 1966.
(Trivia) Kerry Packer liked fast cars – he owned at least two “quattros” that I know of, which were tuned by car racing legend Kevin Bartlett, for extra mumbo.
Credited with the TT’s design are James (“J”) Mays and Freeman Thomas out of Volkswagen’s California design studio. Both these guys were graduates of the design super school, the Art Centre College of Design in Pasadena. This Los Angeles institution is known as a kingmaker in the automotive design world.
Not sure where the TT badge comes from though. One story, is that Audi got the name from a small rear-engine car racing car called the NSU TT, which got it’s name from the TT (Tourist Trophy) motorcycle races on the Isle of Man. Regardless of where the name came from – we like it!
The template for the new TT was Audi’s beautiful Nuvolari concept, which has simply been outgunned by the second-generation production model. Visually more appealing from all angles, it’s close to an automotive masterpiece, with a stack of awards already on the shelf. Top Gear’s “Coupe of the Year” 2006, Fifth Gear’s “Car of the Year” 2006 and World Design “Car of the Year 2007” to name just a few.
While we can’t help admiring each and every design accent on the new TT, feast your eyes on Audi’s Locus Concept. Let’s just hope Audi continues to shatter the envelope and build this sensational car!
How it goes
Anybody who tells you the new Audi TT is not a REAL sports car is kidding themselves.
Worse still, they are probably comparing it to the latest Porsche Carrera, which retails for just under $200,000 and frankly, is only marginally quicker than the TT. And that’s before we get into styling and Audi’s S- tronic tranny!
Peak torque of 320 Nm kicks in between a very useable 2,500 and 3,000 rpm and the engine revs freely, delivering maximum power of 184 kW at 6,300. These outputs won’t set the world on fire but wrapped in this package, this engine punches well above its weight.
From a standing start, you’ll hit 100km/h in a genuine 5.7 seconds. Flat out will see the Speedo firmly striking a governed 250km/h, which will see you behind bars in this country.
Better still, is the superb deep-throated high performance burble of this tuned V6, clearly audible at idle, even better when nudging 6,300rpm.
Dropping the right foot, and holding fast, is a treat for any driver. The S tronic transmission (or Direct Shift Gearbox – a far better acronym) exploits every kilowatt and Newton-metre on offer, as it races through all six speeds like an F1 car on a qualifying lap.
Let me explain. The SMT gearbox in Ferrari’s million-dollar Enzo supercar changes gear ratios in a brief 150 milliseconds and yes, that’s quick.
But here’s where Audi can get a little cocky, and rightly so. Their S tronic (one gearbox, two clutches and two sets of gears) will upshift automatically in a mind blowing 8 milliseconds, and that’s with your mother behind the wheel!
Most times, you’ll be fine leaving the beautifully tactile shifter in “D” for Drive. But when you need to get serious, go ahead and select “S” for Sport, for a far more explosive experience.
Gear ratios will be held to 6,300 revs with no compromise whatsoever, to the lightning fast changes. Now you’re cooking and probably on the shift paddles behind the steering wheel, for that racecar like feel. As you line up a corner at high speed – downshifting 3rd to 2nd the throttle will blip, blip (like a heel and toe double de clutch in old school land) with each shift. The pleasure is twofold. Downshifts are impossibly quick, and the blip-blip sound, is addictive.
How is the new TT quicker than the model it replaces, despite being larger in every dimension? Weight and weight distribution!
It’s over 100 kilos lighter, due to its 70% aluminium and 30% high- strength steel construction via the “Audi Space Frame” body developed in the 1990’s for their A8 series cars.
Weight distribution has been given top priority with steel components located mainly in the rear floor area in addition to the boot lid and doors so that axel loads are evenly split.
All up, the 3.2 quattro weighs in at 1,410 kg, which is LIGHT given the luxury trim and additional measurements.
And whist we haven’t driven the 2.0 TFSI, which tops out at 1,260 kg – we sure would like to!
The new car is slippery too. With a drag coefficient of .30 against the previous car’s .34, fuel efficiency is slightly better at highway speeds.
How it Handles
While the power outputs remain the same, the chassis dynamics on the new TT have been completely overhauled.
I’ll put that into perspective for you. On the infamous north loop of Germany’s Nurburgring race track (that’s 23 kilometres of heart stopping tarmac) the new TT is a full 15 seconds quicker that previous model.
We don’t have the budget to run this test ourselves, but after a few minutes into a serpentine like stretch somewhere in NSW – we won’t be disputing it.
The TT feels extraordinarily nimble with huge grip levels, courtesy of the not so wide 245/40 tyres. Cornering ability ranks alongside high-end sports cars and as a consequence, bends can be attacked at unusually high speeds, while the car remains composed. Standard wheels are 18’s although, you can option up to either 19’s or 20’s shod with extra wide 255/35’s if you’ve had a good week! I’m a fan of wide rubber, so I would choose the 19’s although, the ride might be a little on the hard side.
Everything has been put under the microscope by the technicians at Ingolstat, with regards suspension. Front and rear tracks are wider at 44mm and 45m respectively, and although the front suspension is the same McPherson structure as the first generation car, aluminium components have reduced unsprung weight by more than a few kilos.
Rear suspension on the other hand, has had a total makeover. Out, is the torsion-beam rear axel and in, is a highly effective, low weight, four-link set up, supported by twin-tube gas shocks.
Believe it or not, ride quality is now better than ever. Lousy suburban roads and shopping centre speed bumps are soaked up with almost as much grace as a 1964 Humber (poor man’s limo) – well maybe not quite that soft, but there’s no harshness or body jolt.
While the standard suspension kit does the job, and then some, you can however, opt for what is fast becoming the chosen system of some of the world’s fastest cars. Audi calls it “Audi magnetic Ride” (retail price of $2,444) Magnetic, due to the fact that the fluid contains microscopic magnetic particles which can alter suspension dynamics in a split second!
Similar systems are on board Ferrari’s 599 GT and even HSV’s latest GTS, which we will review in a week or two, and let you know more about what is essentially, the world’s fastest acting suspension.
High speed stability, which was called into question on early TT’s, due to potential lift at speed under very specific circumstances, has been completely eradicated, with the addition of a Porsche-like eclectically operated, speed activated rear spoiler.
When the car is stationary, only a small rear lip is noticeable. When you accelerate up to 120km/h, the spoiler extends, providing down force on the rear axle. When you drop back to 80km/h, it’s like a “Transformer” as it retracts back into the rear hatch panel. Very cool.
Audi have also improved steering feel in the TT, with a new speed- sensitive electromechanical unit, which is nicely weighted for quick and precise steering inputs. It’s a vast improvement over previous systems, which were widely considered numb and lifeless.
I’ve never driven an Audi that didn’t pull up with extreme prejudice and the new lighter TT, is gifted in this area. In fact, so sensitive is the pedal pressure that it takes a bit of getting used to, at least initially.
What makes this TT so driver friendly, is the balance between handling ability and ride comfort, neither of which seems to have been compromised.
If the PR department at Audi had told me that they had commissioned premium Danish Hi-Fi Company Bang & Olufsen to design the interior of the TT, you wouldn’t doubt them for a moment.
Each and every piece of switchgear and trim panel appears to have been individually designed with the sole intention of producing an interior that is every bit as sensational as the exterior.
If the Rolls Royce Phantom is the pinnacle of automotive Luxury, and it is! Then the TT is the automotive definition of avant-guard.
It’s hard not to sound like a bleeding ad for Audi, but these guys put together interiors that border on bespoke.
There is brushed aluminium everywhere; door openers, door handles, dash, centre stack, AC vents etc, etc, etc. The non-metallic materials are top shelf and as good as I have seen.
The 911 Porsche series cars are universally regarded as having the best driver’s seat set up of any car ever made. The new TT is not far behind.
Similar to the 911, you are sitting in the car not on top of the car. And it helps, when you are encased in racing style seats trimmed in ultra soft Nappa leather. The hide quality is as good, if not better, than what Lexus use in their high-end models.
The F1 look, flat-bottomed steering wheel is a work of art. It’s similar if to that found in Audi’s rocket ship, the RS-4 and the Lamborghini Gallardo. There’s more brushed aluminium work on the wheel and the trademark scroll wheels (replacing buttons) for the audio controls. Beneath the Nappa leather rim, is a magnesium skeleton, which has reduced the total weight to a super light 2.8kg – and that’s with the airbag!
The standard features inventory on the 3.2 is reasonable, although not extensive. You get things like:
You also get a decent 6 disc CD changer with MP3 capability BUT no direct input to plug your MP3 player into. Audi have chosen to provide this option at a fairly steep $630 although, with this set-up your Ipod is hidden from sight in the glove box and you control music selection and volume, through the car’s audio system (that I like – but the cost is too high)What you don’t get is; Satellite Navigation, an alarm system, front and rear parking sensors, Bi-Xenon headlamps, heated seats – these features require you to tick a few options boxes.
Stunning – there are very few things in this world that look better than a new Black TT 3.2 litre Coupe. Maybe Supermodels and the TT Roadster might have the wood on it, but that’s about it!
The car simply oozes style from every conceivable angle. The super slick Bauhaus shape, to the exposed aluminium fuel cap and the tiny LED strip on the door mirrors, it all works!
The TT remains an icon, but while the first generation car could be considered toy-like with a high novelty factor, this latest model is all grown up and much more serious.
Twin pipes on the 3.2 are a carryover, but the LED brake lights are a welcomed treat. It’s a bigger car yes, but the lines are more graceful and the testosterone levels have been ramped by way of the single frame grille, as it falls into line with the current Audi corporate look.
Space, Storage and Practicality
Who says, sports cars aren’t practical. Here’s one that is.
Drop the rear seats in the TT, and you release up to 700 litres of space and that’s good for surfboards, mountain bikes and scuba gear for two people.
Push the seats back to their upright position, and you can head out to diner with the kids well, that’s two kids aged 15 and 5. Even then, you’ve got around 290 litres of stowage in the boot area which is good for any amount of shopping.
Its not that the TT couldn’t move four adults, because it can. It’s just that pleasant country drives are a strictly two-person affair.
Cup holders, storage bin and door pockets with bottle holders are also on board although, you can option up for additional storage which includes small bins under the front seats together with a rear luggage net and seatback storage nets for a grand total of $326.00. I suggest this could be included as standard kit but either way, it won’t hurt your pocket.
More active systems that passive, is how I would sum up “safety” aboard the TT. That’s a good thing.
Dual stage front airbags for driver and passenger with side impact protection about wraps up the passive side of things, while the active safety systems are far more comprehensive.
There probably aren’t going to be too many times that the rear seats will be occupied, but nonetheless, I’d like to see curtain airbags in the TT. That would give rear passengers some protection in event of a serious crash.
Throughout the automotive world the words Audi and quattro are one. Tried, tested and proven on racetracks around the world, the quattro all wheel drive system proven more than a match for high powered rear wheel drive cars, particularly on waterlogged circuits.
Four-wheel drive has been banned by World Motor Sport Association (FIA) in their events due to an “unfair advantage” since 1998!
The TT, like all current quattro equipped cars, use a fourth generation system which delivers power to all four wheels all the time, rather than traction systems, which simply cut engine power if a wheel/wheels loose traction. Not ideal in mid corner situations!
But that’s not the half of it. The TT is equipped with a highly advanced Electronic Stabilisation program (ESP) which includes Anti Slip Regulation (ASR), Electronic Differential lock (EDL), Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) with electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD) and hydraulic brake assist.
You can’t believe how stable this car is in the wet. Put the power down in torrential rain and there is virtually no traction loss.
We haven’t tested this, but apparently, this Fourth Gen quattro requires just one wheel with reasonable traction to get the car moving. Wizardry!
Christmas is coming and its all good.
We can pretty much confirm that there’s a TT-S (for Sport) on the way in 2008, powered by the same turbocharged 2.0 weaponry as the super quick S3, producing around 200kW!
Pray a little harder, and we might see the TT-RS (Race Sport) fitted with a turbocharged version of Volkswagen’s 2.5 litre 5-cylinder unit. With 260kW plus on tap and an expected sub 5.0 second 0-100km/h sprint time, it will outpace the standard Porsche 911 Carrera.
“The TT is a serious sports car no matter which model you opt for. It’s also the most distinctive car on the planet and I want one””
By Anthony Crawford