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Expert Reviews 1 of 2
By Jim Flammang
March 26, 2003
Vehicle Overview Audis stylish sports car was introduced for the 2000 model year, initially as a four-place coupe and later in two-passenger Roadster form. The TT gets several significant revisions for 2003. Most notably, a six-speed-automatic transmission is becoming available for front-wheel-drive (FWD) models with the 180-horsepower engine. Until now, all TTs came only with a manual shift.
All-season 17-inch tires are available, and TTs equipped with the 225-hp engine can have 18-inch tires. The cast-alloy wheels have been updated, and a new-generation Audi concert radio includes an in-dash CD player. All stereos have noise-dampening AudioPilot systems. The grille has been redesigned with vertical and horizontal cross sections. The TT comes with FWD or permanently engaged quattro all-wheel drive (AWD).
The TTs styling features short front and rear overhangs and what Audi calls a low, fastback greenhouse above a high belt line. Despite its shared chassis and an overall profile that hints at Volkswagens New Beetle, the TT flaunts unique, rounded styling that results in an integrated, attention-grabbing appearance. Straight lines occur only along the sides of its body between the front and rear wheels.
All TTs are 159.1 inches long overall and 53 inches tall. The 225-hp models get 17-inch tires, and 18-inchers are optional. Audis 180-hp FWD models ride on 16-inch tires or optional 17-inchers. Ground clearance is a mere 4.4 inches.
Quattro-equipped roadsters have a power top with a glass window, while the FWD convertibles get a manually operated fabric roof; power operation is an option. All convertibles have a power-retractable glass wind blocker mounted between the structural roof bars, which sit behind the headrests.
The front occupants sit low to the ground, which makes it necessary to twist and turn when entering and exiting because of the sloping roof pillars. The coupes backseat is essentially a token space.
Convertible options include red amber leather upholstery with unique baseball-glove stitching. An optional Premium Package includes heated front seats and xenon high-intensity-discharge headlights.
Under the Hood
Base FWD models carry a 180-hp, turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that mates with the new six-speed automatic with Tiptronic gear selection. The higher-performance model with the 225-hp engine is equipped with the six-speed manual and quattro AWD.
Audis Electronic Stabilization Program, all-disc antilock brakes, and seat-mounted head and chest side-impact airbags are standard. Traction control is included in the FWD models.
Not many cars express more visual appeal than the TT, but its low roofline yields a cramped feeling. This sports cars handling is a prime attraction. The TT reacts quickly and goes just where you want it to, though steering demands some effort. The ride can get stiff on rough surfaces, and some bouncing is likely even on smooth pavement, but the TT turns in an enjoyable road-going experience.
The clutch can be a trifle grabby, but the TT offers an appealing blend of gearing and clutch behavior. Masterful is the word for the five-speed gearbox that teams with the 180-hp engine. Acceleration is reasonably satisfying, but the extra 45 hp in the stronger 1.8-liter makes it even more alluring.