Audi introduced its stylish TT sports car for the 2000 model year. The initial offering included only a four-place coupe, but a two-passenger roadster model debuted later. A six-speed-automatic transmission in front-wheel-drive models with the 180-horsepower engine was offered in 2003. Until then, all TTs featured only a manual shift.
The TT is also available with permanently engaged quattro all-wheel drive, as well as a 225-hp turbocharged four-cylinder engine. A V-6 version with a new sequential manual gearbox that uses steering-wheel paddles to change ratios was introduced in 2004.
Short front and rear overhangs and what Audi calls a “low, fastback greenhouse” above a high belt line are part of the TT’s styling. Despite its shared chassis and an overall profile that hints at Volkswagen’s New Beetle, the TT flaunts unique, rounded styling and an integrated, attention-grabbing appearance. Straight lines occur only along the sides of its body between the front and rear wheels.
All TT models are 159.1 inches long overall and 53 inches tall. Six-spoke cast-aluminum wheels hold 17-inch tires, and both all-season and 18-inch tires are offered as optional equipment. The car’s ground clearance is a mere 4.4 inches.
Quattro-equipped roadsters have a power top with a glass window, while the front-drive convertible gets a manually operated fabric roof; power operation is an option. All convertibles have a power-retractable glass wind blocker mounted between the structural roll bars, which sit behind the headrests.
Front-seat occupants sit low to the ground, which makes it necessary to twist and turn when entering and exiting the coupe because of the sloping roof pillars. The coupe’s backseat is essentially a token space. Roadsters seat only two people.
One convertible option includes Amber Red leather upholstery with unique “Baseball Optic” stitching. Other coupe and convertible options include Audi’s navigation system and a Premium Package featuring heated front seats and a HomeLink universal garage-door opener.
Under the Hood
Base front-drive models carry a 180-hp, turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that mates with a six-speed-automatic transmission with Tiptronic gear selection. The higher-performance model with the 225-hp engine is equipped with a six-speed manual and quattro all-wheel drive. Only a sequential manual transmission, called Direct Shift Gearbox, is available with the new 250-hp, 3.2-liter V-6 engine.
Audi’s Electronic Stabilization Program, all-disc antilock brakes, seat-mounted head and chest side-impact airbags, and traction control are standard.
Not many cars express more visual appeal than the TT, but its low roofline yields a cramped feeling in the cockpit. The car’s handling is one of its prime attractions. Steering demands some effort, but the TT reacts quickly and goes just where you want it. 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 best word to describe the six-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.