Audi introduced its stylishly sporty TT four-place coupe for the 2000 model year. A two-passenger roadster arrived later. A six-speed-automatic transmission in 180-horsepower front-wheel-drive models became available in 2003; until then, TTs only came with manual gearboxes.
The TT is also offered with permanently engaged quattro all-wheel drive and a 225-hp turbocharged four-cylinder. A more potent V-6 version with a Direct Shift sequential manual gearbox that uses steering-wheel paddles to change ratios debuted in 2004. Other than a new red interior color choice in coupe models, little has changed for 2006.
Short front and rear overhangs and what Audi calls a "low, fastback greenhouse" above a high belt line set the styling tone. The TT flaunts unique, rounded styling and an attention-grabbing appearance.
All TT models are 159.1 inches long overall and 53 inches tall. Six-spoke cast-aluminum wheels hold 17-inch tires. All-season and 18-inch tires are optional for quattro models. Ground clearance measures a mere 4.4 inches.
Quattro-equipped roadsters have a power top with a heated glass window, while the 180-hp front-drive convertible gets a manually operated fabric roof; power operation is an option. All roadsters have a power-retractable glass wind blocker between the structural roll bars, which sit behind the headrests.
The 250-hp TT adds a raised front apron with side gills and enlarged inlet openings. A bigger rear spoiler and honeycomb-pattern diffuser help reduce rear-end lift.
Front-seat occupants sit low, which makes it necessary to twist and turn when entering and exiting the coupe because of its sloping roof pillars. The coupe's backseat is essentially token space. Roadsters seat only two people. Nappa leather upholstery and automatic climate control are standard.
One roadster option includes leather upholstery with unique "Baseball Optic" stitching. Audi's navigation system and a Premium Package that features heated front seats are available.
Under the Hood
Base front-drive models carry a 180-hp, turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder, which mates to a six-speed-automatic transmission that includes a manual-shift provision. Higher-performance models hold a 225-hp turbo four-cylinder, a six-speed manual and quattro all-wheel drive. Only a sequential manual transmission, called the Direct Shift Gearbox, is available with the 250-hp, 3.2-liter V-6. That gearbox pre-selects the next ratio, and the change takes place under load.
Audi's Electronic Stabilization Program, all-disc antilock brakes, and seat-mounted head and chest side-impact airbags are standard.
Not many cars express more visual appeal than the TT, but its low roofline yields a cramped cockpit. The TT's handling is a prime attraction. 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.
"Masterful" is the best word to describe the six-speed gearbox. The clutch can be a bit grabby, but the TT offers an appealing blend of gearing and clutch behavior. Acceleration with the 180-hp engine is reasonably satisfying, but the TT is even more alluring when equipped with quattro and the stronger 1.8-liter four-cylinder that pumps out an additional 45 hp.