Audi TT Coupe (2001)
SEE ALSO: Audi Buyer's Guide
By Tom Hagin
SPECIFICATIONS Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price $ 35,750 Price As Tested $ 38,925 Engine Type DOHC 20-valve 1.8 Liter turbocharged I4 w/SMFI* Engine Size 107 cid/1781 cc Horsepower 225 @ 5900 RPM Torque (lb-ft) 207 @ 2200-5500 RPM Wheelbase/Width/Length 95.4"/73.1"/159.1" Transmission Six-speed manual Curb Weight 3575 pounds Fuel Capacity 16.3 gallons Tires (F/R) 225/45R17 performance tire Brakes (F/R) Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS) Drive Train Front-engine/all-wheel-drive Vehicle Type Two-passenger/two-door Domestic Content N/A Coefficient of Drag (Cd.) 0.36 PERFORMANCE EPA Economy, miles per gallon city/highway/average 20/28/25 0-60 MPH 7.0 seconds 1/4 (E.T.) 14.5 seconds @ 90.0 mph Top-speed 130 mph * Sequential multi-port fuel injection
Traditionally, when an auto manufacturer prepares for a significant car show, it pulls all its design tricks from its bag. Show patrons go wild, as they did with the Audi TT, but then leave knowing that those fancy, one-off show cars will never make it to production. Fortunately it wasn't true in the case of the TT.
Available as a roadster or as our test Coupe model, the Audi TT is lacks practicality but it's loaded with emotion.
OUTSIDE - Kindred to the VW New Beetle, the TT has a unique shape. Sleek and smooth, it's one of the most recognizable vehicles on the road. Derived from the Bauhaus show car first unveiled at the Frankfurt auto show in 1995. That show car was put into production largely unchanged with the exception of larger side windows and different air dam openings. The oversized tires fit tightly in the arched wheel wells, which in turn flare like heavy eyebrows that continue down to the front and rear bumper caps and lower side valances. Six-spoke alloy wheels come standard, as do low-profile 45-series tires.
INSIDE - Our tester was the fixed-roof coupe model, which made it necessary to duck to get in under the roof. Once inside, however, you're greeted by an exercise in simplicity. Immediately noticeable is the liberal use of brushed aluminum circling the air vents and the base of the shifter. An alloy cover on the dash can be pushed to reveal the stereo system and beefy grab handles are affixed to the transmission tunnel. Ribbed ventilation tubes jut from the base of the windshield and across the dash to handle defrosting chores, while big twist knobs and buttons controls ancillary items such as the traction control system, heated seats and emergency flashers. The front bucket seats are very supportive, firm, and covered in supple leather. Optional seats on the roadster are available with a unique baseball glove-like stitching, which looks fantastic. The rear seats are best left for very small children, but they can be folded down to create a sizable amount of cargo room.
ON THE ROAD - The TT can be had with one of two 1.8-liter four cylinder engines. Both are turbocharged, but the first uses a light-pressure turbo to produce 180 horsepower and 173 pound-feet of torque. With the appearance of the roadster came a 225-horse version of the same engine, which turned the little car into a stormer. Both engines use a cast iron block with an aluminum cylinder head, along with dual overhead camshafts, 20 valves and a forged steel crankshaft. A great feature that many modern engines have these days is the ability to produce most or all of the available torque at low engine speeds. This helps off-line launch, and eliminates the need to keep the engine "wound up" at all times. A smooth-shifting five-speed manual transmission comes standard with the 180-horse version, while the more powerful engine comes with a six-speed. Quattro is Audi's stellar all-wheel drive system and is standard on the 225-horse TT and optional on the lesser model.
BEHIND THE WHEEL - The TT's short wheelbase makes it relatively "darty" at highway speeds. Suspension components include MacPherson struts up front, a not-so-sophisticated setup, but less expensive than a double wishbone design, and a multilink setup in back on Quattro models like our tester. Audi has been continually refining the chassis-tuning of the TT since it debuted, so the ride is as smooth as a sports car can get and still retain its character. The unibody construction is stiff and solid, and the rack-and-pinion steering is precise, with tight on-center feel and quick turn-in. Pushing TT through a corner, especially the Quattro model, produces grip that is difficult to achieve in many road cars today. Four-wheel disc brakes have an anti-lock braking system installed and, as expected, stop the car quickly and in a very short distance.
SAFETY - Dual dashboard airbags, side-impact airbags, seat belt pretensioners, ABS, aluminum side-impact door beams are standard.
OPTIONS - Bose-brand audio upgrade, $1,200; 17-inch wheel/tire package, $500; heated seats, $450; HID headlights, $500.