By on April 13, 2007

ttfront3quarter.jpgThe last generation Audi TT had more show than go. The German roadster’s dynamics were tarnished by massive turbo lag, an over-eager paddle shift gearbox and an entirely flappable suspension. In fact, the TT’s iconic exterior design and interior quality were its only saving graces. Now that TT 2.0 has arrived, and a decent enough amount of time has passed since Hugh Grant’s loathsome character drove a TT in “About a Boy," is Audi finally ready for a little Boxster bashing? Yes and no.

The original TT was a rolling realization of Bauhausian anti-bling– to the point where the tiny tail spoiler (added to correct high speed stability “issues”) stuck out like a Black Sabbath T-shirt on Michaelangelo's David. Audi's designers folded and crimped the old TT’s sheetmetal and flame surfaced the sides. They ended-up with a more modern and less distinctive car. At the risk of offending the TT's core supporters, Audi’s ministrations delivered unto them a mucho macho model, flared wheel arches and all.

ttside.jpgThe aesthetic discord hasn’t disappeared; it’s simply moved to the front. Audi’s trademark “Billy the Big Mouth Bass” grille gives the TT a distinctly lopsided appearance. While the oversized schnoz and the new fastback eliminate the polarizing push-me, pull-you proportions (a.k.a. the bathtub-on-wheels effect), the features add gun slit aggression to the TT’s profile and destroy the original’s “oval uber alles” purity of form. Thankfully, when it comes to Audis, beauty is more than skin deep.

When I sat in the new TT in Paris, the interior was a let down. Now that I’ve driven the R8, I feel better about the TT’s strikingly similar cabin– and less impressed with the R8. Thanks to the TT’s added length, width and price, the new model’s cockpit is significantly more spacious and luxurious than its predecessor. The TT’s squashed crown symbolizes its sporting aspirations, while the ergonomics, build and materials quality are damn near perfect.

int.jpgBut not quite. The TT coupe’s rear three quarter blind spots are as dangerous as ever. The exposed phone cradle at the rearmost part of the center console (behind the driver’s elbow) is a turd in a rock garden. And the standard sound system lacks depth, clarity and power. Still, there's no question that the new TT is a much more pleasant place in which to do business.

The business in question: driving. As you’d expect, the TT’s dynamics are roughly akin to the hip, hot and harmonious VW GTI upon which it’s based. My front-wheel drive tester holstered the same 2.0-liter turbocharged four as the GTI, complete with VW’s latest direct injection technology. Thanks in part to an aluminum diet, the 200hp TT blasts to 60mph in a tick less than six seconds. There’s a little lag off the mark, a sweet exhaust note and encouraging popping noises between shifts. 

puppy.jpgIn fact, the new TT drives like an enthusiastic puppy. Turn-in is immediate and aggressive. The S-Tronic’s (nee DSG) paddle shift cog swapper isn't as slam bam as the previous model’s, but it ain't slow neither; given the new TTs more mature demeanor, seamless shifts were the right choice. Switch off the ESP handling nanny, and the standard 17” wheels still offer enough grip to keep all but the lunatic fringe from cutting themselves on the edge of the TT’s envelope.

Even the short wheelbase and [optional] 18” run flat tires can’t kill the coupe’s wonderfully compliant ride– aside from the occasional abrupt response to broken pavement. The TT’s incredibly light electromechanical steering is the only major blot on its dynamic copy book. At low speeds, you're golden. At highway velocities, the helm's lack of road feel tests your mettle, and turns turns into an intellectual exercise.

rear1.jpgCompared with the competition– Porsche Boxster/Cayman, Mercedes SLK and BMW Z4– absolute handling prowess goes to the mid-engined Porsches. Stunting and flossing rights belong to the SLK, with its three-pointed star and retractable hardtop. And the much-improved Z4 wins pistonhead props for its BMWness. But the Audi has the most compliant ride, the quietest and most beautiful interior, the coolest transmission and the best visibility (although that’s not saying much). Trump card: the TT is significantly cheaper than these natural born thrillers.

But then the VW GTI is significantly less expensive than the TT, far more practical, cheaper to run and no less fun to drive. Is it worth paying an extra $10k+ for an high-class image and a more luxurious cockpit? Believe it or not, there are plenty of buyers who wouldn’t be caught dead in a GTI. And there are plenty of drivers who crave a four-wheeled, four-ringed designer object, regardless of its handling chops. For both of these groups, Audi’s expensive creases are a necessary price of admission. Once inside, they will not be disappointed. 

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49 Comments on “2007 Audi TT Review...”


  • avatar

    So, how did this car end up as one of three finalists for World Car of the Year?

  • avatar
    guyincognito

    I had the original TT, 2nd model year, with the 225 hp awd config, when only a proper manual was offered. It drove like a tank but was peppy, cut through snow like Britney at a late night party, had great style, and could easily haul my bike and a suprising amount of stuff. I’d have considered this one if it weren’t for the plethora of annoying squeaks and rattles and minor issues that could never be resolved I experienced last time around.

  • avatar
    BlueBrat

    I’m 6′3″. I sat in the Coupe at the NY Auto show and hit my head on the ceiling. I was really disappointed with the interior, esp. compared to the other Audi models around it. I owned (leased) a 2002 for a year and I think that was nicer inside.

    On the subject of of german makes, from a country with a nice high average of tall people, why do they make the ceilings so low? I hit my head in the Z4 convertible & coupe, the M6 convertible & the majority of Mercedes as well.

    Oddly enough, I have no problems sitting in a Honda S2000 or a Miata (I owned a ’95).

  • avatar
    Brian E

    Even if I wouldn’t be caught dead in a GTI, why would I buy the TT instead of an A3?

  • avatar
    AKM

    Jay,

    Great to hear that a pistonhead who can afford 12-cyl cars cares about the “cheap thrills” group (see price comment at the end f the review). This is very much welcomed and very much unlike reviews in “buff mags”.
    I was surprised to hear that the new TT is indeed still based on the GTI. I was almost sure that Audi mentioned the TT now has its own platform…

    As far as not being caught dead in the GTi goes, I can understand: after having seen the Golf/GTI for 3 years in Europe and the US, I still cannot warm up to its styling, even though I own a 2002 golf. The Audi A3 does it a lot better for me, and its superior exterior/interior is worht the $3k difference, in my opinion.

  • avatar
    hularocker

    Reading reviews like this make me realize how lucky those of us who own a Chrysler Crossfire SRT6 are.It is easily the “under the radar” sports car of the decade.It will easily trounce the TT and the Boxster and costs significantly less(My roadster was $38k new and coupes sold for the low 30’s).They also are extremely rare.My black roadster is one of around 250. Perhaps TTAC should correct this oversight and try to find one for a test drive.

  • avatar
    yournamehere

    VW really needs to think about putting that 2.0T into the beetle…that is one hell of an engine. awesome low end torque! and i would seriously consider a bug with that under the hood…that would be an awesome sleeper with all the computer upgrades for that engine you could have a bug putting down 250hp…hahahah

  • avatar
    NICKNICK

    yournamehere:
    the beetle is still on the last generation golf platform, i believe. i don’t know if it would be worth their effort to get the 2.0T into the beetle when the beetle is probably due for retirement/replacement soon

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    I found sitting in this car claustrophobic, the beltline is too high, the roof too low. I also drove the roadster – it looked like it was more fun that it was – perhaps because I own a golf, i am used to sharp handling, it was not sufficiently different from my golf to make it worth while to me. Even with the folding top. But at outdoor burger places, it drew a croud. Perhaps thats what this car is about.

    I will look agan at the A3, but the last time i did, it seemed overpriced.

    I am glad that Jay Shoemaker said that it feels like the GTI. Others have noticed that too – I will prob buy one of them.

    thanks for the review.

  • avatar
    biturbo

    Jay,
    Good article! Enjoyed the ‘special effects’ (“stuck out like a Black Sabbath T-shirt on Michaelangelo’s David”, “the TT is significantly cheaper than these natural born thrillers” :-)

    One question only: why nothing about weight? These days all cars get porkier and porkier and nobody gives a damn :-(
    Come on guys! You are able to tell the truth :-)

  • avatar
    bfg9k

    Question to satisfy my curiosity: what’s the point of the squashed crown style steering wheel? They seem to crop up pretty frequently on concept cars and then are rarely found in production cars.

  • avatar

    Great review, Jay – and I second biturbo about the ‘special effects’ metaphors. At the same time, the last platform was incredibly massive for a two-seat car; if they have in fact got the FWD version down below 3000 pounds, I’ll be impressed. How much more for the 4WD?

    Finally, Audi have done amazing things with 4WD platforms, but they still suffer from having 60% of the weight on the front wheels. As whiz-bang as the Acura SH-AWD system is, the dynamics do not rival a proper RWD car…

  • avatar
    biturbo

    hularocker,
    SRT6 specs are pretty impressive. But at that price why not buying a Corvette?
    More power, more torque, better handling, way better looks…
    SRT6 is the only Crossfire that can be called sports car, but it is still too expensive and ugly. The sales statistics are confirming my opinion. There is no 2007 Crossfire SRT6 model. Chrysler will discontinue all Crossfire this year.

  • avatar

    biturbo: The truth is the new TT weighs less than its predecessor. Thanks aluminum construction and components, the new 2.0T weighs roughly 200 pounds less than the old model. The 3.2-liter TT weighs about 300 pounds less than its ancestor. And remember: it's a larger car. Bravo Audi! Of course, it IS more expensive than the outgoing TT.

  • avatar
    hularocker

    Biturbo,
    Ugly is subjective.Not to sound defensive or cliche,it looks much better in person.A brand new Corvette convertible does not cost $38k and let’s face it,Corvettes are so…common.The SRT6 was intentionally a one year, limited production car, partially due to the limited availability of the AMG motor and trans.Also,in the apples to apples debate,are we comparing the TT to a Corvette?

  • avatar

    Call me crazy, but I want a TT roadster with a TDI engine and an honest-to-god actual manual shifter. Nix the run-flats too (WTF?)

    Actually I want a Lotus Elise with a TDI, as the TT is a bit too porky weight-wise, but at least with Audi, I have better than a snowball’s chance in hell of actually seeing it happen.

    Unfortunately so few automakers have had the balls to sell oelmotors here in the USA. Sigh.

    –chuck

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    i second the comment about the crossfire being well, ugly. Its all lumpy and the proportions area all off. Shame really – the srt version is powerfull. The TT is really nice lookin, all sleek and purposefull. The vette is cool but very cliche.

  • avatar
    hularocker

    All lumpy? I beg to differ. It’s only partially lumpy.

  • avatar
    carguy

    I’m with Chuck – a 120d or Golf or TT 2.0 TDI would be fine with me. I had both the Golf and the BMW as rentals in Germany last year and they opened my eyes to how much fun a modern diesel can be.

  • avatar
    Joe O

    Solid review. Actually makes me want to test drive the GTI even more now (I test drove a 6-spd, and my left foot just doesn’t agree with the ridiculously long throw of the VW clutch, so lets see how the DSG does with me).

    As RF said, bravo to Audi for dropping 7-10% of the car’s weight while improving so many aspects of it (stiffer chassis, better suspension, etc.).

    To me, any carmaker that does that is worth the extra green they ask for….true advancement comes from the betterment of a car in everyway, and growing weight is not making cars better.

    A previous poster pointed out how they fit in an S2000 and a Miata but not in roadsters such as these. The S2000 and Miata position the seat as low as possible in the cabin. Gives you tons of headroom, but kinda makes you feel like the ol’ “Luigi” driving position. Legs straight out in front of you, straddling the wheel, with a high dash. Sit in a ’58 Vette some time and know what I’m talking about.

    Joe

  • avatar
    Aeroelastic

    Believe it or not, there are plenty of buyers who wouldn’t be caught dead in a GTI

    And there are GTI drivers that wouldn’t be caught dead in a TT. While they do have many similarities, there isn’t so much overlap in the “who thinks it’s cool” category. Same with the A3, I drive a mkIV GTI and I like Audis. I mean I really like Audis. But the A3 and the TT just don’t do anything for me.

  • avatar
    Steve_S

    It’s the designer in me but I love the TT. It was the most gorgeous thing on wheels when it debuted (TT ver 1). The simplicity, the curves you just wanted to hug it. The only thing visually about the old TT I didn’t care for was the headlight design. The new TT while not as clean and simple in form is very good looking. I’m partial to the Audi front end (my RX8 has a fish mouth as well) and it works fine here. It’s sacrificed some aesthetics for a more aggressive and sporting look

    I’m glad that Audi finally addressed the handling and performance of the car as it was the notable price you had to pay for such a pretty car.

    The GTI and even R32 do not compete with the TT regardless of being on the same platform. While I’d love to own a TT I’d never own a GTI, R32 or A3. One is a box on wheels and the other a work of art.

    For any of you who have spent some time inside the new TT is there room in the back for two small children say 5 & 7 yr olds? I’m not in the market yet and I probably won’t be able to have a second car like a Z4 or an Elise so whatever I own will need to occasionally fit little kids in it for short trips. Keep in mind I’m only 5’ 8” and the wife is under 5’. I’m pretty sure it will be too small but there is always hope.

  • avatar
    boredlawstudent

    Call me crazy but I just can’t seem to wrap my head around spending $40K on a FWD roadster when so many “properly” powered sports cars are available at that price.

    Also, when I drop 40 large on a car I want to be able to tell myself there was no cheaper “alternative.” With the BMW Z4 and Porsche Boxster, I can feel confident, while the 20-something $ GTI sits in the background of an Audi TT purchase.

    Maybe i’m the only one.

  • avatar
    Joe O

    Steve,

    I only mention this because you knocked (a little) on the r32. This was a car I was in no way prepared for…

    The r32 is one of the most impressive cars I’ve test driven. Read RF’s review of it sometime; it’s spot on. It felt like an 8/10ths Carerra. Amazing grip, bottom-end acceleration that built with tremendous anticipation. Good looking (in my estimation), inside and out. A great VW clutch and shifter.

    Anyway. Just had to say that :)

    Joe

  • avatar
    qfrog

    No mention of the 8J TT’s complete lack of a spare wheel/tire? C’mon Jay… I expect that could/will be a problem for some buyers. I believe the options are a bottle of goo & air pump or SST (self supporting tire) type runflats.

    The 8J has the handling that the 8N should have been blessed with. The fourth Generation A platform deliverd unto us stylistic integrity but dynamic dysfunction. I appreciate the looks of three “MKIV” products… 8N TT coupe’, 1M? Seat Leon Cupra R, & 1J GTI 337.

  • avatar
    Steve_S

    The R32 isn’t a bad car but IMO it is overpriced for what you get (that’s not saying the TT isn’t overpriced but at least the materials are better and it has cache. Although resale value on the R32 if phenomenal). To love the R32 you need to love the Golf or hatches in general and while they are eminently functional they are not my cup of tea. In the hatch scenario I’d opt for the Mazdaspeed 3 with a few MS bits. Not AWD but a great performance value. If I’m spending 30+ large and want AWD I’m going Subaru STI Limited (06 evo’s don’t have side airbags so a no go), in less than a year it would be Lancer Evo X.

    VW should go hog wild on it’s Jetta and give it AWD and a 300hp turbo as a companion to the R32/R36. Now that I’d take for a spin assuming the price was right.

  • avatar
    Spanish guy

    The original TT was a rolling realization of Bauhausian anti-bling–

    Wroooong!!!, please, do not mix the Bauhaus with such a design atrocity as the AudiTT.

    The Bauhaus leit motiv was function over form, the original AudiTT body shape was form over function, to the point that the car was actually dangerous due to aerodynamical shortcomings.

  • avatar
    Claude Dickson

    Reviewers and folks in various forums seem to never tired of mentioning the Cayman/Boxter in any review/discussion of the TT. With the 3.2, this is a stretch, but is downright silly with the 2.0T. Rumor has it that Porsche fighters are on the way, the TT-S and TT-RS. Save the Porsche comparisons for those TTs when they arrive.

  • avatar
    ejacobs

    jerseydevil, I think you should get the GTI. Coming out of a 95 Golf, you’re going to appreciate the hell out of it. If I were a VW guy, there would be no list. I’d get a black one today.

  • avatar

    The overwhelming impression when I drove the old TT 3.2 was that I was driving a small tank, in both the good and bad senses of the term.

    Does the new TT feel as much like a bank vault on wheels? Are the control efforts as high as in the old car?

    To me, the GTI doesn’t feel nearly as solid as the old TT (though it does feel more solid than its competition) and its control efforts aren’t nearly as high.

  • avatar
    Claude Dickson

    With all the GTI references here, is the TT 2.0T just a dressed up GTI?

  • avatar
    moto

    The GTI is a fine car, but it is not a TT by far. Audis seem to offer the best German luxury experience for the dollar (or euro). While the front-heavy, front-drive chassi on which the TT, A3, and A4 are based make for somewhat less sporting balance than the rear-drive Porsche and BMW competition, it doesn’t matter to most buyers.

    Few can afford the Porsche and few can stand to look at a Banglified BMW. The Audi is relatively a superb bargain, an attractive car that will retain its value and be a comfortable and reliable machine in all conditions except the track. I can appreciate that.

  • avatar
    Spaceweasel

    I just purchased a mkI TT and am absolutely in love with it. It feels solid and connected – more so than most any car short of the 5 series I’ve ever driven. Sure, it doesn’t handle like a z4 (haven’t had the pleasure of driving a boxster, so I can’t comment), but the design is timeless, the quattro fun in the snow, and the turbo mill is eminently upgradeable when the time comes.
    I think Jay hit the nail on the head. The new TT has lost its distinctive flavor, and the interior (while very nice) doesn’t measure up. I’m also annoyed that Audi won’t sell me a 2.0T quattro.

  • avatar
    Jay Shoemaker

    I think it is fair to describe the TT as a GTI in a party frock. The GTI is wonderful to drive but somewhat dowdy to look at. I think it is the best car for $25K in the world. My wife wouldn’t be caught dead in a GTI but the TT is another matter.

  • avatar
    Claude Dickson

    Jay:

    A lot of money for a party frock. I understand your wife’s feelings about the GTI as my wife feels the same way. However, she does like the A3 and the frock for the A3 is a lot less than TT’s frock. I’m looking at a used A3 3.2, a car I’d never buy new. At least that A3 has two things you can’t get on the GTI, a V6 and quattro.

  • avatar
    Claude Dickson

    Jay:

    One other thing. You might want to go into hiding for a while. The Audi faithful are likely to have shoot to kill orders out on you. They don’t take well to criticism of the name plate. I took loads of crap for my article on Audi here and I really wasn’t that crtical.

    Watch your back, buddy.

  • avatar
    shoes

    The one thing that might save me from flaming by the Audi faithful is the fact that I am likely to buy a TT and I have placed an order for the R8 as well.

    The Lexus people are a lot worse and I don’t think they will ever forgive me for my review of the LS 460.

  • avatar
    Steve_S

    A car is alot more than just the platform it’s on. The materials, technology in the TT and design as well as some cache is what you are paying for.

    Although I do think some of the higher priced brands like Porsche, Lamborghini and Ferrari are over priced. I highly doubt that the materials and technology in a 200k car really costs that much.

    I think it’s hard to belive that if a company like Toyota really wanted to they could make a mid-engined car to rival the performance of the Cayman S with quality materials for a good 10-20k less.

  • avatar
    Claude Dickson

    Steve:

    The TT is an interesting case. The engine in the 2.0T is the same engine used in the GTI, and A3 with no apparent modifications. Like the GTI, the TT is FWD, uses the same transmission (now called S-tronic) and only weighs 200 lbs less than the GTI. With all these similarities, is it so surprising that the TT resemble the GTI in terms of driving???

    A large part of the cost of exotic or expensive cars is limited production. The fewer cars available to cover your costs and profit margin, the more each has to cost.

  • avatar
    Steve_S

    Probably so, even more reason for a mass market brand to make me an Aston Martin DB9 knock off for 35k :)

  • avatar
    Evinx

    Now that the TT Bauhaus styling has evolved in the same disappointing way the 993 morphed in the 996, what’s the point?

    I understand the desire for a coherent “design language” across the entire line, but why not make the whole car a goddamn grill?

    The grill is going to look particularly stupid with American-shaped license plates stuck on the front.

  • avatar
    LamborghiniZ

    I have to disagree with your statement that the old TT’s design and interior quality were its only saving graces. I have had the chance to drive a first gen TT on multiple occasions, in this case the TT being the base model of the very first model year, equipped with the 5 speed manual. I found the car quite entertaining to drive, the handling being crisp, the turbo 4 willing to rev, and the stick quite satisfying to shift. So many people bash the first gen TT, but really, unless you drive it back to back against a Boxster, it’s more than most people would ever need out of a sports car.

  • avatar
    appellateatty

    I know this comment/question has nothing to do with the Audi TT, but it does concern the reviewer Jay Shoemaker. Would someone please tell me what the term “parachute-style depreciation” means? Mr. Shoemaker used it in his review (last fall) of the new Merc E63 AMG, and I’m curious. Thanks in advance.

  • avatar
    Claude Dickson

    jerseydevil:

    The A3 is basically an upscale GTI. You pay an extra $3k for the Audi nameplate, a little better external styling and some luxury items. It’s no more over priced than other models that are rebranded for luxury divisions.

    biturbo:

    The new TT is bigger than the original BUT around 200 lbs lighter than the original. This is one of the few cars that didn’t gain weight with a new model introduction. The problem is that the new TT is still only around 200 lighter than the GTI.

  • avatar
    LamborghiniZ

    Just so you know, they’re actually spelled “stuntin’ and flossin\'”. Just a minor correction haha

  • avatar
    kiwijames

    I’m an Audi owner for several series and models…still have the original 2000 TT 180 (not allowed to sit in or test drive prior to…and put a deposit down to wait 4 moths for delivery!) and an 04 A8L. I now believe as the mechanics/techs at my local Audi dealer do….wait 2 to 3 yrs before buying the “new” versions. The original TT was plagued with issues…wing/suspension warranty (car gone for a month to complete, waste gates, and has now been relegated to my daughter as her first car with only 32k miles. My mechanics eventually revealed that it would have been cheaper to go and get the GTI back in 2001/02!!! The dealer network has been ill prepared to properly support the product (more so the TT than A6-A8). Even given this, I’d roll for another TT over the other German options.
    As for getting grunt for similar money…I’ve investigated the Caterham and Elise as alternatives…all equally impractical as the TT…why would anyone ever even mention the Crossfire in the same page? TTs are by far an acquired taste and it’s trials and tribulations and the love/hate passions people have for this model remind me of my long gone E-Type..especially getting in and out of it.
    I like the review and loved the sarcasm…..

  • avatar
    raymundojr

    Very interesting review and car! The first line mish-mash of Beach Boys and Kraftwerk was outstanding, whether completely intentional or not :D

    I’m curious about a couple of things. First, the HUGE chasm between hp and torque, which I guess I never noticed in previous versions of the 4.2 V8. Further, this is the same basic engine as used in several previous Audi, and the chassis is only slightly lighter, but the acceleration and audi strut seems to be outstanding. Gearing?

    From what I can tell, this is the new NSX. Corvette fanatics will be quick to call it a ripoff, but if you add the brand cachet and more genuine “supercar appeal,” it’s not even in the same arena as the Vette.

    I’m curious to see if this thing becomes as common as the 911, since they’re in the same price bracket. As it stands (where I live), I see more 911s than ANY Audis, so I’m sure this thing will be even more esoteric.

  • avatar
    sandi beale

    But what about the reliability of VW? I have an ’02 GTI (been caught in it alive now for 5 years) and I love it…when it’s not in the shop. Can’t say I have had major problems, but enough trips and recalls to think about getting rid of it soon. Looking at the TT, a little higher than I want to go $ wise, but….if it’s more reliable than a VW, it would be worth it to me.

  • avatar
    Pelle Schultz

    I had a first gen TT (1.8T)…talk about a love/hate relationship. Beautiful on the inside and out, beset by electrical problems and rattles, underperforming relative to many competitors and very skittish at the limits (which were lower than they should have been in the first place). It sounds like Audi made this one more of the driver’s car the first one wasn’t, but the exterior styling is a huge disappointment to my eyes. Audi should have taken a page from the Porsche playbook and made the changes a little more evolutionary. Why remake sheer beauty?


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