By on June 30, 2008

08ttr_03_hr.jpgI drove the Audi TT 2.0T Convertible prepared to hate it. Its wrong-wheel-drive, mandatory two-pedal transmission, extra-chunky-style curb weight and econobox-based platform violates all that I hold sacred in a two-seat drop top. Similar formulas have belched forth such embarrassments as Mercury’s legendary (for all the wrong reasons) Capri. But the topless TT is no Capri. And thank Gott for that.

T’is true though. The TT’s no sports car. The German two-door is very much in the mold of its predecessor. In other words, it’s a VW GTI that’s done South Beach, donned a slinky black dress, and become a rather more expensive date.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Looking back on my negative predisposition, the fact that the TT is now in its second generation accounted for much of my recalcitrance. It’s a tough gig being a second-gen model of an iconic nameplate. Change too little, and enthusiasts accuse you of resting on crumbling laurels. Change too much, and you’re shunned for losing the plot.

08ttr_07_hr.jpgAudi’s stylists walked the tightrope well. While the new TT retains the original’s inverted-bathtub shape, but its fascias are squintier, angrier. Its body sides wear angular slashes that eliminate the old push-me pull-you symmetry, and advertise the model’s liposuction.

That’s an illusion, of course. The TT has actually packed on a few pounds, for a total of 2,965. It’s more than enough to make a Miata driver’s head hurt, but Audi is well-versed in masking fat with chic. To wit: the chromed roll hoops behind the TT occupants’ heads, which transform milk runs into Mille Miglia. Still, the new TT won’t sweep Pebble Beach in 2050, as its forebear may well do. But you’ll still crane your neck to spot yourself reflected in shop windows.

Swing open the TT’s long, heavy driver’s door, and the aesthetic seduction begins anew. Typical of Audis, the TT’s cabin reeks of expensive-looking design details, with dimpled aluminum jewelry adorning the squishy, creased instrument panel. Feel the Wilson 2000 baseball glove-soft leather of the fat steering wheel rim. Click the slick, curvilinear switches. Smile, and repeat as desired.

08ttc_101_hr.jpgThere’s also been some ergonomic progress. VAG neophytes may need a day or three to adjust to the sternly-padded, square-cornered seats, but the chairs offer firm road-trip support. The high, enveloping cowl and low roof lend a whiff of artillery emplacement to the view out, but that’s easy enough to fix: thumb a rocker switch on the console, and the cave-like gloom gives way to open sky in twelve seconds.

That covers looks. So… is that it, then? Do the TT’s Golf-sourced underpinnings deny the two-seater the driving pleasure of its lighter, tighter rear-drive rivals? In a word, yes. But it really depends on the kind of driving from which your pleasure derives. There’s a lot to be said for a car that delivers a cohesive driving experience, regardless of its flavor. And while the TT’s flavor sways more towards heavy, Grenadine syrup, it’s undeniably a tasty little four-wheeled libation.

Make no mistake: if you demand Xtreme adrenal thrills and freakin’-sideways compatibility from your roadsters, the TT is so not for you. It’s a car to be poured down a winding highway, driven from the fingertips with calm, measured inputs. The TT’s smooth, well-oiled steering offers just enough weight to inspire confidence, while its front-drive chassis tracks like a slot car. Response to turn-in is a linear function of speed: below 7/10ths, it’s all class; rush it, and it scrubs. Big time, if you insist.

08ttr_09_hr.jpgThe powertrain that hurries things along is lifted intact from the GTI: a 2.0-liter direct-injection turbo four mated to VAG’s vaunted S tronic, nee DSG. The 2.0T’s midrange fizz and punch more than make up for its hollow low-rpm drone and slightly dilatory throttle response. Want a fully manual transmission and/or all-wheel-drive? Tough schnitzel. They’re only offered on the step-up TT 3.2, priced some $7,700 north of my $36,800 2.0T tester.

I know, I know, the DSG is a manual, and it shifts in so-and-so many milliseconds, which allows you to do… what, exactly? Unless you’re on a racetrack, this is like boasting about reducing the elapsed time of sex. I’ll take the traditional lever and three-pedal layout and add a little toe-tapping, rev-matching pleasure to my daily commute, thanks.

Interesting car, the TT Convertible, and one that’s without truly direct competition. Its drive doesn’t compare with the engaging, physical Z4, S2000, or Boxster. But then, it doesn’t require nearly as much concentration when your other half craves a balmy evening’s cruise. At the same time, the TT avoids the “Florida Rental Special” stigma of four-seat ragtops like Volvo’s C70.

08ttr_04_hr.jpgIn the end, the TT satisfies the two most essential top-down design briefs: it makes the driver look and feel exceptionally good. Sigh. I drive corrected.

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26 Comments on “2008 Audi TT 2.0T Convertible Review...”


  • avatar

    Nice review…and you’re right, there really is no competitor. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Good because there’s no one to steal sales, or bad cause it never gets cross-shopped?

  • avatar
    JJ

    It’s the ultimate hairdresser’s car.

    Unlike the Z4 and Boxster, first and foremost, it’s a fashion item, although personally I never learned to appreciate the styling. The coupe is slightly better but by taking the roofline away the best part is gone.

    That’s fine for some, but as a car enthousiast I prefer the Z4, S2000 and the Boxster. In fact, I’d rather have a Miata than this.

    It doesn’t get better with the V6 quattro either, it’s overweight, only marginally faster than the 2.0 and handles worse because of the weight. In Europe you can get a MT for the 2.0, but I guess Audi recognized the preferences of it’s customer base for this car in the US.

    I sincerely dislike the TT roadster so much I’ll post these links about about Jeremy Clarkson’s findings concerning the previous model…It’s still mostly accurate for the current one and both are worth to watch…

    TT demographic sketch by Jezza

    TT TopGear Iceland

  • avatar
    ash78

    I still think the original generation-and-a-half were one of the best looking cars of all time. A J Mays masterpiece that almost forgives the Ford Five Hundred. But this one is just too weird-looking IMHO and I don’t see how one might choose it over, say, a cheaper VW Eos–which seems to me to be the direct competition in the hairdresser/Florida septugenarian target market. I suppose the same could be asked of many of the platform-shared VW/Audi models, so the issue is academic. I just don’t like the idea of cars in this price range that have so little show-for-go.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    Wow. 37k. Wow.

    The mechanically similar A3 is a much more compelling value.. add sunroof and sport suspension for 9k less, and add a lot more practicality.

    The TT seems to be little more than 4 wheel bling.

  • avatar
    SWA737

    I think this car does get cross shopped.

    With a 2 year old Lexus SC.

    Are the cup holders sized for those Orange Mocha Frappuccinos the target demographic is so fond of?

  • avatar
    SupaMan

    Never thought much of the TT except that it was just a GTI in a pretty dress. I’ll admit, the first one was a masterpiece of design and looks, but as often does happen, the second generation just doesn’t quite fit the bill.

    And yes, I like having a MT to play around with, so that said, the stepup to the V6 is pointless if it just aggravates the cars dynamics.

    I’ll stick with the MX-5/S2000/Boxter/Z4.

  • avatar
    hitman1970

    Metrosexuals Rejoice!

  • avatar

    Audi made the most attractive cars in the world, interior and exterior, from about 2000-2003. Each redesign has gotten uglier and uglier.

    This is no exception.

    As for the price, you can thank Mr. Bush for causing the dollar to lose about 40% of its value since coming into office. There is just no way that German companies can manufacture in Germany and sell for a competitive price in the US.

  • avatar
    Theodore

    All show, no go. At that price point, I expect both. No thanks; I’ll spend several thousand less for a bit less show and a whole lot of go and buy a Miata.

  • avatar

    Good to see a review from you, PJ.

    I’v enever driven the new TT, but the magazines tend to say it drives much better than the original. Just the usual initial review gushing?

    I drove the original in 3.2 form. A distinctively massive feel among small sports cars.

    The TT isn’t in TrueDelta’s reliability survey yet, but the 2008 showed some early promise of getting to the minimum.

    http://www.truedelta.com/reliability.php

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    I’d go with the Miata as well, and get the manual, better reliability (and resale), and RWD.

    There’s nothing like a 4 cyl/manual canyon carver…..

  • avatar
    Howler

    Great to see the TT get 4 stars. These cars are always getting bum comparisons. If the TT is a dressed up GTI I would say that’s a good thing, and by dressed up I mean in a black tie sort of way. The quality, design, and materials here are stellar. Not to mention the performance. Performance isn’t always something that should be measured on a race track, something I find ridiculous on road car reviews. This is a very European mode of vehicle, and I’m not suprised to see most men get all bent out of shape about its sense of style. Comparisons with the Boxster are irrelevant, thats not what this car is and I’m happy that it suits a unique niche. Why should car A be just like car B that doesnt make any sense. Products of any kind just are what they are, some cater toward aesthetics, quality, and materials, I don’t see anything wrong with that. Besides the majority of TT knockers are too proud to have ever driven one, so what do you know Joe.

  • avatar

    Lol, the Top Gear episode hysterical (as usual).

    But, I always liked the style of this car; I feel it’s the quintessential futuristic car that you used to see lots of designs, sketches & concepts of. But they made it finally! And it looks cool!

    Too bad it’s just damn boring to drive.

  • avatar
    johnny ro

    1-“Unless you’re on a racetrack, this is like boasting about reducing the elapsed time of sex.” Thank you thank you. This is so true. A good manual is more fun than any auto, wherever, whenever, as long as you like driving to start with.

    2-I have NB Miata, it is a wonderful little tin can, a slow, wiggly jiggly, noisy little shitbox that is lovable and reliable and just right. The Audi’s extra lbs. represent structural integrity plus systems including turbo and a bunch of others some of which well maybe don’t really need. I have a medium pile of chassis braces ready to install on the Miata whenever I get to it.

    3-I lust insanely for the TT 2.0t MT coupe and might do something stupid, like buy one, I think you can get manual in the coupe. I have been avoiding them at dealer in the interest of fiscal prudence.. and never drive over 7/10ths.

  • avatar
    romanjetfighter

    Is that second pic in SF? It’d be fitting because this car is flamingly homosexual. Z4 is so much more masculine. After all, the thing looks like an uncircumsized penis. Haven’t driven either, so I’m just commenting on how these things look.

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    Thanks, PJ, for a great review.

    I must say, several of the the comments haven’t been up to the usual standard for TTAC.

    If I wanted to read the anti-gay rants of a bunch of middle school kids, I’d go back to AB.

  • avatar
    carlisimo

    The original changed car design entirely – enter a high beltline and tiny windows for a feeling of visual heft. No good as a sports car, but as a piece of art, magnificent.

    The new one isn’t significant from a design standpoint – it’s the old one plus some Banglization along the flanks, minus some symmetry. But I think it looks great nonetheless. I like the design more than the first one even if it won’t be as well remembered. And since the Mk. V Golf platform is a good one, the car’s better all-around. No, it’s not a traditional sports car, but a) not everyone looking for a 2-seat convertible wants one, and b) cars can be plenty fun without an FR layout (they can also be boring despite having it).

    It’s a cool car.

  • avatar
    Rix

    My 60 year old mother drooled over this car and she normally views a car as an appliance. She was all set to buy one but she couldn’t see over the steering wheel! This car is like a cave for those of us who are short.

  • avatar
    Vega

    @romanjetfighter: Don’t fight it, embrace it. Seriously. The only one your hurting is yourself.

  • avatar

    I am a Bay Area native banished to the Bayou City, and from that perspective, I can see why P.J. didn’t completely lambaste the TT. He got to roll the thing around with the top down on what looked like a stunning day in the most beautiful city in the U.S.

    Sure, the TT is a tarted up GTI, but I don’t think many here would debate the driving enjoyment the Mark V GTI gives. Enthusiasts will not want to part with the extra $10-15K for the pretty sheet metal, but are certainly a few in the mouth breathing masses who will.

    And, though I am from that area, I am not gay, not that there is anything wrong with that.

  • avatar
    P.J. McCombs

    HtownHeff:

    Oddly enough, while the accompanying photos are Audi PR stock (my driving shades aren’t nearly that cool), I *am* from the Bay Area, and did drive the car in the conditions you describe.

    Hadn’t noticed the coincidence!

  • avatar

    P.J.:

    D’oh, I should have gotten a clue from the “Quattro model show” tags on the photo. Still, nice that the reality of the drive was not far off. Was your drive in The City, or venture beyond?

  • avatar
    Ybnrmol

    I just drove that car for a week in Germany and frankly it is a blast. What people feel to appreciate is top speed and sustain speed are two different thing. With the TT I was able to sustain 145 MPH for long stretch of highway. The car feel safe at any speed, accelerate perfectly and the front doesn’t seems overwhelmed under full load. Granted it could have more horse power but here in US for what? Also the aerodynamic design is so good that you don’t have to put the top at high speed.
    I owned a Miata nice car on a slow curvy road but all German car are too.
    Now the cheer pleasure to pressure an M3 driver until it drops out of the lane… Sure on paper an M3 is faster but when you have to sustain the speed between a concrete wall on your left and slow traffic and trucks moving 70MPH on your right you need to have total confidence in your car. Guess what, the M3 driver did not…

    To P.J. the new Audi TT has a specific aluminum frame not found on any Golf GTI so far.

  • avatar
    hondagirl

    Well, according to this auto review, the TT is decent, but you can get a lot more for your money with something else.

  • avatar
    BlisterInTheSun

    My brother just returned from Germany where he rented an A3 with the sport package and tore-up the ‘Bahn, and he swore that it tracked as fast and as stable as his E55 AMG.
    VAG makes tremendous cars, and while some may demean this particular example as little more than a styling exercise, I like it loads.

  • avatar
    Zircon

    I have a TT 2.0L coupe (08) and an 06 Miata with Bilstein (SP?) shocks and limited slip diff. The Audi has an excellent combination of power and fuel economy and a very luxurious interior (can’t get on a Boxter). It has a ton of technology and the body is about 69% Aluminum – much lighter than the convertible. It is not a heavy car and can do 0-60 in 6.5, though I don’t boot it like that. It also has magnetic shocks (rheo fluid?). It is very fast in corners but not as capable as the Miata. The Miata is wonderful in twisties, but cannot catch the Audi in a straight. Its interior is way way below the Audi, with lots of hard plastics. Both have Bose (in our cars), but the Audi’s is outstanding the Miata only ok. Auto sound adjustment doesn’t work on Miata (stereo replaced and 2nd one doesn’t work propoerly either), while Audi’s system is very good. I view them as luxury and fun vs fun+. We love the Miata but it is not in the same league as the TT.


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