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  • Roger Witherspoon

Turbo Charged Ridge Running in the Audi TT

By Roger Witherspoon


It was a wonderful stretch of mountain highway

The sun was high, the air was clear and the two lanes were a paved series of

scenic straight-aways above picturesque valleys and meandering rivers interrupted with

the kind of curves – sometimes long and lazy, sometimes extra sharp – that pull people

from cities in search of rustic wonderlands. It’s a pleasant enough attraction for those

seeking a leisurely afternoon drive.

But on this occasion, the road through the upper Hudson River Valley screamed

for performance and speed – not a country stroll. With the push of a button, the soft cloth

top lifted up over the Audi TT Roadster and disappeared in a closed bin behind the seats.

With another, the soothing sound of Miles disappeared and, in his place, Usher began to

make the nine speakers of the Bose sound system vibrate and his shout of “Yeah!”

reverberated off of the mountainside.

A flick of the wrist shifted the transmission from a six-speed automatic to a

manual mode and activated the paddle shifts attached to the steering wheel. The road was

empty as the pedal went to the floor. The twin turbos began to purr, shifting to a low roar

as the engine revved higher and the TT shot forward, getting louder as I rapidly shifted

through the gears with the touch of the upward paddle, quickly hitting triple digits on the

straight road.

The front wheel drive roadster had taken off with a jump, but there was none of

the skittishness or sway that characterized earlier versions of the Double T, and the back

wheels did not jump and slide over bumpy pavement. Unlike its solid steel predecessors,

the 08 model has a primarily aluminum body – with steel reinforcement at the rear – and

the weight has been more evenly distributed. In addition, the new TT is about three

inches wider than its predecessor – giving it a stance closer to its heavier competitors, the

Nissan 350 Z, BMW Z-4, and Porsche Boxter – as well as more stability on the road.

The first in a series of lazy S-curves approached, and I tapped the downshift

paddle to fourth gear and cut speed to about 90 as I hit the lightly banked curves flanked

by trees on one side of the road and open air and valley below on the other. The TT

stayed in its lane, the wider road racing tires holding the road in a superglue grip as I

zipped through the mountains, finally leaving the curves and leveling off for another

straight stretch of road running.

The new Audi TT Roadster is a basically fine roadster known more for styling

than performance: its limited power made it too light to fight in a straight away race, and

its lack of balance made it to thin to win on the curves. But it was a pretty roadster, a no-

nonsense, simple flowing design marred by a fixed spoiler which failed to give it any

traction on curves or bumpy roads.

It still has a trim shape, though it now ends with the bare hint of a spoiler which

rises when the speed exceeds 75 miles per hour. But the wider stance stretched the grill

into a more aggressive looking grimace with a hint of power. The Double T comes in two

flavors: the four cylinders, 200-horsepower, front wheel drive model with twin

turbochargers to boost its performance, and a six cylinder, 250-horsepower, all wheel

drive model. The smaller engine on the $44,000 TT pushes the car from 0 – 60 miles per

hour in 6.3 seconds, which is .3 seconds and $10,000 less than the BMW Z-4 roadster.

The TT with the 3.2-liter engine zips from 0 to 60 in just 5.6 seconds, but pretty much

matches the BMW the $54,000 price range.

At the top of the speed range, however, the BMW will run at 150 miles per hour,

while the TTs top out at 130. So while the Audis will jump off to a quicker start, the

drivers will not be able to gloat for long.

Inside, the TT was also received a face lift, beginning with the leather and suede,

heated bucket seats and the Bose sound system. It was missing a navigation system and

satellite radio, which is a surprise in a vehicle in this price range and a staple with its

competing roadsters.

But for the simple enjoyment of looking good, losing the roof and going on a long

country cruise, or for the an adrenaline rush on a deserted street drag strip, the TT isn’t a

bad way to travel.

2008 Audi TT Roadster 2.0

MSRP: $41,425

EPA Mileage: 22 MPG City 29 MPG Highway

As Tested Mileage: 19 MPG Mixed

Performance/ Safety:

0 – 60 MPH 6.3 Seconds

Top Speed 130 MPH

2.0-Liter DOHC, turbo charged 4-cylinder engine producing 200 horsepower and 207

pound-feet of torque; S-tronic, 6-speed automatic dual clutch gearbox; 18-inch alloy

wheels; McPherson strut front suspension; four-link rear suspension; electronic

stabilization program; anti-lock brakes; automatic rear spoiler; dual chrome-tipped

exhaust pipes; dual threshold and knee airbags; seat mounted, thorax side airbags; fog


Interior/ Comfort:

AM/ FM radio; Bose 9-speaker, 140-watt sound system; 3-spoke, leather wrapped

steering wheel; paddle shifts; power retractable hood; 10-way power, heated seats; 6-disc,

in-dash CD player.


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