Audi, Road Test Reviews, Vehicles

2008 Audi TT Coupe 2.0 – Road Test

It had to happen sooner or later! After more than two years at the top of my “I’d buy it, money-no-object list – my beloved Mazda RX8 has been unceremoniously shoved aside. I didn’t see this one coming, it completely blind-sided me. I knew one day it would happen – I just didn’t think it would come from Audi.

I liked the previous model of the TT, but when Audi re-designed it for 2007 I took more than a passing interest in it. It looked more grown up, and less of a “Girlie Car.” Early reports were positive that yes indeed it was manlier – so I HAD to get my mitts on one. It took a while to coordinate my schedule with Audi’s, but it was well worth the wait.

First Impressions
Just look at the car – go on – I’ll wait

The front end looks just like the Audi R8 supercar when you look at it straight on and from the side it’s a grown up curvy version of the first generation TT. This is one very beautiful car, and the more time you spend with it – the more you love its beauty – even if it is painted in “Boring-Silver”.

Opening the wide door and squeezing myself behind the wheel I can’t help wondering how I’m going to get back out. You don’t so much get into the TT, as put it on. Everything is within close proximity and conveniently placed. And dare I say it – logical. Unlike other Audi products, there aren’t a billion unmarked little buttons sprayed around the interior. The stereo system looks normal and easy to use, ditto on the automatic climate control! Holy (bleep)! I don’t have to read the manual to adjust the temperature or the radio! Good thing too, because someone’s absconded with the manual.

I found the seats very comfortable with so many adjustments it would be impossible not to get comfortable. The leather and Alcantara (fake suede) seats are perfectly bolstered in the kidney, thigh and shoulder area. The TT is perfectly set up as a driver’s car, and doesn’t forget to pamper the front passenger either. The front passenger is also treated to a very comfortable seat that gets 6-way adjustments along with lumbar and height adjustments too. The thigh bolsters are very prominent and certainly help keep you in place when zipping through the twisties. The seats are heated but I didn’t have an opportunity to test them as it was still quite warm during our test. As has come to be the norm in Audi/VW’s of late, there’s a huge perfectly placed dead pedal for the left foot for when the driver needs extra help during the cornering activities this car mandates.

The fat leather steering wheel is the perfect size and offers both tilt and telescopic adjustments. It has a flat bottom just like the GTI steering wheel, but more importantly, the flat bottom helps when you get in and out of the cockpit. Also on the wheel are the telephone and radio controls – in typical Audi/VW fashion it has scroll wheels instead of buttons.

The top of the dashboard is finished in a dull-black high quality plastic material that prevents any reflections bouncing back onto the windshield. Even though the interior was black on black, it wasn’t dull or depressing – there are just enough different shades to make it look interesting, but not too much to cheapen it or make it look dis-jointed.

Powered by the same 2.0 litre turbo-charged four cylinder engine as the VW GTI, the TT just seems to put it to better use. I loved the GTI, but the TT is just sooo much more fun and responsive! Because the turbo gives the TT a very broad curve range, the car is ready to sprint off in an instant ‘ think about moving into that spot between those two cars ‘ and you’re there. Wiggle your toes – you’re now travelling 20 mph faster. On one occasion I overtook a slower moving car on a 2-lane highway and barely pushed the throttle – we blew by the guy doing twice the speed limit in less than 2 seconds! I went from 50 – 100 mph (80 to 160 kms/hr) in the blink-of-an-eye. You don’t feel you’re travelling that fast, but when you look down at the speedometer you gasp at the speed you’re traveling and the time it didn’t take you to get there. Noise levels were very good, regardless of what speed I was travelling at.

Going up the steep hills in our area was exhilarating because it felt like there was no limit to the power beneath my right foot. I was doing triple the speed limit up the hills and the TT was completely stable – giving me more and more speed until I reached the summit. Most vehicles tend to run out of steam by the time you get to the top, but not this car.

The transmission is a 6-speed dual-clutch DSG (Direct Shift Gearbox) with electro-hydraulic control and works incredibly well in combination with the exceptional engine. The TT comes with paddle shifters to make it more convenient to shift instantly, and this rendition works well. However, I found that when I left the transmission alone to do its own thing it did a better job than I could! Shifts were seamless and quick, and when I had the throttle buried it stayed in the power band right to the redline. Whenever I shifted it into a lower gear while descending hills, the car was never as smooth or quiet as the times I just left it alone to make the decisions. After a couple of days I abandoned the paddle shifters entirely and decided to just hang on and enjoy the ride.

Another impressive feature is the way Audi have controlled torque steer. Although the TT was FWD I never once felt any kick-back from the front wheels. The traction control light would flicker now and again when I was screaming up a hill, but other than that I thought I was actually driving a Quattro. It wasn’t until I returned the TT to Audi that I discovered I wasn’t driving a Quattro all week. The only negative comment I can make about the transmission – and the entire car really – is when launching from a dead stop. To record the 0 – 60 mph time took several attempts to get the best time. I buried the gas pedal and nothing happened — then the power came on with a rush. I tried it with one foot on the brake and the revs much higher, but when I released the brake the same thing happened – nothing for about half a second and then off we went. In the end I still got a very respectable time of 6.4 seconds, but without that hesitation, I’m sure this is a sub-6 second car. If this is the only “complaint” I can offer respecting a car then you know it’s fantastic.

The Bose premium 12-speaker “Audi Symphony” audio system is a 250-watt AM/FM/MP3 radio with an in-dash 6-disc CD changer (there’s also a space in the glove box for dealer-installed CD changer unit if you go with the Navigation package). The sound quality is very good – as you’d expect, but was clearly lacking in the deep bass department – it just wasn’t up to the standard you expect of a vehicle of this caliber and price.

Rear seat accommodation was a surprise – a surprise in that there actually was a back seat! Well, when I say there’s a back seat, it’s more of a curved seating area for legless and headless people -or small dogs. The front seats don’t fold forward in a very accommodating fashion, but I did manage to get my dog into the back seat (see picture). Although he didn’t complain I’m sure he would have when I squished his head against the head liner to force him into the seat. I almost pulled his head off getting him back out.

Considering the TT coupe is quite a small car, the trunk space is a surprisingly useful 13.1 cu-ft. With its hatchback and 50/50 folding rear seats it can swallow a lot more cargo than you’d expect. We managed to stuff a lot of components for my wife’s business into it – among other things: two carpets (6 ft long), a large plastic box, shelving unit, studio lights and numerous other smaller boxes. We were VERY impressed to say the least.

The Conclusion
The TT coupe is without a doubt my new favourite car – it’s simply awesome! If you can’t afford one, then the VW GTI is you’re next-best option. DON’T even think about the TT with the 3.2 litre engine (see my Road Test on the TT Roadster for more on that). The TT clearly surpassed any and all thoughts about whether it is a true sports car. It also surprised with its utility – something that is rarely if ever evident in a sports car. The seats are fabulous, the driving position terrific as well as the fuel economy. The steering and suspension along with the wonderful engine and 6-speed transmission make it a joy to drive. You get to pretend you’re a race car driver on the city streets – half the fun is seeing how fast you can take a corner without lifting off the gas pedal. It’s solid and quiet at any speed and gives you the confidence to go faster and deeper into corners than you normally would. Canadians are paying a 30% price premium over those in the U.S. even though our currency is closer to par than it’s been in 30 years. Would I spend my money on it? Absolutely positively – Yes! But not at Canadian prices – I’d go across the border to get it. Oh, and make mine blue – not boring silver please!

For more information go to: Audi-USA or AudiCanada

All Audi’s come with a comprehensive 4 year /50,000 miles [80,000 kms] Bumper to Bumper warranty – including no-charge scheduled maintenance and 4 years/ unlimited distance Roadside Assistance.

Pricing for the 2008 Audi TT Coupe 2.0:
As tested (Premium Package + Options): $38,225 [$56,350 Cdn]
Base 2.0 prices start at: $34,800 [$50,600 Cdn] with the Premium/Luxury Package starting at $36,950 [$53,500 Cdn]
Destination & Delivery: USA – $775 / Canada – $1,500 (this is a guesstimate ‘ you have to buy it to find out)

Fuel Consumption: [Premium Fuel ‘ 91 Octane]
The Turbocharged 2.0 Litre is rated at 23 mpg City [10.2 L/100 kms] and 31 mpg Highway [7.6 L/100 kms]. I averaged 35.1 mpg [6.7 L/100 kms] during 100% Highway driving and approximately 24 mpg [9.9 L/100 kms] during mixed driving (I accidentally re-set the trip odometer so these aren’t super solid numbers).

Superb fuel economy
Soooo much fun – and practical too!

Canadians are paying too much of a premium over U.S. customers
No moonroof option

Back Seat Driver Test: 4 out of 10
Just look at the pictures – enough said!

Immediate Competition:
BMW Z4, Honda S2000, Mazda RX8

By The Numbers:
Powertrain: 2.0 Litre DOHC 16-valve intercooled turbo engine with direct gasoline injection, 6-speed dual-clutch
DSG (Direct Shift Gearbox) with electro-hydraulic control, FWD.
Horsepower: 200 @ 5,100 – 6,000 rpm
Torque: 207 @ 1,800-5,000 rpm
0 – 60 mph 6.4 seconds
Top Speed Electronically Limited To 209 km/h

10 – Quality
10 – Noise, Vibration & Harshness (NVH)
10 – Cargo Area/Trunk Space
9 – Special Features (Heated Seats/ Sunroof etc)

9 – Ease of Entry/Exit
9 – Front Roominess
4 – Rear Roominess
10 – Driving Position/Controls

10 – Drool Factor
10 – Fit & Finish

10 – Engine
10 – Transmission
10 – Ride & Handling

Ownership Value
10 – Bang for the $$
10 – Fuel Economy

141 Total / 150

Copyright © 2008 by Iain Shankland. All rights reserved.
Text / Images: Iain Shankland
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