In the cabin
Being a roadster, the Audi TT has a small cabin with little storage space. But we had plenty of legroom and found the seats' long range of vertical power adjustment useful for centering our view through the windshield, no matter how tall the driver. None of our drivers had to sit with the top of the windshield frame blocking their view of the road.
Our TT didn't have Audi's MMI interface, which comes with the navigation option. Instead, it had a fairly simple stereo interface with a large display bookmarked by soft buttons along its sides. This red LED has plenty of room to show information from broadcast radio, satellite radio, or MP3 CDs. The soft buttons along the sides of the display make it easy to scroll through the folders on a disc, select songs to play, and show information about individual tracks. With a push of the Info button, the display shows ID3 track information from MP3s. One minor irritation: There is no way to select categories in satellite radio mode. Instead, you have to use the dial to tune through all of the stations available, which can become tedious.
One strange omission was an auxiliary audio input, a feature that's becoming standard on most cars. But Audi does offer an optional iPod interface. This iPod adapter uses CD changer positions one through five for the first five playlists on the iPod, and the sixth to access all tracks. The standard stereo comes with a six-disc changer that can read MP3 CDs. The $1,900 navigation option can be had with either the changer or the iPod interface. From our past experience with Audi navigation systems, we find it a worthwhile option, although it doesn't distinguish itself from the pack in any particular way.
As for audio quality, well, the premium Bose system that came with our test car had excellent sound. Audi went a little overboard on it, but we're not complaining. Remember that this is a small, two-seater cabin. Audio fills the cabin from 12 speakers, including a center-fill and a subwoofer, which get their juice from an eight-channel 255-watt amp. This system produced near-perfect clarity, letting us hear all the different sounds in our music distinctly. But it's not a particularly bass-heavy system, so don't expect to get the TT thumping. This system treads lighter and sounds wonderful when playing orchestral and acoustic music.
Although a convertible, we could hear the music quite well as we cruised the freeway at 70 mph. The Audi TT has a rear wind deflector that you can raise and lower by pushing a button. With the side windows up as well, wind and noise in the cabin were greatly reduced.
Our car also had the Bluetooth option, which we've seen before on other Audis such as the A6. Along with BMW's Bluetooth system, Audi's is the best as it accesses your phone's phonebook, making all your contacts available from the center display.
Under the hood
We covered much of how the Audi TT performs under pressure in our Test the Tech section above. The pieces that make all of this possible start with the 3.2-liter V-6. This engine produces 250 horsepower at 6,300 revolutions per minute and 236 lb-ft. of torque at 2,500rpm. It's a good amount of boost for the TT. Fuel economy isn't wonderful, with an EPA rated 17 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway. In our mixed city and freeway driving, we came in at 20.3 mpg during our time with the car, about what we would expect with an engine of this size. Emissions ratings haven't been published for the Audi TT at this time.
The Audi TT has very responsive steering and shifting, befitting a sports car. With the shifter, you can get usable power up through fourth gear, with fifth and sixth merely cutting down the rpm's at steady speeds. We also would have loved to try Audi's dual clutch S-tronic transmission with the TT, as we really enjoyed it on the Audi A3.
The retractable spoiler is an interesting aerodynamic asset on the TT. It automatically opens up around 80 mph and retracts at 55 mph. But to avoid the spoiler serving as a flag to the highway patrol that you've been speeding, there is also a button to manually raise or lower it. Of course we practiced saying, in the event we got stopped, "I know the spoiler is up, officer, but I always push this button to open it whenever I get on the freeway."
Another good sports option on our test car, and one that probably contributed greatly to the handling, was the magnetic ride suspension. With this option, there is a button on the console that let us put the car in sports mode. Needless to say, we rarely had it out of sports mode. This suspension system dynamically adjusts the ride depending on how you're driving the car.
Our 2008 Audi TT 3.2 Quattro started out with a base price of $44,500. Our test also came equipped with the magnetic ride suspension ($1,400), a special leather interior package ($1,250), the premium sound system ($1,000), 18-inch alloy wheels ($800), adaptive HID headlights ($800), an iPod interface ($250), and Bluetooth phone preparation ($450). With its $775 destination charge, the total comes out to $51,225.
The Audi TT is pretty pricey for a two-seater, especially since it isn't very practical as a primary car. But we can't think of any other roadsters that have all-wheel-drive, either. It's an exhilarating car to drive, and you can load it up with a pretty decent array of cabin gadgets. The only flaw from a driving perspective is its run-of-the-mill fuel economy. The real standout in its available electronics is the premium audio system. For a lot less money, you could have a Honda S2000, which is also very fun to drive but doesn't have nearly the selection of cabin electronics. All-wheel-drive versus rear-wheel isn't a clear decision, as some people will like the kick-out you can get from a rear-wheel-drive car better.