Our week with Audi's second-generation TT Coupe came soon after our earlier test of the Audi TT Roadster. We enjoyed the convertible version enough to give it an Editors' Choice award, mainly thanks to its unflappable performance and roster of available tech options.
The TT Coupe similarly impressed us, with its dynamic performance benefiting slightly from the inherently stiffer chassis that comes with a fixed roof versus a retractable one. Our test Coupe didn't include the navigation option, just as the Roadster hadn't, and worse, did without our droptop's magnetic ride suspension, but we did get to try out the dedicated iPod dock in the glovebox this time around.
Test the tech: iPod integration
Since iPod integration is finally coming of age as an in-car audio option, and we've recently seen some very well-executed OEM systems (and since Editors Cunningham and Massy beat us to the idea of simply flogging the car on-track and -off), we decided to take a close look at Audi's iPod implementation (a $250 option) to Test the Tech of the 2008 TT Coupe.
The installation itself is the cleanest we've seen to date, with a 30-pin dock connector on the rear glovebox wall for the iPod to slide into horizontally--no cables to deal with, no wondering where to lay the iPod when connected. A few extra plastic sleeves are provided to snugly hold various iPod models, but only those that connect directly to a 30-pin dock. The iPod Mini we normally use in test cars wasn't compatible.
But a standard-size old-school original iPod connected to the car easily. We found the appropriate plastic sleeve, slid the iPod in on its back, and we were good to go--sort of. We quickly realized that proper menu integration wasn't in the cards, making us wonder why a $20,000 Scion xB can offer such a better experience, and standard at that, than the near-$50,000 Audi, especially with the latter's dedicated hardware.
The TT Coupe reads the iPod's content through its CD changer's protocol, similar to how many aftermarket iPod adaptors work. Given the dock connector, we expected a much more fully developed and robust interface. What we saw instead was that the CD changer's disc 7 through 11 spots on the stereo's readout corresponded to the first five playlists on the iPod, and the disc 12 spot simply includes every song on the iPod.
Very surprisingly, no track info is displayed, so scrolling through the full song list is useless, as all that's displayed is "Track 87," etc. Of course, creating five manageable playlists for the car will be what owners do, but the integration still isn't great. We had a more favorable experience with iPod integration on the 2007 Audi A6, which included navigation.
In the cabin
Our iPod letdown might have been mitigated, had our test car been equipped with the navigation option; we're not sure if integration is better with Audi's MMI control and LCD display. Similarly, we wondered if the TT's Bluetooth phone setup would offer the searchable contacts feature we saw in the Audi A6 if nav were specified.
Without nav, the car still paired with our Sony Ericsson k790 very easily and automatically downloaded its address book. Contacts are then viewed in the driver information system screen between the main gauges and scrolled via one of the steering wheel's roller switches. This can be tedious, as all numbers for each contact are displayed one by one. Searching by letter as we had in the A6 would have been a vast improvement.