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First drive: Function meets form in new Audi TT

New take: The Bauhaus look is now more contemporary.

Audi's all-new TT Coupe goes for an aluminium space frame wrapped in even more style

21 Nov 2006

AUTOMOTIVE design icons are as valued as they are rare. In a world of homogenous hatches built in low-cost countries, cars like Audi's first-generation TT stood out.

It is with this in mind that the German car-maker has taken an evolutionary, rather than revolutionary, design path with its second-generation 2+2.

The two TT Coupe models – a front drive 2.0-litre FSI turbo four-cylinder and 3.2-litre V6 with quattro drive – will be available from next month.

The line-up will be expanded next June with the arrival of the Roadster models, priced at $77,500 for the 2.0 FSI and $92,900 for the 3.2 quattro.

Apart from its looks, there are several significant changes to the new TT.

Firstly, it features an aluminium space frame body that is stronger and lighter than the old car. The aluminium and steel components are bonded, then either screwed or riveted to the body. Secondly, the wheelbase, along with the car's size, has grown slightly, freeing up more interior room. The car's rear torsion beam suspension has also been ditched in favour of a sophisticated four-link set-up.

Like its predecessor, Audi designers have retained and enhanced the coupe's visual impact but it is clearly not as cutting edge as the original’s Bauhaus design.

The car's narrow greenhouse carries over, along with the long sweeping C-pillar and powerful shoulder line.

Like other Audis the front now gains a single-frame radiator grille with sharply cut "eyebrow" headlights.

At the back the tail-lights have a three-dimensional effect to add depth while the broad rump conveys visual power – courtesy of the dual exhausts on the 3.2 and wide diffuser - right out to the wheel arches. The 2.0 models had dual exhausts located on one side of the under bumper area.

Unlike the old car, which had an ungainly rear spoiler, the newcomer gets a Porsche Boxster-style retractable unit.

When stationary, the electric rear spoiler is recessed. At speeds of 120km/h and beyond it extends in a two-dimensional motion, improving downforce on the rear axle while the under body design also helps reduce lift. Below 80km/h it retracts.

Depending on how you look at it too, the new TT is a bargain compared to the old car.

The two front-wheel drive entry models, the 2.0T FSI manual, S-tronic and range-topping 3.2 quattro S tronic, are cheaper than the comparable models they replace, by $6700 in the case of the 3.2.

7 center imageAluminium accounts for 69 per cent of the body structure while the doors and rear hatch are steel.

In 2.0-litre guise the TT 80kg lighter – 1260kg – than the previous model and 20kg lighter in the quattro 3.2, which tips the scales at 1430kg.

Audi claims the car's low weight is one of the key factors to the car's improved roadholding and dynamics.

Inside, some original TT cues have carried over, like the aluminium-look air vent bezels and deep console.

The new standard-spec sports steering wheel has a flat bottom like the RS4 and is trimmed in high-grade Nappa leather.

Both front electric seats sit lower than in the previous model and are heavily bolstered. The steering wheel is height as well as reach adjustable while there are aluminium-look finishes around the dash console. The pedals also have aluminium finishes.

The new TT is 137mm longer, 78mm wider and 6mm higher than the old car. It is now 4178mm long, 1842mm wide and 1352mm high, and sits on 46mm-longer wheelbase at 2468mm, freeing up an extra 75mm of interior room. With the rear seats down luggage space is 700 litres, or 290 with the 50/50 split/folding backrests in place.

At launch, two transverse engines, a four-cylinder turbo four and V6, will be available, mated to either a six-speed manual for the four cylinder, or Audi’s S tronic dual-clutch gearbox – basically a DSG – as standard in the quattro V6.

Audi Australia's general manager for marketing, Javier Degen, said a TDI variant was possible, particularly a high-performance diesel, but none was planned in the short-term.

In the meantime, there’s plenty to love about the turbo four and narrow-angle V6 petrol units.

The four develops 147kW between 5100rpm and 6000rpm and 280Nm from 1800rpm, providing a zero to 100km/h sprint in 6.4 seconds in S-tronic form or 6.6 seconds in the manual form. Top speed is 240km/h while the car’s combined fuel cycle is 7.7L/100km.

The 3.2-litre quad camshaft V6 develops 184kW at 6300rpm and 320Nm between 2500rpm and 3000pm. The V6 will hit 100km/h in 5.7 seconds and has a top speed of 250km/h. Its combined average fuel figure is 9.4L/100km.

Both the four and V6 feature "sports suspension", the layout of the MacPherson strut front and four-link rear suspension has been redesigned and retuned. As a benefit the car’s centre of gravity is now 9mm lower.

The car gains a wider front and rear track 1572mm front and 1558mm rear, while the rack and pinion steering is electro-mechanically assisted.

A high-tech damping system called Audi Magnetic Ride is available as a $3000 option.

Basically similar to the unit on other high-end European cars, and even HSV Holdens, the system allows two adjustable modes, "normal" and "sport".

The shock absorber pistons are filled with a magneto-rheological fluid in which microscopically small magnetic particles are enclosed. When an electric current is applied the damping characteristics are altered.

The S tronic dual-clutch gearbox, which has shift paddles, is standard on the 3.2 quattro, while the magnetic damping system is a $3000 option.

Standard equipment runs to 17-inch alloys (18-inch for the 3.2), dual front and side/head airbags, multi-function sports steering wheel, ESP with anti-slip regulation, ABS, EBD, Bluetooth compatibility, brake assist, leather upholstery, electric front seats, auto-dipping rear view mirror, power windows/mirrors, sports suspension, front and rear foglights, cruise control, trip computer, automatic air conditioning, 50/50 split fold rear seats and six-disc in-dash CD Bose stereo. Among the options are metallic paint ($1500), Xenon headlights ($1850) and adaptive Xenon headlights ($2500) and rear parking sensors ($850).

A DVD-based navigation system is also available. Mr Hofmann believes many buyers will trade up from existing TTs but he was confident of conquests from BMW, Mercedes-Benz and even Porsche.

Audi Australia expects to sell about 400 TTs a year, with the model split favouring the 2.0 S tronic.

Audi expects 25 per cent of buyers to opt for the 3.2 V6 and another 25 per cent to step into the 2.0-litre six-speed manual.

2007 Audi TT Coupe pricing:
2.0 FSI $68,900
2.0 FSI (a) $72,500
3.2 quattro $88,900

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