From The Hip
+ Good chassis rigidity, low wind noise
- Top-up blind spot, low-end wheels
Roadsters invariably suffer from cowl shake or twisting over uneven blacktop in high-speed sweepers, wind noise and leaks. Not the Audi TT Roadster. However, my complaint is a blind spot that can accommodate a medium-sized government building. With its low, swooping roofline and high shoulders, the TT has never been a great car for outward visibility, but the thickness of the roof's corners (on either side of the rear screen) makes for neck-straining lane changes and treacherous reversing maneuvers in crowded parking lots. This complaint is easily remedied in 12 seconds, by simply lowering the power soft-top, which is how this car should be enjoyed anyway.
The TT Roadster is exceptionally rigid; Audi has created a structure that rivals most closed-cockpit cars for stiffness. The real strength of the body is hidden inside the doorsills. Aluminum extrusions are used to connect the fore and aft ends to counteract torsional stresses. The new Roadster is a full 120 percent stiffer than the previous generation. This translates to a car that not only feels more confident, but is also surprisingly quiet with the top up or down.
On paper, the Roadster is not quite 200 pounds heavier than the coupe, but on the road it feels like substantially more. Our TT was equipped with the 2.0T engine paired with the staff favorite S tronic gearbox, aka DSG. There is a substantial difference between standard and sport modes. In standard mode, the engine hovers around 2000 to 2500 rpm and returns an impressive 26 mpg. In sport mode, gears are held to 6000 rpm and downshifts are timed perfectly while braking into turns.
Suspension tuning is on the highway comfort side, but well-paired spring and damping rates make for entertaining handling on back roads and exit ramps. The biggest letdown may be in the standard 17-inch wheels. This is too nice (and expensive) a vehicle ton come with anything smaller than 18-inch wheels. Along with shorter sidewalls, the 18-inch and 19-inch wheel options also get a wider tire: 245 as opposed to 225.
2008 Audi TT Roadster 2.0T
Transverse front engine,front-wheel drive
2.0-liter inline four, dohc, 16-valve, turbocharged and intercooled
Six-speed sequential manual
Peak Power: 200 hp @ 5100 rpm
Peak Torque: 207 lb-ft @ 1800 rpm 0-60 mph: 6.4 sec.
Top Speed: 149 mph
Fuel Economy: 22/29
Price as tested: $47,075
The TT Roadster has a base MSRP of just under $40,000, not a bad price. With options, our test car came in just under $50,000. Many cars at that price will have advantages over the Audi in one category or another, but may not offer the complete package of theTT. -Michael Febbo