- Head-turning design, now with a hint of aggression.
- Award-winning VR6 engine.
- Smooth high-tech DSG gearbox - an auto that shifts like a manual.
- High build quality.
- Improved suspension setup.
- Styling doesn't help aerodynamics, nor interior room.
- Not much improvement in straight-line performance.
- The TT now gets even more expensive.
- Harsh ride quality on bumpy roads.
- Too heavy to toss around like a small sports car.
Press Coverage :
The Audi TT 3.2 Quattro packs exactly what its name suggests - a 3.2L engine powering all four wheels. The TT 3.2 also packs Volkswagen Group's newest technological advances. Firstly, the VR6 engine now has a all-time high power output of 250 hp, and secondly, the transmission of choice is a six-speed system named DSG, or Direct Shift Gearbox, that automatically shifts gears faster than any manual gearbox. Available as coupe or roadster in the fall of 2003, the VR6-powered TT now has the technology to back its futuristic looks.
This Audi TT's VR6 engine, essentially a compact V6 packed transversely in the engine bay, makes 250 hp at 6300 rpm, with a flat torque curve peaking at 236 lb-ft from 2800 to 3200 rpm. Internal work on the engine, plus better cooling, accounts for the 9 hp gain in power over the 3.2L VR6 powering the Volkswagen R32. The suspension has been upgraded, using a double wishbone setup at the rear, while using the standard MacPherson strut setup at the front. Wider anti-roll bars, and firmer dampers and springs, when combined with the standard 17 inch wheels shod in 225/45R-17 rubber, improve handling dynamics, when compared to the standard TT. Weight distribution has been improved by moving the battery to the rear. This heavier TT uses floating calipers with 13.15 in. vented discs at the front, and floating calipers with 10.43 in. vented discs at the rear, for stopping power. Other standard features include a modified exhaust system, a larger rear lip spoiler and buttons on the steering wheel for manual shifting. Options include 18 inch wheels and a navigation system. All in all, this is the closest the Golf-platformed Audi TT has ever come to being a hardcore sports car.
What makes this Audi TT exceptional is the way the peak power and torque are transmitted to all four wheels. The new Direct-Shift Gearbox (DSG) merges the pluses of a manual six-speed with those of an automatic, resulting in near instantaneous and smooth shifts that even Michael Schumacher couldn't best. At the heart of this new shift-by-wire technology is a three-shaft six-speed gearbox that uses a twin multi-plate clutch with electro-hydraulic control, allowing for two gears to be engaged at the same time (see engineering editor Dan Barne's sidebar on how it works). Essentially, the DSG preselects your next gear (based on a variety of sensor inputs--engine speed, braking, etc.) a fraction of a second before you shift. Upshifts, downshifts and even shifting from sixth to second are all done without power, torque or engine speed interruptions. You simply keep driving on your merry - and quick - way.
Does it really work? In a word, yes. There are three different ways to use the new DSG, and my driving partner and I tried them all. You can leave it in automatic ("D"), letting the DSG's brain handle the shifts for you. Whether moving up or down the gears, the DSG shifted seamlessly and with surprising aggressiveness for an economy and convenience mode. For those who prefer a more sporty automatic shift pattern, you can drop the gear lever down into the "S" mode, which delays upshifts and shortens downshift times. The Sport mode is the answer to those who are too lazy to shift but still want a more dynamic throttle response.
Both the "D" and "S" modes work remarkably well, but why anyone would opt for either one when you have paddle shifters is beyond me. The best (and in my opinion) only way to use the DSG is through the tiptronic gate, where you click through the gears yourself. Slide the gear lever over to the "+" and "-" gate, place your hands at 9 and 3 on the leather-wrapped steering wheel, rapidly depress the throttle and start paddle shifting--the right paddle is upshift; the left, downshift. If you so desire, you can also shift the "tiptronic" way via the gearshift lever on the center console, but I found the paddle shifts to be easier and more grin-inducing.
We swooped up the Grand Corniche (and its lower counterpart, the Moyenne Corniche) at speeds well above the posted limits. When combined, the Haldex awd system, the 250-bhp V6 and the DSG made us believe there wasn't a road surface or angle that the TT couldn't stick to and power through. The only things that interfered with our hillclimbs were slow-going Twingos and the occasional barely moving Deux Chevaux. No worries, though, as the sudden need to downshift was executed quickly and smoothly with the DSG paddles. Powering around the snails-on-wheels was equally effortless; a fast downshift and the 236 lb-ft of torque appeared at the relatively early 2800 rpm.
Front seats are sculpted and quite firm, but they're not that confining because they're not jammed out onto the doorsills. The seatback-recline knob for both front seats could be better designed for easier maneuvering. It's sometimes difficult to get a good grip on it. The two back seats are for children only, according to Audi. They should be short kids, too, since the sloping roofline takes a toll on back-seat headroom. Still, those seats fold down, providing 24.2 cubic feet of nicely lined luggage room.
It can take some time to get used to the interior dimensions of the Audi TT. At only 5-foot-4, I bumped my head more than once inside this 53-inch-tall car. Each time, it happened right where the roof slants down to meet the side window. Front headroom overall is competitive at 37.8 inches, but watch for the sloping sides. The view out of the TT is better than I expected, but the doors do come up high, giving the sense of a compact side view. Prominent on the TT dashboard are machined aluminum parts—many of them carrying the theme of the TT's circular, silver-colored fuel-filler cap with exposed screws that's reminiscent of quick-release caps in racing.
2001-2003 Audi TT Quattro
1,781 cc / 225 hp / 207 lb-ft / 3274-3472 lbs / 0-60 mph 6.6 sec.