behind the RS 4-
steering wheel of
Audis 247bhp 3.2-litre
V6 TT Roadster,
select the S tronics
Sport mode and keep
pressed to the floor.
Whats it like?
The closest we could
come to verbalising the
experience would be:
Bat Out Of Hell...
MEATLOAF'S BAT OUT OF HELL is up there with the most popular top driving tracks ever. But it's equally famous for the effect it has on drivers. I know highly-accomplished drivers who swear that even with their training and self-control if they have Bat Out Of Hell playing on the stereo they find their right foot pressing harder on the accelerator pedal! Whether it does or not, it aptly describes what you want to do with the Audi TT Roadster.
If you're considering buying one (at this point we must say that if you test one, you'll most likely buy it), just make sure you specify two things: the brilliant S tronic transmission and the Magnetic Ride dam-ping. Equipped thus, you'll begin to appreciate the 'Bat Out Of Hell' tag.
For the record, Audi's TT Roadster is available as either a 197bhp 2.0-litre TFSI with front-wheel drive priced at £26,915 or, as tested here, a 247bhp 3.2-litre quattro version costing £30,710. Transmission choices are likewise two: a slick six-speed manual or Audi's still-unique S tronic the double-clutch, six-speed semi-automatic transmission (formerly known as DSG). Tellingly, the only other car in the world to use this set-up is the 987bhp Bugatti Veyron.
This second-generation Roadster is still, unmistakably, a TT. Yes, it's noticeably wider and longer, but the new proportions endow it with a catlike grace underscored by feline headlamp units. The tail treatment is notably successful and best appreciated with the soft-top down and the prominent chrome rollover hoops blatantly displayed. Road presence it has by the bucket-load and the TT Roadster is, of course, arguably one of the most attractive sports cars on the road today.
Audi has, thankfully, resisted replacing fabric with metal for its folding roof. Instead it has stayed faithful to a 'classic' look soft-top. Like its Coupé sibling, the TT Roadster uses a hybrid Audi Space Frame (ASF) bodyshell that blends 58 per cent aluminium and 42 per cent steel to minimise weight and maximise integrity. Body rigidity has increased by an impressive 120 per cent. To avoid negating the weight saving, an electrically operated fabric hood graces the Roadster bodyshell.
Another benefit of such a set-up as this is that the roof needs consid-erably less boot space when stowed. In practice it's all very civilised: the powered roof mechanism is quiet and extremely quick (just 12 seconds to either fully open or closed) and although it can be operated 'on the fly' at speeds of up to 19mph, we would urge caution in doing so as it tends to totally distract other drivers.
Dropping (or raising) the roof is a 'hands-free' operation. Okay, so you do have to press a button, but then it's all totally automated. With the rigid front section of the roof closed on top of the stacked and folded fabric, the rigid section forms a cover that sits perfectly flush with
the surrounding bodywork and thereby does away with the need for a tonneau.
The TT serves up a great drive. With the top folded away and you snuggled down in the fabulous low-slung seats (10-way electrically adjustable with power lumbar support) in the superbly fitted-out cock-pit with the wind deflector in place just flick another switch to raise or lower what has to be the sexiest wind-break ever and the BOSE stereo shouting down the wind, you'll be hooked. And you can indulge in draught-free open-air motoring well past the UK motorway limit where, of course, it's legal.
This is a good place to mention that packing away the roof doesn't compromise your carrying capacity. There genuinely is room for ample luggage for two in the long, wide 250-litre boot. A handy load-through hatch to the cabin an extra £95 allows items up to 1.9 metres long to be carried securely inside the car. And when it comes to cabin storage, the TT is more than accommodating. Nice touches include the 'hidden' pop-out stowage cubbies built into the leading edge of both front seats, as well as two more lidded cubbies behind the front seat backs in the rear bulkhead. Top up, there's a lot of space on the rear 'parcel shelf' behind the headrests-cum-roll hoops.
With the top down you can truly appreciate Audi's 'Master Class' lesson in chic cabins no exaggeration, the TT's cockpit is a tactile and visual delight: gorgeous-looking and impeccably functional crystal-clear dials. And the good-looking polished alloy trim items have the added appeal of being fashioned from real metal.
The ergonomics and build quality cannot be faulted, while equipment is comprehensive and includes electronic climate control, a new gener-ation MP3-compatible audio system with single CD player, an RS 4-style flat-bottomed leather-rimmed steering wheel and a Driver's Infor-mation System (DIS). There's also full Nappa leather upholstery, three-stage front seat heating and auto one-shot power windows. Our test car was fitted with a number of optional items that lifted the on-the-road price from just over £30,000 to just over £40,000.
These options included the S tronic transmission at £1,400, the Mag-netic Ride (£1,150) and SatNav (£1,650). A set of striking-looking 20-spoke 19-inch alloys added £750, and Xenon plus headlights with Adaptive Light added another £975. BOSE surround sound cost £475 and electric front seats £725. Other items were an extended leather package, 6xCD autochanger, GSM/Bluetooth preparation, cruise con-trol, s-spoke Sports multi-function steering wheel, a storage pack and a load-through facility. Mind you, specced to this level you still have
a lot of car for your money. And that's before you turn a wheel and discover that she goes like… a bat out of hell.
Yes, there are faster cars. But to get the same kind of ultimate enjoy-ment you may well need to double, treble or even quadruple your budget. Ferrari 430 Spider, for instance. We're talking enjoyment levels here not making a comparison. Bald figures of the TT are an elect-ronically-capped top speed of 155mph and 0-62mph acceleration in 5.9 seconds. Full bore acceleration in Sport mode is one never-ending steak to the horizon.
Drive as little as maybe 100 yards in the Roadster and you can feel the integrity of the bodyshell a 120 per cent improvement over the previous generation TT. Not the slightest hint of shake, hood-up or hood-down. And the further you drive you deeper you understand how well the S tronic suits the dynamic ability of this born again TT. With-out getting too technical, the S tronic's six-speed transmission can effect a gear change in an awe-inspiring 0.2 of a second all without interrupting the power flow.
The compact 3.2-litre 24-valve V6 under the TT's clamshell bonnet kicks out 247bhp and packs a hefty 'punch' of 236lb ft of torque at 2,500-3,000rpm. The engine is sharply responsive: blipping the acceler-ator in neutral will send the rev-counter needle cleanly round to 5,000 rpm. In gear it's equally eager, pulling smoothly and strongly from very low revs. This 3.2 V6 loves its work and it loves to work; use it hard and you'll be rewarded by a distinctively raspy V6 soundtrack that almost puts you in mind of a Porsche and best enjoyed without the efficient filtering of the well-insulated soft-top.
We especially liked the red digital MPH readout in the display between the rev-counter and speedometer. The inch-high numerals provide unmistakable and accurate information of your road speed from the very quickest of glances perfect for today's speed camera-infested roads. Officially, the consumption figures are 21.7, 29.7 and 38.2mpg respectively for urban, combined and extra urban. During our test week we recorded a very acceptable average of 28mpg. A CO2 emission figure of 227g/km places the TT in the £300-per-year Band G for road tax.
The TT's more sophisticated suspension now makes good use of a multi-link set-up at the rear for optimum composure at speed. Aided by a wider track (44mm at the front; 53mm at the rear) along with new electro-mechanical speed-sensitive steering and a new high-perfor-mance braking system, the TT's chassis delivers dramatic improve-ments over the previous generation TT Roadster.
Not only is handling and overall agility improved but stability is now
first class, with excellent body control over undulations and mid-corner irregularities. On the motorway, the TT tracks faithfully; stability at speed is enhanced by an electrically-powered rear spoiler that pops-up from the rear bodywork at speeds over 74mph.
The speed-sensitive steering is easily light at town speeds but weights up well at speed. Better still, it's precise and steers accurately in corners which makes the TT eager to go exactly where it's pointed on challenging B-roads. The turning circle is tight and 3-point turns in narrow lanes are executed quickly and cleanly. If you haven't used a flat-bottomed wheel before, you'll be pleasantly surprised to discover there's no downside when you're working the wheel quickly from side-to-side. After the first time, your hands adjust automatically to the flatter lower section of the rim. Backing up the accomplished chassis is a full set of electronic safety equipment as well as quattro all-wheel drive so there's excellent grip in both fast dry and wet cornering con-ditions. The brakes, too, are first rate: huge ventilated discs at the front and the back; potent and absolutely reassuring.
So far as the handling goes, Audi's Magnetic Ride does an amazing job. The high-tech system continuously adapts the car's damping charact-eristics, matching it to the profile of the road as well as the driver's gear-shifting style. The TT's dampers are filled with a fluid containing minute magnetic particles and when a voltage is applied to their controlling electromagnets, the dampers firm up in milliseconds. The upshot of this is tightly controlled roll and pitch. Alternatively, resist-ance can be reduced when ride comfort is more important than sport-ing prowess.
The result is, to say the least, delightfully impressive: the TT feels reassuringly 'centred' and the handling stays focused no matter what the road surface and you never lose out on ride comfort. Equipped with Audi's adaptive Magnetic Ride, the TT serves up fantastic supple-ness and direct cornering. Even running with the optional 19-inch
alloys wearing 255/35 Continentals, the ride quality is absolutely first-rate. At the touch of a switch the driver can choose between smooth-riding comfort and a firmer sport setting. Audi should, perhaps, have called it Magic Ride!
Within easy fingertip reach behind the RS 4-style flat-bottomed sports steering wheel are paddle switches (left side: down/right side: up)
for near-instant flick-shift manual changes from the S tronic. You can, should you prefer, use the gear lever for your manual gear changes. Whichever method does it for you, the updated six-speed S tronic transmission manages to deftly provide genuine smoothness with lightning-fast gear changes. Left to its own devices, the S tronic auto mode is efficiently polished. Actually, that's not quite doing it justice: left in 'D' you get seamless full-throttle shifts both up and down; in Sport mode it's even better. Press the accelerator hard and the TT is almost rabidly eager to go for it. Blooming marvellous!
Study the spec-sheet and browse the brochure and you'll get a pretty good idea of what you're getting with this latest generation TT Roadster. What you won't appreciate until you physically get behind the wheel is that it has a 'feel-good' factor that few cars can equal whatever their price. In V6 S tronic spec with Magnetic Ride it's more than fast enough. And Real Fun to drive. One of the best all-round, two-seater sports cars on the market. Bat Out Of Hell? Wing it on!
Audi TT Roadster quattro 3.2 V6 S tronic | £31,710
Maximum speed: 155mph | 0-62mph: 5.9 seconds
Overall test MPG: 28mpg | Power: 247bhp | Torque: 236lb ft
CO2 227g/km | VED Band G £300 | Insurance group 18
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