One thing we tried to enjoy was the launch control system as original touted in Audi of America's press release: "A super high-performance feature of DSG is Launch Control for "F1-type" starts. By placing the selector in Sport and depressing the brake and accelerator simultaneously, the engine revs to 3,200 rpm. Releasing the brake launches the TT 3.2 off the start and the DSG then shifts through the gears in remarkably quick fashion." Well, a quick check of the owners manual and we were pleasantly surprised to find the following procedure detailed on page 116: first come to a complete stop, place the gear lever in sport mode, switch off the DSC, with your foot on the brake, floor the gas. At this point the motor is supposed to rev to approximately 3,200 rpm at which point the driver releases the brake pedal and thefun begins. Or so we thought.

First off, let me stress how cool it is to read the launch control procedures in an owner's manual. It is an overt nod to the enthusiast driver. So how did it work? It didn't. We tried to invoke the launch control multiple times only to be thwarted. You see, Audi of America's legal eagles have dictated that the launch control functionality be removed / disabled. The argument is that drivers may forget that the DSC is disabled and get into an accident. This argument does not hold water in my estimation as the DSC by its very nature is defeatable on a standalone basis and could just as easily be forgotten. Regardless, it remains to be seen if some intrepid TT 3.2 owner with a VAG 1551/1552 tool in hand (or an emulator like Ross-Tech's VAG-COM, or Shade Tree Software's ProDiag) will be able to simply re-enable the Launch Control functionality by recoding the transmission controller.

The lack of the promised Launch Control however was not my biggest disappointment with the car or the transmission. While the DSG is far smoother than its competitors, it still shifts on its own, under various scenarios, in manual mode. This is something that neither F1 nor SMG do. In one swoop Audi both gives the driver more control and takes some of that control away. What if I want to bounce off of the rev-limiter in second gear? The Ferrari and BMW give me the option to do so. What does the Audi give me? Third gear. I'd like to see the manual mode be just that. Otherwise, the DSG, as good as it is, smacks of Tiptronic.

The TT would qualify as the go-kart of the Audi line, if you could call a 3,351 pound vehicle with a 58 / 42 front to rear weight distribution a go-kart. Nevertheless, as a result of the TT's handing characteristics, it is the closest thing that Audi has. Although the 3.2 is the heaviest of the TTs it maintains its weight distribution as a result of balanced changes throughout the drivetrain and chassis. Things such as uprated springs, dampeners, anti-roll bars, and a battery that has been relocated aft, all work together to improve this TT's road-holding while at the same time preserving the unique TT feel that owners have come to love. Upon blasting through two hundred miles of Texas Hill Country, one comes to quickly appreciate the TT 3.2's revised / uprated spring and damper settings. I can't help but wonder though how much better this car would be if it could shed a couple hundred pounds.

The reworked suspension, quattro all wheel drive and improved brakes (derived from the Europe-only B5 chassis RS4) help this TT continue in the tradition of its forebears. You might not win many stop light grand prix but when the going gets twisty you'll certainly hold your own and then some. The DSG will put the power to the ground evenly through the gears and the quattro system will do its job (aided by the uninterrupted power flow through the DSG). All you have to do is concentrate on the approaching apexes.

     

As this TT is part of the S Line (newly introduced to North America) it visibly differentiates itself from its stable mates as a result of its bolder exterior package that includes more aggressive bodywork and S Line badging. Audi considers S Line vehicles stand-alone models as opposed to vehicles merely equipped with an option package. The 2004 TT's interior design elements have withstood the test of time and continue to impress. The original bare aluminum interior items that inspired many vehicle interiors over the past five years continue their visual and tactile roles. Although many manufacturers have resorted to lower quality or even faux aluminum trim, the TT's genuine bits continue to set it apart.

Interior materials, fit and finish are typical Audi, which is to say, the best currently available from any major manufacturer. The biggest interior change for the TT 3.2 Roadster is the availability of the black baseball glove leather seats, which are extremely handsome, and it is a shame that they aren't available on the coupe. A TT roadster with this interior, an Alcantara steering wheel, and all of the contrasting aluminum bits easily outshines the offerings available from competitive roadsters.

The TT 3.2 also includes a sports model specific front fascia with enlarged inlet openings to feed additional cooling air to the V6 motor, an extended front apron and side gills at the trailing edges of the front bumper. Out back a modified and larger version of the TT spoiler sits atop the rear deck. Although, for a vehicle that was originally designed without spoilers the idea of an even larger version seems somewhat peculiar. A honeycomb-pattern front grill and rear diffuser combined with 18" RS4 nine spoke wheels help add to the aggressive overall look.

The 3.2 represents a significant revision to the TT. In doing so, Audi's stylish, sporty car has matured in many ways. Not only is it smoother (at the expense of greater weight), more powerful, and more technical (at the expense of increased cost with MSRPs of $39,900 and $42,900 for the coupe and roadster, respectively), but it also fills a spot at the top of the range that has been open since the TT's introduction. That spot is a V6-powered true competitor to the likes of Porsche's Boxster, BMW's Z4, and Nissan's 350Z. While all of these vehicles have their own strengths and weaknesses the TT 3.2 stacks up more proficiently now.

The TT 3.2 enjoys its first V(R)6 motor and the first commercial application of a dual clutch gearbox. This combined with design tenets that continue to impress both owners and passers-by alike, as well as enjoyable handling characteristics, add up to another winning vehicle from our friends in Ingolstadt.

     

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