October, 1999

A4.Org Review - TT quattro
Text and Photos by Matt Daniels

My first real experience with the TT started in Monterey, California just after the 2000 model press preview held by Audi of America. In the past I've had the opportunity to test-drive two different FWD models, but both times the rides were taken within the city and were over quickly. However, at the press event in Monterey I finally had some real-world driving in a TT. To make the experience even better, the TT was equipped with Audi's quattro all-wheel drive. I was able to take this car on a fun, spirited drive through a small canyon with a nice smooth road and many sharp curves - absolutely perfect driving for the TT quattro. This hour long test drive wasn't to be the last of my TT experience, though, because on the morning after the press event I picked up a Black TT quattro equipped with the Comfort and Performance packages, loaded my bags and headed back home to Salt Lake City.

I got to spend a total of 10 days with this TT quattro. In that time I drove about 1400 miles, used it as my daily driver and drove on a number of high altitude roads in the Utah mountains. My wife and I even used it to shop for furniture with our 4-year old daughter.

Differences between the quattro and FWD model

Visually, the TT quattro is identical to the FWD model. The only visual differences are the 'quattro' badges on the front grille, rear deck and on the dash trim above the glove box.

The quattro system for the TT is somewhat unique to the TT. This quattro system incorporates an electro-hydraulically controlled torque distribution system called the Haldex system. According to Audi, this has the same advantages as previous TORSEN quattro systems, but is more compact and is ideal for the TT's transverse engine layout. This system is also used in the European Audi A3/S3 quattro and is also part of VWs 4-motion system. All other Audi models will continue to use the existing TORSEN quattro system.

The rear suspension on the quattro model is also different than the FWD model and includes combined trailing and double lateral control arms. Audi mentions that this is a space-saving design with the springs and shock absorbers mounted separately, and with the shocks mounted at an angle.

My impressions

Personally, I thought this car was almost perfect - I liked almost everything about it. In my opinion it had a perfect blend of performance and comfort. The few things I didn't like, I soon learned to live with.

What did I like most about this car? I think it would have to be the handling. This car was so tight and smooth, I felt like I could take almost any curve at any speed. The steering was very precise and the brakes were excellent. I got to drive many canyon roads here in Utah. The quattro all-wheel drive and the 17" wheels with Bridgestone Potenaza 225/45 tires always kept me glued to the road and not once did I feel like I wasn't in control. Even in my daily driving to work and running errands through Salt Lakes pothole-stricken roads the car was a joy to drive.

The 180 hp seemed just about right for this size car. For normal everyday driving the power and acceleration was more than enough, and I never felt any noticeable turbo lag when accelerating. The passing power at highway speeds could have been a little better, but overall the engine performance on the freeways was excellent. One area where I notice a lack of power was when I going into the high mountain canyons -- this is where I kept wishing for more power. Acceleration really seemed to drop off and I'm not sure if it was because of the altitude or steepness of the roads. When the 225 hp version of the TT comes out in North America, I'm sure that it's going to be a very exciting car to drive and will have no problems tackling canyon roads.

I found the interior of the car to be pretty spacious for the front passengers. Headroom was plentiful for the driver and passenger. The seats were very comfortable for the long drive back from California and they held me in place very well when going through twisty canyon roads. While the back seat is more of a novelty, it was big enough for my 4-year old daughter and her booster car seat. The hardest part about putting my daughter into the rear seat of the TT was trying to get myself far enough in the car to fasten the seat belt. I don't think I would want to take any really long trips with her in the back seat, but for short trips around town she was fine. I had an adult relative try and get in the back seat of the TT and it was a rather funny sight. He could fit most of the way in -- diagonally -- but was never able to get both legs completely inside.

Visibility in the car was pretty good considering how small and low the windows were. There were some blind spots in the car, but with checking both the mirrors and over my shoulder, I could manage them with no problems. Nighttime visibility was great with the Xenon lights, and the instruments and dash lighting were all well-lit.

I found the radio and standard speakers to be excellent for my tastes (I'm not a big audiophile), but I really wish that this car had been equipped with the Audio Package just for the CD changer. Driving back from California was torture not having some decent tunes to listen to. If you don't want the Audio Package, I believe you can buy a CD changer from a number of A4.Org's advertisers. The TT is pre-wired for the CD changer, but I believe you will need dealer assistance to install it, since the interior side panel has to be removed for installation.

My only real complaints about the car would be that the drivers seating position wasn't exactly ideal for me. The steering wheel seemed a little low and was always rubbing the top of my legs even with the wheel adjusted all the way up and the seat all the way down. If it could have been adjusted a little further up I would have been happier. Also, the bar in the center console was slightly intrusive on my right leg. Both of these complaints were never really bothersome and I soon learned to live with them.

One thing I'm not going to miss about this car is it's black paint - what a pain to keep clean. I washed the car 3 times during my review and each time I cursed the color. Some people may like black, but I for one don't think I will ever own another black car; I was never satisfied with the wash job afterwards.

As I said earlier, I found this TT quattro almost perfect. Even with some of the minor annoyances that I experienced, I don't think there is any reason why I wouldn't buy the car if I were in the market for one. As tested, the price for the TT quattro I had was $34,475, with destination charge.

A Second Opinion   By Jason Teller

Two phrases: sheer delight and utter despair.
Those two phrases basically sum up the two days I spent with Matt Daniels and the black TT quattro. First the positives. The car has amazing stlying, even better in person than in any pictures. It is a magnet for attention and a quick indication of the driver's individuality. This car has what I would label as integrity. What I mean is that if you see a narrow, sharp bend in the road and think that the car will perform quickly and flawlessly through the manouver, then you are right. In every tight situation the car delivers as expected, be it power, grip to the road, stability or driver feedback - this is one honest car! The big negative, at least for me, was the realization that this car was not designed with 6'6" people in mind. After a little more than an hour behind the wheel I was extremely uncomfortable due to the stabilizer bar running from the dashboard down to the shifter area. For a person with long legs the ergonomics simply don't work out. This problem is nothing new in the realm of sports cars, however, and I would not single out the TT for it.

A Third Opinion   By Neil McGary

Technical Editor Neil McGarry test drives a Denim Blue TT quattro
The TT quattro is the best handling stock Audi I have ever driven. The short wheelbase combined with the all wheel drive makes this car a king of the twisty roads. This car rides on rails. Sure it understeers at the limit, but you can just throttle lift to swing the rear around and point the nose in the direction you want to go. The TT rides firm, but not harsh and can take the potholes without jarring your whole body. The contoured sport seats are excellent for any amount of time behind the wheel. They are extremely comfortable, fit me like a glove and held my body in place through the turns. The Bridgestone Potenaza's squeal a bit when the car is being tossed and if this was my own car, a set of very sticky tires would be first on the upgrade list. I have driven the TT in fwd guise, which is noticeable quicker without the added weight of the Haldex system. The AWD more than makes up for this added weight, with none of the early activation of the ASR in the front driver. This car could use some more power, as I wanted more on some uphill stretches of road. Nothing chip tuning wouldn't take care of. I have a Garrett chip in my Beetle 1.8T and it is noticeable faster than the TT with 180hp. It just doesn't have quattro! The TT is still a new enough model to attract attention. More than once after coming back to a parking lot, interested parties of the Denim Blue dream car were circling the TT. The TT is so unique, that a (non car guy) friend commented "This is the first car in twenty years that I really want. It doesn't look like every other car on the road." I had to let him drive it after that.

Related Items:
Image Gallery of the A4.Org TT quattro test car
TT Technical Specs
TT Standard and Optional Features