September 13th, 2007

2008 Audi TT 2.0T FSI S-tronic Roadster
By: Kris Hansen

Our trusty steed at TT East 2007 was a 2008 Audi TT 2.0 FSI S-tronic. Audi really worked on this car to improve on the previous generation model, and though we don't like to compare the outgoing model to the incoming model directly as we feel it's quite unfair, we like to look upon each as it's own entity, each with strengths and weaknesses. Having said that, it's hard NOT to compare this car to the outgoing TT, at least styling wise. A lot has changed in the technology area, so there a direct comparison would be truly unfair.

In the case of the MKII TT, there are strengths aplenty, and scant weaknesses were observed. In the styling department, the car does appear a bit sterile when parked next to the MKI TT. It's lines are crisp, but less unique perhaps. However, when viewed on it's own, there is no doubt that this is a great looking car. The roadster version we sampled looked equally sharp with the top up or down.

The interior is typical of Audi's current design standards, with very tall center console wings that flank the shifter and heater/aircon controls, and flow under the dash nicely. everything is well within reach to the driver or passenger, and there is plenty of leg, shoulder and head room for a 6 footer, even with the top up. All controls are nicely weighted and smooth in operation, with the rotary switches for the heat/aircon being quite a nice touch instead of a push button arrangement.

Once in the car, you really feel IN the car, the beltline is quite high, even for taller folks. It's not claustrophobic, but does take getting used to for people used to sedans. There are some nice touches in the interior, such as lockable storage bin behind the seats, and sun visors that completely hide in the windshield header.

Our tester did not have the extended leather package, which meant that the dash was covered in a strange diamond patterned material, which to the eye appears soft and grippy, but to the hand is smooth. There are several alternating textures throughout the cabin, all pleasing to the touch, but somewhat busy to the eye.

At night, when the lights are on, the lighting is quite nice. Even the steering wheel mounted S tronic paddles' + and - are illuminated. The steering wheel itself has a flat bottom, largely for style, though, it makes getting in and out of the car much easier.

The instruments are nestled under silver colored hoods, and look as modern and artistic as we've seen in a recent Audi. They are very legible, even with the top down and in direct overhead sunlight.

The seats look very nice, and are actually quite comfortable and supportive, at first. On a long trip, at least for people of larger proportions, the lower bolsters cut in a little tight, and become quite uncomfortable after a while, soon that stop for gas or coffee seems like a good idea.

Top down motoring is very comfortable in this new TT. The motorized rear wind screen slides up behind the roll over hoops, and helps cut down on buffeting, and back draft. Even at highway speeds, it's possible to have a normal conversation, with the side windows up anyway. It can get quite windy with the windows and rear windscreen down, but around town, this is not a problem.

We took a long drive with the top up, and found that the wind noise was cut dramatically, but road noise was still quite loud. The top itself is very nicely made, lined and has a heated glass window. There was no flapping of the top at any time during our drive. Of course, the rear 3/4 visibility is nil, so having the door mirrors properly positioned is critical.

Our tester had the optional power top, we didn't time the cycle, but it's fairly quick, and tucks down nicely into it's little bin above the trunk. And speaking of the trunk, don't plan on bringing lots of luggage on a road trip in this car. Small carry on size bags are best. It could probably take a large suitcase, but that's about it.

Other interesting items on the 2008 TT, it's equipped with a power actuated rear wing, that deploys at speed, and tucks in when you slow. There's a manual switch to make it flip up, and the car does look quite more aggressive with it up. It also shortens the visibly long rear deck on the roadster. It's hard to say how much downforce the wing generates, though the car is very stable at speed.

Probably the nicest driving characteristic of the new TT is the complete absence of cowl shake. The body structure is very tight, it handles bumps, even big bumps mid corner, very nicely. Other than the lack of quattro, the front wheel drive was not a problem for us in our use of the car. We did get quite a bit of wheel spin at lower speeds when prodding the car a little, and even a little of front end wiggle on one particular on ramp. Clearly this car would be only better if the rear tires were allowed to play along.

But overall, we truly enjoyed the 2008 TT. It's a niche car, for sure, but it does what it's supposed to do very well, and in style.

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