TT Road Trip - by John Stahmann

When I first saw the Audi TT Coupe and TTS Roadster prototypes back in autumn of 1995, it was love at first sight. I devoured anything I could get my hands on about the cars - AutoWeek's article in March of 1996, and Car and Driver's article in April of 1996 to name some of the first. I was especially excited about the design of the cars. Audi had come up with something awesome, and hopefully they would have the guts to actually produce the car.

Fast forward to late summer, 1998. I was given the opportunity to sample a 180 hp quattro version of the TT coupe. The experience left my mouth watering for more. I couldn't wait for the car to come out so that I could have one of my own.

Now it's summer 1999, and the TT has been released. I'd taken some test drives in a couple of the cars, but I soon would get the test drive of a lifetime - a cross country trip in a new TT Coupe.

The TT I would be driving was sold by Ken Garff Audi in Provo, Utah and would be driven to its new owner at 1552 Design (formerly VW Sport USA) in Alexandria, Virginia.

I planned on leaving on Monday morning from my home in Salt Lake City.

I picked up the car from Jamie Jensen at Ken Garff Audi on Saturday afternoon. The first problem with the car developed soon afterward. After a test drive with Matt Daniels, it had gotten dark and I was going to head home, but a few minutes after I turned the headlights on, the left side parking light circuit fuse blew. I called Jason Dale, one of the Techs from Ken Garff Audi, and ended up taking the car in to the dealer on Monday morning to figure out what was up. After a few hours, they were unable to find the cause of the short, so the parking light was disconnected from the tail light, and I was on the road. The brake lights and turn signals still worked, so we figured I'd be ok. Most driving would be done during the daylight anyway, so I was on my way.

Monday - 10:45 AM - Leave Ken Garff Audi Service Department.
One of the first things I noticed about the TT was how smooth it drove on the freeway. The car just wanted to go fast! I'd have to contain myself until I had finished the break-in period.

2:40 PM - Grand Junction, Colorado
First stop for gas. The TT averaged 30.6 mpg on this leg. The cool aluminum stereo cover actually caused a glare at times depending on the angle of the sun. Not much scenery. Lots of desert. Got a lot of looks from fellow motorists.


5:25 PM - Eisenhower Tunnel, Colorado
A semi truck accident causes traffic to stop completely. I'm stuck inside the tunnel for close to 2 hours. Comment from a fellow stranded motorist - "That thing looks like it should just sprout wings and fly over this B.S."


7:45 PM - Golden, Colorado
Stop at Buffalo Bill's Grave and Museum, and overlook of Denver.


8:30 PM - Audi TT Coupe Live at Red Rocks amphitheater.

Tuesday - 8:15 AM - Denver
Filled up the gas tank. Average mpg for leg - 30.9.

10:40 AM - Bethune, Colorado
Birthplace of Denver Pyle. Most remember him as Uncle Jesse on The Dukes of Hazzard. I had read in a magazine that there was a memorial to him in the city park. It wasn't there.


1:15 PM - Oakley, Kansas
Gas stop. Average for leg - 31.8 mpg. Checked out Prairie Dog Village. They have a 5-Legged Cow and a 6-Legged Cow, among other weird animals.


3:30 PM - Middle of Nowhere, Kansas
Screw falls out of the lower part of the dash onto my foot. I don't have a Torx head screwdriver to put it back in. There are a lot of semi trucks on I-70. I listen to C.W. McCall's greatest hits.

4:59 PM - Topeka, Kansas
Gas stop. 30.2 mpg.

Wednesday - 8:30 AM St Charles, Missouri
Taping up the front of the TT for the day's drive, I'm asked, "What in the hell are you doing, Boy?" He's from South Carolina on his way back home.

9:34 AM - St. Charles, Missouri
Gas stop. I'm surrounded by about a dozen people. Some had seen the commercials, some had no idea what the TT was. Spent about 30 minutes at the gas station answering questions and talking to people.

11:34 AM - Lerna, Illinois
Stopped off at the Lincoln Log Cabin historic site.

3:00 PM - Indianapolis Motor Speedway - Indianapolis, Indiana
Met a couple of Audi owners from Northern California (one of them, Michelle, is in the picture). Took the bus tour of the motor speedway and checked out the museum. The track's infield is all torn up due to the construction of the new Formula 1 road course.


4:00 PM - Indianapolis, Indiana
Stopped in at Tom Wood Audi to have the under-dash screw replaced. After a quick stop I was on my way. Gas stop. 31 mpg.

Thursday, 8:15 AM - Columbus, Ohio
Gas. 32.0 mpg.

10:51 AM - I-68 in West Virginia
Traffic is stopped due to a semi-truck rollover. A local stuck in traffic says he knows a good way around the mess. We turn around and get onto a side road that winds us all over through the hills. This was probably one of the most fun legs of the trip. Here's where the TT really strutted its stuff.

12:40 PM - Hancock, Maryland
Gas stop. 31.2 mpg.

3:20 PM - Capital Beltway
A big rake-looking tool flies out of a roofing truck and almost lands on the hood of the TT. Luckily I was able to swerve to avoid some serious damage!

3:30 PM - Alexandria, Virginia
I arrive at 1552 Design to find that Brad, the new owner, is off running errands. The TT gets washed, and parked out front for Brad to see when he gets back.

The TT coupe ended up being a very comfortable car to drive cross-country. On the Freeway, the car felt pretty much like my A4. In fact, the best parts of the trip were when I was off the Interstate freeways winding through back roads. The 180 hp engine has plenty of power to make the car a lot of fun to drive, and the handling is great for a front wheel drive car. On the flip side, the only real complaint I have is with the seatbelt. After 2 days in the car, the seatbelt started to make my left shoulder sore. The belt mounts below shoulder level behind the driver, so you begin to feel like you're wearing a backpack on one side. Other than the seatbelt, electrical problem, and screw falling out of the dash, the car was flawless.

Overall, the TT coupe is an excellent car. It's sporty, peppy, and people can't help but look at it. The interior design makes you want to just sit in the car and touch everything, and the exterior looks like the car is begging to move. The most amazing thing I found is that unlike a lot of cars, with the TT you don't have to be driving fast to enjoy the experience - It's great just for cruising.

Trip Stats:
Miles driven: 2575
Average mpg: 30.9
CDs listened to: 54
States driven through without interstate construction: 0
Speeding tickets: 0
Times saved by Valentine 1 dozens

Ken Garff Audi
410 South University Avenue
Provo, UT

1552 Design (formerly VW Sport USA)
4803-A Eisenhower Avenue
Alexandria, VA 22304
(703) 461-8511

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