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2008 Audi TT Coupe and Roadster: An Icon Revisited

AutoPacific‘s Detroit staff recently spent time in a 2008 Audi TT 2.0T Roadster (with the 200HP turbo I4), a 3.2 Coupe (with the 250HP 3.2L V6), and even spent a few minutes with a 3.2 Roadster. As this office includes current and former first-generation TT owners, we were particularly interested spending time with the latest TT (and with a 2002 ALMS edition coupe on hand, gave us an opportunity for the side-by-side photography in this blog). Our evaluation confirmed first impressions: Audi has successfully evolved the design into another work of art and improved interior space, handling, and performance. The first generation is still a wonderful driver. But the second generation offers enough improvements for owners of the first generation to consider trading up, and with a little more interior room should also be able to reach even more new buyers.



Our test cars were very well equipped, with eighteen-inch wheels and summer tires, bi-xenon adaptive headlights, Bluetooth, and an iPod interface. The 3.2 gets more standard equipment, including quattro, to which our Coupe added navigation plus and Magnetic Ride Suspension. Parking assist was left off both cars, but we didn’t miss that feature one bit. MSRP for our roadster was $44,400 and our coupe $51,595. Base prices at, 2.0T models start at nearly $35,000 and $37,000 for coupe and roadster. Price of entry for the 3.2 S Tronic is $43,000 and $46,000. The price penalty for going topless is a rational $2000 or $3000.

Bigger Footprint Brings More Passenger Space
The new TT is significantly larger than the first generation. Most respondents to AutoPacific’s annual owner survey seem to indicate they wish their vehicle were bigger, regardless of make and model (excepting maybe Ford Excursion owners). But not being in the bigger-is-better camp, we had wondered if the extra size would hurt the new car. I love the footprint of the first TT, though the cabin can be a little tight for some. The most satisfying drives are in cars that are all at once small, nimble, responsive, and fast.


That being said, the newest TT’s larger size does not hurt its on-road feel and improves the interior. It drives small and nimble, with more elbowroom in a more comfortable interior that still cocoons driver and passenger. The roadster dramatically benefits from the extra space, as well as from its redesigned top, though the plus-two rear seats in the coupe still are only for the very small. There is a usable trunk with this generation roadster; the first was among the least usable ever.

2008 TT 2.0T Roadster
The roadster arrived at our office first, with the 200HP 2.0L DOHC 16v FSI turbo four-cylinder engine and standard S Tronic automated six-speed manual transmission. Though the lesser of the available engines in power and cylinders, the 200HP 2.0L has plenty of get-up-and-go. This is the same drivetrain offered in the terrifically entertaining A3. We did wish it were putting the power to all four wheels; torque steer was well managed, but we’d rather have less chatter from front on acceleration. Turning the ESP off predictably had the front tires fighting even harder for purchase. The extra weight of Audi’s quattro system may take some of the eager attitude away, but preferable to the front-drive setup. Quattro is not yet offered with the 2.0L.

When the weather is good and the top is down, the 2.0T Roadster is a lovely partner for slowing down and taking in the scenery. Driving efficiently ensures terrific fuel economy without giving up performance, but at your right foot is plenty of power for highway merging and passing and energy for a spirited, curvy drive.
Top-down, the Roadster is as comfortable at highway speeds as you can get. Among the reasons for stepping up to the Premium Package is its heated seats, something we prefer in most climates and one way to extend the top-down driving season. The optional power top itself simple and fast, and the car is pretty top up or down. There is a standard power-operated windscreen (it pops up behind the driver and passenger’s seats) to reduce some in-cabin buffeting.

2008 TT 3.2 Quattro Coupe
And then there’s the 250HP 3.2L V6, available with a conventional six-speed manual but equipped with the S tronic here. As a rule, we prefer a standard manual. But not here. The S Tronic system shifts far more quickly than most drivers can, gives you the paddle-shift option of shifting for yourself, and also allows for lazy days and just letting the car shift for itself. In drive, the automated manual is more aggressive than a conventional automatic. The feedback is terrific in drive or in self-shift modes.

Audi’s Magnetic Ride Suspension, on our coupe’s options list, allows for a more comfortable ride with less compromised driving dynamics. Instead of conventional oil, the shock absorber pistons use a magneto-rheological fluid with small magnetic particles. Apply voltage and damping characteristics can be changed in milliseconds, allowing for both good ride comfort and roll stabilization during more aggressive driving. There are two settings, Standard and Sport, selected by a simple button near the gearshift. The system does improve both ride comfort and handling, but we question to what degree. In our daily Michigan commutes, the difference was discernible, but it wasn’t clear whether it is worth the $1400 standalone option price.

While unsure about the value-for-dollar equation on the Magnetic Ride Suspension, we are sure about the benefits of quattro for the TT. Audi’s quattro puts traction where it is needed, whether you aggressively or sedately go off the line or dive into a corner. It can’t save you from yourself, but it can help more efficiently use the 3.2’s 250HP and it helps address some of the handling negatives inherent in a front-drive setup. Like the 2.0T, the difference between returning reasonable fuel economy numbers or finding a willing and able spirited partner is in your right foot. Quattro also means the coupe is a better partner for winter driving than a Porsche Cayman S or BMW Z4 coupe, assuming a good set of snow tires.
Audi Still Developing Superior Interiors, But Some Quibbles
Inside, coupe or convertible, materials and design are at the levels we’ve grown to expect from Audi. Seats are comfortable, with high side bolsters, and there is more headroom, legroom, and elbowroom. The roadster’s available leather seats with baseball-style stitching look great and it is good to see another TT tradition continue. Expanded aluminum-look accents update the look while keeping in spirit of the first car. The gauge cluster is revised, but has the same feel and crisp look. The steering wheel brings new easy-to-use audio controls that offer a solid and responsive tactile feedback. Controls for opening the trunk and the gas cap are in the door instead of hidden in a center storage bin and door lock/unlock control is in a more intuitive location. The HVAC layout is functional, though we missed the digital readout of the first-generation’s automatic climate control.

There are some features missing from the TT’s options list. Though this generation has moved forward to offer power seats, there isn’t a memory function. Also missing is keyless start/entry system. Keyless entry/start systems are now found at all price points, from the Nissan Versa to the Audi A8, and nicely simplify life. The systems have moved to my convenience must-have list with heated seats and rain-sensing windshield wipers. That the TT pulls from the Golf parts bin is not really a good enough answer, even if true. Porsche’s Boxster and Cayman and BMW’s Z4 also skip the feature, but both do offer memory seats and neither is all new for 2008MY.
The TT also moved to a three-step heated seat control instead of Audi’s traditional six-step dial. Three steps is better than only one or two that many systems give, but still a backward move. We can only hope that this does not indicate all the future of Audi’s heated seat controls. While a minor issue in the overall driving life, it is an Audi tradition that would be missed.

Polished Successor Doesn’t Lose First Generation Personality
All told, the second-generation TT offers more features, power, technology than the first, while enhancing its image and personality. Despite a few grumblings, we were very pleased by both the coupe and convertible. The convertible is now a usable car rather than a fair-weather toy, with a decent trunk and accessible and usable cubbies inside. The payoff for a bigger shadow area is a more comfortable interior space, though you won’t mistake the interior for anything but a well-appointed sports car. The base 200HP I4 is both stronger and more fuel-efficient, with the top engine still a 250HP V6. A longer options list means you can move the top-end 3.2 roadster price to nearly $56,000, but both base and options pricing is competitive and reasonable.

Make my next one an Ocean Blue 3.2 S Tronic coupe, please!

1 Comment

  • Daniel Kuriloff| September 8, 2007 at 7:04 pm

    I wanted Nokian WR all season tires for my 2008 TT 3.2 Quattro Roadster but Nokian doesn’t make a tire equivalent to the stock 245/40/18 All season run flats.
    I asked my local installer if he would put the Nokian 235/40/18 tires on but he declined since he felt that the tires are not close enough in circumference giving different revs/mile and may screw up the gearing on the S-tronic. Audi was non-commital on this as well and said it would “probably be ok” but wouldn’t put it in writing to avoid voiding the warranty. Now I don’t know what to do. I really had my heart set on those Nokians since I don’t want to change to snow tires every season. Nokian does make a true snow tire in the 245/40/18 size but I couldn’t leave them on in the summer.
    Are there any other all season tires that would be adequate in the snow and still not need to be removed with good wear (at least 25 K miles?)
    I was told this car is best not driven in the snow with the stock all season tires and the Nokians are really the only true All season snow rated tires that can be driven on all year round with excellent wear and traction.

    For those of us who have never heard of Nokian Tyres here’s the history:
    Nokian Tyres plc was founded in 1988 and it was listed on the Helsinki (that’s in Finland) Stock Exchange in 1995. The company ’s roots go back all the way to 1898, when Suomen Gummitehdas Oy, or the Finnish rubber factory, was established. Passenger car tyre production began in 1932 and the company ’s best-known brand, the Nokian Hakkapeliitta tyre, was launched in 1936.

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