Audi TT – 2008 Review: Marriage isn’t for everyone. Luxurious European vacations aren’t for everyone. But for those who dream of both, a well-funded wedding in Italy may be a dream come true. Same goes for the 2008 Audi TT. The maker of outstanding rides such as the R8 and S4 may not be first on everyone’s list, and a storage-deficient two-passenger drop-top is certainly off the radar for millions of car buyers. But shoppers looking for a luxurious roadster, with a healthy complement of capability tossed in, will be hard-pressed to find a better prize than the 2008 Audi TT.
by Thom Blackett
Photo Credit: Oliver Bentley and Ron Perry
What We Drove
A 2008 TT Roadster base model can be purchased for as little as $37,575 including a $775 destination charge. However, we borrowed the 3.2 model from Audi, a sexy Brilliant Black example with a black roof and a Luxor Beige interior. Besides a V-6 engine and an S tronic transmission, our test car featured an iPod interface ($250), Bluetooth capability ($450), Bi-Xenon headlights ($800), and 18-inch alloys with summer tires. Our TT also included the Audio Package ($1,000) that added Bose sound and Sirius satellite radio, and the Enhanced Interior Package ($1,250) which added leather upholstery and extra storage. The final tally came to $51,225.
With only 250 horses available to move 3,450 pounds, the TT’s V-6 might appear to be overtaxed, though the Audi-reported 0-60 mph time of 5.3 seconds would suggest otherwise. We didn’t pull out the radar gun, but there’s no denying this convertible is quick, offering plenty of punch all across the rev range. Adding to the fun is a raspy exhaust note and the dual-clutch transmission. In Drive mode, the throttle is a bit jerky upon startup, but shifts are ultra smooth; downshifts come quicker in Sport mode unless drivers use the paddles to personally dictate shift points.
Quick in a straight line is good, but quick in the corners is great. The latter describes the redesigned, well-balanced all-wheel-drive TT Roadster, which tracks confidently through twisties and boasts responsive steering with plenty of feedback from the road. The car has a solid feel, a trait common to most German autos, but that doesn’t translate to a heavy feel on curvy stretches of asphalt. Much of the credit is attributable to 245/40R18 Bridgestone Potenzas and a taut suspension that pushes the ride to the stiff side and results in bumps being translated into the cabin.
It’s always interesting to get into a convertible that, unlike the TT, somehow provides less than impressive visibility when the top is down. Audi does it right with its two-passenger Roadster thanks to usable side mirrors, a low downward-curving body line that doesn’t limit over-the-shoulder visibility, and narrow pillars. One could take minor issue with the large head restraints and thick roll hoops, but even those welcome safety features are hardly limiting. Power the top up and, as expected, most of the positive attributes disappear with the introduction of this rear cloth pillars, though the rear glass window is expansive.
Fun to Drive
With attributes including all-wheel drive (optional), decent horsepower connected to one of the best dual-clutch transmissions on the market, and a responsive chassis, there should be little doubt regarding the new TT’s grin-inducing capabilities. The $51,000 price tag might cause some chest pains, but bite the bullet on that front and you’ll be rewarded with a hot drop top equally adept at commuting and ripping up desolate country roads. But it’s the style and quality feel of the TT that makes it most appealing, as there are plenty of less expensive alternatives that will handily spank the TT when it comes to performance.
Despite a rather harsh ride, the ’08 TT makes for a comfortable place to travel thanks to spacious and well-bolstered bucket seats with multiple power adjustments, soft leather upholstery, a leather-wrapped sport steering wheel with tilt and telescopic functions, and padding on the thin door and center armrests. The seats sit low so you’ll need to drop instead of slide onto them, and the high window sills are ill-suited for resting forearms.
Audi is forced to walk a fine line in terms of the TT’s interior noise – since it’s a luxury brand, the ride is expected to be quiet, yet at the same time buyers of a sporty roadster want to hear a bit of engine note as they blast along tree-lined back roads. Difficult as it may have been, engineers have met the challenge by delivering a top-up experience with limited wind and road noise intrusion, though the 18-inch Bridgestones refuse to play quietly. Drop the top and the V-6’s raspy growl fills your ears as the tachometer needle spins to redline. Buffeting is limited by the rear wind screen.
If you have plans of carrying anything more than an overnight bag or a few groceries than you’d best scratch the 2008 Audi TT from your shopping list…along with all the other two-passenger roadsters you might be considering. This stylish little bundle of fun is meant for those who travel light, or at least have a second car suitable for shuttling loved ones and their oversized suitcases to and from the airport. What is available with the TT is a small trunk with a high liftover, though it is nicely lined and the hinges are designed so as to not crush cargo items.
As a fairly frugal bunch (read: cheap), our editors’ expectations rise exponentially with a car’s pricing. So, with $51,225 printed on the window sticker, our 2008 Audi TT had a lot to live up to. We’re happy to report that it passed with flying colors and was free of irregular body panel gaps and misaligned interior bits – two of the most common offenses.
Yes, the 2008 Audi TT is fun to drive, and yes, it looks good, includes some useful features and options, and is sufficiently comfortable. But cars that meet those criteria abound, so the TT needs another trick up its sleeve to warrant the $51,225 sticker price we saw on our tester. Filling the gap, at least partially, are top-notch materials reminding driver and passenger of this car’s well-respected German heritage. Cheap bits and sub-par leather are absent from the menu, as durable hides cover the seats and substantial padded and unpadded plastics blanket much of the cabin. Alloy parts round things out nicely.
Just like the average American, the Audi TT has grown with age. With this newest iteration, Audi’s smallest car has gained five inches in length and three inches in width. In addition to sheer size, the 2008 TT showcases a new level of attitude courtesy of darkened and swept-back headlight housings, the large vertical grille that is becoming an Audi trademark, sculpted flanks in lieu of the previous generation’s curvy quarters, and a tail end that appears lower to the ground and more sophisticated. Other small changes include the deletion of front quarter windows and restyled roll bars. Collectively, it constitutes a very attractive package.
People buy convertibles, especially small roadster types such as the 2008 Audi TT, for a variety of reasons, but exorbitant cargo and storage capacity probably isn’t one of them. At least it shouldn’t be, as buyers will be left sorely disappointed. The basics are there, including two cupholders in the center console, a tiny glovebox, and even a couple of door pockets that are more decorative than functional. Little bonuses include a trunk that borders on useful and handy compartments located behind each seat. You will not get a large suitcase in the TT, so if a long trip is in order, plan on dressing in layers.
Audi does offer a navigation system with an iPod interface or a six-disc CD changer for the TT Roadster, though our test car was equipped instead with an upgraded $1,000 audio package including Bose sound and Sirius satellite radio. A separate iPod interface was added for $250. The head unit is simple with two small dials for volume and tuning, between which are labeled buttons addressing functions such as mode selections and audio level adjustments. Secondary steering wheel controls include buttons and tactile dials located on the spokes, within reach but not right under your thumbs while driving at the 9 and 3 positions.
German luxury brands are quite impressed with their central command systems (think BMW’s iDrive), but we were pleased to find the TT Roadster absent of such technowizardry. That translated to three simple dials designed to control the standard automatic climate control system, and since the TT’s cockpit is a bit on the cozy side, they were within easy reach on the bottom of the instrument panel. With daytime top-down glare, it was sometimes difficult to discern the dials’ settings, but the quality feel of the controls made up for any issues, as did our tester’s three-setting heated seats.
In terms of placement, the 2008 Audi TT Roadster’s secondary controls are in the usual places, meaning you’ll find power window and power mirror switches on the door panel and scrolling audio knobs on the steering wheel spokes. Pretty simple, logical stuff. What’s interesting is the button for the power retractable soft top, located on the center console next to the button for the powered rear wind blocker. The placement of the button is fine, but its action is counterintuitive – pull the button up and the top lowers, push the button down and the top raises.
Audi’s TT faces some serious competition in the drop-top roadster category, with one of the strongest opponents coming from within its own corporate family. It’s the Boxster, and it counters the TT’s all-wheel-drive traction with classic Porsche styling and an engine located rear of the cabin for superior balance. If that’s not your cup of tea, BMW will sell you a funky-styled Z4, available in regular and M versions, while Mercedes-Benz sells the SLK-Class and Lexus’s long-toothed SC430 opts for the less athletic route.
2ND Opinion – Buglewicz
The TT was one of my favorite cars of the late 90s. In many ways it was one of the first interesting cars of the modern era. Think about it. The 90s were full of competent, sometimes excellent transportation, but the whole decade just sort of blends together when you think about style. Then along came the TT, with its retro bathtub looks. Lookit, real aluminum trim! Neato, a turbocharged all-wheel drive powertrain! Nifty, it looks kinda, sorta like some sort of nondescript old racecar from the 50s! The TT’s style and packaging was enough to make you forget that…
MyRide.com Road Test Editor
2ND Opinion – Heywood
The Audi TT resembles a jelly bean, just a little too rounded on the ends and a little too tall to appear really sporty. But I like jelly beans, especially licorice, so it was only appropriate that when given the chance to drive the jelly bean, it should come in my favorite flavor: black. Fire up the 2008 Audi TT and any thoughts of jelly beans quickly vanish. With an exhaust note that is deep enough to feel in your bones and just loud enough to savor without rattling your neighbor’s windows, the TT will bring a smile to any…
MyRide.com Associate Editor