Audi TT Coupe (2000)

AudiThe new Audi TT Coupe, is, in our humble opinion, one very cool car. The appearance is spectacular and unique, both on the outside and the inside. The Coupe looks different from anything else currently on the road, and it drives and handles like cars twice the price.

Driving Experience

The coolest thing about the TT is the driving experience. The TT handles like a dream -- comparable, in fact, to the Porsche 911 Carrera. It's a very smooth sports car, with a great engine and excellent handling. Cornering is superb. The suspension is very well done. The TT has the typical hard, stiff and bouncy ride of a sports car -- not unpleasant, mind you, but it's no Lexus.

The TT Coupe is quick. Very quick. The 1.8-liter turbo is the same engine that Audi uses in its base models and Volkswagen uses on some of their higher end cars. It's a very nice, smooth engine, with plenty of power -- though, admittedly, with a horsepower-to-weight ratio of 0.068, it exceeds Tommy's proposed guidelines. The engine/transmission combination is superb, making the TT fun to shift, and practically seat-wetting for those of us who like to drive stick. We also liked the shifter, which had a wonderfully sporty, short throw.

The brakes are almost too good. They grab quickly. We found it takes a little getting used to the delicate touch that's needed. (As Dougie Berman's dog, Zuzu, who was involuntarily chucked more than once into the front seat, found out.)

Styling

AudiThe interior and exterior are really quite neat. On the outside, the TT has a cool, retro look -- like a slightly flattened out new Beetle, or a retro, classic Porsche. It's as if someone said, "Design a modern Porsche, from the bottom up"... and this is what they ended up with. (Incidentally, with Audi, Porsche and VW all being under the same corporate umbrella, we have to wonder why Audi got this car and not Porsche. We can only imagine that it's because of Audi's better distribution, and because more people would consider an Audi over a Porsche.)

Interior

AudiThe interior is very art deco and retro feeling. The dashboard is really impressive. The TT has four very simple gauges -- speedometer, tach, temperature and gas. They're very nicely laid out, simple, plain and beautiful. We're sure the Teutons who designed the TT will win all sorts of design awards.

AudiInside, the TT Coupe has some very nice, luxury features, and all the usual accoutrements. (Though the cupholders are located a bit too far back and out of the way for our liking.) The seats are very comfortable. Ray, however, did have some trouble getting comfortably positioned in the Coupe, with his right knee constantly hitting the brackets that run from the dashboard down to the center console. Tommy and Dougie didn't notice it -- but, then again, there's a lot they don't notice. (Which is a good thing, if you know anything about Tommy's hair... or Dougie's sense of fashion.)

Ergonomics

Unfortunately, this cool look and feel comes at an ergonomic price. Take, for example, the temperature adjustment.AudiTurn the spring-loaded knob right, and the temperature goes up by one degree, then the knob returns to center. Turn it left, and the temperature decreases by a degree.A corresponding digital display keeps track of the interior temperature. Now, this may be stylistically impressive, but it's an ergonomic pain in the tuchus, in our humble opinion. Why? Because you need to take your eyes off the road several times, to check something as simple as a temperature setting.

Window switches, while located in an interesting position on the door, are not particularly easy to find or operate. The cumulative effect is very cool -- we won't deny that. But it's not always convenient or intuitive.Audi

There's not much storage to be had in the TT. If you need space, your best bet is to fold the rear seats down, and use the entire back of the car as storage -- in which case there's quite a bit of storage. Think of the TT as a two-seater, with the rear seats for your dog or groceries. We'd hate to sentence anyone to more than a few minutes in the back.

As we get older, we're less inclined to sacrifice visibility for styling. And, because of the cool styling, visibility out of the TT is lousy. The roof curves down in front, making the front windshield very small. Small side windows, a high belt line (that is, the bottom of the window is relatively high in relation to the driver, which makes one feel like he's sitting in a hole.) and a low roof line all hamper visibility. The high beltline also makes it uncomfortable to rest ones arm on the top of the door -- a problem that we find practically unconscionable in a sports car. (If you can't rest your arm on the door while you cruise around town, then just what exactly is the point of a car like this?) Visibility out the front of the TT is very interesting -- because you have no idea where the car ends, no matter how tall you are. This makes parking a very exciting experience. On the bright side, thanks to the curve of the roof, headroom is good for both driver and passengers.

The engine is shoehorned into the TT, which will make service and repair difficult and, as a consequence, more expensive than most vehicles. The TT is not the car for you, if you like to do any of your own work on your car. Rather, it should go right to the dealer for repair and maintenance. Audi is planning on adding an optional V6 to the TT at some point, which we would not recommend, due to the already crowded engine compartment.

The engine in the TT is relatively new, but should be at least average in terms of reliability.

Surprisingly, the all wheel drive TT was lousy in the snow. Why did it perform so poorly? Wide tires and the TT's light weight meant that it floated over the snow, producing the dreaded "snowshoe" effect. Plus, the low clearance didn't help much, either. Don't make the mistake of thinking that, just because it's all wheel drive, the TT will be a great performer in the snow. It's acceptable, but that's about it

Overall comments

Audi is marketing the TT to those drivers who can afford a mid-life crisis toy. With a cars.com target price of $33,036, the TT is about the same price as BMW Z-3, but certainly more expensive than a Mazda Miata. And, if we had to chose between paying $33,000 for this all-wheel drive two-seater, or $71,000 for the Porsche we just drove... we'd take this car in a second. The TT is every bit as fun as the Porsche. Not only is it easier to drive, it's also cooler, and more practical -- and not everyone will think you're a jerk. (A rich jerk to be sure, but a jerk nonetheless.)

The TT exudes tightness. Everything fits together magnificently. It even has a wonderful sound -- a very throaty exhaust. Got $30k to blow on your midlife crisis? Go for it! And, if the TT as it stands now isn't good enough for you, just wait a year. Audi is planning a convertible edition, which we bet will be stunning.

View cars.com model report on this vehicle.


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