So Kim Basinger calls and says she wants to come over--right now. Ten minutes later there's a knock on my door. It's Kim, she looks great, she says she bought her outfit just for me.
"Go do my dishes," I say. "And after that cut the grass. Then pull all the weeds on the slope and trim the ficus." I hand her a scrub brush and she starts scraping the spaghetti from last night's plates. She works late into the night until everything's perfect. She turns to me with a big smile and says, "Now what would you like to do?"
"Be sure you lock the door on the way out," I reply. And so it has been living with the Audi TT for more than two months: I feel like I've wasted a great date. A performance car that looks this good should be doing great things, not chores. It would be nice to believe each time I step into the TT I'm heading off to Aspen or the Grand Prix--such is not the case, not in my life anyway. Early every Monday morning, the Audi has been stuffed with my brood--Cameron, age 11, and Carly, who is 9, alternate riding shotgun, and four-year-old Cole sits behind me. All their gear is chucked under the sizable rear hatch.
There's not a lot of room in the rear seats, but we manage by pushing the front seats forward a few extra inches. I'm not sure how much longer this will work; Cam is growing at a frightening rate, and though he could simply sit in front where there's enough space to accommodate the tallest individuals, it would mean going to war with Carly. Cole doesn't care about the front seat; he simply enjoys the substantial g-forces the TT can pull. He's been taught "outies" are good.
Come the weekend, the TT has been making endless trips to Home Depot, where I purchase a neverending array of house stuff. Fold down the rear seats and there's enough room to hold a Weber grille, propane tanks and assorted paint products. More than a few people have stood and stared while I pack the Audi full of whatever. It's great that a car as beautiful as the TT is also so utilitarian.
So where's the magic? Certainly not in tedious chores I've made it perform (though there is a certain dignity in hard labor). I admire the TT because even though it's been subjected to my pedestrian lifestyle, it's still exciting to drive and I love looking at it. Audi's silver paint is the best in the world. Period.
The TT occupies a very short list of cars I'd classify as "tight," like the M3 and 911 are "tight." Steering feedback is damn near perfect, and you'll be hard-pressed to find a more versatile sports suspension--not too hard, not too soft. The car is a neutral handler, tossable even for those familiar with Quattro drive systems. Whatever high-speed lift-off nonsense a few idiot drivers claimed, we've been unable to duplicate it, even in first-generation TTs during a heated session at Willow Springs Raceway. If you're looking for a willing track partner, this might well be it. Although the shifter is a bit on the notchy side, it gets better the harder you use it.
During a 500-mile trip to the SEMA Show in Las Vegas, the TT proved to be the perfect host--comfortable, smooth, quiet, even at triple digits. Fuel consumption went as high as 30 mpg and as low as 22 mpg, depending how hard I stayed in the boost. There are a few irritating rattles that seem to move around the rear window molding, and we've had difficulty putting the rear privacy cover back on, but overall the cabin has held up well.
The performance mavens at RPI in Canada supplied us with a gorgeous set of IWC Quicksilver wheels measuring 8 x 18 in. The Quicksilver alloys were an easy choice to make, bearing close resemblance to the factory's Avus-type rims. Engineering editor Barnes suggested Pirelli's new P-Zero Rosso, a tire we thinks is so good we put it in our Select Gear list Top 10 (ec, 12-00).
It's pretty much a given that if Pirelli makes a tire it's going to be good--but I wasn't prepared for this much goodness. These damn things are great--quiet, tenacious, predictable, pretty much everything printed in Pirelli's literature. And they look good, too, with that red Rosso badging on the sidewall. The Rossos have impressive limits and give plenty of warning when you're about to breach them. They ain't cheap, but you get what you pay for. Our friends at Wheel Warehouse expertly mounted and balanced the new running gear in less than an hour, neatly bagging the factory wheels to keep everything clean. These guys are pros, very knowledgeable about everything that rolls on wheels--and there's no attitude.
Robert Gal, VW/Audi's Accessory-Parts guru, made a pre-emptive strike with the Audi's interior, sending over a set of TT mats--I guess he heard about my multiple offspring. Manufactured from high-grade rubber, these sculptured mats feature the TT logo and pronounced grooves to catch dirt, Kool-Aid(R), Gummy Bears, whatever. These things are beautifully made, a product you'd expect from Audi--and they look great in the car. I just found out they re-paved my favorite stretch of mountain road, all 11 miles and 432 turns.
Sorry Kim, I've got a date with a TT.
1940 Broadway St.
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Anaheim, CA 92801
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Pirelli Tire Corp.