Some cars enter our long-term fleet almost unnoticed, while others are eagerly awaited and cause people to pour out of the building for a better look when they arrive. Our TT quattro coupe was one of the latter. Its styling was bold, daring and original. One of our reviewers, during its time with us, suggested that the TT will one day be the subject of a museum retrospective. It has already defined a period of a few years when our society could afford machines designed for art's sake, style for the sake of being stylish, in the hands of people who were merely affluent. It is wholly unlike anything that came before it, and likely will not be imitated soon.
Not that there haven't been half-hearted attempts. The Audi's gas cap and trim, brushed aluminum rings with inset cap screws, have lazily been thrown far and wide by stylists who ran out of ideas or were faced with the pitiable task of livening up a terminally ugly car. Try to be cool....
To borrow a metaphor from Mr. Bidrawn, our time with the TT was a bit like having, say, Heidi Klum for a roommate. We saw her at her worst and at her best. We found out all those little things she did that were annoying, and how she could be relied upon to make us smile. We argued about toilet seat up or down, and lost. We went to the gym and found out what she can really do, and we took her to dinner, from In-N-Out to the nicest restaurants. We went camping and found out just how long she would tolerate not showering. We had conversations hijacked by autograph seekers, and were surprised when she couldn't get us past a velvet rope. We went shopping, and went to the laundromat. In the end, she wasn't perfect, but the reality was even better than the shallow perfection of the billboards and magazines.
Like any person, our TT arrived with a little baggage. The whole high-speed instability incident required the installation of a rear spoiler, sometime between the car leaving the factory and us taking delivery. A fastener was left out of the hatch surround, causing it to rattle over rough pavement. We still aren't certain why this was never cured. Another car magazine reported the same annoyance.
Early on, the dash became psychotic; gauges worked or turned off randomly. The offending unit was replaced, and the new one worked perfectly thereafter. A broken glovebox latch was likewise repaired under warranty.
At the 15,000-mile service, the brake pads were replaced and rotors turned. That would be considered premature wear for most cars, but ours had been to the race track repeatedly, and worked hard on the downhill run of The Road for shoot after photo shoot. With the stability control applying brakes a large portion of the time, that's not bad.
About halfway through the TT's stay, RPI provided a set of 8x18-in. IWC Quicksilver wheels that looked perfect for the TT, and Pirelli threw in a set of its latest tread, the P Zero Rosso. An update of Pirelli's original maximum performance tire designed for greater civility and all-weather versatility, the P Zero Rosso seemed the perfect tire for the TT. We were not disappointed. They gripped quietly and rode smoothly. Now that the TT is gone, they sit in our basement, and the Volkswagen types circle, licking their chops and doing their best to look nonchalant.
I noted, at about 16,000 miles, that the original dampers didn't seem to be working as well as when new. Just days before that issue reached subscribers, an internet message board lit up with a similar thread. Fortunately, most drivers who will be in tune with the car enough to notice this are unlikely to be troubled by installing the highest quality replacement dampers.
Over the year it resided with us, the TT proved to be a nearly ideal companion. It wasn't the car one took to carry a whole family, but it did offer an awesome road trip--just the two of us. And, unlike some other cars that are effectively two-seaters over long distances, adding a passenger didn't make a crowd. In primarily highway driving, clean aerodynamics allowed this heavy car to see 29 mpg, but lowering that figure always proved rewarding. We could arrive three, or even five hours away, with little fatigue. Few cars could be better for leaving Las Vegas.
The last entry in the TT's gas log was made at 22,554 miles--this girl wasn't one to sit around watching soaps. We had time to grow close. It was a good year, and we all will miss this friend.