I want this car. Okay, granted I technically "have" it, since the TT is the latest member of european car's long-term test fleet. But I have to share it with the other staffers-and I really don't want to. From the moment I first drove the DSG-equipped coupe (nearly 1 1/2 years ago in southern France) I wanted one. My desire was reinforced last fall when I absconded with a press-fleet TT and drove it from Austin, Texas, to the south rim of the Grand Canyon by way of Big Bend, Texas, and White Sands, N.M. After 10 days and 2,700 miles in a car (any car), most people would be happy to hand it over to someone else. But not me, not with this car-then editor Greg Brown had to wrestle the keys away.
Obviously, I'm not the only one who became enamored of the TT 3.2 DSG as the editorial staff unanimously selected it as european car's Grand Prix recipient for 2004 (see ec 08/04). The order for our TT went in prior to our Grand Prix testing days and arrived after our critiques were made. Lucky happenstance or fait accompli? Either way, who cares-we have one.
The TT isn't new, in fact, it's getting a bit long in the tooth, having been introduced in 1999. Yet, as we noted in our "Grand Prix" write up, the combination of the 3.2-liter VR6 and the manual-automatic transmission (the much-praised DSG) puts the TT back in the limelight with one of the most exciting engine/gearbox matches-ever.
Audi engineers, knowing the TT needed a power (and image) boost, managed to shoehorn the already-proven 3.2-liter VR6 into the engine bay, upping the coupe's output to 250 bhp and 236 lb-ft of torque, available from 2800 to 3200 rpm. An extra 25 bhp may not seem like much-until you consider many enthusiasts pay thousands of dollars for a 10-bhp gain-but that added bump turns the TT into a whole new animal, one capable of romping around every corner.The piece-de-resistance is, without a doubt, the Direct-shift Gearbox, which merges the pluses of a manual transmission with those of an automatic. The twin-multi-plate clutch allows two gears to be engaged at once, shortening normal shift lag to practically zero. No one, not even Herr Schumacher, can shift as fast as the DSG. Whether you're flicking your fingers on the steering wheel-mounted paddles or your wrist on the center-console gearshift knob, the DSG makes you feel like a race-car driver. Even if you leave it in automatic-or better yet, in sport mode-you still get the same sensation.
Our TT arrived fresh from Gyor, Hungary, (its final assembly point) in late summer. Wearing Dolomite Gray Pearl Effect paint and clothed in Ebony leather, the coupe's sensuous curves still make it a head-turner. The 3.2 badging is subtle, but the cognoscenti will see the honeycombed front air dam and rear diffuser and know this is a special TT.
The standard equipment list reaffirms its status: MacPherson strut front suspension with three-point lower control arms and a directly coupled stabilizer, multi-link independent rear suspension (both setups modified to handle the extra power), ABS with EDL and ESP, and, of course, quattro. The TT comes stock with 17-in. alloys, but we ordered ours with the optional 18-in. seven-spoke wheels wrapped in high-performance rubber.
The only other options we requested were the Bose(r) Premium sound system with a six-disc CD changer tucked into the rear driver's side arm rest and the trunk cargo net. Everything else we wanted was already there, including front sport seats (in leather) with manual adjustment, three-spoke leather sport steering wheel with a tilt and telescopic column, xenon headlights and dual power side mirrors with defogging feature.
The MSRP for our new long-termer is $39,900. The paint, DSG and black leather interior were included at no extra charge. The sound system cost $1,200; the wheels, $775 and the cargo net, $96. Add in a $150 California emissions fee and the $720 destination charge and our TT retails for $42,841. This might raise a few eyebrows, but when compared to the price of an '04 Boxster or our previous long-term Z4, it's a very competitive price.
Good looks, great engine, awesome transmission and a decent price: the 2004 Audi TT quattro DSG is definitely the coupe with the box that rocks. One I'm...er, I mean...we are more than happy to put through its paces for the next year. Stay tuned...