Either you hate the Audi TT or love it. I belong to the former group. To me the TT is a Southern Californian yuppie go-kart: Impractical, avant-garde and all together too laden with novelties to be purely fast. Look around at the type of people you see in these things; they readily fit into a certain category. Usually when I see a TT, I just laugh, try not to point and blast on by.But not anymore as now I'm frequently behind the wheel of one. Even worse, I have one of those silly ear-to-ear grins on my face. This is becoming a recurring scenario: All the cars I think I hate end up being the ones I love. So now I'm one of those TT people-I can tell by the way other drivers look at me.Thankfully, though, I'm still the one who goes blasting by. Call it karma, lowered expectations or poetic justice, but the TT is the only car in our long-term fleet I hate giving over.
I have an excuse though! I don't actually love the TT (well, maybe a little), what I love is the 3.2 DSG combo. In my mind, DSG really stands for "Der Smart Gearbox." The two wet clutches that handle the even and odd gears, respectively, and a really dynamic transmission shift algorithm that uses engine speed, vehicle speed, throttle position and vehicle-dynamics sensory input to get every shift just on the mark make this a very intelligent transmission indeed.We've mentioned in prior impressions of the DSG that in automatic sport mode the shifts are better than when shifted in semi-auto mode. This is the case for both shift timing and the smoothness of the shift. Manually downshifting with the paddles or the shifter causes more delayed and jerkier shifts. Whether it's the anticipation of the downshift, or the amount of braking involved in conjunction with the downshift, the difference is noticeable.
One dislike of the transmission shift program is how drastically different the shifting is. I didn't notice this the last time I drove the DSG on winding back roads, but the sport mode is a little excessive for street cruising. In normal drive mode the engine speeds hardly break 3000 rpm and there is never any noticeable engine-braking effect when lifting off the throttle. By the time you get on the on-ramp and look down at the tach, the car is already humming away in high gear and low rpm. Throttle response is buffered, too.
Sport mode is the antithesis of normal. First and second gear are great, but when you're cruising on city streets or even on the highway, the thing refuses to shift to a sensible speed. Forget fuel economy or prolonged engine life. The sport mode makes the 1-2 shift at 4000 rpm and all the others at 5000 rpm. Manually up shifting will temporarily override the sport program and lower the revs, but the tranny kicks back down the instant you think it's in the higher gear for good. If I owned the car, I'd get annoyed, but since I don't, I happily scream down the highway at 5000 rpm. The DSG needs a "half-sport" selection. On the streets, it raises the occasional eyebrow; if not from the guy next to you who thinks you're trying to race, then definitely from "The Man" waiting at the intersection.
In this respect, the sport exhaust doesn't help. In other situations, the sub-Marianas deep exhaust burble turns heads and makes the experience acoustically rewarding. And when the exhaust flap opens to let out all 3.2 liters worth of fury, you're beyond caring what others think and more concerned with holding on.Cosmetically, I've even learned to appreciate the TT's looks. No artsy rollbars for me, thank you. It's S-Line body package (standard on 3.2 TTs) adds sharper and bolder lines. All the little things add up to make the 3.2 more respectable looking. From the new headlight liner coloring to the aggressive bumper air inlets and rocker profiles, the little coupe stands out assertively. However, at a distance the 3.2 TT is not immediately recognizable as a special edition; other TT drivers don't even notice the 3.2 badge. TT drivers...sigh...what have I become?
•Total mileage: 5,000
•This month's fuel economy: 21 mpg
(lead-foot F1-rpm mode)
•This month's costs:$144 (avg. $36 per fill-up per week)
•Faults: Bad blind spots, no turning radius
•Thumbs up: DSG, 3.2L engine, exhaust note, grip!
•Thumbs down: Shallow front seats, fake back seats