One of the rather unsavory elements of working in the automotive aftermarket is that its filled with snake-oil purveyors. On many an occasion, the MAX staff has been given the smoke-and-mirrors treatment with promises of a car that is unlike anything weve ever seen before. More often than not, the car in question is only slightly warmed over with not much imagination or proper execution of design. So imagine our surprise when we heard such claims from our friend Sandy Lirag. Weve known Sandy for about a year now; first, in his role with Boston Acoustics and now as the general manager of mobile electronics for The Good Guys. During our entire relationship with Sandy, weve always found him to be as honest and straightforward as anyone weve ever known.
Guys, I guarantee that you have never seen anything like this before, were our pals exact words right before last years SEMA show. Say it aint so, Sandy. Well, weve heard it all before, but it was a hard pill to swallow coming from a good man like Sandy.
After seeing the Boston Acoustics 00 Audi TT on display at SEMA, we have to admit that we were taken aback with the cars fluid style. The extensive mobiletronics installation was not finished in time for the show, but based solely on the merits of the exterior design and performance work, we awarded the TT First Place in our Meguiars Super Tuner Fest (two-door category) .
Fast forward to the week after the CES Show in Las Vegas, where the MAX staff picked up the TT from Greg Woo at Neuspeed for our photo shoot and driving impressions. Even Greg, who is normally quite reserved, couldnt stop raving about this car. Et tu, Greg?
We had the Boston TT for about three days, and to be honest, we didnt want to give up the keys when it came time to return it to Neuspeed. What can we say? As usual, we were wrong. After extracting our kicks from our mouths, we were offering our most sincere heartfelt apologies to Sandy and Greg. Were not worthy, guys. The Boston Acoustics TT is arguably one of the most impressive rides to ever grace the pages of MAX Power.
A bold statement, indeed, as the Boston TT is not the most expensive, exotic, or powerful car weve ever featured, but it does possess an unidentifiable charm that sets it apart from the crowd. This could be due to the fact that, right out of the showroom, the TT is currently the next big thing in large part due to its unique exterior styling.
What is That Thing?
But we think our fondness has more to do with the choice of aftermarket components and the impeccable craftsmanship on this car. Working for MAX Power has afforded us the opportunity to roll in some wild ridesfrom Ferraris, Lamborghinis, 700hp Supras, and Skylines to supercharged wide-body GTIs and everything in between. But we have never driven anything that has attracted so much attention as this little bulbous coupe.
Our palatial offices are located just a Gucci bags throw from the swank confines of Beverly Hills. In this locale, Pamela Anderson Lee can drive by in a fly yellow Gemballa 911 Cabriolet and most folks might not even notice. In other words, it takes a lot to snap a neck in this town. But this TT garnered more than a fleeting glance from all walks of automotive life.
Police officers; soccer moms; and balding, ponytailed movie producers all gave us the Grey Poupon treatment with inquiries as to what kind of car it was and comments about how good it looks. Even the Lil Rascal set with their outlandish compacts fitted with carbon-fiber hoods and all-white interiors slowed down enough to give the TT a casual glance (which is the highest commendation you can receive from this demographic).
To achieve this much-heralded look, Sandy wanted some clean-looking aero add-ons. He found this in the form of the Cord Design five-piece body kit. A large part of the allure of the TT is the design which uses both futuristic cues as well as elements from the old Auto Union racecars from the 30s. The Cord Design kit does a fantastic job of highlighting the finest elements of this design rather than detracting from them.
The kit is constructed from durable urethane and features two subtle front-lip spoilers and another matched set for the rear valance. But the crowning touch is a Touring-carstyle rear wing elevated by the most beautifully crafted set of wing supports. These attractive billet-aluminum pedestals actually mimic the wonderful look of the vintage-racer fuel filler cap. Audi actually expanded the cap design into an entire theme that carries over to the interior with such items as the vent trim, shifter and shift boot ring, horn button, door pulls, and more.
Sandy credits Nick Portfilio and the rest of the crew at Foam Molders with the body kit installation. From there, the TT was sent to Starbucks Auto Graphics where Doug Starbuck could apply his magic. Robert Wilson and his team from Modern Image created a template for Doug, and from there, he went crazy. The entire car was refinished with the Boston logos ghosted across the flanks. In fact, almost the entire roll call was done with paint. This is one of Starbucks many talents, and if you ever have the unique treat of seeing this TT in person, check out how the companys Web address and subtle pinstriped flames are done in a mystic hue.
But perhaps the most unique feature of the paintwork is the way the entire roof was redone in black (including the A and C pillars and mirrors) and the side and rear windows were blacked out with a dark tint to match. According to Sandy, all this was done to give the top half of the TT a fighter-jet look. We liked it so much that on more than one occasion while driving the little coupe, we had to stifle the urge to throw the Top Gun soundtrack into the CD player.
It wasnt just the TTs looks that made us feel like Maverick. We already mentioned Neuspeed, so it should come as no surprise that the Audis performance has been sufficiently bumped with the work of these water-cooled wizards.
Since the TT shares its chassis with the Golf IV, Neuspeeds job was made easy because the tuner has already developed some impressive suspension products for the new Golf. It all starts with the addition of Neuspeeds high-quality Sport lowering springs. The springs reduce ride height by 1.3 inches, and the rate is increased by 30 percent. The springs ride atop Bilstein dampers that have been specifically valved to work with the rest of the suspension modifications. Any last bit of exaggerated body roll is eliminated with Neuspeeds 25mm front and 19mm rear antisway bars.
Visually, the most dramatic suspension upgrade is the Axis Se7en wheels wrapped with Yokohamas AVS Sport gumball. Not only does the Se7ens 19-inch diameter make for the perfect fit in the TTs wheelwells, but the offset, color, and design all help to make these wheels look as if they were specially built for this project.
We cant say enough good things about Neuspeeds suspension-tweaking prowess. These guys have taken the black art of suspension tuning and turned it into a science. Every time we drive a Neuspeed car, the chassis setup is what impresses us most, and the TT is no exception. The Boston TT exhibits a well-balanced neutral feel (which is even more impressive given its high-horsepower front-drive layout). The car inspired confidence through the corners while not giving a buckboard ride over the bumps.
Part of this is no doubt due to the tenacious grip of the AVS Sports. The Sports sticky rubber and wider footprint also helps the already impressive stock TT brakes to do the job. The TT comes from the factory with huge 12.3-inch front rotors and two-piston calipers, and while the Boston car does not have any brake upgrades, Neuspeed plans on offering braided lines and improved rotors. In fact, Neuspeed is so pleased with the TTs brakes that it will soon be offering a TT front-brake conversion kit for the MK IV Golf, Jetta, and Beetle.
As with its suspension products, Neuspeed has already developed power adders for the other VW/Audi models that use the 1.8T powerplant. For the Boston TT, Neuspeed started with a P-Flo intake system and stainless steel exhaust system. One noteworthy feature of the exhaust is the tip with its 4-inch billet-aluminum trim ring which matches the TTs vintage filler cap theme. A Neuspeed P-Chip replaces the stock ECU to increase turbo boost and modify the ignition timing. Neuspeed claims that together all these mods garner an additional 30 hp, increasing the Boston TTs output to approximately 210 hp.
Awesome (Boston) Acoustics
While this TT could be equally at home posing proudly in a show paddock or slicing through a mountain road, the Boston TT was built as a rolling showcase for the companys mobiletronics hardware. And, as incredible as all of the cosmetic and performance mods are, it is the mobiletronics system on this car that truly steals the spotlight. Sandy turned to Howie Liwanag at the prestigious Installers Institute in Long Beach, California. According to Sandy, the facilities at the Installers Institute are some of the finest in the country. The main man responsible for this installation was Jonathan Yorkis, The Good Guys corporate installation manager and also the 1999 Mobile Electronics Installer of the Year. Backing him up was Jose Rodriguez, who is a Boston Acoustics Master Installer.
The system actually required 500 total hours for installation and it shows. One look at the speaker grilles and you can imagine where some of that time went. The grille trim rings are actually CNC-milled and they feature the now-familiar vintage filler cap design. According to Sandy, these were some of the most difficult pieces to fabricate. This same trim is also evident in the unique bridge behind the back seats that houses a pair of speakers and the CD changer.
This bridge not only fits into the aesthetic theme of the TT, but it is also an important part of Sandys entire philosophy in regards to car installations. Of course, Sandy believes that sound quality is paramount to a good system, but this should not be accomplished at the cost of passenger comfort. Thus, the Boston TT still retains all of its luggage space and the original spare. The two 10-inch subwoofers are housed in custom-sealed enclosures right next to the rear seats.
Of course, we dont need to tell whos drivers Sandy used. The subs are Boston Acoustics Competitor 1000s, and there is also one center channel, two main-front satellites, and two diffused surrounds.
Alpine hardware is utilized in the form of the new CVA-1005 system controller with monitor. A DVD-5200 in-dash DVD player and CHA-S624 six-disc changer are also used. Navigation is handled with an NVA-851S DVD-ROM unit, and the sound is controlled with a PXA-H510 digital signal processor. Power is provided with a pair of Alpines MRD-F752 amps churning out a total of 1,500 watts.
The pure sound quality of this system is indescribable. It is nothing short of amazing. This coupled with the fact that the spare tire and luggage space is still retained make it even more impressive.
Sandy Lirags adherence to a fluid design theme with flawless execution makes for a perfect package. We think its safe to reiterate our claim that the Boston Acoustics TT is unlike anything weve ever seen before.