What's New for 2006
To send out this generation of the TT in style, Audi brings out the Special Edition. Featuring unique paint, two-tone 18-inch wheels and the 250-hp 3.2-liter V6 running through Audi's six-speed Direct Shift Gearbox, the SE will be quite limited in supply. Only 99 SE coupes and 99 SE roadsters will be produced, marking the 99th anniversary of the Tourist Trophy race, the inspiration for this two-seat Audi's name.
The Audi TT was introduced for the 2000 model year as a coupe, followed by a roadster in 2001. Both versions are based on Volkswagen's fourth-generation (1999 to 2006) Golf platform. Now seven years into its model cycle, the TT is no longer among the hottest draws on the market, but from an aesthetic standpoint, it remains one of the most distinctive cars on the road. In person, the Audi car looks just right, appearing aggressive and graceful at the same time. The rear boasts rounded flanks and, in coupe form, a cleanly arced roofline. Purposeful styling details are executed with ice-cold precision. The car was an instant classic, and its shape will be a topic of discussion for years.
The Audi TT has never been an exceptional performance car in a class where the G35 coupe, Z4 and Boxster set the standards, but the 2004 introduction of the 250-hp 3.2 model and its innovative Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG) helped to change that perception, at least in the acceleration department. The DSG provides an excellent accompaniment to the V6, as it provides the convenience and smoothness of an automatic, along with near instantaneous downshifts (complete with rev matching) in its manual mode. Handling for the standard coupe is on the soft side, and in roadster form, the Audi car feels a bit heavy for a two-seater. On the positive side, the smooth-riding Audi TT has more real-world practicality than some competitors, not to mention fantastic interior trimmings and a full load of standard features.
Even with the addition of the 250-hp 3.2 model, the 2006 Audi TT coupe and roadster have a decidedly more relaxed personality than cars like the Boxster, Z4, G35, S2000 and 350Z. Will this be a disappointment to you? So long as you're not of the pedal-to-the-metal ilk, probably not. If carefree days on coastal highways and year-round use are in the forecast, the 2006 Audi TT could be a nice addition to your garage. However, bear in mind that an all-new TT will be along for 2007, so if it's important to you to be on the cutting edge of automotive fashion, you may want to wait a year.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
Coupe and roadster body styles are offered in three levels of trim based on engine output. Base 180-horsepower models come standard with a long list of features that includes automatic climate control, leather seats, a CD player, 16-inch wheels, HID headlights and a manual top on roadster versions. Midgrade 225-hp models add 17-inch wheels and a power-operated top on roadsters. Top-of-the-line 250-hp versions add a firmer suspension, minor exterior enhancements, a modified exhaust system and an aluminum shifter cover. Options on the Audi car include a Bose sound system, heated seats, a navigation system and 18-inch wheels and tires.The limited-edition SE model, introduced late in the model year, celebrates the 99th anniversary of the Tourist Trophy race, held on the Isle of Man and the inspiration for this two-seat Audi's name. Only 99 SE coupes and 99 SE roadsters will be produced and they'll all feature the 3.2 V6/DSG/quattro powertrain, unique paint treatment (black roofs on both versions), two-tone 18-inch wheels and every feature available on a TT except optional satellite radio.
Powertrains and Performance
Three engines are available on the 2006 Audi TT. Front-wheel-drive coupes and roadsters get a 1.8-liter turbocharged inline four that generates 180 hp and 173 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic is standard; a six-speed manual is optional. Quattro all-wheel-drive models come with one of two engines. The first is a 225-hp version of the 1.8-liter four; it comes with a standard six-speed manual but a six-speed automatic is optional. The other choice is a 3.2-liter V6 that delivers 250 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque; it's coupled to Audi's six-speed Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG). This electronically controlled manual transmission provides the smoothness and convenience of an automatic along with the ability to perform quick manual shifts via steering wheel-mounted paddles.
All TT models come with four-wheel antilock disc brakes and electronic stability control. Side and head airbags are standard, and Audi contends that the protection level of the roadster in a rollover is equal to that of the sport coupe. In government side-impact crash testing, the 2006 Audi TT received a perfect five stars for protection of front occupants.
Interior Design and Special Features
Aluminum and leather dominate a decidedly industrial cabin design that blends retro and modern elements into one enticing package. A standard power glass wind blocker ensures that chilly nights along the beach are pleasant for roadster owners. Trunk capacity ranges from 6.4 cubic feet in quattro roadsters to 13.8 cubes in front-drive coupes.
Driven back-to-back with its competitors, the TT's hefty curb weight and soft suspension are immediately evident, though the added horsepower and advanced transmission of the 250-hp, 3.2-liter model help the 2006 Audi TT keep up with peers like the G35 and Z4 when it comes to straight-line acceleration. The compliant suspension yields a blissfully secure ride, but pick up the pace and the TT tends to wallow through dips and turns. Overall, Audi has engineered an excellent compromise between comfort and performance, but for the most part, this is a cruiser not a bruiser.