What's New for 2008
After a one-year hiatus, the Audi TT returns for 2008. Fully redesigned, the new model features evolutionary styling, a more sophisticated chassis and a new four-cylinder engine. It's also wider and longer, but extensive use of aluminum has reduced curb weight compared to the previous-generation TT.
It's hard to imagine that the basic shape of an overturned bathtub with some flashy aluminum bits on the inside could have such an impact on automotive design. But that is indeed the case with the Audi TT. One of the most original-looking vehicles to come out in the past 10 years, the TT has rightfully earned its place as a Germanic icon.
For some drivers, however, iconic style only goes so far. A redesign of this sport coupe and roadster has been sorely needed, as the original TT's Golf-derived hardware filed for official geriatric status some time ago. For the 2008 model year, the Audi TT finally receives its first full redesign since its U.S. debut eight years ago.
The new 2008 Audi TT is longer by almost 5 inches and a bit wider and taller. Wheelbase and front/rear track dimensions have grown by about 2 inches. But because of the extensive aluminum content in the TT's structure (69 percent by weight), torsional rigidity is up and overall curb weight is down.
As before, the TT relies on either a turbocharged four-cylinder or a normally aspirated V6 for power. The four-cylinder is Audi's latest direct-injection mill, but the V6 is a carryover. A new suspension design and electric-assist steering rack with speed-sensitive assistance are said to improve handling precision. Audi is also offering new adaptive "magnetic ride" dampers that automatically adjust within milliseconds to improve both ride quality and handling.
With the previous TT's interior and exterior designs being its most endearing aspects, Audi has logically chosen to keep the updates purely evolutionary, especially on the outside. The look is a little more masculine now and features Audi's latest signature single-frame grille. A retractable rear spoiler rises at highway speed to reduce aerodynamic drag.
Inside, the TT coupe is still a "2+2," which means two front seats and two rear seats that really only qualify as such for those 5 feet tall and under. Audi does say that the cockpit is roomier overall, however. The look is modern but still contains the TT's distinctive (and now oft-imitated) metallic highlights and typically high-quality materials. The roadster's top is again fabric but now folds flat, dispensing with the need for a tonneau cover.
Overall, we think the 2008 Audi TT is a pretty impressive choice for a new sport coupe or roadster. But there are factors to consider before signing up at your local Audi dealership. If you're really only interested in performance, there are cheaper ways to go about it (Mazda RX-8, Mustang GT, Nissan 350Z). Similarly, BMW's 335i or Z4 and Porsche's Boxster/Cayman can outdo the TT in terms of power or rear-drive handling excellence. Still, for someone wanting a broad combination of performance, sophistication and style, the TT comes highly recommended.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2008 Audi TT is offered as a coupe-styled sport hatchback or roadster. The trim levels, 2.0T and 3.2 Quattro, indicate the type of engine. The TT 2.0T comes standard with 17-inch wheels and run-flat tires, a manually operated soft top for the roadster, a CD player, leather seats, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel and full power accessories. Selecting the Premium Package adds automatic top operation for the roadster, a multifunction steering wheel, powered and heated front seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and a six-disc CD changer. The 3.2 trim essentially comes with the Premium Package as standard.
Stand-alone options include 18-inch wheels with high-performance tires, xenon headlights, a navigation system, a dedicated iPod interface, Bluetooth connectivity, adjustable-suspension dampers, rear park assist, satellite radio, and upgraded leather upholstery. There's also an S-line package with styling enhancements, 19-inch wheels, and on the manual-transmission 3.2, a short-throw shifter.
Powertrains and Performance
The front-wheel-drive 2.0T model comes with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that develops 200 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque. The Audi TT 3.2 Quattro features all-wheel drive and a 3.2-liter V6 maxing out at 250 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque. With AWD, torque is normally split 85/15 front to rear, with up to 100 percent of engine torque being applied to one end or the other if needed. For now, the 2.0T comes standard with a paddle-shift automated manual transmission (formerly known as DSG, now called Audi's "S-tronic"). A regular six-speed manual will likely be offered later. The 3.2 Quattro can be fitted with either a six-speed manual transmission or the six-speed S-tronic.
Every 2008 Audi TT comes with antilock disc brakes, stability control, front chest-and-head protecting side airbags, front knee airbags and a tire-pressure monitor.
Interior Design and Special Features
The cockpit space benefits from the car's larger dimensions, including more front and rear shoulder room and rear knee room. New elements include three circular center dash vents instead of the previous two; a new shift knob and smaller-diameter steering wheel, which has a flat bottom like the wheel in the RS 4; and more supportive front seats. With its rear hatch configuration and fold-down rear seats, the coupe's luggage area is both accessible and ample. The two-seat roadster has a lightweight, fabric-trimmed convertible top. It incorporates a rigid plastic panel, and when the top folds down flush with the rear bodywork, this piece functions as a hard tonneau cover. Naturally, the TT roadster's convertible top has a multilayer headliner and a glass rear window to help create a quiet, warm interior in bad weather.
Overall, the 2008 Audi TT drives dramatically better than the previous generation and feels much more responsive. Ride quality, especially with the new magnetic ride dampers, is improved, too. Some drivers might find the new steering rack to be devoid of feel, but there's no denying its precision. In most situations, the 3.2 Quattro is the better variant; it's faster and able to deal with wet weather much more effectively. But the 2.0T is still a surprisingly enjoyable companion, as its torquey, if not particularly soulful, engine puts less weight over the front wheels and allows the car to steer nimbly around corners.