2008 Audi TT Performance
This performance review was written when the 2008 Audi TT was new.
For 2008, the TT gets a new suspension design and an optional magnetic ride suspension damping system. These translate into "high-speed stability and rock-solid behavior over rough roads, attributes that were missing in the previous TT," writes Edmunds. However, the redesign doesn't change the fact that the TT still only comes with front-wheel drive -- and several reviews bemoan this fact. "Audi improved the TT's dynamics, but probably not enough to satisfy detractors who labeled the first generation as not enough of a sports car," says Cars.com. Edmunds adds: "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."
However, the TT still has a place in the sports car world because, as New Car Test Drive says, "The first priority for most sports car buyers is a car that's fun to drive. The Audi TT has that in spades."
Acceleration and Power
The TT's trim levels offer two engines, and both satisfy test drivers' cravings for power. The 2008 Audi TT 2.0T coupe (base model) is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged I4 engine that makes 200 horsepower at 5,100 to 6,000 rpm and 207 pound-feet of torque at 1,800 to 5,000 rpm. The Audi TT 3.2 Quattro coupe features a 3.2-liter V6 engine that makes 250 horsepower at 6,300 rpm and 236 pound-feet of torque at 2,500 to 3,000 rpm.
Surprisingly enough, some drivers prefer the less powerful base engine because it performs almost as well as the V6 and costs much less. Kelley Blue Book says that "given its lower sticker price and notably better mileage, we actually prefer the lighter feel of the four-cylinder/front-drive combination than that of the heavier V6/all-wheel drive pairing." Likewise, Edmunds comments, "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."
Car and Driver even finds that the 2.0-liter is quicker than the 3.2 in 0-to-60 mph tests: "6.0 seconds versus 6.1-- when the former is equipped with the dual-clutch automated manual (Audi calls it S tronic) and the six-pot is hooked to a conventional six-speed manual." Audi claims that while the 2.0T has a 0-to-60 mph time of 6.1 seconds, the 3.2 with the S tronic and manual transmission can reach 60 mph in 5.5 seconds. Maximum speed is electronically limited to 130 mph.
But that time and power difference doesn't mean much to test drivers. "Without question, the 2.0T is the better engine in the TT," says Automobile Magazine. "It may make 50 less horsepower on paper, but without the added complexity and weight of all-wheel drive, it feels every bit as quick as the 3.2-liter." Forbes adds, "In some ways, the less-expensive 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, with its versatile punch, is the better choice and more suited to the car's nature... In most real-world situations, it feels nearly as quick as the V6, yet its lighter weight and free-revving style make the TT seem more nimble and frisky."
So, with all this praise for the less expensive 2.0-liter -- which gets better fuel economy as well -- what's the advantage of shelling out for the 3.2-liter V6? The Detroit News says for "a 0-60 mph time under six seconds, you'll have to go with the V-6." But the more compelling reason is that the 2.0T is only available in front-wheel drive, while Audi's Quattro all-wheel drive is only available on the 3.2 model. Bottom line: Buyers will have to trade up if they want the handling perks and all-weather traction that Quattro offers.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the 2.0T coupe has a city/highway fuel economy of 23/31 mpg. The Washington Times sees this as a plus, noting, "As a bonus, the four-cylinder TT coupe will return between 20 and 30 miles per gallon, even when driven somewhat aggressively." The 3.2 Quattro, by contrast, has a city/highway fuel economy of 17/24 when equipped with a manual transmission and 18/24 with the S tronic automatic transmission. Automobile Magazine isn't impressed, calling the 3.2-liter "a thirsty engine" and adding, "I never saw over 21 mpg on the highway, and back-road blasts returned only 13 mpg." Premium fuel is recommended for both engines, though regular-grade fuel can be used for what Audi calls "a slight performance loss," according to MSN.
While the Audi TT features a standard six-speed S tronic automatic transmission, the 3.2 Quattro model is also available with a six-speed manual transmission. Test drivers praise the automatic for its smooth feel, and AutoWeek calls it "the pinnacle of the auto manuals, with crisp upshifts and rev-matching downshifts made via steering-wheel-mounted paddles." Forbes compares it favorably to other cars, commenting, "It's far smoother and faster-shifting than automated manuals found on vastly more expensive BMWs and Ferraris." Kelley Blue Book and others also love the manual shifting function, because in "stop-and-go traffic it's a smooth-shifting automatic transmission. On your favorite road or track it's a quick-shifting, no-pedal manual." The review goes on to describe the dual-clutch transmission as "truly revolutionary." Plus, several report that the automatic actually provides faster 0-to-60 times than the optional manual.
But test drivers also love the 3.2's optional manual gearbox, which Automobile Magazine says "offers fantastic shift quality and precise clutch feel." The adds, "Shifting is easy, too, as the six-speed slides easily from gear to gear, and the sixth one allows you to cruise at lower rpm on the highway to save power for when you need to tromp the accelerator." Cars.com is the only review to offer much of a complaint, noting: "My 3.2 coupe had a standard six-speed manual that did the job, neither impressing nor depressing with its medium-tall shifter and relatively precise (if there could be such a thing) feel. I still prefer the short, sharp, connected-feeling shifter of the Infiniti G35."
Handling and Braking
Handling is one of the 2008 Audi TT's greatest strengths. "There are cars that must be coaxed into and out of corners, cars that float and roll, and cars that carve like a scalpel," says the. "And then there are cars that are 'worn' like a fine suit: the car grabs the driver, 'talks' back, and lets him feel all that is happening. That is the 2008 Audi TT. From the start, it is a car that is comfortable to push, coax, and over extend -- just for fun."
With the 2008 model, a redesigned chassis has made the TT even more comfortable as a daily driver. The TT rides on the same platform as the Volkswagen Rabbit and Audi's A3 hatchback. It features a McPherson strut suspension and aluminum subframe in the front and a four-link suspension with an enhanced damping system in the rear. "It has the best suspension and body control I have ever experienced in a small car," says Automobile Magazine. "Neither mid-corner bumps nor frost-heaves, camber changes, potholes, jumps, or a sapling laying across the road can ruffle its suspension's feathers."
New for this year is an optional magnetic ride suspension that varies stiffness and offers two modes: normal and sport. Test drivers say sport mode is good for a race-car ride, but it definitely takes a toll on comfort. "Off-track with the sport mode activated, the TT delivers a firm, sports-car-like ride on the freeway. It's never unduly harsh, but you can definitely feel the bumps," says AutoWeek. Consumer Guide adds, "The optional magnetic ride suspension makes bumps more apparent, but not to the point of harshness." But in the right situation, sport mode can be ideal, as Motor Trend explains: "Out on the long stretches and tight curves in Hohe Tauern National Park, the magnetic damping system proved invaluable, delivering a dichotomy of compliance from forgiving to ultrastiff." Still, others don't feel the fancy system is worth it. "Paying extra for two modes is unnecessary in my opinion -- the conventional suspension is the Goldilocks 'Just Right' setting, anyway," says Automobile Magazine.
Reviews are mixed on the TT's Servotronic electromechanical steering with speed-dependent power assistance. Though most have good things to say, the praise is peppered with criticism about the light feel, which is a negative for a sports car. "Some drivers might find the new steering rack to be devoid of feel, but there's no denying its precision," says Edmunds. The calls the steering "very responsive, though too light to the touch." Automobile Magazine sums up the two opinions, calling the steering "accurate and well-weighted but numb: neither torque steer nor road conditions make it to the ultracool flat-bottomed steering wheel rim."
The brakes fare much better. Helping to stop the TT is a dual-circuit brake system with anti-lock brakes. Audi's Electronic Stabilization Program (ESP) also comes standard. MSN says stops are "nearly as good as that of a Porsche, which says a lot, and the brake pedal has a linear action." Car and Driver also appreciates the "good response" and cites a 70-to-0 mph stop of "a mere 159 feet." Velocity Journal describes pedal feel as "superb, with none of the sponginess that plagues lesser brake systems."
Audi's Quattro all-wheel-drive (AWD) system, available only on the 3.2 model, increases overall traction by directing 85 percent of torque to the front wheels. In extreme circumstances, it can channel as much as 100 percent to one of the two axles. "Quattro is a great choice for snow and rain," says New Car Test Drive. The TT's AWD system is also useful on gravel or sandy roads, prompting the to call it "a major plus." Forbes says the AWD gives the TT "a performance edge that's often overlooked," but, "Only you can decide whether that's worth the extra dough."