2009 Audi TTS

Poised, peppy and potent

2009 Audi TTS
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If you’re looking for a two-seat sports car with decent power and eye-catching looks, the Audi TT could always be relied on to fill that gap quite nicely. It’s only in recent years, however, that the TT has evolved into a machine that delivers from a performance perspective.

FAST FACTS

1. The TTS uses the base TT’s 2.0-liter turbocharged engine but makes significantly more power with 265hp at 6000 rpm and 258 ft-lbs of torque from 2500 to 5000 rpm.

2. With a six-speed double clutch DSG transmission the TTS hits 60 mph in 5.2 seconds while getting 21/29 mpg (city/hwy).

3. Exterior highlights include new side skirts, a new front bumper with larger air intakes, a new rear bumper with quad exhaust pipes, brushed aluminum mirrors and 18-inch wheels (19s are optional).

Adding another layer to the pile is the new-for-2009 TTS model, available in both coupe and roadster styles, which takes the car to a genuine Porsche Boxster-baiting position. Whereas previous “hot” TT models have only looked the part, the TTS is the genuine article.

Taking full advantage of the flexibility of the base car’s 2.0-liter TFSI engine, Audi pulled a few tweaks here and there to bring horsepower up to 265 at 6000 rpm. Torque is up as well to 258 ft-lbs across a broad range from 2500 to 5000 rpm. Both of these statistics are significant increases over the entry-level engine, and still greater than the 3.2 FSI’s V6 grunt.

The TTS’s advantage over the 3.2 FSI is further enhanced by its lighter weight, which helps it run from 0-60 mph in a mere 5.2 seconds, and get fairly decent fuel economy, clocking in at 21/29 mpg city/highway. As with most other TT models, the TTS gets Audi’s S-tronic six-speed dual-clutch automated sequential transmission with launch control, which, along with standard quattro all-wheel drive, gives the car an excellent level of usability.

PRICEY MAGNETIC RIDE STANDARD

The suspension remains a MacPherson strut setup attached to an aluminum front subframe and a four-link rear setup, however, Audi’s magnetic ride system is standard, meaning the driver can instantly switch between standard and sport mode just by pressing a button. And while 18-inch wheels are also standard, two attractive sets of optional 19-inchers add just the right visual touch.

Other elements unique to the TTS’s exterior include more aggressive front and rear bumpers, larger lower air intakes, extended rocker panels, quad exhaust pipes, and brushed-aluminum mirrors with integrated LED turn signals.

As with any Audi, the interior materials, construction and details are second to none, but the TTS’s interior gets a distinctive treatment in terms of usability and style. Three available models allow you to choose the level of luxury you desire: The $45,500 Premium comes covered in a combination of leather and Alcantara that extends to both the door panels and armrests. Other touches include the TTS-branded gearshift knob and doorsills, and while the three-spoke Audi steering wheel is immediately familiar, the design is perfect in size. The baseball-stitched leather package is a cool touch, but runs a seriously steep $2,000. Better to try the two-tone “silk” leather option for a mere $1,000.

The $47,500 Premium Plus adds 10-way power adjustable and heated sport seats that are both comfortable on long journeys and supportive enough for back-road duty. Bluetooth and an auto-dimming mirror are also standard.

Given the TTS’s potential to induce serious grins, you could forgive Audi for skimping on the toys, but the standard 8-speaker stereo with in-dash CD changer is plenty powerful. For true audiophiles, SIRIUS Satellite Radio and Bose Surround Sound, along with Audi’s excellent DVD-based navigation system and rear-parking system are available standard in the $50,500 Prestige model.

HAIR-TOUSLED FUN

For those interested in top-down fun, the TTS Roadster is priced between $2,000 to $3,000 more, and doesn’t skimp much in the satisfaction stakes. The power top retracts quickly, fitting under a rigid tonneau cover when stowed, and wind noise is minimal when it’s up. The leftover trunk space is more than enough for a week’s shopping or a weekend away with the Missus.

On the road, the TTS is a willing partner in making your sunny afternoon one to remember, with excellent steering feel and response, and plenty of torque from the turbocharged four-banger. There’s very little lag, and the S-tronic transmission is near-psychic if left in automatic mode. Blazing into a corner on the brakes, the exhaust makes lovely pop-pop noises on the overrun as you shift down the box using the standard paddle-shifters. It’s quite the experience.

While on the topic of brakes, the TTS feels more than up to the task of slowing itself down repeatedly without concern, and all the usual ABS/EBD/ESP safety nets are there to catch you as well.

THE VERDICT

Competitors run in the form of the Mercedes-Benz SLK350 and the revitalized Porsche Boxster. The TTS is a superior ride to the SLK, but it would be difficult to dethrone the performance icon that is the Porsche. We’ll have to see whether BMW can sort the upcoming Z4 sDrive35i as the original wasn’t nearly as special as it looked.

Thankfully, the Audi has several thousand dollars on its side to help ease the pain, especially when comparing prices to the more expensive Bimmer.

So what does the future hold for the TTS? While it’s the top-dog in my eyes for now, it’s expected to fall to second-run status later this year, effectively replacing the aging 3.2 FSI engine, when the TT-RS debuts with a 335-hp turbocharged five-cylinder.

Ignore that, though. For now, the TTS really represents the ideal TT: poised, peppy and potent.

PLUS

Powerful turbocharged 2.0-liter engine Launch control Good fuel economy

MINUS

Pricey options Not Porsche bait yet Replaced as Top Dog so soon?

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