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Audi TT 3 2 Quattro - TT Break


I woke up in the middle of the night with a start. I live in a quiet neighbourhood and it certainly wasn’t because of any unusual noise outside. It was the noise in my head. An engine revving in anger and a muscular burble filling up my cranium. Phew! Relieved, I put my head back on the pillow and immediately went back into a wholesome, dreamless sleep. It was that Audi parked downstairs haunting my dreams.

I had spent that whole day – right from dawn to dusk – with the TT, and all through the day, the deadly combination of the engine intake noise and the brawny exhaust note had overwhelmed my senses without me realising it. Obviously, when you wake up at a godforsaken hour with the engine note in your brain, it really leaves a lasting impression. Despite having driven so many cars over the years, this has never happened to me before. And I have NOT made this up. As you can guess, it really was something.

The glorious noise aside, there’s more to the TT that fills up your senses. It looks stunning just standing still, an Ibis White magnet that yanks the eyeballs of passers-by. While those at a distance can only admire its silhouette, those who are close can’t help but fall in love with its gorgeous details. And then there are those lucky few who sit in that supportive sports seat, start the car, shift it into gear and floor it. It is then that the entire feast for your senses is laid out for you to sample.A few years ago, I had driven the last generation TT 3.2 V6 Quattro. While there was no arguing with its shape – pure, uncluttered, concept car-ish and a benchmark in automotive design – it did not feel like a through-and-through sportscar. It was twitchy, and the handling – though crisp – was not too exciting and the overall feel was more mechanical than passionate. It was not a bad car, but the new one simply overwhelms it in comparison.   The new TT, which replaced the last-gen model late 2006, has a raw, grown-up edge to it that’s hard to miss. It is much more aggressive, right from the way it looks to the way the engine sings to the way it drives. The TT is no more a plaything; it’s an adult experience.For starters, it is larger than the outgoing model across all aspects. So that cosy feeling you had in the earlier model in the front seats has now all but disappeared. Though it has a longer wheelbase now, this coupe cannot conceivably be a proper 2+2; to me, 2+0.73 is more like it. Then, it has this new, 21st century edge to it. I could spend all the forthcoming words in this piece on its new-found dynamism, but I’ll stick to the necessary few. 

On no other Audi, except maybe the A5 and R8, do I find that East European beard this good. It works wonders in the TT’s application, and combined with those jewel-like xenons and a purposeful set of airdams, the effect it creates on viewers is priceless. The main difference between the two generations of TTs is that explicit shoulder-line, which takes away the uncluttered profile of the earlier one and grants the incumbent a sense of aggression. It’s the way the shoulder-line extends over both the wheel arches, and getting something like that executed in a production car means that Audi will stop at nothing to achieve a strong design statement. But my favourite part of the whole car is the rear. Without sounding shameless, let me say that it is one of the most rounded and awesome butts I have ever seen. Now why is the rear end so important in this car? It is the key element that links the older version to the new one, and yet viewed from a higher perch, it won’t be out of place on a Porsche! All this, plus brilliant proportions and again a Porsche-like roofline means this is one helluva great looking car. Then, there are those exquisite jewel-like details… And to think that this is just a popular 2+2 coupe from Ingolstadt, and not even a hard-to-attain sports-machine like the R8.

You can’t blame the TT for not trying hard to be like its big brother, with its ambitious performance. It’s a tight fit for the V6 inside the engine bay, despite the narrow 15-degree cylinder angle. The 3189cc motor, featuring four camshafts and 24 valves, pumps out 250 bhp at 6300 revs and the 32 kgm of turning force peaks between 2500 and 3000 rpm. Magical enough? Then there is the S-tronic dual-clutch six-speed gearbox and Quattro permanent four-wheel drive. Fire it up and an urgent burble fills up the cabin despite the superb build quality and top-of-the-line materials used in its construction. Blip the throttle and the engine intake noise followed by the raucous exhaust confirms the fact that you can’t call the new TT’s driver a sissy. Put it in S mode and floor the throttle and for a few seconds, you’d think all that noise is wasted. Then the engine starts to bite and propels the car into orbit. Suddenly, everything about the car is urgent. There is lots of activity, everything is a blur and the V6 is revving itself into an orgy of ecstasy. It is an awesome sensation.

The numbers don’t tell half the story. 60 kph in 3.8 seconds, 100 kph in 7.8, a brilliant mid-range timing of 5.4 seconds for the 80-120 kph dash and 6.8 for the 100-140 kph run. We pushed the pedal as far as we dared and managed to attain a top speed of 220 kph. And I swear, even at these speeds, the engine feels like it can do more, while the car is squeezing itself to the tarmac as much as possible thanks to the special sports settings. A button on the central console allows you to activate the adaptive damping system, and the car does the thinking for you. Oh yes, there is the automatically retractable rear spoiler that generates downforce at speeds above 120 kph, and you can activate it manually too. This is the new TT’s party trick, but you know what, honestly, I don’t know whether it activated itself or not. That’s because I was staring right in front, wide eyed and holding the steering wheel tightly at some highly illegal speeds. The dual-clutch gearbox means that the shifts are seamless. You only know the gears are cascading into each other when the tacho needle redlines and bounces back five times, accompanied by an earful of bass notes. The engine is all antsy and hyperactive – for instance, try maintaining a cruise speed and the engine refuses to obey, like an errant child. It doesn’t want to be held back at only one speed, which is why the cruise control works like a strict teacher with a nasty-looking ruler. 

The steering wheel is also a work of art. With a flat bottom like in the performance Audis, the three-spoke steering wheel is brilliant to hold. At low speeds, especially in the city, it is completely devoid of feedback, so much so that you wonder how Audi could screw up something as basic as this in a car with proper sporting ambitions. It is really easy for the urban crawl and all that, but still… And then enlightenment happens. The way the electro-mechanical steering setup tightens when the car reads your intentions is awesome – at scenery-blurring speeds, it becomes tight and every input of yours is measured and precisely translated. This feedback at high-speeds as well as while attacking corners with the speedo needle at three digits is something that was missing in the original TT. Brilliant.   However, never switch on the automatic damping system when the roads are bad. In other words, never use the function on Mumbai roads. In these situations, the TT becomes finicky and irritable. Switch it off, and the ride is decent. However remember, the innate nature of the car means you should not expect it to pamper your rear end.The effort Ingolstadt has put in to make the new TT a driver’s car is obvious in its construction. It uses the Audi Space Frame concept, which uses lighter and stronger aluminium for the bodyshell. But for the first time, Audi has used steel as well in the TT’s ASF construction. The idea was to make the car well-balanced; for instance, even the clutch is placed at the rear. The attempt to get the balance right plus a more advanced suspension system translates into a car that loves corners. At the front, the McPherson strut setup with lower aluminium wishbone suspension is mounted on an aluminium subframe, while at the rear, unlike the old TT’s torsion beam setup, this one features a four-link suspension. Attacking decreasing radius corners with the TT is an eye-opening experience. It stays true to its line with mild corrections in the steering wheel, and other dynamic aids like ESP and Quattro ensure that it doesn’t step out of line. Nothing seems to upset this car’s on-road behaviour. So be it. That’s because the wild child nature of the engine means that you enter corners faster than you think and you need to be an experienced driver to lasso it. Or let these electronic nannies take over. 

The car just loves quick directional changes, and the perfect dimensions mean it’s superbly nimble even on city streets. The grip levels are superb, thanks to quattro and those 245/40 R18 Bridgestone Potenzas, while the brakes inspire you to go to unprecedented levels of driving standards. Even if you are just driving without pushing your own limits or that of the car’s, the sounds emanating from the TT will fill any enthusiast’s heart with happiness. At moments like these, the aural sensation is so good that you wonder if it is a state-of-the-art V6 or an old fashioned carburetted V8 in there. When the throttle blips by itself when it downshifts, you’re sold.

Audi India has introduced the TT 3.2 quattro in the top-of-the-line S-line trim and it will set you back by over 46 lakh (ex-showroom Mumbai). But that also means the car comes loaded. It has a smashing interior treatment with hand-stitched leather, form-fitting sports seats and even a Bose stereo (which simply gives up when you redline the engine!). The quality that’s gone into making this car won’t disappoint the person who can afford it and its just-right dimensions mean that the TT is an easy car to pilot on our roads. 

For a person who doesn’t need the space of a conventional saloon, who is passionate about driving and who doesn’t mind the attention, the TT 3.2 V6 Quattro is the car to buy. Just be prepared for some disturbed nights, that’s all.