Alfa Romeo
Land Rover
Audi TT Roadster
Falling in love is automatic
June 2007

I THINK I've found the first real "tronic-matic-sports-adaptive-sequential-buzzword" automatic gearbox that I truly like- and it just happens to be aboard a super-sexy chassis, namely the Audi TT Roadster.

Called the "S tronic", it's the ability to actually think for itself pretty well when you drop it into "S" mode that makes this 'box stand out. It holds what I would call "sporting" revs, not just a standard few hundred rpm like the pretenders, but more like 1500rpm.

What's more, it uses its adaptive electronics to even vary that amount; so when you are pushing on it holds higher revs, but when you are closer to "normal" driving patterns it is seemingly around about the same distance in between.

Add to that the fact that you can override the whole box and dice with the steering wheel paddles and you are pretty much in heaven.

On the downchanges it disengages the clutch and blips the throttle for you as well. Very, very nice.

But wait, there's more.

The TT Roadster has an optional adaptive damping system, Audi Magnetic Ride, where the driver determines at the push of a button whether the suspension response places the emphasis on comfort or performance. With the S tronic it's a clever combo.

The price of the Roadster is pretty fair I'd reckon, which is a big call for a $92K outlay for the V6, but let's face it ... if you are in the market for a two-seater convertible you're pretty much looking for something to spend money on, right?

The only way you're going to understand just how nice a package this is to drive one but I'll try to explain anyway.

Each of the aspects of the Roadster are 98% great. If any of them were 100% they would be at the expense of something else.

The handling and roadholding are beautiful, but not at the expense of the ride comfort - in either Magnetic Ride mode actually - the grip levels are quite astounding.

The improvements on the superseded model are obvious behind the wheel, but backed up by confirmation from Audi that it has been completely re-engineered including complex four-link rear suspension and wider track widths.

The stats include the fact that static torsional rigidity is improved 120%, with the 2.0 TFSI riding on 17-inch Y-spoke alloy wheels, and the 3.2 quattro on 18-inch alloy wheels.

The 78mm wider track (now 1842mm) isn't the only measurement that's grown. The open-top two-seater measures 4,178 millimetres in length (+ 137 mm), with a marginal increase in height to 1358 mm (+ 8 mm). The wheelbase has increased to 2,468 mm (+ 46 mm).

The larger overall body dimensions have also benefited the luggage compartment. It has grown to a generous capacity of 250 litres, on both the front-wheel-drive 2.0 TFSI model and the 3.2 quattro version. But don't get carried away - it's still overnight bags only.

Compared with the flat, flowing lines of the TT Coupé’s roofline, the hood of the TT Roadster contrasts with the tail end of the body, making the overall appearance much more geometrical – entirely in keeping with the style of its predecessor. This impression is underscored by the athletic and muscular curves of the vehicle's flanks and the rising dynamic line above the sill area, as well as the taut shoulder line.

With the hood up, the drag coefficient of the 2.0 TFSI is 0.32. For a rag top it's also impressively quiet inside the cabin.

The fully automatic soft top opens or closes in just 12 seconds, even when driving. A nice touch is that a new Z-fold pattern means the front section of the roof locks down on top of the cloth like a cover, flush with the body and no need for a tonneau cover.

As on the Coupé, the TT Roadster has an electrically powered spoiler that is extended when the speed reaches 120 km/h and which further increases downforce.

The exhaust system adds to the whole experience - from a sedate growl at lower revs right through to "the neighbours will hate you if you keep that up".

All in all an absolute ripper. Still definitely in the "wants" rather than "needs" category, but you'll go a long way to find a classier drive with outstanding performance to boot.



ENGINES: 2.0 TFSI; 3.2 V6 Quattro

TRANSMISSION: S tronic automatic

POWER: 147kW @ 000rpm; 184kW @ 000rpm

TORQUE: 280Nm @ 1500-5000rpm; 320Nm @ 2500-3000rpm

FUEL CONSUMPTION: 7.8l/100km average; 9.5l/100km average


ACCELERATION 0-100km/h: 6.5; 5.9s

PROS: Sticks like glue; good looks; getting in and out easy; spiffy Sports mode auto; incredibly quiet soft-top

CONS: Very few. Perhaps just the sheer lack of boot space