2011 Audi TTS Roadster Road Test Review

Trevor Hofmann - CAP staff
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Published on May 26, 2011

Published on May 26, 2011

Published on May 26, 2011

Published on May 26, 2011

Audi has upped performance and tweaked the 2011 Audi TTS Roadster's design resulting in the best TT yet. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Published on May 26, 2011

Published on May 26, 2011

Published on May 26, 2011

Published on May 26, 2011

Published on May 26, 2011

Published on May 26, 2011

Published on May 26, 2011

The TTS Roadster is a rolling style statement. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Published on May 26, 2011

Published on May 26, 2011

Published on May 26, 2011

Published on May 26, 2011

Published on May 26, 2011

Published on May 26, 2011

Published on May 26, 2011

Cloth top looks good in place, and does a good job of protecting from the elements. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Published on May 26, 2011

Published on May 26, 2011

Published on May 26, 2011

Published on May 26, 2011

Published on May 26, 2011

Published on May 26, 2011

Published on May 26, 2011

Published on May 26, 2011

Published on May 26, 2011

TTS cockpit offers style plus impeccable materials and build quality. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Published on May 26, 2011

Published on May 26, 2011

TTS seats deliver top-tier comfort and support. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Published on May 26, 2011

Published on May 26, 2011

Published on May 26, 2011

Published on May 26, 2011

Published on May 26, 2011

Published on May 26, 2011

Published on May 26, 2011

TTS detailing is superb, and paddle-shift actuated gearbox is brilliant. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Published on May 26, 2011

Published on May 26, 2011

Published on May 26, 2011

Published on May 26, 2011

Quality of workmanship is second to none. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Published on May 26, 2011

Published on May 26, 2011

Published on May 26, 2011

Published on May 26, 2011

Published on May 26, 2011

Published on May 26, 2011

It's not too often that an automaker supplies me with a car that doesn't feature most of its available options, and the 2011 Audi TT provided for me recently was no exception. First off, it was the special higher-performance TTS model with a sexy roadster body. After that, Audi loaded it up a navigation system, 10-speaker Bose audio with an alternative iPod interface, optional rear parking sensors, and a sweet set of 19-inch 5-parallel-spoke alloy rims on ultra-low profile 255/35R19 summer performance rubber. The only option they didn't include was the TT roadster trademark baseball glove-style leather seats and trim. A shame, as I love that look.

Still, the two-tone gray and black leather interior was stunning enough and supported my frame well, complementing what I believe is the best interior in the compact sport coupe/roadster segment. Actually, to this end the TT is unique. All of its peers offer one shape fits all models, except maybe for Porsche that has two distinct cars in competition, the Boxster and Cayman. Sure Lotus' Elise and Exige are roadster and coupe examples of the same car, but they're not really targeting the same buyer. No, the TT is more directly up against BMW's Z4 and Mercedes-Benz' SLK, two cars that provide retractable hardtops overhead to shield from inclement weather. The TT, on the other hand, offers 2+2 seating in its coupe and a pure 2-seat convertible experience when the roadster's fabric top is dropped, and it's a great looking top when upright too, something that can't be said for all retractable hardtops.

Much of my week was spent driving in the rain, and therefore I can attest to a cloth top that not only dispels the elements but also isolates driver from most exterior noise. Personally, I love the hushed sound deadening provided by a good insulated soft top, and my TTS roadster supplied just that. It's ultra-easy to operate and fully automated, plus capable of lowering down during a red light.

Taking off from that red light is ultra-quick and fully automated too. The TTS gets a boost over its regular TT sibling, upping output from 211 horsepower to 265; torque stays the same at an ample 258 lb-ft. The TTS roadster is exactly a lightweight at 1,530 kilos (3,373 lbs), at least compared to the aforementioned Elise, but it nevertheless zips away from standstill to 100km/h in 5.3 seconds before topping out at a rev limited 250 km/h (155 mph). There's zero tire spin, thanks to quattro all-wheel drive along with traction control, and up at speed quattro helps it hang onto curves with ridiculous tenacity while electronic stability control made sure the optional 19-inch summer performance tires underneath this particular TTS kept glued to wet road surfaces.

Much of that sticky grip is due to Audi's magnetic ride system, standard on the TTS. A new "Sport" selection button speeds up transmission shifts, reduces steering assist, and improves the sound of the exhaust, and you can really hear it too, and truly feel the seat-of-the-pants difference.

There was a time that no pure-blood sports car fan would even consider a two-place roadster without a stick between the seats, but now there's no way to get a manual gearbox in a modern-day TT. Audi has made its ultra-efficient and wickedly quick shifting 6-speed dual-clutch S tronic sequential automatic transmission standard equipment, and the steering wheel-mounted paddles allow for a level of driver involvement that, while not as engaging as a regular old manual box, is still plenty of fun.

Better news to some is that the combination of small-displacement direct-injection turbocharged four-cylinder power and low-drag S tronic gearbox results in fuel economy numbers that defy the ball of energy under hood. What's more, the much higher-powered TTS achieves the same estimated rating as the regular TT at 9.8 L/100km in the city and 7.2 on the highway. Not bad at all.

Argue all you want about competitors with more power and similar fuel economy figures, but few rivals look as good as the TT. All trim levels get enhancements for 2011 too, such as new standard bi-xenon headlights, cool looking LED daytime running lights, updated bumper designs, new side mouldings, as well as a sweet sounding and better looking dual branch exhaust system. Inside, all 2011 TTs get new chrome and high-polished black interior accents that really add character. Specific to the TTS, a new high-gloss grille and chrome adorned fog lamps increase bling, while standard Silk Nappa leather seats, a leather-covered cowl above the instrument cluster, a leather centre console, and leather door pulls spiff up the rest of the cabin.

You can get into a base TT coupe for a surprisingly low $47,900 plus a $1,995 destination charge, and that's a car that includes a long list of standard features highlighted by heated power-adjustable leather seats, a multi-function flat-bottom leather-wrapped steering wheel, Bluetooth connectivity, automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, rain-sensing wipers, and the list goes on and on. The base TT roadster starts at $50,900 and adds the cloth top and a trunk pass-through with a ski bag. The TTS coupe, standard with 18-inch wheels, starts at $57,900, whereas the TTS roadster I tested can be had for $62,200, sans options.

While there are other roadsters out there with more power and/or lighter weight result in stronger straight-line acceleration and arguable handling benefits, the TTS delivers superb performance in an extremely sophisticated package that combines as much fun factor as eye candy. It oozes quality with attention to detail that's second to none, making it a day-to-day favourite in my books.
©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Roadster, Audi, 2011, TTS, $50,000 - $74,999,

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