Running rings around style
IT'S a car synonymous with style, glitz and glamour.
Hugh Jackman owns one and so does Justin Timberlake and Naomi Watts.
So impressed are these famous faces with the Audi brand, they've joined a high profile group willing to be ambassadors for the German automaker.
Jackman turned up to the Australian premiere of Disney's Real Steel in an Audi R8 Spyder supercar, but my arrival in the Audi TT at the recent Noosa Food and Wine Festival, where the reinvigorated sports car made its national debut, was a touch more subtle.
While the paparazzi were not camped out waiting to flash a camera in my face, I still felt I was living the dream in the 1.8 TFSI (turbocharged, fuel-stratified injection), a car that matched the buzz of the festival's stylish events.
And when the Audis were lined up at one of the functions, everyone wanted to be photographed with them.
But why the fuss?
On the road
This vehicle oozes class and sounds even better.
The iconic Audi TT now features the company's sporty S tronic transmission.
Previously available with manual gearshift only, both the 1.8 TFSI and 2.0 TDI (turbo direct injection diesel) engines now feature the marque's sporty dual-clutch S tronic transmission.
That makes for lightning-fast gearshifts.
And that throaty, sporty engine noise.
Fuel efficiency has not been compromised with consumption figures from just 5.5 litres per 100km (2.0 TDI).
Available in both Coupe and Roadster (convertible) body styles, the new S tronic transmission makes efficient use of the 1.8 TFSI engine to deliver sporty performance, yet frugal fuel economy.
It produces 118 kilowatts of power and musters maximum torque of 250 Newton metres.
Combined now with the 7-speed S tronic transmission, the TT Coupe 1.8 TFSI reaches 100km/h in just 7.2 seconds, delivering 6.4 litres per 100km.
The 2.0 TDI diesel engine is available in Coupe body style only, and delivers 125kW of power, however the real beauty of this engine is the generous and vigorous torque it provides of 350Nm, which is typical of a diesel engine.
The newly-available 6-speed S tronic transmission makes best use of this torque, reaching 100km/h in 7.5 seconds.
With Audi's TDI direct-injection diesel technology, fuel economy is assured at 5.5 litres per 100km, meaning trips to the fuel station are few and far between.
What do you get?
Both the 1.8 TFSI and 2.0 TDI enjoy a generous level of standard specification, including 17-inch alloy wheels, Bluetooth interface, cruise control, front sports seats upholstered in Valetta leather and multifunction sports steering wheel with gearshift paddles, so enthusiasts can change gears manually during spirited driving.
It's the best of both worlds.
The pilot seat viewing is wide and open, although use of mirrors is mandatory for the blind spot in the rear passenger corner.
The console panel is easy to read at a glance, but my passenger would have preferred a clock in the centre console.
The seats, with adjustable lumbar support, provide a comfortable ride for driver and passenger.
As one long-time fan describes it, you feel like the car "envelopes" you.
Life seems sexy and plentiful while driving this car and when a string of Audi TTs heads out to a lunch with Matt Preston and his fellow chefs, you know it doesn't get any better in the abundance stakes.
This is definitely not a car for the family person or those who car pool and Audi doesn't pretend it is anything but a sports car.
Rear passenger room is tight and you do require a few contortionist manoeuvres to get to all those shopping bags you've acquired while living the high life.
But the boot space more than makes up for it.
Two large suitcases plus various accessories required by every girl on a Noosa weekend away, fitted easily into the deep compartment.
Lightweight aluminium is used from the front of the car back to the B-pillar, with steel panels used at the rear. This makes the TT lighter than an equivalent steel-bodied car and the mix of metals makes it possible to finely balance the axle loads and keep the overall weight low - which benefits sporty driving and fuel consumption.
The original TT debuted in 1998 and received tremendous critical and popular acclaim.
The initial two-door coupe was joined a short time later by a convertible (Roadster) model. That iconic "shape" remained until 2006, when the second generation was released.
Today's car is more angular than the original, and larger in its wheelbase, but the essential elements of the original design are still there and the silhouette is unmistakably beautiful.
To capture a sportier look and to improve driving stability, the rear spoiler extends automatically at 120kmh. At 80kmh, it dovetails back into the rear line.
Alternatively, you can operate the spoiler at the touch of a button - and who wouldn't?
The Audi TT is made for bursts of speed and relaxed long-distance journeys and is a pleasure to drive.
This classic heading-turning sports car lives up to the marketing hype: it's never been easier to be sportier.
And if I had my choice of colour? Volcano red, metallic. Of course.
Model: Audi TT coupe 1.8 TFSI S Tronic.
Detail: Two-door front-wheel drive coupe.
Transmission: Seven-speed S tronic automatic.
Engine: 1.8-litre turbocharged four-cylinder generating maximum power of 118kW @ 4500-6200rpm and peak torque of 250Nm @ 1500-4500rpm.
Consumption: 6.4 litres/100km.
Performance: 0-100kmh in 7.2 seconds.
Bottom line: TT Coupe 1.8 TFSI S tronic $68,950, TT Coupe 2.0 TDI S tronic $73,800, TT Roadster 1.8 TFSI S tronic $72,400.