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2001 Audi TT Roadster

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SAN FRANCISCO:  Last year, Audi introduced its remarkable two-seat coupe, the TT, named for the famous early 20th century Touring Trophy race. The TT coupe is a beautiful and compact piece of rolling sculpture inside and out.

However, many sports car buyers want the wind in their hair, so for 2001, the TT Roadster is here to satisfy them. The coupe and roadster were developed in tandem, so that every detail would be right. The roadster was designed from the start with the structural reinforcements it needs to be a flex-free convertible.

The unmistakable shape begins up front. The nose has the unbroken curve of a good oxford shoe, with flush-mounted grille and headlamps. A bottom breathing air inlet is tucked under the bumper. The boldly expressed wheel arches overtly cross the hood cut line up front, while the doors slice into a lower body line that continues from the rear wheel arches.

The flush detailing up front is restated at the rear, with only the license plate area and the exhaust pipes breaking the smooth line. It epitomizes turn-of-the-21st-century design, using soft forms with sharp edges to convey mass and strength.

The TT Roadster's interior glitters with metallic accents using a dotted circle motif, evocative of the company's "4/5 of the Olympics" logo. The design is sprinkled everywhere, from the steering wheel center to the circular dash vents to the door pulls to the gauge needles. Aluminum braces on the center tunnel, stainless steel pedals, and a folding metal cover for the sound system increase the cool, high-tech appearance.

The circle design motif carries over to the outside as well, in the wheel centers and the silvery gas filler cap mounted on the right rear fender. Sumptuous, fragrant, leather seats and a hefty leather-wrapped steering wheel contrast warmly with the cool metallic elements. Matte-finish, black textured plastic is the perfect neutral display matrix for all of this sensory stimulation.

The little TT doesn't feel crowded inside, despite its low windshield header. The seats are adjustable for height, as is the steering wheel, so a regular-sized person should feel comfortable. If the single passenger is a child, the right front airbag can be deactivated. In the middle of the classic, metal-rimmed gauge package, a handy driver information display shows outside temperature, five trip/mileage functions, a vehicle auto-check system, the current radio station or CD selection, and indicates an open door or deck lid condition.

The TT's 1.8-liter, four-cylinder, turbocharged engine has five valves per cylinder, and puts out 180 horsepower with one intercooler; a 225 horsepower version with two intercoolers is available. My test car, in Desert Green Pearl Effect paint, felt plenty potent with the regular 180-horsepower engine. Quick-ratio rack-and-pinion power steering provides instant control with a light touch. That pinpoint control is what makes little sports cars so much fun. My test car received EPA fuel ratings of 22 city, 31 highway, for 25 combined.

Audi offers the 180-horsepower TT Roadster with a five speed manual transmission, but the 225-horsepower model gets a six speed, the better to use its 34 extra lb.-ft of torque. For a premium of $5,700, the 225 horsepower model also receives rear disk brakes, a power top, and will perform a zero-to-60 run in 1.3 fewer seconds. It also comes with Audi's all-wheel-drive Quattro system standard, a $1,750 option on the 180-hp car. The Quattro system uses electro hydraulically controlled torque distribution to detect front wheel slip, and then carefully redirects engine torque to the rear wheels without driver interaction. The computer considers information such as wheel rotating speeds, engine speed and engine torque to evaluate the situation before and while torque is shifted rearward.

To drop the TT's top, you press a single, centrally mounted button, which releases a ring handle. Twisting the handle releases both front header hooks, and the top folds easily into its storage area. A hard plastic boot snaps tightly into place. The boot takes up some trunk space when not in use, and I found it a little tough to remove, but once installed, it looks perfectly integrated. 

For safety, an aluminum roll bar arches over each seat. A glass wind blocker moves up behind the roll bars and seats with the touch of a button. High-strength aluminum side intrusion bars, bulky doorsills and hardy sidepanels work in unison to protect occupants in a crash, while front and side airbags and automatic seat belt pretensioners hold them in place. Anti-lock brakes, an electronic differential lock, and all-speed traction control help drivers avoid many accidents altogether.

With prices starting at $32,850, the TT Roadster undercuts some competitors, such as the Porsche Boxster and Mercedes-Benz SLK. Included are luxury essentials, such as automatic climate control, power windows, power locks, power mirrors, cruise control, remote locking (with a pop-out switchblade style key), and a first aid kit. My car's premium package added 17-inch wheels and tires, Xenon lights and heated seats for $1,450. The fixed sunvisors don't move to the side and removing the top boot was a challenge, but the only thing about the TT that really bothered me was having to give it back. . By Steve Schaefer AutoWire.Net - San Francisco

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Byline:  By Steve Schaefer AutoWire.Net - San Francisco
Column Name:   "A piece of rolling sculpture inside and out"
Topic:  2001 Audi TT Roadster
Word Count:   923
Photo Caption:  2001 Audi TT Roadster
Photo Credits:  TT-Owners-Club-de
Series #:   2000 - 49

Download the Microsoft Word version here:   2001 Audi TT Roadster

Download the original image file here:  2001 Audi TT Roadster 26k








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