2010 Audi TT: A Hungarian Rhapsody, Reviewed, Revised

Angular Front Exterior View - 2010 Audi TT 2-door Roadster S tronic 2.0T quattro Premium

Angular Front Exterior View - 2010 Audi TT 2-door Roadster S tronic 2.0T quattro Premium

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Audi's TT, a benchmark for retro-style sports coupes, faces tough competition.

Since the first TT arrived in 1999, Nissan brought back the Z car and Ford put more muscle in its venerable Mustang.

Many enthusiasts thought the front-drive or all-wheel-drive TT an impostor--it didn't deliver the performance commensurate with the looks.

The second-generation, built-in-Hungary TT is different; Audi updated its sleek shape and its chassis. If you think this Audi is only about looks, you're in for an eye-opener--it's fast. What lurks underneath its taut skin is a lighter, lower center of gravity VW GTI chassis. Add magnetic ride suspension--an adjustable damper feature--and 245/40 X 18-inch performance tires and you've got wicked set of wheels.
While purists will notice the TT's front-drive push, it's a  road rocket that blasts past some better known sports cars. The downside:  this funster's edgy ride--too harsh for Midwest roadways. The standard tire/wheel combo offers better bump compliance.

Inside the TT:  a sybarite's delight; metal and leather accents (stitched leather-like instrument hood) and functional metal-ringed dash vents define contemporary chic.

Add the Shamu-approved Nappa leather, bi-color seats--adult size in front--and you've got a great place to park your Levis. Plus you can push the front buckets rearward, recline the seat and enjoy the arm, head and legroom not found in roadsters.

Compared with the Nissan Z car or Mazda MX5, the TT loses points in road feel. For example, Mazda responds like driving gloves, whereas, the Audi offers accurate control. Don't let that fool you; the TT carves through off-camber corners like a Hamilton Beach electric knife does turkey. It never lets its Bridgestone Potenza RE050 rubber wander.

The TT's bonus track: a baritone blast of a turbocharged, four-cylinder engine coupled to a quick-acting dual-clutch automatic, which Audi calls S tronic. Despite its modest 200 hp,  this mill and its shifter paddles put out. An info screen indicates forward gear number. A shift program automatically turns off the paddle-shift manumatic mode when you're not oaring.

Place the shifter in sport, press the brake pedal with your left foot, floor the long pedal with your right, let go of the brakes and launch control burns rubber.

It charges to 60 mph in about six seconds keeping you within catch-me-if-you-can distance of V-8-powered muscle.

The price for this much whimsical fun: a serious $46,300. Those seeking a contemporary collectible--today's MGB--might find the base model's $36,000 bottom line good for starters.

You'll feel less pain at the pump; it's EPA rated 23 mpg city and 31 highway drinking premium fuel. Those numbers are very attractive. I observed 25 mpg, which is cool for a hot set of wheels.

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