Motoring: Few, what a scorcher ...

It's gorgeous. So why is Audi being so mean with the TT?

BE PREPARED for disappointment at Audi's keenly awaited TT. Its main shortcoming is not the expected one - that its VW Golf underpinnings would create a sham of a sports car. Nor is it that the styling of the finished item is a shadow of the show car we all admired in 1995, because the styling has not changed that much.

No, the pin to prick the bubble of your dreaming is availability. The TT is a prime example of the motor industry's favourite by-product; the niche car, the happy outcome of component- and platform-sharing, the sort of car that wouldn't exist at all without these fashionable industrial practices. But only around 1,000 are slated for allocation to the UK.

We may end up with the situation we had at the launch of the Mercedes SLK, where the best chance of securing one was through a small ad placed by a speculator who had the sense to reserve one and who wanted a five- grand mark-up. This is absurd, because cars are not commodities, they are consumables to be enjoyed. And The TT is as enjoyable as it will prove elusive.

Back in dreamland, however, everything is rosy. The TT's novel profile is a mix of the Porsche 996 and VW's new Beetle; but where the Beetle's is formed from three intersecting arcs of roughly constant radius, the TT's combines near semi-circular wheel arches with a more sophisticated curve for the cabin, looking like a punctured Beetle in the initial stages of deflation.

Inside the nominally two-plus-two cabin you find a touch of austerity in the best German sports car tradition, as in the Porsche 911 (before that was turned into a tart's handbag) but with aluminium on gearknob, air vents, handles and anywhere else it can function as a highlight. This is mere retro pastiche, of course, but the effect is pleasing.

Two versions will be available over here - with 180 or 225bhp but otherwise the same, save for the exhaust pipe, which doubles up on the more powerful version. Prices are, roughly, pounds 25,000 and pounds 30,000 respectively - though if you are one of the few to get one, it won't be until next spring.

The 180bhp model is the better car, the engine a little sweeter, the four-wheel-drive hardware (borrowed from the Quattro) somehow tauter and the whole no less exciting in real-world driving.

Some testers expressed reservations about the handling, but I found it perfectly good, with nicely weighted steering and plenty of usable grip. The TT, a bigger car than it actually appears, also performs the incredible shrinking sports car trick rather well.

If I do have a complaint, it is with the gearchange, a cable-operated type that suffers a slight sluggishness (though perhaps only by contrast with the remainder of the car).

From the driving seat on a winding backroad, the TT's high waistline and shallow windows give the impression of a wide-screen video game. But, unless Audi's UK distributor can increase its quota, then a game may be the only way most people can get an impression of this fine car - a shame when the world's car market is suffering from vast over-capacity in dull stuff.

Specifications

Marque: Audi TT 180/225bhp. Price: pounds 25,000-pounds 30,000. Engine: 1781cc transverse in-line four, five valves per cylinder, 180/225bhp, 173/206lb ft. Transmission: front-wheel drive, five/six-speed manual. Performance: top speed 141/152mph, 0-100kmh (62.5mph) 7.4/6.4 secs overall.

Rivals

Alfa Romeo GTV 2.0: From pounds 21,945. As radical at its launch as the TT is now, and with a terrific rasping four-pot and flamboyant Italian good looks.

Fiat Coupe Turbo: pounds 22,800. Another Italian that stunned the world and still does. Something of a performance bargain in the latest turbo guise.

Mercedes-Benz SLK 230K: pounds 31,640. A beautiful piece of restrained design. Folding hardtop blends coupe integrity with roadster appeal, a quality not available elsewhere.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Sport
John Terry, Frank Lampard
footballChelsea captain sends signed shirt to fan whose mum had died
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Rita Ora will replace Kylie Minogue as a judge on The Voice 2015
tv
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
life
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Teaching Assistant in secondary school Manchester

    £11280 - £14400 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Teaching a...

    Primary teaching roles in Ipswich

    £21552 - £31588 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad Education re...

    Science teachers needed in Norwich

    £21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Science teachers requ...

    Semi Senior Accountant - Music

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: A successful, Central London bas...

    Day In a Page

    Secret politics of the weekly shop

    The politics of the weekly shop

    New app reveals political leanings of food companies
    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
    Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

    Beware Wet Paint

    The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits