Audi TT Coupe 3.2 Quattro - The Verdict

What's not to like about the Audi TT? It's got good looks, easy handling and great acceleration. In fact, it can hardly be faulted, says David Wilkins

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Price: £29,295
Engine: 3.2-litre petrol
Performance: 0-62 mph in 5.9 seconds, 27.4 mpg
CO2: 247g/km
Worth considering: BMW Z4, Mercedes SLK, Porsche Boxster

It's unfair, of course, but for me, at least, the new second-generation Audi TT started our test with several points on the board before it had even turned a wheel - and for reasons that were not remotely rational.

First, there's its name. With the original TT, Audi revived a model designation from NSU, an operation it absorbed in the Sixties. And if Audi has NSU on its mind, there's always the hope that it might be moved to produce a true successor to the remarkable, if problematical, Ro80, one of the most interesting cars ever made. Younger readers who don't know what I'm going on about should get Googling in order to rectify this important gap in their automotive knowledge.

The second reason is that the last TT I tried also presented my first chance to try Audi's DSG transmission, which uses a system of dual clutches to deliver very impressive results. That left me with very warm feelings towards the TT despite the slightly ordinary last-generation Golf base buried deep beneath its stylish bodywork.

Sadly, DSG, now renamed S-Tronic, was not fitted to this week's test car but there was still plenty to like. Let's start with the looks, always one of the strengths of the original TT. When I saw photographs of the new version, I immediately thought it looked longer, sleeker and more modern than its predecessor, but in the metal (as opposed to the flesh) the changes seem less pronounced. Either way, this is still a handsome car. The interior continues to impress as well; the familiar "porthole" air vents are still there, for example, and these manage to retain their cool despite being copied in the last version of the Rover 45.

On the road, the 3.2l engine gives the TT plenty of shove, and it sounds very agreeable as it goes about its work, too, although it never quite has you wondering whether Audi might have poached the team who produced the exhaust of the terrifically melodious Ford Focus ST. The quattro four-wheel drive system helps to keep the TT on the road, but the safety and stability are matched by a previously absent degree of agility. All very appealing.

Any significant doubts? Just one: great as the new TT's revamped styling is, I wonder whether Audi has done quite enough to allow it to look fresh for eight years as its predecessor did.

Finally, something to worry Audi's traditional rivals. Like the RS4 saloon we tested a few months ago, this car attracted enormous attention wherever it went. No BMW or Mercedes I've tested recently - including the exotic M and AMG models - drew anything like as much interest.

Mark Spencer-Scragg, 38, development director, Leyland, Lancs

USUAL CARS: VW GOLF 2.0 GT TDI, BMW 3 SERIES

According to The Independent on Sunday, the Audi TT is the favoured sports car of Russian oligarchs' mistresses; it certainly turned heads. The driving position and ergonomics are first class, the acceleration is astonishing and the six-speed gearbox a delight. Even around town the clutch was light and it was easy to keep within speed limits. The handling was excellent, though you could feel almost every blemish on the road. From a practical point of view, the car is a two-seater - the rear seats being neither use nor ornament; the boot space is also tiny. However, whether the car could cope with my annual mileage is the unanswered question.

Andrew Downie, 37, operations director, Manchester

USUAL CAR: AUDI A6 2.7 TDI

My first impression of the new TT was that, although breathtakingly beautiful and, no doubt, lightning quick, it could never be the car for me as I cover 30,000 miles per annum. However, that notion soon disappeared when I heard that wonderful engine roar. I drive an Audi so I knew it would be built like a tank, but my expectations of just how exhilarating a drive it would present were totally blown away. This 3.2l bobsleigh accelerates with the punch of Marvin Hagler, yet sounds as sweet as Marvin Gaye. If I were to think about buying this car, I might as well post my licence back to the DVLA beforehand, such is the trouble it would get me into.

David Mullineaux, 63, consultant, Knutsford, Cheshire

USUAL CAR : NISSAN 350Z ROADSTER

I really enjoyed driving this car. The snap throttle response launched the car forward, accompanied by a hard engine note that was very addictive, and the slick gear change and easy clutch added to the driving pleasure. The steering did not have the good road feel of my own car but it was light and precise. Stability was excellent through fast corners, and harshness on broken surfaces at low speeds was the only down side. The comfort of the cabin was first class, although none of my friends wanted a lift in the back seat. The car is larger and more aggressive in appearance than its predecessor - it turned the heads of the guys sitting outside the local pub.

THE VERDICT

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