- The Washington Times - Friday, September 15, 2000

When it comes to name-dropping, Audi is totally innocent. Nowhere on the 2001 TT Roadster is the manufacturer's name. Identity is simply Audi's four interlocking rings.
Another thing not seen on this open-top roadster is the excitement that results from the turbocharged engine, especially when driving under an open sky. A simple twist of the wrist is all it takes to latch or unlatch the canvas from the top of the windshield; then the top is powered down. TT seats only two persons, and the trunk is not very spacious, but what this car lacks in capacity, it more than makes up for in performance.
Under the hood is a 225-horsepower, four-cylinder, five-valve engine that does zero to 60 mph in under seven seconds. There are faster cars, but these seven seconds are thrilling if everything clicks right.
The TT has a six-speed manual transmission. The gear track is tight, and I frequently got hung up while shifting up the line. I'm sure I'd get the hang of this shifter with more practice, but I only had the car for what seemed too brief a week. The same thing applied to downshifting. I'd sometimes go from sixth to fourth gear and end up in second by mistake due to the tight gate. Nevertheless, shifting and accelerating are all part of the fun in this roadster, and for that reason, I spent as much time behind the wheel as I could just for sheer enjoyment.
With the top down, the TT is an eye-grabber in a few areas. The two-sided fully galvanized body with an aluminum hood is short, and the designers used smooth, oval lines. The 17-inch, five-spoke wheels help in grabbing attention. One person described the TT as cute, but that adjective is almost sacrilegious in describing this tiny powerhouse.
Another feature that grabs attention when the top is down is the seats: baseball-optic leather seat covers similar in appearance to a catcher's mitt. This is a $1,000 option. My tester even included the $450 heated seats. Other options on my TT were $500 high-intensity xenon headlights and a Bose premium sound system with a six-disc changer. This system, adding $1,200 to the total, has four speakers in the doors and two rear speakers. But just listening to this sound system made the total price of $42,725 seem mellow.
Two roll bars located just behind the seats increased the car's safety, and seemed to make me a more secure feeling when viewing the TT from a distance. Adding to the car's attractiveness, as well as its performance, is a small stabilizer bar on the rear deck.
Quattro is a feature that Audi is noted for in many of its vehicles, plus an anti-slip regulator. This is a permanent, full-time, all-wheel drive system that helps keep the roadster on track should a driver suddenly encounter a slippery surface. This car includes the "next generation" air bag supplemental restraint system and head side air bags. Three-point safety belts include automatic pretensioners.
This roadster is loaded with luxurious appointments that go well beyond the hard-to-reach dual cup holders. The Nappa leather and the tilt telescopic steering column add to the comfort, and the seats include height adjustments.
The driver-information displays contain information such as the outside temperature, plus a five-function trip computer: a unit that checks the operating systems of the entire car.
Name-dropping for this roadster has been avoided by the people with the four-ring emblem. So this TT is perfect for anyone who would like to be a name-dropper without appearing ostentatious.
MOTOR MATTERS


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