Something for the weekend, Sir?

The official pictures are out for the 2011 model Audi TT, available in the UK from this summer.  You haven’t seen them?  Don’t worry, it looks just the same as the current one.  Unless old and new are viewed side by side, the differences are virtually imperceptible - less of a facelift, more a quick scrub up.  What’s different?  The nose is slightly tweaked and there are some new colours but the real changes are hidden.  A 2.0 TFSI will be available to complement the 1.8 TFSI, 2.0 TDI, TTS and TT RS; all models have promised efficiency improvements.

Without dwelling too much on the replacement, I thought I’d take the opportunity to look again at the current one.  I reckon it’s a reasonable time to buy.  A new version is bound to have some effect on residual prices, so if you are happy without a new plate, few will notice it’s the old shape. 

The eternal question for the TT is: hairdresser’s car or proper sports machine?  I drove a 225 bhp Roadster to find out.

Visually, the second generation isn’t as pretty as the original but the more aggressive stance, sharper lines and the corporate Audi nose give it a purposeful look – less Bauhaus, more pouncing animal.  The interior is spacious (for two) and well laid out.  Don’t expect to fit more than your wallet in the boot.  Instrumentation and switchgear are clear and smart with red illumination.  The low seating position is accentuated by the TT’s high waist line; this one has red leather, so a couple of extra points for the hairdresser.  The Roadster receives the looks, too – especially with the top down.  So far, so good.

Heading for the hills, I’m reminded how tractable the engine is, pulling strongly from around 3,000 rpm right to the red line.  Gear ratios are well chosen but the throw is a little on the long side for my liking.  Aurally, the TT is disappointing at idle (handy when passing horses), but as the revs climb it produces a satisfying boom.  Ride is suppler than I remembered but the car feels well planted on the twisty and often bumpy Derbyshire back roads. 

It’s not actually that quick, with a quoted 0-60 time of about 7½ seconds.  The ride’s a little on the soft side and it doesn’t feel quite challenging enough to drive to be a fully fledged sports car.  So is it one for the hairdressers?  It might be, but it’s also a great deal of fun.  The extra cosseting means it is civilized enough to be the work horse during the week and come out to play when the sun shines.

Apologies in advance to Chris (hairdresser) and thanks to Ben at Hallam Brothers (Landie specialist) for juggling the Series 1 for the photograph.

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