ALL-NEW AUDI TT ROADSTER

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Audi TT changed the way people thought about the automotive body design when launched to a startled world in 1999. Its rounded shape and interesting wheelarches looked like nothing else on the road and buyers loved it.

Sadly, at least in my opinion, the second generation Audi TT, introduced in 2007, wasn’t as striking as the first. To call it a generic shape would be unkind, but it didn’t instantly jump out as being a TT.

Now the third generation is here and the TT has gone back to its roots. A solid evolution of the original, its sharp lines and interlocking facets make it one of the best looking sports coupes for many a long year. The new TT coupe reached us downunder in February this year. Now it’s been joined by a roadster.

Interestingly, the roadster actually predates the coupe. The earliest sketches of the Audi TT, drawn five years before it was launched, weren’t for a coupe body but for a convertible. The German company played it safe by introducing the coupe first, but there’s a distinct feeling their hearts have harked back to the roadster on many occasions – and here’s the latest result.

Audi TT roadster follows the same general styling theme as the gen-three coupe. The soft top roof folds down between the cockpit and the luggage lid. Its top sits visibly when it’s down and has some untidy looking areas about it. Presumably the water that enters these holes is suitably drained away when it rains.

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The infotainment system is interesting in that there’s no central screen, rather its incorporated in what Audi calls a Virtual Cockpit directly in front of the driver. The VC can be viewed in different ways; big dials when you’re in a sporting mood, added information with smaller dials when you’re brain is in cruise mode. Sounds distracting? Thankfully, we found this not to be the case.

A clever feature is the mounting of the microphones into the safety belts. These are used to control the voice activation system as well as for mobile phone conversations.

Inside, the styling of the TT roadster is neat and beautifully simple. We particularly like the turbine styling of the air vents and the way the number of buttons and controls has been minimised.

We’ve just spent an enjoyable day driving the Audi TT in a classic area; the Great Ocean Road in southern Victoria. While winter isn’t exactly our time of choice for anything without a roof, the TT wasn’t too bad. Heated seats, hot air blown onto our necks (the latter not standard on all models) and a behind-the-seat air deflector made TT a reasonable place to be.

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However, as Queenslanders we must admit to putting the roof up after the first dozen kilometres of road testing. A simple one-button operation that takes a mere ten seconds, meaning you can do it at a red traffic light with time to spare.

Performance is very good, however the inevitable weight increase in a roadster over a coupe, in this case 90 kilograms, means it’s not as quite as quick as the coupe. A zero to 100 figure of 5.6 seconds is not to be sneezed at, though.

Audi Australia is well aware our drivers love high-performance versions of cars, particularly German ones, so have ignored the lower spec versions and are importing only the 169 kilowatt 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engine mated to Audi’s well known quattro system by way of a seven-speed dual-clutch auto.

Throttle response is excellent once you’ve got the engine past its minimal lag stage and into the wide torque band of 370 Newton metres there’s the sort of urge that makes hills all but disappear. Overtaking is fast and safe – handy on the Great Ocean Road where tourists tend to dominate the scene.

Gearchanges are fast and the exhaust makes all the right burbling and spitting sounds as you zip up and down through the gears if you’ve selected the dynamic modes.

The seats support well without being overly aggressive. There’s surprisingly good boot space at 280 litres.

Audi looks to have a sure winner in the gen-three TT roadster. Stunning lines are the biggest feature, but a fast car with a fast operating roof is just what Australian drivers are looking for as the look ahead to spring.

The complete 2015 Audi TT Roadster range is:
Sport quattro S tronic: $81,500
S line quattro S tronic: $89,000
Assistance Package: $2200
Bang & Olufsen Sound System: $1750 (TT Sport), $1200 (TT S line)
Note: These prices do not include dealer or government charges. Contact your local Audi dealer for drive-away prices.

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