When you think of the Audi TT, particularly the Roadster, your head probably fills with poor-driving, poseur car stereotypes. The 2009 Audi TTS is supposed to turn that image on its head with a 265 HP 2.0-liter turbo.
That engine is the centerpiece in a thoroughly upgraded car. Shared with the Audi S3, the 2.0-liter TFSI delivers 265 HP at 6,000 RPM and 258 Lb-Ft of torque between 2,500 and 5,000 RPM. If you think that sounds seriously flexible, you'd be right, but it's also full of character, with noticeable turbo lag at low revs and distinct turbo whistles, whine and bumps coming from under the hood. 0-60 now takes just 5.1 seconds in this Roadster, while the top speed is limited to 155 MPH.
Unlike the 2.0-liter turbo diesel in the 2009 VW Jetta TDI SportWagen we criticized a few weeks ago, the TFSI's character matches perfectly with the DSG gearbox. Here equipped with sportier programming than in that TDI, shifts are well timed and rapid in automatic mode, even more so in "Sport." In manual mode DSG is objectively more able to exploit this engine than a traditional manual (not available) would be, with upshifts occurring immediately and downshifts taking place smoothly. DSG is a true automated manual, so you have complete control over the gearbox in manual mode.
That gearbox and engine combination is actually very reminiscent of the 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution MR in its immediacy and turbocharged character, just with a little less power.
The suspension also gets upgraded in the TTS. The whole thing is lowered 10mm, the magnetic ride dampers receive firmer tuning, all the suspension components go aluminum and the steering is made more direct and feel-full. That magnetic ride is supposed to continually adjust the dampers to better keep the tires in contact with the road and it gets a sport mode to firm things up even further. Even with the traction and stability control switched off, we struggled to get the optional summer performance tires to break traction on the road, but the sport suspension mode doesn't appear to do much aside from make the ride annoyingly harsh.
Gelled hair marketing types needn't worry, as all this extra performance and handling doesn't come at the expense of posing. The TTS is equipped with a silver grille, a lower front splitter, side skirts, silver mirrors, LED running lights, four chromed exhaust pipes, "TTS" badges front and rear, "TTS" logos on the brake calipers and is here fitted with optional 19" wheels. The power soft top on the Roadster drops quickly, better enabling you to show off your fake tan. I got more "you're a smug bastard" looks in this TT than in any car I've driven since the R8, possibly because, from the front and to laypeople, the TT is virtually indistinguishable from that car.
The TTS Roadster starts at $47,500, but equipped with the Premium Plus package, fancy leather, 19-inch wheels and Sat/Nav system seen here, the total comes to $55,075. Unusually for a performance car, the fuel economy is reasonably high: 21 MPG city, 29 highway, 24 combined. With the soft top up, the Roadster offers coupe-like isolation from noise; with it down and the rear windscreen raised, it's still a reasonably isolated place to pass time.
On the mountain roads around my secret Pennsylvanian retreat the TT demonstrated a similar ability to put the world in drama-free fast rewind as cars like that Evo. The all-wheel drive, fast steering and revised suspension conspire to seriously increase the TTs dynamic ability, if not its level of involvement. While it's drastically improved over the old model, the TTS now suffers from the same video game-like nature of other fast AWD cars like the Nissan GT-R, requiring very little of its driver even close to its respectably high limits. The 2009 BMW Z4, the TT's closest competitor on purpose and price, delivers similar pace but asks far more of its driver and for the enthusiast, is a lot more fun to drive fast as a result.
Ultimately, the TTS's neatest trick is that it combines Evo-like character with a more grownup-friendly package thanks to a credible design, luxurious interior and plenty of on-road refinement. You can still pose in a TT, now you're just going to have a lot more fun doing it.