Thursday, 5 July 2007

First Drive: 23 Minutes in an Audi TT Coupe!

By Dr Long

In an attempt to better the 6 minutes or 360 seconds drive accorded to the media during the launch the new Perodua Viva, For Wheels set out to break this record at Euromobil, franchise holder and distributor for Audi in Malaysia.

Even with an iconic, sleek and sporty shape like the new TT, this writer was painfully smiling when it was his turn to slip into the driver’s seat. Mind you, it was a lovely, low-slung bucketed bi-grade leather sport seat. After all, he had to endure a previous 20plus minutes drive in the miniature rear seat with another For Wheels’ associate at the wheels. The result was a wry neck due to a prolonged contorted posture of right lateral flexion at his neck.

The engine growl and exhaust note were strikingly familiar the moment the coupe was slotted into ‘D’ and driven out of the showroom compound. They sounded much like its platform-sharing cousin, the (also) iconic Golf GTI Mk5. Seated at the back earlier, even the exhaust blurb on redline-upshifts could be heard, perhaps just a wee bit more muffled than in the VW hatch.

Take-off was brisk and engaging, with the award-winning 2.0TFSI engine pulling ever so willingly and responsively all the way to the redline. It may be a little hoarse towards the absolute top-end but it’s still so bloody lovely. Steering feel was way better than all the A4 variants sampled before, with the flat-bottomed leather-clad item the best in the business. However, it could use a little more weight to things but torque steer was pretty well controlled for a FWD with 280Nm on tap.

Suspension is taut mostly with maybe just the rear springs a tad busy on rough surfaced tarmac. High speed stability was good, with the tester hitting 180kph in a jiff but lateral body control could be firmer, especially on undulating road surfaces. Those expensive but high tech electro-magnetic dampers option may be needed after all.

Ride comfort is liveable for a sport coupe since the TT two occupants are riding way ahead of the rear axle. Headroom is adequate with the lovely roof lining comfortably away from your head. The instruments cluster is bi-pod with a sporty layout and easy to read. The AC controls are very modern and appealing, much like the ones in the R8. The S-Tronic (DSG) ‘box cannot be faulted in both auto and manual mode, but for more urgency and incisiveness, it is better to leave the lever in ‘S’. Interior spells high quality all over except for maybe the grey material of the dashboard which could be a notch more premium; some leather-wrap-and-stitch would do the trick.

If only the writer has RM368k, he’d be learning how to tame this wild stallion cut loose from its barn every day! :)

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