DETROIT - Boy did we get lucky. We got the chance to drive Audi's 2008 TT Roadster - again.
We had just test driven the roadster and the matching coupe a few months earlier just before they went on sale. In that review we focused on the creature comforts of the two- seater. However, someone gently told us that they thought the most important attribute of the new TT was its handling.
Okay, we decided to look at the TT from that perspective.
First, we had the Audi TT Roadster 2.0 TFSI S tronic. Deciphering all the letters and numbers and half words is easier than it looks. Our roadster was a two seater with an optional fully automatic soft top. Just push a button and it let up or down in a brisk 12 seconds at speeds up to 25 mph.
It was powered by a 2.0 liter four cylinder turbocharged engine that had direct fuel injection. The mighty mite of an engine made 200 horsepower and 207 foot- pounds of torque.
Mated to a six speed dual clutch gearbox, our test car had a zero to 60 mph time of 6.3 seconds and a top speed of 130 mph. Partly responsible for that swiftness was an aluminum and steel space frame that kept the Roadster's weight at a very svelte 3,130 lbs.
And although our Roadster was bigger than the car it replaced it had a lower center of gravity. That gave it an astounding agility. Even though it had front- wheel- drive, our test car stuck to the road.
We purposely powered through curves looking for the edge but couldn't reach it, at least not on streets with traffic. Acceleration was scary. The car picked up speed so fast we came off the accelerator at the thought of how fast we could go, if we kept the pedal to the metal.
The Audi TT Roadster's wheels were at the corners. That gave the car a sturdiness and road presence that's difficult to find on a small vehicle. The ride was smooth, it cornered well and we never felt any torque steer, even though we were aggressively driving the car for a better part of one week.
Our test car handled wonderfully, lane changes were swift and decisive. We could squeeze the TT Roadster into spots and shoot gaps that other vehicles simply couldn't attempt, if their drivers had any sense.
We once sped by a Corvette on the freeway. It had twice as much horsepower as our test car but there was no way that the Vette could much the maneuverability of the TT Roadster and the driver didn't try.
And we also had to emergency test the brakes when a pickup truck entered the main street from a side street. We slammed on the brakes, the TT Roadster's nose dipped but we still have enough control to swing out and around the pickup when the driver saw us and slowed down.
The TT Roadster was really an awesome ride. Our only complaint is that given the climate here, the prudent act would be to park it for the severest months of winter.
Our test car chock full of stuff. It had Bi- Xenon adaptive headlamps, satellite radio, an in- dash six disc CD player, 18- inch allow wheels and hands free communication capability. It even had decent mileage, 22 in the city and 29 on the highway.
If there was anything that irked us, it was when a guy pulled up next to us and asked if our Audi TT Roadster was a Porsche. That told us that although Audi is making gains in this market, it needs to work even harder at raising its brand recognition in this market.
Still, even though some folks may not have known the Audi TT Roadster when they first saw it, they certainly know what it is now. Our test vehicle was base priced at $36,800. Add on the optional equipment and the total tab came to $44,400.