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Audi TT Roadster and Audi TT Sportback: Paris Auto Show

What Is It?

The all-wheel-drive Audi TT Roadster has been known to global audiences ever since Hugh Grant took one for a spin in About a Boy,” and that was the first-generation car — way back in 2002. Not to make you feel old or anything, but the TT is about to embark on its third generation, and the new styling is on display for the first time at the 2014 Paris Auto Show.

We’ll forgive you if you have to look twice. The second-generation TT, after all, is a very crisp design, with taut proportions and seemingly little room for improvement. On closer inspection, the third-gen car reveals significantly more angular headlights along with an aggressive front fascia that evokes the demonic second-gen TT RS coupe. The rear end, too, is more chiseled, with sharper taillights and an unusual, “blistered” middle section around the license plate. Inside, the gauge cluster has gone fully digital, substituting a beautifully rendered 12.3-inch screen for conventional analog gauges, and the center stack cants sharply toward the driver for a more sports-car-like feel.

Revolutionary? Aside from that futuristic instrument display, not really. However, taken together, the third-gen TT’s alterations add up to a more purposeful-looking car, one that might be taken seriously by those who have dismissed it in the past. It doesn’t hurt that the range-topping TTS will be powered by a 310-horsepower version of VW/Audi’s sublime turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine, yielding a 60-mph sprint of just 4.9 seconds. If that seems like overkill, a 230-hp version will also be offered along with a turbodiesel four that pumps out 280 lb-ft of torque and will presumably return unheard-of fuel economy for a luxury convertible. Whether both of these lesser engines will make it to our shores is anyone’s guess. In any case, we’ll almost certainly have to do without the excellent 6-speed manual shifter that suave European urbanites will be using well into the future, though the incredibly quick and refined S-tronic dual-clutch automated manual transmission is, at least, some consolation.

Further consolation may arrive in the form of the Audi TT Sportback, a 4-door interpretation of the TT that shares the 2-door’s revamped dashboard and looks production-ready even at this exploratory stage. With its gorgeous 21-in wheels, just-so styling and 4-seat-sedan practicality (the full-length center console takes the place of a middle rear seat), the TT Sportback could capably fill an ultracompact, high-performance niche that we didn’t even know existed. Wait until we tell you what’s under the hood. Forget about the quaint 310-hp motor in the TTS; the TT Sportback flaunts an upgraded 2.0-liter turbo four that makes an even 400 horsepower, reaching the seriously rarefied 200 hp/L threshold. Zero to 60 mph takes a predictably scant 3.9 seconds. We don’t know much more at this point, aside from the fact that we want one. Badly.

How Much?

The third-generation TT Roadster will go on sale in Germany as the 2014 Paris Auto Show gets underway, starting at €37,900. A better indicator for the US market, however, is the starting price of the outgoing 2015 TT, which is about $45,000. We expect the new TT to stay in that general vicinity. As for the TT Sportback, there’s really nothing else like it on the market, but given that the 4-door 2015 Audi S3 starts at $41,100 with 290 hp, the faster, sleeker Sportback could make sense at, $50,000 and up.

When Can You Get It?

Look for the new Audi TT Roadster in dealerships as summer 2015 approaches. Production plans for the TT Sportback have not been formally announced.

Add It to Your Shopping List Because…

You love the exhilaration of driving a truly compact 2-seat roadster, and the new styling enhancements have convinced you that the TT is a world-class car that’s worthy of its asking price. We wish you could add the TT Sportback to your shopping list, but that’s still a dream at this point.

Other Cars to Consider

BMW Z4 — Larger than the TT and with a retractable hardtop to boot, the Z4 has become the civilized boulevard cruiser in this segment. The small, nimble TT is more akin to the original Z3.

Porsche Boxster — It may be hard to find one for TT prices, but nothing beats a Boxster for sheer driving pleasure.

Used Audi TT/TTS — Taking advantage of Audi’s certified pre-owned program could pay big dividends here. The outgoing second-generation car is superb in most respects, and you could get a screaming deal relative to the new model.

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