TT, Times Three

In the high-fashion coupe market, where the half-life of a new design is sometimes measured in months, the Audi TT's styling still looks as fresh as when it first debuted. For Audi, the question is: How do you restyle an icon? As these illustrations show, the answer is: very carefully.

The new TT coupe will break cover toward the end of 2006, with the convertible coming six months later. Although its sheetmetal is all new, the biggest visual difference is the switch to Audi's new, upright grille, which has already been added to Audi's other cars.

The biggest news is not the design but the addition of a third body style. The coupe and the roadster will be joined in late summer 2007 by a shooting brake--a long-roof, two-door hatchback similar to the concept displayed at last fall's Tokyo show.

Interestingly, the shooting brake could be positioned as both the price leader and the performance model, while the hardtop and the convertible cover the luxury end of the spectrum. As such, the top engine choice for those two will be the 3.2-liter VR6 (with 250 hp), while the new hatchback would get a new, higher-output version of Audi's 2.0-liter FSI turbo four-cylinder good for 260 hp. For the inevitable S model, Audi is cooking up an even higher-performance version of the 2.0-liter, with about 330 hp. A 200-hp, 2.0-liter FSI powers lower-spec models. Quattro and a seven-speed DSG are also part of the program.

The Volkswagen Golf again provides the donor platform, and overall size is little changed. The roadster remains a two-seater, and the coupe again is fitted with token back benches. The shooting brake, however , should offer genuine four-person seating. Besides fickle fashion, the new TT will battle more serious competition, in the form of the BMW Z4 and the Porsche Cayman.

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