First Look: 2011 Audi TT

You knew it was coming. Audi's heavily revised 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder has been marching around its lineup, and to virtually no one's surprise, the 2011 Audi TT is the latest model to get the new engine. It's one of several changes made to Audi's two-seater for the 2011 model year that should help it better take on its German rivals.

Set to hit the scene in the first quarter of 2011, the refreshed Audi TT makes the biggest strides where it counts -- under the hood. The old 2.0-liter TFSI turbocharged four-cylinder is out, replaced by Audi's updated 2.0-liter TFSI turbocharged four-cylinder with the new Audi Valvelift System, which optimizes the flow of exhaust gases to the turbocharger. The result is an extra 11 hp and a more impressive gain of 51 lb-ft of torque for a total of 211 hp and 258 lb-ft.

Like the current car, those ponies are fed to the pavement through one transmission only, Audi's S Tronic dual-clutch six-speed automatic. From there, they go to all four wheels via Audi's standard Quattro all-wheel-drive system. With 3300 pounds to carry, thanks in part to extensive aluminum bodywork ahead of the B-pillars, the new TT hits 62 mph in 5.6 seconds and gets 35 mpg on the combined European cycle.

German roadster aficionados will no doubt note that despite the updates, the TT is still down on horsepower compared with the six-cylinder engines in the Mercedes-Benz SLK300 (228 hp) and the BMW Z4 sDrive30i (255 hp), but the TT packs nearly 40 more lb-ft of torque than the other two while carrying about the same amount of curb weight. In addition, the Benz and the BMW both offer manual transmissions, but only the Audi comes with all-wheel drive. Despite these differences, the spec charts indicate that the TT should actually be slightly quicker than its rivals -- and several thousand dollars cheaper.

The 2011 Audi TT isn't all brawn. Its fresh shave includes LED daytime running lights scooped from the TTS and a new glossy finish to the grille. Larger air inlets are accented by chrome rings on the foglights, and xenon headlights are now optional. Out back, the TT gets slightly revised taillights; big, shiny exhaust tips; and a revised rear diffuser. In all, the freshened TT is 0.79-inch longer, but otherwise it's dimensionally identical to the current car. Four new colors are also available on the TT, as is one for the TTS, which is otherwise unchanged from the current model. Two S Line exterior packages are available for those who like the TTS's styling tweaks but don't need its 265-hp engine and performance-tuned suspension.

The TT also gets a bit of work inside the cabin. An aluminum strip found above the glovebox now comes in brushed gray, and new aluminum appliqu├ęs can be found on the doors, center console, and steering wheel. Three new interior colors are also available, and the leather seats are treated to resist heat from the sun.

Audi hasn't announced pricing for the 2011 TT as of yet, but with so few changes to the car, we don't expect the price to climb much. Even if it does jump past the current model's $39,000 base price, Audi has some room to breathe before the TT even comes close to the $46,000 base prices of the Benz and the BMW. The same performance, plus AWD, for less cash? It's hard to make a more compelling argument.

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