2011 Audi TTS

The trademark upshift blip of an Audi/Volkswagen 2.0-liter four-cylinder paired with a dual-clutch automatic transmission just may become the anthem of the modern enthusiast. It's a sensational powertrain that puts you in the mood for spirited driving, whether you're hammering down a racetrack in a GTI or plodding around the snow-covered roads of downtown Ann Arbor.

The GTI, speak of the devil, is the main reason I have trouble truly embracing the TTS. Taken on its own merits, this TT is a perfectly reasonable $50,000 sport coupe - great-looking, executed to the usual Audi standards, and fun to drive in weather that puts most coupes in the garage. It's basically an affluent adult's alternative to the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo, which isn't an unfair comparison when you remember that the Evo MR isn't all that cheap these days. But then I remember the GTI. True, the VW is less powerful and down two drive wheels, yet it offers just as much reward behind the wheel, is very nearly as refined, and costs a solid $20,000 less.
- David Zenlea, Assistant Editor

Every time I drive an Audi TT I have similar thoughts: it's no Porsche Cayman (or Boxster), but man, this is still a very cool car. For a relatively tiny cabin, the interior is incredibly inviting and makes me dream of ├╝ber-long stints behind the wheel. To the interior's credit are comfortable seats, surprisingly ample luggage space, and a sporty yet functional design (although I miss the knob-control MMI system from Audi's larger cars). Winter tires and all-wheel drive, as found in this test car, make the TT an excellent four-season sports car, something the Porsche can't say -- although neither of them have much ground clearance if the plows don't get to your street. One final thought: I prefer the rounder styling of the TT's iconic predecessor, but the current model is still a sexy head-turner in my opinion.

Zenlea forgot to mention one key point in his GTI versus TT argument: the GTI has a usable back seat. So, basically, the TT gives you its great looks for its $20,000 premium. For the few who do choose the TT, that just means more exclusivity.
- Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor

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The real problem with the TTS is that in the not too distant future, VW is unleashing its Golf R on the U.S., a car that packs the same powertrain (engine, transmission, and AWD) into a much more affordable package. Buy a Golf R and you'll be saving about $14k since the base MSRP of the Golf R is expected to hover around $34k.

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