the most visually striking cars of the past decade has now washed
on to our shores. Sirish Chandran drools all over the incredibly
gorgeous Audi TT. "
looking at is one of the most iconic sports cars of the past decade.
A timeless beauty that, would you believe, was first shown to the
world a decade ago! Previewed, in concept form, at the 1995 Frankfurt
Motor Show the TT went into production three years later and continues,
with no styling tweaks whatsoever, in Audi?s model line-up seven
years on. It?s unusual for a car, especially a sports car, to have
such a long life span but such is the brilliance of the original
back-to-basics Bauhaus design that seven years hasn?t aged her in
the least and even today designers pinch, with gay abandon, the
gorgeous detailing and avant garde features that abound on the TT.
A small example;
where do you think the de rigeur flush-fitting fuel filler cap found
on almost all Indian bikes originated? Yup, you?re looking at the
car that sired the fuel filler cap of today?s motorcycle.
It is unusual to begin a road test with a eulogy to a fuel filler
cap but just look at that aluminium piece de resistance - reminiscent
of the quick-release filler caps used in sports car racing. And
those eight allen screws aren?t mere dummies; they genuinely secure
the filler cap to the body. This design element is carried over
to the rest of the car; the aluminium rings with their eight-dimple
design, appear everywhere from the fuel filler to the steering wheel
boss, the dashboard dials, the gear lever and gaiter, cup holder,
four air vents and the door
handles to boot. It might sound a bit much but it works brilliantly.
This is one of the numerous ?surprise and delight? features that?s
evidence of form following function. And in sticking to the original
concept Audi?s engineers had to come up with novel production techniques
for the TT. For instance the pronounced edge, which separates the
roof from the tail, was only possible
by adopting an ingenious laser brazing production technique that
produces a seamless joint between the C-pillar and the rear wing.
And all this,
remember, being implemented ten years ago.
Advanced techniques were also employed for the cast aluminium wheels,
the spokes being attached at the outer edge of the rim so that the
wheels look even larger and fill up those pronounced, geometric
wheel arches ? both of which lie at the heart of the TT?s design.
?Wheel emphasis? is the theme of the TT?s design and Audi?s designers
say the boldly curved surfaces at the front and rear echo the shape
of the wheels as do the roof and window lines and the crouched silhouette
of the cabin.
It?s in the cabin thoough where she shows signs of ageing, more
recent sports cars coming with a full infotainment display and many
more toys to play with. However it?s still a thing of great beauty
with Audi having managed to create a fashionably minimalist cabin
by tucking all the non-important switches out of sight. The stereo
is thus hidden behind the aluminium panel, the 6-CD changer is in
the dash, the fuel filler release is tucked under the flap in front
of the gear lever and you even have to hunt for the window switches
tucked in the inside of the door pull.
The long, flat dash stretches out ahead of you, and has two lines
of air louvres up the centre that line up the two centre air vents,
each framed with a rotating ring of aluminium to open and shut the
air vents. They don?t just look good, they feel good to use as well;
adjusting the volume and direction of air flow and today is a much
copied idea. These aluminium accents on the stereo panel, gear lever,
steering wheel boss and glove box provide a deliberate contrast
with the leather and alcantara trimmed bucket seats. The pedals
are made from stainless steel with rubber studs for grip while the
aluminium support braces linking the facia to the central console
and floor are truly works of art.
braces do dig into you leg, a minor irritation in an otherwise excellent
driving position aided by the steering wheel that adjusts for reach
and rake, fully adjustable and extremely supportive driver?s seat
and the stubby gear lever that falls perfectly to hand.
Being a hatchback the TT is practical with pretty decent boot space
that gets better when the rear seats are folded down. And best leave
those seats folded down as rear knee and head room are adequate
for little children only. That, if they?re not susceptible to a
bout of claustrophobia for the high sills, bulky roof frame and
shallow glass can be a little too cosy for some tastes.