Lyra, who always wanted to drive Audi's TT, brought high expectations to the little convertible. Peter, never particularly impressed with the roadster's styling, had few expectations. The end result: Lyra was disappointed, while Peter loved the car. Go figure.
Appearance: The squat roadster sits on 18-inch tires and has a wide stance that recalls Audi's R8 supercar, which we loved. The TT's design, however, is simple, with fender flares and a backward-sweeping body crease as its only sheet-metal flourishes. The black grille, which got tweaked for 2011, is trimmed in chrome, and Audi's signature LED "eyeliner" lights are sharp.
Performance: Here's what we agreed on: The 6-speed S tronic dual-clutch automatic shifted flawlessly. We always prefer a manual transmission, but this automatic was almost as fun. For a small roadster, the TT absorbs bumps well and has a firm, composed ride. There's also an auto-deployed spoiler and, of course, Audi's quattro all-wheel-drive system. The 2-liter, 211-horsepower 4-cylinder is more than enough power (0-60 in 5.6 seconds) for the small car, which has an exhaust note that is subtle and throaty. Here's what we didn't agree on: Lyra was let down by the "significant" turbo lag; Peter felt it was only "slight." The steering was a "bit too light" for Lyra's taste, while Peter thought it gave just the right amount of feedback.
Interior: We may have disagreed on the car's performance, but we are unified on the well-appointed interior. The Nappa leather seats are well-bolstered and comfortable. Our tester had bright red seats that contrasted beautifully with the rich black exterior. The instrument gauges are simple and uncluttered yet easy to read. The flat-bottom steering wheel might take some getting used to for some. Peter drove the TT to Miami and he had enough head- and legroom. Impressive. And he arrived in South Florida not feeling like a pretzel. Another surprise: The TT's trunk, even with the folding soft top, actually had enough room for the bags he and his wife took on their weekend getaway. That's impressive for a small convertible. A few nits: The storage panel behind seats felt a bit plasticky considering the rest of the interior; the driver's floor mat was flimsy and popped easily off its anchor. We both spent time popping it back on.
Our 3 favorites
Transmission: I really liked the automatic and would love to try the manual.
Handling: Zippy and composed — a joy to drive.
Trunk: While not large, it does have some actual room.
Protection: Front, head/thorax and knee airbags plus side intrusion protection and roll bars.
Profile: The roadster looks slick with top up or down.
Seats: Bright red seats and interior trim scream "sports car."
The bottom line: Says Lyra: "If you're looking for a true performance car, you'll probably be disappointed." Peter: "It's a lot of fun and sent me online to price used models. I can always dream."