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Audi TT 3.2 V6

Broadcast dates : 29th August 2004
2nd September 2004

Audi’s TT has been one of the most successful models in the company’s history.

Launched here in 2000 with a powerful turbocharged four-cylinder engine and the famous Quattro all-wheel-drive system, the car was an instant hit amongst the fashion-conscious.

It says a lot for the styling that four years later the TT is still very much an "in" car amongst the café society set.

The new 3.2-litre V6 model was introduced a few months ago and it takes the TT to a new level in terms of performance, driver-experience and technology. One aspect of the original TT that could always have done with improvement was its rather gruff, flat, four-cylinder engine note.

The new engine in the TT is an instant cure. Not only is it more powerful than the turbocharged four-cylinder – at 184 kW it produces 19 more kilowatts – but it gives the TT a soulful sporty sound that will delight the driver and passenger.

The V6 engine is a remarkable packaging job. To fit the motor into the tiny snub-nosed engine bay, Audi engineers came up with an extremely narrow cylinder bank angle of 15 degrees. It features continually variable camshaft timing for a spread of torque and high-revving capabilities and variable length intake manifold.

And the exhaust system too is variable. At low revs the noise is muted, but a flap in the exhaust system opens to give vent to the smooth-six cylinder sound which becomes a scream at the 6 500 rpm redline.

As good as the engine is, the aspect of this Audi that enthusiasts will be talking about for years to come is its gearbox.

Called the DSG or Direct Shift Gearbox, it’s a manual system relying on conventional gears, but with an automatic clutch action.

This idea has been offered by the likes of Alfa Romeo, BMW and Ferrari for a few years now, with varying degrees of success.

But whereas these systems make use of a conventional clutch activated by a system of solenoids and hydraulics, Audi has taken a completely different approach.

The DSG system employs two multi-plate clutches that are an integral part of the gearbox.

These clutches enable the gearbox to select two gears simultaneously, but with only one clutch engaged. When a gearshift is made – either by the paddle shift on the steering wheel or the central gear-lever the one clutch is disengaged and the other engaged.

The result is the smoothest, fastest gearbox that has been developed until now. It has none of the jerkiness or the tardiness of gearshifts associated with the likes of the BMW SMG and Alfa Romeo Sele-speed systems.

What’s more, the full-automatic mode which can be selected operates like a true automatic – smooth with almost undetectable gearchanges.

And yet, thanks to conventional gears being used, there is none of the performance loss associated with a fluid-drive automatic gearbox, and the driver always has complete control of the transmission if needed.

Thanks to complex electronic interfacing with the DSG gearbox, the TT 3.2 is also comes with a launch control option which is fun to use and not too hard on the transmission.

The suspension has been uprated to deal with the extra power of the V6 engine. Coupled to the all-wheel-drive Quattro system, it goes without saying that the TT 3.2 sticks to the road like peanut butter to the roof of your mouth.

The performance of the V6 is impressive. A 6,2 second 0-100 is claimed and the top speed is an electronically-limited 250 km/h.

A few styling clues denote the new TT. These include an extended boot spoiler, larger air intakes, xenon headlights and re-styled 17-inch alloy wheels, while 18-inch wheels are available as an option.

Inside, the cosy cockpit still feels fresh, even though some of the retro touches such as the bright metal struts and vent surrounds look a little contrived in 2004.

Priced at R416 500 for the coupe and R465 000 for the convertible, the new V6 DSG TT remains competitive in the sports car market despite many new models being launched in the past 12 months. The TT shape has aged well and the new engine and transmission will keep it fresh for a good few years.

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