Jude P. Morte / Ramon Sy, Jude P. Morte | September 18, 2006 00:00
Bavarian BatmobileThose who grew up with the Batman comics know that the Dark Knight always had a four-wheeled ride (more known as the Batmobile) readily available with him to fight crime. Whether it was the outlandish Batmobiles of the movies (save for the Lamborghini-Hummer amalgamation in "Batman Begins") or the Lincoln Futura-Ford Galaxie mix of the 1960s TV series, the Batmobile was always known as a stylish, great handling, torque-rich two-seater sports car.
Similarly, Audi's new TT Coupe also takes on the aura of the Batmobile. With styling, handling, luxury and a powertrain fit for any Bruce Wayne or Batman-wannabe, the TT Coupe is sure to eliminate the crimes of being slow on the road, uncool to onlookers and ordinary to its occupants. A recent test drive proved all that and more.
Batman out and on the road
The TT Coupe handed to this writer was a black 2.0L TFSI (turbo fuel stratified injection) version, with an overall look showing one of powerful stealth - perfect for grabbing attention in small numbers. A nose distinguished by sharply cut headlamp clusters and large air inlets, a low and wide greenhouse and slim and graceful pillars accent the single-frame grille that echoes the original TT's swoopy profile. Also, a low-mounted rear light gives it an appearance of a futuristic rear thruster unique to all Batmobiles in the movies and television.
Take it for a city spin and the TT provides nice consumption (10.62 km/l, two days city driving). The turbo kicks in quickly, with partial boost at 2500 rpm and full boost at 4750 rpm onwards. However it's best to use the six-speed automatic transmission's (a/t's) manual mode (especially the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters) to get into the powerband (1800-plus rpm) faster, for the 2.0L's steep power curve makes acceleration from rest seem pedestrian.
Bring the TT on the freeway and the power delivery is more linear and less inclined. Despite the a/t's tall third gear, emergency lane moves are quick and easy. There's little turbo lag and the wastegate subtly whooshes through the aforementioned Audi single frame grille at 5500-plus rpm. The 230 kph-tested top speed is dismal; given the technological advances of the TT, the said top speed is just at par with this writer's tests of the Subaru Forester 2.5L XT and the BMW 320i Limited Edition, which registered 230 kph top speeds each on the areas south of Manila.
The TT corners like on rails, with great grip provided by the Continental SportContact 2 245/40R18s. It can be thrown on hard corners at 110-135 kph with the traction control off; at 140 kph (with traction control off) the tires squeal and at 150 kph the front begins to understeer heavily. The ride is firm (typical of cars on 18-inch wheels) but not harsh in any way, due to Audi's Magnetic Ride/Adaptive Damping System that softens or stiffens according to driving style and terrain. The steering is light but crisp, and is especially handy on mountain passes and emergency change-of-lane moves. Braking is strong, thanks to the 16-inch rotors on all four wheels. Despite their small designs the headlights and foglights light a full 20-30 meters ahead.
Bruce Wayne inside
The interior is great for the rich playboy or industrialist, with the comfy Napa leather-clad Recaro bucket seats holding on to you during hard cornering. The flat-bottomed steering wheel is derived from the Le Mans-winning R8/R10 (2001-present) racers, with audio control buttons on the three and nine o'clock areas for easier use. The aforementioned audio entertainment is topnotch (being a Bose unit), while the aircon has rotary vents to better direct cold air to a certain spot. The doors are heavy but provide storage for small to medium items. For convenience, power assist is evident in the seating (including lumbar support), side mirror folding, and one-touch windows. The cargo section is small, but provides a cargo net to hold down small to medium items and the tiny rear seats fold flat to handle bigger cargo. However, the view ahead for the front occupant is rather low and the rear hatch and fuel flap latches are hard to find.
It has been asserted that the world's best cars are built within a day's drive of the European Alps. The all-new Audi TT Coupe, made in the shadow of Bavaria's rugged mountains, lives up to this maxim. And with its great portrayal of stealth, power, handling and luxury, one can truly consider this to be the Bavarian version of the Batmobile.