For sports car enthusiasts, there are two letters that need no introduction.
It is an icon ó even though the first Audi TT was launched in the U.S. just eight short years ago.
Its prowess for performance is legendary. Even when stationary, its graceful and fluid lines give the appearance of a powerful cat set to pounce.
Two letters are all you need to make the heart beat just a little faster.
And now we have the second generation. Earlier this year Audi launched the new TT Coupe. Longer and wider than its predecessor (which means more interior room), the 2008 TT takes the ball and moves it down the field.
Letís start with the body, which is constructed using the Audi Space Frame, an aluminum technology developed by the company in the early 1990s for the first A8 series.
The body shell weighs 454 pounds (308 pounds aluminum, 146 pounds steel). By using the Audi Space Frame technology, weight has been reduced by 48 percent, which is one of the key factors behind its impressive handling ability on the road.
Adding to its impressive road behavior is the fact that torsional rigidity has been improved by 50 percent over the previous model.
The new TT Coupe is available in three variations: front-wheel drive 2.0T, front-wheel drive 2.0T Premium and the all-wheel drive 3.2 quattro. A six-speed S tronic automatic transmission is mated to the 2.0T models, while 3.2 quattro buyers also have the option of a 6-speed manual.
Audi trim line designations are based on engine size. As expected, the 2.0T models are powered by a transversely installed 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbo engine featuring Audiís gasoline direct injection technology. Turning out 207 lbs.-ft. of torque and 200 horsepower, it has a 0-60 mph time of 6.1 seconds and an electronically regulated speed of 130 mph. Requiring premium unleaded gasoline, it has an EPA fuel economy rating of 23 mpg city, 31 mpg highway.
The 3.2 quattro is powered by a 3.2-liter transversely installed V6 engine yielding 236 lbs.-ft. of torque and 250 horsepower. It has a 0-60 mph time of 5.3 seconds and a quarter-mile time of 14.1 seconds. Also requiring premium unleaded fuel, the 3.2 quattro has an EPA fuel economy rating of 18 mpg city, 24 mpg highway.
While the new TT has more interior room, the back seat of the 2+2 seating arrangement remains a seat in name only. Itís a great place to toss an overnight bag or a couple of sacks of groceries, but donít plan on putting passengers back there ó at least anyone you would like to remain friends with.
However, the trunk can accommodate 13.1 cubic feet of luggage (24.7 cubic feet with the rear seat folded flat).
And Iím out of room to talk about all the interior changes and the long list of standard safety features.
The second generation TT is absolutely awesome and highly recommended for a test drive for those in the market for a sports car. And yes, there is a roadster version. I purposely didnít write about it because Iím banking on Audi sending me one for a test drive. Stay tuned!
Neal White has been covering the automotive industry for more than 15 years and is affiliated with the Texas Auto Writers Association and the Midwest Automotive Media Association. Comments may be sent to Neal at firstname.lastname@example.org.