By Christopher Tan, Senior Correspondent
Car buyers want to have their cake and eat it. The latest evidence of this lies in the sales performance of the Audi TT.
The TT Roadster is twice as much fun as the Coupe and a lot prettier but the latter outsells its soft-top sibling by more than two to one. No one really knows why but my theory is the Roadster is strictly a two-seater while the Coupe can accommodate four.null
Did someone say rigidity? On paper, a car with a fixed hard roof is supposed to have a more rigid body than a convertible and thus would allow you to drive it much harder.
But the TT Roadster betrays no such shortcoming. First of all, its compactness does not lend itself to much body flex. And it is sufficiently braced for most occasions, including the unlikely event of a rollover.
In the case of the TTS Roadster - a souped-up, spruced-up version - the extra metal struts have contributed to a 60kg weight penalty. Hence the car is 0.2 seconds slower to the century mark than the TTS Coupe.
Still, a 5.4-second sprint is pretty quick (6.5 seconds for the garden variety TT Roadster).
And more importantly, the car is as agile as the TTS Coupe sampled last month.
In fact, the TTS Roadster has something that helps neutralise a common bugbear of topless cars: a rock-hard ride on account of the additional weight. It has Audi Magnetic Ride, an adaptive suspension system that should really be renamed Audi Magical Ride.
There are other more fundamental elements that separate the TTS Roadster from the basic TT Roadster. Maximum power goes from a paltry 200bhp to 272bhp and peak torque from 280Nm to a highly respectable 350Nm.
The car handles the leap in output so effortlessly that you would be tempted to chip it to raise the bar further.
Audi has fitted the car with a conventional autobox (with paddle shifters, of course), instead of the delicious double- clutch job in the TT Roadster. But because the topless TTS has so much juice on tap, it seems to be no poorer for it. More often than not, leaving the gearbox in Drive mode is more than enough.
The car has a trigger throttle and you are never left wanting when overtaking or picking up the slack in everyday stop- start traffic.
Everything about the car feels just right, from its turn-in response to its steering weighting. Its brakes are truly powerful and confidence-inspiring, yet friendly to use at low speeds.
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