Interesting Comaprison New and Old TT ( New Is probably better for most)(Long)
Posted by NYLawyer on 2000-04-18 09:33:37:

Revised Audi TT
We like the Audi TT. Even ignoring its looks, it's a fine
performing car with good grip and entertaining
handling - as long as it is kept at sensible speeds or in
experienced hands.

But a few owners have made the mistake of believing
Audi's advertising, which portrays the firm's Quattro
system supergluing cars to the road. In fact,
four-wheel drive can only improve road-holding when
power is being fed to the wheels. With the throttle
shut, a Quattro-equipped car will handle in exactly the
same way as - or even worse than - a
two-wheel-drive model.

The TT's problem of oversteer when you lift off the
throttle is actually no worse than you'd encounter on
some hot hatches; but drive too fast, panic mid-bend
and this Audi will bite, throwing the car sideways.

Reacting quickly to criticisms, Audi has pulled out all
the stops to make the car more predictable on the
limit. All new TTs now feature revised suspension and
an Electronic Stability Program. But the easiest way to
spot a modified TT is by the rear wing. Stuck on to
the tail, most agree it ruins the model's looks, although
it's there for a reason - to ensure the TT's rear really
does stay glued to the ground at high speed.

But has Audi been over-cautious, transforming the TT
from a sporty coupe to a safe but dull-handling
Volkswagen Golf in drag? To find out, we got a
modified car together with a TT which has yet to go
under the knife, and drove them exclusively
back-to-back on the road and track.

On the public highway you have to really concentrate
to notice the changes. At regular speeds there is no
discernible difference to the way the two TTs drive.
Along the same stretch of road in the modified car you
might just detect a slightly firmer ride at the rear, while
the front seems softer, rolling fractionally more under
hard cornering.

The alterations aren't all bad news, however - one of
the results is more communicative steering. Push the
old car into a bend and it was hard to judge when the
front wheels were losing grip. Take the same corner in
the modified TT and the point at which the rubber
starts to slide is easier to detect. To be honest, though,
these changes are very minor; there would probably
be a more dramatic shift in the car's characteristics
simply by altering the tyre pressures. We suspect that
most owners will wonder why Audi bothered to make
the suspension modifications at all. Moving on to a
sodden airfield to test the cars at and beyond their
limits, the TT's new bits suddenly made sense. Starting
in the old model, we attacked a waterlogged hairpin at
40mph - far quicker than would be sensible on the
road. Then we backed off the throttle mid-bend,
which would be the natural reaction for most drivers
taken by surprise. The rear of the Audi instantly
started to slide out.

Rely on steering inputs alone to keep the car pointing
in the right direction and the TT will end up facing
backwards. But use the throttle carefully to transfer
the weight back over the rear wheels and the TT gets
back in line, with the Quattro proving its worth by
pulling the car round even in grim conditions.

When we repeated the exercise in the tweaked car, it
was dramatically different. Even at the same speed it
felt as though we were travelling much faster, with
more roll and steering feel. Lifting off the gas at the
same point the back came around and the ESP system
suddenly kicked in, violently applying the brakes to
individual wheels to get the TT pointing the right way
again. Even the most inexperienced driver should be
saved from meeting the Armco, although Audi's
electronics apply the brakes so suddenly to snap the
car back into line, most people will still think they have
had an accident. There is none of the finesse of
Porsche's sophisticated PSM system, which allows the
vehicle to slide a small amount before gently helping it
back on track.

At motorway speeds, the difference is even more
dramatic. Simulate an emergency stop or sudden lane
change in the wet and both TTs cope well, the brake
distribution system and ABS keeping the Audi pointing
in the right direction. But try it without the brakes and
with no throttle and the old car's electronics can't help
- you'd need to be on the ball to prevent a spin. The
modified TT does far better thanks to the ESP, but it
can over-compensate, snapping the car into another
slide before correcting again. By then, though, you are
travelling slowly enough to control it easily.

The good news is the modifications haven't ruined the
TT, only made it safer for inexperienced drivers - and
less exciting for enthusiasts. If only the firm could have
made the rear wing more subtle and the ESP system
more sophisticated...


Besides the rear spoiler and ESP button on the dash,
most owners won't notice the changes to their TT
when it arrives back from the factory. Try both models
back-to-back at normal speeds and you have to
concentrate to find a difference. But push hard and,
although the new car will lose grip first, it gives more
warning via body roll and steering feel. If the pilot fails
to react, the ESP will keep you in line. However,
enthusiastic drivers may not appreciate the changes.

At a glance

* Audi TT coupe gets factory modifications to
improve high-speed handling

* Revised suspension settings, Electronic Stability
Program and rear spoiler

* No price rise for new cars; existing models will be
modified free of charge