Audi's Turbo Temptation delivers

The new TT provides a precise ride for a price.

Alex Taylor III, FSB contributor

(FSB Magazine) -- One of the pleasures of being your own boss is rewarding yourself on occasion. Sign a big customer or notch a strong month and you may want to celebrate with a new car.

If you've done especially well, the new Audi TT should be high on your shopping list. Now arriving in dealerships, it's the second generation of the iconic sports car that made a splash when it debuted in 1998 - and signaled Audi's revival as a luxury brand. Like all good industrial designs, the TT was stylish, timeless, and immediately identifiable.

With the 2008 model, the TT has grown up and gotten even better looking: more than five inches longer, three inches wider, and a smidgen taller. A larger and more streamlined passenger cabin provides improved headroom and lowers the coefficient of drag, reducing turbulence and boosting fuel economy.

The view from the driver's seat is thoroughly satisfying. The steering wheel is flat-bottomed F-1 style, which enforces a safe ten- and two-o'clock hands position, while the instrument panel is both handsome and functional. And unlike some sports cars, the TT Coupe (though not the convertible) comes equipped with two rear seats.

My test drive took me over the twisty roads of rural New England in the 2.0-liter turbo-powered four-cylinder model (a naturally aspirated 3.2-liter V-6 with Audi's renowned Quattro system wasn't available). The steering was precise, the ride firm without being uncomfortable, the paddle shifters slick and quick. Tromping on the throttle caused the turbo to cut in after a slight lag but miraculously never sucked the car off-line during acceleration (a common complaint with turbo-powered front-wheel-drive cars). With your foot to the floor, you can get to 62 mph in 6.1 seconds.

My chief complaint with the TT is the price. The base four-cylinder model stickers at $34,800, while the Roadster starts at $36,800. A competing turbo four such as the Pontiac Solstice - though far less refined - is available for about $10,000 less. Still, the TT's chiseled shape and impeccable heritage make it likely to become an instant classic.

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