Audi Targets Porsche with the Wicked TTS

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Since its much-ballyhooed debut―as a concept car in 1995 and a production model three years later―Audi’s artful TT has emphasized high style over outright athletic ability, yielding the fast lane to more hard-core Teutonic two-seaters, including Porsche’s beloved Boxster and, recently, the Cayman. With the arrival of the 2009 TTS, however, that may be set to change. The top-drawer version of Audi’s diminutive sports car, available as a coupe ($45,500) or a roadster ($47,500), packs within its modest dimensions a vast array of go-fast technology, most notably a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with direct fuel injection. This high-strung power plant belts out 265 horsepower and 258 foot-pounds of torque―more grunt than Audi’s 3.2-liter V-6 but with fuel economy closer to the base TT’s 2.0-liter engine (21 mpg city/29 mpg highway). Throw in standard Quattro all-wheel drive, Audi’s Magnetic Ride active suspension (à la the R8), and a paddled-actuated dual-clutch transmission for lightning-quick gear changes, and the TTS emerges as a truly serious performer: less pricey than a Boxster or Cayman but quicker to 60 mph than a Boxster S or Cayman S. And for the unabashedly power mad, Audi is quietly readying an even more potent TT. Due in Europe next year, the TTRS will employ a twin-turbo 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine producing a stout 340 horsepower, enabling the car to sprint to 60 mph in just over four seconds.

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