Ingolstadt - As a variation on the theme of the Audi TT Coupé
presented with such success at the German Motor Show (the "IAA") in Frankfurt, Audi followed up quickly at the Tokyo Show with the first public showing of the Audi TTS Roadster, also based on the same quattro running gear as the Coupé.
One of the most captivating ideas of Audi's young, avant-garde team of designers and engineers thus developed into what could almost be regarded as a small model programme all its own.
Apart from its open body styling with fixed, integral roll bars over which a fabric soft top can be stretched tent-style, certain other major components of the TTS Roadster differ from those in the TT Coupé: distinguished by the "S" in the "TTS" badging, the roadster's engine is a concept study for a powerful sports version of the 1.8-litre turbocharged unit with five valves per cylinder, developing 154 kW (210 bhp) and with 250 Nm of muscular torque for vigorous pulling power. The Roadster has larger, 18-inch, wheels, side-panel air outlets from the engine compartment and leather-covered sports seats with thong lacing that suggests baseball gloves. The "plus two" seats at the rear have been deleted to provide space for stowing the soft top. As in all Audis, two airbags are a standard safety feature.
Every detail, both visual and technical, has been scrutinised to eliminate the unnecessary and create an effect of substance and maturity. The sense of the absolute which the Audi TTS Roadster conveys is emphasised by the use of aluminium for body elements, by the fundamental character of the interior equipment and trim and of course by the impressive performance data: acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h in about 6 seconds, top speed in the region of 240 km/h, average fuel consumption by the standard test method below 9 litres per 100 kilometres.
History of a compression process
The Audi TT Coupé the undoubted star of the German Motor Show, could be described as a "highly compressed" design. Now the same process has effectively been taken a stage further in the Roadster: by omitting the roof!
The team that redefined sports car design in a one-year 'tour de force' by producing the TT Coupé has, in parallel as it were, re-interpreted open- car driving too, by creating the Audi TTS Roadster.
Although both Coupé and Roadster are individual concepts, each with its own character, the relationship is still quite evident. In the words of Peter Schreyer, the young chief stylist at Audi: "The Roadster was the first step in our mental search for the 'new sports car', but we were soon aware of how effectively the Coupé and the Roadster fit together and complement each other. They're members of a single family, with all the mutual support and firm foundation which this implies. This confirms quite clearly that they're more than just a one-night stand or 'Motor Show sensation' - they're part of a model structure with clearly defined lateral links."
This basis provides ample scope for new ideas. Although the Audi TTS Roadster is a car that captivates the feelings from the very first glance, its technical pedigree is flawless (something that evidently matters to the Audi development engineers responsible for this concept car), with many high-tech elements included. The spin-off that results: the new car is neither a highly sensitive experimental technology carrier nor a fraudulent fresh-up only moderately exciting standard features under a new, suggestive outer skin.
The TT Coupé and TTS Roadster make no claims whatsoever to be anything they're not.
Pretensions without pretence - surely this is the highest goal to which our modem car-owning society can aspire? To discard illusions of prestige and social manoeuvring, to build a "driving machine" so systematically that the usual rational arguments cease to apply, a car that "reaches the heart" immediately and instinctively.