Thursday, March 09, 2006

Doesn't look too bad there...

Through a wonderful and mysterious set of circumstances, my boss (and when I say my boss I don't mean my immediate supervisor. I mean the guy more or less in charge of Ravenswood's production, the wise and generous Peter Mathis) has lent me a truck. I know what you're saying -- "But that's not a truck! That's clearly an Audi TT Quattro!"

Why yes it is. See, the magnanimous Peter Mathis required the use of his pickup truck this evening, and rather than tell me "Tough luck kid," thereby requiring me to thumb for rides on the side of highway 121, he lent me his well-loved roadster. Which is, by the way, totally sweet.

This is a sports car. I'm not sure which edition this is, but it's either the 180hp or 225hp turbo version. It has a 6-speed manual, which is a wee bit clicky with short throws, but feels sturdier than just about anything I've used before. The brakes are awesome -- if my old 900 had brakes like this, I think that I may have avoided the accident entirely, or possibly just been rear-ended by the pickup behind me. I bet his ABS works too.

You know what definitely works in this car? The seat heaters. I've always been a fan of the feature, going back to the long, cold winters of my youth in Rhode Island. The heaters in our old SAAB 900s sedans would heat up just a wee bit before the engine coolant warmed enough to start blowing cold air. It's hard to describe how satisfying that was. Next to the seat heaters in the Audi TT, however, they seem like 90-pound weaklings at the Gold's Gym in Venice Beach. The heaters in this car were almost instantly noticeable. In moments, they were uncomfortably warm. By the time I figured out how to turn them off, I think I could smell cooking meat. You could probably fry an egg on the passenger's seat while driving, or at least keep your coffee good and warm.

What else? The steering is stiffer than anything I've driven, but feels really good. The car clearly has tons of grip, especially with the quattro option. Oh yeah, and it's fast. Way fast. Not by Lamborghini or even Camaro Z28 standards, but by 1990 Toyota Camry standards it's a screamer. And a revver. The redline is above 6000, heights to which I could never aspire on my boss's automobile.

Anything not to like? I'm not a complainer. But it is widely known that I have little but disgust for most newer cars, with their plasticky silver and heated drink holders. Despite the sumptiousness of the leather (which is considerable) the car's design is a little, well, gimmicky. There is a dimpled-circle motif that is maybe taken just a bit too far, especially since some of it is done in plastic that belies the VW thriftiness behind the Audi's luxo-splendor. That said, all the controls, even the digital ones, feel pretty nice.

If I had the money (surprisingly only three to five times what I'm considering spending on an 850) would I do it? Maybe, which is better than I thought. This car gives a pretty serious sense of control and seems sturdy. I think I would have survived the crash in this car -- the chassis of this car is definitely stiffer than the 900, and it has little mini-roll bars. I think it passes the safety test. The only downside is, of course, the cargo space in the roadster. That and the money of course.

Seems like a good way to cook bacon, though.
Post a Comment