I picked up a tall dark stranger on the Sydney flight the other day. Perhaps that's what happens when you drive an Audi TTS...
Though he blotted his copybook by calling me Jeremy Clarkson; note to self, book corrective surgery...
Still, why not play tourist guide? Except it didn't look so simple when I arrived at his hotel. My new-found Pommie companion was somewhat taken aback by the tangerine TTS; not so much by the colour, as its dimensions. At 1.93 metres he thought he wouldn't fit. Worse, his suitcase was half the size of the car.
But no worries - that boot's more useful than it looks. The case slipped in as if made to measure, laptops and handbags slung through the wide hatch onto the rear 'seat', and with a bit of freelance origami he folded inside, and we were off.
This cabin's a smart place to be, though the orange accents are an acquired taste, and the rear pews useless for anything human. The leather's contrast stitching is an attractive touch though, and those deeply supportive front seats were a pleasure. Indeed, all the ergonomics are good, at least for the driver, with everything neatly angled for easy reach. The short-throw gear lever is a hand-flick away, and the flat-bottomed wheel's a nice detail.
It sounds good too, and far throatier than the engine size would suggest. This hottest of the TT cars uses a much worked-on 2.0-litre fuel-injected, turbo-charged engine to produce 200kW at 6000rpm, and 350Nm anywhere from 2500 to 5000rpm. That's good for a claimed 0-100 in 5.2 seconds in the twin-clutch S-tronic auto; we had the manual, a slick-shifting six-speed affair that'll get you there 0.2 seconds slower - but hey, you'll feel the part.
Either way it puts power to the ground through all four wheels; pointed at an interesting stretch of swervery this car will boogy, though my passenger had to take my word for it - tourist guiding and hoonery do not make a good mix, and he still had a plane to catch.
What we did discover was just how effective the magnetic ride adaptive dampers are. Electrical currents alter damping response to the conditions, or your choice of 'normal' or 'sport'. Select sport mode for a firm, darting, eager car that's supple enough to leave your kidneys intact.
Go for normal, and the harder edges are knocked off. Compliance is still impressive, but the muffling effects on the handling also compromise the previously crisp turn-in more than I'd like.
Some write the TT off as style over substance. But for the majority, that is so much trouser tennis. This level of performance surpasses most drivers' ability - or their desire to push the envelope.
For those uninterested in envelopes there's plenty of style, lots of nice features, and bountiful head-turning appeal. It certainly turned heads in this colour - they think the driver's gay, or a girl? Thanks mate - time you were flying home...
Joking apart, I rather liked this vehicle. Some do it harder and faster, but the harder you get, the less well the car performs everyday tasks. I want an everyday driver that will let me go feral without going home for the other car's keys. I want my cake, as they say, and eat it too, which is rarely possible.
It is with this TTS. Sure, the furthest performance edge is out of reach, but the times I miss that extreme ability will be fewer than the times I like to turn up looking stylish, eye-catching - and refreshed.
It's not all good news, of course. Did I mention the rear seats? They're an extra glovebox, not realistic accommodation. The left rear pillar's width complicates some round town manoeuvres. And as for parallel parking, dropping the side mirror revealed a lot of sexily curvaceous flank, but no view of the kerb at all - not a problem on second and subsequent outings, as you soon work out how that muscular line relates to those luscious wheels.
But none of it bothered me. I'd flirted with style, strange men and speed. Would that have happened in a Lexus? I doubt it.