Don’t underestimate the difference an engine and gearbox can make. You don’t need to look any further than the Audi TT for that.
Slotting the 3.2-litre V6 in, allied to the brilliant DSG (Direct Shift Gearbox), means a thumbs-up verdict no longer rests solely on its looks and construction. It’s now nearly a cast-iron alternative to a Boxster, something the turbocharged manuals never had a hope of claiming.
Performance and punch have obviously been moved up a notch, but that clever dual-clutch gearbox is the most impressive single aspect of the whole package. It’s brilliant, pure and simple, providing well-judged changes however close to the floor your right foot is – or whether you’re flicking through cogs with the steering wheel paddles or keeping the lever stuck in ‘D’. The only downside is that it lacks a fully manual mode, changing gear even when you’ve selected one yourself.
The real issue, though, is whether the TT’s four-wheel-drive chassis is up to the job post-chop. In raw terms, yes. You’re still doing well to break traction, the ride is well controlled and it’s mostly wobble-free.
But it remains a blunt instrument; thoroughly competent but lacking the steering alacrity and feel that distinguishes the best open tops.
But, like the rest of the range, there’s plenty to admire. Not least the beautifully crafted cabin that still looks and feels better than special.
So while Boxster buyers probably aren’t going to bite, at least there’s now a lot about the TT Roadster to like.