PHOENIX, AZ — As first-quarter sales forecast a potential record-breaking year in 2000, Audi AG launches both the brand-new 2001 TT Roadster and the upgraded TT Coupe models with no apologies and little compromise. The German automaker is steadfast on climbing its way back to Tier 1 status.

With the bowing of the Roadster comes availability of Audi's new, twin-turbo 225-hp 1.8L DOHC I-4, which now is available for both '01 TT models.

Both engine versions — 180-hp and 225-hp — feature electronic turbo boost regulation, Robert Bosch GmbH-made ME 7 Motronic engine management system, which features electronic throttle control, cylinder selective knock regulation, electronic multi-port sequential fuel injection and solid-state direct ignition with multiple coils.

The 180-hp units get a 5-speed manual transmission and the 225-hp engines are fitted with a short-throw, 6-speed gearbox.

Mark Trahan, Audi strategy and planning, tells WEVTU that the 225-hp power plant is not just a “chip-tuned” version of the 180-hp 1.8L engine. It has new pistons, a different compression ratio, new cylinder heads, new intake and exhaust manifolds, a larger turbocharger and completely different mapping of the “lookup” tables for the turbocharger-use regulations and both the fuel and ignition regulations. Also, twin intercoolers and a larger intake-air trap are used for the higher-horsepower engine.

In addition, Audi's quattro all-wheel drive (AWD) system has been upgraded for the TT to allow for “electronic controlled torque distribution.” Audi claims it can alter the torque distribution, front to rear, in less time than it takes for the driveshaft to turn one-quarter of a revolution.

For the new Roadster, a rectangular crossmember traverses the entire width of the car to help reinforce the structure's torsional rigidity. New, ultra high-strength steel inserts run from top to bottom of the A-pillar.

These structural elements provide the Roadster with the same level of rollover intrusion protection as the TT Coupe. In addition, head and chest side-impact airbags are standard.

Len Hunt, vice president of Audi of America, says the TT is a “hero car, a brand defining automobile,” limited only by production constraints. Still, North America will see only 10,000 units this year. Mr. Hunt also tells WEVTU that Audi is asking dealerships to keep at least one TT Coupe or Roadster on their showroom floor because of their “magnet-like effect” — an interesting philosophy when fulfilling North American demand is a concern.