Special Coverage

Ward’s Auto Interiors Show

Picking the best new sports-car interior for the 2008 Ward’s Interior of the Year competition was relatively easy this year, despite a bumper crop of premium, high-performance nominees, one of which was from Audi AG.

A perennial provider of some of the industry’s most lusciously detailed cabins, the Ingolstadt, Germany-based auto maker delivered once again, this time with its second-generation TT coupe, introduced last year as an ’08 model.

Short in stature, yet stuffed with appealing virtues, the little TT quickly garnered praise from the Ward’s staff for its soft, high-quality materials and precise switchgear, as well as its contemporary design.

“Audi walked away with this one,” proclaims one judge, with little argument from other testers.

The other entries in the category, oddly enough, lacked emotion and failed to stand out as special vehicles in their brands’ respective portfolios.

Although this new TT loses some of the show-car dazzle and baseball-stitched leather that made the original car such a hit, editors were smitten with the TT’s premium feel, which has become synonymous with the 4-ring brand’s cockpits.

While complaints centered primarily on the car’s comical backseats and diminutive size, none could fault its clean, white-on-black gauges or brushed-metallic accents placed in all the right places.

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Our tester’s 2-tone interior, with saddle-brown inserts and stitching over black leather, was particularly attractive, as was the D-shaped steering wheel that also made ingress and egress easier for larger drivers.

The seats, themselves, won high marks for their sporting design, though some felt the firm cushions didn’t pad the backside as much as the bolsters secured it in hard corners.

Audi’s Multi-Media Interface proved a welcome addition and was lauded as much for not being the BMW AG’s still-maddening iDrive system as it was for its intuitive setup and redundant climate-control functions.

In the end, the TT rose above other sports cars like a thick head of German beer; its size-limited practicality trumped by superb build quality and a driver-centric environment more akin to vehicles twice its price.