For chasing spies, or just looking like you might

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For chasing spies, or just looking like you might

Movie mavens remember the Audi TT Roadster’s high-glamour debut in the Tom Cruise action flick “Mission: Impossible 2” in the year 2000.
Thandie Newton, playing a sexy thief, drives a metallic silver Audi in a physics-defying car chase with Cruise on a mountain road. The car speeds, skids and spins maniacally as her killer instinct heightens.
Even on the somewhat less dangerous Seoul streets, this car’s killer look is enough to invite movie star treatment. Koreans definitely ogle the beauty of this perfectly designed roadster. They may recognize the car from the movie, but because Audi is not as readily recognized as other German automobiles, they seem puzzled on seeing the four interlocking circles on the car’s unusually round shape. It stands out simply because the car has a distinctively great design made of specially fortified, lightweight aluminum, evoking a concept car of the future.
The design concept is all about silver circles and tubes adorned with dots. The color scheme of this car is red, silver and black, with no exceptions. The same motif is used in the dashboard, which features temperature, RPM and gas gauges, a speedometer and more. The door, vents and side brakes are cleverly designed to fit the theme. Even the cup holder, made with aluminum pipe and black plastic, looks sleek, as if it were made by Philip Stark.
Being inside the car makes me feel as I’m in a well-organized modern home specially decorated by a designer. Personal space is made tidy by simply pulling down a sleek shade.
The audio panel, with luminous red buttons and signals, can be shut down with an aluminum cover bearing the “TT” logo. The three buttons under the audio system are also covered by sliding the black cover to close.
Likewise, under the hood, the five-valve 1,800 cc engine is hidden under black covers. There are only two lids, one for oil and the other for water, and one loop-like handle for checking the oil. One of the covers is screwed down. What happens when the car stops? “Audi drivers rarely get to fix their cars themselves anyway; the mechanic at Audi will unscrew the cover and fix it,” explains Min Myung-ki, the PR agent for Audi.
The Audi TT Roaster is not designed for drivers with flabby arms. Handling the steering wheel is hard, especially when you try parking in a small space.
A bit of muscle, a prerequisite for any undercover agent, is also handy in yanking the handle to open or close the soft top. After that, the rest is easily done with a touch of a button.
Although seat height can be adjusted, the seat is relatively high for a convertible. Which means that for serious speeding, a driver might need the wind deflector, especially if he or she has long hair. The wind deflector can be automatically pulled up or down. With the touch of a button, a sheet of shapely glass behind the aluminum rollover bars slides up, the way a remote-controlled bulletproof window might slide up in a spy movie. But on the highway, the deflector seems to do nothing much but to serve the car’s main purpose: looking futuristic and sleek. My long hair flies in mid-air, but I feel like I’m ready for dangerous action, and I’d sure need all the protection this high-tech automobile can give me.
In the city’s slow traffic, the RPM usually lingers between 2,000 and 3,000. Although cornering is a bit unstable, in general, the feel of driving is safe and sturdy. Roadsters are supposed to give you the feel of the road, and it is there, but it’s not rough. The car tends to halt every time the foot leaves the gas pedal; I assume that perhaps this constant pull, which jerks passengers back and forth, is there because the car is an automatic.
Like most import sports cars with automatic transmission, the Audi TT Roaster comes with a Tiptronic gear shift. With Tiptronic on, the engine gets a little louder and the ride feels rough, although this could be the power of suggestion. With my thumbs, I can control the gear in six different modes. Even if I forget to shift, the car senses it automatically and changes gears.
The car’s maximum speed reads 260 kph (162 mph), but the PR agent says the safe maximum is 225 kph. Constantly surrounded by the vrooming sound of muscular machinery, I feel like daring the speed limit everywhere.
The car can reach 100 kph in 8.1 seconds. Beyond that point, the driving gets really smooth and fun. I quickly develop a dangerous habit of flooring every time there is space to drive between cars. As the rush of adrenaline carries me away, I feel invincible, and that could be part of the daily movie star treatment that comes with the Audi TT Roadster.
In Korea, imported through Gojin Motor Import, the Audi TT Roaster costs 55,600,000 won ($49,200).

by Ines Cho
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