If you ever get sick of rowing your own gears, there is German conglomerate called the Volkswagen Group that puts together an excellent alternative to the stick shift. They call it S-Tronic, but don't confuse it with the old Tiptronic (aka Tip"hang on, having a coffee break, will get to that gearshift when i'm done"tronic) slushbox system as the S-Tronic is dual-clutch gearbox that fires off gear changes like an LAPD officer shooting at dark shadows. The end result is a satisfyingly aggressive manual shift experience that can be turned into a relaxing auto when you need to drink a cup of Joe, text on your phone, unlock handcuffs, read a book, do the things you normally do when you should be driving etc. Find this 2008 Audi TT 2.0TFSI offered for $18,995 from a dealer in Rochester, NY via craigslist.
This generation of TT is said to handle much better than the previous Golf Mk IV based version which was an understeering pig. Additionally the DSG drives like you'd want with the annoying exception of the kick-down switch at the bottom of throttle pedal travel. If you are careful you can drive quickly without revving the pants out of the motor, but hit that kick-down switch and it'll instantly find the redline in the nearest gear.
The 2.0 liter 4-banger under the hood was a marvel of technology when it was first released -- an all alloy DOHC 16-V engine turbocharged, intercooled and direct injected for around 200 horsepower. Today this kind of engine is common place and most of the competition makes 250-270 hp, but back in the day VW/Audi was almost alone in their small turbo, small engine, with high compression approach.
Audi rules the world when it comes to interior design and quality -- and this TT with red/black setup is no exception. You will enjoy every moment inside the TT from a comfort and function perspective...at least until things start to fail from age...but with only 50k miles on the odometer that will be someone elses problem.
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