Driving with Dan

Text and Photography by Dan Cutrona

The lobster roll is more than just a type of food—it’s symbolic. It’s a classic meal that sparks as many feelings of summer nostalgia as it does salivary responses. A good lobster roll with just the right amount of mayo and the perfect ratio of claw to tail meat can only be described as perfect. But when I think about it, there is one thing that has always annoyed me about the lobster roll: It’s served on a hotdog bun! It just doesn’t seem right to pay $25 for something that’s served on a white-bread bun and presented in a red plastic basket.

With that in mind, I proceed with my review of the 2017 Audi TT. This is a car that has been holding steady for almost 20 years. I remember being a freshman in college when the first model came out—the rounded Beetle-esque silhouette was a head turner.

It has gone through evolutionary changes over the years—a nip-tuck here, an extra crease there. It has changed from the nice guy in your math class to the man at the bar with the chiseled jawbone who might steal your girl. This is especially true for the upcoming hot-rodded RS version.

Nonetheless, so as not to upset the neighbors, I drive the friendlier TT on a recent jaunt to Chatham. This model of the TT has 220 horsepower, which means going from zero to 60 in 5.2 very satisfying seconds. On the twisty side roads of Yarmouth, this proves to be the perfect Goldilocks amount of power: Not too much, but not too little.

Unlike the 400-plus horsepower of its German cousins, you can actually let this car rev high and breathe a little without getting into treacherous speeds. Between shifts, the cracking sound of the exhaust puts a smile on your face like the first notes of your favorite song.

Handling is sharp, but forgiving, making you feel like a better driver than you really are. The small wheel-base combined with the famous Quattro four-wheel drive practically spins you around sharp corners. It’s not like you’re turning, but twisting into your next maneuver. Also, when I pull the car onto wet sand for a photo-op and get stuck, the Quattro and traction control guide me out before I dig myself in too deep.

The interior of the Audi is simple and clean. It has climate-control buttons integrated right into the vents and the navigation system is located in the display area where you normally see your speedometer. Everything feels like it is right where it should be, and even the heft of the flat-bottomed steering wheel is just right. Again, Goldilocks.

The Audi TT is wonderful in so many ways, but I’m slightly conflicted. If I want to go on a road trip and drive all day, it’s too small to truly be a touring car. Also, if this was my second car, and I wanted to go on a spirited drive—is it exhilarating enough? Is it worth an extra $8,000 to get the TTS, which adds 80 horsepower, or do I get a convertible?

But just because a lobster roll sometimes leaves me feeling confused about whether it was worth my money or not, I’m always happy when I eat one. That hotdog bun is part of what makes it perfect. And now coming up on its 20th birthday, the Audi TT finds itself attaining that same status: a classic.

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