Going topless can be embarrassing as proven recently in some quarters but a more responsible way is to opt for a convertible, cabriolet or roadster car.
Without embarrassment I have just gone topless in the long serving but still iconic Audi TT Roadster, which recently became more affordable with the introduction of a 1.8-litre TFSI petrol engine to the two seater soft top range and the engine is also now available for the TT 2+2 Coupe hard top.
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Available with Standard, Sport or S-Line specification, the 1.8 Roadster with the 160PS petrol engine has prices starting at £25,325 rising to £28,080. The TT Coupe with Sport of S-Line spec with this engine has prices ranging from £24,075 to £26,065.
The TT Roadster and Coupe ranges are also available with 2.0/2.5-litre petrol and 2.0-litre TDI diesel engine options and two or quattro four wheel drive variants depending on the engine of choice and level or specification.
Some models have the added option of a high Black Edition specification. Prices range up to £50,925 for the 31 variant TT Coupe and Roadster ranges.
Specification and performance
My test car was the new 1.8-litre 160PS Sport version priced at £26,085, to my mind the most cost effective version the whole Roadster range. But given our poor record for sunshine hours in the UK and the extra small but useful two rear seats, the 1.8 TFSI 2+2 Coupe would be my optimum choice from the TT ranges, and it's cheaper at £24,075.
Like its main affordable competitor, the Mazda MX-5, these classic open top sports cars are timeless and accordingly hold their used values very well.
Given the driving conditions due to traffic congested roads, ever more stringent speed limits and the increasing cost of fuel and road tax the introduction of the 1.8-litre turbocharged, direct injection 160PS (158bhp), free-revving petrol engine makes a lot of sense.
The 184lb ft of torque available from just 1,500rpm makes it a very responsive unit giving plenty of get-up-and-go from low speeds and lots of mid range zip for overtaking slower traffic.
The top speed of 139mph is a smidgen slower than the 2.0-litre petrol model as is the zero to 62mph acceleration time of 7.4 seconds but that is plenty of power and performance in reality for today's driving conditions.
The fuel economy is good as well at 43.5mpg and indeed my test drive resulted in an even better figure of 44.6mpg and that was driving on motorways, stop and start commuter trips and general travel using country lanes and B roads. The CO2 emissions are relatively low as well at 152g/km so road tax costs £170 a year and company car tax is 20 per cent.
In fact my test car had the £1,480 S-tronic twin clutch seven-speed automated gearbox which pushed the on-the-road price up from £26,090 for the six-speed manual 1.8 Sport model to £27,570.
I think it is well worth paying the extra because the seamless auto transmission works really well with this engine and it doesn't in anyway detract from the sporty driving nature when required and it makes driving so very easy in busy stop and start conditions.
Styling and practicality
The exterior design of the Audi TT both in Roadster and Coupe body styles is a classic, it cannot be confused with any other sports car, hence its appeal. Inside it is also a classic sports car, beautifully designed and well put together.
The Roadster has wide opening doors for easy access but these can be a bit of an issue trying to get in and out of the car in confined side by side parking bays. The well insulated fabric roof is operated electrically and folds away behind the front two seats in what would be the rear seat area of the 2+2 Coupe bodyshell.
Roof up the visibility to the rear quarters is very limited making parking and visibility for pulling out of road junctions difficult at times.
There is a conventional rear boot offering 250-litres of space, not much and the boot is shallow but there is enough room for soft overnight bags and a few odds and ends such as coats.
That is another reason I would opt for the TT Coupe because although in that version the rear seats are tiny they can be used for carrying more luggage and the seats also fold to increase load space up to 900-litres.
Equipment and comfort
The interior specification for the Sport level includes electrically operated windows, air conditioning, leather and Alcantara upholstery and a good sound system. Needless to say being an Audi there is an extensive list of extra cost options including DVD based sat-nav with Bluetooth which will add another £1,525 to the price.
The very useful and desirable Audi multi-function flat-bottomed steering wheel I would add to the spec and that costs £185.
The ride comfort is generally good although I wouldn't take the larger 18-inch alloy wheel £1,280 extra cost option fitted to my test car. The standard 17-inch alloys look just as good and the ride will be more compliant.
Overall the Audi TT Roadster is a classic soft top sports car and its current design, although long standing, has not dulled its appeal whatsoever. I think the addition of the 1.8-litre turbocharged petrol engine to the range will broaden its appeal even more so it's a smart sales move by Audi.
Audi TT Roadster 1.8 TFSI Sport S-tronic
1.8-litre, 4-cylinder, direct injection petrol with turbocharger and intercooler, 158bhp, 184lb ft of torque from 1,500rpm, 7-speed auto.
139mph, 0-62mph 7.4 seconds, 43.5mpg (44.6mpg on test), CO2 152g/km, VED road tax £170, BIK company car tax 20%.
Classic design, fun to own and drive, excellent handling, beautifully built, lovely interior, good residual values.
Restricted rear visibility with the roof up, shallow boot, firmer ride on the optional 18-inch wheels.