It might not be able to cure an infection, or even slice bread, but the base TT was one of the big headline grabbers of recent times and Nothelle has only made it better.
Sliced bread, the sound of lambs playing in the springtime meadows for the first time and the discovery of Penicillin, they’re about the only things that garnered more positive headlines than the new Audi TT 2-litre. Now we have the soft-top version, and so do the tuners.
There are bigger names on the map than Nothelle, which has carved its own niche since Rolf Nothelle set up shop in 1967 in Duisburg, but the company is well respected, slickly presented and they turned over the keys first. And while the example at MediaTel’s latest gathering at Hockenheim could have done with a different colour scheme, as white just didn’t work especially when it went right down to the wheels, the soft-top TT has clearly got potential.
Jens Nothelle now fronts the company after spending his formative years in Formula Racing, the Porsche Carrera Cup and endurance racing. With that kind of background he was never going to become the kind of tuner that slap neon lights under the car, but he has taken the slab sided TT as far as I ever would.
Huge box sections encase the exhaust exits, framing a diffuser that spells out the car that just burned you with the company name emblazoned on the rear. Then there’s the tray-style wing, overtly masculine sideskirts that don’t quite mirror the elegant angles of the base car and a beefy three-piece front splitter.
Unlike the last generation TT the new one really doesn’t need so much help on the testosterone stakes, its straight-cut approach is manly enough on its own. But then again it never hurts to have a little more muscle to flex. And with the V6 heading towards 180mph the inevitable extra downforce cannot be a bad thing.
Performance is at the heart of his conversions, as anyone that has witnessed his almighty 520bhp V6 TT will attest to. That is a four-wheel drive, though, which can handle Lamborghini levels of power. So what did Jens see fit to inject into the front drive with? A mere 330bhp, that’s all…
The old conventional wisdom said that 200bhp was the limit for a front driver, but then running the four-minute mile was considered as likely as a lunar landing at one point. The march of technology is an irrepressible thing, and great strides in tyres, electronics and chassis engineering have brought the seemingly impossible within our grasp.
All this car needed to boost the handling was a set of lowering springs for the conventional suspension system, rather than the ingenious, optional and expensive magnetorheological system. And try saying that five times really fast.
Nothelle offers an adjustable kit with three different levels of damping, though, that might be more suited to the hard-top. Nobody buys a cabriolet like this for serious track work and an adjustable kit is slight overkill for a trip to the shops, but for the coupe, especially one with 500bhp+, it would be a sound investment.
Jens fitted 20” NOVEDRA wheels, which fill the arch like a fat guy fills a toilet seat, and although these light alloy wheels could probably have done without the colour-coded paint in this particular instance, the finish is incredible.
And safe in the knowledge that his beast wouldn’t simply fly off the road at the first sign of a corner under power, Jens set to work on a new intercooler, turbocharger, stainless steel exhaust and more to liberate the full 130 extra ponies and 55lb/ft of torque. Through the front wheels, that’s more than enough.
But this is a car that, somehow, contains its formidable power with ease. On a brief run tantalisingly close to the circuit, but not on it, showed a car that simply cuts in with minimal fuss, with the staccato rattle of traction control preventing the front end turning into a runaway sled.
Turning it off would reveal something far more interesting, an opposite lock special, but you can’t do that sort of thing when the boss of the company remains within earshot. On the straight and narrow, though, a burst of acceleration reveals the kind of exhaust note that would frighten an R8 into a timid ball in the corner.
Unlike MTM’s version it won’t beat the R8 to 60mph, but he has chopped a solid 0.5s off the time and now scorches through the landmark time in 5.9s. And it will scream through the gears, be they the infinitely clever DSG or the manual, until it hits a sizeable 170mph.
That’s hardly face-bending pace in the modern age, but with the hood down and bugs splattering on the windscreen it’s fast enough and anyone that wants to take a ragtop this size beyond those speeds needs to take a good hard look at a Porsche Cabriolet and their own sanity.
With the roof removed the rorty sound of that turbocharged engine means it’s not all about flinging the car down the road as fast as it will possibly go either, its about soaking up the noise, enjoying the aural assault and simply revving the nuts of that highly-strung engine.
The comfort of the base car is barely affected by the big wheels and suspension tweaks, yet with more than a 50 per cent power hike this might just be the machine for all seasons. All that power would be nothing without control, but the soft-top TT is about as good as it gets when it comes to the bends.
It might not be able to cure an infection, or even slice bread, but the base car was one of the big headline grabbers of recent times and Nothelle has only made it better.