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    Spain to Portugal in Audi TT part 1

    Traffic at Grand Via near Plaza de España Metro station is still heavy and moving at a snail pace. Crowds are seen on almost major intersections waiting impatiently to cross the streets. City street lights and billboards lit up the area and illuminate Spanish architecture’s intricate and ornate patterns, windows, gargoyles, and iron balconies. As we stroll through a maze of cobblestone alleys towards Plaza Mayor, the sounds of music and laughter bounce around the ancient stone walls. Restaurants and bars are brimming with conversations despite the fact that it is eleven o’clock Sunday night. This effervescent night life, even on a very late school night, is the reason why we are back in Madrid. We want to rejuvenate and escape from the monotony of going to bed at nine o’clock at night and getting ready to work at six o’clock in the morning....

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    We are ready for our next destination, Palacio Real de Madrid. We punch in the destination to our portable Garmin Nüvi 1370/1370T that we bring from US. This device is equipped with not only US maps but also European maps. With this gadget at hand, finding destinations in concentric spider-web-like Madrid city streets becomes less challenging. One of the greatest traits of Audi Sports cars is the fact that Audi Sports car is also a perfect daily driver. This TT Coupe lives up to that expectation. Despite its sporty stance and dynamic handling setup, the car is easy to drive. This is my first time driving in a bustling and crowded city of Madrid. Additionally, I have to rely on my GPS to know where I am going. And yet, with this TT, I feel confident in navigating through various one-way narrow cobblestone streets and busy intersections directed by Spanish policemen...

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    In modern time, artists, designers, and engineers at Audi are making their own remarkable work of arts, design, and engineering. Since its dramatic first generation TT introduction in 1990’s, TT has won varieties of design awards at global level. Recently, this second generation TT attained Drive Car of the Year, Top Gear Coupé of the Year 2006, Fifth Gear Car of the Year 2006, Autobild Most Beautiful Car, and World Design Car of the Year 2007. Additionally, it was a finalist for World Car of the Year...

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    The sun is about to set and Temple of Debod is a perfect place to witness sunset in Madrid. This temple, which originally was located not too far south of Aswan in southern Egypt, was dissembled piece by piece, transported extra carefully to this very spot via a ship to Valencia and a train to Madrid. Here it was reassembled to its original state. The whole process to deconstruct, transport, and reconstruct took about four years. Audi had similar logistical challenges when they were planning to build TT at two different factories, 650 km apart separated by mountainous regions. They not only had to figure out how to do it once but they had to figure out how to do this daily. Furthermore, since the amount material to be transported daily was massive, the plan and the mechanism to transport had to be very efficient. Any disruption in logistics could lead to a supply chain issue that would affect production capacity, unnecessary energy waste, and finally customer satisfaction...

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    Today, the body shell of Audi TT is built in Ingolstadt. Györ factory in Hungary is responsible for building the engine and assembling the various components into a ready-for-delivery car. The shells and other components are loaded to specially-designed-for-loading-and-unloading-efficiency train cargos. 10,000 hp Deutsche Bahn electric locomotive hauls the complete 650 meter train in 12 hour journey through Bavaria, Austria, and Hungary. The shells will come back two days later as completed cars. With just-in-time manufacturing, efficiency and reliability of shipment are the essence as part stocks are kept very low. While the first set of body shells make their way into the assembly line at Györ, the fully assembled TT’s are loaded into the emptied cargos. Additionally, they are stacked in accordance to an integrated and intelligent plan for direct transport to end customers...

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    The day after, we have a long but exciting drive to Cordoba with a stop at a medieval town of Toledo, which is just 70 km south of Madrid. The drive to Toledo is far from exciting because we are part of the commuter traffic and the highways are mostly straight and flat. However, the comfort and the agile nature of TT make the trip fun. Narrow and hilly cobblestone alleys spread in spider web style from many plazas. Tall stone structures obstruct the view of the sun, making it easy for anyone to lose his bearing. Walking through this maze one cannot help to wonder about what happened in any nook and cranny of this place in the past two thousand years. I wish these ancient walls could speak. In this peaceful time, Audi metallurgists pioneered and perfected unique and advanced techniques to bond two different metals that have different characteristics. A8 and R8 have aluminum bodies while A4, A5, and Q7 have new high tech ultra strength steel bodies. Through the masterful metallurgy techniques, Audi brought the best of aluminum and steel together in TT. The TT front end and the cabin are made of aluminum, while the rear sub-assembly, the door and the rear fastback door are made of steel. The extra rearward mass from the use of steel gives balanced weight distribution between the front and the rear axle...

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    There are two ways to get to Cordoba from Toledo. First option is to get to A-4 South freeway all the way to Cordoba. Second option is to take the undivided highway N-401, N-420, and then A-4 freeway just outside Cordoba. The latter is shorter by 42 km but will take about 30 minutes longer according to our GPS. Because the whole trip is about four and half hours and it is still mid-afternoon, we decide to take the more adventurist route. Hopefully, it will be scenic and twisty. N-401 is mostly deserted, and pastoral landscape is the main theme. N-420 south of Almodóvar del Campo town starts to pick up elevation. We are entering the rocky Sierra de Alcúdia. The slow straight climb becomes fast bends. Soon, we are enjoying switch backs and occasionally hair pins. Shifting gear manually from second to third and fourth and then back to third and second never feels this great. This is the moment when I wish automatic transmission were never invented. Rolling peaks and valleys covered by green lush shrubs accentuate our driving enjoyment. Power-to-weight ratio is the key to efficiency in racing or spirited driving. Because TT Coupé only weighs about 1.3 tons, it doesn’t need a mega horse power engine to give its driver a tingling sensation. The TT we are driving has the European 1.8 liter normally aspirated engine. It is the cleanest engine in TT line up producing only 149 g/km of CO2. But yet, it can still accelerate from 0 to 100 km in 7.2 seconds, which is about 1 second slower than the 2.0 TFSI version with the same 6 speed manual transmission...

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    NH Amistad Cordoba Hotel is located in the historic old town, next to the 14th century Synagogue, the 8th century Great Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba, and near the 1st century B.C. Roman Bridge. Due to its location, deep inside the ancient city, getting there is like treasure hunting. Our GPS gives us doubtful instructions. After squeezing our TT into some crevices in the ancient walls and driving through a long narrow cobblestone alley – pedestrians must wait for us to get to the end of the alley before they enter the alley – we are greeted by a smiling door man. Staying at this hotel is like taking a time travel journey. This 18th century neo-classical manor house features arches and wood crafted ceilings. And it has a Mujedar interior courtyard. Our room is surprisingly spacious and it features Spanish tiled floor and decorative tiled bath room walls...

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    Cordoba is famous for its creamy Gazpacho. The rich flavors of ripe and fresh tomatoes, roasted red peppers, garlic, Spanish saffron, cumin, and virgin olive oil create delicious one-of-a-kind soup. While sipping this delicious soup, we are plotting our next destination: Lisbon, Portugal. The drive will take about six hours. With the car we have, we are looking forward to it!!...

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  3. #2
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    wow what a write up! excellent read! and some stunning photos! good work!

  4. #3
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    Wow, this is a really beautiful thing. And I mean the whole thing combined.

    I'm looking to buy my first TT and this makes me want the whole experience. It makes it a whole experience, not just a car. You must work as a designer for Audi or something. Beautiful photographs coupled with an intricate knowledge of the TT manufacturing process..?

    Now I want to get one and drive it round the beautiful places of mainland Europe. Who cares about the mileage and depreciation!!

    Thanks for doing this.

 

 

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