The Audi TT TDI. Is this oil-burner from Audi another Ingolstadt niche? Or a svelte coupe and cabriolet with low-end grunt, low emissions and decent fuel consumption?
A few critics of Audi's blunderbuss new model programme worry it's another box ticked so the company can out-offer the opposition. And worse than that, perhaps Audi is offering something no one really wants. The TT is a standalone sports car, a supermodel. Should it really be allowed diesel power? Imagine Gisele Bundchen opening her mouth and speaking Scouse and you get the idea of where this could end up.
So tell me about the Audi TT TDI’s diesel engine
Under that elegant, mostly aluminium body sits a 2.0-litre diesel and a turbo, which together produce 168bhp at 4200rpm and 258lb ft from 1750-2500rpm. That’s 22lb ft more than the V6 petrol, and enough horsepower to push this diesel on to 140mph. Audi’s quattro drivetrain sends the power to all four wheels via a six-speed manual box.
Forget performance though - you'll probably only buy a TT TDI because of the g/km and mpg figures: 140g/km CO2 and 53.3mpg. Those figures are for the Coupe and rise and drop respectively should you buy the Roadster.
Start the engine and your ears aren’t met by instant farmyard clatter, but nearly the same starter motor whirr and sudden exhaust woofle that was present on our long-term TT 3.2 V6. Of course you can hear the diesel bass on the road, but not a badly as you might think. You could forget you were being pushed along by a compression motor if it wasn’t for the fact you had to change up soon after 4000rpm.
Click 'Next' for more on the TT diesel
Right, what's this thing like on the road?
A little old-school in fact. A bigger turbo has lifted power and means there’s a touch of lag and then a lot of boost. While BMW and now Mercedes offer twin-turbo diesels there’s something pleasing about a sudden rush of power rather than a refined run to a 5000rpm redline.
To some it might feel a rawer than BMW’s 123d, but this engine is more exciting for it and still a smooth diesel. It’s quick enough too, with that torque making overtaking easy.
Downsides? The steering is still a tad too light and lifeless, and the gearbox equally lacking in any mechanical feel. But for those long motorway miles it’ll be a doddle to drive.
Has Audi added anything else new apart from the diesel engine?
Yes. There's a light refresh that freshens up the front while our test car was an S-line model. That means leather seats over the standard Alcantara items, gunmetal 19-inch rims over the regular 17s, and a butch bodykit with a new front bumper and carbonfibre look lip spoiler and rear diffuser.
The car looks great in the metal but the TT was stiff already and never Audi’s finest ride/handling combo. Add in the bigger wheels and there’s a constant patter, much like a test tube on a mechanical shaker in a laboratory. The tyres might add some extra grip but they upset the ride and don’t particularly benefit the handling.
Click 'Next' for our verdict
Is the rest of the car as before?
Pretty much - which means when it’s optioned up like our test car with sat-nav and all sorts of other goodies there are few cabins this side of an Audi R8 that match the TT. And when you consider that the R8’s insides use lots of TT bits that makes it feel even more special.
There still isn’t much room in the back, but the boot is reasonable enough. The rear seats don’t quite fold flat but once down provide enough room for two people going on a substantial holiday.
The Audi TT TDI is a good car. It goes through your wish lists and ticks all the boxes. Great looks, impeccable cabin and build quality, peerless badge and now diesel power offering improved emissions and mpg.
But as lovely as the TT is, it still feels too much by the book. All the ingredients are there and if you need or even want a diesel coupe then take your cake and eat it. It’s just that we prefer to look elsewhere for our fill.