► Full UK road test of new TT
► We test the entry-level petrol 2.0 TFSI
► Has TT now got substance and style?
There’s an Audi TT for those who want to go very, very quickly: the Boxster-baiting TTS. There’s also a TT for fuel misers (or optimistic company car user-choosers): the diesel TT Ultra. This is the TT for everyone else: the regular, straight-down-the-middle 2.0-litre TFSI petrol.
If you pick the TFSI you get a choice of either front-wheel drive or ‘quattro’ four-wheel drive. Front-drive cars get a choice of a six-speed manual gearbox or Audi’s twin-clutch S-tronic six-speed auto. Quattro versions – like the one we’re testing here – are auto-only.
TT Sport or S line?
Apart from choosing how many wheels they’d like to be driven, TT buyers also need to pick between the base Sport trim or the spanglier S line. Differences are largely cosmetic – S line TTs get 19-inch alloys instead of 18s, more chiselled bumpers and techy all-LED headlights, as well as a 10mm lower ride height and slightly firmer suspension (but still with fixed-rate dampers rather than the configurable ones on the TTS).
Most UK buyers are expected to plump for the S-line, and it’s not hard to see why. Those arch-filling alloys and flashier (quite literally) headlights lend the TT a healthy dose of on-road presence. This is a car that’s all about image, after all.
Quattro or front-wheel drive?
The broken, bucking Scottish tarmac we tested this car on was a great advert for Quattro. On one stretch made particularly slick by rain and general winter griminess the TT went exactly where it was pointed when a Merc SLK would have been tying itself in knots and a BMW Z4 might have caused the odd moist-palmed moment.
The TT’s classy damping smoothed out the worst of the bumps nicely even on the S line spec’s 19-inch wheels, smeared-on 255/30 tyres and stiffer suspension. There was plenty of confidence to be found in the brakes too, as progressive as they were powerful. That said, the middle pedal in a diesel TT Ultra we drove later the same day was a little on the grabby side by contrast.
Turn-in is impressively crisp before the balance blends gently into safe understeer, and in general TT III feels more nimble and a shade less blunt than its Mk2 predecessor. Frankly, there’s little to knock on the handling front, but there’s still an indefinable numbness to proceedings that leaves you wanting something more. There’s little tangibly wrong with the way the TT drives, it’s just not the sort of car you’d get up early in the morning to savour a favourite road, or take the long way home every now and then just for the sake of it.
Petrol or diesel?
As you’d expect, the petrol’s wider power band and willingness to rev makes it the more rewarding drive than the diesel but it’s not as crushing a victory as you might imagine. The diesel’s more flexible than most and it’s towering torque (280lb ft, although the petrol’s not far behind at 273lb ft) ensures it feels nearly as quick in a straight line.
The S-tronic gearbox is as smooth as you like, and given that the TT’s not the last word in involvement anyway you won’t find yourself pining for a manual gear lever all that much. Under power, each upshift comes with a muted, vaguely synthesized bark from the exhausts that’s becoming something of an Audi hallmark.
Does the Audi TT’s tech-fest interior live up to the hype?
It does feel special, no question. The neatly realised air vents with an integrated digital display at their centre are one highlight, but that widescreen digital instrument cluster is the showpiece. Framed within what looks like a digitized pair of snowboard goggles, the sharp, full-bleed display knocks the two square screens shoehorned into the Mercedes S-class’s dashboard into a cocked hat for modernity and general wow-factor.
With the navigation map set to fill the screen, the display looks fantastic when Google Earth is within signal – not always there in the Scottish Highlands – although such is its brightness you’ll be searching for a way to dim the screen at night, otherwise it’s like watching TV from two feet away.
As with the last TT, fit and finish is deeply impressive – only even more so – and the plus-two rear seats are still more or less a waste of time for anything other than luggage. Audi still knows how to charge for options, too. A grand for electric seat adjustment does seem quite steep.
In many ways, the Audi TT Coupe TFSI Quattro is a deeply impressive car. Fast, sure-footed and with an interior to die for, it builds on every attribute of its predecessor to create a product that, for many, will be deeply desirable. The fact that it doesn’t quite offer the last word in driver involvement doesn’t really matter. But it would be nice if it did.