Haven’t you driven the TT?
We’ve already tested the 3.2-litre four-wheel drive Audi TT, but this car’s the cut-price sibling: a front-wheel drive, 2.0-litre turbo which, at £24,625, undercuts its big brother by nearly £5000. The two cars look virtually identical both inside and out. So if 197bhp sounds like plenty and all-weather grip isn’t a priority, the 2.0-litre could fit the bill. Best of all, the cheaper car is also considerably lighter: 1260kg versus 1410kg. In fact, it’s even lighter than the often-lauded Golf GTI on which it’s based, thanks to the TT’s part-alumnium construction.
Does the 2.0-litre feel low spec?
No, it’s hard to spot the difference. Where the 3.2-litre wears 18in wheels as standard, the turbo gets 17s with the option to upgrade to two other 18in designs. The turbo model also lacks dual exhaust pipes, while the interior looks near identical save for the lower-spec car’s leather and alcantara mix – a combination that feels noticeably grippier when you’re pressing on. Seems the saving has come almost entirely from losing two cylinders and two driven wheels.
How does the 2.0-litre TFSI drive?
At lower speeds, it’s only the different engine characteristics that let you know you’re in the turbo. So where the V6 emits a sophisticated woofle and its power builds progressively to the redline, the 2.0-litre is less linear with an obvious turbo kick and a harder-edged bark to its note. But thanks to its lower weight and the on-boost whoosh, the less powerful car doesn’t feel noticeably slower. Do the sums and it’s easy to see why: every 1bhp of 2.0-litre turbo power has to move 6.4kg, while every 1bhp of V6 shifts 5.6kg.
And the handling?
The TT chassis has so much grip with just two driven wheels as to make all-wheel drive seem an unnecessary extravagance. Throw it down your favourite B-road and the 2.0-litre instantly feels the more nimble car, though it still can’t entertain like a 350Z; the TT’s default handling setting is benign neutrality with predictable understeer creeping in at the limit. In fact, the four-wheel drive system’s main benefit is in quelling torque steer under hard acceleration.
Both TTs share slack steering, surprisingly high levels of tyre roar at lower speeds and wind noise as you up the mph. Both feel better built than the 350Z – especially when you step inside the restrained cabin – and both offer very good visibility for a coupé. While the S-Tronic gearbox (a £1400 option) is smooth under normal driving, it can be a frustration on an enthusiastic blast through the country, taking an age to kick down and, very occasionally, leaving you in limbo for several seconds. Sure, you can use the paddles, but it’s all too easy to forget where you are with them. We’d save the cash.
The 2.0-litre TT is fantastically good value. It delivers what the vast majority of owners will desire – pace, quality and eye-catching style – for £5000 less than the V6 model. Better still, the turbo kicks out significantly less CO2 (183g/km versus 224kg/km) and is more economical (36.7mpg plays 30mpg) than its big brother. But the bigger issue of true driver involvement remains. It’s as though there’s a good car somewhere between the turbo and the V6. The V6 engine is more refined, the turbo drivetrain more nimble, but neither model is enough to get you out of bed on a Sunday just for the heck of it. However, if you like how the TT looks and care more about posing down the high street than ripping round the Nürburgring, you’ll love this car. And at under £25k, the TFSI is the pick of the range.