Another Volkswagen hatch in drag?
Not quite. Where the old car shared too much with the Golf – to the detriment of the driving experience – this new TT is actually an ally/steel hybrid, with an extruded spaceframe chassis bonded and riveted to a steel rear section. Doors and boot lid are also made of steel, with the weightier elements located towards the back of the car to promote a superior centre of gravity and ensure a balanced axle load. Audi claims a 50 percent improvement in torsional rigidity over the outgoing TT. As well as that steel rear subframe, the Golf V-sourced four-link rear suspension is steel (remember, the old TT had a torsion beam set-up); the front suspension – MacPherson struts with triangular lower wishbones – is largely aluminium, as is the subframe.
The old car always over promised and under delivered, is this one any better?
Leagues ahead of the old car, certainly, although it’s similar in spirit. Four-wheel drive and shod with extravagant 245/40 section rubber, the TT clearly has a job to do – grip – which it does with awesome efficiency. Its electro-hydraulic speed-sensitive power steering is non-committal at low speed, but weights up pretty authentically the faster you go. It has superb body control and it turns in effectively. It even rides well, the optional adaptive magnetic damping – using a magneto-rheological fluid which alters when a voltage is passed though it – actually tuning the car’s handling characteristics with a subtle efficacy that few adaptive set-ups ever genuinely manage. In other words, there’s lots to like here.
Not least the optional DSG gearbox
That ‘box – rebranded as S-tronic in Audi parlance for TT Mk2 – is a quixotic companion despite its awesome smoothness, second guessing your moves in Sport mode and often getting it wrong. Pop it into D mode, and it’ll do a perfectly good impression of a regular torque converter ‘box.
So how does the TT compare with something like a Porsche Cayman?
Sadly, but somewhat predictably, it lacks the Cayman’s interactivity, fingertip accuracy and distilled 911 precision. The Porsche dials you expertly into the road, whereas the Audi is seemingly pre-programmed to keep you at arm’s length. Which doesn’t stop the TT 3.2 from making a super-strong case for itself. It’s just that motion, once again, defeats emotion.
But there’s more to a TT than hammering down back lanes…
True, it has always been a car you wear rather than just sit in. The downside was a slight claustrophobia – not helped by that shallow glasshouse – but while over-the-shoulder visibility is still compromised, the TT is simultaneously a snug, purposeful fit and airy. The driver-centric centre console with telematics screen is easy to use, and rotating knobs have replaced the old car’s fiddly climate control buttons.
What other models are there?
If you want four-wheel drive you have to tick the V6 box. The 2.0 alternative – basically the Golf GTi’s engine – come only in front-wheel drive form. Audi hasn’t ruled out the possibility of a diesel version or the estate-body style it previewed on the Shooting Brake concept. What is guaranteed to appear is a convertible TT next year.
If you liked the old one, you’ll like this one too. Some of the rest of you will like it too but any talk of being competition for the Cayman is rubbish. The TT has price on its side but it’s nowhere near as much fun.