Audi’s TT has carved out a niche all of its own in the mainstream coupe heartland. The first-generation TT of 1998 was style personified – a goalpost-mover which recalibrated our ideas of what style meant, and at affordable prices too. Shame the drive was less compelling than the wardrobe.
The second-generation TT of 2006 improved things considerably in the trouser department. Lighter weight and a new chassis made it steer more sweetly and, in the right spec on the right road, it was quite the junior sports car.
Now the third-generation Audi TT has landed. We’ve driven the new 2015 Audi TT in TTS spec, bringing a 306bhp four-cylinder turbo, four-wheel drive, tech galore and a smart new outfit. Read on for CAR magazine’s new Audi TT review.
Audi TT (2015): what’s new?
The latest TT switches to the fast-becoming-ubiquitous MQB architecture. In layman’s terms, this is the platform that underpins everything in the Volkswagen group’s mid-range, from the Golf to a Skoda Octavia, bring a choice of front- or four-wheel drive.
So while the TT’s wheelbase is stretched by 37mm, the whole car is actually a whisker shorter and narrower than before. And in an age of bloating proportions and super-sized portions, that’s a welcome change. The mechanical package is wrapped in a mostly aluminium body that’s just fresh enough to warrant a second look, but you’ll hardly be forced to check the TT badging to identify this sports car.
Is the new TT more practical?
The latest packaging has thrown up some pleasant surprises. The boot is now 13 litres bigger than before, up to 305 litres. Flop the rear seats forward, and that jumps to 712.
Nestle into the sports seats up front and you’re faced with what is very possibly the Cabin Of The Year. It’s drop-dead gorgeous in here. Build quality is first-rate and the huge 12.3in TFT digital dials flip between a huge rev counter tacho in Dynamic sports mode, the largest map yet seen in an instrument panel, infotainment… the list goes on. The graphics are fantastic, benefiting from a super-sharp 1440 x 540 pixel display.
Weak points in the new Audi TT’s cabin? There’s no head-up display available and the TT is conspicuously lacking in niceties such as adaptive cruise control and parking aids. It can only be a matter of time…
Audi TT review: the road test bit
We drove a TTS Quattro equipped with the extra-cost six-speed S-tronic dual-clutch transmission and fitted with the biggest available 20in wheels. It’s one of the hardest-core TTs yet available (until 2016’s new RS arrives, anyway).
Unsurprisingly, it’s damn quick. In fact, the TTS is faster than a base 911 Carrera or Cayman GTS, with 0-62mph available in just 4.7sec. It sounds sporting, too, an aural actuator reinforcing the blown four-pot’s engine note.
The S-tronic gearbox thuds changes home, with pleasing directness in Dynamic mode. It even pretends to do heel ’n’ downchanges, blipping the throttle if you finger-paddle down the ratios. Odd in a car with no clutch pedal – but symbolic of a car laced with digital overtones. Digital trickery is always present in TT 3.
The S-tronic gearchange might be capable of whip-crack changes, but it can also hiccup and pause unexpectedly. The steering always feels like it’s attached to a 4wd powertrain and is hardly the last word in driver tactility. A Cayman on the cheap, this ain’t.
That aluminium package trims 50kg from the kerbweight, but the TTS still weighs in at an acceptably trim 1385kg (the 2.0 TFSI weighs 1230 kilos). It all helps to contribute to the TTS’s claimed 39.8mpg combined economy. Be warned though; that plunges to 35.7mpg if you select the 20in rims. We managed 23mpg during an enthusiastic launch drive.
Audi TT prices, spec
Two models are available at UK launch:
Audi TT 2.0 TFSI 227bhp, up from 208bhp, £29,860
Audi TT 2.0 TDI 181bhp, now front-wheel drive, £29,770
The Audi TTS driven here has yet to have its UK price confirmed, but we know it’ll cost €49,100 (£39,000) in Germany.
The TTS feels in many regards like the closely related Audi S3 or VW Golf R in the family stable. It is blindingly quick – feels faster than a BMW M235i and as rapid as the rabid Mercedes A45 AMG, in fact – but it’s not flawless dynamically.
With 280lb ft available from 1800-5500rpm, it’s certainly fast but it just doesn’t feel that exciting. While we can’t knock its peerless traction, everyday usability and fantastic cabin, we wish the new Audi TT had a little more emotion and a little less cold perfection.