Audi TT review
The Audi TT Coupe combines sports car thrills with the brand's traditional high-quality finish and sharp design
The latest Audi TT is just as stylish as ever, but it's now more fun to drive than any previous version. This is largely thanks to a weight-loss program that's been made possible by the car's construction around the modular MQB platform that underpins a wide range of VW Group products.
The TT's new-found dynamic appeal is matched to strong performance and impressive fuel economy - especially from the punchy diesel version - so the range is as competitive as it has ever been.
The interior in particular sets new standards, from the technical wizardry of the Audi Virtual Cockpit - which replaces the instrument dials with an adjustable LCD screen - to the overall design, fit and finish.
Add the established performance and safety benefits of the company's quattro four-wheel-drive system, and it's no wonder the Audi TT was crowned Coupe of the Year at the 2016 Auto Express New Car Awards.
Audi caused quite a stir back in 1998 when it launched the original TT, as it seemed to have brought a stunning motor show concept to production reality without compromising the design at all.
The sports car didn’t just score with its sensational looks, though. As it was based on the Mk4 Volkswagen Golf family car, and shared its engine range with other models in the VW Group range, it didn’t cost the earth to run.
Since then, even with the introduction of the Mk2 and Mk3 TT in 2006 and 2015 respectively, the swooping profile has become an iconic symbol of the Audi brand. Indeed it is now arguably as recognisable as the Porsche 911 which the ultimate TT RS model was designed to rival.
The rest of the TT range lines up against a wide variety of coupes and sports cars, from the Volkswagen Scirocco and Peugeot RCZ to the BMW Z4 and 4 Series, as well as the Porsche Cayman. And it’s this breadth of appeal that has helped to cement the TT’s success.
The car is named in honour of the races first held on the Isle of Man in 1905, and where NSU – one of the companies that later merged into Audi – had competed with motorcycles as far back as 1911. In 1967, NSU built a sporty Prinz TT saloon car and a competition-focused TTS model, too.
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Fast forward to today and the third generation of the modern TT has moved the game on in terms of evolutionary styling and clever technology, even if it doesn’t cause as much of a stir as the 1998 Mk1. This is because it’s based on the VW Group’s MQB platform, which is incredibly light due to its aluminium and steel construction.
Excluding the hot RS models, there are three TTs on offer – Sport, S line and the sportiest TTS – as well as three engines. Buyers can specify 1.8 and 2.0-litre petrol versions with either a six-speed manual gearbox or Audi’s seven-speed, dual-clutch S tronic auto. The 1.8 is front wheel drive, but the 2.0-litre version also comes with the option of quattro four-wheel drive.
The TTS is designed to take the fight to higher-performance sports cars like the Porsche Cayman, and uses a more powerful version of the 2.0-litre TFSI engine, hooked up to quattro four-wheel drive.
There’s also a super-frugal TDI Ultra diesel, but this model is only available with a manual transmission and front-wheel drive.
Engines, performance and drive
The Audi TT has always been a coupe that’s blended sports car driver enjoyment with everyday usability and ease of driving. The latest car is lighter, faster and more efficient than ever, with a greater focus on driver enjoyment. In short, it's the first TT that feels like a proper sports car. Based on VW Group’s MQB platform, the latest TT is the shortest wheelbase car to use these adaptable underpinnings, yet compared to the outgoing TT, there’s still an extra 37mm between the axles, which helps handling and ride comfort.
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With steel used low down in the chassis and aluminum extensively featuring in the body construction, Audi’s Space Frame technology has been refined to ensure the 2.0-litre TFSI is 50kg lighter than its predecessor - and it feels it.
As a result the driving experience is sharper and more engaging than TTs of old. The 2.0-litre TFSI engine is punchy and smooth, delivering enough performance for the front-wheel drive model to hit 62mph in just six seconds. Opt for the quattro S tronic and the TT shaves this to 5.3 seconds. With very smooth stability control intervention and a cle
The Audi TT has always blended the behind-the-wheel fun of a sports car with everyday usability. The latest car is lighter, faster and more efficient than ever, with a greater focus on driver enjoyment. In short, it's the first TT that feels like a proper sports car.
It’s the shortest-wheelbase car to be based on the VW Group’s MQB platform, yet compared to the outgoing TT, there’s still an extra 37mm between the axles, which boosts handling and ride comfort.
With steel used low down in the chassis and aluminium extensively featuring in the body construction, Audi’s Space Frame technology has been refined to ensure the 2.0-litre TFSI is 50kg lighter than its predecessor – and you can feel it on the road. The driving experience is sharper and more engaging than in TTs of old.
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All models are fitted with Audi’s progressive steering system, which has a rack set up so that the ratio becomes more direct as the wheel is turned. The result is sharp, positive steering responses. And with light but consistent weighting, plus decent feel and feedback through the wheel, the set-up is a real highlight that adds to the TT’s greater sense of agility and sportiness.
Audi’s Drive Select system is standard across the range, too, and for the first time it adjusts the all-wheel-drive system on quattro models, to give a sportier set-up in Dynamic Mode. It also modifies the throttle response, steering weighting and air-conditioning load, plus the shift speeds on S tronic automatic cars, while petrol models get a racier exhaust note in Dynamic mode.
As with other Audi models, the Drive Select gives owners a choice of Comfort, Dynamic, Efficiency and Auto modes, plus you can set up your favourite mix of modes in the Individual setting.
Sport models come with 18-inch wheels and S line versions get 19-inch alloys. All models have sport suspension, but a 10mm lower and stiffer S line set-up is a no cost option on the latter. We’d steer clear of this if you want decent ride quality, however. The 20-inch wheels look great but do make the ride more niggly on bad surfaces, and increase road noise in the otherwise refined cabin.
Ride quality is better than in the outgoing car, particularly on the smaller wheels, and Audi again offers its Magnetic Ride dampers as an option. On the plus side, wind and road noise are well isolated from the cabin, and across the range the TT strikes an even better balance between sports car fun and coupe comfort.
The TFSI petrol engines are punchy and smooth, and the entry-level 1.8-litre model – which comes only with front-wheel drive and a manual transmission – delivers 178bhp and 250Nm. That allows it to cover 0-62mph in just 6.9 seconds.
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The 2.0-litre TFSI makes 228bhp and 370Nm, which cuts the 0-62mph time to 6.0 seconds in the front-wheel-drive version. But if you add quattro four-wheel drive and the S tronic twin-clutch box, it promises to complete the sprint in 5.3 seconds.
The fastest petrol version is the TTS. This delivers 308bhp and 380Nm of torque, comes with quattro 4WD as standard and only takes 4.9 seconds to cover 0-62mph with the six-speed manual, or 4.6 seconds with the S tronic auto.
MPG, CO2 and running costs
Across the range, the third-generation TT benefits from an 11 per cent reduction in emissions over the second generation, which means tax and fuel bills are slashed. The 2.0-litre TDI Ultra is the star of the show: it emits just 116g/km of CO2, so it sits in VED band C and is a very attractive company car proposition.
You won’t be spending much time on filling station forecourts, either, with the TDI Ultra claiming official fuel economy of 63mpg. Add a 50-litre fuel tank, and you’re looking at a potential range of 690 miles from a single fill-up.
You can reduce fuel bills from behind the wheel of the petrol models using the economy settings of the Drive Select system, but they’re impressively efficient anyway.
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The 1.8 TFSI claims 47mpg economy and 138g/km emissions, which mean road tax band E, for an annual bill of £130, while the 2.0 TFSI – in front-wheel-drive manual guise – delivers 46mpg and 141g/km, so it sits in tax band F (£145 a year).
Add quattro 4WD and the S tronic auto to the mix, and you’re looking at 44mpg and 153g/km (band G, or £180). Interestingly, the quattro powertrain also comes with a five-litre larger fuel tank, so you don’t lose out on range.
The TTS model promises 39mpg with a manual gearbox, or 41mpg with S tronic – not bad for a sports car that will do 0-62mph in less than five seconds. With the larger fuel tank you have the potential to drive 495 miles between fill-ups, and 159g/km CO2 emissions also put the TTS S tronic in tax band G, so road tax will cost £180 a year.
Not many diesel-engined coupe rivals can match the TT for efficiency; you need to look elsewhere in the VW Group stable to find a car that comes close. The Volkswagen Scirocco claims 67mpg in diesel guise.
Petrol-powered versions of the Peugeot RCZ are a little more economical than their Audi TT equivalents, but there’s not much in it.
Predictably, the 1.8 TFSI models are the cheapest versions of the Audi TT to insure; they fall into group 32. The 2.0 TFSI and TDI Ultra sit in group 34, while you’re looking at insurance group 37 for the 2.0 TFSI with quattro and S tronic. Premiums are likely to be a bit higher again for the TTS models, which sit in group 42.
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The latest Audi TT is more expensive than ever. Prices start at just under £30,000, so the entry point for ownership is over £4,000 higher than it was for the old car. Still, this stylish coupe has traditionally held on to its value well, so you can expect to get a decent return on your investment.
Interior, design and technology
There’s no mistaking an Audi TT for anything else. In common with iconic models like the Porsche 911 and MINI, the unique shape has evolved while remaining instantly recognisable. The original two-seater was a breath of fresh air, but the TT has grown from a curvy, cute car into a more rakish, sharply styled package.
The third-generation model is almost identical in length to the outgoing version, but as the wheelbase has grown by 37mm, it has shorter overhangs and tauter-looking proportions. At the front, the single-frame grille, tapered bonnet lines and razor-sharp headlights give a hint of the second-generation Audi R8.
However, with rounded wheelarches, curved windscreen pillars, a bold shoulder line and a sloping tailgate, all the unmistakable TT styling cues are there to see.
Sport models get 18-inch wheels as standard, and come with Xenon headlamps and LED running lights, while S line versions benefit from a sportier look thanks to their 19-inch wheels, deeper side sills, unique bumpers and gloss black grille.
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Step up to the TTS, and all the usual fast Audi styling treatment is on show. It’s marked out by the famous aluminium-look mirror housings, unique bumper treatment and rear diffuser, while the chrome grille slats give the nose a distinctive appearance. LED headlights are standard, too, as on S line models.
However, for all the exterior’s familiar and classy looks, it’s the cabin that’s the real highlight. All cars come with DAB radio, leather seats and climate control, while as you’d expect in a TT, material quality is superb throughout, with tactile and beautifully executed switchgear. Circular air vents integrating the control function and display for the air-conditioning are another highlight. The central trio feature the temperature, airflow and fan speed control, while the outer pair by the doors have the control for the optional heated seats. Believe the hype: this really is a beautifully designed cockpit.
As you’d expect from Audi, there’s also huge scope to add high-end options and personalise the leather, inlays and materials. But whichever trim you go for, the TT’s interior makes you feel special every time you get behind the wheel.
Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment
Stunningly designed and beautifully executed, the interior is focused around Audi’s superb Virtual Cockpit system. This 12.3-inch high-resolution LCD driver display replaces both the conventional dials and centre stack screen, allowing for a sleek minimalist dash design that’s both sporty and upmarket.
The screen itself is crystal clear and places all information in front of the driver. It can be switched between Classic View – with prominent speedo and rev counter – or Infotainment View, which brings functions like the navigation map to the fore.
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Telephone, media, trip and car settings functions all appear on the Virtual Cockpit screen and can be controlled using the touch-sensitive MMI dial or the multifunction wheel. The clarity of the screen, combined with the dual-functionality of the controls, makes Audi’s Virtual Cockpit a real joy to use.
The optional Technology Package adds navigation with features like Google Maps traffic information, music streaming and Internet access. Interestingly, the flexibility of the Virtual Cockpit means a dealer updating the software can add it at any time.
Practicality, comfort and boot space
Audi’s sporty coupé majors on design, but with that sloping roofline, it loses out on practicality. Although the TT is technically a 2+2, treat it as a two-seater only and it’s surprisingly usable.
Up front it’s perfectly roomy, with a good range of adjustment for the steering column and seats, while the long coupé doors mean large, practical storage bins. There’s also a deep tray in front of the gearlever and a smaller space for mobile phones between the front seats.
All models now come with an electric parking brake, while Audi’s latest MMI control system and Virtual Cockpit are intuitive. With smaller A-pillars and a bigger windscreen than before, visibility is good for a low-slung coupe, too.
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The Audi TT hasn’t grown in its latest generation, but there’s a little more available space inside thanks partly to an increase in the wheelbase.
It’s still relatively compact compared to rivals, though. At 4,177mm, it’s noticeably shorter than the Volkswagen Scirocco (4,256mm) and Peugeot RCZ (4,280mm). At 1,832mm wide, the TT is close to the Scirocco but nearly 13cm narrower than the RCZ. The Peugeot and Audi are closely matched for height, at 1,353mm, but the Volkswagen stands taller at 1,404mm.
Leg room, head room & passenger space
Those back seats might make all the difference for family buyers trying to justify a TT, but they are pretty cramped; they’re only really suitable for adults on very short, occasional journeys and are perhaps best left for small children.
It’s not just legroom behind the front bucket seats that’s severely limited; headroom is tight, too, thanks to the rake of the bootlid. There’s no centre seat (or seatbelt), so don’t expect to squeeze three kids in the back, although you do get standard provision for mounting Isofix child seats.
The big hatchback opening at least makes access to the boot easy, but the luggage area is quite shallow, so with the rear seats in place the TT offers only 305 litres of room. Lower the rear seats, and boot space rises to 712 litres.
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Reliability and Safety
The latest TT was too new to have featured in our Driver Power 2015 satisfaction survey, but Audi finished 24th out of 33 manufacturers scored for reliability. That’s down on its 20th place ranking in 2014. Audi doesn’t rate well for dealer service, either, which is not quite what you’d expect from such a premium brand.
It has to be said that the TT on our fleet suffered from a few electrical niggles, although the build quality and finish inside were impressive. The mechanical elements should be pretty resilient, too, particularly as so much of the car’s engineering under the skin is shared across the VW Group.
Euro NCAP awarded the TT a four-star crash test rating; it missed out on the maximum score as Audi doesn’t offer city braking technology. The independent testing body now requires this to be fitted to award a five-star rating as part of its more rigorous assessments, introduced in 2015. And until the TT’s direct rivals have faced the tougher Euro NCAP test regime, it’s important to compare the smallprint detail, and not the headline star ratings.
Nevertheless, you should be able to assume Audi’s small coupé is safe in all the most fundamental areas, and there are lots of protective electronic systems available to uprate the safety envelope.
The only trouble is, if you want these clever safety aids, you’ll have to pay for many of them as extras. Six airbags and a tyre pressure monitor come as standard, but blind spot monitoring and lane keep assist, for example, are options priced at £595 and £650 respectively.
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The Audi TT comes with a run-of-the-mill three-year warranty capped at 60,000 miles. Given the brand’s reliability rating in our Driver Power 2015 satisfaction survey, this won’t be entirely reassuring for high-mileage owners. It certainly inspires less confidence than the unlimited mileage cover provided over the same time period on the Porsche Cayman and BMW 4 Series, although the Audi matches the warranties supplied with the Peugeot RCZ and Volkswagen Scirocco.
Three years of servicing a mid-spec Audi TT should cost around £900, which is a couple of hundred pounds more than you’d expect to pay to keep a Volkswagen Scirocco fully maintained. Still, Audi does provide fixed-rate service plans that help owners spread the cost.