Audi TT review
Audi's TT Coupe offers sportscar thrills married to traditional Audi quality and design
Audi caused quite a stir back in 1998 with the TT. Using the Golf as its underpinnings, the styling was sensational and it didn’t cost the earth to run thanks to sharing its engine range with a vast number of other VW Group cars.
Fast forward to today and the third-generation car is much the same. While it may not cause such a stir these days, the latest version of the car has moved the game on in terms of evolutionary styling and clever technology. And thanks to being based on VW Group’s MQB platform, the new TT is more fun to drive than ever before and super lightweight due to its aluminium and steel construction.
For now, just two trims are on offer - Sport and S line - and two engines. The petrol TT uses a 227bhp 2.0-litre TFSI unit with either a six-speed manual gearbox or Audi’s seven-speed, dual-clutch S tronic transmission, and there’s the choice of front- or quattro four-wheel drive. There’s also a super-frugal TDI Ultra version - its 182bhp 2.0-litre diesel engine can return 67.3mpg and emit just 110g/km of CO2. This model is only available with manual and front-wheel drive.
To really take the fight to more high-performance sports cars like the Porsche Cayman, the 305bhp TTS uses a 2.0-litre TFSI mated to quattro four-wheel drive. It promises a 0-62mph sprint time of under five seconds. The TTS and the Convertible versions of the new TT arrive in 2015.
Our choice: Audi TT 2.0 TFSI Sport
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.
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 clever electric differential the front-drive TT has surprisingly good traction, while the revised quattro drivetriain in AWD versions has been designed to offer even more agility and all-weather grip.
The Ultra is front-drive only but handles with the same composure as TFSI petrol models, and it’s only when you really push towards the limit that the extra weight of the diesel engine in the nose can be felt. Matched to its impressively low CO2 emissions of 110g/km, with 380Nm of torque, the Ultra will hit 60mph in 7.2 seconds and has plenty of in-gear punch.
All models are fitted with Audi’s progressive steering system, which has a rack is set up so that the steering ratio becomes more direct as the wheel is turned. The end result is a sharp steering response and very positive steering. And with light but consistent weighting, plus decent feel and feedback, the steering 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 throttle response, steering weighting and air conditioning load, plus shift speeds on S tronic cars, while petrol models get a racier exhaust note in Dynamic mode. As with other Audi models, the Drive Select allows for Comfort, Dynamic, Efficiency and Auto modes, plus you can set up your favourite mix of modes in the Individual setting.
When it comes to ride quality Sport cars come with 18-inch wheels and S line 19-inch. All models have sport suspension but a 10mm lower and stiffer S line suspension is a no cost option on S line trim, however we’d steer clear of this if you want a decent ride quality. The 20-inch wheels look great but do make the ride more niggly on bad surfaces, and up road noise in the otehrwise refined cabin.
Particularly on the smaller wheels, ride quality is better than the outgoing car, and Audi are again offering their Magnetic Ride dampers as an option - although we have yet to test this on the new car. On the plus side, wind and road noise is well isolated from the cabin and across the range the TT strikes an even better balance between sports car fun and coupe comfort.
Due to arrive in the UK in early 2015, we’ve yet to drive the range-topping TTS but with 305bhp it’s the performance pinnacle of the third-generation TT range.
MPG, CO2 and running costs
More expensive than ever, the Audi TT is not cheap to buy. Prices start at just under £30,000, so the entry-point for TT ownership is more than £4,000 higher than the old car. Still, the TT has traditionally had superb residuals, so you can expect this stylish coupe to hold its value well.
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 reduced. The 2.0-litre TDI Ultra emits just 110g/km, making it a very attractive company car proposition, while Economy Drive Select settings on the petrol models mean you can reduce fuel bills from behind the wheel. Also, Audi’s fixed-price servicing deals make it easier to budget for running costs.
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 TT’s unique shape has evolved yet remained 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 car has an almost identical length to the out-going version, but with a wheelbase that’s 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 forthcoming second-generation Audi R8.
However, with rounded wheelarches, curved windscreen pillars, a bold shoulder line and a sloping rear 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 get a sportier look with 19-inch wheels, deeper side sills, unique bumpers and a gloss black grille.
Step up to the TTS and all the usual fast Audi styling treatment is on show. The famous aluminium-look mirror housings, unique bumper treatment and a rear diffuser mark it out, while the chrome grille slats give the nose a distinctive appearance. Like S line models, the LED headlights are standard.
However, for all the exterior’s familiar and classy looks it’s the cabin that’s the real highlight. 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 class-leadingly upmarket.
The screen itself is crystal clear and places all information in front of the driver. The display 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. Telephone, media, trip and car settings functions all appear on the Virtual Cockpit screen and can be controlled using both the touch sensitive MMI controller or the multi-function 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 anytime. All cars come with DAB radio, leather seats and climate control.
As you’d expect in a TT, material quality is superb throughout the cabin with tactile and beautifully executed switchgear. Circular air vents with the control function and display for the air conditioning integrated into them 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 cabin makes you feel special every time you get behind the wheel.
Practicality, comfort and boot space
Audi’s sporty coupé majors on design, but with that sloping roofline, it loses out on practicality. 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 there’s only 305 litres of room.
Those back seats are pretty cramped, too. They’re only really suitable for small children or very occasional use, as legroom behind the front bucket seats is limited; so is headroom thanks to the bootlid.
Although the TT is technically a 2+2, treat it as a two-seater only and it’s surprisingly usable. Lower the rear seats, and boot space rises to 712 litres, while the long coupé doors mean big storage bins. There’s also a large, 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 is intuitive to use. With smaller A Pillars and a bigger windscreen than before visibility is good for a low-slung coupe.
Reliability and Safety
Audi finished 20th out of 33 manufacturers for reliability in our Driver Power 2014 satisfaction survey, plus it scored worse for dealer service, coming 26th. It’s not quite what you’d expect from such a premium brand, and the TT on our fleet has suffered from a few niggles, but the build quality and finish inside are impressive.
Euro NCAP awarded the TT a four-star crash test rating, with the lack of city braking tech costing it a star. But with lots of protective electronic systems available, Audi’s small coupé is safe. There is a catch, however – if you want these clever safety aids, you’ll have to pay for them. Six airbags and a tyre pressure monitor come as standard, but blind spot monitoring and lane keep assist are options priced at £595 and £650 respectively.