New Audi TT Coupe 2019 review
Will a mild facelift do anything to dent the ever popular Audi TT's stylish appeal?
The Audi TT Coupe is faster and better appointed than ever, and still a surprisingly practical choice in a traditionally tightly-squeezed class. It trades on the accessibility of its performance rather than being a true driver’s car. But ultimately, given the model’s mainstream popularity, that’s probably just what Audi intended.
2019 marks 20 years of the Audi TT in Britain, and these shores have proven to be a welcoming place for the brand’s stylish sports car.
That’s because just over 142,000 of the 600,000 TTs sold globally across its two decades and three generations have found a home in the UK. There’s little doubt about it; Brits love this car.
Coinciding with the TT’s 20th anniversary is a facelift for the Mk3 car, that’s been on sale since December 2014. The new look changes the TT into something altogether more aggressive, and while Audi has also focused on new technology and standard equipment, there has been a reshuffle under the bonnet too.
The base car – now badged the TT 40 TFSI under Audi’s somewhat convoluted new naming system – swaps out its 1.8-litre turbo engine for a new 2.0-litre turbo with more power, while the TT 45 TFSI driven here gets a bit of extra poke, with 242bhp now served up.
Front-wheel-drive TTs are still available with a six-speed manual gearbox, but quattro all-wheel-drive models are equipped with a new seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. A petrol particulate filter is also equipped, to ensure the TT performs well in the new WLTP emissions and economy tests.
You have to flick the TT 45 TFSI into its most potent ‘Dynamic’ setting on the drive mode selector to really unlock a turn of pace to worry the hot hatchback regulars. The 2.0-litre turbocharged engine feels like a fuss free powerplant with a strong mid-range. However, it does come across a little breathless towards the top of the rev-band, and the purposeful mid-range bark rapidly transforms into a synthesised note that’s doesn’t rank among the best sports car crescendos.
The 5.2-second 0-62mph dash Audi claims feels very realistic though. The first few ratios of the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission are pleasingly short and deliver a real sense of urgency when combined with snappy, on-demand shifts from the slightly cheap feeling wheel-mounted paddles. The real secret to the TT 45 TFSI’s impressive off-the-line and mid-range potency though is the quattro all-wheel-drive setup. It doesn’t feel like one drop of the 242bhp power or 370Nm torque escapes the tarmac.
The TT’s quattro setup can transfer 100 per cent of the engine’s torque to the rear axle. However, in practice this doesn’t mean that the TT has a thrilling rear-biased character hidden up its sleeve. It’s still overwhelmingly neutral in corners, and booting the throttle mid-bend just exposes the TT’s ample reserves of grip.
The suspension errs towards the firmer side of things, but it doesn’t hinder the TT’s fluency down a B-road. It’s a very easy, if somewhat unspectacular coupe to drive fast. The only thing that’ll chip away at your confidence is the steering. It’s very sharp and aids the sense of agility, but it’s also too light and transmits almost no feedback from the road surface.
Audi’s ‘Progressive’ electric power steering is standard fit, which alters the steering ratio on the fly and makes low speed manoeuvring easier. Drive the TT fast, however, and the variable setup will leave keener drivers wanting more. At this price point a comparable BMW Z4 will deliver much more through the wheel, while speccing a few extra such as expensive optional wheel designs and the £1,495 technology pack puts the TT 45 TFSI quattro within touching distance of a basic Porsche 718 Cayman. At that sort of price, the Porsche will be pretty bare-bones, but certainly a step up dynamically.
Away from the driving experience, the list of standard equipment on all TT models grows to include electrically folding mirrors, while S Line trim cars get upgraded sports seats. In the cabin nothing really changes, but it’s still a strong driving environment and uses the kind of quality materials you’d expect of the brand.
A central infotainment screen is not available in the TT. Instead, absolutely everything is broadcast through the standard Virtual Cockpit instrument display behind the steering wheel. This isn’t an issue, given that Audi’s digital dashboard setup is still possibly the most convincing on the market and can be configured to be as information rich or as un-obtrusive as you like. You can operate the display through button-mounted wheels, but a dedicated rotary dial still sits in the middle of the centre console.
The TT’s somewhat bulbous shape means that space doesn’t feel too constrained inside, while visibility is also pretty good. The Coupe is a 2+2, with a pair of very small seats tucked behind the main front row. While they aren’t all that usable, the boot is, sizing up at an impressive 305-litres for the class. Collapse the tiny rear row seats, and the TT fields an impressive, if slightly shallow, 712-litre cargo space.