Audi TT 2008 review

New Audi TT turbo-diesel claims to be cleanest sports car in the world.

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

THE TT TDI is an excellent addition to Audi’s expanding diesel range. Despite the rising price of fuel in the UK, the newcomer makes financial sense – for the time being at least – delivering decent economy and low emissions. Refinement is excellent and the handling remains largely unaltered from that of the petrol versions, so fitting an oil-burner has not compromised the TT’s strong appeal. The fantastic cabin, sharp styling, composed cornering and cabin comfort all impress, while the punchy engine won’t disappoint the model’s performance fans.

This is the new coupé that claims to be the cleanest, most efficient sports car in the world. For the first time, the beautiful Audi TT has a diesel engine under its shapely bonnet.

In the wake of the firm’s Le Mans 24 Hours-winning diesel R10 race car and the stunning R8 TDI concept, it was only a matter of time before Audi brought its oil-burning know-how to the top-selling TT range. Such is its confidence in the appeal of diesel.

Both the Roadster and Coupé can be ordered right now with the new common-rail 2.0-litre TDI powerplant. The Coupé returns fuel economy of 53.3mpg on the combined cycle and emits only 139g/km of CO2, while a maximum output of 167bhp is available from low in the rev range.

That doesn’t sound much, but it also offers 350Nm of torque – more than the flagship 3.2-litre V6 petrol unit. More importantly, though, on the road the new engine has the power and personality to make sure the TT still feels like a sports car.

Peak torque arrives from 1,750rpm, helping the TDI deliver plenty of low-down acceleration. Add the standard quattro all-wheel-drive system, and the TT completes the 0-60mph sprint in only 7.5 seconds – that’s a mere nine-tenths-of-a-second slower than the 2.0-litre TFSI petrol version.

Refinement impresses as well. Audi has ensured the powerplant is smooth enough to maintain the model’s desirability. At idle, the TDI is quiet inside and outside the cabin. On the move, it’s so hushed you could even forget there’s a diesel under the bonnet.

However, one glance at the rev counter will soon put you straight. It goes to 5,000rpm – the gauge in a petrol model reaches a few thousand revs higher. The new engine produces a subdued sound throughout the rev range, while the throttle response is smooth and linear.

The TDI pulls cleanly to maximum rpm, and the exhaust delivers a surprisingly pleasing gruff note. The standard six-speed manual transmission is slick, with well spaced ratios.

Despite the additional weight of the diesel engine, the handling hasn’t lost its sharp edge, either. The TT turns in with confidence, proving the unit hasn’t made it nose-heavy. And while the steering’s feedback is a little artificial, it’s light and accurate.

We were impressed by the body control, too. There’s no extra pitch and roll around the front axle, so the TDI is as composed as the petrol models. With the optional magnetic dampers fitted, the diesel serves up a good balance between sportiness and com-fort, delivering a pliant ride.

The Coupé’s class-leading interior remains unchanged, so the excellent driving position, faultless quality and lovely design all contribute to make the latest variant feel just as special as the rest of the range.

This is a classy sports car which combines composed handling, decent performance and an unrivalled image with 50mpg-plus economy. The new TT TDI is a guaranteed success.

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