Audi TT 2.0 TDI

Coupe is finally available with firm’s strong diesel engine. We try new combination on UK roads

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If you must have a TT, your heart will want a TT S and your head a TDI. Fortunately, the logical choice will rarely feel like a compromise, due to the diesel’s refinement and generous torque. Options can push up the price, but the 50mpg-plus economy holds plenty of appeal. While it’s no sports car, as a handsome daily driver the TT TDI is hard to fault and is set to become the top seller in the range. What took Audi so long?

Here’s a brand whose stable of engines houses some of the most potent diesels on sale today. And for 10 years, Audi has also produced one of the most popular small coupés: the TT.

It has taken a long time to bring TT and TDI together and offer them for sale in the UK. The second-generation two-door arrived two years ago, but rising pump prices are minimising diesel’s economic benefits. So, has Audi missed a trick?

Let’s look at the running costs first. The 2.0-litre unit officially returns 53.3mpg on the combined cycle and emits 139g/km of CO2 while the manufacturer’s equivalent petrol TFSI motor posts figures of 36.7mpg and 183g/km respectively. At current fuel prices, owners could save about £700 over the course of 12,000 miles with a TDI.

Road tax is £50 cheaper, as the oil-burner sits two bands lower (in Band C), while higher-rate company drivers will save an additional £500-plus a year.

That’s a good start. So if the TT TDI can deliver from behind the wheel as well, Audi is on to a real winner after all. And initial impressions are positive. There’s the faintest thrum at idle – hearing it coming from under the bonnet of a car like the TT is a novel experience.

Under hard acceleration, there’s a pleasing overtone of turbo whistle and an engaging exhaust note, although the unit still sounds slightly gruff.

The pay-off is the massive 350Nm of torque the engine produces. What’s more, it’s available from only 1,750rpm. Mid-range punch is impressive, making the TT feel significantly more powerful than its 168bhp output would suggest.

However, while the TDI is impressively free-revving for a diesel, the powerband is narrow. Find yourself in the wrong gear at low revs, and there’s a pause, followed by a mighty slug of torque – and then you’re quickly reaching for the next cog.

Our car had a six-speed manual box, and around town plenty of up and down shifts were required. This wasn’t helped by the clutch pedal being set uncomfortably high.

Nevertheless, that’s a minor quibble and otherwise, the driving position is low and comfortable. Away from the congestion of urban traffic, the TT is a superb motorway cruiser. Whether using the car for short or long hauls, drivers can enjoy top-notch cabin quality.

There’s also a firm ride and, although feedback through the steering is a bit vague in the straight-ahead position, it picks up the more you turn in.

As you might expect from a machine with Audi’s quattro four-wheel drive, the TT grips the road well, and displays a reassuring tendency to understeer on the limit.

Even though the diesel engine weighs more than a petrol powerplant, the car doesn’t feel nose heavy, either. If maximum flash for minimum cash is your goal, this is the TT to go for. It has all the appeal of the petrol models and most of the refinement, while being very frugal. And with all that torque, you can make the most of it, particularly for daily driving.

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