The beauty of shedding weight from a car is that it’s not only the driving experience that improves – fuel economy goes up and CO2 emissions tumble, too. What’s more, carbon fibre components are often stronger than metal or plastic, so they are safer. This TTS certainly meets Audi’s aim of making every new car lighter than the one it replaces – by delivering a sharper and more thrilling driving experience. It also hints at the possibility of a track-focused ‘GT’ version of the TT arriving as a prelude to the all-new model.
Another new Audi wearing old clothes is this TT. Under the current TTS bodywork is the technology that will be used in the third-generation sports car range, due to go on sale next year. Auto Express was given an opportunity to get behind the wheel at Audi’s specialist weight-saving design centre in Wartberg, Germany.
Rather than increasing performance through other means, the firm has followed Lotus founder Colin Chapman’s edict of “just add lightness”. So, the 2.0-litre turbo provides exactly the same power output as the current TTS, at 268bhp, as well as 350Nm of torque.
Instead, engineers focused on replacing key components of the body with carbon fibre-reinforced plastics – which are not only lighter but stronger than conventional materials.
They have also used lightweight alloy wheels and thinner bucket seats to shave 80kg off the standard model’s kerbweight, which is down to 1,390kg. That might not sound much but, on our twisting and narrow test circuit, it made a massive difference to how the car drives.
As in the Quattro, steering is lighter, the throttle is more responsive and the body seems stiffer through sharp corners. Even though the improvements are subtle, they’re noticeable.
Inside, the TTS is as luxurious as ever, with thick carpets and the usual array of gadgets you would expect to find in a car in this class. The lightweight seats are just as comfortable and supportive, too.
Audi is keen to stress that while it plans to make every new model lighter than the car it replaces, this won’t come at the expense of technology or comfort.
And although this test mule doesn’t yet resemble the next-generation TT, it gives some big clues as to the direction Audi’s sports cars are heading in over the coming years. Its sophisticated construction technology is also currently being used on the production version of the e-tron electric supercar – so watch this space for developments.