Long-term tests

Audi TT

Who would have thought it? Our Audi TT is winning favour for the gear its boot swallows. And that’s on top of its breathtaking performance, incredible driver appeal and impeccable quality...

  • QUALITY The cabin is one of the classiest around. I think it has a higher-quality finish than in any other Audi bar the stunning R8. <BR><BR>PRACTICALITY Now here’s a turn-up for the books – who would have thought you could squeeze a bike into the boot?
  • THE JERKS No, not arrogant BMW drivers, but the TT’s less-than-smooth S tronic semi-auto transmission when crawling around town at low speeds. <BR><BR>TRIM I’d advise against the light grey leather. I don’t think it’s the best choice to start with, and it quickly starts to show the dirt.

Practicality isn’t one of the attributes that usually comes to mind when talking about the Audi TT. Looks, image, power, handling, build quality – these would be my top five star billings.

But maybe, just maybe, I’ll have to reconsider – and that’s all down to a road test editor wearing cycle clips! Enter long-distance biker extraordinaire, Oliver Marriage.

Ollie is the guy who blows into the weeds all the extreme greens’ claims that motoring mags and journalists are irresponsible planet-wreckers! When he’s not testing cars for Auto Express, Ollie spends hours a week in the saddle. And he usually transports his hi-tech GT mountain bike in the boot of his long-term BMW 5-Series Touring.

But with the 535d otherwise engaged, he borrowed the TT for a weekend – and to my amazement, managed to fit his bike in the boot with the rear seats folded. And he’s not the only one; picture assistant Evi Peroulaki also manoeuvred her bike in for our header shot.

OK, so it was a squeeze – but no more so than for any hapless passengers who want to contort themselves on to the incredibly cramped back bench. (Even the smallest child would find these token seats claustrophobic!)

And it’s not only bikes the Audi has transported; it’s coped with the weekly shop and visits to the dump, too. But then, with the chores out of the way, the car comes into its own as the ultimate style statement.

I’m not one for showing off, but I’ve fallen in love with the TT. It has a knack, which so few modern cars have, of making you feel special every time you take the wheel.

The cabin oozes quality, and has bulletproof materials and construction. Turn the key, and that 3.2 V6 is a rasping beauty. If you caught last week’s road test, you’ll have read that the TT handles so well that it trounced the ‘ultimate driving machine’ in the shape of BMW’s new 1-Series Coupé.

Hail the champion, because the Audi has been exemplary in its 12 months on our fleet. The semi-automatic transmission could be smoother when moving from a standstill, but once up and running gearshifts are split-second quick and slick. And while the light grey leather interior looks stunning when new, I’d avoid it, as it soon shows dirt from everyday use.

What’s more, even though the boot can swallow Ollie’s bike, the rest of the TT’s cabin is a bit short on stowage space. But then, you can’t have everything – can you?

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