Long-term tests

Audi TT 2.0 TDI

We’re having to watch our backs in our diesel coupé – as the neat pop-up spoiler is advertising its sizzling performance...

  • I had my doubts about diesel power in a sporty coupé, but the 2.0 TDI has been excellent. It’s responsive and refined, and even has a sporty edge to its exhaust note. Plus, it returns 36.5mpg – no other car manages to blend smart looks, sharp handling and frugal economy into such a convincing package.
  • Aside from the tell-tale spoiler, I have one other minor niggle about the TT. The controls on the multifunction steering wheel don’t work when the engine is switched off. They’re easy to use on the move, and it’s annoying having to swap to using the dashboard buttons when stationary.

Every time I get behind the wheel of our long-term Audi TT, I feel the need to watch my back. And it’s got nothing to do with the glances of passers-by, admiring the coupé’s smart shape. No, it’s the car itself that’s got me paranoid.

When Audi created the second-generation TT, it had to lay to rest any fears about high-speed handling raised by the original model. The firm hastily added a stubby spoiler to the rear of the MkI after a handful of accidents were attributed to the car’s instability. This improved the TT’s handling – but it did nothing for its smooth lines.

For the MkII model, Audi added a ‘pop-up’ spoiler to the bootlid, and it means the shapely curves remain unaffected. Yet it’s this that is making me nervous.

Most of the time, it sits flush with the bodywork, but it automatically deploys at speeds in excess of 70mph. If you’re overtaking a slow-moving vehicle, and need to use a bit more urge to get past, up it comes. What’s more, it doesn’t lower again until you drop below 50mph, which means everybody can see what you’ve been up to!

You can override the electronics by pressing a button behind the gearlever to get the spoiler down again. Yet that means I’m always checking in the rear view mirror to make sure it’s stowed after I’ve exceeded the limit, no matter how briefly!

However, I can’t help but think the pop-up spoiler is a bit of a gimmick. Aside from the TT, only the Porsche Boxster/Cayman and some top-end supercars come with adjustable aerodynamics.

What’s more, in normal driving, you’d be hard-pressed to notice the difference the spoiler makes to the TT’s handling. And besides, I’m sure the standard-fit electronic stability control is far better at keeping things in check, should the need arise. Apart from the paranoia caused by the tell-tale rear wing, life with the TT has been fantastic.

The quality on offer is first class, and the cabin feels cosy without being claustrophobic. There’s plenty of room in the boot for the weekly shop or overnight bags, too. But while my colleague, road test editor Ross Pinnock, proved there’s enough room for a child seat in the back (Issue 1,085), the rear bench is better when it’s folded flat to make even more load space.

Sharp handling is a particular highlight that hasn’t been spoiled by the addition of the heavy diesel engine, while the recent cold weather revealed that the Audi is still a sports car at heart. You’d think that the quattro four-wheel-drive system would make mincemeat of the ice and snow, but the optional 19-inch alloy wheels fitted to our TT put paid to that.

They’re fitted with wide 255-section tyres, which means the coupé tends to skate over frozen surfaces, rather than digging in for grip. And it is worth remembering that all-wheel drive doesn’t help you when you stop – there were occasions where the TT would lock its wheels when pulling up at a junction.

Now that the roads are wet rather than icy, the Audi is back in its stride. And I’m keeping an eye on that spoiler, just in case...

Extra Info

“Unlike ‘wing commander’ Gibson, I’m a big fan of the pop-up spoiler. At higher speeds, on the autobahns in its German home, it importantly provides greater stability and safety. But at lower speeds, it allows the purity of the TT’s beautiful profile to remain uncluttered. ”

David Johns Editor in chief

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