Audi TT Roadster 3.2
Developed alongside the coupé, is the drop-top TT just as much fun?
Styling. Visual impact. Head-turning ability. Call it what you will, but the way a roadster looks is at the core of its appeal. Drop-top purists may not like it, but ugly cars don’t sell.
Not that the TT Roadster has any concerns in this department. It’s undoubtedly the most stunning and best detailed of the cars here.
One or two of our testers actually thought it was better looking than the coupé, while everyone agreed that the new TT shape lends itself better to being a convertible than the old one.
The rear end is particularly successful, and is at its best with the roof down with the gorgeous chrome rollover hoops on display. But the hood itself isn’t the TT’s strongest point. Although it now has an extra layer of insulation and does a good job of filtering out road noise – it matched the metal-roofed SLK’s 70dB reading at 70mph with the lid up – it leaves the cabin rather dark. The folding mechanism is hardly groundbreaking, either, and doesn’t open as quickly as the Porsche’s top.
Plus when it’s stowed, there’s no tonneau cover, and although it looks neat in isolation, the other three are all better at concealing the canvas – the TT leaves large gaps on either side.
However, the Audi does have the best interior of these four by far – not simply in terms of build and material quality, but also in design and layout. Exciting and innovative, it’s a wonderful place to spend time. The high dash and low-slung seats mean the TT isn’t that easy to see out of, though, and the standard chairs could do with more under-thigh support.
But these minor quibbles are offset by the sheer feelgood factor inside. The carefully blended mix of leather, metal and soft-touch plastics and the design of the controls all have an air of solidity. And the standard radio has no trouble overcoming wind noise – that’s more than can be said for either of its German rivals here.
The stereo isn’t the only thing that’s pumping out tunes, though. The 3.2-litre V6 sounds superb, emitting a real raspy note when you hit the throttle. That’s just as well, because in this company, the TT doesn’t pack the biggest punch. Despite a revamp, the unit feels old – if the TT coupé is anything to go by, we’d be Surprised if the 2.0T isn’t the better option.
Despite a half-litre capacity advantage over the Porsche, the Audi is only slightly more powerful at 247bhp. And although the cutting-edge chassis construction is intended to keep weight down, the TT still tips the scales at 1,470kg – that’s more than the tin-top SLK! So while 4WD traction meant its 0-60mph time of six seconds flat was as quick as its rivals, over the 30-70mph increment, it lagged slightly behind.
Nevertheless, the engine is responsive and eager. And although the quattro drivetrain doesn’t like to be rushed, the six-speed manual gearbox has a precise shift action, and the strong brakes are reassuring. Audi’s suspension technology has come on in leaps and bounds in recent years, so unlike the first TT, this one is no longer so wooden and unrewarding. It’s well damped and controlled, and despite occasional structural tremors on pitted tarmac, it feels stiffer than the SLK – and the Merc is a purpose-built roadster.
The steering weights up well at speed, and the Audi is composed and engaging in corners. But it’s simply not as much fun as the Porsche or Nissan – it distances you from the action, rather than involving you in it. However, the fact it has quality, desirability and plenty of standard kit in its favour should help to sweeten the pill.
Price: £31,535Model tested: Audi TT Roadster 3.2Chart position: 1WHY: The 3.2 is the top-spec TT drop-top and comes with four-wheel drive, plus a competitive price.
If you want to save fuel, go for the base 2.0T, which we predict will top 30mpg. In our hands, the 3.2 managed 23.5mpg. That means you will be filling up every 310 miles.
Glass's could not supply us with a residual value for the TT, but CAP suggests it will retain around 54.0 per cent, a loss of £14,506 over three years – the least here.
The TT Roadster is too new for servicing costs to have been finalised, but prices are likely to differ very little from the coupé, which costs £1,010 for the first three trips.
With a CO2 output only 5g/km cleaner than the Mercedes’, the TT still falls into the top tax bracket. Higher band business users will shell out £4,415 per year.
In this review
- 1IntroductionWe compare Audi's TT Roadster to the Porsche Boxster, Nissan 350Z and Mercedes SLK
- 21st Audi TT Roadster 3.2 - currently readingDeveloped alongside the coupé, is the drop-top TT just as much fun?
- 32nd Legendary Porsche handling is yours for a similar price to the Audi
- 43rd Nissan 350Z Roadster GT PackJapanese bruiser with no-nonsense rear-drive handling packs a punch
- 54th Mercedes SLK 350Does the Merc’s folding hard-top give the SLK an extra advantage?
- 6Facts and figures