Audi TT vs Audi A5

Editor in chief David Johns sees if size matters

I love my TT. I’ve been running the V6 coupé for more than a year, and would not change much about it: suffice to say that I’m a huge TT fan. However, I’ve been conducting an affair from afar with the next coupé up in Audi’s range – the A5.

While the A5, launched last summer, isn’t as glamorous and racy as the TT, that’s not the point. Even though I’d never driven one, to me it looked like an elegant and refined car. I was quite keen to replace my current Audi with the new four-seater – and by taking part in our trading up experiment, I was able to conduct an extended test drive and see whether it lived up to expectations.

On paper, the A5 seems to address the one major shortcoming of its little brother: the TT is pretty much a two-seater. Those tiny chairs in the back are too small even for young children; realistically, their only purpose is as an extra stowage area.

Space isn’t a key concern for me since my family has flown the nest. But all the same, on several occasions the Audi has been left at home as I didn’t want to force an adult to put up with the cramped back bench.

So, surely trading up to a ‘grown-up’, Big Brother version of the TT has to be perfect for me? Well, yes and no. It’s indisputable that the A5 provides more room – especially in the back and the boot. The 455-litre load bay is getting on for twice the size of the TT’s, although the latter has the advantage of a more practical hatchback bodystyle. And while the larger car’s back seats still aren’t that spacious, trips out to dinner were easy enough with four on-board.

For the vast majority of the time, though, I’m by myself – and that’s when I really appreciate the TT’s talents. On the outside the A5 is a big car, but inside it’s nothing particularly special in comparison.

There’s no knocking the high-quality fit, finish and materials, and I know the design is on a par with rival products from the likes of BMW. But as the newer coupé is more grown-up and mature, it has lost that feelgood factor you get when sitting behind the wheel of the TT.

It doesn’t help that the A5’s cabin architecture is near identical to that of the new A4 compact executive model. The two share a platform and similar underpinnings, too. This means the A5 comes across as a comfortable cruiser rather a sleek two-door.

Our diesel-engined test car doesn’t have the same meaty growl as the petrol TT. But the uprated 187bhp 2.7-litre TDI provided plenty of pulling power and effortless acceleration nevertheless. In fact, it felt just as quick in day-to-day situations as the 247bhp TT – and much more refined to boot. OK, so there were a few noticeable vibrations, but the 400Nm torque output is great and I have averaged more than 40mpg on my commute into work from Essex.

On the road, though, the A5 doesn’t have the same sense of enthusiasm. Sure, it rides more smoothly and is very refined, yet the handling isn’t as taut and direct. I missed the eagerness and sharp throttle response of the TT, as well as the rapid shifts provided by its S tronic twin-clutch transmission.

Looks-wise, the A5 is better in the metal than in the brochure. The rear is sleek for a car this big – and wide. Yet it doesn’t have the fun factor of its brother. The TT makes you feel young and alive, whatever your age. In contrast, the A5 is sober and middle-aged.

Would I trade up? NO. As a lover of the TT, it would take a lot to persuade me to switch. So, sorry Audi, there is no way I would trade up to the A5.

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