Audi TT

Has heavier diesel engine taken the edge off UK favourite?

  • Optional Magnetic Dampers give excellent ride comfort; lots of four-wheel-drive grip and is still an enjoyable car to drive.
  • Headroom is so tight in the back that the seats can only really be used by children.

We love the Audi TT in Britain. In fact, we are the biggest market for the coupé anywhere in the world. Couple that with the knowledge that 68 per cent of all the Audis sold in the UK are diesel-powered, and it’s not hard to see why the TT has turned to the dark side.

Will buyers accept a diesel? Well, from looking at the car, they may not be able to tell what’s under the bonnet. A TDI badge on the bootlid is the only giveaway – and whichever pump it drinks from, the Audi’s styling never ceases to impress.

The original is a design classic, and the second generation builds on the winning formula, adding a sportier and more grown-up edge. With its trademark curved roofline, bulbous arches and delicate detailing, the TT is without question a more attractive coupé than the 1-Series.

Crucially, the contents of the fuel tank aren’t obvious when you start the engine, either. The Audi is quieter than the BMW at idle, sounding more like a subdued turbine than a clattery diesel.

On the move, the TT is equally impressive. The diesel’s linear throttle response allows it to rev cleanly to its 5,000rpm red line with minimal turbo lag or sudden power surges.

With 167bhp and 350Nm of torque, the Audi gives away 37bhp and 50Nm to the BMW, and it doesn’t deliver the same punchy performance. The part-aluminium chassis makes the TT 125kg lighter, at 1,370kg, so it’s only half-a-second slower from 0-60mph, with a 7.7-second time.

But the torque deficit came to the fore during our in-gear acceleration tests – here the gap in performance was wider. The Audi simply doesn’t have the instant thrust of the 123d.

Nevertheless, it’s a very likeable coupé. The 2.0 TDI is smooth and refined, and delivers just enough pace to do the TT’s chassis justice.

What’s more, the weight of the diesel engine hasn’t ruined the handling. While the Audi could never be described as thrilling, its composed cornering abilities are just as evident in the TDI.

Even though the steering has an artificial feel, it provides a positive turn-in, and front end grip is reassuring. The quattro four-wheel drive means there are no traction issues, and body control is impressive. Our test car came with Magnetic Ride dampers, which smooth out the bumps on a wide variety of surfaces.

That ensures the Audi is a decent cruiser over long distances. And the latest TT’s larger dimensions, bigger rear screen and less intrusive A-pillars mean the cabin isn’t as claustrophobic as it was in the original. In fact, the driving position is hard to fault. You sit low in a supportive seat and the steering wheel has a wide range of adjustment.

The gearlever and pedals are perfectly placed and the cabin wraps round you in the way a great coupé should. Details such as the large, chrome-ringed dials, chunky rotary air vents and quality materials broaden the TT’s appeal even further.

All that means the Audi has a much more upmarket air than the 1-Series. The combination of a simple layout, great design and excellent quality makes the TT cockpit feel special.

As with the petrol versions, the £26,350 TDI looks good value, unless you get carried away adding extras from the extensive and expensive options list. The latest Audi diesel handles well, has impressive refinement and the desirability that is so crucial in the coupé market. But does it have the all-round talents to be a winner?

Details

Price: £26,350Model tested: Audi TT 2.0 TDI quattroChart position: 1WHY: For the first time, Audi’s stylish coupé gets diesel power. The common-rail TDI was first seen earlier this year in the new A4.

Economy

We didn’t spend enough time with the TT to get an accurate economy figure. Audi quotes a combined figure of 53.3mpg, which is only 1mpg thirstier than the BMW’s.

Residuals

Our experts predict a strong residual value of 60.9 per cent. This means the Audi will be worth £13,597 after three years – that’s £3,294 more than the BMW, even though it costs the same.

Servicing

Audi dealers have yet to quote service prices for the diesel TT. But three check-ups on the latest A4 – which is powered by exactly the same engine – come to £650.

Tax

Both cars fall in the 18 per cent band, and have identical prices, too. So they would cost a top-rate earner £1,885 a year in company car tax. Adding options will raise this figure, though.

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