Audi TT

Our class leader faces a big fight to hold on to its crown.

The original Audi TT is now regarded as a future classic, and the second-generation model has evolved into an even more attractive proposition.

It’s shorter and more compact than the RCZ, and doesn’t have the Peugeot’s fresh-faced wow factor. But the premium image and unmistakable styling combine with well judged details to make the TT a desirable proposition.

Inside, it’s the same story – as simply sitting in this car is a special experience. The seats are excellent and all the controls are focused around the driver, giving the cabin a sporty feel.

There’s a wide range of seat and steering wheel adjustment, and forward visibility is also good. Material quality is first-class, while the unique design of the dash and switchgear provide an upmarket feel.

But if you want usable rear space, the TT can’t rival the Scirocco. As with the RCZ, it has a pair of tiny back seats. They fold flat individually, though, plus, the Audi’s practical hatchback arrangement allows you to carry larger loads than the Peugeot. With the seats in place, the TT doesn’t have as much boot space, and the load bay isn’t as deep as the VW’s, either, but it’s still surprisingly versatile.

Yet while the Audi trails the Scirocco for carrying ability, it’s better to drive. Despite sharing what’s effectively the same engine, there are big differences between the two cars on the road. With its aluminium and steel construction, the TT is the lightest model on test, and the shorter wheelbase and lower centre of gravity ensure it feels more agile than its VW Group stablemate.

In corners, it isn’t quite as focused as the Peugeot, and at speeds where the RCZ remains composed, the unloaded front wheel of the Audi loses traction. The outer tyre will surrender to understeer sooner, too. That’s not to say the TT isn’t a joy to drive – it has more natural steering feel and progressive feedback – but the Peugeot rolls less, offers more grip and a bigger appetite for attacking corners.

The short-throw gearbox in the Audi is incredibly precise, and a delight to use. Plus, even though the TT has slightly less power than the Scirocco, it’s lighter – so it recorded near-identical performance figures.

The smaller-capacity RCZ wasn’t far behind. The Audi was only half-a-second faster in the sprint from 0-60mph, with a time of 6.6 seconds, and the two models were closely matched during our in-gear tests.

It’s clear which car Peugeot was gunning for with its new coupé. The TT has a raspy exhaust note, like the RCZ, but the Audi’s soundtrack isn’t as aggressive. No doubt this calmer personality will suit some buyers, and the German model still has a plenty of character. Specify the optional Audi Magnetic Ride system, and you get the excellent adjustable dampers. It’s not cheap, at £1,150 – and the Scirocco includes VW’s Adaptive Chassis Control (ACC) as standard – but the set-up gives the TT a great balance between ride comfort and sportiness.

The optional 18-inch alloy wheels fitted to our test car vibrate over ridges in the road more than the standard 17-inch items. Yet the Audi doesn’t thump over expansion joins in the same way as the Peugeot, with its standard 19-inch rims. So, it has the edge when it comes to refinement.

The sleek TT coupé remains brilliant to drive, then – but at £26,245, it’s an expensive choice in this company. The big question is, can it overcome this handicap to retain its crown? Or will the upstart from Peugeot dethrone our coupé king?

In detail - Audi TT Coupé 2.0 TFSI Price: £26,245  Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 197bhp 0-60mph: 6.6 secs Claimed economy: 36.7mpg  Claimed CO2: 183g/km

Details

WHY: TT’s style and image are as strong and recognisable as ever. And in 2.0-litre trim, it’s priced closely to the RCZ.

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