Audi TT 2.0 TFSI

Still a design icon, Audi's soft-top blends this style with genuine class and strong performance

As style statements go, few cars can rival the Audi TT. The original 1999 coupé is fast becoming a design icon, while the athletic second-generation model is as fashionable as ever.

The current shape is suited to roadster form, and loses nothing in the looks department to its coupé cousin. If anything, the Audi is even more desirable as a drop-top. Inside, the classy driver-focused cabin is both welcoming and atmospheric.

Its soft-touch dash is angled towards the driver, and the logical layout works perfectly. Classy touches such as the knurled aluminium heating and ventilation controls, chrome-ringed air vents and flat-bottomed steering wheel all help to make the TT feel special.

The firm’s designers haven’t ignored the basics, either: the driving position is excellent and the seats are supportive, while a big glovebox and a hidden cubby behind the seats mean the cabin is practical for a roadster.

This user-friendliness extends to the boot, as the fabric top folds neatly without reducing luggage space. The 250-litre load area is shallow but bigger than either rival’s, while a wind deflector rises between the roll hoops at the touch of a button. Unfortunately, it’s not as effective at stopping buffeting as the Mercedes or BMW’s deflectors.

You sit high in the Audi behind a more upright windscreen, and compared to the other cars here, the cabin is more blustery with the roof down.

Raise the lid and it’s another story, as our figures show the fabric hood insulates occupants from wind noise just as effectively as its hard-top rivals. It also helps to keep the weight down: despite its four-wheel-drive transmission and double-clutch gearbox, the TT is the lightest model in the test.

It’s the fastest, too. The 209bhp 2.0-litre turbo produces 350Nm of torque: 100Nm more than both rivals. It peaks at a lowly 1,600rpm, giving impressive responses. As a result, the Audi outgunned the others in all our performance tests.

Punchier than the normally aspirated BMW and far smoother than the strained Merc, the Audi engine is a perfect match for the double-clutch S tronic box, which makes the most of the unit’s flexible nature.

It commands a £1,580 premium over the six-speed manual, and raises CO2 output by 12g/km to 168g/km. Hiking emissions further, to 172g/km in our car, is the quattro 4WD. It carries a £1,430 premium over the front-driven version, but brings added reassurance to the confidence-inspiring handling. You can feel power transferring from one axle to the other, to maintain traction on wet roads.

In corners, the steering is linear and well weighted, and the sharp turn-in is matched by superb body control. Find a good road, and the TT is not as engaging as the Z4, yet it’s more fun than the SLK. The optional Magnetic Ride dampers ensure an excellent ride, too.

So the Audi is comfortable, classy and good to drive. But is it the best all-round roadster here?

Details

Chart position: 1WHY: Distinctive TT is as attractive in Roadster trim as it is as a Coupé. Our Sport test car has the optional S tronic double-clutch gearbox.

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