AUDI'S CURVY SPORTS CAR - THE 2015 TT - HAS LOST ITS 'BUBBLE' LOOK. It is now more angular and aggressive, taking in design cues from the stonking R8. It also has more power, drives sharper and has plenty of technology loaded in.
That said, it’s still not the most practical of beasts, nor is it cheap, but with sharp steering, an excellent ride and handling trade-off and a cracking engine, it will carve up your favourite road.
Vehicle Style: Two-door sports car
Price: $77,950 (plus on-roads) $83,700 (as tested)
Engine/trans: 169kW/370Nm 2.0 4cyl petrol | 6spd automatic
Fuel Economy claimed: 6.4 l/100km | tested: 7.9 l/100km
Updating an icon always has its perils. So how did Audi approach its third gen TT creation?
The first generation was based on the principle of circles. The second gen was designed using waves. Now, the third edition has been created using facets, giving it a meaner and bolder look.
The attributes for which the TT line has become known – compact dimensions, healthy dollops of power, stylish presentation and cutting edge technology – have all been loaded into this latest model, and it’s all the better for it.
With a brilliant drivetrain, tonnes of grip and a gorgeous interior, the latest TT is shaping up to be the best one yet.
Quality: Does Audi ever make a bad interior? We think not.
From its huge, one-piece dashboard to the cleverly integrated HVAC controls in the air vents, through to the textured aluminium trim, it seems like the Ingolstad-based company can do no wrong.
The whole cabin feels like it’s been the result of a brainstorming session, with engineers and designers collaborating to see what could be done better. Thinking outside the box, this is what you come up with.
Removing unnecessary clutter, the infotainment is now ahead of the driver, amalgamated with the instrumentation in a gorgeous 12.3-inch TFT display. The aircon controls seamlessly fit into the air-vent centres.
wheel, with complete adjustment for the ideal driving position.
With a combination of alcantara and soft leather, spirited drives aren’t a battle of keeping yourself planted, but you can concentrate instead on the road ahead. The seat shaping is excellent, and accommodates all shapes and sizes.
Rear passengers, however, will have to be short of stature to endure the cramped experience, so it’s best left to short hops if absolutely necessary.
Equipment: A boon for Apple owners is the inclusion of two USB ports, of which one is a fast-charging port. Android owners will also feel right at home with music playing instantly once the phone has been plugged in, rather than having to pair via Bluetooth (though you can also do that, too).
With a stunning 12.3-inch display ahead of the driver, navigation and dials are all integrated, and you can switch between a classic view and “progressive” view which shrinks the dials into the corners, allowing more real estate for infotainment.
The passenger can thankfully see what’s going on and can use the MMI controller to input a destination or change radio station.
The voice controls also now accept everyday English commands like: “I feel like having Indian tonight”, or “Drive me to the nearest shopping centre”. There’s some very clever software behind the scenes in operation.
Storage: Look around the interior and you start to find little storage areas to utilise. Ahead of the gear lever is a sliding panel which uncovers a space enough for a purse or wallet, while under the armrest is an oddly-shaped cupholder and small space for money or cards.
The door pockets won’t hold a bottle, but there’s enough room for a small amount of rubbish and there’s another cupholder in between the two seats. There’s even a netted pocket for the passenger on the centre console’s side.
Open the boot and you’re greeted with 320 litres of space, but fold the rear seats down (as most owners would) and the TT’s flat boot space liberates 712 litres of luggage space.
ON THE ROAD
Driveability: The turbocharged 2.0-litre engine is the familiar unit found in the Golf GTI Performance, but with even more torque. With 169kW and 370Nm on tap, it’s enough to get this coupe to 100kmh in 5.3 seconds.
Along the way, you’re treated to a fabulous exhaust “whump” with each gear change. You can use paddles behind the wheel, or just leave it in Sports mode which is smart enough to downshift when you’d want it to (though upshifts are delayed a little).
The DSG has improved remarkably over the years and the latest iteration allows for plenty of creep and offers rapid-fire shifts. Couple that with this gem of an engine and the TT is a delight to drive at any speed.
Refinement: On the 19-inch wheels fitted to our press car, there’s a fair bit of road noise, especially when 'giving it the boot'. That aside, the engine is as smooth as silk and the gearbox is very quick.
Ride and Handling: The TT isn’t a softly sprung car; it is a sports coupe after all. But it’s not so firm as to be jarring, even on the larger ($1850) 19-inch wheels, treading a fine line between offering plenty of grip and riding well enough to smother bumps.
Yes, if it’s a bad surface, you’ll definitely notice it, but those with bad backs won’t feel intimidated.
It can be thrown around quite vigorously and with torque vectoring it never feels like it will understeer terminally. While it won’t compete with a rear-wheel-drive for adjustability, the TT’s safety net isn’t so intrusive as to clamp down on a bit of fun.
The variable steering is a highlight, with good weighting and even some semblance of feel, an area where Audi has improved tremendously of late. You don’t feel disconnected from the car, and piloting it along a windy beach road is an enjoyable way to spend time.
It’s not quite up to Audi RS standards, but the TT is a lot of fun.
Braking: Up front are 312mm ventilated discs and the rear uses 300mm solid discs, each with single piston callipers. Pedal feel is excellent at all speeds.
ANCAP rating: 4/5 Stars - Only the front-wheel-drive variant of the TT has been tested and scored four out of five stars. EuroNCAP’s testing revealed the same result.
Safety features: The TT has traction control and stability control which can both be switched off, ABS, EBD, electronic braking assist and six airbags are standard.
Seatbelt reminders have been fitted and there’s an optional Assistance Package, which fits the TT with a blind spot warning system, lane keep assist and a self-parking system.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Audi offers a three year, unlimited kilometre warranty on all its new cars. A factory extended warranty plan also allows you to extend that for up to four years extra.
Service costs: Audi’s Service Plan for the TT costs $1610 and covers all scheduled servicing for the first three years.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
Nissan 370Z ($56,930) – Nissan’s sports coupe is more attractively priced than the TT, but its quality is nowhere near the Audi’s. What it lacks in finish, it makes up for in involvement. Rear-wheel-drive, lusty V6 and rev-matching manual, it’s a drift hero and an old-school sports car for the young at heart. (see 370Z reviews)
BMW M235i ($79,540) – More a match for the TT than just about any other car, the Bimmer’s claim to fame is it’s ballistic engine and rear-drive dynamics. It’s fun, it’s priced nearly identical and has the badge cachet people want. But its interior isn’t a patch on the TT, so it depends on your priorities. (see BMW 2 Series reviews)
Peugeot RCZ-R ($68,990) – Copycat? Perhaps. But the hottest Peugeot coupe certainly turns heads, arguably more than the plainer TT. With only the front wheels motivating things, the RCZ-R can’t quite match the TT’s overall pace, nor can it better its interior, but the Frenchy will be wooing buyers with its styling more than anything. (see RCZ reviews)
All prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
Forget any notion that the TT is only about style. Sure, that’s a major element, but with the MQB platform underneath, there’s now some serious ability lurking under that angular skin.
The facet-and-intersection approach has meant it will appeal equally to both sexes and more so to those who love new technology. Get a glimpse of that brilliant instrument panel and you’ll be sold on that alone.
But throw in an excellent drivetrain, good handling and far-improved steering and you can live without the practicality and larger size of other coupes.
Yes, Audi knows how to build a nice motor car, and it knows how to make one drive well too.
MORE: Audi News and Reviews