What's Hot: Brisk performance, stunning design.
What's Not: Tiny rear seats, passenger is far removed from infotainment display.
X-FACTOR: Beautiful to behold, a delight to drive. The new TT is nearly flawless.
Vehicle Style: Luxury performance coupe
Engine/trans: 169kW/370Nm 2.0 turbo petrol 4cyl | 6sp manual or 6sp auto
claimed: 5.9 l/100km (FWD manual), 6.3 l/100km (FWD auto), 6.4 (AWD auto)
tested: 7.2 l/100km (FWD manual)
Audi's all-new third generation TT coupe is finally with us, and boy is it impressive.
But so it should be. At a starting price of $71,950, it isn't cheap - the larger and more powerful Lexus RC 350, for instance, is more than $5k less.
But when you look at the totality of the TT package, it makes sense. The interior is impeccably built and futuristic to the extreme, the driving dynamics are superb and it handles beautifully.
It's also an astoundingly handsome machine, with aluminium exterior panels that are a graceful evolution of the second-generation TT's bodywork.
Go for the optional S Line variants (an extra $6500 for the base manual, $7500 for auto-equipped models), and it looks even more athletic.
It's a beautiful machine, both inside and out, and after a day behind the wheel in the picturesque environs of Tasmania, it proved to be a capable sports coupe too.
- Standard features: Alcantara/leather upholstery, climate control, keyless ignition, power adjustable seats, cruise control with speed limiter, trip computer, reconfigurable dashboard display.
- Infotainment: 12.3-inch colour instrument display, with integrated satellite navigation, on-board music storage, AM/FM tuner and dual USB audio inputs.
- Storage: 305 litres minimum, 712 litres maximum.
Never before have I seen an interior as futuristic as this. We first saw this dashboard roughly a year ago when the Audi Allroad Shooting Brake Concept broke cover, and the design has made it to production with virtually nil changes.
The centrepiece of the interior is without doubt the instrument panel. It's actually a 12.3-inch colour TFT display that can reconfigure its layout on the fly, and it looks stunning.
Want a traditional dial layout? Easy. Would you like to minimise the dials and have the sat nav dominate the screen? Press a couple of buttons, and it's done.
It's all controlled by an evolution of Audi's MMI touch interface, and while certain functions are accessed differently now, it's all fairly intuitive.
Passengers might be irked by having to look across the car to view the screen, but Audi decided to omit a centrally-mounted infotainment display to create a more driver-focused cockpit.
And behind the wheel, it certainly feels like a car that's all about the driver.
The instrument graphics are bright, clear and crisply animated thanks to a dedicated on-board graphics processor, and the centre stack is angled slightly toward the right seat.
Even the air vents have some flair. The trio in the centre house the climate control buttons, and the result is a cleaner dash layout and plenty of wow factor.
Both front seats are power-adjustable and give good support, while the high beltline makes you feel like you're sitting even lower in the TT's body.
Hop in the S Line model, and the S Sport front seats give even more lateral support to the thighs and upper body, without too many compromises in comfort.
Back seat accommodation is next to useless though. Only kids will be comfortable back there, and they'll need to be small ones too.
The lack of headroom is a killer for any adult-sized passenger, and legroom is all but nonexistent too.
Boot space is improved over the second-gen model, with 305 litres of seats-up capacity and 712 litres with the 50/50 split rear seats folded down.
ON THE ROAD
- 169kW/370Nm 2.0 litre turbo petrol inline four
- Six-speed manual or six-speed twin-clutch automatic
- Front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive
- Variable-ratio electric power steering
- Disc brakes
Until the arrival of the TTS in the third quarter of this year, the TT range is powered by a 169kW/370Nm 2.0 turbo inline four that's closely related to the 169kW/350Nm engine in the VW Golf GTI Performance.
The engine is fantastic.
It gets on boost quickly and delivers a substantial rush of torque down low, and tractability is immense for a 2.0 producing 'just' 169kW.
The models launched this week might be the entry-level variants of the new TT range (the TT S arrives in the third quarter of 2015), but there's no doubting their performance chops.
Three drivetrains will be offered: FWD manual, FWD S tronic automatic, and Quattro AWD automatic. After our first experience of the range, it's the base model bum-dragging manual that's the one to get.
The gearshift is light and slick, the ratios are perfectly matched to the engine and you feel a greater sense of control over what the car does and how it performs.
That's not to say that the S tronic twin-clutch auto is no good, it's just that its habit of automatically upshifting at redline is an irritation we'd rather do without.
The TT Sport's 18-inch alloys also deliver a much more compliant ride than the 19-inch wheels that are standard on the TT S Line, which make the ride too fidgety on rough tarmac.
Being the lightest of the bunch at 1230kg the TT Sport manual also feels much more nimble, as well as faster in rolling acceleration.
The steering is a delight too, no matter which variant.
All get a variable-ratio steering rack that goes from 14:1 at dead centre, to a much tighter 10:1 ratio at full lock. On the road, this translates into less wheel-twirling for more cornering.
A cynical person might see the TT as being too close to the Golf GTI Performance in layout (they both share the same platform and engine), but in reality there's more than enough to differentiate them.
Thanks to an aluminium-intensive construction, the TT weighs around 130kg less than the GTI Performance - a significant margin.
The 20Nm of extra torque also gives the TT a performance edge, and every TT variant is faster to 100km/h than the GTI.
Go for the grippy TT Quattro, and it'll zip to 100km/h in 5.3 seconds - 1.1 seconds quicker than the VW. They might share the same bones, but the TT is definitely quicker.
The GTI Performance's key advantage is its mechanically locking differential, which does a better job of constraining wheelspin than the TT's stability control based pseudo-LSD.
But that said, the majority of drivers wouldn't notice the difference. They'll be far more impressed by the greater sensation of speed that you get in the TT.
ANCAP rating: The third-generation Audi TT has yet to be tested by ANCAP
Safety features: Stability control (switchable), traction control (swithcable), ABS, EBD, brake assist. Six airbags are standard (front, front side, head), and all passengers get lap-sash seatbelts.
As part of the optional Assistance Package, the TT can be had with a blind spot warning system, lane keep assist and a self-parking system.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
There's quite a number of sporty coupes in the TT's price range (and below) that are all viable alternatives, though none quite manage to pull off the same level of polish and refinement as the TT.
When in comes to sporting capability though, there are other similarly-priced options out there that are better driver's cars.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
The new TT is a proper showstopper.
And thanks to the combination of a lightweight platform, super-sharp steering and that peach of an engine, it's a true performer.
But it's the TT's design that will be its biggest drawcard. It's cutting-edge in concept, impeccable in presentation and almost universally appealing.
TT buyers will no doubt be interested in performance, but it's the design that will lure them into the showroom. We don't blame them for not being able to look away.
PRICING (excludes on-road costs)
- Sport TT Coupe manual - $71,950
- Sport TT Coupe S tronic auto - $74,950
- Sport TT Coupe quattro S tronic auto - $77,950
- S line TT Coupe manual - $78,450
- S line TT Coupe S tronic auto - $82,450
- S line TT Coupe quattro S tronic auto - $85,450