What’s Hot: Beautiful handling balance, sticky AWD grip, potent jewel-like 2.0 litre turbo, wonderful interior
What’s Not: Intrusive road-roar on bigger 19-inch rims, expensive (relatively), no manual option
X-FACTOR: A design icon and micro-supercar in one, Audi’s TT Roadster is as snug as the Coupe, and goes as hard.
Vehicle style: Premium small sports roadster
Price: $81,500 TT quattro Sport, $89,000 TT quattro S Line
Engine/transmission: 169kW/370Nm 2.0 turbo petrol 4cyl | 6sp dual-clutch automatic
Fuel consumption (claimed): 6.7 l/100km | (tested): 10.3 l/100km
This is a gorgeous little car. Low, short and wide, and with AWD quattro grip, it fairly dances around a winding road.
And such is the balance and precision at the front-end, and that elusive obedience in tracking exactly where you want it to go, that you simply can’t help wringing its appealing little neck. Again, and again.
Also, unusual for a ‘drop top’, there is a feeling of snug integrity to the chassis of the new Audi TT Roadster that gives it the vault-like feel of the coupe.
We failed to induce even the faintest whiff of torsional twist or scuttle shake on a back-roads dash through the Otways rimming Victoria’s Great Ocean Road.
The 2.0 litre TFSI turbo-charged jewel under the new-fashioned bonnet (with the Audi rings now above the grille) will release 169kW when shown the whip.
More to the point, there is a lusty 370Nm to call on from as low as 1600rpm. Put those two sets of numbers together, and the little TT Roadster is a slingshot.
It is also beautifully finished inside.
So, athletic good looks, great personality, and goes like hell… Audi has a very desirable little sports car in this new TT. Try it; and you’ll love it too.
- Standard features: Alcantara/leather upholstery, climate control, keyless ignition, power adjustable heated seats, cruise control with braking and speed-limiter, trip computer, configurable dashboard display.
- Infotainment: 12.3-inch colour instrument display with MMI navigation plus with MMI touch, SIRI eyes free iPhone integration, on-board music storage, voice control, AM/FM tuner, dual USB audio input
- Xenon headlights with LED daytime driving lights and LED rear lights
It is not ‘big’ in here; the cockpit of the TT is just as big as it needs to be. It’s a two seater only, low-slung and with high-shouldered sides, it’s designed to envelop in the way a racecar cockpit envelops.
But it’s not cramped, at least not for this little black duck (and neither for my ‘medium-sized’ co-duck).
Getting in and out is no trouble (even with the fabric roof in place), there is ample room for longer legs, and ample seat and steering wheel adjustment.
And this is such an impressive cockpit..
There is a studied simplicity to the design and layout of the controls, with a very clean and uncluttered centre-stack and console. The metal-rimmed ‘lip’ of toggle switches looks especially smart and has a solid quality feel under the touch.
And, contributing to the clean, chic style in here is the absence of a screen in the middle of the dash. It has been moved to the binnacle display ahead of the driver, and it is brilliant.
This ‘virtual’ display, configurable any way you’d like (large map, smaller map, technical readouts, large dials, smaller dials… any way you want to set it); it is beautiful in a geeky kind of way, and simply works.
Though sitting directly ahead of the driver, it can easily be seen from the passenger seat and the menus can be operated via voice-control (with fuzzy logic to interpret everyday speech) or via the centrally-mounted dial and touchpad.
It is, I think, for style and for its functional ease, the most elegant infotainment solution of the moment.
There is a slight difference to the interiors of the two model variants we drove (and there are only two available).
The more upmarket, and more expensive TT Quattro S Line gets air-scarf heating to keep the neck warm on a winter’s day (with the top down) and a retractable screen to reduce wind-buffeting.
It also gets, among other things, smarter-looking sports seats with electrically adjustable side-bolsters.
These will hug you as tightly as you’d like to set them should you want to really test out the g-forces (or in case you just need “the morning hug”…)
But the base model ‘Sport’ isn’t lacking. It also has the snug fit of a ‘onesie’ at the wheel, really comfortable ‘leather-appointed’ heated seats, a long feature list and that typically Audi uber-classy interior.
Lastly, that layered fabric soft-top is a beauty. Once in place - and it only takes ten seconds to lift and lock (and will do it, as we can attest, at speeds of up to 50km/h) - the TT Roadster is as tight and as secure as a tin-top.
Lastly, because the roof folds down into its own spot behind the seats, it doesn’t intrude on boot space. You’ll find 280 litres there: enough room for overnight bags for a good weekend or more away.
ON THE ROAD
- 2.0 litre TFSI turbo/6-spd S tronic DCT automatic
- [email protected]/[email protected]
- Xenon headlights with LED daytime driving lights and LED rear lights
- 18-inch alloys Sport, 19-inch alloys S Line
Slide it into Sport, nail the accelerator, stretch it out to 5500rpm then flick it to the next gear via the paddles at the wheel – each shift accompanied with an F1-style ‘whump and crackle’… this is huge fun.
Is there turbo lag? Well, no, at least none that’s perceptible. The new Audi TT Roadster is an absolute ‘rat’ on road. It changes direction and fires around corners like there’s a hell-cat on its tail.
Though 90kg heavier than its Coupe counterpart, it will still fire to 100km/h in an impressive 5.6 seconds. It’s quick, and it feels it.
But is it a real performance car, and will you enjoy it? But of course you will, and yes, like the Coupe, this TT Roadster is a bolter on road.
And should you put it on a track, a tight one like Winton or Symmons Plains, then it will really show the depth of its capabilities.
The AWD quattro system gives it astonishing grip, but is transparent in the way it works. Tuck it into a corner and, as it changes down, it also begins to shuffle drive to the rear. Then, as the g-forces load up, power is directed to the outside wheels while, simultaneously, the inside wheels are subtly braked.
Also simultaneously, when accelerating through the apex, drive is progressively loaded to the rear to limit understeer on exit. All this happens in milliseconds.
And if you are wondering whether it limits the feeling of control or sheer joy at the wheel, it absolutely doesn’t. In fact, it just makes it the more enjoyable.
The biggest surprise is the solid feeling of ‘the car on road’. There is a lot of extra bracing in this Roadster, stronger sills, and some thicker gauge high tensile steels. The result is a car – a convertible, no less – with the unity of a brick.
It sounds rorty on the tear, the crackle and whump from the rear is intoxicating, but is perhaps a tad noisy on the 19-inch wheels of the TT S Line Sport. It is also firm – not jarring, ‘firm’ like a tight elastic – but this is a sports car after all.
And if you plan on slipping one into the garage as a city commuter, you won’t find it uncomfortable (but you will, most definitely, arrive to work with a smile on your face).
So, yes, do we enjoy the way this car drives? And is it just about the best small convertible under God’s heaven for a reaching dash down the Great Ocean Road? C’mon…
VERDICT | OVERALL
As we commented at the outset, this TT Roadster is a gorgeous car, and yes, one that you absolutely will want to belt around a winding road.
It’s small and expensive, but, tip-to-sexy-tail, it looks the premium car. Audi’s new ‘faceted’ styling, combining sharp creases with rounded curves, sits really well with the little TT Roadster.
A sportscar that looks this good, drives this well, and can be enjoyed for the occasional sweep through the café-crowd with the roof down, makes it the perfect ‘reward’ purchase.
And that’s what Audi is hoping. It’s just a shame, I reckon, that it is sooooo much more expensive than, say, the more powerful S3 Sedan ($62,200) and even the S3 Cabriolet (at $69,300).
Option it up a bit, put it on road, and there’s not a lot of change out of $100k. That seems out of whack to me.