FIRST DRIVE: Audi TT

FIRST DRIVE: Audi TT

The original Audi TT is indeed a timeless classic of design. The Bauhaus-inspired design was clean, simple and geometric, yet staggeringly fresh and original when it shocked the automotive world in 1995 at the Frankfurt motor show.

The second generation was not so revolutionary in styling, but upped the TT’s quality and performance dramatically.

Now we have a new 3rd Generation car. We spend a day in one at the local launch to see what it brings to the TT legend.

What is it?

The 3rd generation of Audi’s ground-breaking style icon is now based on the VW MQB platform that is working its way under the majority of new VW/Audi/Skoda/Seat models.

The term “platform” is actually not quite the right description for MQB, which is actually more of a system of mixing and matching standardised components to create “platforms” for a wide range of styles and shapes of car, all sharing the basic engine mounting point.

That aside, the new TT remains true to the original by being a small two-door sports coupe, with a shape that is strongly reminiscent of the original, yet lacking the ground-breaking slap-in-the-face the first-gem car possessed.

To this end it is more visually similar to the second-gen car, albeit with the newest version of Audi’s family grille, which actually makes it look like a smaller version of the just-revealed R8.

The TT will initially be available in New Zealand in standard coupe form, but the Roadster version and a more powerful TTS spec are not far behind.

The coupe and roadster come standard with a 169kW/370Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo engine hooked up to a six-speed dual clutch transmission and driving the front wheels.

Standard equipment includes 18-inch alloy wheels, xenon headlights, LED daytime running lights, front and rear parking sensors, electrically adjustable leather seats, satellite navigation, Bluetooth phone and media connectivity, rain sensing wipers, automatic headlights, heated exterior mirrors and Audi’s new “Virtual Cockpit” – a massive 12.3-inch digital screen behind the steering wheel that replaces all of the traditional dials and gauges with a configurable layout that integrates the star nav system.

The coupe starts the range at $91,800, while the roadster costs $96,800.

The TTS packs the same 2.0-litre turbo engine and six-speed transmission, but pumps up the power up to 228kW and the torque to 380Nm.

It gets 19-inch alloy wheels as standard, as well as LED headlights and DRLs, an adaptive damper system and a 10mm lower ride height, high quality Nappa leather interior with brushed aluminium inserts, a 9-speaker sound system with a 5 channel amplifier with an output of 155 watts and sports seats.

The TTS coupe will cost $122,900,while the TTS roadster will cost $127,900.

Audi TT (01)

What’s it like?

Only the TT coupe was available for us to drive at the launch and it was obvious pretty quickly that the new TT was very much like its immediate predecessor, only pretty much improved in every area.

The interior packs all the high quality of other Audis, yet boasts a number of new tweaks that help keep the TT’s cabin decluttered and nicely minimalist – most noticeably the huge screen that replaces all the traditional gauges and other instruments behind the steering wheel.

The other interesting new thing in the TT’s interior is the moving of all the HVAC controls onto the actual air vents on the dash. There is a button or dial and a small digital display in the centre of each vent that controls the temperature, fan speed of the heated seat. While it does take a bit of getting used to, it is a very clever little touch.

The rest of the interior is typically Audi quality, with comfortable seats and a general high standard of finish throughout.

On the road the TT is quick and agile, with the same much-improved steering that is now standard to most new Audis. There isn’t a massive amount of feedback, but the feel is now massively improved and no longer feels like the car wants to keep you away from the fun.

We would even go so far as to say that the TT is an engaging little sports coupe, with more than enough power for it to be fun, while remaining a capable and relaxed cruised when it is called upon to be.

Audi TT (04)

What’s good about it?

It looks great, the interior quality is massive and the new tech is brilliant. The Virtual Cockpit screen impressively dominates the dash and is functional and easy to use. The seats are comfortable and grippy, while the engine and transmission are flexible and eager.

Audi TT (02)

What’s not so good?

It is a bit cramped, particularly with two six-foot plus blokes squeezed into it – but then, we aren’t the target audience. It is probably more powerful and pricey than it really should be – Audi could have gotten away with putting a less powerful engine into it and shaving the price under the $90k mark and it still would have worked. The TT’s recent 4 star EuroNCAP rating is hugely disappointing for a modern car, as is the lack of availability of a reversing camera.

Audi TT (05)

First impressions?

The new TT carries soon the good work started by its two predecessors, albeit without breaking any new styling ground like the original.

It is eager and nimble, while also staying comfortable and well-controlled in its ride. It is surprisingly practical for a small two-door coupe, but then lacks obvious things like cup holder big enough to hold a bottle of water…

Still,.. for the people who will buy it the FWD TT brings all style, performance and presence they desire, along with the comfort and quality that Audi always packs in.

The TT is a proper modern Audi, which means it is actually fun to drive as well as being well built, strikingly attractive and elegant.

Models/prices

TT coupe – $91,800

TT roadster – $96,800

TTS coupe – $122,900

TTS roadster – $127,900

Powertrain

2.0-litre inline four-cylinder petrol turbo producing 169kW/370Nm; six-speed dual clutch transmission; front-wheel drive (TT), 2.0-litre inline four-cylinder petrol turbo producing 228kW/380Nm; six-speed dual clutch transmission; all-wheel drive (TTS)

Fuel consumption: 6.3L/100km (TT), 6.8L/100km (TTS)

CO2 emissions: 146g/km (TT), 157g/km (TTS)

Safety

ANCAP/EuroNCAP rating: 4 stars

Air bags: 6

Stability control: yes

Lap/diagonal belts: 4

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