When people think about the name of Audi there’s a good chance they will immediately associate it with the word ‘quattro’ because that, in a way, sums up the brand. Thus it was very refreshing to drive a TT version that was front-wheel drive for a change. Further more, our car eschewed the ubiquitous DSG auto gearbox in favour of a good old six speed manual.
Now, call me old-fashioned, but I really enjoyed it. The DSG is a brilliant piece of engineering but it can remove some of that sense of involvement – simply because it is so good – that enthusiastic drivers crave. Similarly, with the security of 4WD it’s easy to become complacent. With drive going to just two wheels the driver needs to be a bit more on his game. In other words, I enjoyed the experience hugely.DriveWrite’s TT for the week was a coupé in Sport trim powered by a 2.0L TFSI engine developing 227bhp. I found the metallic Monsoon grey a bit sombre; the weather we’ve been having this ‘Spring’ has been grey enough. The TT looks best in bright colours, in my opinion.On The Inside
As ever, the inside was typically Audi – superb. Very well made, comfortable with supportive Alcantara/leather sports seats. Possibly the real highlight of this car is the dashboard which warrants a good explanation. The beautifully designed instrument panel puts everything directly in front of the driver’s eyes. It combines the functions of a central MMI monitor and conventional instrument cluster in one unique, 12.3-inch TFT display. All the functions and services are depicted using superb graphics with a 3D impression and detailed effects in brilliant clarity. At the same time, the driver has the choice of two views – the classic view or the infotainment mode.
The display differs depending on which option the driver selects. Whilst in classic view mode the circular instrument dials, i.e. the speedometer and rev counter, are more dominant, “infotainment mode” displays additional functions such as the navigation system, telephone, Audi connect and media more prominently. The displays for the outside temperature, time, mileage as well as warning and information symbols have a fixed position along the bottom edge of the cockpit in both modes. Functions can be handled by either steering wheel controls or a big centrally mounted command dial. Outstanding.
There are two rear seats which serve little purpose except as additional luggage space or as a couple of short trip spots or for children. The boot beneath the sweeping roof is sufficient for a week’s holiday, provided the kitchen sink is left behind.
On The Outside
In a world where cars are getting bigger, it is refreshing to note that although the TT’s wheelbase is stretched by 37mm, the car is actually a tiny bit shorter and narrower than before. It looks compact with a purposeful stance at the kerb. The car is based on the now ubiquitous VW MQB architecture which, in various guises, underpins the Golf and Octavia, for example. As mentioned above, four-wheel drive is available.At the front the single-frame grille, tapered bonnet lines and razor sharp headlights embellish rounded wheel arches, a bold shoulder line and a sloping rear tailgate; it’s still a TT to a T. Xenon headlamps and LED running lights, finish off the refreshed design. 18” alloys come with the Sport; the S-Line model gets 19” wheels. The TT has matured, there’s no doubt about it. Forget the old jokes; I love it and, trust me, you really don’t want me doing your hair.
On The Road
The Audi TT has always been a car that has mixed driver satisfaction with everyday usability. Until now though, I wouldn’t have classed it as an out-and-out sports car. This model is different. I don’t know necessarily if it’s better without the extra weight of quattro, but it feels faster and more nimble, staying flat through all but the most extreme of corners. Steering is sharp and even has a little heft and feel, adding to the experience. It feels like a proper sports car but one that can deliver nearly forty miles for a gallon of the precious stuff despite some lively motoring.The 2.0L TFSI engine is punchy and smooth, offering enough performance to deliver the traffic light sprint to 62mph in just six seconds and on to 155mph (where permitted). For total speed freaks there are other more powerful models available and the choice includes roadsters.
Is this the pinnacle of TT development? Right now, it is hard to see what Audi can do to make this car better (except for shaving a chunk of the price, obviously). It seems to me that any more fiddling might be superfluous. With the extras fitted, as itemised below, our car hits the till at £37,685. That’s nearly six thousand pounds more than Peugeot’s delightful, slightly faster, slightly roomier, yet flawed, RCZ-R that I tested recently.I sometimes wonder if some cars are just too perfect. In a way, I rather like cars that are individual despite perhaps having a few niggles. Quirky, in other words. The Audi TT isn’t quirky at all – it’s everything that we have come to expect from Audi yet thankfully it has retained a taste for the road. The TT is a fine sports car.Geoff Maxted