Audi TT (2015) review: A smarter take on the sports coupe
Electronics substitute luxury in Audi's lighter TT sports coupe
- Involving engine that does not neglect economy
- Well equipped and advanced entertainment system
- Handles well in corners
- Intelligent headlamps
- Infotainment system is in the driver's field of view
- Even kids will struggle in the back seats
- Firm ride is harsh on worn roads
Price$ 82,450.00 (AUD)
Audi’s take on a bare-boned sports coupe remains luxurious. Clever electronics and some original thinking has helped the company eliminate redundant features and keep the weight down.
The Mk3 Audi TT has a shape that is more aggressive. The headlights no longer frown downwards, but are angularly cut and lead into a wide front grille. A low profile and flared wheel arches sell the illusion the petite TT has serious performance DNA.
Small touches build on this effect. There’s a retractable rear spoiler that automatically raises at speeds over 120km/h. It can be coaxed out with the press of the button, and its presence grants the soft rear some attitude.
As does the metallic fuel lid located on top of the car’s hind wheels. There’s no cap under the lip so that the nozzle slides in, quickly, just like that of a pit stop.
Making a coupe sporty is a negotiation between power and weight. Audi has a reputation for making luxury cars kitted with all the bells and whistles. The company has strived to keep the TT light by being selective with what it includes and by not including overlapping features.
There are rear parking sensors, for instance, but no rear camera. Then there’s the unorthodox take on the TT’s entertainment system.
The first time we slid behind the wheel, our eyes locked on the minimalist centre console. It was missing the trap door that concealed a 7-inch display common to all other Audis. Air conditioning vents and a few buttons were all we found — until we pressed the ‘start’ button.
A large, 12.5-inch antiglare display has replaced all of the dials found traditionally in the instrument cluster. The ‘infotainment’ system has been shifted into the field of view of the driver, including the navigation, media player and Bluetooth phone interface.
This is a powerful system, rich in animations and advanced in functionality. The sheer size alone impresses, and Audi makes good use of it. The digitised dials measuring speed can be minimised to the corners so that the rest of the screen can be used up by the navigation. Or the folder hierarchy of a USB thumb drive. Or to adjust some of the car’s granular settings.
Sports cars are designed to bring drivers closer to the road. Having a computer behind the steering wheel interrupts this pursuit.
Audi has gone to the effort of equipping the TT with Matrix LED headlights. These headlights are an assembly of LED lamps which individually turn off — and then back on again — at the sight of oncoming cars. The idea is to have the road illuminated as best as possible without blinding fellow drivers.
The headlights on the TT glean information from the navigation system and turn in anticipation of an upcoming corner. It works well, I discovered, during a late night drive on Old Pacific Highways en route to Newcastle.
There are no street lights on Old Pacific Highway. It is dark and can be unforgiving. At a rest stop were three cars: two sitting on bricks without wheels and another flipped on its roof.
A wide beam of light illuminated the narrow, single lane road, granting me periphery of foliage and ditches in anticipation. The headlamps illuminated the areas around oncoming cars without blinding their drivers. This meant I could pour all of my focus into the corners ahead.
And although I could, to great effect, there was something lingering in my field of view. It was the infotainment system, its own backlight shining brightly, and it was getting in the way of my drive.
Other parts of the TT stayed true to the ethos of a sports coupe. Driving it in traffic was surprisingly fun, with its off-the-line power and its small footprint letting it slice into tight breaks.
The engine is of the stop-start variety. Keep the feature enabled and time spent at the lights will be both quiet and petrol friendly. Audi quotes petrol consumption at 6.4-litres for every hundred kilometres; we averaged 11-litres with spirited driving in Dynamic mode.
Typical sports coupes skimp out on comfort. The TT has leather upholstery, electric bucket seats up front and a nine speaker sound system. All around visibility and a large boot could lean this car towards practical, though the rear seats make it only practical for two.
The comfortable ride takes a turn for the worse on worn roads. It clings to every dip and hole, and even though it never loses control, the shock is channeled through the cabin. This is the by-product of the TT’s light 1305kg body and its firm suspension, which come into their own on open roads.
Powering the TT TFSI is a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that hits all the right notes. It’s small at 2-litres, produces 169kW and dependending on the variant, will drive either the front or all four wheels.
Off the line it will reach 100 kilometres per hour in 6 seconds flat. The front wheels struggle to put the power down and momentarily slip as the car builds up speed. Acceleration is linear with maximum torque at 1600 - 4300rpm, and its 6500rpm redline is on the short side for a sports coupe.
Be sure to engage the ‘dynamic’ mode and the drive will be lively. The use of a turbo hasn’t hampered acceleration with power being delivered immediately. Nor has it soured the exhaust note.
The engine dominates the TT’s soundtrack, snarling as it approaches the redline and barking with a ‘puff’ at quick gear changes. A car like the VW Scirocco R will accent its engine note with the whine of the turbo. The turbo in the TT is barely audible when accelerating and even less so when shifting. After all, this is a gentleman’s car.
Top speed is 250km/h, but that alone is not what this car is about. The best parts of the TT are found in the way it accelerates, brakes, turns and accelerates. Older TTs felt too soft to be a sports coupe; ‘hairdresser cars’, they were called. The Mk3 better marries performance with comfort.
Three petrol versions of the Audi TT are available in Australia, including the TFSI manual from $71950, an S tronic automatic from $74,950 and an all wheel drive quattro S tronic version priced from $77,950.
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