Just months after the coupe version was launched, Audi has introduced the open-top Audi TT Roadster priced from $81,500. This third generation model of the headline-grabbing TT boasts a crisp new look and standout interior including a digital dashboard with superb 3D graphics.
There are some noteworthy European convertibles but in this league Audi has ‘aced’ the field. Yep the Audi TT Roadster beats all-comers to garner the www.carshowroom.com.au 4.5-star rating.
Audi TT Roadster Overview
The all-new Audi TT Roadster arrives in a two-model lineup which shares the same driveline – turbocharged 2.0-litre engine, six-speed S tronic automatic transmission and Quattro all-wheel-drive. That Quattro system is the new version which is 1.5kgs lighter and runs new software which involves steering angle and yaw rate in the configuration of the varied drive (for fuel saving it can actually be 100 per-cent front-wheel-drive when cruising down the freeway).
The so-called entry-level Audi TT Roadster ‘Sport’ retails for $81,500 and the range-topping S line is stickered at $89,000.
Of course even the ‘Sport’ model boasts a massive list of standard features including MMI Navigation, 18-inch alloy wheels, Alcantara and leather interior with heated seats and electric lumbar support and Xenon Plus headlights with LED DRLs.
Stepping-up to the S line adds S line styling enhancements including 19-inch alloy wheels, S sport front seats in Alcantara and leather with pneumatic bolsters, full LED headlights and dynamic rear indicator lights plus an upgraded audio system with digital radio.
On the options list are multiple choices of alloy wheels up to 20-inches and Matrix LED headlights with dynamic turn indicators.
Audi TT Roadster Engine
The all-new Audi TT Roadster scores the better 2.0 TFSI turbocharged 2.0-lire petrol engine. Weighing-in at only 140kgs, this brilliant powerplant is a former World Engine Of The Year and improvements include a clever indirect injection system which supplements the FSI direct injection under partial loads for reduced emissions.
Maximum power is 169Kw and peak torque of 370Nm is delivered between 1600 – 4300rpm
Drive is via Audi’s six-speed S tronic automatic transmission with steering wheel paddle shifters for manual changes and Quattro all-wheel-drive.
So we have zero to 100km/h in 5.6 seconds and combined-cycle fuel consumption of 6.7l/100kms.
Audi TT Roadster The Interior
Audi says the shape of the TT’s dashboard and the brilliant round air-vents were inspired by aviation. By the way, the centre air-vents contain the adjustment dials/buttons in their centres – so simple and clever yet a masterpiece of engineering.
And, as a sports car, the TT dispenses with the free-standing centre screen. Of course this was made possible by the ‘virtual’ cockpit with the massive configurable screen in front of the driver (for example you can have full-width satellite navigation map if you desire).
There’s also Audi’s new MMI control interface with simplified menus, less hierarchies and handwriting recognition. In fact it has only two buttons (four in the previous generation).
A popular choice from the options list will be the 680W, 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system. In Audi TT Roadster Sport models this will retail for $1,750, or, in S Line, $1,200.
In terms of driving position, this is an Audi so you know there’s tilt/telescopic adjustment for the steering wheel and multiple seat adjustment so you’re very quickly feeling right at home.
And both Sport and S line models are endowed with the beautiful materials and finishes which is a hallmark of the German brand.
Luggage space is very clever for a convertible. Audi is too smart to have the roof folding into the boot, so the TT roof folds into its own cubicle leaving a very handy 280-litres of cargo capacity (that’s 30-litres up on the previous generation).
Audi TT Roadster Exterior & Styling
Viewed from the front, the all-new Audi TT Roadster has noticeable similarities to the +$300,000 R8 Cabriolet. You’ll notice the low single-frame grille and the Audi ‘four-ring’ badge on the bonnet’s leading edge (in fact these are the only two Audi models with the rings on the bonnet).
And the ‘double vertical’ LED DRLs are inspired by Audi’s Le Mans racers. These are matched by a similar look for the tail-lights.
While the critically-acclaimed first-generation Audi TT was pure circles in its design, the second-generation was gentler, adopting curves instead of circles. This third generation is all about the horizontal and much sharper lines.
Pleasingly the sporty prominent bulging wheel arches continue. However crisp ‘Tornado’ lines and strong side sills continue the musclier look of this generation.
At the rear, TT fans will be pleased to see the beautifully-crafted aluminum fuel filler cap makes a return (this time in capless form so there’s nothing to unscrew once you pop it open – a first for Audi) and the TT, like the first generation’ in the only Audi model with inboard exhaust tailpipes.
In terms of on-road presence, the latest Audi TT Roadster is 10mm narrower than the previous generation but front and rear tracks are both 10mm wider. That ensures a more ‘planted’ look which sports enthusiasts will appreciate.
And the extra 37mm in the wheelbase over the previous generation means more interior space.
Audi TT Roadster On The Road
It was a welcome return to Victoria’s fabulous Great Ocean Road (west of Lorne) and surrounding inland roads for the national media preview of the Audi TT Roadster. The ambient temperature hardly hitting double-digits wasn’t ideal for a Roadster but we did log a number of kilometers with the roof down…important to get the full picture when testing any car you know.
Pleasingly we opened the batting in an upscale S line model which offered heated seats and the optional ($800) neck level heating. Cue dialing-up the maximum warmth settings and raising the wind deflector behind the seats…thus even Victoria’s Great Ocean Road can be tackled mid-winter in an Audi TT with the roof open.
Any drive in the TT (or the similarly powered Volkswagen Golf GTI) is of course highlighted by the engine. In terms of performance and exhaust note, this has to be the world’s best turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine (the escarpments of the Great Ocean Road provided perfect sound reflectors as the top-down TT emitted the hallmark racy pops and bangs on over-run and gear changes).
Naturally in the twisty stuff we went to ‘Sport’ mode which made everything more racy and, combined with manual swaps of the six-speed S tronic transmission and Quattro all-paw grip, delivered a truly memorable performance. Both our S line and ‘entry-level’ Sport model (the latter with 18-inch wheels and higher-profile tyres) were predictably sharp on turn-in as its mid-corner where Quattro really puts in a dominant display – despite some damp patches we had the throttle floored from the apex and the all-wheel-drive, torque vectoring Audi TT ensured maximum grip and performance in all conditions.
In fact, given the damp surfaces of the Great Ocean Road, we’re thinking the only vaguely similar car which could have matched the Audi TT would be the AWD Mercedes-Benz A 45 AMG. Rear-wheel-drive vehicles? Forget it.
Locking the roof into place produced a pleasing reduction in noise intrusion. This shows the quality of the Audi TT’s fabric roof (some convertibles hardly filter outside decibels when the roof is closed).
But on coarse-chip bitumen roads, the Audi TT Roadster S line with those 19-inchers did, according to our Db reader, produce interior noise tending to average at the higher end of the scale. Not at all bad, but noticeable.
At moderate speeds in townships and when back in Lorne, the Audi TT was docile and very easy to drive. On first glance we thought the soft-top roof may have restricted rear three-quarter vision (essential when parking). But in fact looks can be deceiving because when seated behind the wheel, the roof-closed Audi TT actually provides a wide field of vision so no dramas there.
Audi TT Roadster Issues
Some of the Great Ocean Road and the twisty stuff inland are in urgent need of repair. And on some of the sections with poor bitumen, our Audi TT Roadster S Line with the 19-inch wheels did exhibit some tyre noise.
Audi TT Roadster Verdict
Here at www.carshowroom.com.au we’re sparing with handing-out a 4.5-star rating but the latest Audi TT Roadster is a deserving recipient. There’s a cachet about the TT, established by the previous two generations and the all-new model more than lives up to expectations.
And there’s no doubt about its value-for-money (a recurring theme these days with Audi).
Even the harshest critics will be won-over by the looks. And that’s a triumph for the Audi design team given the kudos awarded to the previous generations.
A triumph too for the chassis team as the latest TT drives just brilliantly. Audi has overcome the soft-top rigidity shortcomings just as well as Porsche does so even the ultimate performance drivers will love the TT drive.
Put it this way: to get a better European convertible you’ll need to find a lot more coin. In this league the Audi TT continues to reign supreme.
Audi TT Roadster The Competition
We’re very keen on BMW 2 series (Convertible $54,900 to $85,800). OK the 2 series isn’t as ‘pure’ in the design sense as the Audi TT and the rear-drive chassis, while sporty, isn’t in the same league as Audi TT’s superb Quattro.
You might be surprised t learn there is a convertible Lotus sports car in this price range. It’s the Lotus Elise ($74,900 for the 1.6-litre or $84,990 for the 1.8-litre). Obviously more ‘hard-core’ than the Audi TT, the Elise is a ripper.
And for a bit more coin you can secure the Mercedes-Benz SLK (starting from $87,200). The SLK200 is a nice device but 135kW/270Nm turbocharged 1.8-litre is a fair way distant from Audi’s crackling 169kW/270Nm turbocharged 2.0-litre. To match those sort of performance figures you’ll need the SLK250 (150kW/310Nm) but that will set you back $96,500.