Spanning three generations, the Audi TT has lived an interesting life as the German marque’s signature coupe, and in this iteration has finally delivered on the promise that its swooping compact looks seemed to declare.
With a sharper body and equally honed dynamics, it’s clear that more of an effort was made to escape the form-over-function imbalance that has plagued the TT since its 1998 arrival. Despite sticking with a primarily front-driven layout, it can be considered against competitors such as the BMW 2 Series, Mercedes-Benz SLC, and even the recently downsized Porsche 718 as an engaging car to drive.
Among those peers, though, it can’t really rely on looks or badge prestige alone to win customers over, but thankfully for the first time, describing the TT as a dynamic peer to any of those, particularly to a Porsche of any sort, would not require an accompanying list of caveats.
You’ll have the option of choosing the base TT or the more powerful TTS as either a coupe or convertible, though both will easily pull their respective weight as the fast, head-turning, chic two-door that you’ve likely being eyeing to own. The base TT comes in either Sport or S-Line trim while the TTS is only offered with as the S-Line.
“The edgy, almost boxy front fascia treatment and pinched-from-R8 bonnet, and quad tailpipe rear-end, is surprisingly coherent with those signature curves of all glass and metal surfaces in-between.” - CarAdvice
In keeping with the design direction taken by today’s Audis, the TT has evolved from one with decidedly curvier overtones to one that’s made to be more angular. The hexagonal grille and squared-off head and tail lamps do a good job of blending in with the rest of its stablemates while the sloping roof retains echoes of that familiar silhouette.
Overall, it’s a handsome compact two-door that’s definitely more masculine than the versions that it succeeds, but not overly so. Then again, the same can be said about the older models, but none had the angrier scowl that this one does. Moving away from the nose, though, and the rounded roof and rear profile are design staples that clearly identify as a clear descendent of the futuristic original.
The TT with S-Line trim does get you more exterior chrome and some larger alloys, but the TTS has a set of unmissable quad exit tailpipes.
Engine and Drivetrain
“The TTS is powered by a 2.0-litre four-cylinder TFSI that is familiar from the entry-level TT, but there are significant changes (including conrods and pistons) to deliver the increased outputs.” - EVO Australia
Whether you select the TT or TT S, power comes exclusively from a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol four-cylinder that moves through either a 6-speed manual (TT only) or a 6-speed S Tronic dual-clutch transmission before reaching either the front wheels or all four corners via their signature quattro (spelled with a lower case ‘q’) AWD system.
In base tune, it produces 169kW and 370Nm, though in the TTS this raises to 210kW and 380Nm. This means any TT is a fast car, but naturally the added quattro grip means that off-the-line acceleration can be seriously impressive - Audi quotes a 4.7 second 0-100km/h sprint time for the TTS Coupe.
It’s a smooth engine that, if prodded, delivers the its power in a more direct manner instead of a more linear flow, a common trait pf many of its rivals with small capacity turbocharged mills, and while the manual transmission is a fun throwback, the incisive dual-clutch is a difficult proposition to ignore. Every TT comes standard with a start-stop system too in order to improve fuel economy, cutting the engine for short periods when the car isn’t moving (at a traffic light, for example), and can get as low as 6.6-litres/100km (claimed).
Aside from the frivolities of standing starts, the quattro system is worth the extra cash for the all-weather grip it provides as well as how stable it makes the car feel when tackling high speed corners.
“Materials, fit and finish are all superb, showing up cars that cost twice the price.” - Telegraph Cars
Audi has lavished a lot of love to the TT’s interior, which probably makes it the most interesting place to sit out of all their cars - the R8 supercar included. Where older models can be boiled down to having a posh layer atop what’s essentially a Golf dash, this 3rd-gen TT goes out of its way to evoke a sense of occasion.
Step inside and the centrepiece of the experience is the Virtual Cockpit - which we’ll dig into later - wrapped around interior pieces that feel good to the touch yet unfazed by attempts to make it flex. Instead of a separately zoned areas for air conditioning vents and HVAC controls, the climate dials themselves are ingeniously integrated into the vents, further minimising clutter.
The grippy leather/Alcantara seats are comfortable and supportive and positioned lower than what one may expect for a properly sporty sensation. The rear seats, though, are best left for kids or people you don’t care for all that much. You don’t exactly need to be a contortionist to fit behind a normal size driver but anything more than a brief journey will be near intolerable for adults.
On the plus side, the rear hatch does mean it’s also surprisingly practical. Sure, the boot isn’t very deep but 305-litres puts it about on par with a Ford Focus. Even better, and just like any family hatch, the seats do fold down for even more cargo capacity; a very useful 712-litres to be exact.
The TT Roadster, however, sacrifices the rear seats entirely to package the folded fabric roof, which also means that the boot is inherently smaller compared to the coupe.
Behind The Wheel
“…while the handling won’t worry the most sporting of coupés, most buyers will think it just dynamic enough.” - Autocar
Nearly every motoring journalist who’s had a go at Audi’s third-generation TT agree that it’s a far more dynamic than the model that precedes it. Feeling agile at low speeds but planted at high speeds. The all-wheel drive quattro versions have an almost surreal level of grip to them, too.
While the TTS is noticeably quicker, there won’t be all that much performance envy from the base spec owners as the difference in overall ability and thrill are much less compared other Audis such when comparing between an S and non-S model.
That being said, while the TT’s steering is direct, this particular electric rack doesn’t offer much by way of communication. This fundamental sense of ambiguity is compounded by the surplus of grip that’s on offer, leading to that ‘video game’ sensation, requiring more work to acclimatise to how much and how quickly the car responds to input. That doesn’t take very long, thankfully.
Safety and Technology
“The clarity of the screen, combined with the dual-functionality of the controls, makes Audi’s Virtual Cockpit a real joy to use.” - AutoExpress
Audi’s Virtual Cockpit is the most technologically impressive feature the TT has, which is also true for any other Audi that’s equipped with it. A 12.3-inch widescreen display that envelopes the instrument binnacle and operable using the rotary dial familiar to their MMI infotainment system as well as steering wheel buttons.
The screen is sharp and the interface is fluid and intuitive, juggling its multiple functions of navigation, engine and drive parameters, and media, smoothly. While it doesn’t get around the eye darting that happens with conventional centrally mounted infotainment screens, it is a step in the literal right direction.
The TT was tested by Euro NCAP upon its European debut, with ANCAP later corroborating the same 4-star rating. Some might have been dissuaded by the less than perfect score; though it did perform very well in the actual crash tests, it lost points due to active pre-collision systems such as autonomous emergency braking (AEB) not being standard. Many of its competitors were tested under the more lenient rules before 2015 or haven’t been tested at all, giving the TT four more safety stars than most.
Having said that, it does come with front, side, and head-level curtain airbags (coupe only), anti-lock brakes, stability control, hill hold assist, tyre pressure monitoring, active lane assist, cruise control, rear view camera, and even a driver attention monitor as standard.
Both the TT and the TTS can be optioned with the Assistance Package which adds the aforementioned AEB, autonomous park assist, high beam assist, and blind spot monitoring. Front illuminators are Xenons by default, though the S-Line trim does upgrade this to LEDs to match the daytime running lights, though the more advanced Matrix selective beam LEDs are optional.
There’s not many small sports cars that are this posh but also easily fills that role of being daily usable. Audi has infused the third-generation TT with more dynamic talent than any of its predecessors combined while still maintaining its alluring style and accessibility. Combined with the space-age interior and supercar-like all-wheel drive grip, the TT excels at being rounded rather than capitalising on a specific strength, now more than ever.
EVO Australia - In terms of driving purity, the TTS isn’t a match for the Cayman or Boxster, but it’s a vastly superior drive to a Benz SLK or BMW Z4. While it’s obviously easier to live with than an Alfa 4C or Lotus Elise or Exige, many buyers will also find it a friendlier companion than a Porsche.
CarAdvice - 8/10 - “That some buyers might find the more affordable and softly-set regular TT better foil for Sydney's and Melbourne's third-world roads, others might be lured by the more dynamite TT RS experience […] But neither detracts from the goodness of the TT S, which is looking more and more like the sweet spot in Audi's sportscar range the more we drive it.”
Telegraph Cars - 9/10 - “The Audi TT is an easy car to recommend thanks to its combination of excellent comfort and exciting driving dynamics. It’s also competitively priced and even reasonably spacious for a sports car.”
Autocar - 4/5 - “It’s more agile, adjustable and engaging than ever. But more so than its crucial hot hatch rivals? Not quite – and against them the TT still looks expensive and underpowered – but it is the most promising small Audi coupé yet.”
AutoExpress - 5/5 - The Audi TT is into its third generation, and while it continues to deliver head-turning style, the latest car is more enjoyable to drive than ever.