A world famous automotive designer of our acquaintance was so enamored by the first Audi TT he bought one and parked it in his garage. His company cars – which he personally designed – were left out in the weather.
You see the original TT had a mission – Audi wanted to transform itself from a company known for its technology to a company known for its design fascination. Well they can tick that box.
In fact the very first Audi TT had a rushed beginning with the first ¼ scale concept – a soft-top roadster - created in just four weeks in early 1995. But Volkswagen Group supremo Dr Ferdinand Piech fell in love and demanded the Audi team have a full-scale concept – and hard-top coupe, not a roadster – ready for the Frankfurt Motor Show a few months later.
After a lot of overtime, weekend work and sleepless nights the Audi TT rocked the Frankfurt Show that year - as your www.carshowroom.com.au correspondent can attest.
Now the third generation Audi TT lineup has hit Australian shores priced from $71,950 and it is absolutely gorgeous. Again.
Expect the soft-top Roadster version mid-year and the high-performance TTS to arrive before the fat bloke in red/white sashays down your chimney in December.
And while the purity of its Bauhaus inspired design had the first Audi TT melting the hearts of rival car stylists and buyers alike, for us, this latest version is the best yet. Sure the looks are again supermodel stuff but this one is just so thorough with its specifications, technology and driving dynamics.
Audi TT Overview
The third generation Audi TT is a smidge shorter overall than the outgoing model but with an extra 10mm in wheelbase provides enhanced interior space. It’s also 50kgs lighter and runs the new generation of Quattro all-wheel-drive technology.
And all models are powered by the more powerful 2.0 TFSI petrol engine.
But it’s inside where the all-new model really gets jaws dropping – a ‘virtual’ cockpit with a massive 12.3-inch multi-function full colour TFT screen which dispenses with conventional instruments and, for example, allows a full-screen satellite navigation map straight ahead of the driver. And that frees-up the rest for a re-design of the dashboard as there’s no audio or navigation display to clutter the look.
Audi has simplified the model lineup with the all-new third generation TT available in two grades – entry-level ‘Sport’ and range-topping ‘S line’. Over the ‘Sport’, ‘S line’ model Audi TTs gain extras such as 19-inch alloy wheels, full LED headlights including the brilliant dynamic rear indicators, the S Sport exterior enhancements, S Sport front seats in Alcantara and leather with pneumatic adjustable side bolsters and an upgraded nine-speaker audio system.
On the options list are several designs of alloy wheels (including 20-inchers!), Matrix LED headlights including dynamic front indicators and a Bang & Olufsen audio system.
The full range is:
|2.0 TFSI manual||$71,950|
|2.0 TFSI S tronic||$71,950|
|2.0 TFSI S tronic Quattro||$77,950|
|2.0 TFSI manual||$78,450|
|2.0 TFSI S tronic||$82,450|
|2.0 TFSI S tronic Quattro||$85,450|
Audi TT Engine
Using a modified version of Volkswagen Group’s MQB platform called for massive changes under the bonnet of the Audi TT. The turbocharged four-cylinder 2.0 TFSI engine is a new design and sees its intake side at the front and is tilted by 12 degrees.
In turn this has enabled Audi to shift the front suspension further forward which provides for a better axle load and thus improved front-end dynamics.
Maximum power is 169kW from 4500rpm-6200rpm and peak torque of 370Nm is delivered between 1600rpm-4300rpm.
Drive is via a six-speed manual transmission (front-wheel-drive models only) or the six-speed S tronic dual clutch which includes launch control.
Zero to 100km/h clocks-in at 5.3 seconds for the S tronic Quattro model or 6.0 seconds for the front-drive six-speed manual. However the front-drive manual is easier on gas – 5.9l/100kms compared to 6.4l/100kms for the all-paw Audi TT.
Audi TT The Interior
Continuing the themes of its iconic forbears, inside the all-new Audi TT it’s all about clear structures, taut surfaces, round elements and a high centre console which provides leg support in hard cornering. In short it’s a genuine sports car.
Naturally the material choices are top-shelf, the tactile elements are nicely soft and the quality of fit and finish is beyond question.
Audi says the shape of the TT’s dashboard resembles an airplane wing and the hallmark round air-vents are also straight from aviation. A clever innovation is buttons in the centre of those air-vents which operate the climate control system – brilliant and shifting that function away from the centre console leads to a much slimmer architecture for the centre of the dashboard.
And it was this quest for a thinner composition which lead Audi to the astonishing ‘virtual’ cockpit – a single 12.3-inch multi-function full colour TFT screen right in front of the driver. You adjust the display as required.
For example there’s a ‘classic’ view with conventional analogue style tachometer and speedometer. These operate at 60 frames per second so there is no lag in their readouts (we know the rev-limiter doesn’t cut-in before the tacho hits the redline and when it says you’re doing 60km/h you are doing 60km/h).
Or, as we did, you can opt for a full-screen display of the satellite navigation map with scaled-down versions of the tacho and speedo on both sides. In all instances the audio display is small and along the top.
The gorgeous leather-wrapped steering wheel adjusts for rake/reach and with plenty of seat adjustment the driving position is sublime.
We just wonder about the rear seat. Even the not-quite-teenage Car Showroom juniors would struggle - your average height www.carshowroom.com.au correspondent managed to climb in, had barely enough leg-room –even with the front seat slid fully forwards – and couldn’t sit straight because of the roofline.
Just make the TT a two-seater we say.
Audi TT Exterior & Styling
Audi says the first-generation TT was all about the horizontal, this all-new third generation design aims to promote muscle – note the strong C-pillar bases for example. And the extra 37mm in the wheelbase makes for a noticeable change in the proportions.
Its 4,177mm in overall length but the usual one-third cabin and two-thirds body ratio is maintained.
The front-end has gained an intensity from the Audi R8 sports car – the six-cornered Singleframe grille is broad and flat with a thick crossbar which flows into the lower edge of the headlights. And those lights have a vertical graphic straight from the Audi R18 Etron Le Mans racers.
Two contours in the shape of a ‘V’ run from the upper corners of the grille across the bonnet – again adding some muscle. And the four Audi rings have shifted from the grille to the leading edge of the bonnet.
From the side the latest Audi TT features the sculptured sill contour of the original but the wheelarches now have defining creases around them and the fronts intersect with the bonnet line. The sports car fuel filler cap is again highlighted in chrome.
At the rear, the exhaust tailpipes have returned to the centre in Quattro models.
Audi TT On The Road
Audi chose the excellent Tasmanian roads from Launceston to Hobart for the TT media preview and during the day your www.carshowroom.com.au correspondent got behind the wheel of both front-wheel-drive and Quattro versions. Both were fitted with the ‘Assistance Package’ which adds active lane assist, park assist and auto high beam amongst its inclusions.
This generation Audi TT has received the ‘Jenny Craig’ treatment – it’s 50kgs lighter at 1230kgs. A couple of examples - some 2.5kgs has been pared just from each of the front seats and the body is all aluminium except the active spoiler in the bootlid.
Combined with elements of Volkswagen Group’s MQB platform and intricate use of high-tensile steel, torsional rigidity is up by a whopping 23 per-cent. And we felt that over the twists and curves of those Tasmanian roads.
Our preference was the Quattro-equipped TT. In fact the generational change to the latest Quattro set-up is the biggest so far. New software has been developed entirely in-house at Ingolstadt and, for example, with ‘Dynamic’ dialed-up on the Audi Drive Select, Quattro predictably transfers drive to the rear wheels even if you’re off the throttle.
So the all-paw Audi TT was a dynamic superstar with crisp turn-in, magnificent grip and balance mid-turn and naturally unrivalled traction on the way out. And of course hard acceleration was accompanied by the hallmark crack and pop from the exhausts as the turbo 2.0-litre exploited its red-line.
Not that the front-drive Audi TT was left in the shadows – in fact it was one of the best displays ever for a front-driver over those great rural roads which scream for enthusiast drivers.
Audi TT Issues
The rear seat – you either have a functional one or you abandon it altogether. Audi is trying to have an each-way bet.
Audi TT Verdict
One of our all-time favourites is even better. Yes, hard as it may be to believe, the TT has stepped-up.
As long-term TT fans we’re scoring the third generation for its looks, its better interior (highlighted by the virtual cockpit) and its better driving dynamics.
And if you check the specs you’ll find that Audi has significantly sharpened the value equation as well.
Audi is the superstar brand of the Volkswagen Group with great product following great product following great product. And there’s more to come – no wonder in January Audi was the world’s best-selling premium automotive brand.
Audi TT The Competition
BMW Z4 is a tad pricey ($79,900 to $119,545) and sportier of course than the TT. But the rear-drive ‘Beemer’ now feels heavy compared to the agile Audi.
Peugeot RCZ is a pearler in the looks department and, priced from $58,990 to $68,990, ticks the value box as well. Beauty is more than skin deep and the RCZ is a serious steerer.