The Audi TT is now in its third generation and we spent a week with it to see if it can continue to offer a great blend of sportiness and technology, without becoming a compromised daily driver.
The original TT rocked the world in the late 90’s. Here was a coupe that combined athleticism with futuristic good looks that was fairly affordable at the time. The main concern with the first generation TT was, however, that it wasn’t quite sharp enough to impress the real driving enthusiast, and more a boulevard cruiser, something which was addressed with the second generation which made landfall around 2010. That, however, was a little too clinical in operation, but it followed the same recipe of sporty dynamics without losing in the comfort and refinement stakes.
The third-generation Audi TT is the best yet. I had the pleasure of putting this new version through its paces at the local launch in Mpumalanga as well as a test through the finest mountain passes the Western Cape can offer.
One engine and one gearbox for nowThere’s only one engine and gearbox combination on offer currently, with the only option being front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive Quattro. Power comes from a Volkswagen Group-sourced four-cylinder engine. This 2.0-litre turbo engine does duty in many products such as the Volkswagen Golf GTI. It’s a terrific powerplant, offering zesty performance without wallet-sapping consumption. Power is rated at 169kW, while there’s a rather potent 370Nm of torque and this reaches all four wheels through the superbly engineered S-tronic twin-clutch gearbox.
This gearbox is beautifully refined whether you leave it to its own devices in full automatic mode, or take the reins yourself via steering-wheel mounted shift paddles. Gear changes are wonderfully smooth, with barely any disruption to momentum as the car hooks up the next ratio. Thanks to some clever clutches, downshifts are even smoother and the car will be able to shift from 6th to 3rd without any lurching or hesitation. When you’re in the mood for some enthusiastic driving, simply engage manual mode and each pull of the right (shift up) paddle results in an exhaust pop that few will grow tired of. Despite the enthusiastic nature of the sporty Audi TT, fuel consumption is not bad at all, with a claimed figure of 6.4L/100km. In reality you’re going to get around 8L/100km.
Interior is a minimalist's dreamThe much talked about virtual cockpit in the Audi TT is simply superb. Analogue dials have been phased out in favour of an all-digital instrument cluster which integrates the satnav and infotainment screens. While it initially looks daunting, the system is straightforward to use and within a few minutes I had settled on my screen preferences. After flicking through the various modes, it appears that a small rev counter and speedometer, with the satnav map making up the background is the best combination (for me).
The specification in the Audi TT is comprehensive and after going through the list, I feel the price of the vehice is completely justified. There are two USB ports, climate control, cruise control, satellite navigation, Bluetooth and a reasonable audio system. I’d go for broke and get the uprated Bang Olufsen setup as well as the incredible Matrix headlights which cleverly follows corners and adapt their beam intensity and direction in relation to other road users. Watch the system in action below:
There are so few cars that offer the accessible performance that the Audi TT offers. Audi has blended agility and a sorted chassis with a compliant ride so well, and you’ll really struggle to find a product that better answers the need for a sportscar that doubles as a daily driver. There’s very little body roll and the Audi TT is very forgiving when you’re pressing on. It’s only when you’re really getting a move on that the TT will start displaying the understeering characteristics that are to be expected of an all-wheel drive car, but up to that heady limit it is actually a remarkably neutral handler and ultimately designed to be safe.
Summary and ConclusionWhile the Audi TT Quattro has a lot to offer and the bottom line is that it's an exceptional product, one has to wonder about the R70k discrepancy between the front-wheel drive model and the Quattro model. You’re not getting that much more car and the Quattro system does add a bit of weight. The difference may be ever so slight, but the front-wheel drive Audi TT feels the more nimble of the two. Performance aside, it would make a lot more sense to use that saving and splash out on some extras instead, like the sound system and fancy headlights I mentioned earlier.
In conclusion, a combination of accessible performance, minimalist interior design which is simply breathtaking and a forgiving, yet sporty drive make the latest incarnation of Audi TT an excellent offering. I do feel for Audi engineers as they’ll have a serious headache trying to improve on this…
Second OpinionThe new Audi TT is a hard car to fault. The exterior has been carefully sculpted to enhance its sportscar tendencies while the interior has a wonderful new take on fresh tech. The drive is responsive and light and it’s a fun car to push without testing your driving skills to the limit. The S Tronic gearbox is incredibly fast and responsive and arguably now sets the benchmark for a dual-clutch ‘box (at this price). Best to stick with the front-wheel drive version though as quattro feels unnecessary. -Ashley Oldfield
Audi TT Coupe Quattro Price in South AfricaThe Audi TT coupe Quattro retails for R642 000, but this particular unit was specced with around R80k worth of extras. The front-wheel drive version sells for R558 000. If you're after more performance, the Audi TTS will arrive later in 2015.
We Like: Drive, engine/gearbox combination, incredible interior, handling
We don’t Like: Price gap between quattro and front-wheel drive
Also consider: Mercedes-Benz SLK, BMW Z4