Fleet News

Audi TT

Audi

Review

POISONED chalices don’t come much worse than the one handed to Audi designer Gary Telaak when he was told to come up with a distinctive new shape for the new TT Coupe, the car that originally put the German company on more people’s radar than any other.

Even though now eight years old it still turns heads and stands out as a superb example of automotive design.

The engineers, though, had an easier challenge because of the first TT’s unfortunate habit early in its life to spit drivers off the road backwards if they backed off the accelerator in a high-speed corner. A rear spoiler and suspension revisions cured the car’s wriggling back end but there was still room for improvement and this second generation TT is a vastly better car.

A rear spoiler now rises automatically above 75mph a la Porsche 911, the rear suspension is a sophisticated four-link system rather than antiquated torsion beam, the front and rear wheel track has been widened for greater stability and Audi has used its aluminium spaceframe technology pioneered on the A8 saloon to reduce weight.

The new TT feels massively stiffer than its predecessor with no creaks or groans even over poor surfaces taken at speed, yet using aluminium in some of the bodyshell means the body is 48% lighter than if it was all steel.

That helps give the entry-level 2.0-litre turbo version a better power-to-weight ratio than BMW’s 2.5-litre Z4 or the Mercedes-Benz SLK 200K.

Longer, wider and slightly taller than before, the new TT has bigger rear seats, though space is still tight, and luggage capacity has increased 70 litres to 290, or 700 litres (up from 490) with the rear seats folded down.

The TT will initially be available in two versions when deliveries begin in September – an impressively smooth and refined 200bhp 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo from the Volkswagen Golf GTI that is front-wheel drive only for £24,625 and a 250bhp, 3.2-litre V6 with quattro all-wheel drive for £29,285. A gloss black grille, chrome headlight design, black rear light inserts and two wide-spread exhaust pipes distinguish the 3.2 model from the 2.0.

Like the £170,000 Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano, the new TT uses shock absorbers filled with a fluid containing magnetic particles which, when affected by a magnetic field, oppose the damping movement. The result is comfort or more aggressive sports suspension at the press of a button.

A production version of the S tronic dual-clutch automatic gearbox (formerly known as DSG) initially developed for Audi’s 1985 Sport Quattro rally car is available for an extra £1,400 and allows the driver to zip up and down the gears by pulling paddles on the steering wheel or pushing the centre console selector lever forwards or backwards.

It won’t hold you on a hill like a conventional automatic but it doesn’t absorb power like a conventional auto and so makes the car livelier.

Audi UK reckons that about 65% of the previous generation TTs were brought with private money but the improved driveability and desirability of the new TT means it is sure to figure on more company car choice lists as a rival to cars like the Mercedes-Benz SLK, upcoming BMW Z4 Coupe and even the new entry-level Porsche Cayman.

Just 1,800 cars are due in the UK this year from September, compared to 5,500 in a full year, and Audi has 850 orders even before any driving reports appeared. More than half the orders are for the 3.2-litre version which shows the street credibility of having a quattro badge on the front of your car.

Behind the wheel

OWNERS of the current TT will recognise the dashboard with its prominent circular air vents, but the way the car drives has been transformed.

There’s a new alertness to the steering, a greater feeling of lightness and precision in the handling and a far more pedigree sportscar feel that lifts the car into the top class against even models like the new Porsche Cayman.

Many bought the old TT because they loved its design statement. With the new TT others will now also choose one because it is an accomplished sports coupe.

Most of the time the 3.2-litre V6 drives and feels as if it is front-wheel drive with understeer when the limit of the tyres is reached.

At high speeds about 15% of the driving power is fed to the rear wheels but under extremes, such as if the front wheels start to spin, the quattro system can near-instantly transfer all the power to the back pair.

Use the right amount of power and steering and the car feels wonderfully neutral through sweeping bends, but what happens if you go too far needs a test track, not a public road, to discover.

Arguably the 2.0-litre offers the most driving fun most of the time as its power is more accessible and we preferred the way the turbo engine delivers its power.

Verdict

THE Audi TT has always been a style statement, but now it also offers an involving drive to go with its striking looks. Both engines are impressive, but for us the 2.0 TFSI offers decent performance and great handling for a price tag of under £25,000.

Fact file

Model: 2.0 TFSI 3.2 V6 quattro
Max power (bhp/rpm): 200/5,100 250/6,300
Max torque (lb-ft/rpm): 206/1,800 235/2,500
Max speed (mph): 149 155
0-62mph (secs): 6.6 5.7
Fuel consumption (mpg): 36.6 30.0
CO2 emissions (g/km): 183 224
On sale: September Prices (OTR): £24,625 -£29,285

  • To view images click on next page.

  • CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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