Conceived in VAG’s Californian Design Centre, the first generation ‘Typ 8N’ Audi TT provided sharp handling, reasonable performance and an award-winning interior design. However there was a polarising factor for potential buyers; the unique exterior styling.
The second-generation Typ 8J provided the same winning combination but in a sleeker package, and the sharp look provided a glimpse of a potential wolf under sheep’s clothing that was delivered in the RS version. So what has Audi done from there?
The third-generation Typ 8S TT S Line we have on test continues its heritage with the coupe’s appearance exhibiting maturity of design, although sufficient menace that the boy racer in us still lusts for the RS.
However it’s not the exterior that I adore the most – it’s what’s inside that counts. Climb in, sit your tush on the contoured leather-appointed seats and you’re presented with an epitome of German design and engineering in a purely driver-centric layout.
The turbine design air vents with integrated climate control are very clever, and the integration of steering wheel command to nearly every option in the instrument cluster-mounted virtual cockpit keeps the hands on the wheel so there’s no need to fiddle about with centre console-mounted switches.
Black leather, black suede and deep black gloss plastic is stitched and tucked amongst accents of pattern-pressed silver metal. Spending time in and driving the TT is akin to relaxing in a Dieter Rams- kitted living room, although this is not a car created for pure relaxation… in typical Trailing Throttle (TT!) fashion we’re taking this baby-sized Bavarian to the hills for a fresh winter’s day blast.
As found in most Audis there’s multiple driving modes to choose from. A throttle response restricted eco mode is the tamest, while dynamic mode sharpens up all aspects of the car’s performance vitals.
As this quattro model utilises a Haldex all-wheel drive system, the eco mode does more than a few simple fuel mixture equations. Torque is controlled on all wheels so that the most economical power delivery is provided depending on surface conditions, including switching off all-wheel drive altogether.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is dynamic mode, where the Haldex system transfers more torque to the rear of the drivetrain when required, allowing increased corner speed via reduced understeer.
An individual mode is provided for personalisation of the vehicle’s dynamics, great for those who like to tinker (or those normal people who just want a comfortable everyday ride).
As the road narrows and shrubbery gushes past, dynamic mode is the go-to trick. The TT feels altogether more responsive, and there’s a little blurt of exhaust flatulence to provide some soundtrack to the 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine’s 169kW at 6200rpm and 370Nm from 1600-4300rpm.
The first-gen TT was the world’s first right-hand drive car to equip a dual-clutch transmission, and the six-speed unit in the TT, operated via steering wheel mount paddle shifters, proves there’s maturity in development. The gear ratios are a perfect match to the 2.0-litre’s output, and up or down shifts are without disruption.
The engine’s specs stack up in real world driving with the torque available early on, and combined with a reasonable 1410kg kerb weight the TT feels fun on-the-gas at almost any speed. While a 5.3sec 0-100km/h acceleration time isn’t blinding quick, the power developed from the small four-pot is in harmony with the TT’s handling ability.
Turn-in from the progressive ratio steering rack is accurate and quick. The ratio tightens from 14:1 to 10:1 with lock, transitioning from benign to a well weighted steer with predictable input when giving the car some stick.
The quick turn-in is complemented by TT’s very good body control. Suspension setup is a McPherson strut front and four-link rear, with adaptive damper control (Audi magnetic ride) allowing electronic bump/rebound control.
Road disturbances are kept in check, and although TT rides flat and stiff, mid-corner bump steer is minimal. There’s no hint of understeer on turn-in, and the coupe’s front roll stiffness works in unison with the Haldex system to prevent understeer in most situations. The TT quattro rides on 19-inch 245/45 tyres, an inch larger than the base TT, and can feel a little unsettled on rougher tarmac.
The brakes carry on with the car’s handling encouragement, with good feel and linear response on deceleration. Carving through a flowing set of twists to the bottom the mountain there’s a hint of fade, but it doesn’t hang around long.
The TT is more than just a fun and small package… it’s actually a very capable performer. Beautiful interior design, sharp handling and a very responsive engine are an evolution of the original TT principles to provide a great driver’s car.
Priced at $85,450 (excluding on-roads) the TT S Line quattro shares company with some good competition, but if you’re drawn by the TT’s aesthetics there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be sold on the little Audi.
|Specs||2015 Audi TT S Quattro Coupe|
|Price||$85,450 (plus on-road costs)|
|Engine||1984cc turbocharged four-cylinder|
|Gearbox||Six-speed dual-clutch automatic|
|Power||169kW at 6200rpm|
|Torque||370Nm at 1600-4300rpm|
|Power to weight||8.34kg/kW|
- Engine responsive through the range
- Flat body control & great handling
- Interior design is superb
- Ride perhaps a little too hard at times
- Back seat room is minimal
- Could look a little meaner