Drive reviews the Audi TT Quattro

A Winning Formula the New Audi TT Coupé Quattro Review

In Audi, Car Reviews by Neil Lyndon

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A Winning Formula

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“When you’ve had a hit on such a massive scale,” a journalist asked Ringo Starr after I Want to Hold Your Hand became The Beatles first number one in both the UK and the USA, “how on earth do you follow it?”

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“By doing the same thing again, I suppose,” replied that earthy realist.


Quite right. Why change a winning formula? Audi might say the same, with equal justification, about the TT coupe – with which they have had a massive non-stop hit for 15 years, with about 100,000 sold in the UK.

If anybody could put the TT that Audi first introduced in 1999 alongside the version they launched in Scotland this week, an uninformed onlooker might be hard-pressed to spot much difference. The latest TT – the third generation – is the same height but slightly narrower and slightly shorter than the one it replaces, though somebody sharp might notice that the wheels are closer to the corners of the body – a sign that the wheelbase has been extended. The new car also has a touch of the R8 – Audi’s fabulous supercar – about its nose, with a six-corner radiator grille, purposeful air intakes at bumper height and vertical insets in the headlights (which is also the case with Audi’s Le Mans cars).

Apart from those discreet changes, these two models – separated by a period so long that three different Prime Ministers have taken office in Downing St – could almost be the same car.

And, as with Ringo’s down-to-earth pragmatism, you would have to say “Why not?” There’s no more reason for Audi to mess with the shape of the TT than there would be for Porsche to revolutionise the outline of the 911. Some of the foremost names in automotive design in the second half of the 20th century – including J Mays and Freeman Thomas, Peter Schreyer and Martin Smith – contributed to the stunning Bauhaus lines and the modernist interior of the original TT. The car they produced was immediately and rightly recognised as an abiding classic. It would be a kind of sacrilege to footle with their magnificent work.

At the same time, the original TT was also recognised as being a bit of a let-down in the performance stakes. Based on a standard VW Golf and not much modified, it didn’t only lack energies to match its breathtaking looks: it also handled like a soggy sponge, with steering so inert it felt as if it was in a coma.

Audi are making a big deal out of having attacked these deficiencies in the new TT, claiming to have gone all-out to make it more “driver focussed” and “a sports car for everyday use”. A third of the hybrid bodyshell is made out of aluminium rather than steel and more surplus weight has been cut out of the construction through the use of aluminium for window controls and the lining of the door panels. All new sports seats weigh 2.5kg less than their forebears.


Put together with quattro permanent all-wheel drive (optional in the TT 2.0 TFSI version, standard in the TTS), six-speed manual or S Tronic gearboxes and electronic stabilisation control (ESC) with torque vectoring, the new TT ought to come out as stonking package yet, curiously, it remains stubbornly unengaging to drive. Steering still feels half dead. Grip and road-holding are safe but unexhilarating. Audi were trying to make comparisons at the launch between this TT and Porsche’s Cayman. Not only did those thoughts seem eyebrow-raisingly far-fetched: it was also hard to imagine that an enthusiastic driver might choose a TT over a Scirocco. No doubt the 335 bhp 2.5 RS version, when it arrives breathing fire and snorting thunder, will tell a radically different story but the two-litre TFSI petrol and TDI diesel TTs on offer at the launch are likely to appeal most to people who regard driving itself as a chore to be endured between indulgences at the shops and delights at lunch. Ostensibly, prices for those two cars range from £29770-£38790 but you can add about the same percentage for optional extras as you would deduct from Audi’s claims for fuel consumption. Ten to 15% should just about cover it.

To enjoy the TT to the full, therefore, you need to be a dedicated design buff. The interior offers almost as many satisfactions in this department as the shape of the body. Audi’s new “virtual cockpit” in a binnacle facing the driver through the steering wheel instead of being in a centrally-placed screen is almost as much a triumph of innovation as Volvo’s new instrument set-up. All information can be scrolled up through controls in the steering wheel, meaning that you get what is effectively a heads-up display directly in front of your hands, instead of on the windscreen. Air-conditioning and ventilation controls are housed, cleverly, in the centre of the vents themselves. These two innovations sweep away a binbag’s worth of buttons and clutter, leaving only the MMI central control knob and a few simple switches on the console between the seats. Scintillatingly, the surface of that MMI knob allows fingertip swipe control, like a smartphone; thought you can’t help but wonder how that will work after some tot has wiped the remains of a Mars bar across the surface.

As ever, this TT is a 2+2 only in the sense that the two in the back had better not be much bigger than their own dolls and teddy bears. The two in the front get all the comfort and pleasures of this excellent coupe – so long as they are not expecting those pleasures to include driving a car.

About the Author

Neil Lyndon


Neil Lyndon has been a journalist, broadcaster and writer on the UK's national stage for 40 years, writing for every "quality" newspaper on Fleet Street. He started writing about cars and motorbikes for The Sunday Times in the 1980s and was Motoring Correspondent of the Sunday Telegraph for 20 years, having previously written a column on motorbikes for Esquire. He is also recognised as a leading commentator on gender politics, having published No More Sex War in 1992 - the first ever critique of feminism from a radical, egalitarian point of view.

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Watch the Video of the New Audi TT Virtual Cockpit

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Specs of model driven – TT Coupe 2.0 TFSI quattro S line (230 PS) S tronic

Base Price: £34,545.00, price as tested £43,335.00 extras included, alloy wheels, advanced key, auto dimming mirror and rain sensor package, matrix LED lighting, storage and luggage package, LED interior lighting, Comfort and Sound Package, technology package, Electric heated front seats, Parking system plus, Phone Box, Leather Package.

Engine: 1984cc, Inline four-cylinder spark-ignition engine with gasoline direct injection, exhaust turbocharger with intercooler, four-valve technology, DOHC.
Transmission: 6-speed S tronic dual-clutch transmission
Rated Output: 230ps @ 4500-6200rpm
Torque: 370Nm @ 1600-4300rpm
Acceleration: 0-62mph: 5.3 seconds
Top speed: 155mph
Fuel economy: urban/extra-urban/combined: 34.04/51.4/43.5mpg
CO2 emissions: 149g/km

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Share the Fabulous New Audi TT

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