This car is a leap of faith.
Oh? What audacity did I have to make that statement? I mean, compared to what, really?
Let me explain: this car is the Audi TT. And, it had an image problem. Since its arrival in 1998, people saw the small round-ish coupe and roadster and did not think it was capable of being engaging and exciting. Some comments were quite…homophobic. A few die-hard enthusiasts have embraced the Mk1 TT brushing off its overall image.
Things improved when the Mk2 arrived in 2006. The TT looked sharper, more aggressive. Yet, it still had the task of trying to make up for years of the Mk1’s image. This was bolstered by the arrival of the TTS: the first Audi Sport-infused version of its small coupe and roadster. The more powerful TT-RS simply exorcised the demons of its softer past.
Now, we have this sharp little number, the all-new 2016 TT. It is still a TT; small, concentrated and engaging. A week in this car begs the question whether it has shaken off the image of the TT from 18 years ago.
The quick answer is yes. But, there is still a full review to delve out here…
If there is an image problem, it is for the TT to be mistaken for the mightier mid-engined R8. This is a good problem to have, since the R8 embodies the ultimate in Audi design and engineering. The TT coupe is still a swoopy fastback that fills its diminutive size. While it employs Audi’s latest round of sharp lines and edgier design cues, it still holds true to the unique shapes that TT always had for 18 years. There are a few twists, such as the rear window shape and the wider stance.
This Torch Red example offers some more great details for the new TT. LED lamps grace both front and back. The four rings are placed on the hood, rather than on the grille. Five-spoke 19-inch wheels finish up the performance-oriented look that truly makes the TT a more attractive package to drive in.
The TT also serves as a showcase of Audi’s latest interior technology. The first thing that pops out at you from behind the wheel is the Virtual Cockpit — a full TFT screen that serves many functions for the driver. The main thing this Virtual Cockpit does is integrate the functions normally found on a screen above the center stack in front of the driver. Therefore, you not only have your basic instrument gauges (speedometer, tachometer, gas and temperature gauges) in front of you, you also have trip information, fuel consumption, audio, phone, Audi connect, and navigation functions to work with, as well. The navigation system is powered by Google, which includes Google Earth for a three-dimensional view of where you are going. Most of these systems are controlled by the MMI knob on the center console, along with an array of controls on the steering wheel.
Audi connect adds an additional layer of connectivity and infotainment to the TT. Not only does it use Google Earth for the navigation system, it also adds Google Street View, Google Voice Search, route guidance using high level satellites, provides traffic, fuel pricing, and parking information. You can also tether a mobile device for Wi-Fi connectivity supplied by Google. An app is available to remotely connect to the TT, to lock and unlock the vehicle, among other functions.
If you want exceptional sound, Audi installed a Bang & Olufsen sound system on board. It emitted a fine sound throughout the cabin. You might consider the TT a turbocharged business-class laptop.
Though it is a 2+2 coupe, the rear seats are best for small children. Adults have two high-back front chairs offering deep bolstering and power-assisted support. These seats are on the firm side, however. Most sports cars do offer such sport seats for more enthusiastic driving. The hatch is small, but expandable with the rear seats folded down and the privacy panels removed. The actual rear compartment is shallow due to the short height of the vehicle and the position of the spare tire compared to the rear differential for the Quattro all-wheel drive system.
Power comes from a 220 horsepower 2.0-liter TFSI turbocharged four-cylinder engine. This engine is vaguely familiar, as it is part of a corporate family of performance four cylinders, especially one found under the hood of the Volkswagen GTI and Jetta GLI. This engine is channeled through a six-speed S tronic dual-clutch transmission and Audi’s solid Quattro all-wheel drive system. Fuel consumption is pretty decent, scoring an average of 25.7 MPG.
There is no question about the TT’s driving dynamics. It starts with a series of drive modes. Comfort lets you chill out with an absorbent ride, controlled handling and cornering, and a softer steering feel. Auto mode allows the car to choose its behavior depending on road conditions and traffic situations. Then, there is Dynamic mode. Switch it into that mode, and your ride becomes firmer, your cornering is flatter, your steering feels heavier and your exhaust note becomes louder. If you want to stake your claim onto one’s road, set it to Dynamic. You can also have your own combination of settings by putting it into Individual mode.
No matter which mode you put it in, the steering system offers a solid turning radius and sharper response from the wheel. Braking is also solid with great pedal feel and strong stops in both normal and panic situations. Blind spot monitoring and a backup camera with cross-traffic alert make up the core of an active safety setup for the TT.
The base price for a TT coupe is $42,600. Our tester came with several packages, ringing up the total price to $50,600. The Roadster model is available with a starting price of $46,400. There is a more powerful model available: the TTS by Audi Sport. For this 292 horsepower super TT, you would need to fork over at least $51,900.
It is worth concluding how much the TT has changed its image to a more muscular small sports coupe. Customers have responded and it is a rare sight to see a TT at any given showroom. For those who want one, come in with the notion of owning something rewarding to drive. The TT is a rewarding coupe that will now turn heads and quiet the detractors.
It takes a leap of faith to dive into something like an Audi TT. This is a sporty little number that can excite you into doing things that might not be legal; however, it is the kind of sports coupe that could also be responsible…maybe.