If there is a brand which brings elegance, style, driving dynamics and sheer performance to unseen levels, then it is Audi.
Combine this with excellent finish and workmanship and last but not least economy and reliability, and you have a recipe which pleases many the world over.
We noticed this again when we were behind the wheel of this good looking TT roadster, now in its third generation. Bystanders aimed their camera lenses on the pure, angular shapes of this TT, and filmed us when we drove off. Indeed, with this two seater we were on the road to stardom...thanks to the timeless and universal magic of the four rings.
Hans Knol ten Bensel
Elegant and superbly finished cabin
One of the main ingredients of Audi magic is the clean and well proportioned styling of the car, together with the superb finish and workmanship and the excellent quality of the materials used.
On the outside, Audi styling DNA has become more angular. This is clearly noted on the front grille, and the TT has gained markedly in elegance and refinement.
This sophistication is continued in the interior, where the flowing lines of the dashboard and instrument cluster, which is shaped like an aircraft wing when viewed from above, flow harmoniously into the centre console, which is also superbly shaped.
Ergonomics is also taken to very high levels, and your hands move intuitively to the right knobs, buttons and levers.
Of course one finds the typical round ventilation openings, reminiscent to a jet aircraft engine.
They were already so typical for the first TT back in 1999. But the styling of these vents is also taken to a new level of refinement; they have a larger diameter and are now even more efficient.
New are also the digital instruments. One can select between two “virtual” views. One view with the centre screen maximized for navigation or other info, with the dials for revs and speed being much smaller.
One can also opt for a more “classic” view, where the two dials have a normal size and the centre display is then somewhat smaller. Even in this “classic” display mode, there is ample screen area left to display the necessary road or other info quite clearly.
A bonus is that within the larger dials, it is possible to see additional info like the digital display of the driven speed or the instant fuel consumption.
A word of praise is also warranted here for the truly superb seats. They fitted your 1,70 m and 73 kg servant truly like a glove. We rarely have come across such excellent seats. Not only are they “just right”, they are also beautifully shaped, and we liked also the cross stitch pattern, and what’s even more, they sported also a ventilation/heating opening in the backrest to heat/cool your head and neck when driven open in more extreme temperatures.
184 HP 2 litre TDI: smooth, powerful, refined and frugal…
Audi has honed its drivetrains to unseen levels of refinement. It is no small feat to house a 2 litre powerful diesel in a two seater roadster and achieve vibrationless smoothness.
Well, this TT truly delivers in this respect. Not the slightest vibration, at any speed, in any gear, at any revs. Drive it slow, drive it fast, it is always refined. You hear just a deep throb, and no diesel clatter is heard when you put your foot down.
Only impressive torque and a more than lively flow of power is what you feel. Indeed, this TT is fast: top speed is not less than 237 kilometres, with 0 to 100 acceleration in merely 7,3 seconds. The engine develops its maximum power of 135 kW or 184 HP between 3500 and 4000 rpm. Pulling power is ample with maximum torque of 380 Nm between 1750 and 3250 rpm.
This engine incorporates of course the latest diesel technology. What to think of the VTG turbocharger and indirect intercooler, double overhead camshafts and variable valve timing. Noblesse oblige...
Of course, the engine sports a common rail direct injection system, operates at a 2,000 bar pressure with solenoid injectors, has eight-hole nozzles, a cylinder pressure controlled system, low-pressure and high-pressure exhaust gas recirculation: what did you expect?
The smoothness of the six speed manual transmission matches the engine refinement, changes are fast and slick, and the box is ideally geared, taking advantage of the engine’s very good torque.
The economy of this unit is excellent. No trouble at all to achieve average consumptions of 5-5,3 litres, and with some anticipation and concentration, one dips below 5 litres. The manufacturer quotes a combined consumption of 4,3 litres/100 km and CO2 emissions of 114 g/km.
Handling qualities of very high level
The Audi TT handles like you would expect from a well engineered thoroughbred sports car. The front suspension has McPherson struts with aluminum lower wishbones, aluminum pivot bearings, it has an aluminum subframe, and is equipped with a tubular anti-roll bar.
In the rear, one finds a four-link rear suspension with separate spring/shock absorber arrangement, a subframe, aluminum wheel carriers and also a tubular anti-roll bar.
The electromechanical progressive steering with speed-dependent power assistance is sensitive, precise, and very light and nimble. It makes you instantly an absolute “Kurvenmeister” and inspires you to steer the car in a sporting manner.
The car steers also brilliantly light and agile in city streets and sharp corners. As we said, it is speed sensitive and increases its servo power when driving slowly. It is a delight to steer the TT in town, as well as, of course, on winding roads.
Here we can also applaud the shape and feel of the steering wheel, which is a tactile delight to use, to have in your hands and last but not least to look at...
Of course, the handling is near perfect, neutral all the way, up to very high speeds. You can also select the settings according to your mood, sporting or more comfortable. Even in the sports setting(s), the TT never feels unduly harsh.
The brakes are of course up to the job, and the handling of the TT inspires so much confidence, that driving this TT even for hours at Gran Turismo speeds leaves you still “Zen” behind the wheel. Our test car came with speed control, which functioned smoothly and imperceptibly.
State of the art infotainment
Audi profiles itself clearly as a market leader in this respect, and deservedly so. One finds in this TT the familiar top level MMI Touch infotainment setup, an excellent navigation system, with the navigation display, as we already pointed out, right in front of you.
Hooking up your phone is a breeze, streaming the music via Bluetooth from your device, or using a USB stick or whatever means, all this is of course possible.
Connections to hook up your media equipment are found in the centre console and glovebox, which means that your devices are also discreetly out of sight.
And then the sound: our test car was equipped with a state of the art 680 watt B & O system wih not less than 12 speakers in total, and we enjoyed our favourite jazz tracks as well as classical music to the full.
We were also agreeably surprised by the excellent sound insulation of the soft top. One has all the advantages of a roadster, and hardly any drawbacks... you are cocooned in elegance and comfort, every inch of the way.
Audi shows with this third generation TT again how well it understands to create a two seater which is built close to perfection with excellent materials, which has timeless styling and is well proportioned from any angle.
And it does not stop there. Its mechanics are so well balanced and function with sunch uncanny smoothness that this TT is a true delight to put through its paces and drive every day.
This car is the again the quintessence of what Audi understands in "Wertarbeit", or "creating value", and this shows clearly in the attention to detail seen and felt throughout the car.
This car will do its happy owner proud for years to come, and will deliver him exquisite driving pleasure every inch of the way, whilst being economical, reliable and retaining value.
Do we need more? Maybe, like testing one of the sublime petrol engined versions for example, with the quattro 4WD setup in the coupé body version would also be very interesting... Just stay posted!
Hans Knol ten Bensel