Audi’s TT is arguably the model that drew the Ingolstadt-based brand into mainstream cool. Gone were the stoic, square sedans of the 80s and early 90s, and in was a rounded design that broke the mould of compact sportscars.
At the price, there’s a lot that the third generation TT undercuts right now, including offerings from Munich and Stuttgart, but there’s a lot more that counts over and above these models than value for money. The second TT was a massive improvement over the first. So what does the third-generation model bring to the table?
The TT’s new design is striking to say the least. It shares some styling DNA with the four-ring firm’s upcoming R8 no doubt, with angular cues that are a far cry from the original’s roundedness. The V-shaped bonnet and inward-slanting narrow headlamps along with the bulging vents in either corner of the front apron create quite an aggressive sight. The visual assault increased thanks to the daytime running light print that was inspired by the R18 e-tron quattro Le Mans Prototype. Another motorsport-inspired detail is that the metal fuel filler flap doesn’t have a nozzle cap underneath.
Highlights along the profile include standard 17-inch alloys (18-inch on the Quattro model or an optional 19-inch) that are housed underneath bulbous wheelarches and the roofline that is more raked than before. At the rear the twin tailpipes have been brought closer together, a nod to the first generation TT, while a third brake light has been tucked underneath the rear spoiler.
The TT’s cabin boasts high levels of perceived quality, as can be expected from Audi. I’ve always maintained that this company makes the best steering wheels and I’m happy to report that the deep-dish style flat-bottomed piece didn’t disappoint. The rest of the finely crafted interior is also great, but I especially appreciate that all the major controls of the interior have been angled toward the driver.
No, really, there’s nothing much for the passenger (only one, because the rear items aren’t big enough for anyone bigger than a toddler, and legroom and headroom would be serious concerns as well) to do but enjoy the experience, change ventilation controls and possible change tracks and volume of the audio system. That’s because the MMI system has been moved where one would naturally expect the instrument panel to be. Audi’s Virtual Cockpit now takes pride of place behind the steering wheel – it’s a 12-inch TFT screen that’s powered by a graphic processor by visual experts Nvidia. The system displays everything from navigational info, car status and the expected array of instruments – and the driver doesn’t need to lift a finger from the steering wheel.
Decent amount of driving fun
The TT’s 2,0-litre turbopetrol produces 169 kW between 4 500 and 6 200 r/min as well as 370 N.m of torque from as low as 1 600 N.m – a healthy dollop of grunt for overtaking acceleration in the mid range. Thanks to the amount low-down torque, there is very little need to flick down a ratio or two, either via the paddle shifters behind the steering wheel or the transmission shifter on the centre console (a dual-clutch transmission is the only gearbox currently available).
Dynamically, there was nothing I threw at the TT that it couldn’t handle. The longer wheelbase (an increase of 37 mm), near-wheel in each corner design, and large optional wheels and tyres of the TT easily dealt with the fast bends and flowing sweeps of the roads just north of Nelspruit in Mpumalanga. The front-wheel drive model I drove did more than just hold its own against the Quattro variants that were also on hand for motoring media to sample (the all-wheel drive models are about 85 kg heavier).
Taking it easier, I was also quite surprised to find that the TT was averaging around 8,0 litres/100 km – and that after some very enthusiastic driving.
After driving both variants, I would be quite happy to pick the front-wheel drive TT for everyday driving conditions. The gains of the Quattro all-wheel drive system on the local launch route were minimal. That said, there’s also a hefty R84 000 price difference between the two. The TT’s asking price is also much less than its obvious rivals and Audi’s worked hard to pack it with standard specification. Now I can’t wait for the big brother TTS…
Price: R558 000
Engine:2,0-litre, 4-cyl, turbopetrol
Power:169 kW at 4 800 -5 600 r/min
Torque:370 N.m at 1 600-4 300 r/min
0-100 km/h:5,9 seconds
Top Speed:250 km/h
Fuel Consumption:6,3 L/100 km
Transmission:seven-speed, dual-clutch auto
Maintenance Plan:5-year/100 000 km