Audi TT Review
The Audi TT strikes an excellent balance between being fantastic to drive and gorgeous to look at. Just don’t expect to carry any passengers in its minuscule rear seats.
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The Audi TT is a small sports car which is stylish to look at, fun to drive and very easy to live with. It isn’t quite as sporty to drive as the likes of the brawnier BMW 2 Series, but it comes with a fabulous interior and looks sportier than ever thanks to a selection of subtle mid-life tweaks.
Take the front and rear bumpers for example – especially in S-Line cars. These come with contrasting air intakes and a ground-hugging splitter, just like on the faster TTS model. The side skirts also have angular bulges jutting out behind the doors like chiselled cheekbones and you can get your TT in a range of bright colours ranging from a tasteful blue to a particularly in-your-face orange.
Climb inside, and the latest Audi TT doesn’t look all that different from the car it replaces. Thankfully, that’s no bad thing. The TT’s cabin is one of the most instantly recognisable of any small sports car thanks to its neat trio of air vents, uncluttered design and huge digital driver’s display which you get as standard. It’s certainly more memorable than the BMW 2 Series’ rather mundane interior.
Sadly, the compact Audi TT is nowhere near as spacious inside as the boxier BMW. Sure, there’s plenty of space for adults to get comfy in the front but the back seats are more of a token gesture than a genuinely usable proposition. It’s the same story with the Audi’s boot. It’s smaller than the BMW’s but at least there’s still space for a few small suitcases and a couple of soft bags.
If the Audi TT isn’t quite practical enough, just fold the back seats down and treat it as a tiny two-seater with a giant boot. Problem solved.
Chances are you won’t be using your Audi TT to carry great big loads or lots of passengers around. More likely you’ll be taking the long way home from a big lunch on a quiet Sunday afternoon. In this respect, the Audi TT does very well indeed.
Its small size and light weight mean it feels very nimble in tight country lanes, yet it still has enough poke from its 2-litre petrol engine to put a smile on your face when you press the accelerator – especially the more potent 245hp models.
Sure, even these aren’t as fast as the range-topping BMW 2 Series with its more powerful six-cylinder engine, but – unlike the BMW – you can get the Audi TT with four-wheel drive which gives you a little extra confidence on unfamiliar roads and in slippery conditions. It’s even reasonably quiet at speed so it’s pretty relaxing to drive for long periods. Especially if you pick a model with an automatic gearbox.
This changes gear smoothly at speed and responds very quickly to the paddles on the steering wheel. It can be a little jerky around town and the Audi TT’s low-slung body means squeezing through a tight width-restrictor isn’t as easy as in the more upright BMW. But, you can get it with a self-parking system to minimise the risk of low-speed bumps and scrapes and its light controls mean it feels much like a hum-drum hatchback when you’re stuck in traffic on the morning commute.
In fact, this is what makes the Audi TT such a great all-rounder. It’s huge fun to storm along on a quiet backroad, yet drives just like an Audi A3 when you don’t fancy letting your hair down and just want to head home.
The Audi TT’s fantastic fun to drive and impressively comfortable for a sports car but alternatives are more exciting and faster
Audi’s engineers have finally cracked it with this TT – it feels genuinely sporty and engaging to drive
You can get the TT with a pair of 2.0-litre petrol engines and with either a manual or an automatic gearbox.
Entry-level cars come with a 197hp engine which drives the front wheels through an automatic ‘box. This car will accelerate from 0-60mph in 6.6 seconds so it feels pretty nippy and – as an added bonus – it’s the most economical TTs you can buy. Audi claims it’ll return more than 46mpg, but you can expect to see a figure closer to 40mpg in normal driving conditions. The automatic ‘box is smooth and responsive most of the time but feels a little jerky when you’re parking or pottering slowly around town.
The faster 245hp model is much more fun, however. It’ll sprint from 0-62mph in as little as 5.8 seconds (with the automatic gearbox fitted) so it’s easily fast enough to put a huge smile on your face on a twisty road but won’t cost the earth to run. This model is also available with a six-speed manual gearbox if you prefer to change gears yourself and can be had with four-wheel drive for a little extra grip in slippery conditions.
Even faster TTS and TT RS models are available, powered by 306hp four-cylinder and 400hp five-cylinder engines respectively. Both are seriously rapid – the TT RS will happily eat a Porsche 718 Cayman S for breakfast – but they’ll cost significantly more to buy and run than the standard car.
The TT’s low-slung body, sloping roofline and small side windows make it slightly tricky to drive around town. It’s reasonably easy to spot approaching traffic but you’ll have trouble sneaking it through width restrictors without wincing.
Rear parking sensors come fitted as standard but, for a little extra peace of mind, pick either the optional reversing camera or the park assist feature that’ll steer for you into parallel and bay parking spaces.
Once you’ve found your way out of town, you’ll hear more tyre roar in the Audi TT than in a BMW 2 Series and there’s a distinct whistle from the wing mirrors at motorway speeds. Neither are excessively loud, however, and you can easily drown them out with the excellent stereo.
The Audi TT strikes a better balance between sharp handling and comfort than most sports cars – especially if you avoid the optional 19-inch alloy wheels. It’ll cruise happily over fairly rutted roads without sending any jarring bumps through the cabin yet barely rolls in tight corners and four-wheel drive versions grip the road like a climber’s fingertips on a rock face. It doesn’t feel soft and squidgy like Ford Mustang or quite as twitchy as a BMW 2 Series – it’s one of the most approachable and easy-to-drive performance cars on sale.
You get cruise control as standard to help make long journeys more bearable but you can upgrade your Audi TT with plenty of additional safety features for extra peace of mind. Traffic-sign recognition, blind-spot detection and lane-keeping assist to help stop you wandering out of your lane on motorways are all available as optional extras.
The TT’s interior looks absolutely fantastic and comes with bundles of neat features, but you’ll have to pay extra for sat nav across the range