The new 2015 Audi TT Coupe doesn’t surprise but does satisfy – and the all-new interior sets a new standard for the class.
PETER BURGESS | SEPTEMBER 2014
The original TT was Audi’s ticket to the big league. Before it, the firm was considered a worthy rival to BMW, but not quite a premiership player. The TT arrived in 1998, transformed the image overnight with its radical styling (becoming an instant icon itself), and opened the door for Audi to become the design-led success it is today.
How do you follow that up? With difficulty. The Mk2 TT was more of the same. And this Mk3? Again, more of the same, but perfected. Audi’s gone back to the clean, geometric design that made the original so iconic, tidying up some of the wavy and less purist features of the current model. The result is, to these eyes at least, a success. Evolution has made it stronger.
Audi’s challenge will be in communicating this to customers…
At launch, it’s offered only in TT Coupe guise, with a tiny range of three engines: a pair of 2.0-litre TFSI petrols or TDI ultra diesel, that’s it. The diesel is front-wheel drive, the petrol comes in both. The hotter 2.0 TFSI is badged TTS, with an amusing-sounding 310hp engine, but we’ll drive that separately. Here, we’re testing the core model in the range, the 230hp petrol.
What’s the Audi TT Coupe like to drive?
For a current TT owner, there won’t be many surprises. The new TT drives very much like the previous model. That’s no real disrespect, because the second-generation car was a big leap forward over the original. Audi says that the first TT was design-led, but by the time the next TT was launched, the emphasis was more on making it a better driver’s car. A fair appraisal, in our view.
At this stage, we have only had an hour in one model and we intentionally picked the £30k 2.0 TFSI. That’s the TT with the turbocharged petrol engine, manual transmission and front wheel drive. The one most people will buy. Obviously it lacks the quattro four-wheel-drive of the original TTs sold in the UK, but as Audi has already found, for most buyers, this isn’t really an issue.
With the weight of the TT down by 50kg in some cases, and the power of this entry-level model up to 230hp, there’s a recipe for some real sports car prowess. And if your idea of a sports car is a good looking coupe that will better 100mph up a motorway slip road while no one is looking, then this TT is an unqualified success.
But by more a more serious measure, and here we put the Audi up against the Boxster and, yes, the Mazda MX-5, the TT is in the second division. Even though all the early cars get adaptive damping which means, at the stab of a button, you can change the chassis settings from Comfort, Dynamic, Efficiency (eh? what makes a chassis setting efficient?) and Auto: the result is that a very comfortable ride is possible, but the handling is still some way short of the sheer entertainment values offered by the Porsche or Mazda.
The TT also feels like a chunky, substantial car through the bends, which makes placing it accurately is quite difficult at times. Funnily it is a touch narrower than its predecessor, less curvy in the flanks. You don’t sense this behind the wheel.
Is the TT Coupe now the best sports car on sale?
You’ll have already worked out that the answer is no. But ignore Audi’s insistence on calling it a sports car and ask the question “is this the best coupe on sale” and you are close to getting a yes vote.
The TT is an extremely polished machine. It uses the now well-proven MQB modular chassis that’s already established itself in the Golf and Audi A3. Most of the other technology is familiar too, but we don’t have an issue with that either.
The styling harks back to the original, with a sharper edge between roof and rear deck. But it is the interior that Audi is shouting about, more so than any other aspect of the new TT. The iconic rotary fresh air vents have been reconfigured: there’s now five of them, now containing electronic temperature and distribution controls in their centre. Very neat.
Then there’s the “virtual cockpit display”. How to explain this? Right in front of the driver is a wide, irregular TFT (thin-film transistor) display. It’s like you get on a high-end laptop, and you can select what’s displayed. So you can have the satnav with small speedometer and rev counter, or perhaps larger control displays alongside your MP3 music from your phone.
This is deeply impressive, and the way forward for other Audis too. Interesting too that Audi took the decision here, along with the forthcoming new R8, to direct the information at the driver, with the result that the passenger has a much less satisfactory view of, say, the satnav map. Other future Audis will take a more conventional approach with the map in the centre of the car.
MR verdict: 2015 Audi TT Coupe
The British buy more Audi TTs than any other market, even the Germans and Americans. So they will wait with baited breath for the new model. And, we think, risk being somewhat underwhelmed when it arrives.
Why? Well, it looks so predictably similar to the previous TT. We’re guessing that many won’t even know you’ve replaced your Audi TT with the new model.
Yet if you are a TT lover you are going to be bowled over by the new interior, which raises the game to a whole new level. You’re likely to be pleased with the way your TT drives too. If you notice any difference at all, that is.
Rivals: Audi TT Coupe
- Peugeot RCZ
- BMW M235i
- Porsche Boxster
- Toyota GT86/Subaru BRZ
- Mazda MX-5
It’s a sign of how well designed the Peugeot is that it’s considered an alternative to the TT – particularly in hot R guise. The BMW M235i is a performance gem that now has, unlike the old 1 Series, standout styling. The Porsche Boxster is more money but more of a genuine sportscar; the Mazda MX-5 is a more back-to-basics alternative but just as much fun. Then there are the bargain GT86/BRZ twins, the Subaru being the better bargain of the two by a healthy £2500 margin.
Specification: Audi TT Coupe
Engine: 2.0-litre TFSI petrol
Gearbox: Six-speed manual
Price from: £29,860
Torque: 272lb ft
0-62mph: 6.0 seconds
Top speed: 137mph