by Roger Biermann
The VW Group's venerable MQB platform has spawned many a great car – the VW Golf and all its performance variants, and its siblings, the Audi A3, S3, and RS3 are all stellar vehicles. But those hot versions originate as rather humdrum commuter vehicles. The Audi TT, now in its 3rd generation is a whole lot different, being a proper sports car to rival the Mercedes-Benz SLC and Nissan 370Z. The TT can be had in either Coupe or Roadster and is available purely with quattro permanent all-wheel drive and punchy turbocharged motors. The TT possesses performance credo that's more R8-lite than Golf-based coupe.
2.0-liter Turbo Inline-4 Gas
As is becoming the norm in Audi's cars, the highlight of the cabin is the virtual cockpit digital instrument display, and it's standard on the TT. Though it features 4 seats in coupe form, it's really a 2+2 suited to only small children in the rear. For front occupants though the cabin is spacious in all aspects, and comfort is second to none. Standard sports front seats are great, but the S Sport front seats with quilted stitching, an option on the TT, are utterly sublime – available with either Alcantara or leather.
The downside to the minimalistic albeit classy interior is that there is no central display to handle audio and infotainment – it's all handled via the virtual cockpit. This can get distracting for the driver, and prevents the co-pilot from handling playlists and music – despite the MMI controller being located within reach on the center console.
The TT inherits much of its ride quality attributes from sibling MQB-based models, but with a somewhat harder edged hint. Being a sports car, the ride is firmer than it has been in previous generations, better than rivals such as Mercedes' SLC, but not quite as good as the Porsche 718 Cayman. That said, it is supple and does a great job of soaking up the bumps.
But the harder edge pays dividends when it comes to finding a twisting piece of tarmac – body roll is kept under complete control, and all body movements are precise and calculated. The steering, electronically assisted, is typically numb, but provides keen turn in and sharp responses. Audi's quattro all-wheel drive helps keep things glued to the tarmac in any conditions, and thanks to newly revised software it's capable of routing 100% of the available power to the rear to counter understeer.
The TT Coupe and Roadster are powered by a 2.0-liter turbo TFSI 4 cylinder, with 220 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. Paired with a 6-speed S tronic dual clutch automatic and AWD, 0-60mph is dealt with in 5.3 seconds – proper sports car territory that backs up the good looks on offer. Though lacking the response of naturally aspirated rivals, the TT's engine is seriously torque, and the S tronic gearbox is as rapid as they come, firing off pops and bangs on up-shifts to make for an enjoyable audio experience.
The Audi TT is available in just one trim level. Specification levels are high, with the virtual cockpit functionality being supported by automatic climate control, LED headlights, keyless entry and ignition, and a rear view camera with parking sensors. A technology package offers MMI Navigation Plus, a 12 speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality. The Audi TT has not been crash tested, but boasts ABS and stability control, along with the parking sensors and reverse camera.
The Audi TT may not quite be up to the same level of excellence as the Porsche 718 Cayman and Boxster, but the fact that those two can even be mentioned alongside the Audi is high praise. Cool and clinical, the TT is now a brutally efficient sports car.