Audi TT Coupe review

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The Audi TT Coupe is nearing the end of its production run. Jonathan Crouch takes a final look at what the third generation version has to offer.

Ten Second Review

As the production run of this third generation Audi TT coupe edges towards its end, Audi has announced well-equipped 'Final Edition' variants and a slimmed-down range reminding us that this car still has a lot to offer. As before, it really makes the numbers when it comes to performance and efficiency. Choose from 2.0 or 2.5-litre petrol, front or quattro all-wheel drive.

Background

While it's true that ubiquity has somewhat dulled its impact, it's easy to overlook quite what a remarkable car that Audi TT was when it first appeared in 1998. Prior to the TT, Audi wasn't a company renowned for great design flair. It did safe and solid. Its most desirable sporting cars in the years leading up to the TT launch were estate models. The TT changed all that. It had an interior that felt like something from a motor show stand. It offered buyers an apparently irresistible combination of Audi build quality, styling that made everything else seem old and a clever quattro all-wheel drive chassis.

The second generation model of 2006 was probably a bit of a missed opportunity. After the extremity of the first car, everything seemed to be dialled back a couple of notches. The third generation design of 2014 though, has proved to be much more desirable, fusing the driveability and slickness of the second gen version with the drama and flair of the first, while at the same time responding to shifting buyer behaviour. It won't be in production much longer.

Driving Experience

In recent years, Audi's tinkered a little with the engine line-up in this revised MK3 model TT. The old entry-level petrol unit, a 180PS 1.8-litre TFSI powerplant, has now been replaced by a 2.0-litre TFSI powertrain with 197PS (badged '40 TFSI'), while the previous 230PS 2.0 TFSI engine has benefitted from a boost to 245PS (and these days features '45 TFSI' badging). There's now no longer a diesel option. The TTS retains its existing badging but recently was tweaked with a slight reduction in power (306PS, down from 310PS) but a little extra torque to compensate, so the rest to 62mph sprint figure (4.5s) is actually fractionally improved. The flagship model remains the 400PS 2.5-litre five cylinder TT RS, which only comes with S tronic auto transmission and can get to 62mph in 3.7s.

In conjunction with the 197PS 2.0 TFSI engine, customers now have to have the seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch auto transmission that's standard across the rest of the range. The 245PS 45 TFSI variant comes only with the brand's multi-plate clutch-based quattro permanent all-wheel drive system. The TTS of course features quattro as standard. With Steptronic transmission, the close-ratio lower gears enable powerful acceleration, while the wide ratio of each transmission's highest gear reduces the engine speed and with it fuel consumption.

By networking quattro drive with the standard 'drive select' driving mode system, the TT driver can adjust the operating parameters of the all-wheel-drive system to suit his or her individual requirements. In 'auto' mode, optimum traction and balanced driving dynamics are given priority. In 'dynamic' mode, torque is distributed to the rear axle earlier and to a higher degree. In the drive select "efficiency" mode, the set-up can temporarily shut down the quattro system if conditions suit this. Audi's magnetic ride adaptive damper control system is fitted as standard to the TTS and is optional for all other versions.

Design and Build

One thing's for sure. Even if you'd never seen this car before, you'd know it was an Audi TT. Some commentators have been a little disappointed in how safe Audi has played the exterior styling but this is still a very good looking little coupe with some lovely design touches. The fuel flap on the right side panel for example, is the classic race-style circle surrounded by socket screws, with no filler cap beneath the flap. This means that there is nothing to be unscrewed and the pump nozzle slots straight into the tank neck. As for styling changes to this enhanced model, well the main one is a revised design for the three-dimensional Singleframe radiator grille and larger side air inlets.

Inside, the fascia is dominated by the Audi Virtual Cockpit, now featuring an additional sport display providing information on engine output, torque and g forces. Located directly behind the steering wheel, a 1440 x 540 pixel, 12.3-inch digital screen shows all information directly in front of the driver. Operated via the MMI Touch button, voice control and the multi-function steering wheel, the display can be switched between 'classic', with prominent speedometer and rev counter, or 'infotainment', which brings functions such as the navigation map or media to the fore.

The round air vents - a classic TT feature - are reminiscent of jet engines with their turbine-like design. The vents also contain all the controls for the air conditioning system, including seat heating where applicable, plus temperature, direction, air distribution and air flow strength. As an option, they can also house small digital displays which show the chosen setting. A 2+2, the TTS Coupe gets a load area with a capacity of 305-litres, which can be extended by folding the rear seat backrests forwards.

Market and Model

To coincide with the launch of the TT 'Final Edition' series, Audi UK has streamlined its model offering for this sports coupe. The outgoing line-up of 11 model derivatives has been reduced to six: 'S Line', 'Black Edition', 'Final Edition', 'S Final Edition', 'RS' and 'RS Sport Edition'. 'S line' model Coupe prices start from around £34,000. You'll need from around £42,000 for the 'Final Edition'-spec in front-driven 40 TFSI form, with around £46,500 needed for the 45 TFSI quattro 'Final Edition' and around £55,000 needed for the TTS 'Final Edition'. The Roadster body style requires a premium of around £1,700.

The 'Final Edition' versions are marked out by the black styling pack with black Audi rings and badging, black door mirrors, black tailpipes and a fixed rear spoiler also finished in black. Privacy glass and red brake calipers housed behind 20-inch 5-spoke Y-style, plus matt grey diamond cut alloy wheels complete the exterior upgrade. TT S 'Final Editions' ride on Audi Sport 7-spoke rotor, anthracite black alloys with gloss turned finish. Buyers have the choice between Tango Red, Glacier White and Chronos Grey metallic paint as standard.

Inside the 'Final Edition' models, the armrests in the doors, door pull handles and trim on the centre console are all finished in leather as part of the extended leather pack. An Alcantara steering wheel with red stitching and 12 o'clock marker is unique to the 'Final Edition', along with the Tango red inserts on the seats, air vents and centre console (coupe only). Further enhancements include Alcantara-trimmed seats with decorative red stitching and red piping on the floor mats.

Cost of Ownership

The TT has always been one of the most efficient sports coupes out there - and nothing's changed in that regard, though you can't have a diesel variant any more. It certainly helps that all up, the TT 40 TFSI weighs just 1,230kg thanks to the extensive use of aluminium chassis members, body panels and suspension componentry. The TT 40 TFSI variant manages 40.9mpg on the combined cycle and 156g/km of CO2. For the 45 TFSI quattro, the figures are up to 35.3mpg and 182g/km. Either way, when the Audi drive select system is set to its 'efficiency' mode, the S tronic transmission decouples and 'freewheels' each time the driver takes his or her foot off the throttle pedal.

The warranty covers you for unlimited mileage in the first two years of ownership and up to 60,000 miles in the third year and is transferable between owners. Pay more and that can be extended to a fourth year, again with unlimited miles in the first and second years but a more generous 75,000 mile allowance in years three and four. When it comes to maintenance, servicing your TT should be no more taxing than is the case with one of the company's lesser models. As usual with Audi, there's a choice of either a 'Fixed' or a 'Flexible' servicing regime, the choice between the two depending on the extent of your likely annual mileage. Residual values look set to be very beefy if previous TT models are anything to go by.

Summary

This third generation Audi TT has never caused quite the stir that the amazing first generation car did, so it needs to impress in other ways. This third take on the TT theme is an interesting amalgam of evolutionary exterior styling and some genuinely clever ideas inside the car. Improving the driving experience was clearly one of the key design criteria. And indeed, putting a TTS and a Porsche 718 Cayman back to back yields some very interesting results.

Everything seems to have been done the right way in this car. Weight has been taken out to improve efficiency and agility. Big budget has been spent on the suspension and drivetrain. The S tronic gearbox is one of the best twin-clutch systems at any price and there are some enormously clever online systems available if you have the coin. We'd have liked to have seen Audi be a bit more adventurous with the exterior styling, but other than that, this remains a desirable package.

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