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Driven: Audi TT Coupé 230 quattro. Image by Audi.

Driven: Audi TT Coupé 230 quattro
Third-gen Audi TT in 230hp quattro format - does it excite?


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Audi TT Coupé 230 quattro

4 4 4 4 4

Good points: stunning inside, sharp outside, great powertrain.

Not so good: could be more innovative looking and more engaging to drive.

Key Facts

Model tested: Audi TT Coupé 2.0 TFSI quattro S line 230 S tronic
Pricing: TT range from £29,810; S line 230 S tronic from £34,545, as tested £41,155
Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol
Transmission: six-speed S tronic automatic, all-wheel drive
Body style: two-door coupé
CO2 emissions: 153g/km (Band G, £180 annually)
Combined economy: 42.8mpg
Top speed: 155mph
0-62mph: 5.3 seconds
Power: 230hp at 4,500- to 6,200rpm
Torque: 370Nm at 1,600- to 4,300rpm

Our view:

The Audi TT is worth the entrance fee for its fantastic cabin, with the Virtual Cockpit 12.3-inch TFT display, alone. That might sound like a vacuous and shallow note to begin on, but the TT really is superb inside and that wonderful, wide digital instrument cluster is the star attraction. It takes a little bit of familiarisation before you can use the menus without a few incorrect clicks but once you've got to grips with it, you'll wonder why all cars haven't had this feature before. That it's an option on some Audi models in the UK, now that it is available, is criminal but at least the TT gets it as standard across the board. We absolutely love it.

Of course, the TT has never struggled to win buyers who are primarily interested in aesthetics. Since the original Mk1 came out in the UK in 1999, it has flown out of showrooms purely on the basis of its looks. The Mk3 is not going to struggle on this score, given it is a very mild evolution of the adored Mk2, which in turn wasn't a million miles away from the first TT. The current car looks good, with nicely defined lines and angular light clusters, but it's hardly a sea-change and there's a danger of familiarity breeding contempt. It's a long way away as we type, yet we're already hoping the Mk4 is a bit more adventurous.

No, what Audi has promised with the current TT is that it will entertain those of us who have always lamented the coupé's focus on style over substance. Various fast TTs have come and gone without ever lighting the keener driver's fire, but with this new model, the promise is that it will have some dynamic verve underneath the urbane appearance.

So we chose to test the variant that's closest in spirit to the originator, which had 225hp and all-wheel drive. Sixteen years on, this is a 230hp, all-wheel drive version. There is a more powerful TTS petrol variant, while the 230hp engine can be had with just front-wheel drive and a diesel 'ultra' model makes up the range. Many launch reviews said the front-wheel drive car is the sweeter drive of the line-up, but as the quattro is the heartland of the TT ethos, a well-specified S line S tronic it is.

We must first address the options of big wheels and the firmer S line Sports suspension, which is 10mm lower and tougher in outlook than that found on lesser models. We've heard anecdotally of people who've complained of back pain from the 20s and S line Sports springs/dampers, but thankfully our car had 19s and the 'normal' suspension set-up. We'd advise you to steer clear of the Sports option, then, as even on our car the ride was firm, especially at low speeds, yet one long journey down the M1, A43, A34 and into deepest Surrey didn't turn into purgatory at any point. There are probably gentler set-ups you can pick in the TT range than this but if you're someone who wants a higher specification with all the visual posturing that entails, this 19s-and-normal-S-line combination is about bearable day-to-day.

The engine and gearbox are the TT's main forte. This 2.0 is a rare old spec in the Volkswagen Group these days, to our knowledge only being used in the Golf GTI Performance Pack and this TT. But like all 'EA888' engines, it's a belter. Sharp on the throttle and keen to rev, it generates a superb noise too and in the 1,335kg quattro coupé it makes for punchy performance. Overtaking is a whirlwind affair of traction and exhaust blare, the muffled pops and bangs from the exhausts on upshifts from the crisp S tronic six-speed auto only adding to the enjoyment.

On the subject of weight, quattro adds 75kg to the 230's total and because four-wheel drive means S tronic only, it's a full 105kg heavier than the 230 front-wheel drive manual. That has some impact on running costs - the quattro is in Band G for VED, instead of the front-wheel drive manual and S tronic models' Band F (£145 per annum), while economy drops to 42.8mpg from the manual's 46.3mpg. But all-wheel grip shaves a huge 0.7 seconds off the 0-62mph time, the quattro bursting to 62mph from rest in a mere 5.3 seconds. That's a scant 0.4 seconds off the TTS Coupé and only 0.1 seconds behind the TTS Roadster.

And at 1.3 tonnes the TT is still, by today's standards, a reasonably light car and that permeates into the handling. It cuts clean lines through any corner you care to show it, with less push-on understeer than before and even a trace of rear axle interactivity. The steering wheel isn't bereft of feel but neither is it the most informative of racks, although it is at least direct and consistent. The brakes are excellent and the body control first rate - all of which allows you to traverse a two-lane, undulating and meandering A-road at a bonkers rate without really trying. There's little need for the TTS version unless you're a track regular, if we're honest.

And that's sort of the problem. Once again, the TT lacks that final degree of polish and engagement that separates the very, very good from the bloody sublime. It's all just a bit clinical in the quattro coupé; you never get the feeling that you're experiencing or eliciting something from the car that other drivers might not. The suspicion that overrides everything is that anyone could drive the TT quattro near or at its limits within a very short time of sliding behind that flat-bottomed wheel and glorious instrument cluster. This is not perhaps the end of the world but if you're after a sense of driver reward, the Porsche Cayman - expensive though it is - is definitely going to be your first port of call.

Nevertheless, there's promise in the TT's chassis and it is the most enjoyable version of Audi's compact sports car we've yet driven. And that includes the old S and RS models that have gone before. So even though it doesn't quite hit the highest dynamic heights, we're big fans of the new TT. Especially that superb digital dashboard.


Nissan 370Z: hard to write anything about Nissan's coupé without using the hackneyed phrase 'old-school', yet that's arguably its charm; perhaps not as able as the Audi but more fun.

Porsche Cayman: dynamics place it in a different league to even this excellent TT, although it'll cost you - in terms of equipment, base models are, well... basic.

Volkswagen Scirocco: the danger is people will think you couldn't quite afford the TT if you buy one of these. Not as nice to look at or drive as the Audi, but at least it's usefully cheaper.

Matt Robinson - 12 Oct 2015    - Audi road tests
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2015 Audi TT. Image by Audi.2015 Audi TT. Image by Audi.2015 Audi TT. Image by Audi.2015 Audi TT. Image by Audi.2015 Audi TT. Image by Audi.

2015 Audi TT. Image by Audi.2015 Audi TT. Image by Audi.2015 Audi TT. Image by Audi.2015 Audi TT. Image by Audi.2015 Audi TT. Image by Audi.

2015 Audi TT. Image by Audi.

2015 Audi TT. Image by Audi.

2015 Audi TT. Image by Audi.

2015 Audi TT. Image by Audi.

2015 Audi TT. Image by Audi.

2015 Audi TT. Image by Audi.

2015 Audi TT. Image by Audi.

2015 Audi TT. Image by Audi.


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