Audi TT Review

Find out more about the Audi TT in the latest Motors.co.uk Review

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4
Out of 5

Pros

  • It's a design icon
  • Excellent interior materials and ergonomics
  • Efficient engines, despite performance

Cons

  • The ride can be harsh
  • Rear seats are almost useless
  • Not an engaging drive
  • MPG

    34 - 46

  • CO2

    138 - 183 g/km

History

The TT was first made available in 1998, after debuting as a styling exercise at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1995. It's currently in its third generation, having been launched anew in 2014.

Traditional rivals for the TT range include BMW's Z4 and the Mercedes-Benz SLC, although neither of these has the four-wheel drive option available with the majority of the Audi TT variants.

A more recent rival is the BMW 2 Series, which can be specified with xDrive four-wheel drive. There's a wide range of TT models on offer, so buyers may also cross-shop more expensive models with the Porsche 718 Cayman and Boxster.

Although originally revealed as a convertible, the TT has also been available as a 2-door coupe throughout its life.

In all three generations, the car has shared its underpinnings, engine and gearbox range with the Audi A3, so ultimately it derives from the Volkswagen Golf, but this has given owners the best of both worlds with the stylish body covering proven and, due to popularity, inexpensive to maintain mechanical components.

Latest model

The most recent version of the TT bears more than a passing resemblance to Audi's range-topping, £120,000 R8 supercar, with only the lack of that car's prominent 'side-blades' giving the game away. It's based on the very latest Volkswagen Group 'MQB' platform that you'll find in the current Golf and Audi A3.

Trim levels will be very familiar to anyone who knows the Audi range, with entry-level 'Sport' models below the 'S-Line', capped off with 'Black Edition'. There's also the TTS and TT RS, which sit above the rest of the range as performance variants.

All TT models other than the range-topping TT RS are powered by either a 1.8-litre petrol engine, a 2.0-litre petrol engine or, unusually, a 2.0-litre diesel engine. This 181bhp diesel car is, as you may expect, the slowest TT with a 0-60mph time of 7.1s in roadster form, but also has a 60.1mpg fuel economy rating and as little as 124g/km CO2.

The 1.8 petrol models are exclusively front-wheel drive, but you can specify four-wheel drive 'quattro' with either of the other engine choices, providing extra traction in poor road conditions. A dual-clutch sequential automatic gearbox is also available.

The TT RS model sports a 395bhp, 2.5 litre petrol engine and is only available with quattro four-wheel drive. Whichever model you pick, the TT comes in both coupe and convertible – or 'roadster' – body styles.

Most eye-catching of all is the TT's new interior. The high-quality materials are almost a given, but the design – from the clever heating controls inside the air vents to the Virtual Cockpit display system in the instrument binnacle – is outstanding.

Value for money

The TT range starts with the 184bhp, 1.8-litre petrol engine in the coupe body, in Sport specification at £28,080. Despite being the entry level car, Sport models are equipped with pretty much everything you'll need from your TT, with 18-inch alloy wheels (which make for the best ride quality), the 12.7-inch Virtual Cockpit display, DAB radio, leather and Alcantara sports seats, a retractable rear spoiler, LED daytime running lights, cruise control and keyless start.

S-Line is a £2,650 step up, with prices starting at £30,630, and this adds the larger, 19-inch alloy wheels along with LED headlights, dynamic LED rear indicators, the clever manual air-conditioning system, light and rain sensors and a selection of S-Line styling items, including different dashboard inlays and S-Line badging in the cabin.

It's only another £1,600 up to Black Edition, but this adds a Bang & Olufsen sound system and a unique black styling pack which includes privacy glass.

All three specifications are available with any of the three engines and in coupe or, for £1,765 more, roadster bodies.

Performance enthusiasts would be tempted towards the TTS, which uses a 306bhp version of the 2.0 turbo petrol engine – a hike of 80bhp. Starting at £40,315, this models adds to the S-Line grade with an inevitable TTS styling pack, but also full Nappa leather sports seats with heating and an extended leather pack, Audi magnetic ride suspension with vehicle lowering and Audi drive mode select. This can also be upgraded with a Black Edition pack to include the styling elements, privacy glass and B&O sound system.

The jewel in the performance crown is the 395bhp TT RS, with a 2.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine. This comes with a hefty £51,800 price tag for the roadster model, but brings with it RS sports suspension, RS brake system, RS-specific quattro, twin-pipe RS exhaust system (with a button to make it louder!) and a fixed rear wing.

Whichever model TT you pick, its value is likely to hold well. The new TT RS is the first such model since the new generation was introduced in 2014, but previous cars are still holding around 70 per cent of their value despite being 5 years old – so you could pick one up for the price of a reasonably well-specified 2.0-litre petrol of the current model.

Looks and image

The TT has always been very much a fashionable vehicle, dating right back to that very first concept car reveal over 20 years ago. The modern cars are more angular than the domed original, tending more towards the new face of Audi with sharp lines and a deep trapezoidal grille, but the basic proportions and shape remain and as such it has a very strong image.

The Audi brand too has a reputation for high quality interiors and attention to fit and finish, and it's no different with the TT. With the convertible available on any variation of trim and engine, it's also a good way to show just how high quality the interior is to all and sundry.

There have always been some question marks over the driving pleasure the TT brings. There can be little argument about the performance on offer, and the added traction of quattro four-wheel drive is a boon in awful British weather – the TT need not be a fair weather garage queen – but when it comes to involvement, reviewers consistently mark it behind rivals. This may come down to the humble origins of the TT's mechanical parts, but ultimately it should make little difference day-to-day for most.

Space and practicality

One thing that the TT doesn't score highly on is practicality. Although nominally a 2+2 – a car with two proper seats in the front and two much smaller seats in the back – the fact is that the rear seats are fundamentally useless, even for children. It's better to think of the car as a regular two-seat coupe, and indeed in the roadster model they're completely absent.

Boot space is a surprise though. At 305 litres (280 litres for the roadster), it's only a little smaller than many C-segment hatchbacks and no worse than most superminis. It is unusually shallow though, so not great for carrying taller items. The rear seats can be folded down on the coupe to liberate 712 litres, which makes it comfortably better than rivals.

Engines

There's three basic engines on offer in the TT, with a 1.8-litre petrol, a 2.0-litre petrol and a 2.0-litre diesel.

The 1.8-litre petrol can be considered the entry-level unit, as it's the cheapest and lowest-powered. It has 177bhp, which allows for a 0-60mph sprint of 6.7s from the coupe and emissions from 138g/km.

Although marginally slower to 60mph, the 181bhp 2.0-litre diesel 'ultra' engine provides the best fuel economy and emissions performance, with as little as 124g/km and up to 60.1mpg possible. It's also around 1mph faster than the smaller petrol, depending on the options you have selected.

The regular range is topped by a 227bhp, 2.0-litre petrol engine. This can propel the TT to 60mph in 5.1s, depending on your specification, but with up to 46.3mpg and 141g/km CO2, it's relatively frugal for the performance.

The TTS uses a 306bhp version of this same 2.0-litre petrol engine. With four-wheel drive as standard, 60mph will come up in as little as 4.4s, but still records a combined fuel economy of 40.9mpg with the dual-clutch automatic gearbox in coupe form – equivalent to 159g/km CO2.

Sitting out on its own is the TT RS's 395bhp 2.5-litre petrol engine, which drops the 0-60mph time to an astonishing 3.5s but, at 34.4mpg and 187g/km, doesn't cost the Earth at the pumps either.

Running costs

It should probably go without saying that the diesel engined TT  is the one for those conscious of the effect on their bank balance. Even despite the price difference in the two fuels at the pumps, the 2.0 TDI ultra has a significant edge at 60.1mpg, and 124g/km CO2 puts it into the lowest VED bracket possible for a TT. Be aware though that if you specify four-wheel drive, this economy will fall, as will things like larger wheel options and, most of all, the convertible body option even if you keep the roof closed.

It's not a horrible car for insurance either. The bulk of the range sits between groups 32 and 37, with the entry-level 1.8 Sport taking the lowest spot. Even the TTS and TT RS are only in groups 42 and 43 respectively, which is not too steep considering the performance on offer.

Maintenance costs are traditionally not savage for the TT, thanks largely to those Golf-derived mechanical components. Parts availability means repairs, should they be needed, are usually not too expensive.

Things to look out for

The very first TTs suffered from an extremely well-publicised fault that precipitated a recall after a number of high-speed crashes in Europe. In essence, the very stylish body had some unusual instability at Autobahn speeds that could lead to a loss of control. This was fixed at recall with the addition of a small, ducktail type spoiler – although some owners didn't like the way it spoiled the lines and there are still uncorrected examples out there.

Other than that, the TT has been largely a success story of robustness. The earlier engines are well-known for strength, though ensure that the cambelt and tensioners have been changed on schedule to keep it that way. It's not a light car either, so suspension and brake components can take a bit of a beating. Some early cars also developed electrical faults in the instrument binnacle.

Rivals

The most enduring rivalry for the TT is the Mercedes-Benz SLC (previously known as the SLK), although BMW's small coupes – the Z3, Z4 and, more recently, the 2-Series – are also in the mix.

Higher-performance Audi TT models also find themselves up against the Porsche 718 Boxster and Cayman models, which bring a similar prestige air to the smaller coupe/convertible sector. More recent rivals could include the Toyota GT86 and even the Ford Mustang.

Depreciation warning

The TT is as popular as a used car as it is as a new car, so you can expect values to remain pretty buoyant even over longer periods of time. The current generation has been available for a little under three years now and, like-for-like, cars are retaining around 60-65% of their new value on the secondhand market.

Which TT to Pick

Cheapest to Buy When New

40 TFSI Sport 2dr S Tronic

Most MPG

40 TFSI Sport 2dr S Tronic

Fastest Model (0-60)

TT RS TFSI Quattro 2dr S Tronic Rs

Trims Explained

There are six different specifications of the Audi TT, with three in the regular range, two for the TTS model and then the TT RS as a standalone.

Sport

'Sport' is the entry level, but despite this it's equipped with the majority of what you would consider the essential kit, from the Virtual Cockpit through to keyless start and leather/Alcantara seats. It's likely to be the most popular model as a result.

Prices start from £28,080.

S-Line

The S-Line is largely a styling upgrade, with bigger, 19-inch alloy wheels, S-Line badging and interior trim differences, but also light and rain sensors. More important is the upgrade to the air-conditioning system, which may sway buyers.

Prices start from £30,630.

Black Edition

The Black Edition, whether applied to the regular S-Line car or the TTS model, adds a Bang & Olufsen sound system and a unique black styling pack which includes privacy glass.

Prices start from £32,230.

TTS

The TTS adds 80bhp more power but also full Nappa leather, Audi drive mode select and the magnetic ride suspension option.

Prices start from £40,315.

TT RS

The TT RS adds yet more power – another 90bhp – and a range of RS-specific mechanical upgrades, such as the suspension, braking and four-wheel drive system. This model also has the retractable rear spoiler replaced with a fixed wing.

Prices start from £51,800.

Summary

  1. Available as both a coupe and a convertible
  2. Coupe's rear seats are too small to be usable
  3. Virtual Cockpit is standard across the range
  4. Unusual diesel option gives low running costs
  5. Quattro four-wheel drive is available on many models
  6. TTS and TTRS performance options
  7. Interior is high quality and well laid-out
  8. Perhaps not the most exciting fast coupe to drive
  9. Even entry-grade Sport model is well equipped

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