When Audi first launched the original TT back in the 1990’s, it served as proof of the brand’s unwavering commitment to design and engineering. It put Audi, a brand recognized for its engineering, on the design map as well. The second-generation model, though better in every aspect, lacked the uncompromising style of the original. And now, the third-generation model is here and if there’s anything the daring lines says, it’s this: it’s a mix of emotion, dynamism, and high-tech.
The geometrical and cohesive shape has always been a trademark of the TT’s design and for this new model, this familiar silhouette is mixed in with the newest Audi design cues. Thanks to Robert Downey Jr., and Iron Man, everyone mistakes the TT as the R8. And that’s a good thing to would-be TT owners. Dimensionally, it’s close to the second-generation model, but it looks wider and lower than it really is. The longer wheelbase and shorter overhangs help, but aesthetically, it’s the job of the broad “Singleframe” grille and large gapping intakes at front and the broad shoulders and thin LED third brake light spanning the entire rear end at the back.
After admiring the exterior design, it’s time to jump in. Sharing its platform with more mass-market models such as the Audi A3 and Volkswagen Golf (MQB Platform), the seating positioning is higher than that of a Porsche Boxster, for example. This detracts from creating a true sports car feel, but helps in visibility. Plus, there’s no confusing the TT for an A3. In keeping with tradition, it’s a design showcase.
Underscoring lightness and sportiness, Audi has simplified and de-cluttered the interior. The center display is eliminated and everything is displayed instead in a single digital unit called the Audi Virtual Cockpit. Located in front of the driver, this crisp, high-quality TFT display renders every other in-car screen obsolete and re-configures itself depending on the particular requirement. All functions can be controlled using the steering wheel toggle switches, but there’s still a rotary dial between the front seats for those who’re more accustomed to that arrangement. A personal favorite though is the migration of the climate controls from their usual location to directly onto the air vents. It’s both aesthetically pleasing and intuitive.
With all displays centered around the driver, operating the TT is largely down to one person. Passengers can complain about the lack of a central screen and the novelty of riding around staring at nothing may wear off; but then again, this is a sports car. Front occupants will love the supportive seats along with the generous amounts of head, shoulder, and legroom. Unfortunately, despite the longer wheelbase, the rear seats are limited to kids measuring 145 centimeters (4’9”) because of the sweeping roofline. The same roofline eats up luggage space ending up to just 305 liters. If thought of as a two-seater with a large trunk, then the cargo room grows to 712 liters with the rear seats down.
The main source of entertainment is found in the iron block EA888 2.0-liter turbocharged gasoline engine. If it sounds familiar, it’s the same one powering the Golf GTI only it’s been uprated to 230 horsepower and 370 Nm of torque for duty here. Despite the modest power rating, it feels remarkably punchy. There’s some turbo lag, but it’s masked by the quick-acting dual clutch automatic. Push the gas pedal and it rushes forward with hisses and whooshes. Release the throttle at full song and the exhaust lets out a crackle and a burble. This is the good stuff. It reaches 100 km/h in just 5.9 seconds and a maximum speed of 250 km/h. Fuel economy is respectable at 10.10 km/L mixed city/highway use (average speed 28 km/h). This figure goes down to 6.80 km/L when stuck in the city and goes up to 15.62 km/L when cruising on the highway.
Surprisingly fun in a straight line, it’s even more so at corners. Thanks to better visibility, it’s easy to position during full attack mode. Turn in and the steering obliges with a wonderfully precise and nicely weighted feel. There’s also hardly any lean and the grip levels are huge making this a great car to barrel through a winding road in. Driving down Tagaytay one wet evening does reveal the TT’s single flappable moment: the front wheels can struggle to put all that power down in slippery conditions.
Treated civility though, the TT is a well-rounded car. If not being tossed around corners, it gives a firm, but comfortable ride. The standard 18-inch alloy wheels may look rather small for shapely body, but they do contribute in absorbing a lot of the bumps. Going up to 19- or 20-inchers may result in a crashier ride. There are some bumps that do make it inside, but the stiff body shell keeps it to a minimum. Its design emphasis as a long-distance tourer is made apparent with its remarkably quiet cabin with only a hint of wind noise from the frameless window and the burly exhaust note at full song.
The third-generation Audi TT succeeds once more in mixing design and engineering; becoming a car that’s as good to drive as it is to look at. More than that though, it’s just not how fast it is or how well it handles that makes the 2016 model brilliant. It’s the overall package from its well-sculpted design to its high-tech and user-friendly interior to its luxurious levels of fit and finish; Audi has certainly upped the game with the TT.
2016 Audi TT
|Ownership||2016 Audi TT|
|Vehicle Classification||Sports Car|
|Body Type||2-door Coupe|
|Engine / Drive||F/F|
|Under the Hood|
|Aspiration||Direct Injection, Turbo|
|Layout / # of Cylinders||I4|
|BHP @ rpm||230 @ 4,500-6,200|
|Nm @ rpm||370 @ 1,600-4,300|
|Fuel / Min. Octane||Gasoline / 95~|
|Dimensions and Weights|
|Curb Weight (kg)||1,335|
|Suspension and Tires|
|Front Suspension||Independent, MacPherson Struts|
|Rear Suspension||Independent, Multi-link|
|Front Brakes||Vented Disc|
|Rear Brakes||Vented Disc|
|Tires||Continental ContiSportContact 5 245/40 R 18 Y (f & r)|
|Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS)||Yes|
|Traction / Stability Control||Yes|
|Parking Sensors||Yes, Front and Rear|
|Fog Lamps||Yes, Front and Rear|
|Steering Wheel Adjustment||Tilt/Telescopic|
|Steering Wheel Material||Leather|
|Seating Adjustment||Electric (driver)|
|Folding Rear Seat||Yes, 50/50|
|Power Door Locks||Yes|
|Power Mirrors||Yes, with Fold|
|No. of Speakers||8|
|Steering Wheel Controls||Yes|