First drive: Audi TT

2014 Audi TT. Although obviously an Audi TT the third generation has a smarter, slicker exterior. See PA Feature MOTORING Road Test. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/Handout. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature MOTORING Road Test.
2014 Audi TT. Although obviously an Audi TT the third generation has a smarter, slicker exterior. See PA Feature MOTORING Road Test. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/Handout. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature MOTORING Road Test.
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WHAT’S NEW?: You don’t have to be a car-ista to know about the Audi TT. Since the first generation appeared in 1999, it’s been the choice of the fashion-conscious, but it took until the second model in 2005 before the driving experience could match its looks.

Now the third generation has arrived and it promises to move the TT forward in a significant way. Like the old car, it uses a mix of aluminium and high-strength steels to keep the weight down, yet it’s 50kg lighter than the old car. It also debuts what Audi terms the ‘virtual cockpit’ - a large display screen where the instruments would normally be. Add to that a new exterior, interior and refreshed engines and there’s plenty to take in.

LOOKS AND IMAGE: You’d be forgiven for thinking that third generation TT is barely changed, but park one next to the old car and the differences become clearer. It’s broader in the shoulder and more edgy than before, particularly at the front, where there’s a mean six-sided grille and vertical LEDs in the headlights to match the R15 Le Mans racer. The unique curved roof stays, and hotter TTs models get a more distinctive nose. A job well done, then.

SPACE AND PRACTICALITY: Move to the inside and the focus is clearly on those up front. The virtual cockpit means an uncluttered dashboard, and there’s plenty of clever thinking here. The air vents house the controls for the air con itself, while the instrument display is crystal clear and informative.

Front seat passengers have good space for head and legs and the boot is 13 litres larger than before - but the rear seats remain the domain of children, unless your adult friends are very short in stature.

BEHIND THE WHEEL: There’s three flavours to choose from; 2.0-litre TFSI in 227bhp and 306bhp forms, plus the 181bhp 2.0-litre TDI Ultra. The lower-output petrol is likely to be the most popular and strikes a good balance between performance and efficiency.

Wring it out and it will hit 62mph in 6.0 seconds flat, half a second quicker if you go for Quattro four-wheel-drive and the S tronic gearbox, yet it can also manage 39.2mpg combined. There’s a pleasing gruffness to the exhaust note when you rev it out yet it is quiet and refined when cruising.

With standard suspension, the TT fractionally prioritises comfort over ultimate handling but for everyday use it’s judged very well; it handles neatly, with strong grip and a sense of security while doing a fine job of soaking up bumps.

VALUE FOR MONEY: All versions get the clever virtual cockpit as standard, the touchpad MMI control system to operate it, keyless go and the Audi Drive Select system. There’s leather and Alcantara sports seats, 18-inch alloy wheels and LED daytime running lights as standard too, but you need to pay extra to get sat-nav and fully automatic climate control.

WHO WOULD BUY ONE? If you loved the previous TTs then this one will be right up your street. Fashion-conscious buyers will be happy to be seen stepping out of it, but now keener drivers can get excited about it too. It’s not the ultimate sports car, but it’s sharp enough and sufficiently good fun to keep the majority of drivers very happy.

THIS CAR SUMMED UP IN A SINGLE WORD: Teutonic

IF THIS CAR WAS A...: Gadget, it would be an iPhone 6; this season’s must-have.

FACTS AT A GLANCE

Audi TT 2.0-litre TFSI, £29,770

Engine:2.0-litre unit producing 227bhp and 273lb/ft of torque

Transmission: Six-speed manual gearbox driving the front wheels

Performance: Top speed 155mph (limited), 0-62mph in 6.0 seconds

Economy: 47.9mpg combined

Emissions: 137g/km of CO2