Redesigned Audi TTS takes technology to a different place for 2016

The 2016 Audi TTS is all-new for 2016. It is offered only in coupe form, unlike the TT which is offered both as a coupe and roadster.

2016 Audi TTS

Rating:Star5 Star Star Star Star

Audi has completely redesigned its TT and TTS for 2016, and one of the changes the Germans came up with may first have you wondering “what the heck?” but later reconsidering to “hey, this is a cool idea.”

All the infotainment functions — including the menu for vehicle settings, radio and media, and the optional navigation system — are displayed on a monitor right in front of the driver in the instrument panel in what Audi terms a “virtual cockpit.”

No, they don’t replace the traditional speedometer and tachometer in the usual instrument cluster. Those two key gauges are off to either side of the 12.3-inch screen and can even be enlarged with the push of a steering wheel button marked “view.”

The various functions are operated off the MMI control knob conveniently located on the center console. Simply selected the desired mode — menu, radio, media, navigation, phone, and other settings — by pushing the correct button (also on the console) and then spin the knob to get to the desired function.

Frankly, this makes it sound a bit complicated, but after a short period of adjustment, you’ll find it’s not. The only thing that’s really different is the location of the screen. Instead of popping up from the center of the dash like some sort of Phoenix rising, the screen now is front of the driver’s eyes where it can be seen at a quick glance. (Check the slide show for a look.)

One esthetic benefit: The elimination of the center display makes for a much cleaner look for the dash.

One possible minus (or plus): The passenger is left with virtually no control other than to adjust the audio volume via a small knob on the console. It’s all up to the driver to make adjustments.

Of course, as interesting as this design concept is, it’s not going to be the primary reason for shopping the TT or TTS. The car itself is a real attention-getter and performer here.

Especially the subject of this review, the TTS.

Added to the Audi portfolio for 2009, the TTS jacks up power from the 220 ponies and 258 pound-feet of torque offered by the TT to a more robust 292 and 280, respectively, knocking nearly a full second off the zero-to-60 mph time to 4.6 seconds. (Times for the TT are 5.3 in the coupe, 5.6 in the roadster.)

The 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine is mated to a six-speed automated manual transmission that can be shifted via steering wheel-mounted paddles or put in “sport” mode for quicker responses than what “comfort” offers when running in automatic. Mileage figures are 23 miles-per-gallon, 27 city using premium fuel with a respectable 25 mpg combined.

It has Audi’s all-wheel-drive quattro system which, when set in “dynamic” driving mode, is more biased toward the rear wheels. Comfort, automatic, and individual are other driving mode options with “individual” allowing the driver to set functions like engine/transmission, suspension, steering, quattro and engine sound to comfort, dynamic, or auto modes separately. It’s like personalizing your vehicle to the kind of driving experience you want.

Even in comfort, however, responses are very quick, and the TTS hugs the road when making tight turns under acceleration.

Among standard equipment on the TTS included in the $51,900 base MSRP are 12-way power adjustable heated front sport seats, keyless entry and ignition, flat-bottom steering wheel for ease of entry and egress, Alcantaara leather interior (an upgrade to Napa leather is available), LED interior lighting, automatic climate control, voice-operation for various functions, Bluetooth hands-free communications, and rear parking sensors.

A tech package offering navigation, Audi Connect technology, blind spot warning (which Audi dubs “side assist”), auto-dimming, power-folding exterior mirrors, front parking sensors, and rear-view camera was included on our test vehicle. That and the Nano Gray metallic exterior, Bang & Olufsen sound system, and Nappa leather seats ran the total MSRP to $58,100 including the $925 destination and delivery charge. That puts the TTS near the lower realm of the price range among its competitors.

What’s good about the 2016 Audi TTS: This is a fun car to drive with lots of room up front in a very comfortable setting. Once over the initial surprise of seeing the infotainment’s display screen set right in front of the driver, you’ll begin to appreciate its virtues.

What’s not-so good about the 2016 Audi TTS: Though listed as a 2+2, the TTS’ backseat is pretty much useless for anything but placing packages or purses. Or dogs. There’s a lack of storage space for items up front as well with only one cupholder on the console.

For a look at the 2016 Audi TTS and more details, check out the accompanying slide show.