The consensus among traditional performance enthusiasts is that the Audi TT is a niche in the mid-range sports car segment. But being a niche in a segment that’s filled with sales giants like the Corvette isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Opposite cars like the performance-oriented Cayman, the TT has to find a way to stand out. For 2016, Audi made a point to do just that with a more sophisticated look, better performance, and a very Audi-esque interior; what could go wrong?
Simple. Sophisticated. German.
You don’t go to Germany if you’re looking for steamy, sultry design. The sexiest thing to ever come from the Motherland wears wings and walks the runway (I love you Heidi Klum). In that sense, the TTS isn’t a car that will drop your jaw or tighten your pants, it’s just a car that looks…good.
Nearly indistinguishable are the bubbly features of the original—by comparison, even the previous generation looks like a child’s play thing. The new TT is sharp form top to bottom. The front end gets a gaping new grille, while the wheels, vents, and even side panels loose any curvature in favor of sharpness. The edgier the better, I always say.
It’s not a redesign that necessarily needed to happen over the already pretty previous generation, but one we’ll welcome with open arms.
Technological Rule Breaker
Don’t you hate when pesky passengers change that favorite song you were listening to? Good, so do Audi engineers. So much so, in fact, that they decided to get rid of the central infotainment screen altogether and try and do away with any passenger interference.
Instead, you’re met face-to-face with a digital instrument cluster smack dab behind the steering wheel that manages to do it all. Music, navigation, vehicle settings—whatever you need, at your fingertips. At your very busy fingertips.
There’s plenty to love about this forward-thinking new layout. Paired with easy-to-use steering wheel controls and a central control dial, it makes deciphering between settings relatively simple. But it’s maybe not something you’d enjoy living with everyday.
There are a lot of different settings and options to cycle through, and the joy of having a backup camera directly at eye-level central to the vehicle is no longer. Now, you have to maneuver your vision against the motion of the steering wheel like a peeping Tom in a Macy’s dressing room. It’s clumsy, and doesn’t necessarily appeal to the sensible German in us.
Where the infotainment screen once was (RIP), now sits three, overly-engineered vents. Sure, the digital temperature gauge right in the middle is pretty darn cool (or hot, depending on what you like), but you’re not able to freely control the angle—meaning for me, I either got a mouthful of cold air, or an eye full of tears. I prefer neither.
It all feels kind of overdone. For the most part Audi interiors are sensible, simple, and easy to use. The new TT kind of misses the point.
Comfort is For Chumps
MQB might sound like a random selection of letters to most of you, but for Volkswagen group—in this case Audi—it’s the beginning of a new dawn in small, fun cars. A3, GTI, Golf R, and now TT all ride on the same MQB platform. And of the cars driven, each seems to present a unique flavor, while still maintaining the general ideal of the platform.
For the new TT, its calling card is comfort…or rather, lack thereof. The suspension must have been modeled after jagged rocks. It’s hard to comprehend how a car based on such a good platform could be so ungodly uncomfortable.
It bounces off every pebble and every crack in the road. Over larger bumps you might be launched into space if you’re not wearing your seat belt tight enough. To be fair, I’m assured that the lower-trim TT is slightly more comfortable. Though, I’m not sure I’m willing to give it a try without a visit to my chiropractor first.
Ignore the rock-hard suspension, and the TT performs rather admirably. Quattro all-wheel-drive never fails to disappoint, and lets the TT carve even the sharpest of corners with ease. The turbocharged inline-4 spools rapidly as it gets all 292 horsepower to the ground, and the dual-clutch gearbox shifts lightning quick.
From a dead stop, Audi says you’ll be able to get to 60 mph in about 4.7 seconds. We’d bet to say it’s even slightly quicker than that. You’ll top the TTS out at 155 mph—not that any public road east of the Atlantic allow for that type of speed anyways.
The real key to the TT’s performance, though, is its lightweight construction. Aluminum has been a calling card of the TT since it was introduced, and continues on here and now in 2016. At its heaviest, the TTS tips the scales at just 3,230 pounds. That’s only third to the Porsche Cayman and Alfa Romeo 4C in the segment. It’s even 75 pounds lighter than its Golf R cousin.
While the new Audi TTS is better looking, more well equipped, and occasionally brilliant in the corners, I can’t help but feeling like it fails to net that niche segment of buyers away from cars like the Cayman, Corvette, and F-Type. Typically customers looking to buy a new Audi don’t want rock-hard suspensions and bright yellow paint jobs, instead, they prefer comfort and subtly. The Audi TT just isn’t the right car for the right buyer.
Its saving grace comes by way of MSRP, starting at just $42,900. That cuts well below the next-in-line Porsche Boxster at $52,395. Opt for a TTS like we did, though, and a $9,000 premium punch in the gut is headed your way, with a starting MSRP of $51,900.
At the end of the day, I wasn’t as connected to or admiring of the TTS as I had hoped going in. At least there’s room for improvement when the TT RS rolls around…
Engine: 2.0L 4-Cylinder Turbo
0-60: 4.7 seconds
Price (TTS base): $51,900
Handsome, subtle design
Streamlined, modern interior
Great handling, straight-line speed
Rock hard suspension
Difficult to use infotainment
Loads of pricey options