Driven: Audi TTS

Here's one which will excite any driving enthusiast... The latest iteration of the TT has had some tweaks and what a cracker of a car it is! And this isn't even the uber-hot TTRS... The original TT was very much Golf-based and you could tell. It's ultra clean styling set new benchmarks and it was successful enough to make a second generation worthwhile. Well, that version has now seen some mid-life upgrades. While there's plenty of parts-sharing with other cars in the giant VW-Audi conglomerate, it's hard to see or feel any Golf in the latest TTS. Not that there's anything bad about the current Golf...

The TTS features a turbocharged 2-litre 4-cylinder engine which puts out a potent 200kW - that's 20kW more than in a Golf R. And that gives it a 0-100km/h time of 5.2 seconds. Not bad at all... It's certainly an impressive power unit - it just accelerates so punchily from any speed. Ten years ago, would you have thought a turbo 4-cylinder 2-litre could go so well? And it's not just the way it powers on that impresses - Audi has been playing the all-wheel-drive game for long enough to ensure that the quattro system in the TTS is spot on too. This car has phenomenal cornering grip - far more than you can exploit safely on public roads. The electro-mechanical power steering is speed sensitive and has lovely feel at any speed - though I found the flat-bottomed steering wheel a bit annoying when pushing on. A great club-level motorsport car? Without a doubt.

The 6-speed S-tronic dual clutch transmission works very well in 'auto' mode, and in fact changes gear quicker than you can using the paddles. I left it in 'D' most of the time, knowing that the grip, handling and brakes can easily outweigh any benefit of flipping for gears. The little cracking sound from the exhaust as the gears change is like a pleasurable dirty little secret...

And there's no doubting it's a good looking car. Everyone who saw it while I had the review car commented positively about the car's styling. It's not as pure as the original, but has a more sophisticated, muscular and up to date look. And the interior styling is just as cool.
The equipment level is high, but the TTS isn't a base model kind of car. As usual with premium German car brands, the options are expensive. For example the navigation system coupled with TV (you can't get the latter without the former) costs $6600. Too much.
Would I recommend the TT to buyers? Yes, absolutely. Audis are well built, the driving dynamics of the TT are exemplary and if you can make do with tiny rear seats and minimal luggage space, why not treat yourself? You can enjoy a very quick, great handling car without feeling guilty about using the fuel a V8 with comparative performance would consume.

Engine type: 4-cylinder 2-litre turbo
Power: 200kW
Torque: 320Nm
Transmission: 6-speed S-tronic
Performance: 0-100km/h 5.2 seconds
Price: $77,384 at time of writing
Text & photos - Paul Blank (copyright)