Does Audi's TT sportscar still cut the mustard? June Neary decides.
Will It Suit Me?
The original first generation Audi TT was always a stunning thing to be seen in. To many, this car was an aspirational bauble of aluminium detailing, casually oozing post-millennium European cool. When first I saw pictures of its third generation replacement though, I can honestly say that I wasn't all that impressed.
Yes, the new car looked eye-catching but the shape was all rather familiar. It appeared that the stylists had played it safe. It wasn't until I had the chance to experience the car from behind the wheel that I really appreciated just how hard Audi's engineers had worked to develop this highly advanced coupe, making this MK3 TT an even more involving car to drive. Getting reacquainted with it recently brought all the same feelings flooding back.
Apart from all the technical gizmos (with optional adaptive damping, you can press a button on the gearlever and the ride firms up or softens in milliseconds), the amount of room inside the cabin has been increased in third generation guise. It's now quite possible to include two small children and a better half on an outing in the TT Coupe, something which would have been virtually impossible before without complaints. There's just enough room for the kids in the rear seats without too many complaints but forget trying to accommodate an adult - it's still very much designed as a 2+2 after all. What's more, headroom in the back could still be generously described as tight.
Luggage capacity is decent too with 305-litres of space available with rear seats in position and 712-litres with them down. External access is via the sizable boot hatch. OK, it's not the most practical car for the family, that's not what this coupe is designed to be, but it's better at accommodating a family's needs than the previous generation model.
Behind the Wheel
One certainly feels special sitting behind the wheel of a TT Coupe. The cabin has high standards to live up to. Even today, the first generation TT's cabin feels anything but old, with a fascia that still feels smart, while the much-copied aluminium finishes and buttress bars remain slick pieces of detailing. This MK3 car reprises its predecessor's look and feel. Pure, clean lines dominate and seen from above, the instrument panel resembles the wing of an aircraft; the round air vents - a classic TT feature - are reminiscent of jet engines with their turbine-like design. The vents also contain all the controls for the air conditioning system, including seat heating where applicable, temperature, direction, air distribution and air flow strength; as an option they can also house small digital displays which show the chosen setting.
Much of the body is made from aluminium and this modern TT's light weight is a key component in enhancing the model's highly impressive handling abilities. It's partly due to the car's light weight that performance is so strong across the model range. There's a 180PS 1.8-litre petrol unit at the foot of the range and volume models offer a choice between 2.0 TDI diesel and 2.0 TFSI petrol power, the latter unit available in either 230 or 310PS outputs. The flagship model is the 400PS 2.5-litre five cylinder TT RS model, which only comes with S tronic auto transmission and can get to 62mph in 4.7s.
Value For Money
Prices for mainstream 2.0-litre petrol and diesel models sit in the £28,000 to £37,000 bracket and all versions of the TT Coupe come with the MMI radio and the electromechanical parking brake. Alongside the S sports seat with various leather and trim variants, options include the advanced key for push-button starting, hill hold assist, high-beam assist, the LED interior lighting package, front seat heating and the storage and luggage compartment package.
The connectivity package features the touchpad-based MMI touch system. At the top of the modular range is the 'MMI Navigation plus' set-up with its flash memory, two card readers, DVD drive, Bluetooth interface and voice control system. The 230PS petrol and 184PS diesel models get 17-inch alloys as standard, while 18s and 19s are available at extra cost. Quattro models can be optioned with 20-inch wheels. The S line specification gets its own look for the bumpers, air intakes, grille, sills and rear diffuser, plus larger wheels and the no-cost option of 10mm lower sports suspension. Open-top Roadster versions start at around £30,000.
Could I Live With One?
With decent space, impressive driver involvement and strong safety, Audi's third generation TT remains one desirable sports coupe. Would I like one? Yes please, as long as I can have a practical family car too.