Audi TT 2.0 TFSI, Front view, Slalom 32 Photos Zoom

Audi TT 2.0 TFSI put to the test: Here's how the new TT does on the race track

Even in its third generation, the Audi TT stands by its styling. But as faithful as it may have attempted to remain, he progress in terms of drive dynamics is sensational – even in the base model with a 227 HP turbo engine and front-wheel drive.

What an introduction it was back in 1998, when Audi pulled the TT out of its hat. It stood there like a pin-up within a rather conservative family of models, was bold, different and – due to its delicate aerodynamics – even more eye-catching than intended. But that is ancient history – with all of the advantages and disadvantages that it brings with it.

The Audi TT - a design icon

One the one hand you can now – thanks to the tear-off edge and ESP – also release the accelerator pedal in fast motorway corners without the back of the car instantly spinning out into the partitions. On the other hand, ever since the second generation it has lost some of the wow factor. Why is this? Have Audi run out of ideas? Or have they lost their courage? Neither! For in contrast to all of the regular A-models, for which the excuses for the sustained monotony are slowly running out, the Audi TT views itself as a style icon, of which the core design details should only ever be tweaked with care. To put it clearly: the styling is a protected cultural monument, in principle similar to the 911, which Porsche simply cannot redesign – at least not without tearing down the factories afterwards.

Thus, once again, on this occasion the Audi TT was instead run through the gentle cycle in the time machine. The rings – as will in future be the case in all Audi sports cars– are once again located above the new hexagonal grille, the wheelbase has been enlarged by 37 millimetres, and the LED headlights have been made more dramatic.

Otherwise the new TT – especially from the rear diagonal view – could easily be its own predecessor. However, the revolution – once again – rages on beneath the space frame bodywork made from aluminium and high-strength steel. Key points: greater rigidity, more power for each of the three engine versions and – so that the craving for sensation does not go entirely unfulfilled – a completely refurbished interior with high-spirited dreams of the future.

Carefully though out digitalisation in the new Audi TT

The digitalisation of instruments is indeed met with divided opinions at present. With the radical approach that Audi adopts in the new TT, however, it finally makes sense. For instead of simply digitalising the dials and their chrome surrounds like some other notably competitors, the Audi TT packs the entire ifotainment system into the instrument panel.

Sat nav, audio, drive dynamics systems, Connect-Content – everything is placed in the tree structure, directly in the driver's field of view and can be controlled either via the steering wheel spokes, by voice command, via movements on the touch screen or – the old-fashioned way – using the wheel in the middle of the central console. It sounds complicated, granted, but with a little bit of MMI experience, it works a treat. However: the actual innovation lies in the control of the automatic climate control in the Audi TT.

Its functions are now distributed between small, rotary and push displays amongst the five air outlets and as such are, in a way, controlled right where they take effect. This makes a conventional operating panel obsolete in the Audi TT, which, together with the disappearance of the screen, results in a wonderfully flat dash.

The new Audi TT is not any lighter

And the handling of the Audi TT seems immediately more airy. The cause? Presumably the more careful consideration given to lightweight construction. Nothing of the sort! Audi calculates the weight loss compared to the previous generation at 45 to 50 kilos. In actual fact the new model no weighs slightly more than the supertest candidated from eight years ago, also with front-wheel drive ( auto2/2007). In spite of comparable equipment, it should be noted. And the secret doesn't lie in the allegedly increased balance either. 60.4 percent of the 1,339 kilos weigh down on the front axle – exactly the same as before, down to the decimal point.

And so, just like before, you are required to drive with tact. But now with the difference that the Audi TT feels like a silk glove rather than a mitten. While in the test the road contact of the standard progressive steering (variable transmission, variable rigidity) was still not flawless, action and reaction do interlock much more closely.

Ausi has no secret weapon in the form of anti-roll compensation. And yet its predecessor was shot down mercilessly on the race track for this. The basic TT completed the Hockenheim lap with a time of 1:17.5 minutes – 1.4 seconds faster than the 187 HP version did back in the day. Searching for traces: the weight and its distribution are ruled out as possible reasons, and the same goes for the rigid chassis by itself – all the more so given that the current test car even foregoes with the adaptive dampers with sharper sports tuning.

Audi TT clings to the ideal line

The tyres? Good point! Audi fits the 19-inch rims with Hankook tyres, seasoned in accordance with factory specifications, which has already caused a few brows to be furrowed during the car's presentation. However, the end result is that the Korean 245s stick impeccably to the road, although compared with the beyond reproach Michelin Pilot Supersports on the previous test car they are not capable of giving the TT the same edge over the competition.

On the other hand, the handling is, overall, extremely suspect. Audi TT number three eases the effects of previous front-wheel drive trauma, like an Aspirin. Instead of stumbling head over heels from the ideal line when steering, it now scurries, light-footed, along it, willingly leans with you when cornering, clinging firmly to its line for longer, and isn't immediately thrown off if it hits a zig-zag in the road. However, when leaving the corner the verve peters out and the ESP kicks in.

Even in Off-mode, it remains active in the background, and does help the front wheels to maintain grip with minimal braking pulses, but on the other hand restricting the engine power until the steering is straightened up again. These defensive tactics are useful, no doubt, but do not work wonders – meaning that ultimately, the engine must be responsible for the faster lap time.

The engine makes the difference

The EA888 generation two-litre direct injection engine delivers 227 HP at between 4,500 and 6.200 rpm – 30 more than the equally dimensioned EA113 of the indirect predecessor. However, it is not the power that makes the difference, but the torque. The older model still pumped a viscous 280 Newton metres of torque through Hockenheim, but now the superchargers shovel out 370 Newton metres – earlier, more spontaneously, more fluffily and across a rev range spanning 2,700 rpm.

The Audi TT ascends up through its gears with appropriate power, reaching a respectable 176 km/h before the North Corner, rather than just 168 as waas previously the case. Iin the sprint – reaching 200 km/h almost six seconds faster – it emphasises thoroughly impressively that it is no longer being held back by its past – except when it comes to styling of course.



Achim Hartmann


8 May 2015
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