The cool hype
Indifference. It’s taken me quite a while to find that word as it perfectly describes my sentiments about our most recent test car – the Audi TT. While I can’t find anything majorly wrong with this new one, or indeed the two preceding models, it just leaves me completely and utterly cold.
What makes this even more perplexing is that I’m an enormous coupé fan. Show me a car with two doors and I’m all ears. Slap a German badge on it and I’ll sit up and beg. The Audi TT, however, entices none of these reactions. Even in some trendy colour combo with a nasty engine. Nothing.
Perhaps the cool coupé created too much hype or was simply too popular; both big no-no’s in my book. The latter is certainly not true as Audi South Africa informs me that they sold just under 2,000 units of the first model (2000 to 2006) and only 2,840 of the second (2007 to 2015) on local shores.
Currently available in either front-wheel-drive or Quattro all-wheel-drive, both versions use the same 2-litre TFSi turbo-petrol with 169kW or 370Nm on the VW Group’s accomplished MQB platform. This multi-purpose base also plays host to equally refined automobiles like the Audi A3 and Volkswagen Golf.
Our silver press unit was the cheaper FWD model whose base price of N$558,000 includes the usual safety ‘n luxury stuff but also gifts you 17-inch wheels, auto lights and wipers, LED ambient lighting, Alcantara and leather trim, climate control, sports seats and steering wheel, Xenon headlights, as well as keyless entry and start.
The headline act is Audi’s “virtual cockpit” though, a full high-resolution instrument cluster a-la Range Rover or Mercedes S-Class. Unlike the ones in those behemoths, the TT’s one is much more dynamic with multiple menus and, if you so wish, a navigation map which takes over most of the screen.
This feature and the many other layers of this system are absolutely crucial as the TT does not have an infotainment screen. Nope, not even a little one. The top of the dashboard is completely barren (I prefer “clean”) while an updated MMI controller with integrated touchpad sits on the central tunnel.
I could fill two pages on its operation but can quickly sum it as “intuitive and innovative”. New multi-function buttons on the steering wheel help with the control of audio, nav, telephone and car features while the updated voice recognition will even understand commands like “I’m hungry” or “I’m tired.”
Click the video below for a quick demonstration of the new Virtual Cockpit:
Any remaining controls highlight Audi’s stylish ingenuity – the climate is operated by three futuristic knobs inside the main vents. Hazard lights, parking and driver aids are set in a row of elegant buttons below and an extra knob next to the gear lever helped with the efforts of our test car’s (optional) Bang & Olufsen sound system.
As for driving the new TT, the little two-door has a snug cabin with rear seats only suitable for children. Boot space isn’t bad (305-712L) and will take two golf bags but the rear ¾ visibility can be a bit dodgy. The seating position is low and reclined yet, as can be expected, ergonomics and main controls are excellent.
A gentle start/stop system and Audi’s Drive Select system are standard to fully exploit the eager engine, slick 7-speed S-tronic automatic gearbox and fairly firm suspension. Blessed with almost lag-free torque and arrow-straight power delivery, this engine does everything from a quiet cruise to fruity burps on up-shifts.
The TT’s sport/dynamic mode and shift paddles make it especially fun while also highlighting its good steering feedback, negligible torque steer and fastidious driver aids. Audi claims 0-100km/h in 5.9 seconds – ours did 5.88. They also claim 6.3L/100km – ours didn’t. Expect eight if you’re nice and 10 plus if you’re naughty.
While summing up, I’d like to tip my hat in the general direction of Ingolstadt for preserving this car’s iconic shape while giving it amazing updates like the Virtual Cockpit. Although I still feel indifferent about the Audi TT, I won’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone looking for an extremely refined and advanced little coupé.
0-10km/h: 0.52 seconds
0-20km/h: 1.09 seconds
0-30km/h: 1.64 seconds
0-40km/h: 2.14 seconds
0-50km/h: 2.64 seconds
0-60km/h: 3.20 seconds
0-70km/h: 3.70 seconds
0-80km/h: 4.35 seconds
0-90km/h: 5.09 seconds
0-100km/h: 5.88 seconds
0-110km/h: 6.80 seconds
0-120km/h: 7.78 seconds
0-130km/h: 8.88 seconds
0-140km/h: 10.17 seconds
0-100m: 6.32 seconds @ 104.49 km/h
0-200m: 9.32 seconds @ 133.45 km/h
0-300m: 11.84 seconds @ 151.74 km/h
0-400m: 14.11 seconds @ 165.50 km/h
Maximum acceleration G-force: 0.62G
All data captured by Racelogic® Performance Box