By now you should know what to expect from a 2.0-litre Audi TT but this third generation model still has a few surprises up it sleeve. Jonathan Crouch looks at the entry-level 40 TFSI variant
Ten Second Review
You may think you know the Audi TT - but perhaps you don't. The Ingolstadt brand has refettled its little sportscar in recent times, with key upgrades - especially beneath the bonnet. Plus there's a fresh badging structure that sees the entry-level version re-branded the '40 TFSI' while swaping out its old 1.8-litre petrol engine for a 2.0 TFSI unit with 197PS. As usual, there's a choice of Coupe or Roadster bodystyles.
Old motoring prejudices can take a long time to overcome. Take the Audi TT as an example. When it was first launched back in 1998, it was criticised for being a touch dull to drive. Actually, the package on offer was pretty well pitched for the needs of most likely buyers - and Ingolstadt gradually fettled it further over the years. The second generation model was under-rated too, as has been this MK3 version. In response, this German brand has updated the range and added in extra equipment and a new 2.0-litre engine at the foot of the line-up to replace the previous 1.8-litre TFSI powerplant. There's a new badging structure too, which kicks off with the '40 TFSI' variant we're going to look at here. It uses the 2.0-litre petrol engine that the range hinges around. Does it offer anything for keen drivers?
Where there used to be a single 2.0 TFSI engine available to TT buyers, now there are two - an entry-level unit developing 197PS (badged '40 TFSI') and a version of the previous 2.0-litre engine which now gets a boost to 245PS (and new '45 TFSI' badging). There's now no longer a diesel option. The sporty TTS variant isn't our focus here, but we'll tell you that it retains its existing badging but gets a slight reduction in power (306PS, down from 310PS) but a little extra torque to compensate, so the rest to 62mph sprint figure (4.5s) is actually fractionally improved.
In conjunction with the 197PS 2.0 TFSI engine, customers have the choice of a six-speed manual gearbox or a seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch auto transmission. The 245PS unit is available with either the manual gearbox and front-wheel-drive - or with S tronic auto transmission and the multi-plate clutch-based quattro permanent all-wheel drive system. Both versions of the TTS feature quattro as standard. In both transmission types, the close-ratio lower gears enable powerful acceleration, while the wide ratio of each transmission's highest gear reduces the engine speed and with it fuel consumption.
By networking quattro drive with the standard 'drive select' driving mode system, the TT driver can adjust the operating parameters of the all-wheel-drive system to suit his or her individual requirements. In "auto" mode, optimum traction and balanced driving dynamics are given priority. In "dynamic" mode, torque is distributed to the rear axle earlier and to a higher degree. In the drive select "efficiency" mode, the set-up can temporarily shut down the quattro system if conditions suit this. Audi's magnetic ride adaptive damper control system is fitted as standard to the TTS and is optional for all other versions.
Design and Build
One thing's for sure. Even if you'd never seen this car before, you'd know it was an Audi TT. Some commentators have been a little disappointed in how safe Audi has played the exterior styling but this is still a very good looking little coupe with some lovely design touches. The fuel flap on the right side panel for example, is the classic race-style circle surrounded by socket screws, with no filler cap beneath the flap. This means that there is nothing to be unscrewed and the pump nozzle slots straight into the tank neck. As for styling changes to this enhanced model, well the main one is a revised design for the three-dimensional Singleframe radiator grille and larger side air inlets. As usual, there's also a cute open-topped rag top Roadster bodystyle available if you want it.
Inside, the fascia is dominated by the Audi Virtual Cockpit, now featuring an additional sport display providing information on engine output, torque and g forces. Located directly behind the steering wheel, a 1440 x 540 pixel, 12.3-inch digital screen shows all information directly in front of the driver. Operated via the MMI Touch button, voice control and the multi-function steering wheel, the display can be switched between 'classic', with prominent speedometer and rev counter, or 'infotainment', which brings functions such as the navigation map or media to the fore.
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, plus temperature, direction, air distribution and air flow strength. As an option, they can also house small digital displays which show the chosen setting. A 2+2, the TTS Coupe gets a load area with a capacity of 305-litres, which can be extended by folding the rear seat backrests forwards.
Market and Model
Prices kick off at just over £30,000 for the base 40 TFSI 197PS model in Coupe form. You'd probably be paying closer to £35,000 if you chose a 45 TFSI Coupe, then added in a few well chosen extras. As usual, in either case, there's a premium of around £1,800 for the Roadster bodystyle.
There are three trim levels in the mainstream range - 'Sport', 'S line' and 'Black Edition'. As for spec changes made to this revised version, well 'S line' and 'Black Edition' models get smart new wheels, respectively 19 and 20 inches in size. Inside, 'Sport' and 'S line' versions receive folding door mirrors and heated seats, and on top of these the 'S line' specification is also enhanced by the addition of even more supportive Super Sports Seats. The upgrade from there to Black Edition now brings the addition of Piano Black inlays and a new Chrome Slate Grey finish for selected interior elements.
Options across the range 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.
Cost of Ownership
The TT has always been one of those cars where once you'd stumped up the asking price, ongoing costs were agreeably modest. This latest model continues that trend. With the base 197PS 2.0 TFSI powerplant of the 40 TFSI model, you're looking at close to 50mpg on the combined cycle and under 140g/km of CO2. Even if you opt for the punchier 245PS 2.0 TFSI petrol engine of the 45 TFSI variant, you'll get very similar returns - and you could actually improve on them by nearly 10% of you select the optional 7-speed S tronic auto gearbox. When the Audi drive select system is set to its 'efficiency' mode, the S tronic transmission decouples and 'freewheels' each time the driver takes his or her foot off the throttle pedal.
All up, the TT 2.0 40 TFSI weighs just 1,230kg thanks to the extensive use of aluminium chassis members, body panels and suspension componentry. Buyers get a three year 60,000 mile warranty and residual values look extremely strong indeed. Still want that Cayman?
The Audi TT remains a strong contender with a 2.0 TFSI engine under the bonnet. Choose front or all-wheel drive chassis, manual or S tronic transmissions and Sport or S line trims. Even the 40 TFSI entry-level model will get through 62mph in just 6 seconds, hit 155mph and yet it'll still return almost 48mpg.
Look under the bonnet and you'll find much the same 2.0 TFSI petrol unit you'll find in the Golf GTI, tuned in this instance to 197PS. The TT rides on much the same MQB chassis as the god-like GTI too. This is now a seriously capable driver's car. And a seriously likeable one too.
By Jonathan Crouch
The third generation Audi TT Coupe looks little changed from its predecessors. Don't be deceived. It's a very different thing to drive, to own and to live with. Which is important. The TT is fundamental to many people's perception of what this brand really stands for. It has to be right. It has to be vorsprung durch technic. But does it make sense as a used buy? Let's find out.
2dr Coupe (2.0 TDI / 2.0 TFSI petrol / 2.5 TFSI) [Sport, S line, TTS, TT RS])
The original MK1 Audi TT was launched back in 1998 when it really was the thing to be seen in if you wanted a small, sporty coupe or roadster. Style personified, it broke the mould and defined its brand - a concept car you could actually buy. And from a conservative mainstream maker like Audi too! It was hard to believe. Only when you got behind the wheel of the thing did doubts begin to formulate, the drive on offer far less compelling than the pretty bodywork. A Golf GTI in drag? Some cynics thought so.
Stung by their comments, Audi tried again in 2006 with a second generation model that was lighter and steered more sweetly. Still though, something was missing. It was sporting to be sure, but a 'sports car'? People like us still hesitated to call it that. In late 2014 though, Audi said we were to hesitate no longer, then bringing us this MK3 version, the car that perhaps the TT should always have been. More than merely a glorified design study: instead, a properly engineered driver's machine.
With respectfully updated design and boundary-stretching technology, it referenced its predecessors but dispensed with their conservative approach to driving dynamics. It was lighter, leaner, faster and sharper through the bends, plus the brand offered even more responsive quattro technology. In short, we were promised a car in which, for once, the looks wouldn't lie. It sold until late 2018, when a facelift version was announced. Here, we're looking at pre-facelift 2014-2018 Coupe variants as a used car buy.
What You Get
Looks can lie. They did in the first generation version of this car, which promised excitement when on the driveway, but couldn't really deliver it on the road. With this MK3 version, there's again design mixed with deceit, whether you opt for your TT in Coupe or Roadster form. Both models do, after all, intentionally underplay the visual evolution that created this third generation design. Take the fixed-top Coupe model, which could, at first glance, easily be dismissed as nothing more than a gym-toned version of its rather ordinary MK2 predecessor. Many familiar TT styling cues are present and correct to play their part in this illusion: the rounded wheelarches, the curved windscreen pillars, the bold shoulder line and the sloping rear tailgate. As a result, you feel like you know this car before you even take a step towards it.
Once you do though, you begin to appreciate quite different things about it. Like the fact that its shape references not only the past but also the present and the future. Take, for example, the detailing shared with Audi's R8 supercar, primarily the six-cornered singleframe front grille that forms the starting point for V-shaped contours that sweep back across the bonnet. By this point you'll be picking out many more timely touches. The razor-sharp headlights with their optional LED technology. The unique 'stirrup'-style door handles. The distinctive lower door sill contour - Audi calls it the 'dynamic line' - that forms a light-refracting edge and adds purpose to the car in profile. And maybe even the 'TT'-embossed fuel filler cap that opens with a light tap. Pull back the lid and there's no filler cap: instead the fuel nozzle is inserted directly into the tank neck - just like a race car.
At the rear, the interplay between light and shadow intensifies around strong horizontal lines that define both boot lid and bumper. That boot lid incorporates a neat spoiler that automatically extends at 74mph and retracts again at 43mph. Further down sit two large, round chrome-tipped tailpipes. What's more important of course, is the stuff you can't see - a structure that was described by one writer as 'a steel cake with an aluminium frosting'. The allusion was to this car's so-called aluminium-hybrid construction that uses steel underpinnings (basically the smallest version of the Volkswagen's Group's latest MQB platform) allied to hi-tech aluminium body panels. It's a good compromise solution, saving weight (this model is around 50kgs lighter than its direct predecessor) without making this car impossibly expensive for the Hungarian factory to produce.
That clever platform also enabled the design team to realise some of their apparently contradictory objectives for this MK3 TT model, namely to make it smaller, sportier and more 'chuckable'. Yet at the same time, also deliver a car that inside would be bigger and offer a larger boot. So it is that this third generation version is 21mm shorter than its predecessor yet, thanks to a wheelbase that's 37mm longer, offers more space within. Or a bit more anyway.
Take the boot. Lift the tailgate and you'll find an unexpectedly large cargo area, something that's long been a selling point for TT owners. It's 305-litres in size with the rear seats up - 13-litres bigger than the MK2 model and certainly big enough for three or four large bags. The total cargo area on offer is within a whisker of what you could expect in a conventional compact sports coupe from this period like Volkswagen's Scirocco. And of course, it's miles more than you'd get in folding metal top roof rivals from this era like BMW's Z4 and the Mercedes SLK. If you need more room, then flattening the 50:50 split-folding rear backrest frees up a lot more of it - 712-litres to be exact.
You might actually be folding the rear seats forward rather a lot because they remain as tiny as they've always been in a TT. As on previous TT models, they're almost unusable for adults and even children will probably grouse over long journeys. If taller folk do manage to cram themselves into the back, there's also the issue of their heads potentially being clonked by the closing tailgate. Having said all of that, we're pleased that Audi kept these chairs and didn't revert to the kind of two-seat-only design you'd get in a rival Mercedes SLK or BMW Z4 from this era. Many TT buyers do have families after all, running one of these as a second or third car. And in that situation, having back seats gives you options, even if only to run inebriated friends back from the pub.
But we've saved the best bit until last. It's the up-front experience that'll really sell people this car, thanks to a clean-sheet design that really is different, classy and forward-thinking. How? Well once you're inside, look around you. What's missing? The wing-shaped dash is familiar enough, but in its centre, the usual infotainment system screen and ventilation control panel are both missing, allowing for a sleek minimalist design that really sets this cabin apart. Ventilation controls have been relocated to the jet turbine-style air vents and these can also house small digital displays which show the chosen setting. All the functions you'd normally find on a big tablet-style central display meanwhile, sit in what is possibly the most unique feature you'll find in this car: the 'Audi Virtual Cockpit'.
This is a smartly presented 12.3-inch high resolution display that completely replaces the usual set of conventional dials and is viewed through the three aluminium-look-trimmed spokes of the redesigned flat-bottomed leather-stitched sports steering wheel. You'd think the digital screen would be somewhat over-burdened, having to take care of sat nav, audio and connectivity features as well as the usual driving dials. Not a bit of it. That's thanks to the pair of viewing options Audi offers here.
First, there's what they call the 'Classic View' - which gives you a prominent speedo and rev counter. Alternatively, you can select the 'Infotainment View', which brings functions like this optional navigation map to the fore. In this setting, audio, telephone, media, trip and car settings can be dealt with by voice control, handled from steering wheel buttons or covered by fiddling with the touch-sensitive centre MMI controller below the gearstick. There's the option of tracing commands on the surface of a provided rotary dial with your fingertips - some compensation at least for front seat passengers who'll no longer have such control over what goes on in the cabin.
What You Pay
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What to Look For
Most owners in our survey seemed happy. The most reported faults related to interior trim and non-engine electricals. Look out for bodywork scrapes and kerb damage to the large alloys. We've had some reports of issues with wear to the side bolsters of the leather seats, as well as squeaking front brake pads, so it's worth looking out for both of those.
There are generally no issues with engines or bodywork but if you find a heavily used car, you might find that that the front wishbones and anti-roll bars could need replacing at around the 60,000-mile mark. The DSG automatic gearbox should be checked to make sure it's had a regular oil and filter change, as should the Quattro four-wheel-drive system.
(approx based on a 2015 TT Coupe 2.0 TFSI - Ex Vat) An air filter costs in the £12 to £18 bracket. An oil filter costs in the £3 to £8 bracket. Front brake pads sit in the £31 to £73 bracket for a set; for a rear set, it's £13-£48. Front brake discs sit in the £75 to £137 (or up to around £95-£132 for a pricier brand); for a rear pair, you're looking in the £35-£56 bracket (or up to around £136-£142 for a pricier brand). A starter motor costs around £121 and wiper blades sit in the £6-£19 bracket.
On the Road
First signs that there's something different on offer here come the moment you take your seat behind the flat-bottomed wheel in the minimalist cockpit and press the de rigeur start/stop button. What'll fire into life in front of you is relatively unremarkable - in most variants, you get the same kind of 2.0-litre turbocharged engine found in so many other Volkswagen Group products. What's more unusual though, is what springs into life on the dash at the same time, the 'Audi Virtual Cockpit', a 12.3-inch LCD driver display that replaces all the conventional dials. Keeping everything you need to know in the same line of sight, it's supposed to create a more focused driving experience.
First impressions are positive. This MK3 model has so much more spark than its predecessor. Don't get us wrong - it's still no Porsche Cayman: but then we're not sure that too many typical TT buyers will mind that very much. What they'll notice though, is that it feels sharper, more eager and more satisfying than the previous generation model - just as the Ingolstadt engineers intended that it should. There are so many reasons for that it's hard to know which one to start with. Is the change down to this MK3 model's longer wheelbase and the more rigid MQB chassis that made this car 23% stiffer than before? Perhaps it has more to do with the lighter weight, with Audi Space Frame Technology shaving up to 50kgs from the scales. We'd also nominate the Progressive Steering system for credit here, its rack set up so that the ratio becomes more direct the further the wheel is turned. It's a huge improvement.
The optional 'magnetic ride' set-up comes as standard on the TT variant that was fastest of all at launch, the 310PS TTS model. As does quattro 4WD to get the 2.0 TFSI turbo engine's power to the tarmac. The same engine in a slightly less manic state of tune is used in the variant that accounted for the majority of TT sales here, the 230PS 2.0 TFSI variant, though a lesser 1.8 TFSI unit was introduced to slot below it. With the standard 2.0 TFSI model, quattro 4WD is an option - and one that makes quite a difference to your acceleration times, even in the dry. Get a TT fitted with it and the rest to 62mph improves from around 6.0s to just 5.3s - that's nearly half a second quicker than a much more powerful rival BMW Z4 sDrive 28i from this era. There's no Z4 from this period though, that competes with the 2.0 TDI ultra diesel TT model. At the performance end of the petrol range, beyond that quattro TTS model, Audi offered a 2.5-litre five cylinder TT RS variant with 400PS, also with quattro 4WD and featuring mandatory S tronic transmission.
You sense that Audi shifted its point of reference with this car. Earlier versions of the TT were a bit better to drive than supposed rivals like the Mercedes SLK and the BMW Z4, but from the point of view of a committed enthusiast, that wasn't saying very much. A Porsche Cayman has always ultimately still been more of a driver's car - but then you could easily pay nearly twice as much for one of those and then find it too impractical to use every day. For more buyers than ever before, this third generation TT has proved to be a much more acceptable alternative.
Is that because it's faster, better equipped, more affordable, cleaner and more frugal than its MK2 predecessor? Not really. All those things are true of this car and nice to have, but for us what matters is this MK2 TT's status as a better driving machine than its predecessors. If you don't care about that, then we'd understand. Buy this Audi instead for its fashionable tech - the Virtual Cockpit, the clever infotainment - maybe even the aluminium hybrid construction. Whatever draws you to this car though, the experience it offers is a satisfying one. Surprising even, if you're not used to the idea of a TT being more than a fashion statement. Audi, you see, at last got this car right. And made it properly vorsprung durch technic.