The original Audi TT was one of the most enduring style icons of the 1990s. The latest model continues in that vein with performance, style changes and then some
Walking into the office parking lot towards a horde of gathered people, it was easy to fathom that the awaited Audi TT had arrived. While we had already tested one a couple of years back and even though the current car is just a minor refresh, the TT’s design still causes flutters and sprained necks. At its debut as a concept car in 1995 and finally a production reality, the original Audi TT was one of the most dramatic cars to come out in the mid-to-late 1990s.
Its organic and symmetrically styled front and rear profiles contrasted with slab-sided flanks to create a look unlike anything Audi had ever done before. In its latest guise, the little sportscar gets a minor face-lift and then some. Stricter emission laws meant the stonking 6-cylinder 3.2-litre engine had to make way for a technology infused four-banger. Will it be enough to do justice to the famed TT mantle or has Audi reduced the TT to a mere showpiece with all show and no go? Let’s find out…
Making what’s good…better
The original TT was already considered to be one of the best designed cars when it was launched, and Audi managed to make what was already a fantastic design even better with the second generation TT. The current car gets subtle updates which add to the overall demeanour. Subtle changes to the interior and exterior design have been employed to keep the revised model looking fresh. Front bumpers feature larger air inlets, fog lights are set in chrome rings and the front grille and headlights have also been redesigned with twelve white light-emitting diodes serving as the daytime running lights.
At the rear revised diffuser designs and exhaust pipes make the model nearly two centimetres longer while the width and height remain the same. All said and done, the TT is still the head turner that it always was and has more than enough appeal to stand tall amongst its well designed competition.
A cockpit that’s luxurious too
Considering that the TT is quite a performance oriented car, the insides of which are usually kept to a bare minimum, the Audi boasts some impressive kit. Inside the TT, Audi have done well to provide a good balance of luxury and drivertainment. The layout inside the TT is excellent, with controls and displays familiar to an Audi driver but superb to use.
The flat bottomed steering wheel helps with knee space for the driver while offering a sporty feel and the compact centre console is well organised, particularly with the MMI system present. The dials and central information screen offer exceptional clarity and some flair. A new gear change indicator is also a useful addition.
There is a choice of three new colours available and our car in red black interiors looked absolutely smashing. Adding further flair are the new aluminium finish applications and rings, frames and strips in high gloss black.
A particular mention is needed for the seat covers which have been specially treated to reduce thermal heating by as much as 20 degrees. Parked in the sun, the difference was immediately noticeable between our long-term Elantra and the TT. While the driving position is spot on and just eggs you drive harder, the rear seats are just about adequate for kids. In case of adults it would have to be for a short joy ride strictly before the cramps start setting in. It’s a 2+2 after all and we are not complaining.
Tourist Trophy pedigree
Named after the Tourist Trophy race held at the Isle of Man, this Audi is pretty true to it name. There is a multitude of reasons which make this Audi an absolute hoot to drive. First up on the list is the hybrid Space Frame technology. Lightweight aluminium is used from the front of the car till the B-pillar with steel panels used at the rear. It’s this mix of aluminium and steel that makes it possible to finely balance the axle loads and keep the overall weight extremely low.
Up front, our favourite 3.2-litre V6 is now a lump of the past with the latest emissions being the reason for its extinction. Finding its way in the engine bay now is a 2.0 TFSI engine. A quick glance at the specs might get you disappointed with two cylinders less in the new engine, but there’s a lot more in store here. While the horsepower figure is obviously lower (214PS compared to the 250PS from the V6) what is most impressive is the bump in torque figures (350Nm compared to 320Nm in the V6). Amongst the many ground breaking features, the engine also features the Audi Valvelift system which adjusts the lift of the exhaust valves in two stages thereby increasing power, torque and efficiency.
Transferring the power to all four wheels is an S tronic dual clutch transmission which enables some lightening quick shifts. With a Quattro all-wheel drive system as standard, the hydraulic multiplate clutch sends power to the front wheels under normal driving; however it can quickly transfer power to the rear wheels whenever the situation calls for it.
To really see what the car was capable of, we chose one of the twistiest sections of the road in Pune and the Audi did not disappoint. The 2.0 TFSI unit is an absolute bomb and gives the TT some phenomenal performance. The first thing you notice is the leech like grip thanks to the Quattro system.
No matter what speeds you turn into a corner, the TT just grips and grips. Just when you think that the car might understeer, the optimal weight distribution coupled with the quattro system make sure you are surprised every time. The steering is an absolute chatterbox and full of feedback which makes going into corners a complete delight. It stops just as hard as it goes too. With a multitude of electronics and those massive discs, one can completely rely on the TT’s brakes to get you out of trouble.
While it's all hunky dory till you are attacking the corners, all that fun is immediately conquered the moment you hit a patch of irregularities. Even though the Audi is equipped with electronically controlled Audi Magnetic ride, there is little doubt that the TT is made for the silken autobahns and not for India where there are less roads and more potholes.
The car is quite stiffly sprung and doesn’t take kindly to bumps. It crashes and thuds and all of it is easily filtered into an otherwise cocooned cabin. As a result one has to be really careful when driving the car as high speeds or a missed bump or a pothole could cause a bigger hole in your wallet than the pothole itself.
At Rs 48.36 lakh ex-showroom Maharashtra, the Audi TT is better priced than its rivals like the BMW Z4 and the Porsche Boxster and almost on par with the Mercedes-Benz SLK. There is no dearth of features and the TT has more than enough gizmos to keep the gadget freaks occupied. But the biggest advantage it holds over its rivals is the 2+2 seating.
So should you buy one? Despite the stiff ride quality (only the MB SLK sports a better ride), the Audi TT comes across as one of the most practical sports cars out there with seating for four, very good ground clearance and even a respectable boot. So if you’re going to be using the TT strictly for those expressway blasts and occasional visits to the Buddh circuit, the TT makes for a very viable option. Offering a load of tricks and treats, it's easy to see why the Audi TT rates as one of the best cars in its segment.