BMW 2 Series coupe 2014 review
The best BMW in Australia is now a 2.
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Research tells Audi that men with an eye for style are the main buyers of its hump-roofed TT sports car.
The third generation of the Tourist Trophy 2+2 seater is consequently an evolution on the outside but a complete revolution once the doors are opened.
Audi has taken its obsession with interior form and function to a new level, highlighted by a digital 'virtual cockpit' combining the duties of instrument cluster and infotainment screen.
But if you're looking for a prestige pocket-rocket, move on. As quick as the TT is, its Teutonic rivals have it covered for outright pace at the same price, if not for style.
If you can afford $77,000, spend $80K. Three grand is the difference between the base front-wheel drive TT - with six-speed manual or dual-clutch 'S-Tronic" auto - and the all-wheel drive quattro version that is paired exclusively with the auto.
Both are powered by the same 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo but the quattro is quicker off the line and more composed through the turns.
The above prices are 'indicative', given Audi Australia is still negotiating with the factory on spec and exchange rates. The first examples are due here in February. The fitter and faster all-paw TTS will cost $100,000+ when it lands in the third quarter.
ENGINE / TRANSMISSION
Making more from less is a business approach the car companies have taken to heart. Virtually all new vehicles are lighter and have more powerful and fuel-efficient engines than their predecessors.
The TT is no different. Its standout feature is the 'virtual cockpit' with a range of digital displays depending on the driver's intent. The resolution is game-like, which should come as no surprise given the interface is powered by a chip from computer graphics-card company Nvidia.
Operation is intuitive and can be performed via buttons on the steering wheel or using the MMI dial and simplified switchgear mounted between the front seats.
Audi reckons it's a game-changer and will roll it out in all new models from the A4 to the R8. Regular models will still use two screens, as distinct from the TT's solo job, acknowledging the fact the passengers in those vehicles are typically responsible for changing radio stations.
The TT's suit has been freshly pressed, with creases and angles on the front in place of the more voluptuous curves on the previous model. It's a sharp face that morphs into familiar curves in the profile and rear views. The view from behind the flat-bottomed steering wheel is now remarkably uninterrupted, courtesy of most functions being assigned to the steering wheel switchgear and far cleaner MMI setup.
And if the trio of circular air vents in the middle of the dash is reminiscent of a Mercedes, the application of the aircon controls certainly isn't. Set in the centre of each vent is a button to control some facet of the system, from fan speed to temperature control and air direction.
It is the most elegant and intelligent integration of logical button placement going around - a breath of fresh (or recycled) air.
Drive safely knowing if the worst occurs, you happen to be a very solid car. The VW Group's MQB platform has proven itself in previous crash-testing. The TT's structure is stiffer than most thanks to the need to maximise torsional stability (a Roadster version is on the way, too). The car's closest stablemate is the Audi A3, which rated an impressive 36.41/37 in crash testing.
It's very easy to come to grips with the TT; the quattro model in particular has leechlike tenacity and the variety of driving modes lets owners modulate steering weight, throttle response and transmission shifts to suit their style.
For mine, the default auto setting is a touch light, whereas the dynamic setting is spot-on for this type of car.
The electric steering also generates more heft as the pace picks up, irrespective of the mode, but doesn't alter the ratio (the number of turns needed to move the wheels from lock to lock).
As a result it takes very little time to aim the TT at an apex and be assured the lightweight sportster is going to head precisely there.
Another part of the TT's appeal is the absence of obvious rivals - BMW's 2 Series is as close as it gets but the Bavarian focuses on the drive, not the design, and the Audi has both.
The TTS is a step up and it's an exceptional car in isolation. Against the competition, though, the case is less convincing.
The Mercedes CLA45 AMG has more punch and practicality, courtesy of the four doors, shares the TTS's raked-roof looks, matches it with all-wheel drive and costs about $13,000 less. If money isn't an object, there's a Porsche Cayman S from $140,000.
|1.8 TFSI||1.8L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$33,660 – 40,040||2015 Audi TT 2015 1.8 TFSI Pricing and Specs|
|2.0 TFSI Quattro||2.0L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO||$38,170 – 44,880||2015 Audi TT 2015 2.0 TFSI Quattro Pricing and Specs|
|2.0 TFSI Quattro S-Line||2.0L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO||$41,580 – 48,950||2015 Audi TT 2015 2.0 TFSI Quattro S-Line Pricing and Specs|
|2.0 TFSI Quattro Sport||2.0L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO||$40,888 – 59,900||2015 Audi TT 2015 2.0 TFSI Quattro Sport Pricing and Specs|