Much as we car enthusiasts like to whine about being underappreciated and underserved by profit-driven automakers, there are a ton of really good sports cars to choose from these days. That’s good for enthusiasts but might be a problem for the Audi TTS.
Considered on its own, the TTS is a well-balanced, refined performance car. It’s quick in a straight line and dispenses with corners easily. It has all the expected Audi go-fast hardware, including a turbocharged four-cylinder, a dual-clutch transmission, and a lowered suspension. The TTS even has an R8-like spoiler that rises up at speed. What else could you possibly want?
It’s only when you start thinking about all the other wonderful sports cars on offer the TTS becomes less appealing. There’s the Mazda RX-8, which handles better and costs $20,000 less. There’s a Porsche Cayman, which costs $5000 more and does everything better (except seat four passengers). There’s even the Audi S4, which costs about the same and has more power and more practicality, albeit in a slightly less sexy wrapper. Compared with these and other purebreds, the TTS still feels like just a very good TT. That’s not a bad thing to be, but if Audi really wants to win in this segment, it should think about scaling down its most expensive model (the R8) rather than dressing up one of its cheapest. Judging by the second E-tron concept we saw at Detroit, this may indeed happen.
David Zenlea, Assistant Editor
We can make academic arguments all day long about whether this sports car or that sports car is more hard-edged, more affordable, or more this or less that than the Audi TT, but they are largely immaterial discussions. People buy the TT, and hence the TTS, based solely on its looks. You either want this car, or you don’t. The three members of the University of Michigan mens rowing team whom I hired to do some yard work last weekend were among those who seem to want it; they were all drooling over the TTS and were using that clichéd but accurate adjective to describe it: “sweet.” And that was without even the privilege of sitting in it, let alone driving it.
Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor
My opinions align closely with David Zenlea’s; there are many cars at or below this price that beat the Audi TTS in terms of style, performance, or both. Still, the TTS has the formula down for fun driving with its lively 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, sporty dual-clutch transmission, and competent all-wheel drive. The TT also reminded me that Audi once had steering setups that were tuned to provide linear, natural assist unlike those found in the S4 and the Q5. It may not have at-the-limit behavior like some of the best sports cars, but the TTS is pretty darn fun blasting down a highway on-ramp or around a cloverleaf exit. Of course, one Audi that’s far more compelling than the TT is the rumored mid-engine R4 that everyone has been talking about….
Eric Tingwall, Associate Editor
As with all Audis, the cabin of this TTS is a very nice place to sit, not only because it is beautifully designed and well-executed but because the TTS is entertaining to drive. While it’s not as finely honed as a Porsche Boxster, you can have plenty of fun in the TTS when blasting down a long, deserted stretch of two-lane, taking a sweeping curve, or accelerating on a freeway on-ramp. Sure, the main reason people buy the TT is because of its style, which is undeniably eye-catching, but you can certainly have some fun while you’re strutting your stuff.
Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor
Design may be a strong selling point of the TTS, but I can think of two others. The large hatchback gives access to a fair amount of cargo room, especially if you happen to fold those useless rear jump seats flat. Better yet, the TTS is fitted with Audi’s Quattro all-wheel-drive system. Having spent a weekend this past winter in a TTS roadster, the drivetrain (especially when paired with winter tires) is virtually invincible, no matter how much snow Mother Nature decides to throw at you.
Still, I can’t help but wonder if mounting good snow tires onto a Boxster or a Cayman would be a better option. Yes, both are a little more expensive than the TTS, but as virtually all of my colleagues illustrate, they’re much more rewarding to drive. Even though you’ll never slide it around a closed road course, the Porsches are much more balanced and responsive than this Audi, which exhibits some of the understeer we’ve come to expect from Volkswagen’s A-platform.
That’s not to say that the TTS isn’t fun-torque is plenty strong once boost comes on, and I love the exhaust note during gear changes-but to me, it just doesn’t provide the same level of excitement as its competitors. Isn’t that what sports cars are supposed to be about?
Evan McCausland, Web Producer
The TTS coupe is no Porsche Cayman S (arguably its nearest competitor), but the Audi is still a very enjoyable car to drive. The TTS has more than enough power, and listening to and feeling that DSG dual-clutch transmission snap off near-instantaneous shifts is incredibly addictive, particularly on deserted country roads.
Along with the Mazda Miata and the Lotus Elise, the TT is one of the smallest-feeling cars on the market today, and that, at least to me, cranks up the fun factor a lot. On that note, though, I was hesitant to sign out the TT because I feared that the minuscule back seat would be a tight fit for my sixteen-month-old and her baby seat. I was pleasantly surprised, though, that installing both seat and baby were fairly easy and convenient. As a bonus, the TT allowed her the closest experience yet to sitting shotgun to her daddy, and she enjoyed that quite a bit, especially with the windows down and the wind in her face. Older kids might be happy back there, too, but I’m only five-foot-six, and there’s definitely not enough headroom for me to sit upright in the back. And remember that there’s not really any room for adult passengers to sit in front of a kid seat in the back.
The TTS works best as a romantic two-passenger cross-country tourer, thanks to its intimate cabin, decent luggage space, and respectable fuel economy. Nonetheless, for about $50,000 of my own money, I’d still stick with the Porsche-and the little one would have to wait several more years before she can ride up front with me.
Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor
2010 Audi TTS Coupe Premium
Base price (with destination): $46,725
Price as tested: $47,252
2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine
6-speed dual-clutch S tronic transmission
Audi hill hold
Magnetic ride with 10mm lowered chassis
McPherson strut front suspension
Four-link rear suspension
Electromechanical power steering
Electronic stabilization program
Automatic rear spoiler
Xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights
Tire pressure monitoring system
S grille, bumpers, rocker panels and exterior mirrors
Multi-function 3-spoke steering wheel w/ shift paddles
Automatic climate control
9-speaker, 140-watt sound system
Concert radio with in-dash CD player
Sirius satellite radio
Electronic cruise control
Options on this vehicle:
19-inch alloy wheels — $800
Summer performance tires
Key options not on vehicle:
Prestige model — $6000
21 / 29 / 24 mpg
Size: 2.0L Turbocharged DOHC direct-injected 4-cylinder
Horsepower: 265 hp @ 6000 rpm
Torque: 258 lb-ft @ 2500-5000 rpm
6-speed dual-clutch S tronic with paddle shift
Curb weight: 3241 lb
19-inch aluminum wheels
255/35ZR19 96Y Michelin Pilot Sport performance tires