The trademark upshift blip of an Audi/Volkswagen 2.0-liter four-cylinder paired with a dual-clutch automatic transmission just may become the anthem of the modern enthusiast. It’s a sensational powertrain that puts you in the mood for spirited driving, whether you’re hammering down a racetrack in a GTI or plodding around the snow-covered roads of downtown Ann Arbor.
The GTI, speak of the devil, is the main reason I have trouble truly embracing the TTS. Taken on its own merits, this TT is a perfectly reasonable $50,000 sport coupe – great-looking, executed to the usual Audi standards, and fun to drive in weather that puts most coupes in the garage. It’s basically an affluent adult’s alternative to the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo, which isn’t an unfair comparison when you remember that the Evo MR isn’t all that cheap these days. But then I remember the GTI. True, the VW is less powerful and down two drive wheels, yet it offers just as much reward behind the wheel, is very nearly as refined, and costs a solid $20,000 less.
– David Zenlea, Assistant Editor
Every time I drive an Audi TT I have similar thoughts: it’s no Porsche Cayman (or Boxster), but man, this is still a very cool car. For a relatively tiny cabin, the interior is incredibly inviting and makes me dream of über-long stints behind the wheel. To the interior’s credit are comfortable seats, surprisingly ample luggage space, and a sporty yet functional design (although I miss the knob-control MMI system from Audi’s larger cars). Winter tires and all-wheel drive, as found in this test car, make the TT an excellent four-season sports car, something the Porsche can’t say — although neither of them have much ground clearance if the plows don’t get to your street. One final thought: I prefer the rounder styling of the TT’s iconic predecessor, but the current model is still a sexy head-turner in my opinion.
Zenlea forgot to mention one key point in his GTI versus TT argument: the GTI has a usable back seat. So, basically, the TT gives you its great looks for its $20,000 premium. For the few who do choose the TT, that just means more exclusivity.
– Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor
Our test car had royal blue paint over a black and gray interior. It’s a beautiful car, with great details, especially on the front end, with many fine chrome lines in the grille and air dam. They’re all very symmetrical and very nicely integrated. The TTS is a very capable car that lacks that final raw edge that the Porsche Boxster/Cayman chassis has, but for many people, this is all the performance they might want. Great powertrain, very crisp shifting, whether you are in drive or in the sport mode and using the steering wheel paddles. Shifts happen quickly and smoothly. Interior ambience is absolutely lovely. The nominal rear seats are barely fit for adults but when folded down there’s a lot of space. We were able to do a pretty big Costco run and fit it all in with no problems. The steering is reasonably precise and communicative. I like the automatically deploying and retracting rear wing, which is subtle.
With Quattro and snow tires, the TTS made for a nice winter weekend car. With the short wheelbase and fairly stiff suspension, it rides a bit stiffly, but I wasn’t bothered by that.
– Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor
Joe DeMatio calls the TTS a “nice winter weekend car,” but I’d venture to say that it’s a fabulous year-round, any-day-of-the-week car. For those in northern climes jealous of Californians making their daily commute in a Porsche Boxster, the Audi TT makes a damn good consolation prize. From a performance perspective, the TT’s front-wheel-biased Haldex all-wheel-drive system isn’t nearly as desirable as the torque-sensing system used in most of Audi’s other cars (like the A5, S4, Q5, and others), but it does a fine job of managing wheel slip in winter conditions. With arctic-like temperatures and penniless local governments, Michigan’s usual plow-and-salt response to the first snowfall ceded to a wait-for-it-to-melt plan. The next day, my well-traveled backroads commute showed just four narrow stripes of exposed pavement from the passing traffic, with miniature mountain ranges of snow in between. And while even those in heavy four-wheel-drive SUVs toddled along well below the speed limit, the TTS wandered freely between the two lanes to execute confident passes.
– Eric Tingwall, Associate Editor
Base price (with destination): $47,875
Price as tested: $50,420
2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine
6-speed S tronic transmission
Quattro all-wheel drive
Magnetic ride control
Electronic stabilization program
4-wheel disc brakes with ABS
Xenon plus headlights with LED daytime running lights
Tire pressure monitoring system
Multi-function steering wheel with shift paddles
Automatic climate control
140-watt sound system with 9 speakers
Concert radio with in-dash CD player
Auxiliary audio input jack
Sirius satellite radio
Electronic cruise control
Options on this vehicle:
MMI Navigation plus system — $2070
Scuba Blue metallic — $475
Key options not on vehicle:
Baseball-stitch optic fine Nappa leather — $1000
Heated front seats — $450
Fuel economy: 21/29/24 mpg (city/hwy/combined)
Size: 2.0L turbocharged I-4
Horsepower: 265 hp @ 6000 rpm
Torque: 258 lb-ft @ 2500-5000 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed dual-clutch
Curb weight: 3241 lb
Wheels/tires: 19-inch aluminum wheels; 255/40R19 Pirelli Sottozero winter tires