Precise, planted, and quick
Flash. Pizzazz. Excitement. Fun. These are the words we attach to small sportscars, rides that, for all intents and purposes, are meant to make you -the driver- feel more alive. And this Audi TT is perhaps one of the best expressions of small sportscars around.
The model itself has been around for quite a while, as Audi originally launched it towards the end of the 1990’s. We’ve had extensive experience with the previous two generations of the TT, but this is now the third generation of the model named after a famous motorcycle race that was won by NSU’s (one of Audi’s predecessors) victories at the Isle Of Man TT.
On the outside, the 8S (Audi’s code for the 3rd gen TT) is quite striking, using a very edgy interpretation of Audi’s design language. Eyes are immediately drawn to the sharp LED headlamps (with LED DRLs, mind you), the handsome Audi grill, the shapely body, and that sloping roofline that’s finished off at the back with more LEDs in the taillamps. If the R8 had a little brother, this would be it.
Step inside and prepare to be, well, intrigued. The reason is that Audi’s interior designers seem to have pressed the minimize button on everything. Instead of gauges, you get a virtual cockpit; an LCD that unifies the gauges, the audio system, the multi-info computer, and more, all onto one screen. The center console has all the buttons and knobs for the multi-media interface. The dashboard is extremely clean and devoid of clutter, and Audi even transferred the climate controls onto the aircon vents themselves. I think I should have opted for that briefing on how to manipulate the many controls instead of spending 10 minutes parked in the lot trying to figure out how to cool the cabin.
The seats are properly snug for sporty driving, but not overly so that they can be tiring in traffic. The way the cabin was designed and oriented towards the driver means that the passenger really is just a passenger, and being a 2+2 means that the back seats are meant for kids, or smaller and slimmer individuals. There’s a decent amount of space in the liftback boot for bags and such; Audi says it can take on 312 liters of cargo which can almost be doubled by pushing the rear seats down.
Fire up the car and you’ll hear a light growl from the engine bay, signifying that it’s ready to go. The engine itself is one of the Volkswagen Group’s own; a 1984cc turbocharged four-cylinder, or the same engine as the VW Golf GTI. We can go on about how it has direct injection, an advanced turbocharger, valve lift and such, but what counts is that it has 227 bhp and 273 foot pounds of torque, significantly more than its predecessor that had 208 bhp and 258 lb ft. As expected, the TT comes fitted with Audi’s S-Tronic dual clutch automatic.
A to B? Town tooling? Daily commute? These things don’t matter much in the realm of small performance cars, but the TT still does them justice. The ride is stiff, but that’s part and parcel of the sportscar experience. Surprisingly, visibility is better than expected, and thus maneuvering the TT around town was quite easy. The powertrain has several settings available for the driver; Comfort, Dynamic, Efficiency, Individual and Auto. Efficiency works well but tames it down a bit too much, while Comfort was perfect for city or casual driving.
Most of the time, I kept it in Dynamic, and with good reason: like any sportscar, it’s made for the open road. Floor the throttle and the TT responds quickly to deliver its brand of drive, easily lighting up the driven front tires if traction control is off. 100 km/h is done and dusted in just 5.9 seconds, and the TT can ride the boost of the turbo all the way up to 250 km/h. At that speed, stability can be a problem, but Audi did equip the TT with a spoiler that deploys automatically, helping the back end stay secure and stable all throughout.
Drive on winding mountain passes and you’ll be rewarded with a very responsive little sportscar (especially in Dynamic mode), one that is forgiving in the corners unlike most rear-wheel drive cars. The TT doesn’t have much for steering feel or pedal feedback, but it’s precise, planted, and quick.
As expected, Audi achieved better performance through technology. Yes, rear-wheel drive sportscars can be more entertaining, but the front-wheel drive TT is still bucketloads of fun in a high-tech and great-looking, little package.
ENGINE: Inline-4, 1984cc, dohc 16V, turbo, 7-speed DCT
MAX POWER: 227 bhp @ 4500 rpm
MAX TORQUE: 273 lb ft @ 1600-4300 rpm
0-100 km/h (0-62 mph): 5.9 sec.
TOP SPEED: 250 km/h (governed)
FUEL MILEAGE: 9.2 km/l City / 14.9 km/l Highway
PRICE AS TESTED: PhP 4,490,000
+: Quick, fun, and packed with tech
-: Needs a bit more soul to it
C! RATING: 9/10