The exaggerated-coupé profile and clamshell body design of the Audi TT has achieved an iconic status in a span of two generations — a really short time in automotive timelines. The TT, however, has also received a bit of stick for majoring more on show than go and its tepid dynamics couldn’t do much justice to its name that’s derived for the challenging Isle of Man TT.
Audi hasn’t taken too kindly to these criticisms and claims to have given the new TT the guts to match the style. The third-generation TT is based on the VW group’s MQB platform — the one that underpins cars such as the Skoda Octavia and the Audi A3. The platform’s aluminium-intensive construction has helped the TT shed a good 50kg. With a leaner body in place, Audi has also stuffed more power under the hood — resulting in an inviting specification sheet. The question though is, can this new TT finally keep up with peers once the road starts to twist? We take it out to the Western Ghats to find out.
The overall proportions and dimensions of the TT are quite similar to the car it replaces. But the similarity ends here. The new TT now wears a tighter skin and almost every surface has been chiselled. While the essence of the familiar curves hasn’t been lost, the newly added angular creases and cuts show that the TT means business.
Underneath that striking exterior sits a 227bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged four pot motor mated to a dual-clutch, six-speed gearbox. Power is channelled via Audi’s four-wheel-drive Quattro system which can vary the bias towards the rear (in Dynamic mode) and in extreme cases, can apportion all the 227 horses to the rear end to limit understeer. Folks abroad can opt for a hairier 306bhp TTS version (same engine with more boost from the turbo).
Getting into the car, you notice that the beautifully put together cabin stays true to Audi’s style, which is top-notch quality with high-tech instrumentation that the carmaker calls its virtual cockpit system. Replacing the analogue dials and the dashboard-mounted screen is acrisp, high-resolution 12.3-inch screen for navigation and infotainment purposes.Screen transitions are as fluid as any high-end smartphone, with all information placed right in front of the driver.
You can switch the between display modes,Classic View — dominated by a large speedo and tachometer — and Infotainment View, which is for music or accessing the navigation map. However, getting used to the system could be a bit of a struggle.
What isn’t hard to figure out are the gorgeous turbine-like air vents with integrated climate control settings that add to the elegant, minimalist fascia. Rotating the dials on the air vents adjusts temperature, fan speed and flow direction and can be clicked on as well for more settings.
Comfort in the leather-clad seats is great too, only if you treat it as a two-seater, that is. The rear seats are practically unusable by anyone except small children.Flip them down for additional luggage space. The electric seats make assuming the driving position easy, while the pneumatically adjustable bolstering in our S line trim car holds you snugly in place while attacking corners.
What’s impressive though is the largely unrestricted visibility from the driver’s seat. Sure, you sit a bit higher than, say, a Porsche Cayman and while this does take away that close-to-the-ground connection you get in some hardcore sportscars, the TT is much easier to navigate through the chaotic traffic on our roads. So far, the exquisite styling, both inside and out, feels typically TT-ish. What about the substance then?
While 227bhp doesn’t come across as jaw-dropping (especially amongst Audi’s hairy RS cars), in the real world, the TT packs enough punch to plaster more than just a smile on your face. Thanks to its quick-shifting six-speed dual clutch gearbox, it whooshes forward with zeal, letting out a loud ‘braap’ from the exhaust when trading up a cog. And engaging the more focused Dynamic Mode pipes additional engine sound into the cabin, enhancing the experience. In other modes, although not loud, you can still hear a nice sporty growl every time the rev counter crosses 4,500rpm, which gets more rorty near its 6,800rpm limiter. Flat out, it’ll sprint from 0 to 100kph in just 5.8 seconds before eventually being reined in at 250kph by the electronic nanny.
So, while style and straight-line ability isn’t a deal breaker, does the TT possessthe dynamics to be called a proper sportscar? Well, yes. The TT turns into corners with immense grip and very little understeer — there’s a lot more ‘sportscar’ DNA in the way it negotiates twisties. Also, the steering is very precise and doesn’t feel overly light either. The quick succession of corners on the way to Aamby Valley, exhibited the TT’s ability to dig into the tarmac, and the balanced handling made it easy for me to dart from apex to apex without concern. That said, if only the TT’s steering allowed for more dialogue, it would have been almost perfect.
While the slightly numb nature of the steering makes the TT less engaging to drive than some of its rivals, what sets it leagues ahead of its peers is the way it rides. The suspension set in comfort displays a kind of elegance that isn’t far from most compact luxury cars. There’s none of that excessive firmness typically associated with sportscars and instances of potholes crashing into the cabin are rather rare.
So, without doubt, this is Audi’s best TT yet. It looks fantastic, and now drives a lot more in sync with the way it looks. Sure, the steering isn’t as engaging to drive as a Porsche Boxster’s, but the new TT’s easy-to-live-with demeanour makes up for that. Now, the expected price of over Rs 60 lakh,makes it pricier than the older one. However, the blend of style, performance, usability and its ability to make you feel like a million bucks is hard to match.