Audi TT Coupe ReviewNovember 25, 2010
Audi TT Coupe
Model/Engine size: 2.0 TDI quattro
Fuel economy combined: 53.3 mpg
Green-Car-Guide rating: 8/10
The Audi TT offers a great combination of style, quality, fun, and, in TDI quattro form, the potential of both low emissions and the ability to get around in snowy winter weather conditions.
The original Audi TT was a design icon and it was always going to be hard to improve on the styling. Which is why Audi stuck to a very similar format with the latest TT. The new car may not have moved on significantly in terms of appearance, but that’s because they believe it’s a winning formula.
However, although the original TT looked great, it was a disappointment to drive.
The chassis had little agility or fluidity and the car felt wooden, but the new TT definitely improves on this – it is a much more engaging driver’s car.
The TT is quite small, and with a 2-litre TDI engine, together with four-wheel drive, this results in a fun driving experience. A few years ago it would have been unthinkable that a sports car would have a diesel engine, but Audi proved that diesel can work in the motorsport world at Le Mans, and here it is in a road-going sports car.
As with our recent Volkswagen Scirocco road test, we would say that this car ultimately suits a petrol engine rather than a diesel, but the TDI is still a great car to drive, even if it doesn’t have the more exciting response of a petrol unit. It has excellent levels of torque, and it also has low emissions of 139 g/km CO2, which results in much lower company car tax than the petrol versions. And with an official figure of 53.3 mpg, it can achieve decent economy if driven sensibly on a long run.
The TDI engine is EURO 5 compliant. In order to meet the new requirements it has a diesel particulate filter and emissions of NOx are reduced by at least 20% compared to EURO 4 diesel, but they remain over twice as high as EURO 5 petrol requirements.
The TT may be naturally compared with the Scirocco, as they share so many common parts, including the engine, but in fact both cars have very different characters. The Scirocco is a comfortable and refined drive, whereas the TT is harder and less relaxing. The TT is also smaller, and has the benefit of four-wheel drive quattro technology, resulting in it being one of the ultimate all-weather coupes.
The car feels extremely solid and stable, and our test involved traversing the Lake District during one of the wettest weekends of the year, when the TT was a very trusted companion on flooded mountain roads. In fact, it was pretty much the perfect car for such conditions, having impressive performance that was almost fully useable in the dreadful weather.
The quattro system is also extremely capable in snow, and the TT is likely to perform better in such wintery conditions than some 4x4s with fat, road-biased tyres. The downside of the four-wheel drive system is that it makes the fuel efficiency worse, but if you want an efficient coupe that is capable in all weathers, then the TT makes great sense.
The TT came with a six-speed manual gearbox, whereas the Scirocco came with DSG. Being fans of manual boxes over autos for many years, we never thought we’d say this, but we definitely prefer the DSG. It makes gear changes that bit quicker and slicker.
The TT has two suspension settings, normal and sport. Sport really does result in a very firm ride – it’s certainly no good for negotiating speed bumps. With either setting, there is hardly any body roll. Audi’s optional magnetic ride helps with this.
The TT’s steering is precise and certainly has more feeling than the previous generation model, but the steering is heavier on the TDI than on the petrol versions. Ultimately the TT feels stable rather than sharp like a Porsche Cayman.
Inside the TT, it’s familiar Audi quality, solidity and sensible design. The flat-bottomed sports steering feels excellent and it’s easy to get a good driving position. It comes with good standard equipment including climate control, remote central locking and electric windows and mirrors. The satnav has a controller on the dash, rather than one between the seats, which makes it more difficult to use.
The downside is the lack of space – in the rear seats and in the boot. This is a definite 2+2, the rear seats only being suitable for children, but the rear seats do fold flat which makes it slightly more practical.
One issue to be aware of is that the rear spoiler rises at 75 mph, which in the UK is a bit of a giveaway for non-eco driving.
The basic cost of this test car was £27,365. It came with a huge list of extras including 19-inch alloys (£1650), satnav (£1650), Audi magnetic ride (£1150) and adaptive headlight (£975). With all the extras the total price came to £35,715.
The car certainly looked fantastic with the large alloys, but the rims are very low and wide, making them hugely susceptible to scratches from kerbs, rocks or any other roadside hazards.
The TT is an excellent car, especially in the way it combines great looks and a much better driving experience than the previous model, with reasonable economy – and you even get the added sure-footedness of four-wheel drive. However the TT TDI has two particular rivals. One is the petrol-powered TT, and if you drove a TT RS before you drove the TDI you would find it difficult to settle for the diesel – even with the tax-saving emissions and cash-saving fuel economy. The TT’s other rival is the Scirocco, which may not have the Audi badge or the four-wheel drive, but it is similarly enjoyable to drive yet more refined, has more space, and is overall more practical.
So the TT is very good green coupe, especially with its all-weather ability, and it gets a Green-Car-Guide rating of 8 out of 10. Unfortunately for the TT, the Scirocco gets a 9 out of 10, so before you buy a TT, you may want to test drive a Volkswagen.
The view from the Energy Saving Trust
Not so long ago seeing a coupe appear on a website for green cars would have been unimaginable. Even now, whilst coupes are mostly about driver appeal and style, fuel economy is becoming more important in every sector. The diesel version of the TT is the best environmental choice with a respectable 139 g/km CO2 rating. For a sports coupe this is a good result and for the image conscious the TT proves you can make a sensible choice and look good.
The TT is unashamedly a driver’s car and the inference is that driver’s cars are meant to be driven hard. Unfortunately, driving the car hard will negate any benefit from improved efficiency. With a sensible driving style, the running costs will stay under control and achieving something near the published combined 53.3 mpg figure should be possible.
Consumer Transport Manager
Energy Saving Trust
Fuel economy extra urban: 65.6 mpg
Fuel economy urban: 40.3 mpg
CO2 emissions: 139 g/km
Green rating: VED band E – first year £110
Weight: 1370 Kg
Company car tax liability (2010/11): 19%
Price: £27,365 (From £27,130 to £45,810)
Insurance group: 16
Power: 168 bhp
Max speed: 140 mph
0-62mph: 7.5 seconds