Driven: 2015 Audi TT

Driven: 2015 Audi TT
 

The year 1995 was significant for Audi as they premiered their TT concept at the Frankfurt Motor Show to much fanfare. Three years later, the model went into production almost unaltered from the concept which, at the time, was unconventional. To say that the model was a success would be a gross understatement. At the time, the company was going through a renaissance of sorts as they geared up to take on BMW and Mercedes-Benz in all spheres of the premium car segment.

Audi 2 - Ignition Live

To the Ingolstadt manufacturers, the TT was the halo model to place the brand in the psyche of premium car buyers as a viable alternative. In most regards, I believe it was a resounding success for Audi as this was the precursor to the R8, which remains a compelling sportscar. That said, the first-generation TT truly exuded a coolness factor, particularly with its polished five-arm wheels and bright colour palettes. There was even the limited edition TT Sport, the swansong of the model, that I was fortunate to drive in 2006.

Audi 3 - Ignition Live

The second-generation model was introduced in 2007 and while it had similar proportions and design cues, it was a different car altogether. The first-generation’s 1.8 turbocharged petrol engine made way for a 2.0l turbo variant. The 3.2l V6 remained, though, before it was replaced by a 2.0l TFSI Quattro model in later years. Sportier variants in the form of the TTS and TTRS were also part of the local lineup. We travelled to Malaga in Spain for a first-drive impression of the third generation TT. From the onset, it must be mentioned that the new model has found a more dynamic styling mojo, thanks to a sharper athletic suit that has the right quotas of creases and character lines to make one do a double take.

Audi 5 - Ignition Live

While the new model is the same length as the outgoing model, the wheelbase has been extended slightly to offer a much larger cabin. Thankfully, the designers have looked back at the original for inspiration, which is quite evident in the placement of the tailpipes, which are much closer to one another. The grille assumes a more pronounced, 3D-like design that gives the vehicle some much-needed road presence. Using mixed composite materials that include steel and aluminium, and loosely based on the company’s MQB platform, the new car has a lower centre of gravity, and although it is 50kg lighter, it still manages to be 23% stiffer than its predecessor. The coefficient drag is a slippery 0.29, giving the vehicle better aerodynamics and efficiency.

Audi 6 - Ignition Live

The interior differs greatly from the previous model and features a 23- inch TFT screen in the instrument binnacle that displays all vital information to the driver, including the speedometer, rev counter and navigation system. In essence, the new design dispenses with the MMI screen that would conventionally sit atop the dash. Even the climate control adjustments are located on the air vents themselves — a very nice touch. The company has truly taken the minimalist -looking layout to the next level, but it is still tastefully done without looking spartan — a class act.

Audi 4 - Ignition Live

We tested three models: the 2.0l front-wheel drive with 169kW and 370Nm, a Quattro variant with the same outputs, and the headlining TTS with 228kW and 380Nm. The latter model utilises a similar mill to that used in the S3, but we are told by Audi SA that our models will be detuned to 210kW and 380Nm. due to our poor fuel quality and hot climate. The TTS is claimed to dispatch 0-100km/h in 4.6sec and on to a top speed of 250km/h. Nonetheless, I spent a spell at the helm of the front-wheel drive variant, replete with a six-speed manual transmission, and it proved to be a competent performer with a sprightly engine and tidy handling antics.

Audi 7 - Ignition Live

I later traded the model for the sportier TTS version allied to a dual clutch automatic transmission. On the road and around some twisty bitumen, the vehicle felt quick, adept and easy to pilot at speed. As we have come to expect, the engine delivers a warble-like engine note not dissimilar to the five-cylinder in the previous generation RS version, punctuated by the dual clutch exhaust burps between gear changes. The Quattro system here has been cleverly apportioned, sending up to 100% power to the rear axle in some instances. Driving the vehicle around the technical Ascari racetrack with ESC set to sport, the front-end felt a lot pointier, allowing for more precise turn-in.

Audi 9 - Ignition Live

The TT, particularly the S I am weaving into corners here, is a more driver-focused car than its predecessor, yet equally easy to drive quickly — thanks to the sure-footedness of the Quattro system. It is really at home scything through mountain passes and offering prodigious amounts of grip while doing so. Understeer still manifests, although the thresholds are far higher than was previously the case. On average, the new TT will cost R36 000 more than its predecessor which, in the grand scheme of things, not a bad thing. Enthusiasts with a penchant for the open-top roadster will be sad to learn that there are no plans to bring that model to South Africa, due to the small uptake of the previous model. Apparently the coupé outsold the roadster six to one. Expect the new TT to reach our shores in March, while the TTS is touted for July. The headlining TTRS will join the lineup in 2016.

The Facts: 2015 Audi TT

TT FWD
Engine: 1 984cc, four cylinders inline, turbo
Power: 169kW at 4 500rpm
Torque: 370Nm at 1 600rpm
Top Speed: 250 km/h
0-100km/h: 6.0sec
Fuel consumption: 5.9l/100km
Price: R558 000

TT Quattro
Engine: 1 984cc, four cylinders inline, turbo
Power: 169kW at 4 500rpm
Torque: 370Nm at 1 600rpm
Top Speed: 250km/h
0-100km/h: 5.3sec
Fuel consumption: 6.4l/100km
Price: R642 000

TTS
Engine: 1 984cc, four cylinders inline, turbo
Power: 228kW at 5 800rpm
Torque: 380Nm at 1 800rpm
Top Speed: 250km/h
0-100km/h: 4.6sec
Fuel consumption: 6.9l/100km
Price: To be confirmed closer to the
launch date in July 2015

Lerato Matebese