Car reviews - Audi - TT - S range
Talon-like grip, revolutionary Virtual Cockpit, true sportscar dynamics
Room for improvement
No manual option, synthesised engine note
21 Oct 2015
PERFECT is a word that should be reserved for special occasions, but for motorists who can appreciate a dynamically proficient car, don't need to carry many possessions or people with them, and have a sub-$80,000 budget, we struggle to think of anything better than the third-generation TT Quattro.
The TT was designed for the diehard style conscious but engineered for the shameless petrolhead – and that's exactly why we love it.
But this is not a review of the TT, because in the dazzling spotlight of that initial high point, we are turning our attention to the even sportier TTS, which sits above the TT at $99,900 before on-road costs, or $103,900 for the Roadster.
On the outside, the TTS has changed little from the regular TT, with four tailpipes doubling the standard number, a different wheel design and a fatter side skirt splitting the two variants. This is a good thing, because the TT is already utterly jaw-dropping.
Under the supermodel skin, though, things have changed somewhat thanks to an uprated and tuned engine adding 10Nm and 30kW, a serious brake upgrade, lowered adaptive suspension and tweaked steering.
One of our favourite things about the regular TT is its compliant ride when cruising, but a sharp chassis that resists roll and pitch when in the twisty bits. Thankfully, Audi has managed to maintain the relaxing ride while sharpening the TTS's handling with clever magnetic ride adaptive dampers.
When in comfort mode, the ride is actually more comfortable than the standard TT, but when flicked into Dynamic or Sport mode through the Drive Select system, the suspension becomes firm and purposeful.
Chucking the TTS into a few challenging corners was huge fun, with a downright stubbornness to roll and almost unbelievable grip thanks to some serious Hankook tyres and the Quattro system that can send 100 per cent of torque to the rear wheels.
When provoked, the TTS will break its tail end free first, but without the terrifying snap-oversteer that the original TT was guilty of. Finding that limit of adhesion took a concerted effort, though, and the Audi responds to enthusiastic driving with bountiful grip, flat body-control and excellent feel through the seat and steering wheel.
Of course, providing a sophisticated chassis is pointless without a powerplant to match it, but Audi has obliged there, too. The 210kW 2.0-litre turbocharged TFSI engine picks up from the excellent TT donk and adds a little more spice.
Acceleration is strong and lag-free, especially when you’re up to speed and using the lightening-quick six-speed dual-clutch transmission to keep revs in the peak torque range. That said, the full monty of 380Nm is available from 1800 rpm all the way through to 5200 rpm. From here, you’re in the peak power band, so the frivolity continues.
We are still not convinced about engine sound effects being fed to occupants through the stereo system, but at least with the TTS it is a fairly convincing and satisfying tune, if still a little dishonest.
Where the TT has a suitably angry voice, the grumpier TTS is totally addictive.
If the powerful acceleration doesn't have you pointing your right toe with every opportunity, then the soundtrack will.
Up front, an uprated brake arrangement has transformed the TT's stopping performance and the speed-scrubbing potential is very impressive, not to mention how good the four-pot callipers look when dressed up in optional red.
The same recipe of chassis and engine modification is applied to the convertible roadster, and the significant structure reinforcements have done a sterling job in retaining the standards set by the hard-top TTS.
It is only with a direct back-to-back comparison of Coupe versus Roadster on a closed mountain road that we managed to detect any difference between the two variants. The convertible TTS has marginally more body flex compared with the Coupe, but it is negligible.
A slight difference in performance, both on paper and dynamically, is no reason to pick the Coupe over Roadster, though, because both offer a deeply enjoyable driving experience that will leave a smile on your face and envious glances wherever you go.
Audi says “there is no direct rival for the TT Coupe”, and we are inclined to agree to an extent, but with the introduction of the higher-performance TT Roadster, Porsche's Boxster, the BMW Z4, Mercedes SLK and F-Type Jaguar have a new adversary worth keeping a close eye on.
We were concerned that the TTS may struggle to justify its existence as the sibling of the indisputably brilliant TT, but for those requiring an even more involving and sharper experience, the new version offers an excellent package with almost no compromise over the regular TT.
It might not be quite as sharp a value proposition as the TT, but for those with the budget and a desire to pilot the most visceral version on offer, the TTS is an exceptionally good sportscar with very few true rivals.
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