New & Used Audi TT: In Depth
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The TT is Audi's small sports car. It is offered in both 2+2 coupe and two-seat convertible body styles. Base cars are called TT; when offered, the sportier version has gone by the name TTS; and an extra-powerful version dubbed TT RS was offered for the 2012 and 2013 model years, with a possible return in the near future.
Derived from Audi's compact-car lineup, the TT competes with cars like the MINI Cooper, Volkswagen Beetle, even the BMW Z4 and the Mercedes SLK-Class. As it offers all-wheel drive, however, there is no direct competition for the small Audi.
The TT has evolved significantly since it was introduced for 2000. In its first generation, the TT was more style than substance--a lavish Deco-tinged tribute to sportscars of the past without truly sporty handling. In its second take, the TT's reflexes sharpened considerably, though its looks were tucked and toned into a more traditional shape. Both generations of the Audi TT have been offered in two different body styles and a choice of front- or all-wheel drive. All models have been built at a factory in Hungary.
The TT was originally based on Volkswagen/Audi running gear shared by the Audi A4. It struck a fresh styling chord when it first arrived. Audi's prior coupes, from the 1980s Coupe GT to the unloved Audi 90 Coupe, had been more characteristically German. The Audi TT brought a lovingly detailed, Art Deco-influenced look to the sporty realm. The lovely lines--especially effective in flat grey paint--were met with an interior that could be fitted with beautiful swatches of baseball-glove leather and stitching, and aluminum trim. The TT was less convincing as a sports car in that first edition, which was sold through the 2006 model year. Safe but unexciting handling combined with somewhat lively turbocharged four-cylinder power in the best quattro all-wheel-drive versions; V-6 cars felt heavier and less responsive despite their extra power, while front-drive versions suffered some torque steer.
With the 2008 redesign, Audi turned the tables; the TT's exterior style was muted to match more of the cues found on its other cars. This TT fit more with the then-new R8 thanks to its side sculpting, low nose, and LED detailing. The cockpit lost its grabby circular theme, and faced the driver and passenger with a flight-inspired set of knobs, switches, and LCD screens bearing a distinctly masculine appeal. It was a sleeker look for sure, though less distinctive. Either as a TT or a TTS, there remained two body style choices: coupe and roadster.
For 2012 and 2013, Audi brought the top-performance TT RS to the U.S. for the first time and for a very limited run. With a 360-horsepower, 2.5-liter high-boost-turbocharged in-line five-cylinder engine, a lowered magnetic suspension system, and upgraded performance trim and hardware, the limited-production TT RS had serious sports-car appeal for enthusiasts who plan on weekend track outings. It was offered here only with a manual transmission, while other markets also got a slightly quicker but less involving dual-clutch automatic model.
Powertrains for the second generation include a 200-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder, which comes only with a fantastic six-speed dual-clutch transmission. The high-performance, 265-hp turbo TTS also comes exclusively with the dual-clutch transmission and all-wheel drive. All models with the old 250-hp V-6 were given the axe for 2010.
The TT complements good fuel economy with nimble handling and more of an authentic sportscar feel, flat and eager to hook up with the pavement. Interior room isn't the TT's strongest suit, though the seats are wide and the cabin spacious enough for adults. The roadster models have a nicely executed power fabric top. Trunk and interior storage is somewhat limited, though, so weekend trips are best reserved for two.
The TT has been carried over through the 2015 model year. All that came in advance of a new 2016 Audi TT, which goes on sale in the U.S. in summer of 2015.
The new Audi TT
In the TT's third generation, the car will again be offered initially in TT and TTS strengths, with both coupes and convertibles available. The latest TT design is certainly more starched than the flowing lines of the last generation, bringing with it a wider, more angular grille and a horizontal theme to the overall concept. There's more use of aluminum throughout, with the automatic rear spoiler and fascias being the only body panels made of something else (plastic).
The cabin is where the TT changes most dramatically. The gauges and center LCD screen have been combined, with Audi placing a single 12.3-inch-wide screen in the nacelle where the dials used to live. The screen can toggle through various functions, including navigation and all infotainment modes while also showing gauge info. This single-screen setup will be shared with the new R8, while other Audi models will get multi-screen versions of the Virtual Cockpit system.
The 2016 TT doesn't grow in external dimensions very much, but the wheelbase is up almost one and a half inches. It rides on a version of the VW Group's new "MQB" platform. The TT's suspension remains a strut design in front, with some aluminum pieces to shave weight, and there's an independent setup in the rear. The TT's electric power steering enables new functions, such as active lane assist and parking assist.
TT models will have a 230-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. In the TTS, the same engine will put out 310 hp; both will be paired to the VW Group's DSG gearbox, which Audi calls S tronic. Quattro all-wheel drive will be standard in the U.S.
Audi also announced new convertible versions of the TT and TTS at the 2014 Paris auto show. They will also arrive in the U.S. as 2016 models sometime shortly after the coupes go on sale in late summer of 2015.