The Car Connection Audi TT Overview
The Audi TT blurs the line between sporty coupes and convertibles, and true sports cars. It's a two-door luxury vehicle now in its third generation, after a 2016 model-year reboot.
For the 2017 model year, some TT trim choices have changed and a rearview camera is now standard. Otherwise, the Audi TT is mostly unchanged for the current model's sophomore year. A high-powered TT RS arrives in the 2018 model year.
All three 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.
MORE: Read our 2017 Audi TT review
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 sports cars 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.
Now, in its third generation, Audi is pitching the TT as a true sports car, with next-level handling and grip. As such, it's a rival for vehicles like the Mini Cooper, Volkswagen Beetle, even the BMW Z4 and Mercedes SLC-Class.
The new Audi TT
In the TT's third generation, the car is 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 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 1.5 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 four-link setup in the rear. The TT's electric power steering enables new functions, such as active lane assist and parking assist.
TT models have a 220-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4. In the TTS, the same engine puts out 292 hp; both are paired to the VW Group's DSG gearbox, which Audi calls S tronic. Quattro all-wheel drive is standard in the U.S. Coupe versions of both models are offered, while the TT only gets the convertible treatment for now.
Pricing for the new models has been announced: the TT coupe rings in at $43,825, while the roadster is $3,500 more. The TTS will start at $52,825.
Audi TT history
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 222-hp turbocharged 4-cylinder power in the best quattro all-wheel-drive versions; V-6 cars were heavier and felt less responsive despite their 250 hp, while front-drive versions suffered 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 a very limited run. With a 360-hp, 2.5-liter high-boost-turbocharged inline-5, a lowered magnetic suspension system, and upgraded performance trim and hardware, the limited-production TT RS had serious sports-car appeal for enthusiasts who wanted a car for weekend track outings. It was offered here only with a manual transmission, while other markets were also offered a slightly quicker, but less involving, dual-clutch automatic model.
Powertrains for the second generation included a 200-hp, 2.0-liter turbo 4-cylinder, which only came with a fantastic 6-speed dual-clutch transmission. The high-performance, 265-hp turbo TTS also came 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 sports car 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 was carried over through the 2015 model year to finish out the second generation.