- Lean and responsive
- Cabin layout of a sports car
- All-weather tractability
- Impressive infotainment systems
- Exterior design has barely evolved
- Passenger can’t work infotainment
- Ride and noise without magnetic suspension
With a driver-centric interior design and a lighter, quicker driving character, the 2016 Audi TT now offers more of the driving experience that its exterior teases.
The 2016 Audi TT represents the third generation of Audi's small, sporty coupe and convertible. In this edition, they're ever closer to becoming true sports cars—but the TT and the higher-power Audi TTS don't quite fit that esoteric bill.
To think of the TT as a true sports car, we think you'd have to overlook the lack of a manual gearbox, for starters, and overlook its front-drive origins. That said, the TT is an effortlessly tossable car with excellent road manners and appealing style. The lesson? Call it what you will, just enjoy driving it as we've done.
Audi says it's looked to the R8 supercar for design influences on the new TT, and then inward to the driver—with a more driver-centric, cockpit-like layout for the cabin, a lighter-and-leaner driving experience, and a raft of new tech.
In profile, the TT hasn’t changed much; it's recognizable as the same pert coupe or roadster, but its overhangs have been tucked in a bit more and its corners a little more chiseled—which, depending on the vantage point can make it appear either a bit wider than before (it's actually narrower) or higher-shouldered (also not the case). There's definitely some R8 influence in front, where LED matrix headlamps, the trapezoidal "singleframe" grille, and new hood creasing are altogether more menacing.
Inside is where the TT has truly transformed. It's a radical redo, with a cabin layout that far more effectively channels some of the sports-car vibe that this model has been missing in its previous iterations. The dash design nixes the infotainment screen and center stack completely. Infotainment controls and virtually everything interface-related have been moved in front of the driver, in a new Audi Virtual Cockpit display that uses a 12.3-inch high-contrast display, steering-wheel toggles, voice controls, and a capacitive touch pad down at the center console. Round vents have middle areas that control climate settings, and there's a racier look throughout in the materials and swoopy dash shape.
Engines aren't all that different than last year, with the TT powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 making 220 horsepower and 258 pound-feet and the high-performance TTS boosted up to 292 hp and 280 lb-ft. But the key difference is an all-new structure and some serious weight loss—meaning the TT can get to 60 mph in as little as 5.3 seconds and the TTS at 4.6 seconds. Some may mourn the loss of a manual gearbox (it's all quick, satisfying S-tronic dual-clutch automatics now), but they're apparently in the very small minority.
The TT is offered only in all-wheel-drive quattro form in the U.S., and this version packs the latest, Audi-tuned Haldex clutch-pack system, which will send more power to the rear wheels when it’s needed, or preemptively to make the car more balanced in sporty driving (it responds not only to accelerator inputs, but steering too). A new progressive steering system brings a variable ratio rack with variable electric assist—amounting to a quick, nimble feeling on low-speed hairpins and a more relaxed, settled feel on the highway. But road feel is still a bit lacking, and that's a plus and a minus for the magnetic suspension included with TTS models (which, by the way, filters out some of the road noise that can be an issue in the TT Coupe).
As in previous TT models, a powered spoiler extends at 75 mph or retracts at 44 mph; and it generates about 110 pounds of downforce at 155 mph. It’s not something that’s going to make much of a difference at U.S. freeway speeds, but it’s a bragging right—as is a new launch control feature for the stability system.
The TT and TTS are light and nimble in driving feel, and electronic systems help supplement the experience with the right sounds and feedback—for the most part. For instance, a sound actuator feeds ‘sporty’ sounds into the cabin when you drive enthusiastically, and on TTS models there are additional exhaust flaps. Then there's Audi Drive Select, a multi-mode system that lets you tune a range of powertrain, steering, and stability behaviors.
With its decidedly different, more cockpit-like, interior design approach compared to previous Audi TT models, you might expect the new 2016 Audi TT to be more compromised with respect to interior space. But that’s not at all the case. Just as before, you’ll find plenty of space—and more leg room in front than in most other sports cars or sporty coupes, as well as a good driving position for a wide range of sizes.
The 2016 TT is a four-seater; but whether or not you call it a true four-passenger model or a 2+2 depends very much on what size passengers you plan to take. Even shorter-than-average adults will find just enough space for knees and legs in back, but their heads will be up against the top of the hatchback glass (watch out when you close that hatch).
Audi is ramping up active-safety features with this generation of the TT; and just as with the previous two generations of this sporty coupe or convertible, you can expect the same high standards of occupant protection here as in Audi’s sedans and crossovers. Secondary collision brake assist, which keeps the vehicle from continuing to roll when it’s been in an accident, is now standard on the entire model line. Audi Side Assist is also included in the TTS.
The 2016 Audi TT offers a lot more available in-cabin connectivity technology than before, as well as more standard comforts and features. Compared to other sports cars or roadsters it really isn't an either/or dilemma—you can have some of the top tech wizardry, in a way that doesn't detract from the sports-car flavor.
Standard features on the TT include keyless ignition, cruise control, remote locking, an alarm system, a HomeLink garage-door opener, a rear parking sensor system, and automatic wipers and headlamps. TTS models add the higher power engine, the magnetic ride suspension, wheel and brake upgrades, front and rear parking sensors, and Audi side assist.
A so-called "MMI Navigation Plus" package adds a lot of the good stuff to the TT’s cabin. First off—in addition to a navigation system that can display clear, smooth-scrolling maps on the high-contrast color screen that doubles as a gauge cluster—you add Audi Connect, which harnesses an embedded LTE data connection for enhanced Google Earth and Google Street View displays, real-time traffic information, and even integrated interfaces for Facebook and Twitter. You also get a Bluetooth calling and audio-streaming interface, as well as 10 GB for storing music files.
Also of note is a top-of-the-line Bang & Olufsen surround-sound audio system includes 12 speakers and 680 watts of power, with a processor that optimizes sound based on cabin noise.
The EPA rates the TT up to 23 mpg city, 30 highway, 26 combined, or 23/30/26 mpg in Roadster form. The more potent TTS Coupe manages 23/27/25 mpg, which isn't all that impressive for the small, lightweight sports car.