We all remember the first Audi TT. Its out-of-left-field bold styling left everyone shocked with how stylish it was. This was a huge departure from the bland, traditional Audis of the late 90s. It wasn’t as much of a sports car as it was a fashion statement but thousands of people bought the TT. Fast forward to 2016 with the third generation of the TT. Audi is still trying to make the TT into a stylish, future-thinking sports coupe. After driving it, I have some interesting results.
The original TT was such a hit because it segmented Audi as a design powerhouse. The coupe was so elegant and sleek for its time and really had no competition. This new TT is still a pretty car but doesn’t turn heads quite like the original did. If anything, this TT looks to be a miniature version of the R8 supercar. This is more of an update to the previous TT’s design language, replacing curves with angles, but it doesn’t make the TT look ugly. In fact, the TT now looks more like a muscular vehicle.
The exterior of the TT may be more of an update, but the interior is where Audi is really taking a bold step forward. Audi’s new “Virtual Cockpit” dashboard replaces the old central infotainment system. The digital dashboard displays the tachometer and speedometer, and can also adjust to display navigation, radio, media, vehicle settings and telephone.
Along with controls on the steering wheel, the driver can use Audi’s MMI knob and various buttons next to the passenger to manipulate the display. The temperature controls are very cleverly hidden within the oversized air vents. They are much simpler to control here than via the Virtual Cockpit, which tends to bombard the driver with information.
Some say the TT is just a VW GTI in a fancy dress with a high price tag. I disagree. I say the TT is a VW GTI in a fancy dress with a high price tag and four-wheel drive. This is important because, although both the TT and GTI use the same 2.0-liter, 220-horsepower turbocharged inline-4 and same six-speed dual clutch transmission dubbed S-Tronic, the TT is much faster. Sixty miles an hour comes up in 5.2 seconds compared to 6.1 in a GTI. The speed of the TT is a delight, but turning the wheel and braking were much better than I expected.
That said, the TT still doesn’t feel like a sports car. The engine feels a little out of place in this application. As with many Audis, the steering can feel dull at times, especially in the “Comfort” and “Normal” settings in the Drive Select system.
The biggest update to the TT is that Virtual Cockpit, which is bundled in a $3,250 Technology package. Add that to the $43,000 car and include the $950 Bang & Olufsen® Sound System and the S Sport Seat Package for an extra $1,000 and you have a near $50,000 car. Quite a lot of money for a car with only 220-horsepower, but as with all new technology, there always is a large premium.
Is the new TT an actual sports car? No. It is closer than it was before, but the fancy four-wheel drive GTI in a fancy dress and high price tag shouldn’t try to be a sports car. Leave that to the TTS and the future TT-RS. For now, the TT is enjoyable to drive with some very clever technology.