Audi TT review
"A style icon that will make you feel good as you drive’ "
Audi TT review - at night in city, front view, orange, 2020

Audi TT review: timeless design, effortless performance

  • Published 23 April 2020
  • 6 minute read
  • By Gavin Braithwaite-Smith

Introduction

What I’m about to say about the Audi TT is largely irrelevant. If you’ve got your heart set on buying one – and I understand why you would – you’ll be here looking for reassurance, rather than a detailed look at the TT’s strengths and weaknesses.

The Audi TT is that kind of car. It’s a coupe or convertible for those who are free and able to let fashion lead function. Style first, practicality second.

Style first, practicality second?Audi TT review - rear view, orange, 2020 Available to leaseLease Now

Not that the Audi TT is a stripped-back, totally impractical and inefficient toy. It’s a style statement you can use every day, with sensible running costs – well, aside from the hardcore, high-performance TT RS, which costs a bundle and chugs fuel ferociously.

Even if you stay sensible leasing prices start from around £375 a month, so the Audi isn’t the cheapest car you can lease. But with many carmakers deserting the small coupe sector, the TT has few rivals. It’s just as well it’s a thoroughly engineered car that will impress your mates and leave them wondering why they opted for a dull, predictable saloon or SUV.


Looks, tech and design

Launched in 2014, the current Audi TT was updated in 2018 to give it a modest facelift (more nip than tuck) and extra equipment. You’d be hard-pressed to notice the difference between a pre- and post-facelift car, but the new front grille is the biggest giveaway.

I’d argue the TT looks best in its purest form. The entry-level TT Coupe Sport is as the designers intended, with clean and uncluttered lines, complemented by 18-inch alloy wheels, xenon headlights and a retractable rear spoiler.

Instantly recognisableAudi TT review - front view, orange, 2020 Available to lease Lease Now

The S line adds 19-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, dynamic indicators that scroll rather than simply blink, a gloss black grille with chrome edges, and a fancier rear bumper treatment with platinum grey insert. Large 20-inch black alloys fill the wheelarches on the Black Edition, which also boasts a black radiator grille and tinted rear glass.

The flagship Vorsprung model features matrix LED headlights that adjust to their surroundings and 20-inch diamond-cut alloys that appear primed for an unfortunate run-in with a kerb. You have been warned.

That’s only part of the story. The TT Roadster is essentially a TT Coupe with the option of open-air motoring, while both models are available as a sportier TTS model or a more focused TT RS that’s basically a rocket with an Audi badge attached.

Convertible classAudi TT review - Roadster convertible, side view, grey, 2020 Available to leaseLease Now

There’s a sizable gap between the cheapest and most expensive TT, so if you fancy the TT because of its looks, there’s no need to splash too much cash.

On the inside, the dashboard is dominated by three circular air vents, which double-up as controls for the air-conditioning. On higher trim levels, the centres of the vents contain digital displays, which continue to look stunning, even in 2020.

Audi’s excellent Virtual Cockpit digital instrument display is standard across the range. While it looks superb, it’s also very driver-focused, so the passenger can feel a tad left out of the TT party – there’s no central screen at all, so the only thing for them to look at is the scenery, or the person behind the wheel.

You may have to keep your passengers entertainedAudi TT review - interior with Virtual Cockpit and automatic transmission, 2020 Available to leaseLease Now

On the plus side, the build quality and materials used are excellent, which enhances the ownership experience. However, it’s best to think of the rear seats as additional luggage space, as they’re barely suitable for even the smallest children.

Still, at least the coupe’s boot offers a generous 305 litres of space, which should be more than enough for a long weekend. The coupe’s rear seats also fold flat, expanding that to 712 litres of capacity. As I said earlier, form and function run hand-in-hand in the Audi TT.

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Driving

The Audi TT doesn’t do slow. Even the entry-level 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine – badged 40 TFSI – produces 197hp to help it get from 62mph in 6.6 seconds. The 45 TFSI is a 245hp version of the same engine, which enables the TT to complete the sprint in 5.9 seconds. That’s with a six-speed manual gearbox; opt for the seven-speed automatic and you’ll shave 0.1 seconds off this time.

You can also equip the 45 TFSI with Audi’s famous Quattro all-wheel-drive system, which enhances the TT’s all-weather capabilities. The TTS gets the same engine, but with power boosted to 306hp, while Quattro and the seven-speed auto come as standard.

Fast but not furious in standard guiseAudi TT review - driving, front view, orange, 2020Available to leaseLease Now

At the top of the range, the flagship TT RS is powered by a 2.5-litre turbo petrol engine with a crackling 400hp.

The five-cylinder engine makes a fantastic noise as you blitz through the 0-62mph dash in 3.7 seconds. Although top speed is limited to 155mph as standard, you can pay Audi to release the shackles, which enables the TT RS to hit 174mph. Though I don’t recommend you test that on the M1.

Pace is definitely a TT strong point. Add all-wheel-drive to the mix and it comes with a degree of reassurance that is much needed in the changeable conditions the UK experiences on a daily basis.

Quattro four-wheel drive means all-weather tractionAudi TT review - driving, rear view, orange, 2020Available to lease Lease Now

What’s more important is that a car makes you feel special, which is arguably the TT’s greatest strength. The heated Alcantara and leather seats on the entry-level TT Coupe are supremely comfortable, while the driving position is excellent. Relax and enjoy the ride.

The other models feel a bit needlessly hardcore. For example, the seats are too firm on the TTS, while the ride quality on the TT RS is a little harsh. It’s for this reason that I’d avoid the 20-inch alloys – but only you know if style takes precedence over the long-term condition of your lower lumber region.

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Cost and economy

Around £375 a month grants you access to an Audi TT Coupe Sport with the 40 TFSI engine. You could spend around £700 more per month on the flagship TT RS with all of the trimmings, but if you’re after the styling, the badge and the cabin, I’d recommend saving your money.

The boot is bigger than you might thinkAudi TT review - boot space, 2020 Available to lease Lease Now

Driven carefully, the 40 TFSI could return as much as 40mpg, which would have been an acceptable figure from a diesel engine not so long ago. There’s a negligible economy hit for upgrading to a more powerful version of the same engine, but opting for larger wheels will leave a dent in your wallet.

Given the styling and specification of the TT, the fuel economy shouldn’t give you too many nightmares. Just go easy on the options, because some of the packs are rather costly. I’d recommend starting with the Sport model, then deciding which extras you really fancy. You might find it’s more cost-effective to stick a couple of niceties on a more affordable model than to fork out for a more expensive trim level.

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Verdict

You and your mates aren’t buying enough cars like the TT, which is why this Audi has so few rivals. According to the sales charts, compact crossovers and performance SUVs are the order of the day, with stylish coupes deemed too impractical for modern life.

That’s nonsense. If it’s just you and your significant other, I’d recommend owning an Audi TT while you still can. It might lack the driving precision of a (much pricier) Porsche, but the TT is a rapid, stylish and surprisingly practical coupe. It might be more soft-focus than a traditional sports car, but you will enjoy driving the TT, not least because it makes you feel good when you’re behind the wheel.

The Audi crossover can wait a couple of years. In the meantime, lease a TT Sport Coupe or Roadster and enjoy a few years of freedom before your life is filled with nappies, mortgage payments and trips to the soft-play centre.

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