22.3.2016Audi TT Coupe TDI ultra review
If you feel a sporty car is fine with an efficient diesel engine then the Audi TT ultra Sport delivers the goods and without the weight and complexity of the quattro four-wheel drive system. The TT's "virtual cockpit" instrument panel makes other cars feel old fashioned. The coupe looks great inside and out, feels well put together and delivers enough driving fun for all but the keenest enthusiast.
Review by Russell Bray
Low revving diesel engines still seem an odd choice for a sporting car but the TT Coupe certainly is fast enough in ultimate terms with a top speed of 150mph. Acceleration is brisk too, especially from rest to 30mph and even 0-62mph takes only 7.1 seconds if you have good traction and are quick enough - and brutal enough - with the clutch and accelerator. The 1,968cc 16-valve, four-cylinder, turbocharged diesel engine produces 184bhp at 3,500rpm but it's the 280 lb ft of torque from just 1,750rpm that gets the car moving. Mid-range it has genuine pace but you can find yourself wishing it had twin turbos and more power. Under load the engine sounds suitably rorty but there is no mistaking that diesel rattle at low speeds and on initial start-up.
Audi has rethought the suspension compared to the previous car and improved the handling. You now have to be going at quite a pace for understeer to build up and the car to start to push on in a corner. While it's not a sports car in the truest sense, a keen driver can find enough to enjoy in terms of steering and cornering responses. Weight has been reduced by about 50kg which also benefits agility. Sport suspension makes the ride quite firm but while a friend thought it too hard I thought it too soft so it pays to chose carefully. This model is front wheel drive only so with the engine's low end torque it is easy to spin them if you start off quickly and the car's weight transfers to the back. As ever, I would like more feel in the steering. At top speed a rear spoiler generates roughly 50 kg of down force on the rear axle to help with stability.
Despite its sharper edges and more pronounced radiator grille the latest TT is easily recognisable as the successor to the Bauhaus-inspired original with its clean and simple lines. With a tall driver and front seat passenger the rear seats are only for additional storage such as coats and bags; but I have seen small stature women with children in the back. You could argue the rear seats should just be carpeted luggage space instead but cars tend to look Spartan like that. Luggage space is 305 litres with the rear seats in use, about 13 litres more than the previous model. This increases to 712 litres if you fold down the seat backs. This TT is 21mm shorter than the generation two models but the wheelbase is longer, improving ride and stability. The big, round exhaust pipes are reminiscent of the original TT. LED headlights are standard on S line models. Length 4,180mm. Width 1,832mm.
COMFORT & CONTROLS
Front seat comfort was excellent in the well shaped seats which have stacks of adjustment, as does the steering column. There's a short throw to the gear lever movement and a light clutch. I thought the cabin great but my wife said the steering wheel was over fancy with too much fake chrome and thought the four rings badge was too showy as well. Audi's so called 'progressive' steering is fine for normal town driving but tackling a twisty road it feels weird. The electro-mechanical assistance decreases with speed, which is good, but the steering rack feels faster as you put more lock on so you are not sure how much of a 'bite' you have taken at a hairpin for instance. Finger-pull parking brakes have no place in sports cars where you need a fly-off handbrake. Manufacturers fit them because they think they are 'premium' and to save space â€“ for what? Very expensive to fix when corrosion sets in. Satellite navigation and other comms features are brilliant but I have heard of problems after software updated.
MPG & RUNNING COSTS
Exhaust emissions of 116 g/km put the Audi TT ultra in tax band C which means no first year road tax and then just Â£30 per year under the current regime. The official combined fuel consumption is 62.8 MPG. Long real life journeys, including main road cruising, saw an overall figure of 48.2 MPG, though I did manage 52.7 MPG taking it easy one day. I must admit I was surprised it wasn't better as the car seemed to be rolling very freely. The TT is covered by a three year / 36,000 mile warranty.
The complete outer body of the TT is made of aluminium to save weight. With a drag coefficient of 0.29 (in lowered S line form), the car has the lowest value in its class, reducing fuel consumption when cruising. A polymer capsule under the engine reduces aerodynamic lift and improves air flow. Under the passenger compartment is an 'aero' panel, which combined with apertures near the door sills and small spoilers at the fuel tank and in front of the rear wheels further reduces drag. In the diesel engine reduced piston ring tension reduces friction. For better thermal efficiency the crankcase and cylinder head have separate coolant loops. During warm-up, only one loop is active to warm the engine block quickly. The oil pump operates at two pressure stages so saving energy. The common rail system injects fuel at up to 2,000 bar via eight-hole nozzles. The high pressure enables fine nebulisation and so efficient, low-emission combustion.
The turbocharger has adjustable vanes on the turbine wheel. The charge air intercooler is in the intake manifold to create a compact unit with short gas paths, quick response and high efficiency. The DeNOx storage catalytic converter and diesel particulate filter are also fitted closer to the engine. The shortened gas paths improve the response of the emissions control system. A connection for the low-pressure exhaust gas recirculation system minimises pressure losses. The gearbox has a light weight magnesium housing. According to our calculations, the tested has a Next Green Car Rating of 37.
You can drive the car in comfort, dynamic, efficiency or auto mode where the car adjusts to your driving style using the Audi drive select system. Pushing a button decides whether the accelerator, the engine sound actuator and steering boost should be active in these modes. The TT Coupe is well kitted out with the electronic "virtual cockpit" as standard, sport seats with integrated head restraints, Xenon plus headlights with LED daytime running lights, tyre pressure monitoring, multifunction steering wheel and 18-inch alloy wheels. It also gets the progressive steering and electromechanical parking brake I would prefer to do without.
Also fitted as standard are the electrically adjustable and heated door mirrors, and the keyless go system, so you start the engine with a button. Options on the test car included a storage and luggage package Â£175, attractive LED interior lighting Â£270, hill-hold assist Â£90 and a Â£1,795 technology pack with Audi Connect. Heated front seats added a further Â£325, front centre armrest Â£175, rear parking sensors Â£430 and upgraded sound system Â£270.
Model tested: Audi TT 2.0 TDI ultra
Body-style: Two door coupe
Engine / CO2: 184bhp 1,968cc four-cylinder turbocharged diesel / 116 g/km
Trim grades: Sport, S Line
On-road price: From £29,425. Price as tested £34,405
Warranty: Three years / 60,000 miles
In the showroom: Now
Review rating: 4.0 stars