By now it should be clear: the second-generation Audi TT coupé is a very fine car. The range-topping 3.2 quattro has an appealing combination of looks, technology, performance, handling and quality; its talents are enough to place it above key rivals such as the BMW Z4 Coupé and Nissan 350Z.
But what of the base model, the front-wheel-drive 2.0T, a car Audi officials expect to take up to 60 per cent of UK TT sales?
Provided your priority is not Porsche Cayman S-slaying performance, the answer is a resounding yes. Undercutting the 3.2 quattro by a cool £6060, the 2.0T appears well poised to continue the success of the old 1.8T, which has sold in bigger numbers here than in any other country, making the UK the TT’s largest market.
On looks alone, there’s every reason to recommend the cheapest of the new TT line-up. This is one good-looking car, brimming with tension and endowed with brilliant detailing, although the standard 16-inch wheels look somewhat undersized beneath those heavily flared arches.
Purists will insist it is an inferior imitation of the original, but the altered dimensions give it a nicely balanced appearance while at the same time adding to its overall versatility. The new Audi looks better on the road than in photographs, and it’s beautifully made – inside and out.
What’s it like?
The 2.0T’s turbocharged 197bhp 2.0-litre direct injection four-cylinder TFSI engine may lack the cachet and refinement of the larger, naturally aspirated 3.2-litre V6 in the 3.2 quattro, but it gives the TT an impressive turn of speed if you’re prepared to keep it percolating in the mid to upper reaches. It’s an outstandingly flexible engine, with a lovely, linear delivery that’s devoid of any perceptible lag. The only real criticism is a momentary pause on a lifted throttle before the revs begin to descend.
Tipping the scales at a trim 1260kg with Audi’s optional S-tronic twin-clutch gearbox, as fitted to our test car, the 2.0T undercuts the range-topping 3.2 quattro by a substantial 150kg, helping it achieve a power-to-weight ratio of 156bhp per tonne, against 173bhp for its considerably more expensive sibling. At 6.4sec, the 2.0T’s claimed 0-62sec time can’t match that of the 3.2 V6, but it’s just 0.7sec behind – almost all of it lost in the initial burst off the line, where its front-wheel-drive layout is no match for more advanced four-wheel-drive hardware.
Once into second gear, though, it really hustles thanks to the seamless nature of its turbocharger and a generous 206lb ft of torque. That pulling power is spread across an extraordinarily wide range of revs that starts at 1800rpm and extends all the way to 5000rpm, just 100rpm below the point where peak power is developed.
That the new two-door is a full second quicker over the benchmark sprint than its much-admired predecessor is testament to Audi’s claim that the latest TT plays on a far higher performance plane than the first-generation model. What’s more, average consumption is brilliant at 36mpg. Top speed is 149mph, and with that pop-up spoiler helping to add downforce at the rear, stability is never in doubt.
Another factor playing in the Audi’s favour is its lighter engine, which places less mass over the front axle, providing it with a nicely balanced nature over snaking sections of blacktop. True, it mightn’t possess the same sort of drive out of corners or all-weather security of the 3.2 quattro, but the 2.0T proves a nicer car to drive when you’re not operating at ten-tenths out on your favourite back road early on a Sunday morning.
It has a more delicate feel and sharper responses – at least, up to the limits of adhesion generated by its 225/55 R16 tyres, at which point its dynamic talents tend to fall away rather quickly. Understeer is the prevailing trait when you arrive at a corner too fast, but the chassis is sufficiently adroit to allow you to alter your line via the throttle.
Should I buy one?
Good-looking, fast – if not rapid – and fun to drive; it’s everything we really value in the 3.2 quattro, but at £24,625 the 2.0T represents even better value.