Words: Sammy Chan
Photography: Sammy Chan
Published: July 20, 2017
It would be easy to dismiss the third-generation Audi TTS as just a fancy four-ringed Volkswagen Golf R. They are, in essence, bound by the same family tree. They ride on the same aluminum-intensive platform, use the same engine, and even make the same amount of horsepower. So what makes the TTS so different other than its iconic bar-soap silhouette? And is the price premium of $20,000 over the Golf R significantly justified? We spent a week with the 2017 Audi TTS Coupe to find out.
Let’s take a look at what makes the TT so attractive in the first place. This 2+2 luxury sports coupe comes with all-wheel drive, a wonderfully balanced chassis, and a robust engine to boot. The TT also carries a distinctive and iconic shape that is recognizable from any corner of the globe.
Now in its third generation, the design language hasn’t changed much. Even the six-bolt aluminum fuel cap is there. The TT is still bulbous by any definition, but the curves have been massaged into sharper edges with a more masculine demeanor, whereas the previous generations of TT always seemed a little too feminine for my tastes. This one is more in tune with the design of the R8 supercar, and strikes the eyes with a little more emotion than your vanilla Golf R.
Inside the new TT is quite special too. The overall theme here (as with all Audis) is functionality. Every button and panel has a purpose. Though I’ve always found Audi interiors to be stark, dark, and gloomy, I have to admit that the new steering wheel, nifty vent controls, and overall setup is very driver-focused and engaging. The Golf-R-like steering wheel also has flat dimples just below the 9- and 3-o’clock position for better grip.
The cabin may need more colour and possibly a sunroof option, but it is undeniably functional. Storage space is well utilized, with a deep slot underneath the center stack with an auxiliary port and two USB slots, a retractable cupholder in the center glovebox, and even a dedicated slot for your keyfob. A handful of blank buttons do raise the occasional eyebrow, but Audi skillfully blends it all together into a simplistic layout that will appeal towards most enthusiasts.
It was our first time trying out Audi’s Virtual Cockpit and I must say, it’s just as good as they say. The 12.3-inch screen is large, colourful and very high definition. It was developed by NVIDIA, the same company that makes graphics cards for gaming computers. Audi’s setup redefines how you control infotainment, though the learning curve is huge for all the buttons and menus (and sub-menus) they throw at you. There are a plethora of controls which might need a sit down lesson for those who aren’t tech-savvy. Be that as it may, most of the buttons are intuitive and smartly laid out with the ability to scroll, push, and click.
Delegating the driver’s gauges to handle every infotainment control means the dashboard is clutter-free (and passenger-meddling-free), a vivid reminder of past vehicles that never had the option of touchscreen displays. It’s a refreshing sight, kind of like the bare button-free steering wheel in Porsche 911s and previous-gen Subaru BRZs. Climate and heated seat controls have also been integrated into the circular vents, freeing up even more precious real estate.
Audi calls the TT a 2+2 coupe for a reason, as it’s not meant to comfortably seat four adults. The rear seats are petite, and will only fit smaller children and your groceries. Practicality wise, the available space is more than usable for a two-person family. The trunk opens like a hatchback and expose the rest of the interior, and you can fold down the rear seats too to fit a fair amount of luggage. Need more room? Audi will happily sell you an A5 for around the same price. The seating position for front occupants is excellent however, and outward visibility is phenomenal too thanks to little triangular-shaped windows for rear passengers, effectively eliminating the blind spot.
There are four trims available: TT Coupe, TT Roadster, TTS Coupe, and TT RS. Now you might be wondering what the differences are. Well, the TT comes with a standard 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder that delivers 220-hp and 258 lb-ft. 0-100 km/h comes in 5.6 seconds. What transforms the TT into the TTS is similar to what changes the GTI to an R, or an A3 to an S3.
Cosmetically, the TTS gets a dark gray grill, silver mirror caps, a wider diffuser, quad exhaust tips over the dual ones, exclusive wheels, standard Sport seats, and appropriate S badging throughout the cabin.
Dynamically, the 2.0-litre engine from the TT gets ramped up with new internals to deliver 292-hp and 280 lb-ft via a revised 6-speed dual clutch transmission running closer gear ratios. These are identical power outputs to the Golf R. Sadly, there is no manual available. Although, 0-100km/h comes in a swift 4.9 seconds so remorse over a third pedal will soon be a distant memory. If you’re still being stubborn about it, the Golf R does offer one.
If you’ve ever driven a Golf R, you’ll feel right at home with the TTS. The engine delivery is nearly identical, with a minimal amount of turbo lag followed by an instant surge of induced power. The engine feels healthy, organic, and relentless. It may not compete with rivals packing more heat like the twin-turbo V6 Mercedes-AMG SLC 43, but this hearty powerplant does have verve and vigour. It sounds like a Golf R too, which unfortunately means exhaust sound is piped through the speakers. The soundtrack is convincing though, and doesn’t get in the way of grins and smiles.
But what made the previous TT Coupe so special were its handling capabilities. They were swift, agile, and incredibly nimble, like an extension of your arms. Now riding on a new platform with new engines, the new TT has more power, the center of gravity is lower and more importantly, it weighs much less. This pays dividends when it comes to how the TT performs.
The TTS may accelerate like a Golf R but it handles much differently. There is a wealth of front end bite, and the TTS turns directions with much more enthusiasm. The TTS isn’t as front-heavy as previous TT models, and you feel less of the power transfer from the Quattro all-wheel drive system. Though it’s a front-wheel biased Haldex system like the Golf R, it can also send 100% of the power to either axle, giving it the all-weather capability and confidence that most Canadians have come to expect.
Though you might expect understeer from this setup, at city speeds the TTS is nothing but flat and balanced. You’ll need to hit the track to explore those faults of the Quattro. Audi also employs brake-based torque vectoring to help cut down on the understeer, and is quite the dance partner when you’re driving spiritedly up twisty serpentine roads.
The ride is firm even though the TTS comes with magnetic ride dampers that adjusts the firmness of the suspension every few milliseconds. We blame the thin rubberband 20-inch tires. It’s not intolerable and most would find the ride quality a balanced mix between sport and comfort, and the exceptionally supportive sport seats with pneumatic side bolsters sweeten the deal.
The TTS is not a track-bred sports car but then again, I don’t think Audi wanted it to be. Instead, it’s imbued with an ethos of an everyday sports car, one that is exciting to drive and even easier to live with. The TTS seats four (sort of) with excellent luggage space and wonderful handling. The mid-engine Porsche 718 Cayman would be my pick if you’re actually planning on hitting up the track, though its exorbitant list of pricey options will leave it out of most short lists.
If you want more power, interior space and a higher seating position, look for the similarly priced BMW M2 or Infiniti Q60 Red Sport. If you want a bit of open-top sunshine to go with your sports car, there’s also the Mercedes-Benz SLC 43. Those that can afford the extra piston can even opt for the terrifyingly potent 400-hp TT RS.
The third-generation TTS is more than just a fancy four-ringed Golf R - it’s nimbler and more playful. The steering is on point, chassis control is excellent, and it excels at being both a daily driver and a weekend sports car. The entry price may be steep and storage space may be limited but everything the TTS has to offer, from its iconic looks to the redefining Virtual Cockpit, merits the premium hike.
型号 Model: 2017 Audi TTS Technik
顏色 Paint Type: Glacier White Metallic ($890)
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $62,700
試車售價 Price as Tested: $70,290
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,505
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,191 / 1,832 / 1,343
車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,470
引擎 Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder
最大馬力 Horsepower: 292 hp @ 5,400 - 6,200 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 280 lb-ft @ 1,900 - 5,300 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 6-speed dual-clutch automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
油耗 Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway / Combined ) L/100km: 10.3 / 8.6 / 9.5
油耗 Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 11.2
輪胎尺碼 Tires: 255/30R20