The 2016 Audi TT and TTS are new, third-generation models intended to draw them closer to the true sports-car realm. When Audi launched the first TT for 2000, it looked the part of an authentic sports car, but not everyone thought its performance and road-going talents matched the curvaceous body.
Lighter in weight and leaner in character, the 2016 Audi TTS and TT are swifter and more responsive than before. Unlike earlier TT coupes and roadsters, they deliver a more vivid driving experience, more in accord with the shapely exterior.
Rather than make evolutionary changes to the previous model, designers clearly took cues from Audi’s R8 supercar. The body design has not changed dramatically.
The cabin has changed quite a bit, however. The new interior layout is unabashedly driver-centric, more closely resembling a cockpit. Occupants benefit from more comfort features and the latest in connectivity options. Best of all, the new technology does not detract from the TT’s enhanced sports-car flavor.
Engines haven’t changed much. The 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder in the TT coupe and roadster makes 220 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. The 2.0-liter turbo in the high-performance TTS coupe has been boosted to 292 horsepower and 280 pound-feet. Helped by an all-new structure and some serious weight loss, a TT coupe can reach 60 mph in as little as 5.3 seconds; the TTS, 4.6 seconds.
One change that purists might disdain is lack of a manual gearbox. Fortunately, the standard S-tronic 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission provides quick responses and satisfying gear-change behavior.
Every TT now has Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive, for all-weather control. Audi Drive Select has Dynamic, Auto, and Comfort modes that can alter throttle response, steering assist, and transmission behavior, as well as stability and AWD system behaviors.
Ride comfort and noise could be better in a TT. Equipped with a magnetic suspension, the TTS, though tauter, is better able to suppress pavement harshness.
Additional active-safety features promise to meet the same standards for occupant protection as in Audi’s sedans and crossover SUVs. Secondary collision brake assist, for instance, keeps the car from rolling after an accident. Audi Side Assist is included on the TTS. Active Lane Assist is available, now sending a gentle warning pulse to the steering wheel. A higher-intervention mode can help steer the TT when necessary, to keep it in the proper lane.
Because the TT profile hasn’t changed much, it’s readily recognizable as the same saucy coupe or roadster sold since 2001. Body overhangs have been tucked in, corners are more chiseled and sheetmetal looks tauter with sharp contours reaching across the hood.
Overall, the TT conveys a more purposeful tone than before, matched by a more hunkered-back profile. Some might describe the look as menacing. Influence of the R8 supercar is most evident up front, starting with a broader and flatter trapezoidal, single-frame grille and new hood creases. Full LED headlights now are standard.
Inside, the TT has undergone a radical transformation for 2016. The customary infotainment screen and center stack are gone. Instead, virtually everything related to the interface sits directly ahead of the driver.
A new Audi Virtual Cockpit display uses a 12.3-inch high-contrast screen, steering-wheel toggles, and voice-activated controls, adding an MMI Touch scratch pad. The screen can display either of two distinct instrument layouts, or three in the TTS.
Climate controls sit within the round vents. Although the dashboard layout is low-set, it envelops the driver. Material covering the upper dashboard is padded and textured, while the TTS gets a raised honeycomb pattern.
As before, the TT and TTS offer plenty of passenger space, with greater front legroom than in most sports cars or sporty coupes. Seats are comfortable and supportive.
The TT is a 2+2, meaning even short people must endure cramped quarters for knees and legs. Worse yet, heads are likely to bump against the hatchback glass. Luggage space is small, too.
With the new infotainment system focused on the driver, there’s no way for a passenger to assist with navigation or traffic details. Also, backing out of the electronic path when a system gets confused or stops dead isn’t always so easy.
If actual engine and road sounds seem insufficient, an electronic sound actuator can send sporty tones into the cabin whenever the TT is driven enthusiastically.
With its light and nimble driving character, the TT feels more sensory than before. On the highway, you can expect a more relaxed nature, though road feel and feedback to the driver could still be better. The magnetic suspension on TTS models filters out some road noise that can be an issue in the TT Coupe. Either way, the ride is controlled well.
The Audi TT feels quick and agile when in tight low-speed curves, helped by quattro. A new progressive steering system features variable ratio and electric assist, adding to the TT’s nimble behavior during rapid directional changes.
As in the previous TT, a powered spoiler extends at 75 mph and retracts at 44 mph to increase downforce on the rear tires for improved grip in high-speed turns.
Naturally, performance rises in a TTS, which benefits from added turbo boost as well as stronger major moving parts. Audi’s automated-manual transmission makes those gear-changes quicker, as well as satisfying.
Audi’s TT is among the more fuel-efficient sporty coupes and roadsters, EPA-rated at 23/30 mpg City/Highway, or 26 mpg Combined. The TTS is rated 23/27 mpg City/Highway, or 25 mpg Combined.
A new design makes the 2016 Audi TT more of a serious sports car than it was previously. The original coupe’s basic profile is still there, enhanced rather than revolutionized. Inside is a thoroughly updated cabin. It all adds up to a very nice little sports car.
Driving impressions by Bengt Halvorson, The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.