The first time I saw the Audi TT, I can remember saying to myself, “wow – what an awesome looking little car – I can’t wait to grow up and buy one.” I was merely able to comprehend when Audi first introduced the original TT in the late 90’s; now, almost 25 years later and in it’s third generation, it’s still a great looking car. Technology doesn’t stand still, however, and so the latest TT is more refined and technologically advanced both inside and out. Question is, has two decades been generous to the TT or just put it firmly into middle-age.
My time with the TTS
Out of the driveway, first-impressions are quite good. In fact, I challenge you to find a world-class 2+2 seater equipped with the Quattro four-wheel drive system and dashboard niceties like the standard-fit Audi Virtual Cockpit for under R890 000.
I’m sure you can tell that I’ve drank the Quattro Kool-Aid and I feel like it’s okay for me to tell you that if you want the R8 but can’t afford it – which so many of us cannot – this TTS goes a long way to scratching that itch, and in a way that’s usable every day.
In Mzansi the only engine option is a 2.0-liter four cylinder that’s specifically configured for the 2020 TTS, good for 225kW of power and 400Nm of torque. Even at just about half the power output of it’s bigger R8 sibling, the TTS never felt under powered. Those cross shopping (annoying as they are) will be happy – though their buying decision perhaps made no easier – knowing that this TTS comes in at 4.5 seconds from 0 to 100 km/h for the Coupe. By means of comparison, the R8 will do the same run in 3.1 seconds. The TTS is not terrible at all.
I don’t want this to turn into an R8 vs TTS comparison, though it’s not hard to be impressed by some of the features found on the more expensive car that Audi has managed to bring to the TT. Performance and handling are both excellent, and carving through the curvy back roads of the Free State the TT felt sharp as a razor. Even on an unfamiliar route where there were times when the lane markers were nowhere to be seen under the dark canopy of heavy clouds – I felt confident enough to push the car the way it was meant to be driven.
Key to that safe yet still exciting experience is Audi’s all-wheel drive system, among the auto industry’s best. Despite my efforts, I barely got the rear end to kick out. Getting the tires to slip or squeal simply isn’t in the TT’s nature.
For those obsessed with driving modes, you can interact with that process using Audi Drive Select, switching between Comfort, Sport, Dynamic, and Individual Settings to adjust steering input, suspension stiffness, shift points, and engine note. Dynamic mode, for instance, holds the revs longer and shifts much later, proved to be my favourite mode for zipping around the back roads as well as on the highway. Comfort mode, meanwhile, delivers better fuel economy while the steering gets easier.
The interior is refined and, though fairly minimalistic, gets all the technology you’d hope for. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, Audi’s Virtual Cockpit system is great, and I’m pleased to hear it will be standard equipment for all future Audi vehicles.
Climb in, and the first thing you’re faced with is a 12.3-inch display with high-resolution 3D graphics, right behind the steering wheel. The majority of the controls fall under your fingertips on the wheel, with buttons and a scroll wheel, while in the centre console there’s a touch pad that allows you to scribble in text.
The display can be switched between a speedometer and tach, though it’s worth noting that you don’t get a second screen in the middle. Effectively the passenger is along for the ride, though they at least have access to the ingenious turbine-inspired controls built into the air vents.
Practicality may not be as sexy as road-handling or horsepower, but it’s something most of us still have to consider. It’s not clear at this stage whether car seats and boosters would be so welcome.
The TT may have grown up in the past twenty years, but then again so have I. When I’m home, I’m home: that means taking my 2 nephews to school, swimming, and any number of other activities. On top of that, I’m the designated driver to my mother. Dad hates my driving. It’s not enough for the TTS to satisfy me, it has to at least nod toward practicality.
That carries over to value, too. Pricing for the new TTS starts out at R782 000. While things like advanced navigation, phone box, parking assist, and a rear-view camera – adds about R40 000, and the Bang & Olufsen audio system is another R9 875.
The original TT was enough to wow my younger self with its design; this third-generation car gives it the driving abilities to match.
Tshegofatso Harmonix Phiri contributed his legendary photography skills to this review.
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