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Darren Moody reviews the Third Generation Audi TT

Iconic Design - Technology Loaded

Now in its third generation, the TT still has that unmistakable iconic look. But in isolation it’s difficult to immediately pick the changes in the new car. However put it next to the second generation model and the changes become clearer.  The front end has taken on​ a similar look to the R8 with a single frame grill and the Audi rings moving from the grill to the bonnet. The headlights have distinctive double vertical LED daytime running lights. The wheel arches are still bold but there’s a sharper edge to the sides. The wheel at each corner with a short overhang design continues in the new model, as does the one third cabin - two thirds body ratio.

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The latest TT is chock full of technology, but you don’t need a degree to operate anything. Audi used the term “simplexity” as their way of saying they have tried to make complex tasks as simple as possible. A new voice communication system that understands natural speech rather than commands works fairly well, as well as flatter menu structures through the multi-media interface. The TT’s climate control system also caught my eye as one of the most intuitive things I had seen for a while. From the three centre mounted turbine vent outlets each one has a control button in the middle of it. The centre button is used for climate control temperature selection, with fan speed and fresh/recirculation controlled by the others. When using it you instinctively reach for the vent outlets and the controls are at your fingertips.

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Audi made no secret that the new TT was very much a driver focused car and nowhere is that more evident than from the driver’s seat.  The instrument cluster is a 12.3” TFT display that creates a virtual cockpit for the driver. The driver can choose​ from multiple combinations to ensure the information you want displayed is right there in front of you. You can have the navigation screen as the dominant display with speed and tachometer displayed in smaller dials in each corner, or alternatively, you can choose a more standard view with larger speedo and tachometer dials. Information on audio or your phone can also be displayed. The flat bottomed steering wheel has an intuitive set of buttons, some of which can be programmed to change the display or function easily.

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Audi still do the best interiors in my view and the new TT doesn’t let the team down. While minimalist in terms of buttons and dials, fit, finish and materials are first rate. Standard features in the sport model include; a DVD player, 10GB music storage, keyless entry and start, Alcantara and leather trim, Audi’s parking plus system with front and rear sensors, 18” alloy wheels, and electric front seats with lumbar. Upgrade to S-Line models and get 19” alloys, better audio, fantastic bolstered sport seats with integrated head rests, along with a range of  internal and external style treatments, and full LED headlights with dynamic rear indicators. An optional extra is Audi’s latest Matrix LED headlights and a selection of 20” alloys to create that individual look. 

The new TT is around 50kg lighter, but has increased torsional stiffness by 23% thanks to a combination of hot and cold formed aluminium and steel. The external panels are all aluminium with the exception of the boot-lip spoiler. Wheelbase is 37mm longer and track 10mm wider, the cabin has increased interior space although it’s still a 2+2 so rear passenger space is limited. 

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Under the bonnet is a 169Kw, 370Nm 2.0L turbocharged direct injection engine that can be coupled to either a six-speed manual or DSG auto transmission. Drive is either front wheels, or you can upgrade to Audi’s Quattro all-wheel drive system. While being able to leap from 0 - 100km/h in 5.3 seconds (Quattro DSG), the engine is highly efficient, employs a stop/start system and has an official combined economy figure of 5.9L/100kms for the front-wheel drive manual and 6.4L/100kms for the Quattro DSG auto. ​​

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Cycling through Audi’s Drive Select system allows you to choose the mode that best suits. When selecting Dynamic mode throttle and transmission responses are sharpened, engine induction noise is turned up (electronically), and when driving a Quattro variant the drive becomes more rear biased. Select efficiency and the auto will dis-engage when coasting and shift points will be lower. 

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On the road you immediately notice the sharpness of the steering. It responds immediately and becomes progressively sharper when navigating tighter bends. Under hard acceleration there was a bit of torque steer in the front wheel drive that wasn’t evident in the vehicles fitted with the Quattro system. Ride comfort is better than you might think for a sports car. The engine pulls strongly from low in the rev range and the exhaust has that familiar “blatt” when shifting gears in the DSG auto.

Pricing for the entry level sport model is $71,950; add $3,000 for DSG auto. Quattro models are a DSG only affair kicking off at $77,950. S-Line variants start at $78,450 topping out at $85,450 for the DSG auto/Quattro drivetrain. (all pricing is plus on-road costs).

The new TT is I’m sure the taster for what is to come in the range down the track. Expect to see a variety of engine combinations as Audi leave no stone unturned to fill every niche, and of course the TT-S and TT-RS hero models which we eagerly await.

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