The 3rd Gen TT

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The TT is now in its 3rd generation. The first one of its kind came out in 1998, to wide acclaim. Visually it was a leap in design and we didn’t see mark II until 2006. The mark II was produced from 2006 – 2014 and the mark III, 2014 onwards. The TT we have is the 2016 mark III Sports – the TTS. Sitting on no less than factory fitted 20 inch wheels with 286 horse power, the 2016 TT has a stronger road presence than its outgoing predecessors and a quick walk round the car confirms so. We cannot help but notice the TTS has striking looks from every angle with an almost invisible fitted spoiler at the rear which can be manually activated or it will activate itself when needed.

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The interior

Once inside Audi’s fighter plane cockpit display and racing steering wheel lets you know this car means business. The display is capable of numerous arrangements and it is controllable from the steering wheel or the center console. The whole screen is digital with a built in map and GPS that can use the complete screen if selected. The seats are sewn in red nappa leather and provide support in typical sports seat fashion. Another great design feat are the air conditioning vents, featuring the controls to the AC in the center. As for temperature control, even in the scorching 45 degrees plus we had to divert the vents away as we were experiencing cold arms, a sort after quality in this region. The door cards are matched in trim with soft glow lights and tucked away in the dashboard and doors is the Bang & Olufsen sound system, although exceptional we kept it low in favour of the engine and exhaust note. The all-around view ability is also superb. As for space, our art director is just over 6 foot and 120Kilos and he fitted in with room to spare
The rear seats are fine for childrenand the boot is much larger than older models, easily enough for two large weekend bags. Apart from the boot the rear seats provide extra luggage space if ever needed.

The handling

With no other way to describe it the TTS handles brilliantly. The level of grip developed is very impressive. We get the notion that the Quattro system, the chassis and the suspension is taking this 286 Bhp 4 cylinder engine in its stride, encouraging you to turn in sharper and faster on some of the most challenging roads we could find. Not that the TTS is a slouch by any means, but time your gear changes well in manual or let ‘Sport’ mode loose and you find yourself hurtling towards corners quicker than you had in mind only to exit them easily as the TTS just does not roll or show any form of lunge at all but remains glued to the road. The feedback through the steering wheel is completely on point. Although in the past the electric steering has been considerably light (in town) on other Audi models and slow to stiffen up (on motorways) with a notable change; but not here it feels natural and right. The TTS allows you to feel the road surface through the tyres, the grip point, the power delivery and in general everything a sports car should tell you through the steering wheel. Those who sing the praises of mechanical hydraulic steering, if not converted already, prepare to be.

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The Brakes

Lightly gracing the brake pedal will instantly shave off any unwanted speed in traffic or should you think you are carrying along too much speed into a corner it will leave you exiting slowly and feeling rather sheepish as (due to the grip) there was really no need to brake at all. Should you need to stop quickly you certainly will. Using the brake firmly will see the 20inch allow wheels bed down into the tarmac and stop the TTS far shorter than you had planned. For the driver holding on to the racing style flat bottom wheel it’s a nice surprise, for your passenger expect a stern look. The stopping power surprisingly enough, comes from normal-looking, non-vented or drilled discs, clamped by reassuringly large Audi Sport calipers on the front and on the rear. The brake pedal and system awards the driver a great deal of feel from the road and an understanding of what is going on, on all 4 wheels. Coupled with the strong feedback from the steering, the information from the road to the car to the driver is abundantly welcome and gives the driver a total feel of control

Suspension

The TTS comes with the standard Audi ‘Drive Select’ modes. The switch is found on the center console placed where the drivers can find it without taking their eyes off the road. At first, we were all about ‘Dynamic’ mode, firming up the magnetic suspension for maximum sports car thrill. Firm, it is most noticeable at high speeds when you, the driver and passenger are jostling around inside the car and around corners where body roll just does not seem (that we could find) to exist. The ‘Individual’ mode we left alone and rotated through ‘Dynamic’ for race car like feel to ‘Comfort’ which took the edge off the ride in between long straight stretches. ‘Efficiency’ was the last option to explore but this opened a docile side to the TTS that was equally likeable. The gear box changes up as early as possible and fuel efficiency is increased, not only by the engine’s stop start function but when the accelerator is not depressed the engine will settle at idle and the car can coast along sparking back into life when it is needed. Great, although we should question why in a sports car are you attempting to be frugal…

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Gearbox

The TTS mates a 2.0 litre turbo engine to the Quattro system with a 6 speed triptronic gearbox. On a drive the TTS is easily managed in town and it is perfect for sprinting on motorways. In sports, the TTS becomes insistent with progress and wants to get you where you are going as quickly as possible and demands gear change right on the red line. Add a few corners in sports mode and all of a sudden, great fun turns into a thrilling ride while remaining planted to the road via the permanent 4 wheel drive Quattro system. We spent a lot of time in manual mode using the gear change paddles on the steering wheel, exploring the power delivery in high gears from 3,000 RPM to 5,000. In-between twisty stretches we were charmed by the smooth acceleration wafting through the Kalba Mountain pass, courtesy of the turbo boosting us along (2 grown men, camera equipment) with ease. In turn using the manual option on the mountain roads was easy and rewarding, it encouraged the driver to explore the complete rev range, up and down, automatically changing up when it hit the limiter set at exactly the red line.
After a while it was possible to tell where you were in each gear without glancing at the dashboard just by the sound of the engine, allowing for complete focus on the job at hand by just using the paddle shifts on the steering wheel. The purists may quaff at the lack of a manual gearbox, which is understandable; however, the 6 speed S tronic is excellent, allowing you to keep both hands on the wheel and focus more on the drive.

The engine

The 4 cylinder 2.0 litre turbo does a fine job of hurtling the TTS along. It has a 0 – 100 Kmh of 4.7 seconds. It carries torque figure of 280 nm more than enough to witness your passenger rocking forwards and backwards while you change gear. With 286 bhp, the TTS will see you to the electronically limited 250 KPH should you be on a track day and feel the need. The sports exhaust on the TTS produces a pleasant note throughout the range, transforming into a great rasp when taken to the limit. Down shifting is precise and drives a great engine note straight through the cabin. The engine is at its best when worked hard and seems to relish the higher rpm’s. In and around town, it’s a balanced warble that is a slight give away to the TTS’s 286 BHP lurking under the bonnet but never too much to attract unwanted attention.

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Overall

After nearly 5 days 4 tanks of fuel, 1,500 kilometers, one mountain pass and a certain drive lasting 7 hours in one sitting… we emerged smiling with no complaints or bad backs. The TTS offers impossible to ignore styling with an intoxicating blend of engineering, handling and performance that must be experienced when considering a purchase in this sports car class. The feedback from the car via the braking system, the steering and the suspension is so informative the TTS could be talking to you – albeit in German. It should also be noted that the TTS is the only one to offer a 4 wheel drive system in its class offering unprecedented levels of grip in all weather. Thanks to the Drive Select suspension system the TTS can be a genuine everyday sports car in ‘Comfort’ mode but consider a slightly smaller alloy size if this will be your daily drive . Should you shift the 6 speed gear box into sport and select ‘Dynamic’ the suspension will become firm and gear changes ferocious, turning a smile into a huge grin reaching from ear to ear. We were lucky enough to drive the 1st and 2nd generation TT for this review and although the 3rd generation is a completely different car, the TT does retain the character of its siblings which previous fans will like and lots of new elements that will gain it new fans. Yes this TTS does share its chassis platform and engine combination with other models in the VAG range, however, the difference is all in the drive and the head turning looks