The Audi TT became an instant classic when it was revealed to the world back in 1998, its iconic, sporty shape and performance making it a must-have car. Personally, I always thought it was a little too much of a bubble-gum-looking car. Don’t get me wrong – I’d gladly own one if it was given to me gratis, but I’d never considered buying one. Until I drove the new TTS, that is. Almost immediately, I notice the harder bodylines. It appears the bubble-gum car has had some muscle added to it. The 20-inch Audi Sport alloy rims are pretty easy on the eye too. It’s still as recognisable and iconic as the original TT, but this is a different beast. As soon as you open the door, there are some fine-looking red leather seats, embossed with the S logo. And to my surprise, there are even a few small seats in the back for a little one.
Once seated and settled, I experience a first: the absence of a central infotainment unit. Volkswagen is introducing such a system into their cars next year. The virtual cockpit seems to be the way forward and the TTS is geared towards the driver – meaning drivers no longer have to look to their right (or left if the steering wheel is on the other side of the car). With Audi’s virtual cockpit, I’m presented with a large screen where the traditional dials used to live. This screen has a wealth of options, from the largest sat nav map I’ve ever had the pleasure to use while driving to the more traditional large speed/ rev dials as you cruise down the highway. All media and music can be displayed and phone numbers are all there. Admittedly, this means when I first sat behind the wheel of the TTS I spent a good 20 minutes familiarising myself with the large digital jog dial and functions layout on the steering wheel. Upon deciding on the look and design of my virtual display, I was nearly ready to hit the road until I realised there was one thing missing. There was no climate control. Looking slightly to my right (where the infotainment system is usually situated), I notice three, sleek circular air vents. In the centre of these vents are small digital displays.
As obscure as it sounds, this is one of my favourite touches inside the TTS. They are very simple to use, and they look fantastic – and they keep me grounded, as I still need extend an arm to the middle of the car to make an adjustment or two. Finally ready to see what the TTS is capable of on the road, I slide the gear stick into reverse, and the HUD changes to show a very clear camera view of what’s behind me, while an extremely helpful display to the left of the camera image lets you know how close objects are to all sides of the car – which means you have no excuse for ever scratching those beautiful 20-inch 10 Y-spoke design rims. Once I safely negotiate reversing, I put the gears in drive and I’m off. The TTS has 286 bhp at its disposal and can reportedly hit 0-100km/h in 4.7 seconds, though in all honesty, it feels quicker. This car is like an excited little puppy. There’s torque all over the rev band, like a puppy pulling at the leash just wanting to run and use all the revs at its disposal. If you slide the gearing into sports, the power is even more readily available, and it creates an immediate sense of fun. Within minutes, I feel right at home in the TTS (not including those 20 minutes messing with the virtual HUD).
The steering is precise, if maybe slightly light. The grip from the legendary Audi Quattro system is sensational. It’s very rare I drive a car round a bend and feel next to no body roll. In most cars, it’s necessary to brake for bends, however I feel the TTS is telling me to accelerate around them. The harder I take a bend, the more the car seems to stick to the road. Word of warning, passengers in the TTS may be prone to “accidents” should you decide to take a bend a little quicker than you would in other cars.
If you do get the chance to put your foot down a little bit (staying within the speed limits, of course), the TTS doesn’t disappoint. As I said earlier, the TTS is like an excited puppy. You don’t get the roars or deep bellowing grunts of the Audi R8 or AMG Mercedes, but you get fantastic small barks as the quad exhaust pipes pop and the urge to keep accelerating, to hear those little barks as the TTS goes through the gears, is all too real.
For the sceptics thinking: “OK, it’s fun, fast and full of tech but you’ll have a broken back after two hours of driving thanks to those huge 20-inch rims on such a small car”, let me tell you you’d be wrong. The dynamic chassis handles any bumps in the road very well. It’s nothing like a smooth Rolls-Royce style ride of course, but the TTS is very capable of keeping your posterior happy and your legs cramp free for many hours. The TTS is a great car. If you don’t want to spend a lot of money on your A to B but still want something that’s iconic, turns heads, is fast and practical for most daily tasks, the TTS could well be for you. I honestly never expected to like this car so much. The steering may be slightly on the light side, and my model didn’t have Apple CarPlay (If you’re considering this car I’d highly recommend asking your dealer about this option – it would be fantastic on the virtual HUD). The blind-spot indicators are also a little bit too big for my taste. But these very small gripes can easily be ignored, when compared to just how much fun the TTS is to drive. It’s even pretty good on fuel. Depending on how you drive it, of course.
Engine: 2.0-litre 4 cyclinder-turbo
0-100 kph: 4.7 secs
Max power: 286 bhp
Transmission: 6-speed S tronic
Top speed: 250 kph
Price: Reviewed model AED258,800 (US$70,464)