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Audi TTS review

The Audi TTS is impressive, albeit expensive

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What is it? The Audi TTS is the performance-engined version of the distinctive TT coupé range.
Key features: Sub five-second acceleration, strong standard tech.
Our view: The Audi TTS is impressive, albeit expensive.

Around six months ago, The Car Expert first drove the all-new third incarnation of Audi’s uber-successful TT Coupe.

The new car maintained the best bits, such as the Bauhaus-inspired styling, of the first-generation car, credited by many with propelling Audi towards today’s premium success. And the Mk3 debuted a host of new tech, perhaps highlighted by the digital dashboard that has already spread into many other Audis.

When we carried out that first drive we were promised two further, and very distinct, versions of the latest TT. One was the drop-top Roadster, which The Car Expert has now driven and will report on shortly, and the other was the subject of this feature, a more performance-focused S model.

In terms of design, styling and such like, this Audi TTS is basicaly the stock model, though the TTS does add bespoke touches such as the quad chrome exhaust tailpipes.

Inside the already praiseworthy interior of the standard TT is enhanced. The seats are now body-hugging ‘super sports’ items in nappa leather, there is more leather around the cabin, and that digital dashboard gains extra toys including (for track use only we feel) a digital stopwatch.

The major focus on this newcomer, however, is the engine. Once upon a time seeking more performance would have required more litres, a big, heavy unit, but modern technology is rapidly consigning such large powerplants to the past.

Instead the recipe is a 2-litre, four-cylinder petrol unit with TFSi direct injection, matched to either a six-speed manual gearbox or the six-speed S tronic dual clutch auto/manual, and quattro all-wheel drive. While the stock TT has a maximum of 226bhp, this one pumps out 305 horses, along with 280lbft of torque, the latter over a wide rev band of 1,800 to 5,700rpm.

All of which means the TTS cuts the 0-62mph sprint time below the five second marker which is considered the border of true high performance territory. With the six-speed manual gearbox the TTS hits the mark in 4.9 seconds, choose the s tronic and the mark drops further to 4.6 sec – six tenths faster than the stock petrol TT.

And the TTS certainly suits the S tronic ‘box, especially when combined with the Audi drive select ‘adaptive dynamics system’ which tops a wide list of standard equipment driver aids.  Accelerating rapidly, from a standstill, or from slow speed produces a highly evocative bark as the ‘box shifts up its ratios, in no time at all moving the car into territory where one’s licence will be threatened.

The audio note is impressive but not wholly natural – the exhaust system boasts ‘sound flaps’, which open at high rpm to boost the noise produced, adding an extra layer of vibrancy.

The TTS is no coarse power packer, however. In traffic, or moving through a town centre, the car will cruise in as refined and well-behaved a manner as its less powerful sisters.

The car sits 10mm closer to the road than the stock TT and the magnetic ride adjustable damper suspension makes for a stiffer ride, but not achingly so, and the payback is the system working in conjunction with the quattro to produce levels of grip in corners that really shouldn’t be possible. This car has potency one can both live with and have a lot of fun with.

Such refinement is further demonstrated by the fact that alongside the auto and gear-holding, rear-axle favouring ‘dynamic’ modes, the drive select has an efficiency setting. With this engaged, the car will freewheel when the accelerator is eased off, saving fuel and boosting the combined cycle figure to 41.5mpg, along with CO2 emissions of 157g/km.

The TTS is impressive, perhaps the one serious question the price. While significantly less than suitably-engined versions of prime rivals the BMW Z4 and Mercedes-Benz SLK, the Audi’s £38,790 starting price is very close to the £39,694 of the highly-effective Porsche Cayman, and the Porsche will be a tempting alternative to many buyers, even though it can’t quite match the TTS for pace.

Quite a lot comes as standard on the TTS – magnetic ride, the drive select, the heated leather super sports seats among the highlights. But the options list is long too; our car had around £9,000 worth of options on it, such as the £945 matrix LED headlamps (that you don’t have to dip) and electric seats at £995, taking the price tag perilously close to £50,000 – expensive…

So the TTS assumes its place at the top of Audi’s TT line-up. But not, we hear, for long – an even more powerful TT RS variant is believed to be waiting in the wings…

Audi TTS – key specifications

Model tested: Audi TTS Coupe 2.0 TFSI quattro 310 PS S tronic
On Sale: April 2015
Range price: £38,790-£40,270
Insurance group: TBA
Engine: Petrol 2.0-litre
Power (bhp): 305 (5,800-6,200rpm)
Torque (lb/ft): 280 (1,800-5,700rpm)
0-62mph (sec): 4.9 (4.6*)
Top speed (mph): 155
Fuel economy (combined, mpg): 39.8 (41.5*)
CO2 emissions (g/km): 164 (157*)
Key rivals: BMW Z4 sDrive35i, Mercedes-Benz SLK 350 AMG, Porsche Cayman S
Test Date: March 2015
* = with S tronic gearbox

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Andrew Charman
Andrew Charman
Andrew is a road test editor for The Car Expert. He is a member of the Guild of Motoring Writers, and has been testing and writing about new cars for more than 20 years. Today he is well known to senior personnel at the major car manufacturers and attends many new model launches each year.