Audi TT 2.0 TFSI Sport v BMW 228i Coupe comparison review

10 Mar 2016 Car Reviews

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Audi TT 2.0 TFSI Sport v BMW 228i Coupe comparison review

Audi's venerable TT challenges a sharp and engaging BMW coupe on class and style, but is it a match for on-road performance?

Audi TT 2.0 TFSI SPORT
Score: 80/100

Price & Equipment | 13/20

Base Audi coupe is pricier, at $71,950, than the mid-spec BMW coupe ($64,400). The entry-level TT is a six-speed manual front-driver with a 2.0-litre turbo-petrol four. It’s equipped with a rear camera, electric front seats, leather/Alcantara trim, attention- and lane-assist systems, satellite navigation, and tyre pressure monitors. 

Interior & Versatility | 18/20

Cutting-edge cabin design with high-quality materials and tactile controls make the TT a class act. One party trick is the 12.3-inch TFT screen in the instrument cluster, which displays the sat-nav map, infotainment info, and the speedo and tacho. Another is the climate-control knobs on the air vents. ‘Plus twos’ ideally small or inanimate. 

Performance & Economy | 18/20

Flexible 2.0-litre turbo four makes 169kW, with 370Nm spread over 1600-4300rpm, pushing 1305kg TT to 100km/h in a claimed 6.0sec – slower than the BMW, despite a superior 137kW/tonne power-to-weight. Like its rival, the TT has a subtly sporty note that could be louder. Thrifty 5.9L/100km combined-cycle economy on 95RON. 

Ride & Refinement | 16/20

Like the BMW, the Audi rolls on 18-inch wheels and tyres. Front-drive TT is more supple than up-spec quattro and S-line versions, but it’s not as smooth at soaking up sharp-edged joins and lumps as the 228i, and is a bit noisier on ubiquitous Aussie country-road coarse-chip. Magnetic dampers help a lot, but come at further cost. 

Steering & Handling | 15/20

TT’s electro-steering system has a variable ratio, so can feel a bit lazy at first, but the coupe’s snout starts to point more eagerly with lock. You miss the quattro TT’s neat ability to pre-empt corners with a shuffling of torque to the rear wheels, but the front drive is light on its tyres, with an ESC-based LSD system to reduce torque-steer. 

BMW 228i COUPE
Score: 84/100

Price & Equipment | 15/20

The 228i gains 45kW and 80Nm over the $51,000 base 220i. It shares much with its rival, including front and rear parking sensors, auto headlights, rain-sensing wipers, dual-zone climate control, sat-nav and leather trim. Undercuts TT’s price despite a standard eight-speed auto (six-speed manual is a no-cost option). 

Interior & Versatility | 15/20

BMW a bit spartan inside, though sportier with the no-cost optional Sport Line pack. Materials not as rich as those in the Audi, and minor controls lack the TT’s tactility. There’s a bit more leg and head room in the rear, but it’s still tight. Front-seat comfort and ergonomics great, while intuitive iDrive system is a highlight. 

Performance & Economy |18/20

The BMW musters a smooth 180kW and 350Nm from 1250-4800rpm from the same 2.0-litre turbo-petrol four as base 220i. Eight-speed auto and rear drive see the 228i sprint from 0-100km/h in 5.6sec (claimed) despite being heavier (1405kg) and carrying 128kW/tonne. Officially uses 6.3L/100km, helped by brake energy regeneration. 

Ride & Refinement | 18/20

The BMW rides on 18-inch run-flats (there’s no spare; you get a tyre repair kit in the Audi) yet the 228i’s ride compliance is impressive. While the handling is sharp, the ride is not. The Bavarian coupe delivers a level of absorbency we could comfortably live with, both in urban and out-of-town driving. 

Steering & Handling | 18/20

Balance, involvement and plain fun come with the 228i’s rear-drive specification. A thick wheel rim guides a tarmac-carving nose via sharp variable-ratio steering, and with a four-pot up front, turn-in is more enthusiastic than in the M235i six. The BMW is agile, composed and powers down hard with help from a rear electro diff lock. 

VERDICT

A glance at the scores suggests this was an easy victory for the BMW 228i. It’s less costly than the base TT (despite sitting just a rung below the fiery M235i), and is quicker and more involving, which might be all that matters. However, it wasn’t a complete walkover. The third-gen TT takes Audi cabin class to new heights, with leading-edge design and cleverly deployed tech. The overall aesthetic and image is a matter of taste, but the TT’s styling is more resolved than the broad-sided BMW’s. It also comes standard with a manual, which is increasingly rare. Back in the BMW’s favour is its superior three-year retained value forecast, though both have similar warranties and service schedules.

It seems that buying the Bee Em and pocketing $7500 is the $64K answer to this coupe question.

This article was originally published in Wheels January 2016.