The Audi TT comes with so much baggage it wouldn’t be allowed on any aeroplane anywhere in the world.
Poser-mobile, hairdresser’s car, a Golf in a fancy frock, it appears that Audi’s entry-level sports offering will never be taken seriously as a performance car, forever tarred with the ‘style over substance’ brush.
Well, if Audi’s third-generation TT is a hairdresser’s car, then you can call me Vidal Sassoon, as it now deserves to be regarded as a very accomplished driver’s car. For this judge, at least, it was the surprise of the event.
Audi knows how to play the BFYB game; witness last month’s S1 Sportback arriving sans 18-inch wheels and hence scraping under the $50K price cap. PR dude Shaun Cleary is a former MOTOR staffer and organised the event for a number of years, which means that the decision to provide us with a quattro TT was probably no accident.
While the addition of the all-wheel drive system added $6000 to the price compared to a front-drive manual, the thinking was clearly that the added performance of all-paw grip would overcome the extra cost.
It was a hand worth playing, as despite packing ‘only’ 169kW/370Nm, the foolproof launch control allowed the TT to reel off 0-100km/h in 5.32sec and a 13.64sec quarter mile at 163.86km/h, just four-tenths slower than the Golf R despite being 37kW down.
Even more impressive, around Winton the TT beat its (admittedly much cheaper) Wolfsburg sibling by seven-tenths – that’ll be the 100 less kilograms it’s carrying.
But while the TT was faster than we were expecting, the real surprise was just how good this new-generation model is to drive. It must be said that it appears I felt more strongly about the TT’s talents than my colleagues, who all preferred the Golf R’s more aggressive personality, but having driven the two back-to-back just to make sure, the TT’s heightened sense of agility was the clincher.
You can feel both its lighter weight and lower centre of gravity in every corner, but while there is plenty of grip – though its apex speed was second-to-last in both turn five and nine – its greatest attribute is its adjustability.
Like all good drivers’ cars, it gives you options; play it neat and tidy or use the brakes on corner entry to slide the rear. Then again, you can simply lob it in like a hooligan and it’ll oversteer like mad. In the final reckoning, however, while the TT’s numbers are impressive for what it is, they’re only so-so in comparison to its competitors.
Combine that with the field’s second-highest price and a distant sixth is the best the Audi could manage, a long way adrift of the GLA45 AMG ahead of it. However, while the TT mightn’t be the strongest BFYB package, it’s far better than the name-calling would suggest.
0-100km/h – 5.32sec (5th)
0-400m – 13.64sec @ 163.86km/h (5th)
Lap time – 1:40.9 (4th)
Bang Index – 82.9
Price – $77,950
Bucks Index – 85.2
BFYB Index – 126.0
Campbell 4th – “What a surprise! Expecting a hairdresser’s car, but in fact it’s got balls.”
Morley 4th – “Feels smaller than before. Kind of where it should be.”
Newman 2nd – “Brilliant. Fast, agile and entertaining. Loved it.”
Spinks 3rd – “Third gen another step away from show car and step closer to sports car.”
Luffy 4th – “It’s not too stiff, so you can slide the back around a little. If it does start to get out of shape then just get back on the throttle. It won’t downshift in a corner when you want it to, and it’ll auto upshift by itself. Still, there’s good weight in the steering and you feel like you’re always involved in the driving process.”