The third-generation Audi TT drops its top as we drive it for the first time in Australia. Can the magic carryover from the coupe to the convertible?
WHAT IS IT?
This is the alfresco version of the new-gen Audi TT that arrived Down Under early this year, complete with a bold new look, but also a ground-breaking interior that cements its position as style leader not only for its class, but for the entire future Audi line-up.
WHY WE'RE TESTING IT
The Roadster has made it to Australian showrooms in time to pick your colour ahead of an endless summer. This is the first time we’ve subjected the convertible TT to the torture of our local excuses for roads.
THE WHEELS VERDICT
A stylish, quality convertible that’s even better to drive than it looks
PLUS: Unique style; brilliant dash design, fit and finish; excellent roadholding
MINUS: Sharp bump-absorption on larger wheels; lack of steering feel; single cup-holder
THE WHEELS REVIEW
There are a load of reasons why the 2015 Audi TT Roadster is better than before. If you’re keen on the coupe, you’ll know that this third-gen TT sits on a new platform that’s loaded with even more aluminium, is stiffer and faster, quieter and uses less fuel, and it’s wrapped in Audi’s new design language as the brand’s style leader.
So when Audi does a ‘less is more’ and lops the top off the Coupe, you’ll get everything the coupe offers but with a folding cloth top and, predictably, more weight (90kg) and a style tax of $3500 over the coupe at Audi’s checkout. The styling of the $81,500 TT Roadster works better than that the Coupe, because the fixed roof version’s profile isn’t too far removed from the previous generation and, at 50 paces, the side profile and rear-quarter views are easily mistaken for its predecessor.
Not so the Roadster, despite some key TT identifiers – the inboard single exhaust pipe on each side at the rear, the Allen-key fuel filler and the horizontal hipline punctured by the front wheel arch. With the roof down, the TT looks excellent from behind thanks to those polished roll hoops at the back of its two seats, while front-on that Audi R8-esque nose’s sharper edges perhaps contradict the more rounded edges elsewhere, including that roof.
It’s inside that the TT Roadster is at its best and brightest: while the outside may not have the visual impact of the first generation, the TT’s cabin is leap years ahead of almost any car at any price currently on sale. That stunning dished wheel, the turbine-style vents with the digital centre temp adjustment – which Audi describes with one of the most intriguing terms, ‘Simplexity’, for its complex make-up yet simple appearance and use – and the ‘Virtual Cockpit’ digital instrument cluster.
The TT Roadster is offered with only one driveline in Australia, with the 2.0-litre turbocharged four-pot making 169kW (a 14kW increase) used across the range, and paired with a six-speed dual-clutch transmission and fifth-generation quattro all-wheel drive system with torque vectoring. The only choice beyond colours, and so on, that buyers will have to make is whether to go for the $81K Sport – with 18-inch alloys, Alcantara trim – or pay $89k for the S Line (pictured here) with 19-inch alloys, subtle body add-ons and leather sports seats with adjustable bolsters.
Wheels drove both models at the local launch, with the cackle and burble of that engine on another level thanks to a roof that folds in a swift 10 seconds (up or down) and at up to 50km/h. Refinement levels are excellent with the roof up, with the cabin well insulated from engine, tyre and road noise as well as the outside world.
The throttle response in Dynamic – the most athletic of its drive modes – is strong, and while the TT Roadster is swift, it’s not an adrenaline-fuelled surge off the mark. Its strong torque means that it has good in-gear response, and the smooth, near-instant changes from the shift-paddles make full use of the neddies.
It’s in corners that the TT Roadster is most impressive, though, with brilliant roadholding meaning you need throw everything at it to get a whiff of misbehaviour. That brilliant composure means that this is an easy, fluid car to drive at seven or eight tenths to devour your favourite winding road, even if the steering could be sharpened to help with a brisker turn-in.
A reality check may have you choosing the base Sport car, though, as the 19-inch wheels on the S-Line serve up a noticeably harsher ride, the compliance making it crash through over sharp edges. The Sport’s inch-smaller alloys plane off that sharp edge, yet you lose very little of the former’s excellent roadholding.
The Roadster’s other ace is that its 280 litres of boot space, a 30-litre increase over the old model, doesn’t change with the roof up or down, even if it’s a shallow bay to stow your bags. Airport drop-offs are not on the TT’s to-do list, but brisk point-to-point performance and everyday liveability clearly are.
Model: 2015 Audi TT Roadster
Engine: 1984cc 4cyl, dohc, 24v, turbo
Max power: 169kW @ 4500rpm
Max torque: 370Nm @ 1600-4300rpm
Transmission: 6-speed dual-clutch
0-100km/h: 5.6sec (claimed)
Fuel economy: 6.7L/100km
On sale: Now