posted 4 years ago

Audi TT Roadster Review

The Audi TT Roadster is one of the most stylish and fun convertibles on the market and is beautifully made, luxurious and high tech

Motoring.co.uk User Verdict
4.1
From £31,955
Pros
  • Sharp styling and obvious Audi identity
  • Superb interior
  • Very good second hand values
Cons
  • Not as much a sports car as Porsche's Boxster.
  • Expensive options
  • Quite a stiff ride

Introduction:

Sixteen years after the original up-turned bath tub styled Audi TT Roadster there is a third generation with sharper styling and better honed handling.

But with front or four-wheel drive it still lacks the ultimate finesse of rear-wheel drive only rivals such as the BMW Z4 or the superb Porsche Boxster.

The latest engines, and the least expensive model is a turbo diesel, are more powerful and more economical.

All models at launch feature the brilliant virtual instruments display.

The fabric roof folds in ten seconds on the move at speeds up to 31mph. 

On the Road

Audi kicks off its new TT Roadster range with a 181bhp turbo diesel whose low CO2 emissions will win it friends in the company car market.

It doesn’t rev as pleasantly or as high as a petrol engine but it’s no slouch with 0-62mph in 7.3 seconds and a 150 mph top speed.

All the petrol engines are turbocharged too; starting with the lively 227bhp 2-litre TFSI engine with manual or automatic transmission and with either front or four-wheel drive. It can accelerate to 62mph in just over six seconds. Prices start at £32,045.

Top of the range is the potent 306bhp TTS which can blitz its way to 62mph in a stomach wrenching 4.9 seconds.

But the 227bhp petrol engine is sweeter for everyday use and revs enthusiastically. It is likely to prove the most popular version and for good reasons.

Sportier drivers will go for the six-speed manual gearbox rather than the six-speed S tronic automatic.

TT fans will remember the old 3.2 litre V6 but it wasn’t as quick as it sounded or as fast as owners thought and the new 2-litre engine responds more quickly. It sounds good too. 

Removing the roof harms a car’s high speed handling because it reduces the stiffness of the chassis/body. The necessary extra stiffening adds weight – a reasonable 90kg in the case of the TT – which also harms handling and ride comfort.

But using aluminium over a steel chassis has enabled Audi to increase body rigidity and lower the car’s centre of gravity for more responsive handling.

The result is the most agile TT Roadster to date and the TTS version with its ability to switch power between front and rear axles is a serious driver’s car if you push it. Turn off the electronics on a wet road at your peril. An even more powerful 480bhp TTRS version with a five-cylinder turbocharged engine is due late in 2016.

The other versions handle more neutrally with understeer if you get too enthusiastic in the usual Audi way.

The ride is quite firm, but not excessive. Most comfortable was the Sport on 19in wheels, but even the lowered S line on adjustable suspension and 19in wheels didn’t feel much different on UK back roads in the Cotswolds.

It is deceptively easy to go fast with little effort.

You always get more wind noise in a convertible but Audi’s new triple layer fabric acoustic roof makes this version quieter than the preceding model.

The electrically operated roof sits tautly and so doesn’t drum at speed even with the side windows open a little.

To reduce noise and buffeting with the roof down an electrically operated mesh wind deflector can be ordered which fills in the gap between the head restraints and roll bars.

Even over poor surfaces there is very little body shake, even in S line trim which means a 10mm lower ride height and bigger 19in diameter wheels.

The Sport model on standard suspension with 19in wheels gives the best comfort. 

In the car

The instrument panel of the new TT is right out of Star Wars.

Not only is there the usual top quality materials on the dashboard but a virtual cockpit replaces the usual analogue dials.

You can have the classic look with big speedometer and rev counter or select infotainment mode which shrinks these dials giving space for media features or, if fitted, satellite navigation right in front of the driver.

Warning lights, time, mileage and outside temperature are always displayed.

Sport models are fitted with Audi’s multimedia interface with touchpad for finger tip data entry.

There’s a wide range of adjustment for the driver’s seat and steering wheel but as usual with roadsters there’s a blind spot you need to account for when driving roof up if you look over your shoulder.

Sport trim includes xenon headlights, 19in alloy wheels, tasty Alcantara and leather trim, air-conditioning,, Bluetooth telephone connectivity,, a USB socket and DAB radio. S line adds a styling body kit, 19in wheels, automatic LED headlights and rain-sensing wipers.

Satellite navigation, wind deflector, climate control and parking sensors are all options.  

The instrument panel of the new TT is right out of Star Wars.

Not only is there the usual top quality materials on the dashboard but a virtual cockpit replaces the usual analogue dials.

You can have the classic look with big speedometer and rev counter or select infotainment mode which shrinks these dials giving space for media features or, if fitted, satellite navigation right in front of the driver.

Warning lights, time, mileage and outside temperature are always displayed.

Sport models are fitted with Audi’s multimedia interface with touchpad for finger tip data entry.

There’s a wide range of adjustment for the driver’s seat and steering wheel but as usual with roadsters there’s a blind spot you need to account for when driving roof up if you look over your shoulder.

Sport trim includes xenon headlights, 18in alloy wheels, tasty Alcantara and leather trim, air-conditioning,, Bluetooth telephone connectivity,, a USB socket and DAB radio. S line adds a styling body kit, 18in wheels, automatic LED headlights and rain-sensing wipers.

Satellite navigation, wind deflector, climate control and parking sensors are all options.  

Ownership

The 306bhp 2-litre TFSI with quattro four-wheel drive at £41,085 looks good value next to the BMW Z4 sDrive 35i M Sport at £43,005 or the Mercedes-Benz SLK 350 AMG Sport at £44,605; both of which are only rear wheel drive.

The Mercedes leads on official fuel economy figures with 39.8mpg compared to 38.7mpg for the Audi and 30.1mpg for the BMW.

Pick the 227bhp TFSI Sport version (£32,045) though and the Audi delivers best in class fuel economy of 47.1mpg compared to 41.5mpg for the Z4 and SLK, and only 33.6mpg for the Porsche Boxster which is impressive when it also has the weight of a four-wheel drive system to contend with.

The TT has a good record for holding its value and trade guide CAP Monitor predicts 45% retained value for the 2-litre Sport petrol after three years/60,000 miles. That’s the same as the Porsche but way ahead of the BMW on 35% and the Mercedes on 33%.

Considering the performance the TT Roadster is good value when it comes to fuel and tax.

The low carbon dioxide emissions will put the diesel on the company car buyers’ list. 

Reliability is difficult to assess for new cars, even when they use some existing parts and engines from common sources; in this case for high performance versions of the VW Golf.

The previous generation TT Roadster saw owners complaining of rattling steering, the usual hesitancy at times from DSG (dual clutch) gearboxes when moving out of junctions or on to roundabouts and failed fuel injectors.

The leather seats can wear surprisingly quickly, especially the side bolster you slide over to get in and out.

Owner forums report noisy front brakes on some cars but this can result from individual driving technique or driving conditions. Sometimes it is necessary to replace the brake pads to stop squeaks.

Steering wheel audio buttons have been known to play up/fail.  

The first Audi TTs had a poor safety reputation in their native Germany because of instability at very high speeds (in excess of the UK 70mph speed limit) if the driver came off the power and/or braked.

The back of the car would then swing out in violent oversteer usually resulting in the car leaving the road backwards. Several people were killed.

The problem was cured in 2000 model year with a boot lid spoiler and changes to the front and rear suspension.

The TT has front airbags, side airbags, twin roll-over protection bars, tyre pressure warning system, anti-theft alarm, darkness and rain sensors and first aid kit.

Optional extras include blind spot monitoring and lane assist warning.

The TT Coupe scored four stars (out of the five) in the independent Euro NCAP crash test with 81% for adult protection, 68% for child protection and 82% for pedestrian protection. The Roadster has not yet been tested.