Audi’s sexy diesel

Audi’s TT TDI sportscar gives oil­burn­ers a slick new pres­ence, writes KARLA PIN­COTT

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Prestige -

DIESEL just got sexy, with the ar­rival of the Audi TT TDI 2.0 qu­at­tro. And the TT range just be­came more af­ford­able with a new base model; a tur­bocharged 1.8-litre petrol vari­ant. The for­mer en­try-level 2.0-litre front-wheel drive ver­sion will now be avail­able as a qu­at­tro.

Audi claims the new TDI makes its TT the world’s first se­ries-pro­duc­tion diesel sportscar. And it seems like an odd path to take, un­til you re­mem­ber the suc­cess they’ve had in the Le Mans 24 Hour and the Amer­i­can Le Mans Se­ries with their R10 TDI race car.

So it is no sur­prise the oil­burner ver­sion of their sexy lit­tle coupe sim­ply feels right. There’s plenty of torque in the four-cylin­der to punt the car off the line, and midrange bursts for over­tak­ing are an easy ask.

The only thing miss­ing is the howl. And while mu­sic might change over the years, you have to won­der if even the best tur­bod­iesel will ever of­fer the ear­gasm of myr­iad petrol cylin­ders.

But the short-throw, six-speed man­ual is slick and quick, and — com­bined with the prodi­gious grip of the qu­at­tro all-wheel drive and the bal­anced weight dis­tri­bu­tion — you can set­tle into the seat and dig in for some fun.

The qu­at­tro drive is prob­a­bly be­hind the hint of re­sis­tance to the steer­ing turn-in, but it’s a tiny price to pay. And the prob­lem dis­ap­pears in the front-wheel drive ver­sion of the new 1.8-litre base model, which also gets a big help­ing hand from its tur­bocharger.

It has more than ad­e­quate spring for most tasks, though it be­comes a tad breath­less when you plant the foot for an ur­gent ma­noeu­vre.

But it will ap­peal to those looking for a more af­ford­able en­try to the TT’s stun­ning de­sign and road pres­ence.

The in­te­rior is snug, and can feel a bit claus­tro­pho­bic, but is not cramped un­less you’re sen­tenced to the lug­gage shelf that passes for a rear pew. The low-slung front seats and flat­bot­tomed wheel make the most of de­sir­able driv­ing po­si­tion er­gonomics, and the man­ual gearshift is per­fectly po­si­tioned.

Safety fea­tures in­clude sta­bil­ity and trac­tion con­trols, as­sist and force dis­tri­bu­tion for the anti-skid brakes, four airbags and a back­guard sys­tem for ex­tra pro­tec­tion in a rear-en­der.

The com­mon-rail tur­bod­iesel in the TT TDI de­vel­ops 125kW at 4200 revs and 350Nm at 1750-2500 revs, which gets it to 100km/h in 7.5 sec­onds and to a top speed of 226km/h. How­ever it uses just 5.3 litres for 100km, mak­ing it the most fru­gal en­gine in the Audi range apart from the 1.9TDIe.

It has a high level of ex­haust gas re­cir­cu­la­tion, and lower com­bus­tion tem­per­a­ture, tam­ing emis­sions to 139g/km.

The 1.8 litre TFSI en­gine is a 118kW/ 250Nm unit that (mated to a six-speed man­ual gear­box) has a 0-100km/h time of 7.2 sec­onds, and logs an of­fi­cial fuel fig­ure of 6.7 litres/ 100km with emis­sions of 158gm/km.

The of­fi­cial fuel fig­ures of both new­com­ers should ap­peal to those want­ing to es­cape the lux­ury car tax, post­ing 6.9 litres in the TDI and 7.2 in the 1.8 TFSI.

The 2.0 litre TFSI qu­at­tro de­vel­ops 147kW and 280Nm mated to a S-tronic se­quen­tial au­to­matic trans­mis­sion, man­aged 0-100km/h in 6.2 sec­onds and hit its peak at 238km/h.

The TT 2.0-litre TDI qu­at­tro costs $70,900, while the 1.8-litre TFSI is $64,900 and the 2.0 TFSI qu­at­tro, comes in at $76,900.

Audi is aim­ing for sales of 500 TT Coupes this year. The TDI is ex­pected to ac­count for 15 per cent of sales.

But with the TDI they are looking for a dif­fer­ent buyer, mar­ket­ing head Immo Buschmann says.

‘‘This is for the per­son who is looking for emo­tion of a sportscar but also does a lot of driv­ing and so is looking at fuel cost and en­vi­ron­ment,’’ he says. ‘‘They will be con­fi­dent enough to drive a diesel sportscar, tech­no­log­i­cally ori­ented so they un­der­stand the tech and, dare I say, more in­tel­li­gent.’’

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