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