Audi TT S
Audi TT S £45,000 approx. WE SAY: INGOLSTADT CELEBRATES ITS GAME-CHANGER WITH PREDICTABLY INCREMENTAL IMPROVEMENTS
It’s 20 years since the Audi TT first went on sale. If you’re anything like us, that’ll make you more than a little wistful about the relentless passage of time. Audi’s likely over the moon, mind; it’s sold 600,000 in that time, while its image has risen exponentially. It’s now a company that regularly explores niches you didn’t think necessary. Imagine Audi getting away with diesel performance SUVs before the TT?
To coincide with the car’s anniversary, there’s been typically restrained updates: more sculptured bumpers, new colours and a refreshed engine range. There’s no diesel anymore, all but the TT RS using a tune of 2.0-litre 4cyl turbo petrol.
Outputs start at 197bhp, but the car you see here is the latest TT S, its 302bhp slightly down (well, by one per cent) thanks to new emissions regs. You can only have one gearbox – a 7spd S tronic auto – and it operates as smoothly as you’d expect. Quattro all-wheel drive is standard, and able to send all of its power to either axle.
As before, though, the balance is very much safe and surefooted. In fact, it’s an absurdly easy car to jump in and drive quickly. Very welcome, when our first drive was on the (closed!) Snaefell Mountain section of the Isle of Man TT course, a piece of road that resolutely – notoriously – doesn’t take prisoners. Attempting to do my bike racing heroes some sort of justice, I didn’t once wish for anything other than cosseting AWD and the ease of paddleshifting. But will it satisfy in the long run? A 718 Cayman or Alpine A110 remains much more appealing when you’re driving for fun rather than hanging on for dear life.
Of course, the TT S makes up for its thrill shortfall with two back seats, a big hatchback and what remains an exemplary cabin; it was so good before, this update’s only change is some new power and g- meter readings for the snazzy digital dials. All told, coupes get no more rounded or easier to live with. You’d be a fool to bet against the TT managing another 20 years with ease. STEPHEN DOBIE