We’re all familiar with the Audi TT roadster… a slightly beefier hairdressers car for those who don’t fancy the Mazda MX-5, right?
Wrong… With this latest derivation of the TT Roadster, Audi are trying to shake off the hairdresser ‘tag’, and to my mind, the car more than delivers enough to be considered a proper little 2-seat roadster sports car. I mean it, it’s truly a great drive – responsive and fast, comfortable and good looking.
But has it done enough?
I was never a massive fan of the older TT… I liked it when it came out, but it was a little too ‘bubble-like’ – reminiscent of the new VW Beetle, but in it’s running kit. But the new version is lower, more angular, less soft I think. And it can move…
The power from the two litre engine is really quite something and the body is rigid enough to handle the lack of roof without feeling jittery and unstable, even when pushed. And as for the gearbox… well, although I think I will always prefer a manual, I’m gradually coming to the conclusion that when it comes to a sporty little number like this, the modern autos are up to the task of delivering the power swiftly and effectively. Every now and again I’d of liked a slightly earlier gear change, but so rarely, that in a week I could probably count those occurrences on my thumbs… it really is that good.
And if you have the engine in Dynamic mode (which I did, very almost exclusively) it makes an awesome noise on the upshift – a bark that made you feel like a little lick of flame was coming out of the exhaust. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t, but it was that kind of noise – and I loved it!
So it moves well, accelerates, stops fast and in my opinion looks amazing. What about the inside?
Okay, you have to leave the kids at home. There’s not even a bench seat for them, but that’s fine. This was never meant to be a family car, and the wife and I loved taking it for a spin while the munchkins were ensconced with the in-laws. And taking in the winding roads and stunning views of the Cotswolds on a very circuitous route to the Cheltenham Food and Drink Festival was truly enjoyable. The festival was pretty good too, by the way.
The driving position and seats are great. Firm, sporty yet supportive and ergonomically comfortable, and the switchgear was good too. I was particularly impressed that the roof can be raised or lowered at speeds of up to 29mph, handy in the UK when you can go from sunshine to rain inside of a 10 minute period.
But the two features I particularly loved? Firstly Audi’s new ‘virtual cockpit’. This is the drivers eye display that covers everything… car set up, speed and revs, sound and media and navigation. All controllable from the plethora of steering wheel mounted buttons – and although there were a lot of them, they were logically laid out and easy to use, and meant that the driving experience really centred on the driver.
Secondly, and this really is the geek in me coming out, the upper surface of the master control knob in the centre console which, quite by accident, I found is a touch sensitive track pad. It allows you to trace the letters and words of your destination into the navigation system without having to scroll through an entire alphabet and number array to enter a postcode. Simple, I know, but very effective, and really responsive.
So all in all, I think that this car has broken the shackles as a soft sports car, and has to be taken seriously as what it is: a true sports car – fast, well handling and great sounding with the looks to go with it.
As long as people can be convinced to ignore the preconception that is associated with the earlier TT and actually drive it, I don’t think anyone will be disappointed – I certainly wasn’t.