This is the latest Audi TT Coupe that has been introduced in India and we are among the lucky few to lay our hands on this groovy little sportscar. Although the current Audi lineup has quite a few aggressive designs and even some that follow swanky, luxurious cues, the ‘ T T ‘ is definitely one that fits the ‘adorable’ slot. Its sporty design and compact size make it look rather cute. Its side profile, especially with the rear-spoiler raised up, is a definitive head-turner. In bright red with the lush green nature as the backdrop, the Coupe made for a perfect picture in a car enthusiast’s dream.
The name has got an interesting trivia as the Coupe borrows it from the successful motor racing tradition of N S U in the British Isle of Man TT (Tourist Trophy) motorcycle race. By the way, N S U was a motorcycle manufacturer and racing firm that was merged many years ago with the company now known as Audi. Some even suggest a more practical explanation for the ‘ T T ‘ suffix and attribute it to the phrase ‘Technology and Tradition’, but the latter sounds more like a reverse analogy to me.
This latest iteration of the Audi TT has received a mild facelift and it now features a muscular, new front bumper that holds large air intakes which now get sharper edges while the single-frame, high-gloss grille carries the familiar Audi family design. However, what’s different is that the headlights have not yet received the new style treatment, as seen in the new A6 saloon. But it does have re-designed xenon headlights and daytime running lights add to the character of the Coupe.
The rear design is equally attractive, with a voluminous tailpipe ending in dual exhaust on the large, matte black diffusers under the massive rear bumpers. The entire styling is very curvaceous, with soft corners and everything blends in together perfectly. The long bonnet, drastically dropping roof-line, the two-door cabin and compact boot make it a captivating design. It’s a crowd-puller. When parked under our office most drivers or riders passing by slowed down for a long glimpse. And those who didn’t were probably preoccupied with avoiding the abruptly stopping vehicles in front.
The updated TT Coupe has grown by nearly 20 millimetres, but even now it is just 4,187 mm long. This compact proportion and use of hybrid aluminium (Audi Space Frame) make the sports car impressively lightweight at just 1,360 kg. Under the T T ‘ s skin is essentially the A4 saloon platform, which the Volkswagen Group use in a few other cars as well. As I excused myself and squeezed my way through the crowd that had gathered around the Coupe to get inside, I was greeted by uncompromising fit-and-finish that has become a norm with most Audis. The car we got had a matte black plastic dashboard with brushed metal rings and high-gloss frames that gave the interior dynamic elegance. Obviously, you have other interior colour options to choose from, such as Chennai brown, Titanium grey or Garnet red, among others.
After getting out of the city, it wasn’t till the ghat section that I turned up the volume of the T T ‘ s magnificent Bose music system, though the standard equipment list would include the Symphony audio system instead. Also on offer as standard are automatic climate control, parking aid and an on-board computer that gives consumption-relevant data and efficient driving tips on the central display. Surprisingly, storage is not an issue as there are door pockets and two cup-holders that seem to answer basic needs perfectly well.
To get these dramatic pictures on the pages of this magazine, our photographer made me do plenty of retakes. Which meant taking several U-turns on the narrow roads. Thankfully, the parking sensors came in handy, though a rear camera would have been a blessing. The car also has an amazingly small turning radius, which is a boon in India. Another helpful feature for our country is the leather seat upholstery, which is specially treated so that it does not become hot too much when parked under direct sunlight.
The chrome gear stick, flat-bottom steering wheel with shift paddles and stainless steel-plated foot pedals are reminiscent of the radical R8 sportscar and give the TT the much desired sporty feel. The layout of the cabin is completely driver-centred and, for a change, I enjoyed being in the limelight. Following the TT tradition are the speedometer and tachometer dials recessed into tubes and now the Coupe has a digital speed indicator, which is easy to read while driving. The front seats are comfortable and offer a deep, sporty position with firm lateral support. I didn’t dare to get into the rear seats, which can best accommodate a couple of children. But the good news is that the rear seats can be folded down to expand the boot from a mere 292 litres to a massive 700 litres.
Following the philosophy of downsizing, the Indian version of TT uses a transversely mounted 2.0 T F S I , with forced induction substituting engine displacement. This turbo-charged, four-cylinder engine has the cams driven by chains instead of belts, which makes this petrol engine very quiet while running. It also features the variable valve-lift system and develops maximum power output of 214 PS and 350 Nm of torque with six-speed S tronic and features quattro permanent all-wheel drive. The engine does feel small and an enthusiast would be left longing for a little more grunt. The puny Audi sprints from zero to ioo km/h in 7.17 seconds, which isn’t that bad from a two-litre engine. However, it was its strong mid-range that impressed us the most. The S tronic dual clutch transmission is quick to switch between the six gears without interrupting the power flow, making it very impressive to drive within the city or even while overtaking a long line of trailers on the highway. Moreover, the engine works with a recuperation system that recovers energy lost during braking and coasting and also offers a respectable average fuel economy of nine kilometres to a litre.
What really surprised us about the Coupe was its comfortably firm suspension set-up that seemed to be on a par with some of the new generation entry-level luxury saloons. The TT uses McPherson struts with aluminium components to keep the unsprung masses low. While the trailing arm of the four-link rear suspension is tuned to be relatively soft for greater comfort. It also features an electronically controlled magnetic ride shock-absorber system wherein the computer controls the adaptive damping. Thus in the ‘Normal’ mode the TT is agile yet comfortable and in the ‘Sports’ mode the high damping forces suppress body motion for better high-speed stability. And for our roads, the ‘Normal’ mode seemed just fine. It is a very stable car to drive around and Audi have paid special attention to weight distribution by making adjustments such as re-locating the battery to the rear of the vehicle or the use of aluminium from front to the B-pillar, with steel panels used at the rear to counter the weight of the engine in the front. A quick turn in the TT Coupe or even while manoeuvring in the city showcases the finely balanced axle load.
Cornering is another highlight of this Audi. As the pictures suggest, we spent a lot of time making most of the winding road of the ghats that surround Pune, thus getting ample opportunity to test the Audi’s prowess. The quattro incites you to carry speed into a corner and encourages to feed in more gas while exiting while the four 245/45 tyres cling to the tarmac. The quattro normally sends most of the power to the front wheels, making it easy to drive like a frontwheel-driven car, but when it senses the need, it supplies power seamlessly to the rear wheels and irons out under- or over-steer. Even the electro-mechanically driven power steering is direct and efficient. Our top-of-the-line TT also included the optional ‘Sport’ button next to the gear stick, which could be used to adjust the characteristic of the accelerator, servo boost for the steering and the all important engine sound in two stages!
While the Audi T T ‘ s design remains its core appeal, it is a genuinely wonderful drive. The S tronic gearbox conveniently keeps it in the powerband for a hassle-free city driving and the quattro takes care of your enthusiastic driving needs. Its frugal engine and tidy proportions seem tailor-made for our congested cities. At Rs 48.36 lakh (ex-showroom, Pune) I cannot think of another sports Coupe that fits the Indian environment so perfectly. It may not be the most powerful, but definitely has enough star-power to make a grand entry at any happening social gathering.