The Audi TTS has a harder job justifying itself than the cheaper, similarly swanky-looking TT models. For a start, this four-wheel drive, 307bhp TT has stronger competition, including the BMW M235i and the Porsche Cayman.
Even so, the TTS makes a strong case for itself. It’s well equipped, has a stunning-looking interior, and the all-weather appeal of Audi's Quattro four-wheel drive also gives it something of an edge.
A six-speed manual gearbox is standard, although a six-speed dual-clutch automatic will be the more popular option in the UK, and will cost £1370 extra.
What’s the Audi TTS like to drive?
There are few cars that would be faster cross-country, that’s for sure. The 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine delivers its power explosively, offering up a huge swell of acceleration across a broad mid-range, and continuing to pull hard right through to and beyond peak power output at 6200rpm. It does hold low revs happily, and while there’s a surge in acceleration as the turbo kicks in, it isn't so dramatic as to be alarming, and doesn’t trouble the traction levels of the TTS.
It’s that grip that really characterises the handling. The Quattro system in the TTS sends more power to the rear wheels in normal driving conditions, but can divert all of its power to either front or rear wheels depending on available traction. It also brakes both inside wheels in hard cornering, to further improve stability, all of which makes it feel relentlessly grippy even through tight, fast bends. If it does start to lose traction, it tends to be at the front end first, making it easy to correct any optimistic cornering moments.
The TTS also gets Audi’s Drive Select system, which allows you to adjust steering weight, throttle precision, stiffness of the standard adaptive dampers, and the gearbox responses on the automatic S Tronic version. For the first time ever, the four-wheel drive set-up can also be adjusted for more sporting responses via the Drive Select system, and with it set to the most encouraging set-up, you can really feel the rear of the car help turn-in to corners, making it feel more lively and a bit more like the rear-wheel-drive cars it competes with.
Steering response is quick, and quite light even in the more dynamic setting, but it’s precise enough to give you confidence at high speeds, yet make more mundane driving easy.
Even with the dampers in Comfort and riding on standard 19-inch alloys, the ride on the TTS is still quite firm and can thump sharply over expansion joints and more severe bumps in the road. For most people, though, the ride comfort will be acceptable given the sporting intentions of the TTS.
The tyres kick up quite a bit of noise over coarse surfaces, and there’s a fair amount of wind noise over the windscreen at motorway speeds, but generally the TT is quite hushed for such a high-performance too.
An oily-feeling, short-throw gearshift on the manual ’box is satisfying to use in all situations, and actually helps the TTS feel a bit more involving than the optional automatic S Tronic. Then again, the auto takes much of the effort out with its near-imperceptible changes in normal driving, and rapid-fire shifts when you want them.
What’s the 2014 Audi TTS like inside?
Everything is focused on the driver in the TT’s cabin. The 12.3-inch readout tucked into the instrument binnacle is the window to all the car’s systems, and it’s a thing of wonder. Add the sat-nav (part of a £1795 Technology Pack), and the map fills the screen, leaving the 3D-effect digital speedo and rev counter floating in the foreground, depending on which screen layout you choose. The system does take some getting used to, but most functions are easy to find and adjust via the steering wheel, central rotary dial or standard voice control.
Elsewhere in the cabin there’s an outstanding sense of quality and solidity, with various clever design touches – such as the air-con temperature readouts and dials mounted centrally on the vents – catching the eye.
Drivers of all shapes and sizes will be able to get comfortable thanks to a broadly adjustable wheel and super-supportive seats complete with lumbar adjustment and finished in leather with Alcantara inserts.
Equipment levels are yet to be confirmed, but automatic wipers and LED lights, air-conditioning, DAB radio, Bluetooth, USB port with full iPod and MP3 integration, and chrome exterior highlights will all be included.
Unfortunately, the rear seats remain as useless in this TT as they were in the previous two generations. Even children will feel cramped, and adults won’t fit without extreme contortion. It is, however, useful for luggage space, and the seats fold flat so that you can extend the shallow boot’s floor, making it easier to load bulky items.
Should I buy one?
There are lots of things that the new TTS does better than any rival, chief among them its jaw-dropping interior and all-weather traction. Even so, anyone buying in this class will be looking for maximum fun factor, and the sure-footed TT falls short for this next to its rivals. There’s not quite the sense of connection that the Porsche Cayman offers, and the BMW M235i – which is more than £4500 cheaper and will actually seat four adults – also feels more nimble and exciting most of the time.
Having said that, if you’re put off by the Cayman’s two-seat layout and less generous standard equipment, and you value the TT’s sure-footed four-wheel drive and ballistic pace over the M235i’s slightly lairy, rear-wheel-drive handling, it’s easy to see why the TTS might suit your purposes perfectly. By any measure, it’s a properly tempting balance of fast fun, glitzy looks and easy daily driving.
What Car? says...
2.0-litre turbo petrol
Audi TTS S Tronic
2.0-litre turbo petrol