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First Drive

2016 Audi TT Roadster 1.8 TFSI review

The Audi TT Roadster has already proved itself a fine open-top, but this is our first time in the new entry-level 1.8-litre petrol model. Is it our new pick of the range?

Words ByRory White

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The Audi TT CoupΓ© has won numerous What Car? awards, and removing the roof makes little difference to the way the car drives, so it retains a five-star rating in Roadster form.

Our pick of the TT Roadster range – and the smallest engine available – has traditionally been the 2.0 TFSI petrol, but now Audi is offering this cheaper 1.8 TFSI model.

It has 49bhp less and is restricted to a manual gearbox and two- rather than four-wheel drive. However, in the Sport spec we're testing here it undercuts the 2.0 by almost Β£3200, while also emitting less CO2 and using less fuel.

What's the 2016 Audi TT Roadster 1.8 TFSI like to drive?

On paper, there's just one second between the 1.8- and 2.0-litre cars in the benchmark 0-62mph sprint (7.2sec vs 6.2sec), and the difference feels even smaller than that when you rev them hard.

True, the 1.8 doesn't pull as strongly from low revs, so you’re sometimes forced to grab a lower gear in situations where the 2.0-litre would let you simply put your foot down.

However, the most noticeable difference is in the exhaust notes; the 1.8 doesn’t have the appealing rasp that the 2.0-litre does under hard acceleration.

More positively, the 1.8-litre engine is just as quiet as the 2.0-litre at a steady cruise, although the TT does force you to put up with some road noise when the roof is up, especially on the motorway.

With the roof lowered (which takes just 10 seconds and can be done at up to 31mph) and side windows up, the Roadster does a good job of keeping those on board isolated from wind buffeting – even without the optional Β£425 wind deflector.

The TT Roadster is lighter than rivals such as the BMW Z4, and it feels it. Turn the wheel and the Audi dives into bends, gripping hard and suffering barely any body lean.

Its light but accurate steering gives you plenty of confidence to push the TT hard, making it easy to judge when you need to back off.

The TT Roadster rides better than most drop-tops, too; bumps are dealt with in one go rather than sending reverberations through the car. Only the worst potholes cause discomfort.

What's the 2016 Audi TT Roadster 1.8 TFSI like inside?

If you’re extremely long-legged, you might wish the driver’s seat slid a bit farther back, but most people will be more than comfortable.

The wide interior means you feel less hemmed in than in many roadsters. Plus, there’s lots of adjustment for the supportive seat and the steering wheel.

The TT Roadster’s interior feels really special, too, with high-quality materials throughout and panel gaps that are so small they’re practically non-existent.

It’s complemented by a huge 12.3in colour display that’s positioned behind the steering wheel in place of traditional instrument dials.

This unusual layout works well because it means you don’t have to divert your eyes far from the road to see the satnav map or audio information. And the display is linked to Audi’s intuitive MMI infotainment system, where you control most functions via a large rotary dial and a few handy shortcut buttons that are positioned between the seats.

The boot is quite a bit smaller than a TT Coupe’s, but you’ll still be able to fit more in it than you would in a BMW Z4’s or Mercedes SLC’s. What’s more, the size of the load area stays the same whether the hood is up or down, whereas the folding metal roofs of those rivals eat into their luggage space.

Should I buy one?

If this were the TT Coupe, we'd advise going for the 2.0-litre engine and its extra power to make the most of the car’s involving drive.

However, those choosing the TT Roadster presumably want to spend more time basking in the sun, so for them the 1.8 arguably makes more sense, blending similarly superb handling and refinement with warm-hatch pace; it's certainly a more rounded car than the equivalent Z4 or SLC.

True, the 1.8 won't save you much in fuel, road tax or (if running it through work) monthly company car tax next to the 2.0, but those buying with cash or through a PCP finance deal will see a more significant saving.

What Car? says...

Rated 5 out of 5


Rivals

BMW Z4

Mercedes SLC


Audi TT Roadster 1.8 TFSI Sport manual

Engine size 1.8-litre turbo petrol

Price from Β£29,215

Power 178bhp

Torque 184lb ft

0-62mph 6.9sec

Top speed 149mph

Fuel economy 47.1mpg

CO2 138g/km