Audi TT Roadster 2.0 TFSI quattro S line S tronic
List price £38,530
Target Price £35,650
Does the latest soft-top TT impress as much as the fabulous coupé?
BMW Z4 sDrive28i M Sport auto
List price £41,240
Target Price £34,976
Getting on a bit, but still looks great and now available with huge savings
With winter still very much with us, this might seem like a bad time to buy a convertible sports car. But before you know it temperatures will be rising and dealers will have plenty of eager buyers, so this could actually be the best time to secure a great deal. But which car should you choose?
Well, the Audi TT Roadster looks like a promising option, given that it's based on our reigning Coupé of the Year. Here we're testing it with the popular turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine, four-wheel drive, an automatic ’box and in range-topping S line trim.
Competition comes from the BMW Z4. It’s been around since 2009 but still looks the part, and its rear-wheel drive layout has the potential to make it great fun to drive. As an auto, in M Sport trim, it’s more expensive than the TT, but haggle and you’ll get thousands off.
What are they like to drive?
The Z4’s engine pumps out 15bhp more when you rev it hard. However, the TT's produces 15lb ft more torque at lower revs. This means that in an outright sprint from standstill to 60mph the BMW is fractionally ahead, but the TT tends to respons more eagerly in higher gears.
The TT’s engine is also the more refined. It transmits less vibration through the controls when you’re accelerating, and the exhaust is less boomy than the Z4’s on the motorway. Surprisingly, though, the TT’s engine is also the more tuneful when you put your foot down; the Z4’s sounds a bit coarse.
Both gearboxes have their faults, but it’s the TT’s six-speed 'box that’s preferable to the Z4’s eight-speeder. The TT’s is the more responsive when you decide to take control using the paddles behind the steering wheel, and it tends to dither less when you leave it to its own devices.
Rear-wheel drive cars like the Z4 are often great fun to drive; their playful adjustability through corners making them more rewarding than four-wheel drive alternatives like the TT. However, that’s not the case here. The TT’s front wheels bite harder when turning in to bends, and you can feel it shuffling the power between the front and rear wheels to maximise traction. The result is flat, confidence inspiring cornering, while the steering gives you enough feedback to enjoy the experience.
By contrast, the Z4's steering feels a bit vague even at a relaxed pace; start to push hard and the problem only gets worse. There’s more body lean to contend with, too, and less grip.
The BMW’s handling issues are compounded by its jarring ride. At town speeds, the stiff set-up jostles the car about over broken surfaces and fails to deal with potholes, while at faster speeds mid-corner bumps send shudders and creaks through the interior. Our test car’s optional 19in alloys (18s come as standard) didn’t help matters.
Then again, the TT rides on 19in wheels as standard and yet it's far more composed. It copes well with broken surfaces and its body doesn’t shudder anywhere near as much over potholes and expansion joints. Cruising is a more peaceful experience in the TT, too; there’s less wind and road noise to contend with, and the TT’s suspension is quieter.
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