UK drive: Audi TT TDI

* Diesel coupe tested * 168bhp 2.0-litre unit * First driving impressions...

UK drive: Audi TT TDI

Not so long ago, diesel coupes were about as common as Sahara penguins, but now it feels like theres a big gap in any range where there isnt a diesel option.

It was only a matter of time before Audi launched a TT TDI, then, and the good news is that the wait has been worth it.

Power comes from a 168bhp 2.0-litre unit that does over 50mpg and attracts a lowly 18% company car tax rating (the 2.0 petrol sits six bands higher and does 36.7mpg). However, it can still embarrass many a hot hatch, blasting you to 62mph in just 7.5 seconds.

Then theres the way it delivers its power. The engine uses the latest common-rail direct-injection technology, so it revs quickly, and builds speed smoothly and swiftly as you accelerate up through the gearbox. Even when its being thrashed, it stays hushed and rattle-free.

If youre in less of a hurry, you can be lazy with the slick-shifting six-speed box, because the engines considerable low-down muscle still pulls you along strongly. Whats more, it punches harder than Joe Calzaghe in the mid-range, so overtaking is a cinch.

The TT gets even better when the road becomes more challenging. It combines sharp steering, minimal body roll and bags of grip. On top of that, the quattro four-wheel drive thats standard on the TDI gives it a sure-footed feel, whatever the weather.

Dont think that Audi has sacrificed ride comfort, either. Admittedly, our car came with the 1150 Magnetic Ride suspension, which can be stiffened or softened at the touch of a button, and which makes fruit-and-nut surfaces feel milk-chocolate smooth when its in the comfort setting.

The TT also remains as appealing and well-crafted as ever on the inside. You sit low, the seats are trimmed in leather and Alcantara, and all-round vision is surprisingly good considering the windows are like letterbox slots.

Alternatively, theres a TDI Roadster if you prefer your motoring to have a breezier feel. This swaps the coupes tiny rear seats for an electric folding soft-top, although it carries a 2000 premium and falls into a higher company car tax band.

Audi TT TDI Price from £26,350
On sale now
Engine size 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel
Power 168bhp
0-62mph 7.5sec
Top speed 140mph
Economy 53.3mpg
Co2 g/km/tax 139/18%