Jeremy Clarkson specifically said that the third-generation TT is Audi’s best car to date, but his following sentence puts an ironic twist to that claim – that it’s one car he wouldn’t buy. Well, let’s face it. It’s not the first time anyone has heard him utter the words “best car”, but the only reason why he wouldn’t buy the TT is because air stewardesses drive them. We beg to differ, but not before agreeing with Jeremy about the TT being Audi’s best car yet – at least for the moniker.

The TT is a fairly common car in Malaysia. You can hardly go by a day without spotting one on the road. First introduced by Auto Dunia in its Mk1 guise, the TT gradually progressed into a vehicle of desire, most notably for its one-of-a-kind look. Make no mistake, the TT looks like nothing else in the world, save perhaps for the R8. Some years later, the second-generation TT became one of the most sought after models in the grey market, and this was partly contributed by Euromobil’s asking price of RM350k. For a brand new, base model TT!Audi-TT-Review-8

QUICK FACTS

Name Audi TT 2.0 TFSI
Engine 1,984cc; direct injection, turbocharged inline-four
Transmission 6-speed dual clutch S tronic
Max Power 230 hp @ 4,500 rpm
Max Torque 370 Nm @ 1,600 – 4,300 rpm
0 to 100 km/h; Top Speed 5.9 seconds; 250 km/h (electronically limited)
Price (OTR without insurance) RM284,900 (with GST)

With Malaysian operations now helmed by Audi AG themselves, one of the biggest shift in sales strategy is making its cars more appealing, and by that we mean cheaper, thanks to incentives. The Mk3 TT will be yours for just RM285k – nearly RM70,000 cheaper than the model before. That on its own is a bargain, but the tricky bit begins when you roll your eyes over to the optional extras.

EXTERIOR

To rule the Audi TT as a strange car is like saying the fact that the iPhone’s design doesn’t stand out. Some may like it, some may not; but there’s no denying that the iPhone’s looks stand true to its own, and the same can be said for the Audi TT. The third-generation look retains much of its older siblings’ iconic physique. It’s still unmistakably a TT, albeit looking more grown up at every angle.Audi-TT-Review-96

Gone are the soft curves of the Mk2 as they are replaced (or enhanced, rather) with straight-cut lines that’s even echoed within the headlights and tail lamps. Stylistically, this TT doesn’t differ much from the model it replaces, but the alterations are significantly pronounced nonetheless. Its new look is more of an evolutionary take of the Mk2, and improves on what was lacking. In standard trim, you get bi-xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights, 18-inch twin-spoke cast aluminium hoops with 245/40 profile Continental ContiSportContact 5 tyres, keyless entry and a retractable rear spoiler.

We dig the TT’s new looks, but can’t scratch away the itch of upgrading the standard headlights to the LED or Matrix LED sets. Though they cost RM5,000 and RM9,000 respectively, we feel that they complement the TT best as far as looks go. The 18-inch wheels may appeal to some, but the cost of upgrading to a 19-inch wheel is just a RM6,000 option. Ride quality will surely be affected, but if style is what you seek, then these two options are a must. After all, you can’t possibly be buying a TT for the sole reason of how it drives, right?

INTERIOR 

It’s a known fact that Audi makes some of the best interiors both in terms of design and material quality. That ethos extends to the new TT’s cabin, but Audi really, really upped their game here. The TT’s party piece is of course the brand new 12.3-inch liquid crystal screen residing behind the steering wheel. Audi calls it the Audi Virtual Cockpit, and it doubles as a standard instrument binnacle and a multimedia head unit – the latter typically comes as a standalone display built into the centre dash. This gives the dashboard a clean (but not boring) look, but the bad news is your front passenger will have nothing to tinker with on long drives, save for admiring the air vents, perhaps.

The circular air vents pay tribute to the original TT, but here they are given a sleek modern touch. The design draws inspiration from jet turbine engines, and the air conditioning controls are built right into the centre dials which work flawlessly under all lighting conditions. It’s the little things that set standards apart, isn’t it? There’s more controls in the form of aero-esque switches further down the dash, but toggling them feels much more satisfying than their looks suggest.Audi-TT-Review-12

The three-spoke steering wheel is wrapped in fine leather and is perfectly contoured to fit nearly all hand sizes. Shift paddles come as standard too. Both front seats are electrically adjustable with lumbar support and wrapped in a mix of leather and Alcantara. The seats are firm but no less comfortable even after six hours of cruising on the freeway. In championing energy efficiency, cabin lighting is completely powered by LED, including the ambient light (non-customisable). The only bulb-powered lighting source is the glove compartment, presumably because accessing it is only as frequent as servicing the car.

Other creature comforts include push-start button, electronic parking brake, automatic hold assist and Audi MMI touch. There’s one thing to pick on, though, and it’s the rear seats. For the sake of comfort, we don’t recommend ferrying adults at all. But if you absolutely must, be sure that they aren’t claustrophobic – that or adults less than 5 feet tall.Audi-TT-Review-67

That said, the rear seats will fit children under 12 rather comfortably. So for those who have just started a family, you’ll be worry-free until the facelift comes around, if not longer. For occasions that require a bit more practicality in a coupe, then good news abound because the TT’s rear seats fold completely flat – a plus point its closest rivals (the ageing BMW Z4 and Mercedes-Benz SLK 200) will not be able to match. All told, Ingolstadt’s build-quality extraordinaire really lets its ethos shine through here, and ranks far up the ladder relative to its class.

PERFORMANCE

One of the most compelling trait of this TT is that underneath all that surface sheen, Volkswagen’s aluminium-intensive MQB platform is at play. It’s one of VW Group’s deftest, most talented chassis to date – one that also underpins models like the Audi A3, Volkswagen Golf GTI/R, SEAT Leon and Skoda Octavia. The TT is off to a great start, then. Pop the hood and you’ll find a transversely mounted 2.0-litre TFSI engine mated to a six-speed S tronic dual clutch gearbox.Audi-TT-Review-56

The turbocharged four-banger is respectably powerful, making 230 horsepower at 4,500 rpm and a full 370 Nm of torque peaking from 1,600 to to 4,300 rpm. There’s no quattro wizardry here, so drive is sent to the front wheels only. As for numbers, the TT manages the 0 to 100 km/h sprint in a brisk 5.9 seconds before maxing out at an electronically limited top speed of 250 km/h, as per all German cars. Audi claims that the TT sips just 6.3 litres of fuel per 100km (combined cycle), which is not at all blasphemous, but realistically you’ll manage between 7.2 litres to 6.3 litres per 100km.

THE DRIVE

One immediate takeaway when throwing the TT around the bends is that it feels surprisingly nimble and agile albeit with a dash of predictability; something the previous model can only dream of achieving. And it’s all thanks to the MQB platform. This third-gen TT shaves about 50kg off its predecessor’s kerb weight through more extensive use of aluminium in the body construction, whereas the new platform gives an additional 37mm between the front and rear axles which helps improve handling, stability and ride comfort.Audi-TT-Review-1

We spent as much time tossing the Audi TT on narrow inroads as we did cruising on the freeways, and not once had its dancing moves fetter. Its newfound composure makes everyday driving easier, and to some extent a tad too easy for the more enthusiastic of drivers. But for regular drivers like most of us are, driving the TT can very much instil confidence, and it really packs a Pacquiao of a punch off the line. The turbocharged four-potter is pleasantly responsive at low revs with torque peaking in as early as 1,600 rpm. Turbo lag is well sorted, so that dreaded delay from input to reaction gets reduced to a near instant, making overtaking on highways and gunning out of a corner some two fairly effortless tasks.

Adding more spice to the fun factor is the Audi Drive Select which lets you choose between five driving modes – Auto, Comfort, Dynamic, Efficiency and Individual. Things are a little jumbled up in Auto mode as the car is left to deal with a multitude of throttle input. This brings out the worst characteristics of a dual clutch transmission (regardless of what model and make), especially on intracity routes. The Audi TT is better off in the other four driving modes, but flick it into Dynamic and things get much more exciting. There’s no variable damping to stiffen ride, but throttle response, transmission and steering all feel sportier. Exhaust note also becomes more aggressive (separate from the engine note piped into the cabin), particularly when upshifting.Audi-TT-Review-127

Standard across the TT range is Audi’s brake regenerative system. We find it to be a little bit intrusive when drive mode is set to anything other than Dynamic. The car feels dragged when brake force is applied, and this is especially pronounced in Efficiency mode. There’s also a very handy declutching mechanism when adequate brake pressure is applied at rest. This helps prolong the lifespan of the dual clutch gearbox and prevent premature wear caused by constant and irregular transmission meshing. In short, it keeps your gearbox healthy and wallet happy.

I was asked if I could find the TT’s limits, and I’d be lying to you if I say I did. It’s not because the car is extremely capable or talented, but it’s because the TT is exactly the kind of car you wouldn’t trash at whim. Sure, it is a sports car, but it doesn’t command the driver to go full whack while pretending to be a Porsche. It holds its paces really well, and does so rather eloquently without the slightest hint of the Golf DNA despite sharing the same platform. When you’re driving cross country, the cabin’s excellent forward and side visibility makes for an unrivalled panoramic view. Defensive driving also becomes less tiresome because there are no B-pillars in the way.Audi-TT-Review-106

Combining the TT’s lightweight and modest output figures means there’s no problems getting up to speed, and certainly lives up to its 5.9 second century sprint time. Its turning radius also deserves some praise, as is the flat bottom steering wheel. In short, Audi’s getting really close to perfecting the TT package, and for that reason alone we find the TT to be a truly compelling purchase.

IS THIS CAR FOR YOU?

If you’re all about the looks and less about the hoon, then the TT makes perfect sense. It’s almost a guarantee that people will notice you. But if driving pleasure is what you seek, the TT delivers quite a bit on that front, but nothing can quite be as rewarding as driving a tail-happy rear-wheel-drive vehicle. The Audi TT doesn’t compromise, and the RM285k price tag is quite frankly a bargain if you’re on the market for a well-sewn premium sports coupe.Audi-TT-Review-92

COMPARISONS

The premium sports coupe segment in Malaysia is off-putting for the most part, simply because the cars are far too expensive to even consider. We’re talking about the Mercedes-Benz SLK 200 and BMW Z4 – both hugely popular sports coupes locally, but most are sourced from parallel importers, a fate also shared with the Mk2 Audi TT. In giving some perspective, the official import SLK 200 will set you back at RM461k a pop (for a 1.8-litre sports car!) and the Z4 at RM360k. The Audi TT 2.0 TFSI undercuts them both by a considerable margin, and it’s even cheaper than the new MINI John Cooper Works.

For RM285k, there are other cars worthy of consideration especially at that price point, but we pick the TT’s closest and original rivals to show you just how well Audi Malaysia has positioned the baby R8.

Audi TT 2.0 TFSI Volkswagen Golf R (Mk7, 3-door) Mercedes-Benz SLK 200 BlueEFFICIENCY BMW Z4 sDrive20i
ENGINE
Type inline-4, turbo, DOHC inline-4, turbo, DOHC inline-4, turbo, DOHC inline-4, twin scroll turbo, DOHC
Displacement cc 1,984cc 1,984cc 1,796cc 1,997cc
Max Power hp/rpm 230/4,500 277/5,700 184/5,250 184/5,000
Max Torque Nm/rpm 370/1,600 380/1,750 270/1,800 270/1,250
STEERING
Type Electronic Power Steering Electronic Power Steering Hydraulic Power Assisted Electronic Power Steering
DRIVETRAIN
Transmission 6-speed DCT 6-speed DCT 7-speed auto 8-speed auto
SUSPENSION
Front MacPherson Strut MacPherson Strut Multi-link type MacPherson Strut
Rear Multi-link type Multi-link type Multi-link type Multi-link type
BRAKES
Front Ventilated Disc Ventilated Disc Ventilated Disc Ventilated Disc
Rear Solid Disc Ventilated Disc Solid Disc Ventilated Disc
TYRE & WHEELS
Tyre 245/40 R18 225/40 R18 205/55 R18 front; 225/40 R18 rear 225/45 R17
Wheels 18-inch Alloy 18-inch Cadiz 18-inch Alloy 17-inch Star Spoke Alloy
DIMENSIONS & WEIGHT
Overall Length mm 4,177mm 4,276mm 4,143mm 4,239mm
Overall Width mm 1,832mm 1,799mm 1,810mm 1,790mm
Overall Height mm 1,353mm 1,436mm 1,301mm 1,291mm
Wheelbase mm 2,505mm 2,630mm 2,430mm 2,496mm
Max Kerb Weight kg 1,335 kg 1,495 kg 1,470 kg 1,495 kg
Luggage Capacity (VDA) Litres 305 litres 380 litres 225 litres 310 litres
FUEL
Tank Capacity Litres 50 litres 55 litres 68 litres 55 litres
Consumption litres per 100km 6.3 litres 6.9 litres 6.1 litres 6.8 litres
PERFORMANCE
Max Speed km/h 250 km/h 250 km/h 237 km/h 232 km/h
0 to 100 km/h sec 5.9s 5.0s 7.0s 6.9s
Price RM RM284,900 RM253,060 RM460,888 RM359,800

One clear advantage the TT has over the SLK and Z4 is that it’s new, whereas the other ageing German duo are left to play catchup. The Audi TT’s engine is most advanced here, though its performance figures are eclipsed by the Golf R. So it’s not as hardcore as the Golf R, but the TT weighs the least in this round of comparison. Its cabin is in an entirely different league – couple that to the optional accessories and you have a standout performer. Icing on the cake is a 4-year or 120,000km factory warranty. If you want a hotter variant, the new Audi TTS 2.0 TFSI was just introduced days ago for a little over RM100k more than the base TT.Audi-TT-Review-124

WILL I BUY IT?

Yes, I will, but first I owe you guys, dear readers, a little confession. As much as I am a car guy myself, I’ve always had a soft spot for the four ringed German brand. My old man and I share this unshakable fondness for Continental cars that are easy to drive, comfortable and low on maintenance costs. There were many cars that rang the right bells, but none came as close as the offerings from Ingolstadt. The third-generation TT isn’t quite the quantum leap many have come to expect, but it’s unquestionably Vorsprung durch Technik.


IMAGE GALLERY

Audi TT 2.0 TFSI

Audi TTS 2.0 TFSI


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Matthew H. Tong
A straightforward, fun-loving guy who appreciates the superficiality of a car's appeal, but his admiration for anything on four wheels gives him no reason to neglect the makings of a car. He still believes that fun comes with three pedals and a stick.