What is it?
The Volkswagen Golf in a party frock. No, that’s being unnecessarily harsh. This, the second-generation TT, is a bona fide small sports coupe for literally all seasons. Where the Mk1 traded on looks and that solid gold Audi badge, the Mk2 balances a line of Teutonic styling simplicity and genuine handling ability. Consider it an extension of a hairdresser’s rank in the salon at your peril, as engines range from 2.0-litre TDI to 2.5-litre RS producing up to 360bhp.
Thanks to the TT’s aluminium spaceframe body, Audi has managed to make the whole car lighter than a traditional chassis, and as any motoring enthusiast will attest, low weight equals killer handling. Audi has fitted a new rear suspension and this, together with the lightweight chassis, allows the TT to go through corners with real zeal, and you can jump on the accelerator absurdly early. The steering is nice and precise, while traction remains consistent, no matter the road conditions.
The springs aren’t overly firm and the optional adaptive dampers, which react to road surfaces instantly using miniaturised magnet filings, work an absolute treat in keeping the ride compliant and comfortable. Body control, as a result, is great. There’s a 2.0-litre TDI diesel with 168bhp, a budget 1.8 TFSI and a 2.0-litre TFSI with 210bhp (both with 258lb ft of torque), a 2.0-litre TTS with 272bhp, and the pumellingly rapid 2.5-litre TT RS.
That last car is a proper quattro – guttural roar, fantastic handling and pumped-up looks. It’s even better for 2012 with the TT RS Plus offering a full 360bhp. This hits 60mph from rest in 4.1 seconds, and has the top speed limiter increased to 174mph. A sports exhaust ensures it also sounds better too: how very TGfriendly of them...
On the inside
You’ll struggle to get real humans in the rear seats, but small dogs or children won’t complain. It’s wider and roomier than the Mk1, but the intimacy you desire from a sports car remains.
However, while the instruments are fine to use there isn’t the same sense of quality you got from the earlier model. Fine in other cars, less so an Audi. Otherwise there’s good visibility, a nice seating position and the knowledge that you’re piloting something special.
Unsurprisingly, you’ll opt for the diesel should you be concerned by such nuances as ‘money’. It returns 53.3mpg and emits 139g/km of CO2 which is the very definition of having cake and munching it. However, exercise your inner Stig with the TT RS and you can expect much less than 31.4mpg, because you’ll plant your foot to hear that five-pot. Make it so.