What is it?
The style over substance connotations do this car an injustice. The TT is a really good car, period, despite its ubiquity and despite its advancing years. Part of this stems from its surprisingly advanced part-aluminium construction, something that proves particularly advantageous in this Roadster soft-top version. It’s strong, to resist body flexing with the roof down, and more lightweight than most open-top conversions of coupes. It looks just as good as the coupe, too. Familiar, yes, and without the avant-garde impact of the original, but still classy.
Also note the choice of soft-top. None of this silly folding hard-top nonsense for Audi (yes, you, BMW). The result is cleaner looks, simpler engineering and a roof that will fold down even when the boot is full. With British weather the way it is, you need to maximise every opportunity - that the TT’s soft-top also drops down in just 12 seconds is also a boon here.
The breadth of the TT Roadster is considerable. The base 1.8T is a peach, with a super-smooth drivetrain, adept handling and overall performance not far shy of a Golf GTI. At the other end, there’s the snorty TT RS, with a throbby five-cylinder motor producing twice the power and offering a focus you wouldn’t expect from something perceived as so effeminate.
Audi also offers a 2.0 TDI version, which proves that open-top diesel roadsters can work. It comes with quattro four-wheel drive as standard, which makes the TT tenacious in weathers most unsuited to open-top driving, but you’re not short-changed by front-wheel drive TTs either.
On the inside
Audi makes lovely interiors; but even by these lofty standards, the TT Roadster cabin is a delight. It’s getting on a bit now and ergonomically it’s fiddly (look where the heater controls are, see the add-on-style sat nav infotainment system...) but there’s no denying the fact it simply feels special, a real cut above: a great reason for buying one. From sporty flat-bottom steering wheel to the impeccable aluminium-detailed dash, the TT is touchy-feely tactile throughout.
Being a roadster, it’s not as practical as the coupe and is, obviously, strictly for two. If you want the kiddybins scope of four seats, choose the coupe. That one also has a boot that, seats down, stretches to nearly three times the capacity of the Roadster’s meagre 250-litre load bay...
It costs £2k more than a comparable coupe. It retains much more than this though – it’s one of the market’s best performers in this respect. Now Audi’s enhanced equipment levels and massaged the range’s fuel efficiency, it’s a more cost-effective proposition than you might expect. Heavens, the TDI does 51mpg and costs from £30,860 on the road: roadster in sensible-shoes value shock.