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Revealed: Audi TT Sportback concept
The Audi TT is reproducing, and it’s dipping into other areas of the gene pool to do it. As well as the familiar coupe and convertible, this Paris show car posits the idea of a five-door TT Sportback.
Well, it worked for the A5 and better still on the A7, so hey, why not?
“We are now fusing both concepts to form a new member of a potential TT family,” Audi’s tech boss Dr Ulrich Hackenberg says, while the rest of his boffins are frantically fiddling with their test tubes in the search for new genomes in an Ingolstadt laboratory.
If nothing else, the TT Sportback does at least extend the, um, evolutionary design language of the latest TT into uncharted territory. Its basic measurements tell some of the story: it’s 29cm longer, 6cm wider and its wheelbase is 12cm longer than the regular TT.
But it also manages to be three centimetres lower, stretching the coupe’s expertly chiselled and chamfered surfaces to the limit.
Design highlights include three pronounced air inlets with honeycomb inserts, laser headlights, and flat C-pillars that finish up in the car’s rear shoulders in a way that echoes the smart A7 Sportback.
The graphics on the R18 endurance racer, Audi says, are a major influence on the TT Sportback’s single-piece rear lights. Whopping great 21in alloys look wonderful but promise interesting ride quality attributes.
The TT’s new Virtual Cockpit, which features an endlessly configurable 12.3in TFT screen powered by potent microprocessors, naturally reappears here, as does the ingeniously reimagined air con system.
The Sportback being what it is naturally gains an extra pair of seats, and a centre console that extends the full length of the interior. There are dark aluminium accents on the dash, and handcrafted seamwork adds an extra layer of elegance to the regular TT’s overtly sporting character. Leather and alcantara both feature, as do rubberised floor mats for unusual extra texture.
The TT Sportback’s production readiness is underlined by the presence of the latest-gen 2.0-litre TFSi engine, whose turbos have been tweaked up to help it produce just short of 400bhp. The transmission is Audi’s dual-shift seven-speed auto, and the car’s discreet quattro badge indicates a familiar chassis configuration.
Next up: the Q TT Sportback All-Road?
UPDATE from Paul Horrell in Paris
So, will the Audi TT Sportback Concept turn into a production car? Audi engineering boss Ulrich Hackenberg says he personally loves it, which is a good sign. And so do his friends. “People I know say, ‘I’d buy it.’”
But it has a competitor for a place in Audi showrooms. Another TT offshoot. Audi wheeled out an SUV-ified version of a five-door at the Beijing show earlier this year, called the TT Allroad Concept. Hackenberg says, “It did well in clinics.”
So which of the two will make it? “I see the best chance as the SUV. It would do best on the market. But if you ask me from the design side, this one [the TT Sportback] is most harmonious and emotional, my favourite. It’s useful for a young family but it’s still a sports car.”
He says they’ll choose between the two within a few months, and could then have the winner in showrooms in about two years.
But let’s take a step back. Why this rash of new TT-alikes? We just got the new TT Coupe and Roadster production cars. Yet already here are all these concepts for stretched and bloated spinoffs.
Let Hackenberg explain. They aren’t replacements for anything they sell now. “We have 50 models at Audi now. We will have 60 by 2020. So there will be new cars in between the regular market segments. We’re checking which are the right ones to expand our range, by using TT concepts. We’re using the TT design language because it’s accepted and iconic.” And they’d use the TT family genes for the new niche production cars too.
Happily it’s no mere pastiche: the Sportback doesn’t just blag its design cues from the TT. It has the TT’s dash and seats and engines and quattro system, and Hackenberg says it could take the five-cylinder engine from the TTRS. It would also use a mostly aluminium body, like the TT. Which is all very good news indeed.
The concept car is wider than the TT Coupe but only because it has specially widened sills and arches. Underneath it’s normal TT width and suspension, so a production version, without the body kit, would fit our roads.
So, what do we want? This sexy, compact five-door with a lightweight alloy body? Or yet another entry into the crowded but booming ‘SUV-crossover-coupe’ territory? We know we want one of those, but it looks like we’ll get the other.