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Audi TT Coupe
The Top Gear car review: Audi TT Coupe
What is it like on the road?
This is the best TT yet to drive. Previous versions were never quite as sharp to drive as they looked – particularly as you added more power as you headed further up the range – but the mk3 version is by far the most satisfying. It ticks off one Audi stereotype, by riding firmly, but it steers sharply and is quite good fun to hustle along.
A manual, front-driven TT feels purest to drive and not too far removed from the experience you’ll find in the VW Golf GTI it’s pretty closely related to. The two lower tunes of engine have a choice of manual or automatic gearboxes, and in each case, choosing the former will make for a cheaper, purer car. But there’s no denying the sheer polish of Audi’s S tronic transmission.
The TT S and RS only come with Quattro all-wheel drive and the paddleshift gearbox, but that’s perfectly judged given how much power they’re channelling. Both will apparently send up to 100 per cent of their torque to the rear wheels, too. That doesn’t mean they’ve suddenly become drift kings, but they’re undeniably talented and make dissecting a tumultuously twisting road an absolute doddle.
The steering’s light but quick, grip is staggering and you can have supreme confidence in the car below you. And both cars are so quick, with next to no evidence of turbo lag, power building relentlessly via that seamless seven-speed gearbox. Using the paddleshifters is gratifying too, save for the fact it’ll change up for you at the redline, even when locked in manual mode.
What they lack, though, is a true sense of interactivity, a feeling you’re making your own mark on the car you’re driving. It’s a tough sector, this, and a Porsche 718 Cayman or Alpine A110 may concede practicality to the TT, but either will more than make up for it with a truly engaging driving experience. The TT is extraordinarily easy to jump in and drive quickly straight away; as an enthusiast, it’s easy to assume there won’t be enough longevity to a car that’s so easy to get on top of right away.
The TT RS makes an almighty sound, mind you, and its engine is simply wonderful – one of the most characterful on sale at any price. That the chassis makes it so easy to wring out the five-cylinder’s revs – and therefore noise – definitely holds appeal. The TT S is a less successful sports car in this regard; synthesised effects played through the speakers make it sound a bit like the RS when you’re inside, but we turned that off almost immediately. Real noise for the win.
And the everyday stuff? Avoid the really big alloy wheels and it’s a relatively comfy, quiet car. But give in and get the 20s – which do admittedly look brilliant, and are surely what the designers intended when they sketched the car – and bumpy roads become really bumpy roads, while tyre roar can become intrusive at higher speeds. Even if you flick the Drive Select to comfort, the car will never truly settle unless the road beneath you is smooth. If it is, though, this car has an easy-going flow that makes it easy to get carried away and drive rather too quickly.