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Long-term review

Audi TT - long-term review

£46,525 / as tested £50,615 / PCM £774
Published: 11 Mar 2024

Should a car like the Audi TT have different ‘drive’ modes?

A mid-spec Audi TT isn’t a car that screams ‘changeable drive modes’, but perhaps that’s just us. Top Gear has bonded very closely to the outgoing coupe, but not once during our tenure has there been an overwhelming urge to change its character by moving out of its default ‘comfort’ setting into ‘eco’, or ‘dynamic’.

OK there was that one time, when fuel was running low, your correspondent needed to reach somewhere a little further, and a fuel station was not in sight. Switched into ‘eco’ mode, the little TT did an admirable job of sipping very… economically. Boosted the mpg up from our average too, which is good for a 242bhp turbo four-pot.

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Speaking of which, a blissfully sunny day beckoned one Sunday afternoon, the road opened up ahead, and in the spirit of Moderately Useful Consumer Advice, we flicked over into ‘dynamic’. Sure enough, the steering got a little heavier, the acceleration a little punchier, the dampers filled with more concrete and the noise got a little… fruitier. Truly, it was more dynamic than previously.

But then this third-generation TT already feels very well planted in its default ‘comfort’ mode best deploying its quattro. It already feels fast enough (though the turbo 2.0-litre could use a little more character as standard). The steering’s accurate enough.

The car’s priority has never been outright driver thrills – unless you go for a TT RS, and even then it’s amusing point-and-squirt ability – it’s been a fulfilling ownership prospect. Of owning a moving piece of modern art that just happens to go from 0-62mph in around five seconds. A car sold primarily on how it looks and how that makes you feel surely doesn’t require a button where you can make the exhaust fart a little louder.

Perhaps the TT needs to be more confident in its mission statement. By binning the selectable drive modes altogether – a feature first introduced in the B8-generation A4 of 2007, fact fans! – Audi could have set the steering, dampers and engine (excluding the TT RS) to one standard tune. Embraced the fact it trades on that largely unchanged silhouette and Bauhaus reductionism rather than 10/10ths commitment. Giving owners the option of changing its character feels pointless, and anyway, we’d venture many don’t leave the comfort of, um, ‘comfort’ mode at all.

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The boss of Merc’s EV platforms confirmed as such for his side, recently telling us that outside of the hardcore AMGs, owners of regular C- and E-Class cars rarely – if ever – used the various drive modes on offer.

Of course Audi isn’t going to do anything at all because this is the last TT we’ll see, at least for a while. Possibly ever if you consider its numbers. Despite its profile, its looks and its reputation, the TT’s never really taken off in big numbers. In its launch year, it sold 1,857 in the UK, rising to a peak of 10,413 in 2007. Last year, just 2,809 TTs found homes in the UK – indeed for the past four years it’s barely breached 3k a year.

And we’d proffer at least 99 per cent of these new owners have never moved out of ‘comfort’.

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