The Audi TT is one of those special, unique cars that have been cemented in automotive history as an icon.
Its status as an icon started with a unique design and was sealed by legitimate sports car driving dynamics. This 2016 Audi TTS continues that tradition. Starting with its unmistakable profile, this new generation model brings a muscular design that makes the car look much angrier than its bubbly predecessor.
How Does It Drive?
One of the first things you notice while driving the TTS is how incredibly stiff its suspension is. Even in its most comfortable setting, the suspension painfully crashes over every bump in the road. I’m not yet in middle age or suffering from crippling back problems, so this doesn’t bother me as much, but someone who wants a comfortable, cushy ride will not appreciate the suspension’s harshness. I actually don’t mind this suspension setup because it’s a way for me to feel more connected to the car and to the road. In these days of numb cars, I’ll take what I can get.
That stiff suspension, however, translates into flat cornering, one of the cornerstones of a good sports car. And the TTS loves corners and feels confident blasting through them. Being responsive and nimble, the TTS feels like a light car and feels natural to drive quickly. It’s easy to learn how the TTS likes to be driven and how you can have more fun with it. Except for the harsh suspension, the TTS is always civilized, and its small footprint and perfectly weighted and accurate steering make it easy to pilot.
The TTS is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that puts out 292 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque, a fair increase over the regular TT’s 220 hp and 258 lb-ft. Those numbers may seem small in a world of 700-horsepower Hellcats, but the car is so light and small that it doesn’t need much to get going — it takes just 4.9 seconds to get to 62 mph.
The engine makes the coupe lively to drive and hooked up to a well-sorted six-speed dual-clutch transmission sending power to all four wheels, it’s responsive and has ample power throughout the rev range. (Sadly, there’s no manual transmission available.) In Dynamic mode, the quattro has a rear-wheel bias, making handing and cornering feel sportier. The TTS’s turn of speed is impressive and the torque curve feels linear. Everything from launching from a stop light to passing on the highway is effortless.
It sounds as good as a four-cylinder can, which isn’t amazing. A slightly flatulent exhaust note exists when driven hard, but it sounds manufactured and forced. It’s similar to the one heard in the Volkswagen Golf R (it’s built on the same platform), and it sounds great in a Golf, but out of place in an Audi.
The TTS doesn’t sound like a sports car and it doesn’t have the hardcore personality of a sports car, but not everyone is looking for a track weapon. The TTS would be a good pick for a driver who wants something sophisticated, stylish and sporty, not a track warrior who wants all the drama.
The Interior is All About the Driver
Automakers always claim their cockpits are driver-oriented, but that isn’t true in most cases. The Audi TTS is the exception.
The lack of a screen in the middle is probably the interior’s best feature. Everything (media, navigation, speedo, infotainment, backup camera feed) is displayed in the customizable digital dashboard, which looks fantastic and is quite easy to use. Everything is controlled by buttons on the steering wheel or a rotary knob and set of buttons on the centre console. It takes a bit of getting used to and you probably shouldn’t operate it while you’re driving, but once you learn how the menus and commands work, it’s brilliant. The knob in the centre console doubles as a touchpad so you can draw in letters to input addresses, something that can be done without taking your eyes off the road.
The actually driver-oriented dashboard means the TTS has one of the cleanest interior designs out there. The dash is mercifully free of clutter and excess buttons and is very user-friendly. The climate controls are built right into the three central fans/air vents. It’s a brilliantly simple and effective design.
I was able to fit my 6 foot 3 boyfriend comfortably into the passenger seat, but it would be impossible for anyone to sit behind him. He also found ingress and egress a bit difficult because the TTS is so small and low to the ground. My more petite 5 foot 2 friend was able to sit behind me as the driver, but barely. She was also wearing a fascinator (we were going to the horse races) that she had to remove before getting in because she wouldn’t have been able to fit with it on. Those back seats are barely usable, especially if you have two taller people in front.
Of course, being an Audi, everything you touch feels substantial. The quilted leather sport seats are comfortable and luxurious, it’s easy to find a perfect driving position, and everything is exactly where it should be. The one weirdness is the odd heartbeat sound that plays when you turn off the ignition and exit the car. It’s excessive and I grew tired of explaining what it was to my passengers.
One little detail I appreciated was the gas cap: You push the aluminum door to open it, and the easy fill tank means there’s no gas cap to unscrew. I wish more automakers did this – having a push-to-open gas cap means one less button or lever to look for inside.
The Verdict: 2016 Audi TT S Review
Like most cars in the Audi lineup, the TTS will impress you with its confidence, luxury and technology, not necessarily by tugging at your heartstrings or igniting some primal passion from deep within. The TTS is a fun car to drive and it’s fast, but it’s not an emotional or particularly engaging all-out sports car. What it has in confidence and competence, however, makes up for what it lacks in an emotional connection.
I entered the last year of my 20s driving the 2016 Audi TTS and it’s a car I could see myself driving for much longer. For a young professional without a family, the TTS is a pragmatic sports car that lives up to the iconic status of its predecessors.
This story first appeared on autoguide.com