We Drive New 306hp Audi TTS: Lighter & Faster Than Ever, But Is It A Better Sports Car?

The new Audi TTS just landed in the UK and we had the chance to get a first taste of it. The compact coupe represents the top of the TT line, at least until next year, when the TT RS will debut.

This is the car that Audi basically throws against Porsche’s Cayman, BMW’s Z4 sDrive35i and Merc’s SLK350 AMG Sport. Based on the now-famous MQB platform, the new TT is not only lighter but has a 37mm longer wheelbase than its predecessor while being marginally shorter and narrower. Blending aluminium and steel in its construction, the new TT is 23% more rigid than the previous generation.

What’s under the skin?

The new TTS uses a newly-developed turbocharged 4-cylinder 2.0 TFSI engine that makes 306hp (310PS) at 4500-6200rpm and 280lb ft (380Nm) of torque at 1800-5700rpm. Modified aluminium pistons, strengthened connecting rods and a cylinder head made of a lightweight aluminium-silica alloy are some of the changes. When opted with the S-Tronic gearbox, the Audi TTS sprints from zero to 62mph (100km/h) in just 4.6 seconds, a whole second faster than the time a Porsche Cayman PDK needs for the same figure. Top speed is limited at 155mph (250km/h). The dry weight reaches 1365kg for the manual version, with the S-Tronic gearbox adding another 20kg to that figure.

Ah, that lovely interior

The cabin was always one of the TT’s strongest points and this is still one lovely place to spend time in. The aluminium trim blends beautifully with the simple, elegant design of the dash, with the three, circular air vents incorporating the climate controls. And the highlight of course is no other than the Audi Virtual Cockpit, a 12.3in high resolution display placed instead of the traditional analogue readouts. Its image is sharp and clear, giving you two interfaces to choose from, one that lets the navigation map dominate the screen and the other -specific for the TTS- brings the rev-counter in the centre, with a digital readout in the middle for the speed.

How does it drive?

Modern 4-cylinder engines don’t come much better than this 2.0TFSI; Give it the full beans and it’s happy to demonstrate its full-of-energy character from as low as 1500rpm all the way up to about 6500rpm. When mated to the six-speed S-Tronic gearbox, it barks loudly in every upshift, adding some drama to the growling soundtrack. The music it plays may not be as characterful as a six-cylinder’s but at least is angry enough.

Fast Audis were always impressive when covering ground mighty-fast is the subject, but this new TTS takes it to the next level. The new car displays much more composure -with the dampers left to Comfort mode- and bite than its predecessor down the road, allowing you to exploit its potential better and harder. The Dynamic setting of the suspension makes the car a bit nervous on bumpy B-roads, messing with the balance of the chassis, without giving any real advantage to the feel of the car. Nevertheless you catch yourself trusting the front end in a way you couldn’t do with its ancestor.

The rear end also is more adjustable than before, participating actively in the bits between the straights, thanks partly to the latest quattro all-wheel drive system that can send 100% of the torque to either axle. Small oversteer moments are now even possible with some provocation as you exit a corner but the TTS is still all about the all-weather grip and the sheer result. As a blunt instrument to travel from point A to point B, the TTS is one of the easiest, most effective ways to teleport yourself.

And the outcome?

This is basically the issue with the TTS. It’s just so approachable, offering you so much and so easy that makes the experience less exciting, less demanding for the driver. The light electric steering doesn’t help either but the main problem is that there isn’t enough depth to its handling characteristics to give a car like the Cayman a hard time. It’s mighty quick though and Audi has made the TTS a much sharper rival, with a pointy front end that finally grips enough to let you enjoy the best part of it. The combination of that sheer speed and of its inherent daily-drive friendliness has made the Audi TTS a much more enjoyable and faster car than it used to be and that’s probably what matters the most.