Came, saw, conquered – Driving the all new #2015 #Audi-TT-Roadster
Topless driving in Majorca. Came, saw, and conquered new model Susanne Roeder drives the new TT Roadster... “ The TT Roadster is a car for the senses. Its strictly geometric design is pure and attractive.” Audi TT expert Christoph Lungwitz.
Half a million TTs have been sold since its introduction in 1999 and a quarter of these have been soft tops, not a huge number in global terms. Given the car’s iconic design status and the configuration and trim options being offered in this brand-new model, this is all good news for anyone looking to make an individual statement with their choice of car.
Since its first sketchings at the beginning of the 90’s, the heyday of the ragtop, the TT has always been quite definitely a roadster by nature. Although it was originally conceived as a roadster, the first TTs off the board were coupés because, it is said, patriarch Ferdinand Piëch disliked cabriolets. The Roadster finally premiered two years later to immediate acclaim and the new model represents the third generation.
The Roadster, like the Coupé, has grown up over the years, from a cuddly round-edged cube into a finely chiseled, sharp-handling road rocket with a choice of punchy engines that make it tremendous fun to drive. “The TT Roadster is a car for the senses. Its strictly geometric design is pure and attractive,” says Audi TT expert Christoph Lungwitz. This third generation TT Roadster, follows the coupé introduced last year – and what a beauty it is…
Having endured sharp winter gales, rain, sleet, and snow in mainland Europe, we were impatiently looking forward to the spring and the chance to cruise around under a clear sky, the perfect time for the new Roadster. This is why Audi organised its launch in Palma, Majorca, where it tends to be considerably warmer. Not this time: early February brought snow in the mountains which made the 2.0 TFSI we were driving at the time go adrift on its summer tyres. But what unexpected fun that turned out to be…
Like the 2015 #Audi
TT Coupé, it comes with 2.0-litre four-cylinder powertrains; two petrol engines and one diesel ranging from 184 PS (135 kW) to 310 PS (228 kW). All in all, there are eight different power and drive variations. The 2.0 TDI is the ‘ultra’ model, indicating that it is the most fuel-efficient. Compared to the second generation, it offers a 14 per cent increase in power while simultaneously reducing fuel consumption by as much as 15 per cent (Euro 6 level). Another benchmark that must be mentioned is the Roadster’s kerb weight of just 2,910 lb. (1,320 kg), which makes it lighter than any competing vehicle and which contributes greatly towards agility, speed and overall efficiency.
The top model is the TTS, a beast with 310 PS, and it comes with quattro all-wheel drive as standard. Incidentally, in all quattro models, the electro-hydraulic multi-plate Haldex coupling will distribute, depending on the demands of driver and conditions, up to 50 per cent of the drive torque to the rear wheels. This should satisfy the most spirited of sporty drivers.
‘Sharp’ best sums up the TT Roadster’s looks and performance. Precise and as quick-as-lightning, the new electronic stability control (ESC) gives each individual wheel its selective momentum. On lowfriction surfaces, precisely what we had during our little spree through the winding mountains (believe it or not – it was snowing incessantly in Majorca!), the quattro drive system, together with the ESC, transformed our spins into safe drifts. The next day, the route through the mountains was closed…
‘ The top model is the TTS, a beast with 310 PS, and it comes with quattro all-wheel drive as standard...’
For the first time, Audi has integrated management of the quattro coupling with the drive select system, which comes as standard in the TTS Coupé and Roadster. The software, developed specifically for the TT and TTS, has already proven a worthwhile investment in the Coupé. What is more, the unit’s weight has been reduced by 3.3 lb due to the elimination of the pressure accumulator.
Depending on which driving mode you are in, the system responds with an invisible hand. Whether you’re the committed enthusiast with a passion for sporty driving or the less experienced driver, it is reassuring to have this guiding hand on board controlling the function of the accelerator and steering assistance.
The 25 kg shed in the third-generation TTS maximises both speed and agility. S tronic is available as an option in the two TFSI units, and even an experienced driver cannot outperform the lightning-quick gear shifting that the dual-clutch transmission achieves without any noticeable interruption in traction. What’s more, in the Efficiency mode, the S tronic coasts when the driver take his foot off the accelerator, further reducing fuel consumption.
Most people buy convertibles for that air of romance and thrilling adventure that only an open-top car promises. Whether driving past, fast or slow, or simply parked up – the new TT Roadster has this in spades... The weather in countries like Britain and Germany demands that you need to be ready (and quick!) with your umbrella. And here the Roadster scores with an automatic soft top that can be opened in as little as 10 seconds. That’s not bad, and you don’t even have to come to a stop! The system can be activated at the touch of a button up to speeds of 31.1 mph (50 kph). These figures for opening and closing the soft top set benchmarks that other manufacturers will find hard to match.
‘ The Roadster scores with an automatic soft top that can be opened in as little as 10 seconds...’
The soft top forms a Z shape as it folds together into a flat package, lying in its aluminium compartment, where it does not reduce the available volume of the luggage area. Graphics shown on the Audi Virtual Cockpit illustrate the procedure. Audi emphatically calls it an ‘acoustic soft top’ drawing attention to its very good acoustic insulation with a fleece layer. It sits low over the sheet metal body and remains taut even at high speeds. When the car is stationary, drivers can open and close the hood with the remote control key, as long as they are not standing more than four metres (13.1 ft) from the car. Practical features like these, along with a sensible 280-litre boot capacity, enough for two adults, may sway those torn between the Roadster and the Coupé.
Adding another €450 for the electric wind deflector is advisable, as it improves the driving experience. And this is a car you will want to drive in any weather with the top down , even in rain and snow. Those who love driving al fresco whenever they can, should opt for the S sport seats fitted with the Audi neck and head heating system. If you opt for the Bang & Olufsen Sound System with its 12 speakers, you will be convinced by its excellent sound quality.
As for being on your smartphone, the clever idea of a seat belt microphone provides for good audio quality even with the top down. The digitisation in the latest TT family is a masterpiece and we hardly noticed the absence of the usual dash. The Virtual Cockpit is so precise and easy to handle that one quickly takes it for granted. As much as we yearn for the sunshine, too much at the wrong angle can be downright annoying. It is hard enough to read a conventional instrument display in these conditions so Audi’s Virtual Cockpit presented the designers with a special challenge. The light output of the versatile monitor had to be controlled in a way that would allow the three modes displaying different information to be read clearly in any circumstance. So the digital instrument cluster in the new TT Roadster shines with a maximum luminous intensity of 800 candelas, twice as much as previously known in the automotive industry, and this solves the problem.
Reflections posed another challenge. These were eliminated by Audi tilting the upper edge of the virtual cockpit towards the driver. In fact, the Virtual Cockpit and MMI give the whole interior a driver focus and the whole in-car experience is better for it. The 12.3-inch TFT monitor presents all information in the form of pin-sharp, highcontrast 3D graphics. Moreover, the driver can easily switch between various levels. In short: the Virtual Cockpit and the MMI terminal on the centre tunnel console are involving, easy to operate, very precise and fun to use.
Some would say the TT Roadster is not an everyday car. Well, it very much depends on what kind of a driver you are. In my view, this car works wonderfully for singles or couples all the year round. If you are in the habit of going to IKEA, or carrying bulky objects, you would use your other car. But the boot of the two-seater easily allows for a holiday for two.
Prices start at €37,900 (approx. £28,200) for the 2.0 TFSI, while the 2.0 TDI base price is €38,700 (approx. £28,800). The TTS obviously comes in considerably higher, at €52,300 (approx. £38,900). The new TT Roadster will be in the showrooms in Germany from the end of March and a fortnight later in the UK.
Interestingly, in Britain, with its opentop tradition, 20 per cent of #Audi-TT
buyers opt for the Roadster, while fully 30 per cent go for it in Germany. At any rate, in an increasingly homogenised world of car design, the TT Roadster stands out as a timeless classic and, especially in its latest offering, proves that a car can still appeal to the senses, the emotions and the spirit.
Tap below to see a clip of the new TT Roadster in action.