Colin Hathway, Lincolnshire #Audi-TT
3.2 DSG & TT 2.0 TFSI quattro S line #Audi-TT-8N
I have bought only Audis. Before then I had a Mini 850, Turner Sports, Mini Cooper S 1275, Mini 1000, Lotus Europa Twin Cam Special, Saab 99EMS, Mk 2 Golf GTI 8V and 16V, Vauxhall Carlton, Ford Mondeo V6 and an MGF.
My enthusiasm for #Audi
dates from watching quattros rallying. I bought one of the first A3s, a 1.8T Sport automatic in early 1998 and was happy with it for over four years and 100,000 miles. To replace it I wanted quattro, but also wanted to have an automatic, which limited my options. I went to the 2002 Birmingham Motor Show and liked the look of the V8 S4, but automatic was to follow ‘later’.
There had been rumours of a new version of the TT with a larger engine and a dual-clutch gearbox, so I asked the Audi representative who was with the TT at the show about this. She consulted her hand-held computer and, to my pleasant surprise, confirmed that there would indeed be a TT with a new kind of gearbox.
I knew about dual-clutch gearboxes because I had seen them in action on the race track in Porsche 962s, and in Walter Röhrl’s Sport quattro on the 1985 RAC Rally. I rated it as a brilliant design for an automatic gearbox and I wanted one. I had looked at TTs before, and had even driven a couple, but never felt any great urge to own one. So, you could say that I bought the gearbox and the TT happened to come with it. Indeed, if I had known that the A3 would be available with that gearbox shortly after the TT, I would probably have bought another A3. Fortunately I didn’t.
After the Motor Show I went to my Audi dealer in Grimsby and explained what I wanted. They knew nothing about it but took my deposit and assured me that I was now top of their list if any such thing should appear. And I waited. The TT V6 3.2 DSG was officially announced and I confirmed my order and chose my extras. And I waited...
Eventually, on October 1, 2003, 11 months after that Motor Show, I took delivery of a Series 1 TT Coupé 3.2 quattro DSG. The basic car was very well specified, so the only extras I chose were cruise control, BOSE sound system, and a 6-CD changer. I opted for Alcantara rather than leather, and chose the 7-spoke wheels.
The 9-spoke possibly look better but the 7-spoke were unique to the 3.2, would be easier to clean, and at half an inch narrower, but with the same size tyres, might be marginally less vulnerable to kerb damage.
Silver was such a common car colour that it would have been nice to have something different, but to my eyes the TT looks best in a light silver, so I had ordered Ice Silver metallic. The interior was black. It looked superb and I drove away happy.
The first big trip, only a few days later, was from our North Lincolnshire home to Audi Driver International at Castle Combe, where it was quite a rarity and a few people gathered when I opened the bonnet to show off the V6. We continued the running-in by taking a tour of the very north and west of Scotland for a week. Then in November we drove to Le Mans for the 1000-km race on the short circuit, which was won by Tom Kristensen and Seiji Ara driving an Audi R8.
For the next four and a half years and 85,000 miles the TT was our only car. It did a regular, 8-mile each way, commute, and my wife Penny used it for business trips to South Yorkshire, Teesside, and the Lake District. At weekends we were all around the country, often to watch motor racing or rallying.
There were many holidays on the continent, again often with some motor racing. To Germany to see the Audi UK Team Veloqx Audi R8 of Pierre Kaffer and Allan McNish win the Nurburgring 1000 km race. A tour of the Netherlands and Belgium including seeing Mattias Ekström win DTM in an Audi at Zandvoort and Jamie Davies and Johnny Herbert win the Spa 1000 km in the other Audi UK Team Veloqx Audi R8. To Hockenheim to watch DTM. It was on this trip that the autobahn cleared on a lovely evening, so I put my foot down resulting in an easy and totally stable 140 plus mph. To Le Mans for the Test Day for the 24-hour race, then over the Furka and Flüela alpine passes to visit relatives in Munich and returning home via the German Romantische Strasse. To the Le Mans Test Day again the next year to see the debut of the Audi R10 TDI. To Spain for a holiday touring in Asturias and the Picos de Europa, then down to just north of Madrid for the Jarama 1000 km race. To Norway in late May when there were still some snow banks on the roadside that dwarfed the car. The speed limit is low but the scenery is marvellous and the roads interesting, including the 15-mile long Lærdal tunnel.
I also took the TT on track at a Club Audi event at Curborough, and on trackdays at Elvington and Cadwell Park. It also went up the Brooklands test hill at a TT Owners’ Club event. The car only needed routine maintenance, apart from two minor points that I fixed myself – a drop of oil on the brake-light switch to stop it creaking and one new front sidelight bulb. I made no modifications. It averaged about 26-28 mpg commuting and 31-33 mpg on the longer runs.
Likes and dislikes? The external design is superb, but spoiled slightly in my view by the changes for the 3.2. The larger air inlets low down at the front and the silly fake grilles at each side mar the simplicity and purity of the original design. I actually like the extension to the rear spoiler, but I hate the black honeycomb valance round the exhausts, which I found impossible to get clean. The interior design is fabulous. With all the genuine alloy and the repeated pattern of eight dots on circles it is lovely place to be.
For something so small and sleek, the TT is wonderfully practical. The boot is just big enough for our stuff without folding the seats. We never had a passenger in the rear seats but they are extremely useful for a jacket, magazine, or the odd bag of shopping.
I would have been more comfortable if the steering wheel pulled out another inch or two, so that I could stretch my legs more, and adjustable lumbar support would have helped. The suspension is too firm to be comfortable all the time; it jars quite badly on some bumps.
The A-pillar causes a blind spot, but you get used to looking round it. The car is quiet enough to be a pleasure for long journeys and motorway cruising. Performance was good, but the engine was a bit too ‘revvy’ for my liking as I prefer mid-range torque rather than topend power. The Sport mode on the gearbox was useless unless you want to scream about at maximum revs in second gear most of the time. The launch control is a gimmick. I tried it out, demonstrated it to a friend, used it at Curborough, and then forgot about it.
The handling was fine for me when driven briskly on the road. It was also good on track, although as it was my only car I didn’t push it too hard. It was definitely heavy at the front end, in fact a bit heavy overall, but enjoyable nonetheless.
The quattro drive system worked very well. When making a quick getaway on a slimey surface a moment of slip at the front could be felt before power was transferred to the rear to get you going smartly.
We very much liked the TT, but by 2008 I was wondering what to replace it with. I wanted to try a Torsen quattro and fancied the V8 S5, but – usual story – the automatic was to follow ‘later’. Then the gearbox on the TT started to play up. I had always felt that the gearbox wasn’t quite as good as it should have been. Occasionally the acceleration would be sluggish, as if the clutch was slipping in second gear. Sometimes it was a little jerky. Now it occasionally lost drive altogether.
It happened briefly a couple of times when manoeuvring and then it stopped completely on a roundabout. It was towed to the Audi dealer, but by the time it got there it was working again and no fault could be found. The recommendation was to run it for a while and then bring it in again for another check. This was the worst kind of intermittent problem. We had a four-week holiday to Italy planned and I definitely did not want to set off with the TT as it was. I needed a new car, and quick.
At that time the only quattro version of the Series 2 TT was the V6, and I didn’t really want another V6 so I decided to buy a three-door S3. My salesman found me one in stock and the deal was done. It was the right decision to trade in the TT because I heard that it packed up on the new owner as he drove it away. That could have been us in Italy. It had been a really good car until that problem. It was registered FY53 WVH and I last saw it advertised on AutoTrader by a Bradford dealer three or four years ago, if I remember correctly. Does anyone know where it is now?
I didn’t realise how much I had liked the TT until it was gone. I remember driving home from the dealership in my brand new S3 and thinking ‘What have I done?’, having swapped from a superb, low coupé to this bulky and tall-feeling family hatchback.
The S3 is undoubtedly a fine car, but I never warmed to it and I kept it less than a year and 12,000 miles. The biggest problem was that the dual-clutch S tronic automatic gearbox had not yet been introduced on the S3 so it had a manual gearbox, and that just felt totally antiquated. I also found the engine disappointing. It is capable of high performance but it seemed reluctant to give it, presumably because of the larger turbo it uses.
I still wanted to try a Torsen quattro so I was considering a tiptronic automatic S5. Then I found rumours that the new S4 would be a supercharged V6 with an S tronic dual-clutch gearbox. I decided to wait for the S4.
I took delivery of an S4 in March 2009 and it was a very fine car. I ran it for four years and 53,000 miles. It turned out to be the right car at the right time because I needed the extra seats and luggage capacity a few times, but by late 2012 I was thinking about something smaller again. By now, the S4 gearbox was beginning to thump on the change from second to first when hot, so it looked like a good time to move on. There were rumours about a new TT but I guessed, correctly as it turned out, that it would be at least a couple more years before that was available, so I had a good look at the Series 2 TT.
I test-drove a TT RS Plus, but after the S4 the sports exhaust seemed stupidly loud and the ride was too harsh. I didn’t want a TTS for various reasons, including the fact that the engine was very similar to that of my S3. The figures showed that the basic TT 2.0 TFSI gives the same maximum torque of 350 Nm as the TTS, but over a wider rev band with a smaller, hopefully more responsive, turbo, so I gave it a try. It went very well.
In November 2012 I ordered a Series 2 TT Coupé 2.0 TFSI quattro S line S tronic. Grimsby Audi gave me a good discount and a reasonable trade-in for the S4. I ordered Ice Silver metallic with black interior again. There were rather more optional extras on offer than for the Series 1 and I ordered plenty of them, which was expensive, but I would do the same again: Comfort package (cruise control, automatic lights and wipers, dimming interior mirror, rear parking sensors, sunband), Technology package (DVD satnav, Bluetooth, music interface), BOSE sound system, electrically-adjustable and heated front seats, extended leather package, interior light package, storage package, tyre pressure loss indicator, hill hold, adaptive headlights, highbeam assist, dimming and folding door mirrors, deletion of engine technology designation at the rear (that one was free!), and finally the two-year warranty extension.
I took delivery on March 13, 2013. This time there were no doubts as I drove away. The S4 is an impressive car, but what a pleasure it was to be back in a small, light, responsive coupé. I was concerned that the S line suspension might be uncomfortable, but it is OK, certainly better than my first TT. Most of the time it is very good but it can’t cope with some rough surfaces and if your daily commute was on that type of surface you would want something different.
I was also a bit unsure about the performance because this was my first Audi that was less powerful than the previous one. I needn’t have worried. The light weight and the torquey engine give excellent performance with the bonus of good fuel consumption. We no longer commute and the TT very rarely does a round trip of less than 20 miles, but the trip computer is showing an average of 37.3 mpg over nearly 23,000 miles from new.
The S tronic gearbox is fabulous. At last, third time lucky, this is how a dual-clutch gearbox should be. Although nominally the same as that in my first TT, it is much better; totally smooth, wonderfully responsive, and glitch-free (I do hope it stays that way!) The way that it changes down through just the right number of gears to give you engine braking when it senses that you are controlling your speed with the brakes when going downhill is beautifully judged.
The TT is coming up for two years old now. It has only needed one routine service and there have been no problems. I have made no modifications except a bracket on an air vent to hold the Brodit mount for my mobile phone. I still use TomTom navigation on the phone sometimes, because it can be quicker to set up than the built-in satnav.
We still get about a lot at weekends, often to watch motor racing. Holiday breaks have included South Wales and Kent, and the car has been overseas three times so far. A holiday at the Italian lakes, coinciding with the Monza Grand Prix, then home via the Audi Museum in Ingolstadt, the Technic Museum in Speyer (highly recommended – includes a real Boeing Jumbo jet mounted like an Airfix model, and you can walk on its wing), and the Frankfurt Motor Show. A tour of Northern Ireland and a tour of eastern Germany including DTM at Lausitzring and ADAC GT racing at Sachsenring.
How does my Series 2 compare with my Series 1 TT? Although the S line is very stylish, it cannot compete for looks with the Series 1 TT. Inside and out the original TT is a milestone in design, an icon, a complete classic. The Series 2 feels unnecessarily wide compared with the Series 1. Apart from that though, for me, the later car wins everywhere: performance, economy, ride, handling, comfort, practicality, even the sound. It was easy for me to find a comfortable seating position, which is very rare; the electric seats help with that. The slightly greater capacity of the Series 2 boot is useful. Overall we are very, very pleased with this TT. It is the best car I have ever owned.
Some motoring journalists, who seem to think that driving only happens on Welsh mountain roads and race tracks, say that the TT is not a proper sports car and not exciting. Good, I say. I didn’t buy the TT to be a sports car or exciting. I bought it as a GT car and for satisfaction. I don’t want spinning wheels and tail-out slides, I want swift and secure. The S4 was very clever with its Torsen central differential and active sport rear differential, but I hated it when on dynamic settings the back end stepped out on a tight, slippery roundabout. My driving preference was set by my experiences of the original Mini. On the road, I like power-on understeer. I like to flow down the road at a decent speed and in safety. That is why I like my TT.
What will I buy next? I see no reason to change for a while yet, but reading about the Series 3 TT makes me think that it is very likely to be top of my list when the time comes.
‘The S tronic gearbox is fabulous. At last, third time lucky, this is how a dual-clutch gearbox should be...’
‘ I don’t want spinning wheels and tail-out slides, I want swift and secure...’
‘ In November 2012 I ordered a Series 2 TT Coupé...’
‘ I didn’t realise how much I had liked the TT until it was gone...’
‘ To Norway in late May when there were still some snow banks on the roadside that dwarfed the car...’
‘ The first big trip, only a few days later, was from our North Lincolnshire home to Audi Driver International at Castle Combe, where it was quite a rarity...’