New Audi TT Roadster first drive

Audi TT RoadsterFollowing the introduction of the new Audi TT Coupe 2+2 seater in January, hot on its wheel-tracks is the third generation Audi TT Roadster 2-seater soft-top.

UK deliveries start in May for the main core models priced between £31,955 and £37,555 but there is already a six months delivery waiting list due to high forward orders. A more powerful TTS Roadster version also joins the line-up in June costing from £41,085. A TTS Coupe hard-top variant recently joined the range priced from £38,790.

The TT Roadster is available with a 2.0-litre TFSI 230hp direct injection turbocharged petrol engine available with six-speed manual and S tronic auto gearboxes and in Quattro all wheel drive form with the auto gearbox. There is also the option of a 2.0-litre TDI turbodiesel Ultra 184hp model available with a six speed manual gearbox and front wheel drive. All variants are available with either Sport or S-Line specification.

The TTS Roadster and TTS Coupe versions have one high level of sports trim and specification and are powered by a 2.0-litre TFSI petrol engine but boosted to 310hp. It’s available only with Quattro all wheel drive but has the option of manual or auto gearboxes.

Julie Salsbury, Audi’s UK TT product manager said at the press launch that it is not their policy to reveal sales targets but for the TT range’s last full year of sales over 7,000 units were registered, around 20% of them were Roadster versions and the remainder the hard top Coupes.

She added that in Roadster form the 2.0-litre TFSI 230hp engine would marginally be the most popular taking 34% of UK sales, just ahead of the 2.0-litre TDI turbodiesel with 30%. The Quattro versions are expected to take 25% of sales and the high performance TTS 11%. It is roughly the same sales split for the TT Coupe line up as well. Retail customers aged between 35 and 45 years of age will account for 80% of Roadster sales and 60% of the drivers will be female. As a comparison the TT Coupe attracts 75% of sales from retail customers, 55% are male and in the same age range as the TT Roadster.

She added that the S-Line specification will be the choice of 70% of UK customers, Sport 20% and TTS 10%. These are very similar choices between Roadster and Coupe versions. The most popular TT Roadster variant will be the 2.0-litre TFSI 230hp manual version with S-Line specification costing £34,595.

The new Roadster’s multi-layer fabric roof can be opened or closed in 10-seconds at speeds up to 31mph. The roof folds down completely flat and is located in a compartment in the position used for the two small rear seats of the Coupe models. Like the recently launched TT Coupe it offers a more muscular and imposing design and its styling closely resembles the Audi R8 supercar, even down to carrying the Audi four rings trademark on its bonnet.

Audi TT RoadsterAudi TT RoadsterAudi TT RoadsterAudi TT RoadsterAudi TT RoadsterThe TT’s platform is the VW Group’s highly praised MQB unit and the body structure is a blend of aluminium and steel to give lightness but with added strength to maximise torsional rigidity and to minimise scuttle shake and sloppy handling which can be characteristics of soft-top cars over solid roof models. Like the TT Coupe it has a slightly longer wheelbase over previous generation TTs but in the case of the Roadster there is no seating or storage space behind the front two sports seats. There is however a relatively large 280-litre boot for luggage and shopping bags.

Inside the TT Roadster there is the usual Audi impeccable design and quality layout, what they call a digital virtual cockpit LCD display instead of the usual analogue dials. The sat/nav display uses the 12-inch instrument panel right in front of the driver. Both levels of specification include the Multi Media Interface touchscreen, Audi’s Music Interface, Drive Select modes, Alcantara and leather sports seats, keyless go push-button start, xenon or LED headlights and 18-inch alloy wheels for the Sport specification and 19-inch ones for S-Line models. In a first for Audi the Roadster has tiny microphones incorporated in the seat belts close to the shoulder to allow clear voice operation of the in-car communication systems. This cuts out the possibility of wind-rush noise masking the vocal instructions when driving with the roof down. Unfortunately customers will have to pay an extra £425 for the optional wind deflector which sits across the car behind the two occupants. Heated front seats and head-level seat heating are extra cost items as well, even for a premium brand soft-top sports car.

For Quattro versions the all wheel drive system is now integrated with Audi’s Drive Select function. Drive Select allows the driver to toggle-switch between Comfort, Auto, Dynamic, Efficiency and Individual modes. On Quattro versions it can also be used to alter the operating parameters of the transmission and suspension. The Quattro system distributes driving torque to the front and rear axles to varying degrees depending on driving conditions and driving style. Its variations range from Eco mode where it allows the car to freewheel on the overrun and at the other end of the scale allowing more torque to be transmitted to the rear wheels during acceleration. The steering for all new TT models, Coupe and Roadster, is variable-ratio which means the steering wheel only needs small inputs from the driver to provide sharp and accurate response and direct changes. Yet it remains docile and not twitchy during low speed in-town traffic driving or at high straight-ahead motorway speeds.

All the engines offer more power with less CO2 emissions and better fuel economy over the previous generation TT Roadster and they are the same as used for the recently introduced TT Coupe. The main part of my media launch test driving around the winding Cotswold roads was in the best selling version, the 2.0-litre TFSI petrol unit with 230hp, front wheel drive through a six-speed manual gearbox. This is a turbocharged, direct injection unit and importantly it gives 370Nm of torque from just 1,600rpm. This makes this TT Roadster impressively responsive when driving along at docile speeds but then providing immediate power to overtake dawdling lines of traffic. It is also very quiet whilst cruising at motorway speeds. Top speed is restricted to 155mph and the zero to 62mph acceleration time is just 6.2-seconds. Officially this unit will return 47.1mpg in the Combined Cycle and on my 90-mile test route the car returned 35.6mpg. The CO2 emissions are 140g/km.

I also had chance to drive the 2.0-litre TDI 184hp turbodiesel unit which offers a bit more torque at 380Nm from 1,750rpm. It didn’t however feel any more responsive than the petrol engine and it is slightly slower at 147mph with 7.3-seconds for the zero to 62mph dash. However the real-life fuel economy was better at 45.2mpg and the tax gathering CO2 emissions are much lower at 114g/km. For the business user this means this will be the engine of choice because of the lower Benefit-in-Kind tax of 20% versus 23% for the petrol for the new rates which apply from April this year. First Year rate road tax for the diesel model is £0 and the petrol £130. Unusually the 2.0-litre turbodiesel TT Roadster diesel with S-Line trim is also cheaper to buy at £34,505 but only by £90 over the 2.0-litre petrol S-Line model.

No matter which TT Roadster, or for that matter TT Coupe, a customer chooses, whether it’s a head or heart decision, in their sector they are the easiest to live with, they are competitively priced, they handle and perform brilliantly, they have a very clever new instrument display system and the TT body design has over the years become an iconic one, the latest being a little more macho and muscular.

MILESTONES: Audi TT Roadster 2.0 TFSI S-Line 230hp, 6-speed manual. (Best selling model). Price: £34,595. Engine/transmission: 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder, direct injection turbocharged petrol, 230hp, 370Nm of torque from 1,600rpm, 6-speed manual. Performance: 155mph (restricted), 0-62mph 6.2-seconds, 47.1mpg Combined Cycle (35.6mpg on test), CO2 140g/km, VED road tax £130, BIK company car tax 23%. Insurance group: 39E. Warranty: 3-years/60,000-miles. For: A more imposing and sporting hard-core design for better TT ownership credibility, lightweight, nimble, fast, sharp and predictable handling, brilliant instrument display, classy interior, largish boot. Against: Firm ride on 19-inch wheels on poorer road surfaces, wind deflector is an extra cost option, restricted rear visibility with the hood up, must-have options will push up the price further.   Miles Better News Agency

Written by