The UK is the largest market in the world for Audi TT sales, well ahead of Germany and the USA.
Now the first models in the third generation will soon be arriving in this country.
Last year UK sales were around 6,500 units. Audi no longer gives the media sales forecasts despite their successive record years of sales. They did say at the media launch for the new TT Coupe this week they expect to sell more TTs this year than last and considerably more next year, the first full year of sales of the new range. At its peak in 2007 around 10,500 UK sales of the TT range were recorded.
First deliveries of the all-new TT 2+2 Coupe start in November, the Roadster arrives next March as does the 310hp ‘S’ Coupe version. Prices for the Coupe start at £29,770 and rise to £35,335. The Roadster models are expected to be just over £2,000 more expensive but the price for the TTS Coupe has been confirmed as being from £38,900.
Jon Zammett, Audi’s UK Head of Public Relations told the media at the launch of the latest TT range that the original Coupe design study was first shown in 1995 and was introduced in July 1999 with the Roadster arriving in November the same year. The second generation TTs were launched in 2006. “It could be said that the TT built the brand in terms of awareness. In 10 years we have expanded our overall range of sports cars, saloon, coupes, estates and SUVs from 17 models to 50 and that of course has led to our successive years of record sales so we are now the leading premium brand in the UK.”
Throughout the successive generations of the TT great care has been taken for the image of the model to evolve rather than for each version to change dramatically in terms of its appearance. Consideration is being given to producing a five door TT Sportback version but that would only happen as long as it wouldn’t harm the iconic heritage of the TT as a Coupe and Roadster – time will tell.
The latest TT follows the same styling theme, the same rounded contours but with more edgy and sculptured styling lines and a R8 styled front face makes the Coupe look more muscular. Whereas outgoing models had a bias towards female drivers Audi thinks the bolder design of the new versions could shift the bias towards men.
With its hybrid body construction of a space frame and the VW Group’s latest MQB midsized platform constructed of a blend of steel and lightweight aluminium the new models average 50kg lighter than the last generation. With uprated and cleaner engines, a lighter body weight, the latest TTs have more power, more torque, lower CO2 emissions and improved fuel economy. The price has also gone up, on average £2,000 more than the models they replace. The specification is also improved, especially the high-tech cockpit which is based around a 12.3-inch high resolution LCD screen that completely fills the instrument binnacle and replaces traditional analogue dials and it includes the sat-nav display.
The 2+2 Coupe is 4,177mm long, almost the same length as its predecessor but the wheelbase is 37mm longer but in truth that has not added very much in terms of rear seat space for adults. The load area has gone up by 13-litres to 305-litres and can be increased to 712-litres by folding the rear seat backrest forwards.
At launch there is of a 2.0-litre TFSI, 230hp turbocharged direct injection petrol engine available with front wheel drive with a six-speed manual gearbox and with quattro all wheel drive with a six-speed S tronic automatic transmission. There is also a 2.0-litre 184hp TDI Ultra turbodiesel with front wheel drive and a six-speed manual gearbox. There are two levels of specification - Sport and S line available with both engines and the quattro option. A 2.0-litre TFSI 310hp quattro TTS Coupe arrives next Spring.
Julie Salsbury, Audi’s UK TT Product Manger said because of price and lower running costs the 2.0-litre TDI Ultra turbodiesel will be the single best selling version of the new TT Coupe taking 33% of UK sales. But overall, petrol versions will sell more with the 2.0-litre TFSI front wheel drive version being the choice of 31% of customers, the 2.0-litre TFSI quattro 21% of sales and the forthcoming TTS 2.0-litre TFSI around 15% of sales.
She added that with the introduction of the more tax efficient Ultra diesel engine fleet and business user-chooser sales could increase to 30% of total registrations - up from the 20% for the outgoing generation. When it comes to the choice of specification 70% of UK customers will choose the S line level and the sales split between Coupe and Roadster TTs is 80% for the Coupe.
During my test drive in Scotland, where the roads were awash following the recent monsoon rainfall, I had the longest driving spell in the 2.0-litre TDI Ultra 184hp version. This is the cheapest model in the line-up at £29,770 and it is expected to be the best selling version with company car user-chooser customers attracted by the lower tax implications. Emitting just 110g/km of CO2 VED road tax is zero cost for the First Year rate and then only £20 for Year Two onwards. That all important Benefit-in-Kind tax penalty for company car users is a relatively modest 18%. Officially this model will return 67.3mpg in the combined Cycle and on our fast but careful test driving event using winding, mountainous Highland roads the real-life figure was 51.1mpg – very impressive given the lively performance.
Some people might argue that diesel power and sports cars don’t mix but performance says otherwise. Top speed is 150mph and zero to 62mph takes 7.1 seconds. With 380Nm of torque (280lb ft) available from 1,750rpm the acceleration response is immediate from low to high speeds and yet it remains flexible in high gears in slow moving traffic conditions. The six-speed manual gearbox was really slick and fast to use, the front wheel drive gave plenty of grip even on rain-soaked roads and the MQB platform we already know as one of the best available today in terms of balance and poise. As always the advice with Audi models, because of their generally firm ride, stay with the standard sized wheels and don’t go for the sports suspension option. The standard ride is firm enough; the sportier choices make it less appealing and comfortable to live with.
A very brief spell with the 2.0-litre TFSI 230hp turbocharged direct injection petrol engine with front wheel drive added just a bit more zip but not much else This high-revving unit delivers 370Nm (273lb ft) of torque but from only 1,600rpm so it’s responsive enough. Top speed is limited to 155mph and zero to 62mph takes just 6.0-seconds. Officially the fuel consumption is 47.9mpg with standard sized wheels and on a brief test we returned 35.4mpg. The all-important CO2 emissions are 137g/km so VED road tax is £130 every year and Benefit-in-Kind tax is 20%. The price of this version with the Sport specification is £29,860, that’s £90 more than the turbodiesel version, and the running costs are higher as well so hence the popularity for the 2.0-litre TDI model.
I also managed to squeeze in a short spell in the 2.0-litre TFSI 230hp quattro version priced from £32,785. Whilst the quattro all wheel drive can distribute 100% of the driving torque to either the front or rear wheels for added traction, the front wheel drive TT models are so grippy and well balanced spending even more money on the quattro version without any more engine power, is hardly worthwhile. Top speed is restricted to 155mph and zero to 62mph is a shade faster at 5.3 seconds because of standard-fit six-speed auto gearbox. Fuel consumption is 44.1mpg but just 27.6mpg on test and CO2 emissions go up to 149g/km, VED road tax increases to £145 and company car tax to 22%.
Finally I leave the best to last - the outstanding high quality, high-tech cabin. Quite the best I’ve seen this year and that includes the BMW i8. The cockpit design has evolved but it is still fully targeted at sports driving. The rear seat space is tiny and access limited, it always has been. It is a beautifully crafted interior, really high quality all things that Audi are really good at. There are now circular ventilation vents which cleverly include the controls to adjust temperature, air distribution, air conditioning and all the other functions which normally clutter up the console and fascia. In addition there is the brilliant 12.3-inch, high resolution LED screen positioned right in front of the driver where conventional instruments usually are. Drivers can choose between two displays. In classic view the speedometer and rev counter are in the foreground but in infotainment mode the virtual instruments are smaller. The space that becomes free provides ample and clear room for other functions and information or warning signs but in particular the navigation map. This new info panel is brilliant and just part of a new generation of fascia and control panel designs which no doubt will be rolled out to other Audi models and I suspect to many other brands in the future.
And of course if all this brilliance is still not good enough then there is the usual wide range of Audi options and added equipment that can enhance the TT’s ownership experience even more. Costly but true.
MILESTONES: Audi TT 2+2 Coupe, 2.0-litre TDI Ultra Sport 184hp, 6-speed manual (best selling engine). Price: £29,770. Engine/transmission: Euro 6 compliant 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder, common rail direct injection, turbodiesel with intercooler, 184hp, 380Nm (280lb ft) of torque from 1,750rpm, 6-speed manual, front wheel drive. Performance: 150mph, 0-62mph 7.1 seconds, 67.3mpg Combined Cycle (51.1mpg on test), CO2 110g/km, VED road tax £0 First Year/£20 Year Two onwards, BIK company car tax 18%. Insurance group: tbc. Warranty: 3-years/60,000-miles. Dimensions/capacities: 2-doors + tailgate, 2+2 seating, L 4,177mm, W 1,832mm, H 1,353mm, boot/load space 305 to 712-litres. For: A pleasing evolution of an iconic design, beautifully designed cabin and new virtual instrument panel, easy to live with and good to drive, plenty of grip for non quattro models, low running costs and taxes, yet another new classy Audi. Against: Efficient engines rather than outright performance units, really tiny rear seat leg room, significantly more pricey than the previous generation. Miles Better News agency