We take a close look at the new third-generation Audi TT, Ingolstadt's newest sports car which goes on sale next year

Listen to its makers describing the latest Audi TT, and you’ll detect a subtle change of emphasis. This is a sports car, says Ingolstadt, whereas the previous iterations of this car have been more readily described either as a coupe or a roadster.  

Audi backs this subtle shift of emphasis with an array of technical improvements that provide substance to the claim. The new car is lighter, more powerful, sits its occupants closer to the road and features a new, more responsive Quattro four-wheel drive system. Improved aerodynamics, a more favourable weight distribution, a longer wheelbase and a lower centre of gravity also heighten the chances of this new TT providing a more enjoyable and engaging drive. 

And there are subtle changes in the TT’s design that also reflect this shift of emphasis. They have their root in the mood boards developed close to the start of this third-generation TT’s 60-month gestation, their headings labelled ‘sportiness, iconic design, sex appeal, joy of use and character, ’ says interior designer Maximilian Kandler. And with an emphasis on how a driver should feel in a sports car.

To make this TT look more like a sports car, exterior project designer Dany Garand explains that ‘there are more facets, and more tension in the surface, positioning the TT as a legitimate sports car.’ Theses facets, like the sheer surfaces of a cut diamond, are most evident in the Audi’s shoulders, which are broad, fairly flat and given heightened emphasis by the relative flatness of the bodywork beneath them. ‘It’s a fast shoulder, with lots of tension’ says Garand.

The TT’s dynamism is further emphasised by the way that the tornado line, as Audi calls the creases forming the lower edge of those shoulders, turns to form part of the car’s nose. ‘There’s more speed in the line descending towards the grille,’ says Garand. ‘It provides a first defining line for the headlight.’ Those headlamps provide a new light signature consisting of ‘ two vertical spars, wide apart’, says Garand. 

Another fresh signature is the relocation of the Audi rings to the bonnet, a detail shared with the R8 and a detail that will identify all Audi sports cars in future. But there’s plenty that’s familiar about this third-generation TT, not least the ratio of glass to bodywork. ‘The one-third glasshouse, two-thirds body proportioning of all Audis is slightly different for the TT,’ says Garand, ‘the glazing being slightly less than a third,’ as it’s been for the previous generations of the car too.

What has changed are the TT’s wheelbase-to-length proportions, its axles stretched further apart within the same footprint, a change that also adds to its air of sporting dynamism. 

There’s obscure dynamism to be found inside too, the upper surface of the dashboard modelled on the shape of ‘a lightweight aircraft’s wing,’ says Kandler. When he reveals a picture of the slightly cranked aircraft wing in question, the link is easy to see. It’s a detail you’d need to be told about to pick up, but there’s no denying the clean elegance of the dashboard’s structure, which is once again characterised by the prominent quintet of airvents, these apparently referencing jet engines. 

But these are vents with a difference, the heating and ventilation controls ingeniously integrated into their design. ‘It was a challenge to lift the HVAC controls to the airvents,’ says Kandler, another challenge being to ‘integrate the infotainment system into the instruments.’ Which is undoubtedly the most radical feature of this TT’s interior, all the infotainment displays now presented within a configurable virtual instrument pack.

Drivers can choose between several layouts, ranging from a classic large dial presentation with a minimum of extra displays to a layout in which the navigation map flows around dials of much reduced scale. It sounds messy, but in a static car at least, it appears to work. There’s also a set-up highlighting the user’s MP3 choice complete with artwork, while another display majors on the rev counter for track and fast road driving. 

Other in-cabin changes include a switch to an electronic park brake - not very sportscar like, but it frees up centre console space - and a new steering wheel whose compact airbag design allows it to provide a home for plenty of switches. These include infotainment controls, enabling you to control it without dropping a hand to the MMI controller on the centre console. This now includes a mouse function in its top surface so that you scrawl characters on it with a digit.

But the sporting ambitions of this new TT are also evident, not only in the slightly lower seating position, but also the more substantial seat bolsters. And there’s also a so-called super sport seat option, this chair very elegantly upholstered in leather. 

So there’s plenty that’s new in this TT, and plenty that’s familiar, too. Next week, we’ll detail how Audi has taken plenty of inspiration and detail design from the original 1998 car - and a little from the 2006 model - to fashion this one. 

Our Verdict

Audi TT

The Audi TT remains a design icon, and is now a car that’s genuinely fun to drive no matter what engine or trim you choose

Join the debate

Comments
9

29 March 2014
a rather unsuccessful mesh of two different design languages. they should have done a bmw mini / porsche 911 ie keep the same shape and language but update the details rather than try to meld modern Audi DNA with the original bauhaus inspired styling. its sort of uncomfortable in my eyes, trying to say two different things at once. neither / nor.

Or they could have gone the whole hog and Modern Audi-sed the car by adding a couple of roofline kinks like the Nissan GTR.

29 March 2014
Agree totally with the above. Saw it at Geneva and was colter ly underwhelmed. Could've been the current gen car and I'm a spotter.

I predict for the next gen that it'll be same again but with chamfers on the light clusters and revised shut lines a la 911 glacial design progress.

Ps. Interior does look pretty special though.

 

 

You're not stuck in traffic - you are traffic!!

29 March 2014
Since when does "sportiness" have to translate into a "bunker" effect. This mania of emphasizing "sportiness" by minimizing the glasshouse is nuts. How can you drive a car if you cannot see out of it properly. Porsche's best 911 was the 993, with a perfect glasshouse to body ratio. Now they are also heading down the road of "melting" a great design to make it more "sporty". It is this better glasshouse to body ratio which makes the new Targa all the mor eattractive (having seen it at the Geneva Auto show). Unfortunately one of the best design elements of the TT is now being sacrificed, all in thei nterest of "sportiness"

GeToD

 

29 March 2014
Did not need that many to see a safe re-hash of same old same old!,what's needed is TT to go up against the Golf R,Focus ST to name two.

Peter Cavellini.

29 March 2014
Wasn't too keen on the looks when I first saw it but my dislike has got a bit less with time. Got a funny feeling I'm going to come round to this design with time. If this turns out to be cheap, fun to drive and economical (reliability taken for granted these days?) it could just be a great car.

29 March 2014
I prefer the look of this car to the present version as I think some of the details have been sharpened up. I particularly like the way Audi are reducing the size of their headlamp units unlike, for example, Mercedes who continue with oversized units packed with loads of bits of plastic and multiple strings of LEDs. The interior looks great, it must be one of the few new models NOT to feature a central screen, and all the better for it. I have one question, though. How have they stretched the axles further apart within the same footprint?

29 March 2014
Personally I feel Audi should have kept to their original Auto-Union grille rather than adopting a hexagonal design which makes this TT's nose look more like a typical Hyundai's. Why run the risk of people confusing the front-end look with another marque (and one that's perceived to be less prestigious) when you yourself have such a rich design heritage to draw from?

31 March 2014
MaxTorque wrote:

Personally I feel Audi should have kept to their original Auto-Union grille rather than adopting a hexagonal design which makes this TT's nose look more like a typical Hyundai's. Why run the risk of people confusing the front-end look with another marque (and one that's perceived to be less prestigious) when you yourself have such a rich design heritage to draw from?

Comments about Audi grilles make me smile. I was working for Audi UK when the single-frame grille was introduced to howls of derision. According to the keyboard warriors and forum gurus, we'd never sell a car again with such a look.

Got that one wrong then.....

29 March 2014
Each new version of the TT seems a little less interesting, in it's styling, than it's predecessor. Does this mean the mark 5 will be as dull as a Toyota Avensis?

 

I'm a disillusioned former Citroëniste.

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Lexus LC500
    Car review
    20 October 2017
    Futuristic Lexus LC coupé mixes the latest technology with an old-school atmospheric V8
  • Maserati Levante S GranSport
    First Drive
    20 October 2017
    Get ready to trade in your diesels: Maserati’s luxury SUV finally gets the engine it’s always needed
  • Jaguar XF Sportbrake TDV6
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    The handsome Jaguar XF Sportbrake exhibits all the hallmarks that makes the saloon great, and with the silky smooth diesel V6 makes it a compelling choice
  • Volkswagen T-Roc TDI
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    Volkswagen's new compact crossover has the looks, the engineering and the build quality to be a resounding success, but not with this diesel engine
  • BMW M550i
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    The all-paw M550i is a fast, effortless mile-muncher, but there's a reason why it won't be sold in the UK