A car of many talents, although entertainment isn't one of them

What is it?

The replacement for the latest victim of Audi’s engine downsizing program. You may recently have read that the petrol-powered Q7 V8 is no more, replaced by a supercharged V6 model. Now, we’re driving the ‘downsized’ replacement for the Audi TT V6: it’s the new 2.0-litre, four-cylinder TFSI.

Using the VW Group’s ‘EA888’ turbocharged petrol engine as a basis, Audi has added an intelligent alternator, some low-friction internals, a new water jacket and a varible valvelift system on the exhaust camshaft. Resulting is 208bhp, but a rather more spectacular 258lb ft of torque available all the way from 1600- to 4200rpm.

There are some other revisions to the car too – new interior trim options, chrome-ringed fog lamps, updated head- and taillights – the usual facelift fayre.

What’s it like?

That extra torque has a more pronounced effect on the TT’s performance than you may think. According to the official figures, it makes a new 2.0-litre TT with a manual gearbox half a second quicker to 62mph than the last one.

But when you dive into this car’s performance reserves on real roads, you’ll swear the difference is bigger. This car accelerates with real urgency; enough to run with a Porsche Cayman or Nissan 370Z in a straight line, no question.

Despite a few other tweaks, however – a stiffer ‘Sport’ setting for the magnetorhelogical dampers, less power assistance for the steering and a rortier exhaust note – the TT remains an odd, remote and unengaging kind of sports car.

It’s agile enough up to a point, but as the driver, you seem a long way from both the front-mounted engine and the front wheels, and powerless to interact with the car on any deeper or more entertaining level. The Quattro drivetrain remains a bit of a disappointment too, taking too long to shuffle power rearwards, and clashing with the car’s ESP and ASR systems when it should be working in tandem with them.

Still, as an ownership proposition, few of its rivals can measure up to the TT. Cabin ambience, material quality and levels of fit and finish are excellent, the driving position likewise.

In ‘Normal’ mode, those adjustable dampers provide a handling and ride compromise that’s a little more compliant than before, and perfect for covering distance. 40mpg is possible on long runs, according to the official economy claim.

There’s lots of room in the boot, particularly if you fold the rear seatbacks down. And because it’s a TT, you can bank on better-than-class-average residuals.

Should I buy one?

If you’re a true enthusiast driver, probably not. Despite that excellent new engine, this TT represents the same old prospect: the same triumph of style over substance, of surface shimmer over sporting integrity.

It’s a car that has many merits, and will doubtless appeal to those who recognise the TT’s status as design icon and status symbol. But if you want real entertainment for your £30k, shop elsewhere.

Matt Saunders

Matt Saunders Autocar
Title: Road test editor

As Autocar’s chief car tester and reviewer, it’s Matt’s job to ensure the quality, objectivity, relevance and rigour of the entirety of Autocar’s reviews output, as well contributing a great many detailed road tests, group tests and drive reviews himself.

Matt has been an Autocar staffer since the autumn of 2003, and has been lucky enough to work alongside some of the magazine’s best-known writers and contributors over that time. He served as staff writer, features editor, assistant editor and digital editor, before joining the road test desk in 2011.

Since then he’s driven, measured, lap-timed, figured, and reported on cars as varied as the Bugatti Veyron, Rolls-Royce PhantomTesla RoadsterAriel Hipercar, Tata Nano, McLaren SennaRenault Twizy and Toyota Mirai. Among his wider personal highlights of the job have been covering Sebastien Loeb’s record-breaking run at Pikes Peak in 2013; doing 190mph on derestricted German autobahn in a Brabus Rocket; and driving McLaren’s legendary ‘XP5’ F1 prototype. His own car is a trusty Mazda CX-5.

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Frawls 4 September 2010

Re: Audi TT 2.0 TFSI

It never fails to amuse me how some people proclaim themselves to be petrolheads and yet 4 years after its launch still haven't copped on to the fact that unlike the previous TT the current model has a bespoke aluminium/steel chassis, only sharing its engines with the Golf and some interior parts with the R8.

Its also laughable how anyone who considers the TT an excellent car is either a fanboy or hairdresser. Having owned and driven modified Imprezas for 7 years I took the plunge in 2007 and bought the new TT 2.0 TFSi fwd. After a simple generic remap the car is fast enough to outpace both my Imprezas in-gear as they both had old school turbos which needed lots fo rpms before you got the hand of God up the backside shove they are famous for. By that time my humble hairdresser's car had long since waived (body-wave!) both my 300 bhp Imprezas goodbye.

In my experience the TT haters also tend to be Audi haters so have little knowledge of the cars as demonstrated by uninformed comments like "golf in drag". My firends in the Irish Subaru Driving Club (ISDC) have all been very impressed with my car despite some of the usual anti TT/Audi bias common among the Jap perfomance car community and they envy the fuel economy and residuals.

Just as the "Golf in Drag" comments undermine the credibility of those commentators, it is almost as riseable to suggest the enetry level TT is a true competitor to the Cayman. It may be close in terms of straight line performance but its does not have anything like the Porsche's tactile steering feel or handling prowess. Nevertheless the when TT viewed as a sweet handling, fast, stylish car makes a lot of sense and with this new engine it can only make caveman comments sound even more riducilous than they already do.

nimmler 17 May 2010

Re: Audi TT 2.0 TFSI

I agree!

Another rant

"This car accelerates with real urgency; enough to run with a Porsche Cayman or Nissan 370Z"

Dear Autocar- are you high or on the VAG payroll? There is no way a 208bhp £26,475 FWD <4wd £3000 extra> hairdressers car can keep up with the engineering perfection that is the cayman or the mega bargain £27K 331 PS Nissan 370Z.

bomb 17 May 2010

Re: Audi TT 2.0 TFSI

Can Autocar confirm which model is being tested here.

The text mentions a manual gearbox and quattro 4x4 but this combination is not available in the UK, even for the facelift 2011MY tested here.

Manual transmission with the 2.0 TFSI 211 PS engine is only available with FWD. If you want quattro you have to have the S tronic transmission. Which is it?

Incidentally, if this is the FWD version then the price has only gone up by £250 over the previous 200PS FWD manual.