Pretty good, in that fuss-free, fault-free, drama-free fast Audi way. Test location for the TTS drive was the Isle of Man, including a memorable drive on the Mountain section closed to other traffic; this played to the car's strengths extremely well.
For travelling very fast on an unknown, very challenging bit of road without intimidating the driver, it’s hard to think of anything much better than a 300hp TT. Corners with 40mph speed suggestions are tackled comfortably at twice that, second gear hairpins are dispatched without any hint of traction loss and fifth-gear direction changes are shrugged off easily.
The engine is powerful, the brakes’ performance can’t be criticised (even if the feel can) and it seems that the Isle of Man would run out of kippers before the TTS runs out of grip. Its plug-and-play performance is only surpassed by the wildly brisk TT RS.
The TTS’s issues are not in the outright performance metrics, then, but rather in the subtleties of nuance and feel. Yes, familiar Audi complaints, but ones that remain valid when there are rivals such as the fantastically tactile Porsche Cayman and caddishly indulgent Jaguar F-Type to consider. There’s simply little joy for the keen driver in going fast in a TT, from the snatchy brake pedal to the aloof steering. You can push harder, and go much faster, but the joy typically associated with doing that in a sports car is noticeable by its absence.
Equipped with optional 20in wheels, the TTS rides very firmly regardless of the drive select mode (Efficiency, Comfort, Auto, Dynamic, Individual) chosen. Trying the 19s would be advisable; while not crashy as such on the larger wheels, there’s no escaping how fidgety the car always feels, and this is rather at odds with the car's generally very refined nature.
On the plus side, the seven-speed DSG feels like a marked improvement from the old six-speed gearbox, with greater alertness in both automatic and manual modes. Some may mourn the demise of the ‘true’ manual option, although there’s little cause for concern in this dual-clutch 'box.
In short, the facelifted TT feels very similar to drive to the ‘old’ TT. Given little significant has been altered, that shouldn’t be much of a discovery. That there are hatchbacks more rewarding to drive on this architecture than the sports coupé of the VW empire still feels bizarre, however.