What is it?
The hottest version of Audi’s fabric-roofed TT. Like its coupe sister, the roadster S gets a highly tuned version of the familiar Volkswagen group 2.0-litre TFSI petrol engine, with drive supplied to all four wheels via a Haldex clutch on the back axle. Suspension has also been uprated and the Roadster S gets a unique bodykit.
The headline figures are 269bhp and 5.6-second 0-62mph time. That’s better than the standard, 2.7-litre version of the Porsche Boxster – but the Audi is also more expensive than its ultra-desirable rival. That’s a brave – or possibly foolish - decision on Audi’s part.
What’s it like?
A curious combination of the brilliant and underwhelming. The engine is the highlight of the experience – torquey, happy to rev and almost completely free of the sort of lag you might expect to afflict a turbocharged engine with this sort of per-litre output.
The optional quick-shift gearbox of our test car was a pleasure to use too, swapping ratios with a precision and speed to make the extra investment required for the full-spec twin-clutch DSG look like relatively poor value.
And nobody would deny that the S looks good – the combination of low stance, well-judged bodykit and chunky alloy wheels giving it the sort of visual purpose that the rest of the TT range struggles to deliver. Nobody is going to accuse this one of looking girly.
Unfortunately the S’s chassis is less convincing. Grip levels are high, and the car can be driven with high confidence at serious velocities. But it fails to deliver the sort of dynamic involvement you’d expect to find in something so explicitly driver focussed. The steering lacks feel and the front-end loses grip earlier than you would expect.
So, should I buy one?
There’s lots to like about the TT S roadster, but it doesn’t feel as special as it needs to if it wants to justify its Boxster-beating pricetag. Good as the Audi is, it would be very hard to justify choosing one over a 2.7-litre Boxster.