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2018 Audi TT Review

2018 Audi TT Review
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The 2018 Audi TT isn't a pure driver's car, but all-wheel drive, fun-to-drive dynamics, and decent fuel economy make it a practical choice for sporty fun.

The 2018 Audi TT is a sporty coupe or convertible that is relatively honest. It doesn't have wild style or wild road manners in base configurations, and higher-performance TTS and TT RS versions take a more serious approach to driving. They're more than adequate, but somewhat lack the hardware to outrun its nose-heavy hardware. The TT RS is the best take on a driver's car, but it's also the priciest.

Still, the TT is a fun car with the right stance and driving position. We rate it a 7.0 overall, adding points for handsome styling, good ride and handling, and generous standard features. The base trim’s performance has room for improvement, though, and the interior only has good room for two front passengers.

The TT RS joined the lineup for 2018. It boasts a 400-horsepower turbocharged inline-5 under its hood, and it also gets bigger brakes, a lower ride height, and a standard magnetic ride suspension. It’s by far the fastest car in the lineup, with a 3.7-second 0-60 mph time, and its hardware makes it track ready.

Like the TT RS, the TTS is only offered as a coupe, and it, too, comes with the magnetic ride suspension. It also has beefy brakes. Its engine is a 292-hp 2.0-liter turbo-4.

The base TT is offered as a 2+2 coupe like the others or a two-seat roadster. It is motivated by a 220-hp version of the TTS’s engine, and acceleration is brisk at 5.3 seconds in the 0-60 mph run.

The TT and TTS have a 6-speed dual-clutch transmission, while the TT RS gets a 7-speed version. All models come standard with all-wheel drive, which can send power to the rear for a sportier feel or for better traction.

Fuel economy is fairly thrifty for a sports car, especially in the base model, which delivers 26 mpg in the combined EPA cycle.

All TT models borrow styling cues from the R8 super sports car, combining its chiseled look with rounded elements from the TT’s past. Inside, the design is sleek, almost spartan, with gauges rendered digitally on a wide high-resolution screen that also displays navigation, and more in what Audi calls its "Virtual Cockpit."

Space is plentiful up front, but the coupe has a small back seat and the roadster has no back seat at all. The coupe offers a decent-sized trunk, but don’t look for the roadster to carry your cargo.

Safety equipment isn’t so generous. Yes, there are knee airbags, a rearview camera, and front and rear parking sensors, and you can get blind-spot monitors, but forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking are not available.

Styling
The 2018 Audi TT focuses its cockpit on the driver, while its sheet metal wants to be like a scaled down R8.

The original Audi TT from the late 1990s sported an iconic Bauhaus design, but Audi has avoided the trap of trying to retain the look of the original. The TT has evolved, and it still looks appropriately sporty and handsome. We rate the TT an 8 out of 10 for styling based on its exceptional exterior and attractive cockpit. 

A quick look at the current TT shows that it is more influenced by the angular lines of the current R8 sports car than the rounded shapes of the original TT. The overhangs are short and the corners are squared off, but the roofline is still rounded, especially on the coupe.

Design details include LED matrix headlights, a trapezoidal grille, a creased hood, and sheet metal sculpting that breaks up what are still somewhat rounded doors and fenders.

The low-set cabin layout envelopes the driver. Audi has taken a different approach to infotainment with the TT, doing away with a center screen completely. Instead it fits a 12.3-inch digital display in the instrument cluster. It is controlled through steering-wheel toggles and a center-console capacitive touch pad.

Details seem to come either from aerospace or racing. Round vents with climate control displays in their center sections sit where the center screen normally would; they look like jet engines.

Performance
All TT models are fairly quick, but only the TT RS is a true driver’s car.

The Audi TT offers three levels of performance, and there is quite a difference from one to the next. We give the TT a 7 out of 10 for performance, awarding it points for a good ride and agile handling, but we don’t label any but the TT RS a true driver’s car. 

The base TT gets a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4 that produces 220 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. It is mated to a 6-speed dual-clutch gearbox with standard steering wheel shift paddles. This combination is good for a rather quick 5.3-second 0-60 mph time (5.6 seconds in the roadster) and the transmission provides quick, satisfying shifts. Still, we’d like a manual transmission as well.

Like all models, the TT comes only with all-wheel drive. This Haldex system will send more power to the rear wheels when needed, or preemptively to make the car more balanced in sporty driving by responding to accelerator and steering inputs.

The TTS also has a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4, but it has more turbo boost, stronger internals, and it churns out 292 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque. The TTS uses the same 6-speed transmission, and the 0-60 mph time drops to 4.6 seconds.

The TTS also gets a magnetic ride suspension that provides a tauter ride and more agile handling than the base TT, and also does a better job of filtering out road harshness. We would like a bit more road feel, though.

All models come with Audi Drive Select that offers Dynamic, Auto, and Comfort modes. The modes change throttle response, transmission behavior, steering boost, and behavior of the stability control and all-wheel-drive systems. They also get a steering system that features both variable ratios and variable electric assist; it provides a settled and stable feeling at speed, and a nimble feeling in quick, lower-speed directional changes.

Overall, the TT isn’t particularly balanced. That’s because the engine is located ahead of the front axle, sending almost 60 percent of the weight to the front. Nonetheless, the handling feels fairly neutral and balanced in all but the most aggressive of driving. Then the front end starts to push, which is called understeer.

Track star, track car

The TT RS is a true track car that has an answer for understeer. It features a turbocharged 5-cylinder that spins out 400 hp and 354 lb-ft of torque, and launches the car to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds. The larger engine actually puts more weight up front, but the understeer can be countered by driving the car hard into a turn, letting the front end start to slip, then simply lifting off the throttle. At that point, the nose will tuck in, and the rear end will swing around to get the car back on the right path. It’s a fun way to drive this thrilling little beast on a racetrack or twisty mountain road.

Audi offers a Dynamic Plus package for the TT RS that fits it with carbon ceramic front brakes and fixed dampers instead of the magnetic dampers. The carbon ceramic brakes provide stout stopping power and resist fade, while the fixed dampers are firmer but they create a hunkered-down feel.

Audi provides three additional features to enhance the TT’s sporty character. A sound actuator feeds sporty sounds into the cabin when driving hard, launch control helps you get the best 0-60 mph times, and an adaptive rear spoiler extends at 75 mph or retracts at 44 mph. The spoiler generates about 110 pounds of downforce at 155 mph, and it can help the car stick when taking fast turns.

Comfort & Quality
The 2018 Audi TT has a roomy driver’s seat, but the coupe has a tight rear seat and the roadster doesn’t offer one at all.

The Audi TT‘s cabin is cockpit-like and sports-car influenced. While those design cues usually mean less usable space, that's not the case here. The TT is quite space-efficient up front, but its back seat works more as a package shelf than a usable seat.

We give the TT a 6 out of 10 for comfort and quality, adding points for its good front seats and excellent interior materials, but taking away a point for its limited back seat.

The TT coupe is a 2+2, while the roadster is a two-seater. Both models have roomier front rows than most sports cars, with a driving position that can be tailored to a variety of body types. The front seats offer plenty of support for thighs and backs.

The coupe can accommodate four adults, but they had all better be shorter than average. Even then, knees will likely be mashed up against the front seats and heads will be touching the hatchback glass (don’t close it with passengers back there!).

The trunk in the roadster is quite small at 7.5 cubic feet, but the coupe has a decent 12.0 cubic feet of space, about as much as a small sedan’s trunk.

Like most Audis, the interior is replete with high-quality materials. There is a padded, textured material on the upper dash, and a raised, honeycomb-patterned material on the TTS and TT RS dash that looks more than a little retro. All models have metal trim to offset the black dash.

Safety
The TT lacks both crash-test results and some of today’s most important active safety features.

The 2018 Audi TT offers some of today’s active safety features, but lacks some others, and it has not been crash-tested by either the IIHS or the federal government. Without those ratings, we can’t give it a rating for safety. 

Standard safety features include the usual roster of airbags, plus dual knee airbags, a rearview camera, and front and rear park assist (new for 2018). Secondary collision brake assist, which keeps the vehicle from continuing to roll when it’s been in an accident, is also included. Buyers can also get blind-spot monitors and active lane control. Forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking are not available.

While the TT lacks crash-test results, Audi claims to have put a lot of work into the TT's structure—making it not just good for occupant protection but low in its center of mass.

Features
The 2018 Audi TT has a generous set of features, highlighted by the high-tech virtual cockpit.

Audi offers the TT as the base TT coupe and roadster, the more powerful TTS coupe, and the high-performance TT RS coupe. All come with all-wheel drive.

We give the TT a 7 out of 10 for features for good base equipment, excellent options, and a slick infotainment system, but knock it for its high pricing across the board. 

Standard equipment includes automatic climate control; tilt/telescoping steering column; power features; ambient interior lighting; leather; 12-way power front seats with heating, Audi’s MMI infotainment system; Audi’s virtual cockpit programmable instrument cluster; a nine-speaker audio system; HD and satellite radio; Bluetooth; keyless entry; a rearview camera; front and rear parking sensors (new for 2018); a drive mode selector; automatic LED headlights; LED taillights; an adaptive rear spoiler; and 18-inch alloy wheels.
The TTS model adds leather and Alcantara seats, magnetic ride suspension, larger brakes, and 19-inch wheels.


A Technology package for the TT and TTS comes with a Bang & Olufsen surround-sound audio system with 12 speakers and 680 watts of power, navigation, blind-spot monitors, a smartphone interface, and Audi Connect wi-fi hotspot capability with access to apps, social media, and weather, fuel prices, and other information.



New for 2018 is the S line Competition package with high gloss exterior accents, brushed aluminum door sills and inlays, red brake calipers, S line sport suspension, leather and Alcantara sport seats with S line embossing, and a flat-bottom S line steering wheel.



Also new for 2018 is the TTS model’s Exclusive Interior package that includes nappa leather, S embossed front seats with diamond stitching and extended leather trim and controls.


The TT RS model has stiffer springs, a lower ride height, even bigger 14.6-inch front brake discs with eight-piston calipers, and a sport-tuned version of the quattro all-wheel-drive system.


A Dynamic Plus package for the TT RS does away with the magnetic dampers in favor of fixed shocks. It also comes with carbon ceramic front brake discs, a carbon fiber engine cover, and an increased top speed from 155 to 174 mph.



The so-called Virtual Cockpit offers three different gauge layouts, including a performance version. Drivers can switch between layouts with a "view" button on the steering wheel. Passengers have no control over radio stations or other functions.



The MMI Navigation Plus package adds Audi Connect, with an embedded LTE data connection and Google Earth map displays, as well as Facebook- and Twitter-integrated interfaces. It also offers a search function that lets you input free text, scanning everything from navigation destinations to phone contacts to songs to podcasts.


Fuel Economy
At 26 mpg combined, the Audi TT is quite thrifty for either a sports car or a convertible.


The 2018 Audi TT obeys a steadfast rule: As the power goes up, fuel economy comes down.



In its base form, the TT is fairly frugal. Both the TT coupe and roadster deliver 23 mpg city, 30 highway, 26 combined. Since these base models make up the bulk of the sales, we base our 7 out of 10 fuel economy rating on their EPA figures. (Read more about how we rate cars.)



The TTS coupe, with its 292-hp engine, gets 23/27/25 mpg, which isn’t much lower than the base model.


Opt for the 400-hp TT RS and the EPA says you may manage 19/29/22 mpg, all told.


The TT does quite well in the real world, where we've managed to meet or beat the EPA ratings. Over a 340-mile highway trip, we averaged nearly 31 mpg in a TT coupe.



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