Audi TT Coupe (2014-2018)

Models Covered:

2dr Coupe (2.0 TDI / 2.0 TFSI petrol / 2.5 TFSI) [Sport, S line, TTS, TT RS])

By Jonathan Crouch

* Introduction

The third generation Audi TT Coupe looks little changed from its predecessors. Don’t be deceived. It’s a very different thing to drive, to own and to live with. Which is important. The TT is fundamental to many people’s perception of what this brand really stands for. It has to be right. It has to be vorsprung durch technic. But does it make sense as a used buy? Let’s find out.

* The History

The original MK1 Audi TT was launched back in 1998 when it really was the thing to be seen in if you wanted a small, sporty coupe or roadster. Style personified, it broke the mould and defined its brand – a concept car you could actually buy. And from a conservative mainstream maker like Audi too! It was hard to believe. Only when you got behind the wheel of the thing did doubts begin to formulate, the drive on offer far less compelling than the pretty bodywork. A Golf GTI in drag? Some cynics thought so.

Stung by their comments, Audi tried again in 2006 with a second generation model that was lighter and steered more sweetly. Still though, something was missing. It was sporting to be sure, but a ‘sports car’? People like us still hesitated to call it that. In late 2014 though, Audi said we were to hesitate no longer, then bringing us this MK3 version, the car that perhaps the TT should always have been. More than merely a glorified design study: instead, a properly engineered driver’s machine.

With respectfully updated design and boundary-stretching technology, it referenced its predecessors but dispensed with their conservative approach to driving dynamics. It was lighter, leaner, faster and sharper through the bends, plus the brand offered even more responsive quattro technology. In short, we were promised a car in which, for once, the looks wouldn’t lie. It sold until late 2018, when a facelift version was announced. Here, we’re looking at pre-facelift 2014-2018 Coupe variants as a used car buy.

* What You Get

Looks can lie. They did in the first generation version of this car, which promised excitement when on the driveway, but couldn’t really deliver it on the road. With this MK3 version, there’s again design mixed with deceit, whether you opt for your TT in Coupe or Roadster form. Both models do, after all, intentionally underplay the visual evolution that created this third generation design. Take the fixed-top Coupe model, which could, at first glance, easily be dismissed as nothing more than a gym-toned version of its rather ordinary MK2 predecessor. Many familiar TT styling cues are present and correct to play their part in this illusion: the rounded wheelarches, the curved windscreen pillars, the bold shoulder line and the sloping rear tailgate. As a result, you feel like you know this car before you even take a step towards it.

It’s the up-front experience that’ll really sell people this car, thanks to a clean-sheet design that really is different, classy and forward-thinking. How? Well once you’re inside, look around you. What’s missing? The wing-shaped dash is familiar enough, but in its centre, the usual infotainment system screen and ventilation control panel are both missing, allowing for a sleek minimalist design that really sets this cabin apart. Ventilation controls have been relocated to the jet turbine-style air vents and these can also house small digital displays which show the chosen setting. All the functions you’d normally find on a big tablet-style central display meanwhile, sit in what is possibly the most unique feature you’ll find in this car: the ‘Audi Virtual Cockpit’.

This is a smartly presented 12.3-inch high resolution display that completely replaces the usual set of conventional dials and is viewed through the three aluminium-look-trimmed spokes of the redesigned flat-bottomed leather-stitched sports steering wheel. You’d think the digital screen would be somewhat over-burdened, having to take care of sat nav, audio and connectivity features as well as the usual driving dials. Not a bit of it. That’s thanks to the pair of viewing options Audi offers here.

Lift the tailgate and you’ll find an unexpectedly large cargo area, something that’s long been a selling point for TT owners. It’s 305-litres in size with the rear seats up, certainly big enough for three or four large bags. If you need more room, then flattening the 50:50 split-folding rear backrest frees up a lot more of it. You might actually be folding the rear seats forward rather a lot because they remain as tiny as they’ve always been in a TT.

* What To Look For

Most owners in our survey seemed happy. There are generally no issues with engines or bodywork but if you find a heavily used car, you might find that that the front wishbones and anti-roll bars could need replacing at around the 60,000-mile mark. The DSG automatic gearbox should be checked to make sure it’s had a regular oil and filter change, as should the Quattro four-wheel-drive system.

* On The Road

First signs that there’s something different on offer here come the moment you take your seat behind the flat-bottomed wheel in the minimalist cockpit. First impressions are positive. This MK3 model has so much more spark than its predecessor. Don’t get us wrong – it’s still no Porsche Cayman: but then we’re not sure that too many typical TT buyers will mind that very much. What they’ll notice though, is that it feels sharper, more eager and more satisfying than the previous generation model – just as the Ingolstadt engineers intended that it should.

The optional ‘magnetic ride’ set-up comes as standard on the TT variant that was fastest of all at launch, the 310PS TTS model. As does quattro 4WD to get the 2.0 TFSI turbo engine’s power to the tarmac. The same engine in a slightly less manic state of tune is used in the variant that accounted for the majority of TT sales here, the 230PS 2.0 TFSI variant, though a lesser 1.8 TFSI unit was introduced to slot below it. With the standard 2.0 TFSI model, quattro 4WD is an option – and one that makes quite a difference to your acceleration times, even in the dry. Get a TT fitted with it and the rest to 62mph improves from around 6.0s to just 5.3s – that’s nearly half a second quicker than a much more powerful rival BMW Z4 sDrive 28i from this era. There’s no Z4 from this period though, that competes with the 2.0 TDI ultra diesel TT model. At the performance end of the petrol range, beyond that quattro TTS model, Audi offered a 2.5-litre five cylinder TT RS variant with 400PS, also with quattro 4WD and featuring mandatory S tronic transmission.

* Overall

Whatever draws you to this car, the experience it offers is a satisfying one. Surprising even, if you’re not used to the idea of a TT being more than a fashion statement. Audi, you see, at last got this car right. And made it properly vorsprung durch technic.