The 2016 Audi TT continues its sporty coupe tradition, but added power, performance and interior refinement should finally place this model among its BMW and Porsche peers.
Sophisticated, cutting-edge interior; more powerful engines; lighter weight promises improved performance and fuel efficiency.
Front-wheel-drive versions don't deliver the balanced feel of its rear-wheel-drive competitors.
The 2016 Audi TT is redesigned with sharper exterior style, more power and a sophisticated new cabin.
It's easy to forget the visual impact of the Audi TT's debut 15 years ago. Although it echoed the retro style of the Volkswagen New Beetle introduced two years prior, the TT looked like no other Audi on the road. A handsome teardrop cabin flanked short front and rear ends that pulled tight to the road's surface. Flared fenders and a duckbill spoiler gave the TT presence even while at rest. Yet despite its dynamic shape, the TT never earned a serious sports-car reputation. Audi aims to change that with the 2016 Audi TT.
The third-generation Audi TT remains about the same size as its predecessor, but should be at least 110 pounds lighter. Audi has shaved weight from the body by constructing the roof, hood, fenders, doors and trunk lid from aluminum, while extracting added pounds from the engine, seat frames, all-wheel-drive system and brakes.
High-strength steel in the floor and forward section lowers the TT's center of gravity and, along with a longer wheelbase and revised Quattro all-wheel-drive system, promises truer 2+2 sport coupe handling. The TT will also deliver an updated interior and multimedia system, and a larger trunk.
The 2016 TT will offer two engines. The base model gets a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder rated at 230 horsepower powering the front wheels. Audi says this combination is good for a 0-62-mph sprint in 6 seconds. The TTS will use an uprated 310-hp version of the same engine connected to the Quattro all-wheel-drive system, for a 0-62-mph time of just 4.7 seconds.
European models will offer a standard six-speed manual transmission, with an optional six-speed automatic transmission with shift-paddle control (what Audi calls "S tronic"). Unlike the current model, we hope Audi sees fit to offer the TT in America with the manual transmission.
Further fostering the TT's sporting intentions, an adaptive sport suspension comes standard on the TTS and is optional on the base model. The system uses magnetic control, similar to the Chevrolet Corvette, for micro-fine, split-second adjustments to road conditions. Audi hasn't confirmed its U.S. engine lineup, thus feeding the possibility that American buyers can also choose the diesel model headed for European roads.
Inside, a revamped cockpit starts with front seats mounted closer to the floor for a sportier driving position. A 12.3-inch digital instrument display allows the driver to choose a "classic" mode that places virtual speed and RPM gauges in the foreground, or a multimedia display that shrinks the gauges and prioritizes smartphone, entertainment and navigation functions. Audi says new voice command functions are also more natural and intuitive. Finally, the trunk is enlarged about 0.5 cubic feet.
Optional safety features will include rear-mounted radar sensors to improve the safety of lane changes, lane-keeping assist to prevent drifting from lanes, and parking assist to independently guide the TT into suitable parking spaces. "Smart" LED high beams can control individual lamps to maintain a broad throw of light without blinding oncoming traffic, although it's unclear whether this feature will get past U.S. safety regulators.
The 2016 Audi TT and TTS will arrive at U.S. dealerships sometime in 2015, starting at around $40,000. The TTS is likely to start around $52,000. That puts Audi's revamped coupe (and eventual roadster) in the company of modern classics like the BMW Z4 and Porsche's Boxster and Cayman. Check back for more information on the 2016 Audi TT, including specs, driving impressions and buying advice as it becomes available.