What's New for 2009
All new for 2009, the Audi TTS is the high-performance version of the popular TT coupe and roadster.
The ancient Egyptians had to wait about 20 years for the Great Pyramid of Giza to be completed. "Star Wars" fans sat around 16 years before the prequel movies came out. For Audi sports car nuts, a similarly long length of anticipation has been endured. Ever since the TT coupe debuted for 2000, people have been wondering when a high-performance "S" version would be arriving. Well, nine years later, the 2009 Audi TTS is finally here. But sort of like "The Phantom Menace," the question must be asked: Was it worth the wait?
Like other Audi S variants, the TTS builds on the TT luxury coupe and convertible foundation with more power, a sportier suspension and unique styling details. Normally, Audi fits a V6 to its top TT models, but for the TTS the company chose to stay with the base model's turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. This direct-injection mill has been modified with a larger turbo, a bigger intercooler and a variety of other bits to produce 265 horsepower. It's not a huge leap over the V6's 250 hp, but there's comparatively more torque (258 pound-feet from 2,500-5,000 rpm) and presumably less weight on the front wheels.
The TTS further sets itself apart from the rest with a retuned suspension that rides about 10mm lower, a quicker-responding version of the Quattro all-wheel-drive system and unique front and rear styling details. The TT's adjustable suspension damping system comes standard -- it's magnetic-based, just like on the Cadillac CTS-V and Corvette ZR1 -- and the brakes have been uprated to match the car's newfound power. Audi says a TTS coupe can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in an estimated 4.9 seconds, with the roadster just a couple tenths behind.
Overall, it's a pretty impressive upgrade over the regular TT. But a lot of the TTS's appeal is going to depend on what your expectations are. Largely due to a redesign of the standard TT last year, the TTS has the low-slung look and feel of a sports car but the personality of a luxury sport coupe. As such, cars like the Chevrolet Camaro, Ford Mustang GT, Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, Nissan 370Z and Subaru Impreza WRX all deliver similar or better performance for significantly less money.
More likely, though, you'd also be looking at other luxury-branded vehicles like BMW's 1 Series or Z4 or Porsche's Boxster and Cayman. Certainly, the TTS has advantages in terms of styling, interior quality and utility. But as it's always been with the TT, the TTS can't quite match those other cars in terms of crisp handling, telepathic steering and pure driver satisfaction. Has the nine-year wait been worth it? Perhaps, but we wouldn't have minded waiting another year or two for something a bit more special.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2009 Audi TTS is available as a 2+2 coupe-styled hatchback or as a two-seater convertible, each in three trim levels. The base Premium trim comes standard with 18-inch alloy wheels, xenon headlights, an automatically retractable spoiler, manually adjustable front sport seats, leather and Alcantara upholstery, a sport steering wheel with shift paddles, cruise control, full power accessories and a nine-speaker audio system that includes a single-CD player, satellite radio and an auxiliary audio jack. Convertibles are equipped with a manually operated soft top.
The Premium Plus trim adds rain-sensing wipers, power and heated front seats, Bluetooth, an auto-dimming interior rearview mirror and a trunk pass-through slot with a ski bag. Convertibles get a power-folding top. The Prestige trim includes everything on the Premium Plus trim plus a navigation system, LED interior lighting, rear park assist and a Bose premium sound system with a six-CD changer.
Options include various upholstery upgrades, as well as different wheel choices. Bluetooth can be added as an option on the base model, and navigation is optional on Premium Plus trims.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2009 Audi TTS is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that's rated at 265 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to all four wheels through a six-speed automated dual-clutch manual transmission. A manual transmission is not available.
EPA fuel economy ratings were not yet published for the 2009 TTS at the time of this writing, but according to Audi, the coupe and convertible both achieve 19 mpg city/29 mpg highway and 24 mpg combined, which is quite respectable for a car in this class.
Every 2009 Audi TTS comes with antilock disc brakes with brake assist, stability control, whiplash-reducing front seats, front side airbags for both chest and head protection, and front knee airbags.
Interior Design and Special Features
True to Audi tradition, the interior of the 2009 TTS is beautifully built. The flat-bottomed wheel and supportive front seats give the interior a sporty feel, while the coupe's hatchback design and fold-down rear seats offer practicality and ample luggage space. The two-seat roadster has a lightweight fabric-trimmed top that folds down flush with the rear bodywork, which enables the car to retain clean lines with the top down. Also, the drop-top's multilayer headliner and glass rear window help keep the car quiet and well-insulated.
The 2009 Audi TTS boasts considerable performance improvements over the standard TT. The 2.0-liter inline-4's power delivery, if not the most stirring to listen to, is quite broad, and the S tronic gearbox works brilliantly in both automatic and manual modes. Even so, a few drivers will probably miss having a true manual transmission.
The TTS devours curvy roads at a rapid clip, and overall, it responds more sharply and keenly than the regular TT. As usual, Quattro provides an extra level of traction when the pavement's wet. However, the TTS still feels a bit inert at times, an attribute made more apparent by the Boxster and Cayman's sublime handling precision.