What's New for 2011
The 2011 Audi TTS gets a slight restyling of the grille and air intake that mimics the look of the exotic Audi R8 sports car. A Sport button is now standard, permitting the recalibration of steering assist, suspension firmness and even the volume of noise from the exhaust. The Premium trim has been dropped in favor of the Premium Plus trim, which brings with it 19-inch wheels, additional standard features and a higher price.
The Audi TT has always been more fashion model than athlete. With its Bauhaus-inspired exterior and a trendy interior complete with alloy flourishes and available leather upholstery with baseball glovelike stitching, the TT has been drawing approving glances for more than a decade. Yet there is indeed untapped athletic potential lurking beneath its pretty skin. For proof, witness the 2011 Audi TTS, a high-performance variant of Audi's little 2+2 coupe and roadster that elevates the TT into the sports car realm.
With the demise of the V6-powered TT model, the TTS is the only choice for those wanting more power than the TT's standard, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder provides. And more power is at hand from this same 2.0-liter inline-4 thanks to an intercooler and a bigger turbocharger, increasing output to 265 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Going from zero to 60 mph in a hair over 5 seconds, the TTS is just as quick as its racy styling suggests.
There's more to the TTS than power, however. All-wheel drive maximizes traction while the S tronic dual-clutch automated manual transmission rips off rapid shifts whether you leave the console-mounted shift lever in Drive or use the shift paddles on the steering wheel. Compared to the regular TT, you also get a fractionally lower ride height, 19-inch wheels and a standard Sport mode that automatically alters the steering assist, suspension firmness and even the exhaust note. All together, this is one fashionista that can go toe to toe with pure sports cars like the Nissan 370Z and Porsche's Boxster and Cayman.
Unfortunately, there are trade-offs. For one, the TTS's suspension might be too firm for many, especially compared to the standard TT and the more refined BMW Z4. Also, despite the TTS's tenacious road-holding ability, the communication between man and machine doesn't quite match what you get from the Porsches. While certainly capable, the TTS comes off as a little cold.
There's also the matter of price. The TTS might be cheaper than a similarly equipped Boxster, Cayman or Z4 35i, but less flashy sport coupes and convertibles like the 370Z, BMW 135i and Infiniti G37 offer similar performance for less money. Even the Audi S5 is about the same price as the TTS and offers not only a more refined highway ride but also a more spacious interior. Yet if you always wanted the speed that the TT's curvaceous body suggests, the 2011 Audi TTS is the version to get.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2011 Audi TTS is available as a 2+2 coupe or a two-seat roadster, each available in Premium Plus and Prestige trim levels. Standard equipment includes 19-inch wheels, summer performance tires, adjustable drive settings (alters suspension firmness, steering assist and exhaust note), automatic xenon headlamps, LED running lights, automatic wipers, cruise control, automatic climate control, eight-way power front seats (includes four-way power lumbar), a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, leather upholstery, auto-dimming rearview mirror, Bluetooth, and a nine-speaker sound system with CD player and auxiliary audio jack.
The TTS Roadster adds an electrically powered convertible top, a power-operated wind deflector and a trunk pass-through with ski bag. The optional navigation system brings with it real-time traffic and a choice of either a six-CD changer or an iPod/MP3 player interface. Heated seats are a stand-alone option.
The TTS Prestige gets the heated seats and navigation system with CD changer as standard equipment and also gains rear parking sensors, an upgraded Bose sound system and an interior LED lighting package. The iPod/MP3 player interface is an option and replaces the CD changer. The Baseball Optic Leather package is available for both trims and offers additional leather trim and seat stitching that resembles that of a baseball glove.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2011 Audi TTS is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that produces 265 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. This power is transmitted to all four wheels through a six-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission known as S tronic.
In Edmunds performance testing, the TTS coupe went from zero to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 21 mpg city/29 mpg highway and 24 mpg combined -- truly impressive given the car's performance.
The TTS comes standard with antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, front side airbags (to protect the head and thorax) and front knee airbags.
Interior Design and Special Features
True to Audi tradition, the interior of the 2011 TTS is beautifully built, with top-notch materials and meticulous fit and finish. Available two-tone color schemes in silver, orange and red add some visual pizzazz.
The standard controls are straightforward and easy to reach, though the navigation system's dash-mounted electronics controller is a little unintuitive in its function and placement. The flat-bottomed steering 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 to the tune of 23 cubic feet with the seatbacks folded. At the same time, the coupe's backseat is only usable for parcels and passengers shorter than 4-foot-10.
The two-seat roadster has a lightweight, fabric-trimmed soft top that folds down flush with the rear bodywork, preserving the car's clean lines with the top down. Furthermore, the drop top's multilayer headliner and glass rear window help keep the car both quiet and well-insulated against the weather, while also being lighter than the retractable hardtops offered by some rival convertibles.
The 2011 Audi TTS boasts considerable performance improvements over the standard TT. The 2.0-liter inline-4 isn't the most stirring engine to listen to, but its power delivery is quite broad, and the dual-clutch automated manual gearbox works brilliantly in both automatic and manual modes. Even so, some enthusiastic drivers might miss a true manual transmission.
The TTS devours curvy roads at a rapid clip, responding with a level of agility missing in the regular TT. Nevertheless, there's a certain level of passion missing from the Audi TTS, much of which can be attributed to its uncommunicative power steering.