- The third-generation 2016 Audi TT features a provocative new take on the sporty coupe, along with some practical improvements.
- The 2016 Audi TT and TTS will arrive at U.S. dealerships sometime in 2015.
- The redesigned TT gets a ground-breaking and futuristic cockpit.
INGOLSTADT, Germany — Audi describes its third-generation 2016 Audi TT as a sports car more than a sporty coupe and backs this subtle shift of emphasis with an array of technical improvements that provide substance to the claim.
The new car is lighter, more powerful, sits its occupants closer to the road and features a new, more responsive Quattro four-wheel drive system. Improved aerodynamics, a more favourable weight distribution, a longer wheelbase and a lower center of gravity also heighten the chances of this new TT providing a more enjoyable and engaging drive.
There are practical improvements, too. There's more room in the cockpit of the 2+2 coupe (including a larger trunk), a new generation of Audi's infotainment system that's combined with a configurable virtual instrument display and an optional intelligent LED headlight system.
All this is presented in a wrapper that's unmistakably Audi TT, blending more elements of the original 1998 car than flaunted by the outgoing 2006 model.
The core of the 2016 Audi TT — and the source of some significant weight-savings — is a so-called hybrid bodyshell constructed from a mix of high-strength steels and aluminum. The jointing of aluminum to steel is secured with a combination of adhesives, rivets and self-tapping screws to produce a bodyshell that's stiffer than the outgoing TT's, benefitting safety, handling, ride and refinement.
Together with weight pared from the engines, seat frames, Quattro four-wheel drive system and brakes, this TT is 110 pounds lighter than the previous model — a figure all the more impressive when you consider that the 2006 TT was 198 pounds less hefty than the original 1998 car, and that the later cars carry more equipment.
The lower part of the TT's bodywork — namely the floor and the forward section of the car are made from steel, while its roof, pillars, fenders, hood, doors and trunk lid are in lighter aluminum. Audi says that it chose to make the lower sections of the body in steel in order to reduce the car's center of gravity by 4 inches, improving its agility.
The 2016 TT also has a longer wheelbase within a similar overall length to the previous car's measurement, and front seats positioned slightly lower within the cockpit.
Audi will offer the 2016 TT with a choice of two engines, starting with a 230-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged and direct-injection inline four-cylinder gasoline engine. It's good for 62 mph in 6.0 seconds and has a top speed (limited) of 155 mph.
EPA gas mileage figures have yet to be released.
The substantially more powerful 2016 Audi TTS produces 310 hp via a tweaked version of the 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. It breaks 62 mph in a brief 4.7 seconds, with its top speed also limited to 155 mph.
Both engines can be had with either a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed S tronic automatic with paddle shifts. The 2.0 TFSI is front-wheel drive in standard form — Quattro all-wheel drive is an option — and also comes with an electronic differential lock.
The TTS has Quattro four-wheel drive as standard. It apportions drive between the axles according to the prevailing conditions, and Audi says it's quicker to react than the Quattro systems of previous TTs. It also harnesses the brakes, which can apply light pressure to the inside wheels through a curve to improve the car's cornering power.
Apart from advancing the quality of its fittings and finish, the biggest change to the TT's interior involves the Audi MMI infotainment system, now presented within a configurable virtual instrument pack. Drivers can choose between a number of displays, ranging from a classic large dial presentation with a minimum of extra displays, to a layout in which the navigation map flows around dials of much reduced scale, to a set-up that highlights the user's MP3 choice complete with artwork. Another display features a rev counter for track and fast road driving.
The revised menu control system can be operated via controls on the center console, from the wheel or using voice commands. The new system provides more information than previously, and requires less rigidly specific voice commands.
Also new is an available intelligent Matrix LED lighting headlight system. Each high-beam headlamp consists of 12 LEDS, individually controlled to strategically dim without dazzling oncoming traffic while still maintaining a long and broad throw of light.
The system uses a behind-windshield camera and 64 stages of dimming to detect and protect other drivers. This anti-dazzle system is significantly less complex than the motorized beam-masking systems of some rival manufacturers, notably Mercedes, and should reduce the cost of this Matrix LED headlight option to customers.
However, it is not yet clear if the Matrix LED headlights will be offered in the U.S., since they would have to be approved by federal safety regulators.
Edmunds says: Audi's third-generation TT appears usefully improved, but the tempted are going to have to wait.