Road Test

Audi TTS

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Is four-wheel drive an advantage in a normal road car? And which model comes out on top?

SPECIFICATIONS
Model: Audi TTS
Price: £33,390 coupé, £35,390 Roadster
Engine: 1,984cc, four cylinders, 16 valves, direct injection with turbo, 272bhp at 6,000rpm, 258lb ft at 2,500-5,000rpm
Transmission: six-speed manual, four-wheel drive
Performance: 155mph, 0-62 in 5.4sec, 29.4mpg average, CO2 191g/km (all with super unleaded; normal unleaded will reduce performance)

Yesterday evening I had a conversation with past world rally champion Walter Röhrl, as you do. Having driven Fiats, Lancias, Fords, Porsches and Audis to victory – cars with a wide variety of engine and transmission layouts – he was ideally placed to answer my burning question. Is four-wheel drive really an advantage in a normal road car?

We have often been told that four-wheel drive is a great idea, because a car can find extra grip when all four wheels share the transmission of power to the road, instead of relying on two, whose limits are breached sooner. Audi's original Quattro was the first widely available car (the 1960s Jensen FF was a bit exotic) in which four-wheel drive was there to improve roadholding instead of being used, Land Rover-fashion, to help traction on tough terrain, and Röhrl used rally Quattros to great effect. And we've all seen DCI Gene Hunt driving a Quattro in Ashes to Ashes. Even he couldn't get it to power slide without extreme provocation.

Yet just the other day I had an unsettling moment in a new Audi TT TDI quattro (small Q, as it's a description of a system rather than a model name), and I wondered if four-wheel drive had made it worse. I was driving the TDI, co-star in this road test with its glamorous 272bhp TTS sibling, on a long, fast, wet left-hand bend, and I released the accelerator at the same moment as the road turned slippery, perhaps thanks to a diesel spillage. You might have expected either the nose or the tail to slither sideways, but both ends slithered together towards the barrier, which left me powerless to make a meaningful steering correction. Would that have happened with front- or rear-wheel drive?

What I did, I think, was steer a little more to the left, then steer right to try to catch the wayward tail. I didn't hit the barrier, but it seemed neither four-wheel drive nor stability systems made the task easier. I had to make two corrections, not one. Was I being unfair? Walter Röhrl was unequivocal: "Four-wheel drive is better on the road ... safer and faster."

All I needed to do, then, was have faith in the engineers. And, after all, I didn't crash. As for the new Audi TT models, it must be said that the TTS would have a hard time getting its 272bhp and 258lb ft of torque to the road tidily without four-wheel drive. This is the raciest TT yet; the extra energy coming mainly from a bigger turbocharger.

Other changes, compared with the starting point of the 2.0-litre TT with its direct-injection engine, include firmer, lower-riding suspension, bigger brakes and wheels, plus revised electric power steering. There's a toothy radiator grille, big lower intakes and a row of light-emitting diodes under the headlights as optional daytime running lights. At the back we find four tailpipes.

Does all this make a better TT? It's a more rapid one, able to scoot to 62mph in 5.4 seconds, yet its CO2 output isn't too tragic. Many buyers will opt for the double-clutch, sequential-shift transmission known as DSG but now called S-tronic by Audi, and it does give shifts of startling speed and smoothness – with a potent-sounding pop from the tailpipes.

But I'd sooner have a purer, lighter, more driver-engaging TTS Coupé with the alternative manual transmission. This is a potential rival to a Porsche Cayman at a lower price (£33,390), but it still seems a lot of money for a car with just four cylinders.

The TTS is good fun to drive, helped by crisp steering and Audi's excellent magnetic ride dampers. But the engine's bigger turbocharger takes the edge off its initial accelerator response.

Overall, it's hard to make a case for the TTS, given its price, and when the regular TT 2.0 is so pleasing. Then there's the new TT TDI turbodiesel, with a hefty 170bhp, the same 258lb ft of torque as the TTS, and the promise of 50mpg and a 140g/km CO2 score. It even sounds racy, with a keenness to reach engine speeds rare in a diesel. This new common-rail unit is an excellent engine, able to propel the TT TDI to 62mph in 7.5 effortless seconds.

Here is that unlikely creation, a convincing diesel sports car. Meet the TT of choice for the modern world. And keep away from diesel spillages.

THE RIVALS

BMW 135i M-Sport coupé: £29,755
It looks dumpy, but it has a 3.0-litre straight-six with twin turbos and 306bhp, plus wonderfully interactive rear-wheel-drive handling. Good value next to TTS.

Nissan 350Z: from £26,795
A bargain in this company, with its 3.5-litre, 313bhp V6, great looks and enjoyable rear-wheel-drive dynamics. CO2 of 280g/km is its downfall.

Porsche Cayman 2.7: £36,220
One of the most dynamically pure cars you can buy, but this 'base' 2.7-litre version isn't particularly quick. Unusually, costs more than its open-top relative, the Boxster.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
fashionHealth concerns and 'pornified' perceptions have made women more conscious at the beach
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmHe was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
Sport
Van Gaal said that his challenge in taking over Bobby Robson's Barcelona team in 1993 has been easier than the task of resurrecting the current United side
footballA colourful discussion on tactics, the merits of the English footballer and rebuilding Manchester United
Life and Style
Sainsbury's could roll the lorries out across its whole fleet if they are successful
tech
Travel
The shipping news: a typical Snoozebox construction
travelSpending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Arts and Entertainment
'Old Fashioned' will be a different kind of love story to '50 Shades'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' is returning to the Tate more than 15 years after it first caused shockwaves at the gallery
artTracey Emin's bed returns to the Tate after record sale
Arts and Entertainment
Smart mover: Peter Bazalgette
filmHow live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences
Environment
Neil Young performing at Hyde Park, London, earlier this month
environment
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Project Coordinator

    Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: The Organisation: The Green Recrui...

    Project Manager (HR)- Bristol - Upto £400 p/day

    £350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...

    Embedded Linux Engineer

    £40000 - £50000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Embedded Sof...

    Senior Hardware Design Engineer - Broadcast

    £50000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Working for a m...

    Day In a Page

    Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

    Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
    Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
    How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

    How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

    Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
    Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

    Pop-up hotels filling a niche

    Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
    Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

    Feather dust-up

    A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
    Boris Johnson's war on diesel

    Boris Johnson's war on diesel

    11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
    5 best waterproof cameras

    Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

    Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
    Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

    Louis van Gaal interview

    Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
    Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

    Will Gore: Outside Edge

    The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
    The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

    The air strikes were tragically real

    The children were playing in the street with toy guns
    Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

    Britain as others see us

    Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
    How did our legends really begin?

    How did our legends really begin?

    Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
    Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

    Lambrusco is back on the menu

    Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz