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?

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.


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.

Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Raheem Sterling of Liverpool celebrates scoring the opening goal
footballLIVE: Follow all the latest from tonight's Capital One quarter-finals
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Life and Style
Life and Style
Sebastian Siemiatkowski is the 33-year-old co-founder and CEO of Klarna, which provides a simple way for people to buy things online
Jimmy Mubenga died after being restrained on an aircraft by G4S escorts
voicesJonathan Cox: Tragedy of Jimmy Mubenga highlights lack of dignity shown to migrants
Not quite what they were expecting

When teaching the meaning of Christmas backfires

Arts and Entertainment
Angelina Jolie and Sony Pictures co-chairman Amy Pascal at the Golden Globes in 2011
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst

    £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established media firm based in Surrey is ...

    Ashdown Group: Java Developer - Hertfordshire - £47,000 + bonus + benefits

    £40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...

    Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

    £70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

    Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive - Nationwide - OTE £65,000

    £30000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small technology business ...

    Day In a Page

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Scandi crush: Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    Th Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

    Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

    The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
    Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
    Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

    Meet Racton Man

    Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
    Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

    Garden Bridge

    St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

    An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
    Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

    Joint Enterprise

    The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
    Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

    Freud and Eros

    Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum
    France's Front National and the fear of a ‘gay lobby’ around Marine Le Pen

    Front National fear of ‘gay lobby’

    Marine Le Pen appoints Sébastien Chenu as cultural adviser
    'Enhanced interrogation techniques?' When language is distorted to hide state crimes

    Robert Fisk on the CIA 'torture report'

    Once again language is distorted in order to hide US state wrongdoing
    Radio 1’s new chart host must placate the Swifties and Azaleans

    Radio 1 to mediate between the Swifties and Azaleans

    New chart host Clara Amfo must placate pop's fan armies
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

    The head of Veterans Aid on how his charity is changing perceptions of ex-servicemen and women in need
    Torture: It didn't work then, it doesn't work now

    Torture: It didn't work then, it doesn't work now

    Its use is always wrong and, despite CIA justifications post 9/11, the information obtained from it is invariably tainted, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Rebranding Christmas: More public bodies are refusing to give the festival its name for fear of causing offence

    Rebranding Christmas

    More public bodies are refusing to give the festival its name for fear of causing offence. They are missing the point, and we all need to grow up