With a leaner and more sporty style with its noticeable lower trims, the new TTS is very much an Audi.
The beautiful fog lamp bezels, the large air inlets set low on the body and the elegant LED daytime running lights all contribute to giving away its house of manufacture - with its contoured sheet metal clamshell hood and flared fenders helping the bumpers cover work to compliment the entire car.
The bodywork enticements don’t end there. A couple of aluminized side-view mirror caps and the 19-inch tri-spoke wheels catch the eye of anyone passing.
Once you look through the rear window of the coupé, the rear-worked valance will draw notice too, then there’s the specially designed bumper cover that delightfully frames the four exhaust tips that announce the turbocharged uprated four-cylinder that sits out in front to anyone nearby.
Adding to the eye candy of the TTS, the speed-actuated rear spoiler is as visually pleasing as it is useful. A console-mounted button allows the driver to make adjustments to the wing, moving it up or down as needed – one of the more tempting switches for kids playing in the car on a Sunday afternoon!
And this isn’t the only switch you might end up toying with – as fun as it is to show off your mechanical rear wing at the lights, there’s more to appreciate for car lovers. Head down to the centre console to see what lies in wait.
The ‘Sport’ button or the Audi magnetic-ride suspension and the performance changes to a tighter drive.
The TTS starts off 10 mm lower than the standard range TT which unfortunately results in a slight comfort drop – the stiff springs and heavy dampening that’s part of the standard configuration were not designed with lulling the driver to sleep in mind.
Even in ‘Comfort’ mode, the TTS isn’t really in it for the longer luxurious ride. While we personally enjoyed taking the TTS over expansion joints and through some enticing curves, most owners aren’t going to be using the S button clicked on for long.
It’s a shame. Once in ‘Sport’ mode, the electric power steering is that much sharper and makes the S-Tronic dual-clutch six-speed transmission a hell of a lot of fun.
You can even feel the shift logic’s need for more revs, and when driving the gears to the redline before downshifting you can really hear the quad-pipes roar.
There’s no doubt that the drop in comfort is worth it for the extra power in the TTS with the S button engaged and if you ever get the chance, it’s something you must see for yourself.
Despite a growing history, standard TT models are still lacking in internal attractiveness despite the allure of the external view – they certainly lack some of the beauty evident in other cars in Audi’s stable. The A7 sports one of the most attractive mass-consumer cabins ever seen, and the Bauhaus coupé still gets by despite the boring dash and completely forgettable centre stack.
This lack of internal wow-factor continues with the TTS, just like it did with the TT RS, though there are a few pleasant touches in the flat-bottom, contoured leather steering wheel that boost it a little.
Our review car came with an option Baseball Optic Leather package that’s another thousand out of the bank account but gives the seats large leather stitching making it visually more in line with luxury coupés that anyone would be eager to drive. We wonder if it’ll stand the test of time though – wear and tear seems to be a problem with noticeable marks even after the first use.
The base Audi TT gives a turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder engine that pushes 211 horsepower with 258 lb-ft torque. The TTS improves with its adjustments, giving 54 more horsepower out of the same engine. Once at a heady 6,000 rpm, you can feel the complete 265 hp.
There’s no improvement to the torque, however, stating at 258 pound-feet coming at 2,500 rpm to 5,000 rpm.
There’s 17.4 pounds of boost per combustion chamber from the turbo, and the six-speed dual-clutch transmission and Audi trademarked Quattro all-wheel drive combine to make sure all of that power is delivered right to the wheels.
That 265 hp is something to take note of – with the car weighing 2,219 pounds and featuring the all-wheel drive. The official Audi stats state that the 0-60mpg acceleration comes in at 4.9 seconds and based on our experiences with the car’s inclination to decimate the three-digit speed barrier, we can certainly believe it.
There is one major thought that all TTS buyers need to consider and that’s the sister RS car. With an extra cylinder in the 2.5-litre turbo inline five-cylinder engine, the TT RS delivers another 95 horsepower with a 85 lb-ft of additional torque that cuts a solid 0.8 seconds off that 60 mph dash.
Once you see all the details, the TT RS does become a tempting upgrade even with the straight-line sprinting speeds. On most tracks, the TT RS is as fast as the $114,200 R8. Sure, there’s a $6,850 price difference between the two TTs but it shouldn’t look that unattractive – scary perhaps for those not used to paying at the level of a supercar, but start getting excited by the option sheet on the TTS and the difference drops to negligible levels anyway.
The TTS does provide some decent competition, as the two-door, four-cylinder coupé delivers a great grip on the road. Once you leave the main track and hit the bumpy stretches you are going to start to notice the jarring suspension – the weight has been reduced by switching steel suspension parts with aluminium for better response. The rigid chassis and magnetic-ride suspension are going to provide you with some great handling – it turns easily and never seems to understeer with its Quattro all-wheel drive. It’s quite the high!
The 2012 TTS hardware is also consistent and strong. The pedal feel is great from the outset. There are 13.4-inch vented discs in the front and 12.2-inch ones for the rear. That extra 1.2 inches of extra diameter in the front discs is an excellent touch by Audi, meaning the discs can handle a real day of pounding on the track. We didn’t find any fade during our review period with the car, and weren’t afraid of bringing it out for a few periods of abuse.
The fact that there’s only one model available – the six-speed dual-clutch S-Tronic transmission could well spend the end for the TTS. It provides some quick shifts with its stubby, wheel-mounted paddle shift and it makes for a very fun ride but the competitive RS offers a six-speed manual drive which simply blows the TTS’s S-Tronic away. It’s probably us being old-fashioned, but despite loving the drive in the TTS, it just doesn’t seem to even touch the feel of the stiff clutch and honest manual handling of the other car.
On the test car, the sticker price wasn’t doing it any favours either. Listed at $52,245 with an $875 destination fee, its options list meant that the price difference between it and the, quite frankly superior TT RS was a mere $4,605. Not that big a hike to get the better car. While our powerful Solar Orange boasted prestige trim, sat nav, Bose surround sound, heated seats and more features, it would have been a matter of moments to decide to give all of that up for the TT RS’s turbo five-cylinder for those few thousand more.
Outside of the Audi range, the TTS faces some stiff competition across the board. BMW has the Series 1 M Coupé producing 70 greater horsepower for $46,135. The Series 1 gets to 60 in 4.7 seconds and features a manual gearbox for better performance. Where the TTS does seem to outshine its rivals, both in-house and out is with its mature look, that outshines both the BMW and the TT RS.
Car lovers may struggle to find a more mechanically powerful car at that budget, but the majority of the market just care about it feeling quick and looking good. The TTS really does compete here, with a number of stylish options that make it comparable with the Mercedes-Benz SLK350 Roadster at $55,400.
Overall, would we be interested in buying a 2012 TTS given our personal preferences? Honestly, it’s not for us, though we can certainly see its audience. There’s no need for the greater horsepower of the RS if you are not intending to push the car to the limit, and the other features can make the difference for a lover of luxury over raw power. The TTS is a solid addition to the TT range and is not a bad car for the typical driver.