New Audi TT joins the HJ fleet

Dan trades in his practical Skoda Octavia for something sportier - the all-new stylish Audi TT. How will it fare over six months?

Date: 14 November 2014 | Current mileage 50 | Claimed economy 44.1mpg | Actual economy 25.8mpg

Back in the summer, I was fortunate enough to be one of the first people to drive the new Audi TT. I was part of a group of journalists flown out to the southern tip of Spain to test the new Audi on the road and race track. As you can imagine, 'working' in Spain was a hoot, but it was the car that left the lasting impression, with brilliant handling and a comfortable and classy cabin.

Since those sunny days in Spain I've been itching to get the third generation TT in as a daily runner. Thankfully, Audi has been happy to oblige and yesterday I took delivery of a brand spanking new TT, with more bells and whistles than a Christmas cracker factory. 

Finished in Glacier White, the TT is even more attractive than I remembered in Spain and it looks all the better with a set of optional 20-inch Y-spoke alloy wheels. Admittedly, from the back, you'd be hard pushed to tell it apart from its predecessor, but cast your eyes to the front and you'll discover this is a much smarter looking car.

Not only are the overhangs shorter than the old TT, but the new model gets an R8 styled bonnet, razor sharp headlights and six corner grille. The result is a more aggressive looking sports coupe, which will appease those who have previously dismissed the TT as a "hairdresser's car".


The Audi TT’s cabin has already impressed, but will Dan still love it in six months’ time? 

Inside, the TT is surprisingly spacious, with lots of head, elbow and leg room for both the driver and front passenger. The dashboard is also one of the best you'll find in a sports coupe, with elegant switchgear and a classy row of turbine air vents. 

The TT also gets Audi's 'virtual cockpit' system, which does away with the traditional instrument dials and replaces it with a digital display. This means the driver gets sole control of the infotainment system, which means the passengers are helpless to change the media or navigation. 

In the back, there's a small set of seats that will probably result in deep vein thrombosis for large adults but it should provide perfect comfort for kids. There's also a useable boot, with 305 litres (13 litres more than the old model).

Under the bonnet I've opted for the 2.0 TFSI quattro with S tronic transmission; the engine packs 230PS and I felt the automatic box, with gear paddle shifters, would be the best partner for the 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine and its 370Nm of torque. Audi claim the TT will spring from 0-62mph in a smidge over five seconds and return up to 44.1mpg. But we'll have to wait and see.

Wing commander

The Audi is packed full of toys, but are they really necessary? Dan looks at what's hot and what's not in the TT.

Date: 28 November 2014 | Current mileage: 527 | Claimed economy: 44.1mpg | Actual economy: 27.1mpg

The Audi TT is a lot of fun. I know, I know, I'm only a couple of weeks into a six month loan, but I’m impressed, okay? The TT is great fun, with superb road handling and a thumping turbocharged 2.0-litre engine that will demolish 0-62mph in under six seconds. 

What’s more, the TT is packed with toys, with a fancy ‘virtual’ cockpit system and a clever active rear spoiler, that rises automatically when you hit 70mph. Being from Essex, I am magnetically drawn to fancy bits of bodywork like a moth to a LED headlight and I can honestly say the spoiler has become my favourite automatic novelty item of 2014. 

When I was a teenager - in the late 1990s - aftermarket spoilers were all the rage and almost everyone called Barry or Garry had a fibreglass whale tale attached to their car. Thankfully, the TT’s spoiler is rather different and considerable smaller, which is a big bonus, because it means I can park the TT near the coast, without fear of it being harpooned and dragged out to sea by a passing whaling ship. 

You can also raise the spoiler manually, which means you can large it up around town with a hint of "look at me! I’m driving a racing car!" Sadly, living in Cambridge, no one really appreciates this laddish bravado, so I usually leave it in auto mode, which packs away the spoiler at lower speeds.


Now you see it, now you don't. The active spoiler packs away neatly into the boot lid

Automatic spoiler aside, I’ve been very happy with the overall performance of the TT. The virtual dashboard works really well and the cabin has a wonderful, simple layout. As mentioned in my previous update, the TT hasn't got a traditional infotainment display in the centre console. As a result, the cabin has a clean and neat appearance.

The decision to put the media and navigation displays in the instrument cluster is a clever thing indeed, although I found that there's a temptation to spend too long looking at the instrument cluster and not the road. I think this is down to a false sense of security, because you are always looking forward, but downwards and your brain doesn't prompt you to look up. It's not a problem exactly, but I can see it becoming a bad habit for some. 

Fuel economy hasn't been great either and I think i'll have to have a tinker with the driving modes to get anywhere near Audi's claimed 44.1mpg. At the moment things are sitting around 27mpg, but I can't say I’ve been pushing for economy driving. 

Over the next few weeks I'll be utilising the TT's Economy drive program, to see if it improves economy. But, to be honest, I can't say I’m that concerned with the average fuel rating. After all, who buys a petrol TT quattro for super economy?

LED there be light

LED headlights are wonderful things, but Dan has discovered that they also have some drawbacks.

Date: 12 December 2014 | Current mileage: 876 | Claimed economy: 44.1mpg | Actual economy: 30.4mpg

Matrix LED might sound like the title of a science fiction film, starring Keanu Reeves, but it’s actually the name of the optional headlights I’ve got fitted to my Audi TT. Costing a considerable £945, the Matrix system replaces the standard xenon headlights with 24 separate LED bulbs (12 per headlight), which dim individually when the sensors detect oncoming traffic. 

In theory, the Matrix system replaces the traditional 'high' and 'low' beam because the sensors detect oncoming cars and diverts the light around them. As well as eliminating dazzle, the headlights also provide more light, because they illuminate the rest of the road, which bathes everyone in warm, happy LED white glow. Sounds great, doesn't it? Well, not quite. 

You see, over the past month, I've found that my fellow road users are not all that keen on the Matrix LED system and its ability to bend the speed of light. In fact, they're flipping furious about it and I've already a few experiences of being flashed (by headlights, obviously) or waved at. Well I say wave, it is more of a gesture with two fingers, but I’m assuming it's a wave. 

The problem lies in the Matrix's ability to dim the LEDs - it can't do it quick enough. And even when it does dip the individual LEDs in time, other motorists become confused because the headlights are so incredibly bright. The result is a lot of road rage.  

1 Headlamp Aim

Here comes Dan in his Audi TT, be sure to give him a wave...

Bored of the endless dazzle from oncoming motorists, I've decided to switch off the automatic headlight setting and simply dip the headlights manually. It's not exactly a hardship, but I have to admit to being a little bit disappointed because it's clear that the Matrix LED system needs a little more work. There's no problems with the brightness (it's like daylight) but the sensors certainly need tweaking.

However, headlights aside, I've very little else to grumble about. The TT is comfortable, refined and the economy has been improving. I'm now averaging a heady 30mpg, which is better than the mid-20s I was getting previously. 

I've also had the opportunity to stretch the TT's legs on Cambridgeshire's country lanes, which has been fun, thanks to the TT's rewarding drive and snappy automatic gearchanges. The quattro four-wheel drive system has been getting to work on the icy roads and hasn't dissatisfied, with plenty of grip and feedback on slippery B roads. 

I've also found the TT to be surprisingly durable, with a 305-litre boot that will easily take a couple of suitcases and the weekly shop. Push the rear seats down and storage increases to 712 litres, which is enough to fit a couple of golf bags. With Christmas almost upon us, I’ll be utilising the TT for various family duties. Will it carry the family booze supply? Will it be able to carry my post-xmas body back to my home in Cambridge or will the suspension collapse? Time will only tell.

Do we really need high-tech interiors?

Dan's Audi TT is packed with optional extras (£10,000 worth) but are they worth the extra cash?

Date: 26 December 2014 | Current mileage: 1206 | Claimed economy: 44.1mpg | Actual economy: 32.8mpg

Clunk, clang, clink, clunk. Clunk, clang, clink, clunk. Clunk, clang, clink, clunk. No, I’ve not gone mad, that’s the sound of half a dozen bottles of wine and Christmas presents rolling around the back of my Audi. You see, it's been a busy time for the TT, with trips all over the country to visit friends and family. However, in the process, I've discovered that everything (and I mean everything) rolls around in the boot.

Admittedly, the car has a small luggage net, but it's large not enough to hold everything down. As a result, everything in the back has a tendency to bounce about and it can get a tad annoying, as you're forced to listen to a rendition of tubular bottles each time you drive home from the supermarket. 

Thankfully, nothing has broken yet, but I have started to wonder about the need for interior accessories. Obviously, luggage nets are useful - I banged on about them during my six month loan with the Skoda Octavia - but what about all of the other stuff in my TT? 

The Audi is a good case in point, because it's shoehorned with high-tech toys and gizmos. According to the sales brochure, some of the optional accessories will make life easier for the driver and passengers, but that comes at a high price. Remember that small boot net I mentioned? That's £175. Or perhaps you'd like some navigation in your car? That'll be £1795, would you like to pay by card or cash? 


Audi's virtual cockpit system is standard on the TT, but you'll have to pay £1795 for navigation

So, which options would I bin? We'll, I'd probably forgo the Comfort and Sound pack, which covers Bang and Olufsen sound, parking sensors and the front armrest. For sure, the sound is brilliant, but I'm not sure I’d spend £1590 for it and some sensors.

Likewise, I'd leave the electric front seats (£995) and LED headlights (£945) on the options shelf too, simply because other motorists get so upset with the brightness of the LEDs.

Ironically, one of the best features on the TT is the virtual cockpit system, which is standard (pictured above). The system is a 12.3-inch TFT screen that sits behind the steering wheel and displays the speed, revs, navigation, telephone and media. Being a computer screen, it's customisable and the driver can enlarge and minimise certain displays, which is great.

However, to get the most out of it you have to pay for the Technology Pack, which costs £1795 and includes a media juke box - with 10Gb for music - a speaker upgrade and navigation. It's a lot of money to spend - after all, you could get a portable Tom Tom for a £100.

Let's be honest here, the TT is not a cheap car and Audi are infamous for being expensive on the upgrades, but the virtual cockpit system with navigation is extremely good. Hence, why I say through gritted teeth, I'd spend the cash to get the Technology Pack. 

It's useful too and the live traffic updates have already saved me from several traffic jams. I've also grown attached to the media jukebox, which now hosts all of my music including Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon. And what's the best song on that album? You've guessed it, Money.

Is the Audi TT a hairdresser’s car?

Has the time come to scrap the TT’s association with people who cut hair for a living? Dan looks into the story behind the myth.

Date: 9 January 2015 | Current mileage: 1748 | Claimed economy: 44.1mpg | Actual economy: 32.0mpg

Feeling slightly jealous of someone's shiny new car? Want to question their masculinity, but lack the physical stature to intimidate? Well, don’t fret, you can still get your automotive bitterness off your chest by shouting: "hairdresser’s car!"

Now I should point out that I have nothing against people who cut hair for a living, but my temporary Audi TT ownership has prompted a few memories that relate to a former neighbour of mine. The man in question owned a mk1 TT and endured all sorts of jokes from his so-called mates. Even now, I can picture him in the pub, grimacing into his pint, as his friends asked if he could perform a quick "blow dry". He moved away from the area soon after buying his mk2 TT. And who could blame him?

But what exactly is a hairdresser's car and why do people get so worked up about it? Well, as far as I can gather, it relates to cars that look nice, but are considered to have no real power or substance. Or GRRR as the neanderthals down the pub would put it. However, in regards to the Audi TT, nothing could be further from the truth.

The mk1 and mk2 models were great cars to drive, with nicely detailed cabins and excellent performance. The RS models were brutally quick too and more than enough to match a Porsche 911 at the traffic lights. Admittedly, the soft top version of the mk1 (pictured below) was a little bit too round and cutesy for my liking, but it was still terrific to own while reports of mechanical faults were also few and far between.

Audi TT (4) 

   The original Audi TT was a huge hit, but not everyone was taken by its bold styling

So, where does my mk3 TT sit in all of this macho hyperbole? Is it still categorised as a car for hair stylists or has it finally been accepted as the classy sports coupe it has always been? Well, I can't say anyone has asked me to cut their hair these past few months nor can I recall any hair cutting jokes. 

On the contrary, the third generation Audi has attracted all manner of positive comments, with most people being taken by its aggressive front, which gives it a rather angry grimace that's not too dissimilar to my former neighbour. The TT has also surprised a few with its performance; indeed, it's extremely quick and will leave most other coupes in its wake, as it chomps through B-roads and rockets along the motorway.

There are some downsides, namely the economy. The TT enjoys a drink - just like my old neighbour - because the mpg is stuck to the low 30s and shows no sign of reaching Audi's claimed 44.1mpg. However, I can't bring myself to criticise the TT for its thirsty nature because you don't really buy a TT, with a 2.0 TFSI and four-wheel drive, for frugal economy. Indeed, until the 310PS TTS version appears in the spring, this is the fastest TT money can buy and I have to admit that I am rather smitten.

And I'm not alone; my current neighbours have already been asking about it and the car also has found favour with the locals down the pub. So perhaps it has finally shaken off its hairdresser tag. Or maybe they're being too nice to say. Either way, I can't say I care.

Four to the floor

Rain, wind or snow, the Audi TT has been taking it all in its quattro stride, thanks to excellent handling and a rewarding turbocharged engine.

Date: 23 January 2015 | Current mileage: 2189 | Claimed economy: 44.1mpg | Actual economy: 33.4mpg

Love it or loath it, the British winter gives up all manner of surprises. Indeed, just last week, I had to endure wind, rain and snow, all in the same day. Okay, I know, it sounds like the prologue to a flashy Audi TV commercial, but things really have been grim on the UK's roads these past few weeks.

Thankfully, with its quattro all-wheel drive, the TT has taken it all in its stride, without so much as a slip or a slide. What's more, the Audi has had little trouble in getting the power down, which means I've actually been able to enjoy the 2.0-litre turbocharged engine, with its 230PS.

It's no secret that Audi knows a thing or two about four-wheel drive cars, but the TT's excellent handling has really impressed. In short, it's a superb and effortless car to drive quickly, with mountains of grip in the corners and excellent acceleration. This means you can push the automatic 'box into sport and slingshot out the corners with a satisfying rasp from the twin exhaust system. 

The TT also has very little in the way of bodyroll, which means you can enjoy spirited driving without your passenger feeling ill halfway around a corner. And that's always a bonus. After all, a classy coupe isn't much use if it looks (and smells) like a Wetherspoon's toilet at closing time.


Dan loves it when 'funny' people write on his car. No really, he finds it hilarious...

On the subject of making a mess, the wintry weather has left the TT's ‘glacier white’ paintwork in a right state. These past few weeks it has looked more like mud than glacier, with a dark covering of grime and salt. To make matters worse, I found some comedian had written on the back of my car - I wasn't sure if I should be angry about it or pleased they didn't write anything rude.

However, the TT's economy has been improving, albeit slowly, with an average of 33mpg, which has been obtained by tinkering with the Audi drive select system.  I've found a mixture of Efficiency and Comfort modes are the best for saving fuel and maintaining a decent ride comfort. 

As you might expect, with 20-inch wheels, the TT is a hard rider, but the Comfort mode takes the edge off of it and makes pot holes a manageable process. Indeed, on the motorway the TT is supremely comfortable and rivals some of the best hatches out there for smoothness and refinement. It's really good. 

This is all very good, I hear you say, but what about the downsides? Well, there is major one, which has emerged over the past few days - water entering the boot. You see, when you open the boot, in wet weather, the rain pours over the back seats and boot, which is rather annoying.

I've not yet worked out how this is happening because the drainage channels are clear and the boot trim looks fine. However, every time I open the boot, the water falls in. Next week I will take the TT to my local Audi garage to find out what's going on.

Wet, wet, wet

Our long term Audi TT has sprung a leak, with water pouring into the boot and rear seats. Can we fix it? No we can't.

Date: 6 February 2015 | Current mileage: 2645 | Claimed economy: 44.1mpg | Actual economy: 34.2mpg

Regular readers will remember that, just a few weeks ago, I was crowing about how great the TT was in the wintry weather. What was it I said? Something about the TT taking it all in its stride, or something. Well forget all that because things have started to go wrong.

It started about a week ago when I opened the boot after a heavy rain downpour and found two large puddles of water – one in the boot and another on the rear seats. At first, I thought the TT was leaking water, but after a few tests – which involved me pouring copious amounts of water over the rear of the car – I found that the plastic trim of the boot wasn’t fitted properly.

As a result the water wasn’t being diverted away from the car and down the drainage channels. Instead, the water was running off the boot and pouring straight into the rear seats and boot compartment. 

Being a coupe, the TT has a huge boot lid and holds a LOT of water, which meant everything got soaked. I tried wiping down the seals, checking the trim and looking for obvious fixes, but nothing worked. So, all out of ideas, I took it down to my local dealer to see if they could do something about my soggy Audi TT.


              A faulty part resulted in water pouring into the rear of the TT

To be fair to Peterborough Audi, they did their very best to solve the problem. Indeed, they diagnosed the fault with 30 seconds of lifting the boot. Apparently, the plastic around the drainage channels hadn't been fitted properly, which meant water flowed over the top of the unit rather than through it.

The parts needed to fix the TT were out of stock at Peterborough, which meant the TT needed to be taken back to base (Audi UK) to be fixed. It's a real shame, because I've become a big fan of the TT. Not only is it attractive and sleek car, but it is also great fun to drive. However, faults like this are not really acceptable, especially when you factor in that my TT has a list price of £45,000 when you include the extras.

The issue also raises a few important questions. Am I the only one to have experienced problems with the third generation TT? Or are there more people out there who have fallen foul to a similar faults? As always, let us know via Ask HJ and we'll add it to the good and bad section of our car reviews. 

Audi TT or Porsche Cayman?

With the Audi TT away having its water leak fixed, Dan turns his attention to its chief rival - the Porsche Cayman.

Date: 20 February 2015 | Current mileage: 2978 | Claimed economy: 44.1mpg | Actual economy: 32.4mpg

This is a somewhat strange update, because I've not actually driven the Audi TT all that much for the past two weeks. On the contrary, I've been away from my long termer, with it stuck at the service bay having its leaky boot fixed. As a result, I've been getting to know another German car rather well, the Porsche Cayman.

It could be argued that it isn't fair to compare the TT with the Cayman, after all, the Porsche is almost £10,000 more than that of the Audi. But a few of the option boxes on the TT order sheet and that margin falls rather dramatically, take KP64 VZH for example; it costs almost £35,000 and that's before you factor in the options, which means it wades rather deeply into Cayman territory. So, which car is best? 

Well, first off, I should point out that there are some fundamental differences in the mechanical layouts of the two cars, with the TT sporting a front-engined layout, while the Porsche uses a mid-engined set up. The Porsche also has more engine options, with the choice of a 2.7-litre unit (with 275PS) or a 3.4-litre engine with 325PS. In comparison, the TT only has one engine - a turbocharged 2.0-litre - with 230PS or 310PS. 

Yet, despite its limited choice of engines, the TT trumps the Porsche for outright torque, with its 230PS unit returning a thumping 370Nm compared to the entry-level Cayman's 290Nm. That means the Audi feels notably quicker when pushed out of the corners, with its four-wheel drive system providing better balance and grip than the Cayman's rear-wheel drive system. For sure, you can beef up your Cayman with the 3.4-litre engine (with 325PS and 370Nm of torque) but the full fat TTS will easily match it.


 The Cayman is comfortable and modern, but lacks the practicality and refinement of the TT

However, it isn't all about speed, because the Cayman is a lot more fun on a tight and twisty B road, with customisable handling that enables the tail of the Porsche to wag like an overexcited pup. The steering is also more responsive, which makes it a lot easier to connect with.

The TT is no slouch, but its steering and brakes lack the edge of the Cayman, which leave the Audi feeling a tad vague in the middle of a corner. I wouldn't go as far to say it compromises the handling, because the quattro system is excellent, but the steering is a little overpowered for my liking, which makes it difficult to get a proper understanding of its limits.

However, when it comes to practicality, the Cayman falls short. Not only is the TT larger inside, but it also gets an extra pair of (small) seats, which can carry children, small adults or extra luggage. For some this won't matter in the slightest, but being in my mid-30s I like to carry the occasional set of golf clubs and luggage for weekends away. 

I can't deny that the Porsche Cayman is a great sports car though; its more involving, more fun and has two great engines with outstanding soundtracks. However, for a daily runner, I prefer my cars to be a little more refined, with a decent boot and a few more creature comforts. As a result, I'd choose the Audi TT over the Porsche Cayman, simply because I'd struggle to live with the latter on a daily basis. But, if I was in the market for a second car, I'd be seriously tempted to buy the Porsche.

Warning: You are about to be distracted

The Audi TT is at the forefront of in-car connectivity. But do we really want news headlines and social media sent to us on the road?

Date: 6 March 2015 | Current mileage: 3507 | Claimed economy: 44.1mpg | Actual economy: 33.8mpg

In-car connectivity has come on a long way from the rubbish handsfree systems of the past. These days you can usually pair your car and phone in under a minute. It’s a far cry from the old days of plastic leads and headsets.

I always had a personal hatred of the Bluetooth headsets. They were awful. In fact, I think zoologists had more luck breeding giant pandas than I did pairing mobile phones with those stupid little Bluetooth earpieces. And even when they did work, which wasn't often, you could never hear what the person on the other end was saying. 

Thankfully my Audi TT has brilliant in-car connectivity. Simply activate the Bluetooth on your phone, select pairing on the infotainment menu and you're done. It takes about 30 seconds and you only have to do it once, because both the car and phone remember the pairing settings and connect automatically each time you enter the car. 

In addition to the Bluetooth phone connectivity (which is fitted as standard) my TT also has mobile internet. The system is called Audi Connect and is part of the optional navigation package, which adds a rather substantial £1795 to the list price. However, Audi Connect is a swish piece of kit, with traffic updates, parking information and weather reports. It can also find the cheapest fuel prices in your local area and lets you update Facebook and Twitter with a speech to text function.


Online weather reports are handy, but sometimes Audi Connect can be a little distracting

Simple to use, Audi Connect is great for getting data on the move. It also gives the cabin its own dedicated wifi service, which lets your passengers use the internet. On the downside, all of that data comes from your mobile phone signal, which means it can punish your phone bill as the TT (and your friends) download apps, news and music. 

There's also another problem, in the sense that Audi Connect is a bit too simple to use. Indeed, with streaming news and weather maps, it's all too easy to become distracted as all of that information is delivered right into the instrument binnacle. 

Infotainment systems are usually found in the centre of the dashboard, which means you have to make to look down to read them. However, with the TT's virtual cockpit, you don't have to do anything. Now this might sound perfect for keeping your eyes on the road, but the opposite happens and you can spend a bit too long looking away from the road. 

Perhaps I'm being harsh, but I really can't quite get my head around why I would want to update my Facebook account while driving along. Likewise, do I really want to read about David Cameron's economy update as I potter along the M25? If the system was restricted to when the car was stationary, I'd probably agree with its brilliance, but I've found it all a bit distracting. 

It's time to talk about the economy

After more than 4000 miles, Dan turns his attention to fuel economy. Is the Audi TT good value or is it another Real MPG nightmare?

Date: 20 March 2015 | Current mileage: 4225 | Claimed economy: 44.1mpg | Actual economy: 36.6mpg

It’s been a busy few weeks for both the Audi TT and myself, clocking up 700 odd miles with events, car launches and a brief holiday to Durham. As a result, I’ve found myself becoming increasingly interested in the TT’s fuel economy.

Now regular readers will know that I’ve stayed away from talking about fuel economy, simply because you don’t buy a TT 2.0 TFSI quattro for sky high efficiency. This is a sports coupe, after all, not a family hybrid or three-cylinder hatch. But, that said, I guess the economy numbers are still worth noting, from time to time.

During my five months with the TT I’ve averaged 31mpg, which is a long way short of Audi’s claimed 44.3mpg. However, if I’m honest, I’ve not been all that concerned because I’ve been enjoying myself too much. Pleasure comes at a price, doesn't it? Well, not necessarily....

During the past 700 miles I’ve been utilising the TT's eco drive mode. Admittedly, this has numbed the performance, with higher gearing and less torque, but the result has been impressive with 36.6mpg. That's not bad over 700 miles and has saved me a few quid in the process. What's more, on the motorway, the reduced performance is hardly noticeable.


Big ‘bling’ wheels are the only way for the TT, according to Dan. Although he is from Essex…

In fact, cruising along in eco mode is quite fun, with a firm but responsive ride that provides little problems over a single 200+ mile trip. What’s more, you can always get a boost of power by flicking the automatic ‘box into sport, which is perfect for overtaking, without pummelling the fuel economy.

I've also noticed that there are a lot more third-generation Audi TTs on the road, which is nice and disappointing in equal measure. You see, for the first few months of my loan, I was one of the first people to have a TT in the UK, which I rather enjoyed. Indeed, parked up on a high street, the Audi would attract a small wondrous crowd, with camera phones being drawn to capture TT's aggressive design and sweeping indicators. Sadly, that's not the case anymore.

The TT still manages to turns heads, thanks to its Glacier White metallic paintwork and 20-inch alloy wheels, but it isn't as unique as it once was. And on the subject of eye catching things, I've come to the conclusion that bigger wheels are better for the TT. I've seen a few cars on 18-inch wheels, but think it looks a little naked with them. If you (or anyone you know) is thinking of buying the TT, then it has to be 19 or 20s all the way.

Not only do 20-inch alloy wheels look superb, but the ride is fine too. For sure, pot holes might give you a jolt, but for the most part the Audi is smooth and comfortable. Just watch out for the kerbs, because they'll make a mighty mess of those 10 polished spokes.

The generation game

The Audi TT has changed a lot since the compact and cute styling of the Mk1, but has it really improved?

Date: 3 April 2015 | Current mileage: 5003 | Claimed economy: 44.1mpg | Actual economy: 36.2mpg

Did you know that Audi has a warehouse in the UK filled with classics? No? Me neither. Yet, hidden away in the UK there’s a building with 70 cars, spanning all eras of Germanic “vorsprung durch technik.” What's more, each one is contained in its own little 'air bubble' (a big tent, pumped with air) to ensure it remains in tip top condition. 

Sounds great, doesn't it? The problem is Audi will not disclose the location of the warehouse. It’s top secret, apparently, to protect it from thieves and (more importantly) feral car journalists. However, after much pleading and whining, the nice people at the Audi press office succumbed to my requests and agreed to send me one of their cars. And not just any car. A Mk1 TT quattro Sport.

The quattro Sport was a limited edition TT that was launched back in 2005. Just a few hundred were ever sold in the UK and they were developed by Audi’s sports division, quattro GmbH. Around 80kg lighter than a normal TT, the quattro Sport has sports suspension and more power, with the 1.8 turbocharged engine boosted from 225PS to 240PS.

I tested the TT quattro Sport nine years ago and have fond memories of its handling and acceleration. Back then, it could complete the 0-62mph dash in 5.9 sec, while the two tone paintwork and 18-inch wheels give it sharper and more purposeful appearance. But how does it compare to the Mk3 TT?

_DSC1657 (1) IMG_8090

The Mk1 interior (right) still feels fresh, although it is no match for the brilliance of the Mk3 cabin

The first difference that strikes you between the two cars is the size; the Mk3 is eight inches longer and wider than the original, which makes it look a little bloated when parked next to the streamlined Mk1. However, those extra dimensions provide a larger and more comfortable interior. Indeed, the Mk3 is a huge improvement over the original TT with larger seats, more head and legroom and an infotainment system that outstrips the Mk1 on every level. 

The Mk1 feels dated, with old school bucket seats, stripped down interior (no rear seats here) and a sea of cheap plastics. Infotainment is also basic, with just a few digital displays and a CD system that feels like it has been installed by a work experience lad from Halfords. 

However, while the Mk1 feels every inch an '90s child on the inside, it is still a match for a modern sports coupes when it comes to performance. In fact, weighing just 1395kg, with 320Nm torque from just 2300rpm, the Mk1 comes rather close to matching the Mk3 for pace in a straight line and in the corners, which makes this update somewhat problematic.

You see, when comparing old with new, car journalists reserve your compliments for the latest model, which usually outshines the older car, but that isn't the case for the Mk1 TT quattro Sport. Admittedly, the Mk3 is marginally quicker, but you have to push the latest TT rather hard to top the quattro Sport.

It could be argued that the quattro Sport is not reflective of a 'standard' Mk1 TT, due to its modifications but I disagree. If anything, it reflects the unlocked potential of the Mk1 TT. What's more, based on a 1990s' design, it's testament to the car that it can match its modern equivalent for performance. What's more, £6000 will bag you decent Mk1 TT quattro Sport, albeit with 100,000 miles on the clock. That's less than the price of a handful of options on the Mk3...


The last post for the Audi TT

After six months and almost 6000 miles, Dan posts his final thoughts on the Audi TT.

Date: 17 April 2015 | Current mileage: 5945 | Claimed economy: 44.1mpg | Actual economy: 36.0mpg

The time has come to give back the keys and say farewell to our Audi TT. Over the past six months we've clocked up almost 6000 miles and grown rather attached to its aggressive exterior and potent 230PS 2.0-litre petrol engine. 

Yet, despite its sporty prowess, the TT hasn't punished us at the fuel pumps, with the Audi returning an average 36.0mpg - just 8.4mpg short of its official figure. That's not bad, especially when you factor in how eager the TT is to be driven hard and fast.

On the subject of driving quick, the TT has been more than up to the task of providing high-octane thrills, with smile inducing acceleration and plentiful overtaking, thanks to an impressive 370Nm of torque. What's more, come rain, wind or shine, the quattro system has always delivered, with bags of grip in the corners and perfect balance under hard acceleration. 

Admittedly, I've touched the TT's limits on an icy B road and in the middle of a challenging road in the rain, but I'm confident that these slight momentary mishaps would have been solved by a good set of winter tyres. What's more, the TT is packed with electronic aids with the ESP proving particularly useful for returning balance to the four-wheel system, should you overstep it mid-way through a slippery corner. 


Despite its leaky boot, the Audi TT has impressed with outstanding handling and performance

I've not been to blame for all of the TT's issues though. The TT sprung a water leak half way through its loan period and had to be sent back to Audi to be repaired. The offending item was a faulty piece of boot trim, which was diverting standing water into the boot and rear seats, every time you lifted the boot lid. 

Water leak aside, the TT has pretty much done everything that's been asked of it. I've also become a big fan of the virtual cockpit system, which is standard on all TT models. The system is essentially a screen that sits behind the steering wheel and doubles up as a instrument display and navigation map. It's a superb bit of kit that makes life so much easier, with crystal clear displays and driving instructions. 

However, to get the most out the virtual cockpit (and to get the navigation) you have to pay for the Technology Pack, which costs £1795 and includes a media juke box - with 10Gb for music - and a speaker upgrade. It's not cheap, but a price worth paying if you want to unlock the TT's full potential.

But despite the costly options, it is the basics of the TT that has won me over the most. The TT is terrific fun to drive, hugely capable in the corners and practical with a decent sized boot. In fact, I can honestly say this has been the most fun I've had with a long-termer. What's more, with rugged good looks and a burbley twin exhaust, I think the TT might have finally banished its hair dresser references, once and for all.