Audi TT Coupe TDI: Farewell

  • Our time with the Audi TT Coupe TDI comes to an end
  • Incredibly capable car but didn't get under our skin and exhibited the odd niggle
  • Performance and economy improved with time, and TT did all that was asked of it 

Sometimes it’s really hard to say goodbye to a long-term test car. Even those that don’t win group tests, don’t shine on perfect launch roads and those that you just don’t have high expectations of manage to get under your skin once you’ve spent some time with them. Some have even led to me putting my money where my mouth is and actually buying them.

Fundamentally the Audi TT is a cracking car. Without a doubt it has the best cabin of this, and frankly some more expensive, sectors and I never tired of that Virtual Cockpit display – even if my phone did struggle to communicate with it properly to ensure I could take full advantage of its Google maps and connected ability.

The heated seat and climate controls, built into the air vents themselves appear to be a moment of genius, which leaves you wondering why other cars haven’t followed suit. I’m confident it’s a technology we’ll see spread in forthcoming years.

It proved practical too, carrying bulky items with ease and even managing to squeeze in some other passengers on occasion. We specced ours exactly how we wanted it, so it looked almost perfect. If only the non-S line suspension (a wise choice if you don’t have a cheap chiropractor on speed dial) allowed it to sit a little lower, like Tim’s TTS.

Inside the Supersports seats initially caused consternation, but they looked equally as good as the outside, and the Bang & Olufsen stereo upgrade was true quality. Even if we thought we were hearing things and suspected a blown speaker.

Problems weren’t absent with this car though, from the time it magic’d away its coolant to the nights it was pointing its optional Matrix LED headlight at the stars rather than the road. Some of the electrical issues, usually surrounding the Virtual Cockpit display, sorted themselves but these sorts of niggles shouldn’t be present on a £40,075 car.

Performance was good too, the Coupe seemingly getting faster as the miles accrued, and even the 44mpg economy was approaching something borderline acceptable for a diesel sports car.

But, despite all of this, the day it left Bauer Towers wasn’t one of remorse. There’s no doubt it was a very, very good car, but for me personally it just wasn’t one of life's greats.

Mileage: 7,086 miles                                                      Economy: 44.0mpg (calculated)


Eleventh Report: Tripping the light fantastic

Audi TT Matrix lights

When we ordered our Audi TT Coupe we added the excellent Matrix LED headlights. With much of our tenure of this diesel coupe spanning the summer months, we hadn’t had much use for this excellent – if pricey (£945) – upgrade, but with winter setting in there’s been more call for them.

This uses a series of LED bulbs to individually - and almost instantly - alter the light pattern of the headlights when operating on full beam to provide maximum illumination without dazzling other road users. It’s a fantastic system, and one that we’ve enjoyed on countless other models.

However, Adam took the TT the other weekend and while demonstrating the brilliance of the TT’s Matrix lights to his wife was surprised when she failed to feign excitement. Mainly because our TT’s right headlamp was directing its beam up to the sky – while blanking out portions for oncoming traffic – and illuminating the treeline rather than the blacktop.

Suspecting it may be a sensor requiring a simple reboot of the car, I had hoped by the next time I slipped into the TT it would be rectified. Sadly not, as the TT continued to aim its light between branches, blinding the owls and disturbing the bats, as I sailed past on my way home.

Mileage: 6,814 miles                                                       Economy: 43.9mpg (calculated)

Tenth Report: TTS Comparisons

Audi TT and TTS

So the TT is continuing to confuse. After checking the tyre pressures and resetting the Tyre Pressure Monitoring System, it seems there’s no puncture (slow or otherwise) after all. Great news, since replacing just one of our Audi’s tyres would have been borderline bankrupting.

The sat-nav seems to have sorted itself out too, since all of a sudden it’s worked out where the car actually is and replicates its position on the Virtual Cockpit with precision. Which means I’ve been able to just get on with actually enjoying the car.

And I’m still beguiled by how good this car looks. In fact, when parked next to CAR's TTS Coupe, which is finished in the same shade of white and wearing the same 20-inch rims, our cheaper and slower example was almost indistinguishable. Save for the chrome on the grille and the extra tailpipes at the rear there’s no visual difference.

Well, as long as you ignore our car’s loftier stance, courtesy of its Sport – rather than S line – suspension that is. I’m sure, from my experience in the TTS roadster, they’ll feel dramatically different on the road too, the adaptive dampers on the TTS smoothing out the imperfections ours entirely fails to mask.

That and the small matter of 125bhp of course. But for pose value our £5,185 (with matching alloy wheels) cheaper diesel model suffices perfectly, and I never fail to look back for one more glance as I walk away from it.

Mileage: 6,498 miles                                                       Economy: 43.8mpg (calculated)

Ninth Report: Practicality

Audi TT boot

I’ve been testing our Audi TT’s practicality again. Not content with filling it with soft drinks for my forthcoming wedding, along with squeezing a fiancee’s friend onto the rear bench, I’ve been making use of the car’s 305-litre boot space for other items.

First up was a pair of wheels for my Vauxhall VX220 project, needed for engine mapping, which were slid neatly into place. Of course the rear seat backrests had to be folded down to accommodate them, but the 17-inch wheels (and tyres) fitted neatly in place without drama. In fact the boot’s dimensions were perfect for holding them tightly in place, the rims being wedged perfectly between boot sides and the rear of the front seats.

And then, without the preferred campervan availability of a VW California, the TT was loaded with a tent, airbed, bedding (with plenty of pillows to stop me snoring and my fiancée smothering me in my snorting sleep), spare clothes, and coolbox with extra supplies, we set off for a night camping. This time the seats were left in place, though we did have to remove the parcel shelf to accommodate the coolbox’s height.

What’s more, our Audi TT looked by far the most stylish piece of transport on the campsite. Even if its white paint did blend in rather too well with the octagenarian’s motorhomes and Swift Sprites that littered the pitches surrounding us.

Mileage: 6,153 miles                                                      Economy: 43.7mpg (calculated)

Eighth Report: Road trip

Audi TT Newcastle

Took the TT on a trip to Newcastle for a mixture of work and pleasure recently. Of course, it proved a near perfect companion and it’s safe to say that my back (and rest of my body) is now entirely used to the driving positon the cabin and Supersports seats demand.

In fact, with the temperature climbing beyond 20 degrees Celsius, the climate control blasting out ice cold air and the Bang & Olufsen ICE banging out my favourite tunes, the TT felt far better than the other option – a train. Which would inevitably be delayed and habituated by a drunk tramp. Who would of course choose the seat next to mine for his stench to permeate into.

I certainly wasn’t late in the TT, even on the frustrating two-lane sections of the A1, where the Audi’s 380Nm of torque (available from 1,750rpm) made short work of any overtaking opportunity that was presented to it. And despite the considerable progress made, economy for the trip was indicated at a shade over 50mpg. Of course the long-term average is a little slower to climb, but we’re tantalisingly close to the 44mpg mark now.

Sadly you can only get tantalisingly close to the angel of the North monument unless you’re on foot, so my plan to get a shot of these two modern design icons next to each other ended up with the picture above. Still, it’s better than nothing.

Mileage: 5,777 miles                                                      Economy: 43.7mpg 

Seventh Report: Sat-nav hindsight

Audi TT sat nav failure

Along with my colleagues, I love the Audi TT’s cabin. There’s no finer-designed mainstream car interior available today – once you’ve experienced the air vent-mounted climate controls and instrument binnacle’s digital display you’ll wonder why more makers haven’t already done the same. 

The screen is certainly the most impressive aspect, allowing you to toggle between various sets of information and views, with clean, crisp graphics a particular highlight. Although it's aimed at the driver it's often commented upon by passengers too. I love it, despite having issues getting my iPhone to talk properly to it and take advantage of the full connectivity possibilities.

But recently it’s developed a particularly annoying fault; the sat-nav shows the car around 150-200 yards behind its actual position. Sometimes this lack of accuracy, especially when cornering, places me in a field or even in a house between an adjoining road to the one I’m actually travelling on.

At first I found it funny, especially when I knew where I was going but now I’ve missed the occasional junction and suffered consequential delays, I'm not so laissez faire about it. Specifically it zooms in at strategic points to make the next manoeuvre clearer but in doing so it loses the car icon and actual road you’re meant to be turning into. Relying on the additional turn-by-turn graphics solves the issue but hindsight is a wonderful thing. 

Mileage: 5,333 miles  Economy: 43.4mpg (calculated)


Sixth Report: Sailing close to the wind

Audi TT sailing

Went sailing with Volvo the other day, and due to logistics I had to take the TT rather than a Swedish saloon. The Audi looked a little out of place in the sea of Volvos in the car park of Hayling Island Sailing Club, but the TT tried its hardest to fit in – and as such seems to be all at sea.

Battling traffic, and shipping forecast-worthy weather, on the way down to Sussex the Audi detected a drop in pressure in one of the tyres, the TPMS warning flashing onto the dashboard with a startling ‘bong’. Hard acceleration and braking, while waiting to find a safe place to stop, revealed no wandering or squirming – and sure enough when stopped all four corners appeared equal.

Checking with a compressor and gauge showed only a few PSI difference across the Pirellis, and with TPMS reset I’ve yet to see another warning. Still, even with this car’s propensity for erroneous warnings, which really detract from an otherwise superb digital instrument setup, I’ll be keeping a close eye on it all. Especially when a replacement 255/30R20 Pirelli P Zero will cost around £200. 

At least where money's concerned, fuel economy seems to be slowly creeping up to a figure approaching something more acceptable for a diesel coupe.

Mileage: 4,441 miles         Economy: 43.1mpg (calculated)

Fifth Report: Top down fun

Audi TTS roadster

So last week I swapped my practical and frugal TT Coupe Ultra for a a fast, fun and topless TTS roadster instead and it proved illuminating - and not just because of the bright yellow paint. 

For a start it proves, that even with large wheels (19-inch alloys were fitted to the yellow TTS rather than the 20-inch rims found on our TT Ultra) a TT can ride well. Thanks to the adaptive dampers (Magnetic Ride) that come as standard on the TTS but would add £1,095 to our Coupe, lumps and bumps are smothered with aplomb. My spine reckons it would be money well spent.

That said, at least our Coupe doesn't spend cash as quickly as the TTS, thanks to superior fuel economy - even if it's not as high as I'd have hoped. But the yellow roadster is far faster, both officially and in the real world. A closed road meant an unknown detour was called for to make a dinner date. The quattro four wheel drive and 305bhp meant I arrived in time for the starter...  

It doesn't give anything away dynamically either, with no detectable scuttle shake and remarkably sharp handling. That fabric top drops quickly, while on the move (up to around 30mph) too so you can take advantage of the slightest amount of sunshine between showers. I love the way the climate control remembers your roof-up and roof-down settings too, so you don't suddenly overheat when it's raised.

But while my Coupe stands out, thanks to those 20-inch rims and Glacier White metallic paint, this bright yellow TTS did so even more. In fact so eye-catching was the car, that overnight a colleague had it stolen off her drive. Thanks to its tracker system the ending is almost as rosy as the paint hue, and the TTS is back safely with its maker. 

Mileage: 3,728 miles                       Economy: 42.9mpg (calculated)

Fourth Report: Practical Coupe

Audi TT boot

Took the Audi TT to Costco at the weekend. Clearly not the most obvious choice for a visit to a bulk buy store, but undeneath those sleek lines the Audi TT hides some serious practicality.

In theory it's a four-seater, but you'll never use those rear pair of chairs unless you have small children or are desperate to contort a friend into lifelong pain. They're only certified for people under 145cm (four feet, nine inches) anyway, and even then they sit so far back you'll have to watch their heads when slamming the tailgate shut.

However they fold flat, and that increases load space from an acceptable 305 litres (a VW Golf is just 380 litres) to a much more practical 712 litres. That massive hatch makes for a sizable opening too, though the high load lip does require some lugging of heavy items up and over it. 

Faced with squeezing a wedding's worth of soft drinks into its boot, at the till I was concerned just how easily our 172 litres of Pepsi, lemonade and orange juice was going to fit. I needn't have worried, since the TT swallowed that little lot with some space to spare.

Sure, the rest of Costco's customers probably thought our Audi a rather unusual sight in the car park, but as AVJ is constantly proving, you don't have to forego substance in the search for style. 

Mileage: 2,945 miles                       Economy: 42.7mpg (calculated)

Third Report: Seat solving problems

TT seats

Previously I mentioned the Audi TT’s seats were causing me real problems, my back aching more than having a tooth drilled at the dentist. Eventually it was all colleagues could ask me about whenever they saw me;

‘How are the seats now?’

‘Are you walking funny?’

‘What’s wrong with your back?’

And then it stopped. I had been making a conscious effort to alter my driving position to suit the TT’s otherwise superb cabin, but after a while kind of forgot to make any concessions. Either my back’s become more resilient, my muscle memory’s adapted to the ideal positon or there’s been a miracle. I suspect I’m just getting used to it.

Which is fine for me, but my fiancée still complains of a numb bum when in the passenger seat on longer trips. Like the one we have coming up to Scotland to see friends, family and the Edinburgh festival. The Scottish capital might be full of comedy in August, but the ear bashing I’ll get from the passenger seat means I’m reluctant to take the TT on the trip.

To add insult to that injury the passenger door speaker for the Bang & Olufsen stereo started waffling and distorting at high volumes last week too. It’s made all the more noticeable since at all other times the sound is superb.

I can’t think of an instance that would have caused it either (for now I’ll attribute it to staff writer Adam, who’s all about the bass) so it looks like a trip to the local dealer, not bonny Scotland, is on the cards. 

Mileage: 2,035 miles                       Economy: 42.5mpg (calculated)


Second Report: First Impressions

Read our second report on the Audi TT here


First Report: Welcome

Read our first report on the Audi TT here