From launch there are three engines taking care of Audi TT Roadster performance – one diesel with 181bhp, the 2-litre TFSi petrol with 227bhp and the hot TTS’s 2-litre TFSi boosted further to 306bhp.
At the ‘bottom’ of the TT range is the turbocharged 2-litre petrol engine, which produces 227bhp at 4,500rpm, alongside a healthy 370Nm of torque from just 1,600rpm. Lasting until 4,300rpm, that gives the Audi TT roadster a strong spread of performance, and while the 0-62mph time of 6.2 seconds (5.6 seconds for the quattro S tronic automatic) is impressive, it’s the mid-range flexibility that leaves the lasting impression.
Certainly there’s always plenty of urge for overtaking, and reaching the legal limit - from a motorway slip-road for example - is deceptively quick. The engine is smooth and refined too, though not particularly loaded with character.
Driven back-to-back with the TTS though, it still feels purposefully quick – choose this ‘entry-level’ car and you’ll never feel short-changed. That said, the figures do not lie, and the TTS with its extra 80bhp accelerates up to one second quicker from 0-62mph (5.2 seconds for the manual, and 4.9 seconds for the S tronic). Be in no doubt this is a quick car, though it only boasts 10Nm more than the entry-level car, and the same as the 2.0-litre Ultra Diesel.
With standard quattro four-wheel drive it can deploy that performance without drama though, whether you’re travelling in a straight line or turning a corner.
For now there’s only one diesel engine available in the Audi TT roadster; the 2-litre Ultra Diesel with 181bhp and 380Nm of torque, which accelerates from 0-62mph in 7.3 seconds. At launch this car is only available with front-wheel drive, though later we can expect a quattro model to join the line-up.
The wall of torque, which comes on stream from just 1,750rpm, means mid-range acceleration is a match for its more powerful petrol brethren. And while the Ultra Diesel may not be the most natural choice of powerplant for this Roadster, it suits the car’s relaxed, long-legged but brisk nature. The incredible economy (65.7mpg) and efficiency (114g/km) isn’t a bad compromise either.
Both six-speed, there’s a manual and S tronic automatic available. Save for an over-sized gearknob and slightly long throw, the manual is pleasant enough to use and has well-spread ratios. The same goes for the S tronic, with clean, quick shifts and only an occasional propensity to over-drop cogs when requesting hard acceleration. Paddle shifts on the back of the steering wheel do the job of changing gears manually, though don’t have the tactility of some rivals’ systems.
Regardless of whether you choose a front-wheel drive or quattro four-wheel drive Audi TT Roadster, you’ll be impressed with the grip levels on offer from the forgiving MQB chassis. Even the front-wheel drive cars hang on tenaciously through the corners, and you can really lean on its abilities. If it does break away from you it’s safe and progressive understeer (the front begins to wash wide) – if only the progressive steering offered a little more early feedback for when the front rubber was about to relinquish its grip.
Clearly if you do decide to drive the quattro instead, the grip levels are even higher and you can carry extra speed into a given corner. Audi’s engineering bosses talk of a neutral, and even slightly over-steering (tail-happy) chassis should you want it. Truth be told it feels less nose heavy than previous models, but steering from the rear takes massive commitment and never feels particularly natural.
If you can afford the sporty TTS then Magnetic Ride adaptive damping is standard, and constantly adapts to the road conditions or user requirements – the Drive Select allows owners to toggle between Comfort, Auto, Dynamic, Efficiency and Individual modes on the move. You can completely turn the ESP system off in the TT, though poor weather meant we opted for the half-way house ESP Sport mode only. It still allows an entertaining amount of slip without allowing the car, or more specifically the driver, to get carried away.
But it’s not a proper sportscar – a Porsche Boxster stands head and shoulders above the TT Roadster for driver involvement and feedback – and visceral thrills are not its A-game. It’s a car, especially in TTS quattro guise, to flatter its driver. No matter their behind-the-wheel ability. For many this composed, assured and capable nature will be perfect for their needs, and on an unfamiliar backroad the confidence it inspires is addictive, if not all that exciting or enveloping.
If there’s one single component of the Audi TT experience that will sell the car, it’s the cabin. It is a genuine masterclass in minimalist quality design, and it all centres around the driver-focused Audi Virtual Cockpit display.
By siting the main screen in front of the driver, rather than at the top, or inlaid in the middle, of the centre console it left the designers free to sculpt a clean and free-flowing moulding unlike anything else. Combining the climate controls into the centre dials of the air-vents themselves is a stroke of genius too.
Sure, passengers might bemoan the lack of interaction available to them, but from the driver’s seat it all makes sense. The ability to alter the presentation of the instruments behind the steering wheel, with a mixture of mapping, audio, trip figures and of course essential speed and engine readouts is a neat trick. TTS models get a bespoke layout option for performance driving with a central rev-counter and numerical speedometer.
It may take a few minutes to familiarise yourself with the MMI touch controller, and steering wheel mounted controls, in a bid to navigate through the various option and parameters of the display’s functions and menus, but for long-term owners this won’t be an issue beyond day two with the car.
Fine detailing and an un-surpassed (at this price point) level of quality abound too, from the intricate stitching found on the steering wheel airbag boss to the micro-thin panel gaps for the trim. The flat-bottomed steering wheel isn’t overly obvious in its mis-shape either, and though it boasts a multitude of controls it both looks good and feels pleasant to grip.
Only the oversized gearknob, especially prevalent on the six-speed manual, drops the cabin down from anything but a perfect ten. Certainly where the first generation Audi TT and TT Roadster redefined the benchmark for interior quality, the third generation TT is doing the same.
This is not designed as a hardcore sports car, so it’s no surprise that Audi TT Roadster comfort is rather impressive. Certainly for a car to cover big miles in, any one of the TT Roadster offerings would excel at the job, with a well-damped ride and quiet cabin.
That roof is certainly well-insulated, and even in heavy rain, it is nearly complete in its ability to shield the cabin from unwanted noise so often associated with fabric-roofed vehicles. Being able to retract it at up to 31mph in just ten seconds ensures you’re never caught short whether the sun is suddenly appearing or the rain is pouring down.
Take advantage of the open-air experience and you’ll be glad of the heated seats, which now include a head-level heating element which blows warm air from just below the headrest onto the nape of your neck. Like the heated seats themselves, it’s all controlled by the intuitive and masterfully designed air-vents on the dashboard, and offers three stages of warmth.
If you can, opt for the Supersports seats too, the adjustable side bolsters ensuring they can hug the figure of the leanest or lardiest occupants, and combined with the steering wheel and other seat adjustments means a perfect driving position is easy to obtain.