Those who can’t abide the tardy manoeuvres of a full-blown sedan will feel right at home behind the wheel of the third-gen 2017/2017 Audi TT Coupe. The German carmaker has taken everything right about its solid predecessor – bold design, great handling, and a dash of power – and put it in a frame that’s roughly the same size, but leagues lighter, thanks to judicious usage of aluminium and steel.
The result? An extremely agile coupe that nails the tightest corners, while maintaining top-notch performance and comfort on the straights.
The 1.8L TSFI S Tronic variant we drove delivered plenty of verve to match even the slightest impetus of the foot. It managed its century sprint within the promised – and respectable – 7 seconds. Going through gears on the 7-speed transmission is a smooth, well-tuned experience, with none of the infuriating lag some automatic boxes are guilty of introducing.
If you’re sold on the handling, opt for the more powerful 2.0L variant that drops the zero to 100kmh to a breezy 5.3 seconds. Want that wind in your hair? There’s a roadster version you can enquire after.
We happened to drive the coupe during the recent “Singapore winter”, which put its wet-road handling to the test. Any initial prudence in taking tight corners and turns was soon discarded. But, as much as the technical triumphs are refreshing for a car at the relatively humble price point of $215,000, much more has to be said about what’s inside that spanking new cabin.
A RIDE TO CALL HOME
Where the TT Coupe surprises is in its upgraded, posh interior, where fine workmanship and a revamped, high-tech console can convince you you’re in a full-fledged sports car. Sumptuous leather seats and a hand-stitched grip on the steering wheel shore up the tactile front. There’s an aviation-themed aesthetic that renders it futuristic, yet sensible (see inlays). There’s also a wealth of legroom for you and your plus one, courtesy of an extended wheelbase.
Most laudable is the visible and concerted effort to leapfrog the driver’s interface. For example, electronic climate controls are now on twist knobs located smack in the middle of the air-conditioning vents. That’s both seamlessly intuitive and aesthetically clever. What could be potentially a hot mess of switches and instrumentation has been shrunk to a neat row of analogue toggles and a flat “joystick” disc that can also accurately pick up characters traced by the finger. You won’t need to pore through instruction manuals to make sense of these.
Most other functions have been subsumed within the electronic user interface, which now sits in the dash area. Here, a high-performance screen, powered by zippy hardware for a seamless experience, replaces the conventional analogue dials. It makes a huge amount of sense: no more sneaking sideway glances or battling the screen glare of a centralised infotainment panel.
This is also among the first cars we felt fully comfortable “talking” to – the on-board speech recognition is accurate, making hands-free satnav usage a breeze. Granted, some integration with the traffic monitoring services is remiss, but that’s something on the software side that may be included eventually.
THE RIGHT TOOL
So is this joyride practical for everyone? Probably not. The virtual dash is so driver-centric that the shotgun passenger won’t even be able to see which radio station is dropping the good tunes.
The space in the back is really just masquerading as rear seating. Seriously, those who fly coach probably enjoy more legroom than in the aft of the TT Coupe. Nay, you’ll want to fold those seats down for extra trunk space, and not ever have to worry about ferrying inebriated friends home and risking the precious alcantara seats.
Everything about the TT Coupe suggests that it was tuned for maximum enjoyment by one person, tops two – and that’s absolutely the best reason to get it. 281 Alexandra Road. Tel: 6836-2223.