Audi TT 3-2 Quattro S-Tronic

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Keywords: Audi TT 3-2 Quattro S-Tronic

Description: Can our current class favourite hold on to its crown here?

When the first pictures of the second-generation TT appeared, many people were left rather underwhelmed. It looked like a toned-down version of its predecessor.

Luckily, it’s one of those cars that is more attractive in the metal. This TT is our own long-term test model (as is the Golf GTI Edition 30), and has lost none of its ability to turn heads, even though it’s been with us for nearly a year.

Up close, the lines are taut and lean, suggesting that the TT has been on a diet – which it has. The aluminium frame means that even with a heavy V6 up front and four-wheel drive underneath, the Audi weighs 130kg less than the BMW, at 1,430kg.

Back on the surface, the detailing is superb. The metal fuel cap, 3D tail-light clusters, perfectly integrated pop-up spoiler and 18-inch Turbine alloy wheels all add to the sense of occasion.

And with a large rear hatch and maximum boot capacity of 700 litres, it’s more practical than you might imagine. Provided, that is, you want to carry luggage, rather than people. So cramped are the back seats that they will barely cope with small children. And they won’t enjoy the claustrophobic rear cabin – or the ferocious acceleration the TT is capable of.

The 3.2-litre V6 doesn’t match the firepower of the 135i – it delivers 247bhp and 320Nm of torque, and so trails its rival by 55bhp and 80Nm respectively. But it has less weight to shift, while the quattro 4WD delivers exceptional traction and the S tronic double clutch gearbox provides instantaneous shifts. As a result, the TT sprinted from 0-60mph in only 5.7 seconds. The trouble is, there is no turbo to beef up mid-range torque, so its in-gear times weren’t as good as the Golf’s.

But don’t let this concern you, as what’s most important is that this is a great engine to use. It provides oodles of pace, a surprisingly raspy note (it’s particularly loud and tuneful from the outside) and immediate throttle response.

What lets it down is the transmission, which doesn’t like low speeds. It’s jerky, then surges forward suddenly as the clutch bites. The system isn’t as mechanically involving as a manual box, either. Yet once up and running, the S tronic is magnificent – as a passenger, the only way to detect shifts is to watch the driver’s fingers pull the paddles or listen to the powerplant.

The styling, engine and drivetrain aren’t the only attributes that took the TT to coupé class victory in our New Car Honours 2007 (Issue 971). The real revelation is the way it drives.

It’s sharp and inspires confidence. The steering is better than the BMW’s, and helped by the fact it’s lower to the ground. The Audi feels more planted and secure on the road. It turns in hard, grips well and is more informative than the 135i and Golf. We’d specify the £1,150 optional Magnetic Dampers, though. They work brilliantly, not only making the TT even more dynamic to drive, but boosting absorbency in the softer setting. Without them, the ride is not as relaxing as it could be.

Tyre noise is also intrusive at speed, although you’ll be too busy admiring the cockpit to care. Yet again, it’s a work of art, carefully designed and beautifully executed. It doesn’t have the purity of the original TT’s, and we’d like the steering wheel to come out more and the seats to cup your thighs better. But such minor flaws are forgotten in a cabin that makes you feel this good – especially when it gets heated leather seats as standard.

WHY: Our current favourite two-door, the second-generation TT is as good to drive as it is to look at.

While the TT’s V6 isn’t renowned as a particularly economical engine, our long-term model is running very sweetly, with 25,000 miles on the clock. A 27.8mpg average is close to the 30.1mpg combined figure.

Few cars at any price hold their value better than a TT. It retains 59.6 per cent after three years and 36,000 miles, so it loses only £2,000 more than the much cheaper Golf. Buy a roadster and you can expect to keep upwards of 62 per cent.

We were quoted £700 for three services on the TT – although the first check on our long-term Audi actually cost us a hefty £360, so it would certainly pay to shop around. Expect to cover at least 15,000 miles between garage visits.

If you’re a fleet driver, go for this double clutch TT over the manual. Our car emits 224g/km of CO2, and while it costs £1,400 more to buy, higher-rate users face a £3,836 annual tax bill. That’s £300 less than for the manual.

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