Audi TT review – design icon bows out in 2023
The Audi TT has reached the end of the road, but it remains a stylish – if slightly clinical – coupe in 2023
When Audi revealed the TT back in the late ‘90s, its Bauhaus style and design cleverness brought a breath of air so bright and crisp it made 90 percent of the car market look stale and uninteresting by comparison. This was reflected in the TT’s sales in Germany and the UK, where it soon became a symbol of the Audi brand, and its new-found influence on customers considering rivals like BMW and Mercedes-Benz.
But while the TT was certainly an icon of design, its driving experience meant that it always played the understudy to sports car rivals at the time. It’s this reputation that Audi has spent considerable time and effort on improving over the TT’s lifespan, and it’s an area where the car has certainly progressed in its third and final generation. The TT won't be replaced after production ends this year, but Audi has given us some of the best versions to drive in the model's dying moments.
The TT, and its TTS and TT RS performance variants, all received a light refresh in 2019 yet their fundamentals remain. Instantly recognisable in silhouette, the TT’s rounded arches and clean surfacing continue to define its aesthetic on the road, while the cabin is beautifully built and free of awkward tacked-on touchscreens and haptic controls.
So does the TT still have a place three generations and two decades after the original, or does it represent a moment in time that Audi has held onto for a few years too many? That depends on how it performs, not as a style icon, but as a sports car.
Audi TT: in detail
- > Engine, gearbox and technical highlights > All TTs bar the RS share a 2-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine with between 194bhp and 242bhp depending on spec. The TT is also now DSG-only.
- > Performance and 0-60 time > The TT ranges from quick to genuinely rapid depending on the model, hitting 62mph in 6.6sec in base form.
- > Ride and handling > Leaning towards stability rather than outright fun, the TT is capable but doesn't excite like the best coupes
- > MPG and running costs > The Audi TT isn’t a hugely cheap car at entry level spec, but it does deliver savings in fuel economy and road tax.
- > Interior and tech > A highlight of all TTs, the cabin remains a superb example of design restraint and clever material use.
- > Design > The TT’s unique shape has evolved over the years, yet it remains instantly recognisable.
Prices, specs and rivals
Audi’s current TT range is made up of two powertrain choices, leaving aside the TTS and TT RS models for now. The base TT makes do with a 2-litre turbocharged petrol engine available in 194bhp and 242bhp forms, and comes as standard with a dual-clutch S-tronic transmission. All 194bhp models are front-wheel drive, with the more powerful variant coming equipped with quattro all-wheel drive.
Both powertrain options are available in three different trim levels, running from S-Line, Black Edition and to the Final Edition model. Pricing for the most basic 194bhp TT S-Line starts at £36,365, rising to a hefty £46,525 for the 242bhp Final Edition. The TT Roadster is only available with the entry-level engine and front-wheel drive, with a choice of either Black Edition or Final Edition specifications. The former costs from £39,615, with the latter priced at £43,660. The more powerful TTS kicks off at £49,740, with the flagship TT RS now only sold in Audi Sport Edition guise for £62,165.
All models come with niceties such as the now widespread Virtual Cockpit dial pack, leather trim and 18-inch alloys. As is increasingly the case in the wider industry, Audi no longer generally offers a huge array of options, instead bundling different levels of equipment into each trim level.
With Mercedes axing the SLC, the TT's key rivals include BMW’s capable and engaging 2-series coupe, along with the brilliant Toyota GR86. The TTS and RS step into more serious territory, squaring up against the likes of the Porsche 718 Cayman, BMW M2 and Alpine A110, with the Toyota Supra serving as something of a left-field choice. With such a varied spread of rivals, the TT needs to be as distinctive to drive as it is to look at.