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In-depth reviews

Audi TT (Mk3, 2014 - 2023) – ride and handling

A very grippy car, with a tendency toward understeer. Multiple drive modes allow tweaks to dampers, steering, throttle and transmission maps

Evo rating
Price
from £36,365
  • Interior still superb; sharp and restrained aesthetic; better to drive than any TT before
  • Less sharp to drive than many hot hatches; driving position not suitable for all

Ironically, when we drove the first TT way back in issue 001 of evo, an unnerving trait was startling lift-off oversteer, but subsequently the TT has been a less than exuberant little coupe. ‘If you’re into clinical speed, it really is effective,’ said Jethro Bovingdon in issue 094 after driving the second-generation TT for the first time.

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That’s still broadly the case: the TT is still a stable, nose-led car with less off-throttle adjustability than many hot hatches, and a less involving driving experience than a ‘true’ traditional sports car. But that’s not to say it’s a dull car, and in Mk3 guise it is a sharper drive than before.

> New Audi RS3 spotted preparing for its 2024 reveal 

Its attitude can still be manipulated on the brakes and a trailing throttle, and lateral grip and braking performance are remarkable, particularly in the hotter TTS and hottest TT RS variants.

A refresher drive in a 2023-spec TTS is a reminder just how swift a car this is, and it feels more alert and responsive than its reputation, and memory, serves. The steering is light (almost disconcertingly so in Comfort mode) and remains lacking in feel, but it’s quick and eager to respond. While the overall handline balance is still toward understeer, it changes direction eagerly and the corner-speed it can carry is eye-opening.

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The brakes are strong but sensitively servo’d, and take a little getting used to.

Ride quality on the TTS’s standard-fit adaptive dampers is very choppy in Dynamic, and far smoother in Comfort, although the car still gets a bit upset and unsettled by rough B-roads.

In the UK we’ve tried the car on Bridgestone Potenza S001 rubber rather than the Hankooks that have been fitted to previous TTs we’ve tested. The biggest difference is a pleasing reduction in road noise, and they also feel a little more malleable and progressive.

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In the fabric-roofed TT Roadster, refinement on motorways and longer journeys is impressive. You lose the (negligible) practicality of the coupe’s small back seats but with the canvas folded away you get as much wind in your hair as you want (or as little: there really isn’t much ruffling if you’ve got the windows up).

The TT RS is a truly rapid machine. The potency of its near-400bhp in-line five-cylinder is a core part of the car’s appeal, as is the engine’s singular sound (although it’s more muted in later model-year cars).

It’s not the most engaging of performance cars for all tastes: the steering is rather lifeless, and it can be something of a point and squirt machine. Since the grip levels are so high, rather than feel out the limit of grip in every corner it’s a case of getting on the accelerator early, sensing the torque shuffle rearward to straighten your line (there isn’t a torque-vectoring rear diff on the all-wheel-drive system, so torque is managed front-to-rear, rather than side-to-side) then fire off down the next straight. Very quickly.

That’s not to say there’s no fun to be had: the brakes are remarkably strong and the TT RS can handle rapid-fire direction changes in its stride (no doubt aided by the sometimes comically/painfully firm suspension, even in the adaptive dampers’ softer settings). Find the right sequence of turns and the speed at which it can dissect them can be genuinely sweaty-palms exciting.

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