WASHINGTON — Looking to spice up the daily drive? The Audi TTS coupe might fit the bill for a year-round sports car.
If you’re looking to spoil that someone special (especially me — if my wife is reading this), I can’t think of a more practical small sports car.
Why? To start, the TT and TTS were redesigned for 2016 to add more sport, updated looks and a big dose of technology in an all-wheel drive package.
I spent time with the TT Roadster last summer and enjoyed driving some back roads with the top down. But the TTS is a different animal, one with more power — nearly 300 horsepower from a 2.0-liter turbo engine. And with AWD, the handling in this slick coupe is very good. The vibe is serious, with more engine noises that sound angry when you push the pedal to the floor. The S tronic transmission provides superfast shifts when needed, but is also smooth enough to be nice when commuting. I did notice it is a little slow when at parking speeds, where it feels more like a manual. (I do wish there were a manual option, but I’m sure few would buy it.)
The ride is a bit more firm, but the Audi Magnetic ride lets you change the suspension to help soften it a bit on city streets. This is a smaller car, so it’s simple to fit in tight spaces, and the visibility is pretty good. The fuel economy is listed at 25 mpg combined. I could only manage 21 mpg of premium. (Maybe I had a bit too much fun.)
Technology is where the Audi TTS sets itself apart from the other players. Gone are the normal gauges for the driver, replaced with the high-tech Audi virtual cockpit. It features that airplane glass cockpit look, with computers generating the gauges. The center screen is also gone, and all the information and NAV screen are in front of the driver. It does take some time to get used to but I like the clean dash look without that center screen taking up space.
My tester also came with the technology package that added the MMI Navigation Plus, which has the ability to write on the control knob, as well the ability to scroll through the menu or talk.
The rest of the interior is a nice place to spend time, with Nappa leather finished in a sharp red color. The heated sport seats do their job of holding you in without being too firm. This is a four-seat car, but the rear seats are best for small children with the passenger seat not in use. There isn’t much storage space that’s hidden from view, but there’s much more storage when compared with the TT convertible I drove previously.
With this redesign, the TTS looks more like a smaller R8 with a more exotic, expensive look, making the $58,100 seem not so steep. The front end is more aggressive than the regular TT, with a front lip spoiler and LED headlights. The large wheels fill out the wider wheel wells nicely, but this narrow spoke design will be a chore to clean. The side view shows the true size of this car, and it’s not large. The wheels seem to be stretched to the corners — a very sporty look. Even the rear adds to the sport element, with four large exhaust tips dropping a hint that this isn’t a normal TT coupe. I’m not usually a gray paint fan, but I like the nano gray on the TTS. It could do without the shiny gas door that seems to clash with the cool paint color.
The TTS is the sporty version of the small coupe with good power, and it can use that power easily with Quattro AWD. Now with improved looks and a big helping of technology, the TTS is now a serious competitor in the small luxury coupe market and you can drive year round, a win for the fun commute.
Mike Parris is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association. The vehicles are provided by STI, FMI or Event Solutions for the purpose of this review.