It’s not often, when I test drive a car, that the one thing that impresses me most is the interior.
– Car of the week – June 4th – Ford Mustang V8 GT Fastback
– Car of the week – May 28th – Mercedes GLA 250 4matic
That might get you thinking that the vehicle in question was rubbish and left me with nothing better to talk about than the seats, the steering wheel and the instrument cluster.
That couldn’t be further from the truth. The car in question is the new Audi TT which is more than a little impressive but the interior really is something special because it is simple but spectacular.
This car features the new Audi virtual cockpit, a fully-digital instrument cluster with pin-sharp high detail graphics which replaces the old analog system and screen.
Essentially, all the Multi Media Interface visuals appear on the instrument cluster monitor in front of the driver which means there is no need for a touch screen on the centre console.
You can switch the 30cm digital display between two different view modes – classic, which features the speedo and the tachometer in the foreground or Infotainment where the instrument dials are smaller, making way for such things as sat nav, or radio tuner.
The MMI menu is operated via a smart touch wheel on the centre console which operates a bit like a smartphone allowing you to surf through the different menu options. It is uncomplicated and works extremely well.
What you are left with is an uncluttered and ultra modern piece of interior architecture which really is exquisite with the round air vents, which look a bit like jet engines on the dash and have ingenious integrated adjusters providing the finishing touches.
And then there is the steering wheel. I have a particular aversion to boring, oversized steering wheels which have so many buttons on them you can’t avoid accidentally pushing them while steering the car. It’s infuriating.
Thankfully, Audi produce steering wheels which are a work of art.
This TT has a multi-functional sport contour steering wheel which has a flat bottom. It looks and feels top-end and although there are buttons, it is not cluttered and they are designed so you don’t keep accidently activating them.
Once you are sitting behind the wheel in the extremely comfortable quilted leather seats, you really do feel like you are in a special vehicle, a sort of cross between a jet fighter and a powerful racing car.
Moving from the inside to the outside, the new TT is a triumph. When Audi launched the original TT in 1998, it certainly made an impact with its uber-cool design which paid homage to the Bauhaus style of the 1920s but for some reason it attracted more women than men, although half a million of these cars have been sold worldwide.
Personally, I always thought the TT looked a bit too soft, lacking a sharp aggressive edge. However, the third generation of this car, which is lighter, slightly longer, and hunkers down lower to the ground, has changed all that with a harder, dynamic, more intimidating look which makes it more appealing to blokes.
The sculptured front with its deep grille and air intakes and LED headlight clusters give the car a muscular look, resembling the Audi R8, while the sideview is sleek and the rear chunky but stylish with twin chrome tipped exhausts and 19-inch cast aluminium wheels adding the finishing touches.
The car is powered by the award-winning 2-litre four-cylinder TFSI engine which has been tweaked to make it more powerful with 230bhp and 370nm. It is hooked up to a six-speed dual clutch S Tronic gearbox which has lightning quick changes and the car has a 0-100kmh time of 5.3 seconds.
It can be driven in four modes; comfort, auto, dynamic or efficiency. It performs best in Dynamic when everything tightens up and the engine makes very nice noises as you blast through the gears. Comfort is for cruising along motorways and efficiency cuts fuel consumption when you are pottering around town.
The chassis, suspension and legendary Quattro AWD system all combine to make this TT handle superbly. It’s reasonably fast, agile and great fun to drive. In fact, the only complaint I have about this car is that it’s not quite fast enough but Audi have a solution to that little problem – the TTS. Bring it on.
I have never wanted to own an Audi TT, mainly because I thought they lacked the sharper edge of some of their rivals and the design began to look a bit tired.
Audi have sorted both with this third generation and the TT has been given a new lease of life. Not only does it have the legendary Audi build quality but it now looks much better and drives superbly. The interior is the icing on the cake.
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