First Drive Review: 2009 Audi TTS Coupe / TTS Roadster
This 2009 review is representative of model years 2008 to 2014.
By Jens Meiners of Car and Driver
We're with you if you like the Audi TT's shape — even if it's not as iconic as its predecessor, it is still unique among sports cars — and we forgive you if you have thought the TT was kind of a boulevard cruiser. To be sure, its dynamic capabilities are beyond what most owners would dare to try, but it falls a bit short in the power department. The choice of a 200-hp turbo four or a 250-hp V-6 leaves the TT well short of the Porsche Boxster/Cayman siblings and the high-powered versions of the BMW Z4 and Mercedes SLK.
Audi is determined to be known as Germany's sportiest carmaker, and thus the 250-hp, 3.2-liter V-6 could not be the end of the road for the TT. And so the TTS's engine — available in the coupe or roadster — delivers 265 horsepower, 15 more than the V-6 and up a more impressive 65 horsepower over the 2.0-liter TFSI four-cylinder engine on which it is based. To enable this gain, the engine block, the cylinder head, the pistons, and the connecting rods were all upgraded.
A Superior Engine
The TTS comes only with Quattro all-wheel drive and is lowered by 0.4 inch but weighs a mere 30 fewer pounds than the V-6 model. However, the TTS has the adjustable magnetic-ride suspension as standard equipment and is somewhat more generously equipped. It looks more aggressive, with huge lower air intakes, specific LED daytime running lights that aren't on other TTs, and quad-tip exhaust pipes. We like the headlights, but we don't think the front bumper and the spoiler are real improvements. On the other hand, Audi had to change something — after all, this is the "S" version, which denotes second sportiest in an Audi model line.
We've taken the TTS out for extended drives through Upper Bavaria, between Munich and Audi's home base in Ingolstadt, and it's thoroughly enjoyable. Torque comes on early, despite slight but noticeable turbo lag. The turbocharger delivers 17.4 psi of boost and a high-pitched whistle that reflects nicely off tunnel walls and the houses lining the tiny Bavarian villages. Flat out, we saw an indicated 270 km/h (168 mph), which is probably a bit optimistic, but almost every top-speed-governed Audi we have actually tested tops out well above 155 mph, which is the increasingly porous ceiling set by the German auto industry's 20-year-old voluntary agreement.
A Noticeable Improvement, but Not a Huge One
And there's another reason: The V-6 model is available with a six-speed manual transmission, but the TTS comes only with the six-speed dual-clutch S tronic transmission. Many of us still prefer a manual box, no matter how quick-shifting S tronic may be.
Maike Fischbeck, head of product marketing for Audi's sports cars, expects 10 percent of TT customers to go all-out for the TTS. They will likely be split evenly between the coupe and roadster versions. Simultaneous with the TTS launch, Audi is adding a 1.8-liter entry-level engine and a 2.0-liter diesel to the lineup, the diesel being the first such unit in an Audi sports car. Both versions are unlikely to make it to the U.S.
So set your sights on another TT derivative that is not yet confirmed but seems likely to hit the market next year: The TT-RS, a truly high-performance derivative with extensive body changes and a turbocharged five-cylinder engine. Rated at about 350 horsepower, it should legitimately compete with the most powerful cars in its segment — instead of simply catching up.