I’m going to start with a humble brag. I had an Audi R8 on test for a week, and my time with the car fell while I was booked on to the UK launch of the new TTS. This left me with an unexpected but interesting comparison.
You see, if I was to say the TTS does a passable impression of a baby R8, you’d probably scoff; I did the same when Audi reps pointed out the subtle design nods like the Audi rings situated on the bonnet and the similar fuel cap. But then I actually drove the S-badged coupe…
The engine is a 2.0-litre TFSI four-pot making 306bhp and 280lb ft. Peak power is available between 5800 and 6200rpm, while full torque is available from just 1800rpm and hangs around til late in the party at 5700rpm. That’s a nice, rotund lump of power, and contributes to the sense that so long as the needle isn’t languishing in the depths of the rev range you’ll get a decent shove in the back.
When I drove the standard car late last year, I remarked that the TT could finally shake off that soft ‘hairdresser’s car’ image as it had the underpinnings of a decent little sports car… it just needed a bit more poke. Well the TTS does have more power, and I suppose the biggest compliment I can give it is that it doesn’t feel slow after the V8 R8.
And the numbers back up my impressions of decent pace. 0-62mph takes 4.6sec (4.9sec in the manual) which is faster than an equivalent BMW Z4 (5.2sec) and Porsche Cayman (5.7), largely thanks to the Audi’s AWD. One thing I’d note on acceleration is that the car does rather bog down on hard launches; turning off traction control helps by providing a little slip but I feel like it’d be pretty tough to match the claimed figures.
Having lifted my bum out of the low slung buckets in the R8 and plonked myself in the TTS’s cushy surroundings, the first thing that hit me was just how outdated the R8’s interior is. The TT gets the gorgeous Virtual Cockpit, which is a huge 12.3-inch LCD screen that fills the binnacle. It’s easily configurable and is an absolute delight to use. It also takes most functions away from the centre console, which coupled with the vent-mounted climate controls results in a clean and modern driver-focused cabin.
You also sit surprisingly low, with your head just above the steering wheel. The seats could do with a bit more support, though, because the grip this car can generate is mighty impressive thanks to the Haldex quattro system - it actually shares its architecture with the fabulous Golf R. It takes a rather judicious bootful of throttle before the apex to induce that famed Audi understeer (though to be honest it felt like the tyres were giving up before the car wanted to), however if you hold a neutral throttle through the corner the balance is addictive.
You can even get your rear end out quicker than a Kardashian thanks to the fact that the electronically-controlled multi-plate clutch on the rear axle is capable of sending up to 100 per cent of power through the rear wheels. Hit ‘dynamic’ mode on the ‘drive select’ menu and torque will be distributed to the rear earlier and to a higher degree.
On the unseasonably dry day on which I tested the car, it was only possible to get a faint hint of doriftu action, but I’d imagine it’s great fun in the wet. An aggressive swing of the wheel, then a mash of the throttle as you feel the weight swing towards the outside of the corner is all it takes to induce oversteer. You won’t be holding slides like Tsuchiya but it’s nice to know you can get tail happy from time to time.
So we’ve come full circle, and find ourselves back at the original question: can the TTS do a good impression of a baby R8. The answer is an emphatic yes. You can get a TTS from £38,830, though once you’ve added options such as the Comfort and Sound package for £1320 (Bang & Olufson stereo, those awesome climate controls and rear parking sensors) and the Technology Package for £1785 (integrated Audi connect service and a live-updating sat nav) you’re looking at the best part of £45k.
The entry-level R8 starts just north of £90k, which means the TTS is half the price. Having driven both back-to-back I can assure you it provides way more than half the performance and fun. Money no object I’d take the R8 all day long, but the TTS is more than worthy of your hard-earned cash.