‘16 AUDI TTS: GOLF R IN A BESPOKE SUIT!

It’s all there, hidden under a sleeker skin with big wheels at each corner. Bottom line – Teutonic exotic bliss in a sleek if slightly derivative shape, with power and great grip, blogs Dan Scanlan.

This is the Audi TTS, its arcing body a Nano Gray metallic suit over the good stuff from the VW Golf R. Now the question is whether losing real back seats and storage room is a sacrifice, or is the TTS the way for two to go?

The Volkswagen Golf R’s good stuff – turbocharged 2-liter inline four with 292 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque, all-wheel-drive and 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission – all go into a 110-pound-lighter Audi TTS. But it doesn’t show its stuff immediately. Our 2,400-mile-old Audi’s little engine launches a bit soft, then turbo boost kicks smoothly in to hit 60-mph in 5 seconds with the drive select set in “Dynamic.” That hikes engine and throttle response as well as stiffening up the steering and suspension feel.

Downshifts get a neat throttle blip to smooth out quick shifts from the dual-clutch automatic – one clutch and the next gear are always ready ASAP. In “Dynamic,” the exhaust note gets meatier thanks to exhaust flaps and some electronic sweetening, with a nice “whoomp” on full-throttle shifts.

But wait, there’s more – the TTS has a very easy launch control system. Hold the stability control button for three seconds to shut it off. Then left-foot-brake as you floor the alloy-accented gas pedal. The engine sits itself at about 4,000-rpm, then just release the brake and the TTS slingshots to 60-mph in a very quick 4.6 seconds, with razor-sharp quick shifts. Hitting 100-mph took 10.5 seconds.

With its Quattro all-wheel-drive, a launch starts with a squeak of front wheelspin, then more power aft as needed. The S-tronic transmission shifts in a few hundredths of a second, and coasts when the foot’s off the gas. The “Comfort” drive mode has a slightly more sedate throttle and suspension feel, while “Auto” gets sportier or more compliant as needed while there is a set-it-yourself mix under “Individual.” We averaged 23-mpg on premium.

The new Audi TTS starts off with VW’s modular transverse matrix (MQB) platform used in other corporate rides. There’s an aluminum frame, hood, fenders, doors, roof and engine and suspension bits on an adaptive magnetic ride system with McPherson front suspension and four-link rear suspension. The result is a supple yet very firm ride in “Dynamic,” the low profile 20-inch Pirelli P-Zero rubber reacting hard and fast to sharp bumps. The slightly gentler ride in “Comfort” still had some harder edges over bumps due to the skinny sidewalls. That said, it wasn’t too harsh for a sports coupe that would go wherever you pointed without drama, staying planted no matter what.
The Quattro’s multi-plate clutch directs torque from front to rear axle, aided by a torque vectoring system.

Driven at the limit around our skidpad, there was a slight hint of understeer caught easily by stability control. Put stability control in “Sport” mode, which backs it off, and we could even goose the tail out a bit, well controlled. The electrically-boosted power steering had superb feel and a tight turning radius, letting the TTS track into a curve like it’s on rails.

The TTS stuck like glue and stayed flat and composed in any turn we tossed it into. Stopping power is immediate with 13.3-inch ventilated front discs with four-piston fixed aluminum calipers, and 12-inch rears. The pedal offered precise control and a sweet bite with no nosedive, nor any fade after repeated use.

The overall look has hints of 1998’s very rounded first generation TT. But our 2016 TTS is clearly an evolution of the more aggressive second generation, 8 inches shorter atop an 8.2-foot wheelbase that’s 1.5-inches longer. The nose looks longer and lower, while the blunt grille is a bit wider looking with seven alloy strips inboard of a recessed alloy frame. The upper edges flow into thinner headlights with bright F-shaped LED running lights, while the grille’s bumper strip is an almost hidden style element. The TTS gets a very aggressive lower air dam and wide honeycomb side intakes.

The iconic rounded wheel arches frame 20-spoke silver alloy wheels. A clamshell hood intersects front fender flares. That shutline becomes the familiar upper body design that runs straight to spear sculpted LED taillights, connected by a slim red line under the tail’s edge that elegantly incorporates the third brake light. The overall sleek look is enhanced by a flowing fastback hatch that ends in a power spoiler that rises at about 74 mph (you can raise it yourself), then retracts at 44 mph. Audi says it generates about 150 pounds of downforce at 155 mph. A silver lower aero piece houses quad steel-tipped exhausts. Thanks to minimal overhangs and a very clean .29 coefficient of drag, the latest Audi TTS has a hunkered down road stance that everyone loved.

Audi TT interiors are noted for clean design and air vents that looked like jet intakes. And in a world where some luxury cars have upwards of 60 buttons surrounding their dash-mounted touchscreens, Audi reduced the clutter, first replacing analog gauges with a 12.3-inch-wide digital display with a virtual 160-mph speedometer and 8,000-rpm tach (6,750-rpm redline).

They flank a widescreen color central display controlled by the console’s MMI (Multi-Media Interface). Navigation becomes a Google Earth’s satellite photo with a crisp real-world bird’s-eye view instead of a map. You can flank the map with a large tach and speedometer, or widen the view and diminish the gauge displays. A trip computer, smartphone display, radio information, drive select, even traffic, can replace the map in the middle. Park, and you can call up news, sports, local events, even airport, Facebook and Twitter on the center display. Or you can toggle Google Street View, and “see” a building.

The 12-speaker/680-watt Bang and Olufsen sound system has powerful clear sound. There is a DVD player and two SD card slots in the glove box. The center console is slim, with a rubberized storage area with dual USB ports and an MP3 audio input.

The deeply bolstered S sport seats have diamond patterned Nappa leather center sections, 10-way power adjustments and great support and comfort, with extendable thigh support. The back seats are fit for briefcases, with no legroom. But their seatbacks fold to expand the wide trunk.

A base Audi TT starts at $42,900, while our TTS started at $51,900 with everything listed except – $3,250 for the technology package with MMI Navigation Plus, Audi Connect, backup camera, parking sensors and heated power-folding silver side mirrors; $950 Bang and Olufson sound system; $1,000 for 20-inch Audi Sport 10-spoke Y-blade design wheels with summer performance tires; $575 for the Nano Gray Metallic paint; and $500 for the Nappa leather interior, for a $58,175 final price with destination.

For more information about the latest luxury-performance vehicles from Audi, please visit  https://www.audiusa.com/models#

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