05 October 2006
|Key rival:|| BMW Z4 Coupe|
Audi has launched its new TT with a choice of two engines. We drove the turbocharged 2.0-litre on the international launch in early summer, but now the car's in the UK we've had the chance to try the second option, the 3.2-litre V6.
The styling has been the subject of much debate, and there's no doubt it looks more macho and less rounded, although the charm of the original has been diluted in the transition.
That's certainly the case on the inside too. Like most Audi interiors, it's still good, but it fails to feel as special and bespoke as the first-generation car. The cheap-looking red text on the optional satnav system doesn't help.
Boot space is surprisingly good, but the rear seats are still pretty much just a token gesture, even if adults can use them on short trips.
Unlike its smaller sibling, the V6 is four-wheel drive, which saves it from the front-wheel drive 2.0's scrabbling for grip when trying to apply too much power in one go. And there is plenty of power - 250PS to be exact - coming from that 3.2-litre engine. Its sound is a touch muted compared with the deep note VW achieves with the Golf R32's 3.2-litre V6, but there's plenty of power, and it's at its best exiting roundabouts or junctions where the mid-range pull is strong.
Handling is where Audi has made the biggest improvement. The first TT was always a case of form over function on that front and dynamically underwhelming, but the new one's answered that criticism.
It now handles as it looks like it should, and the body control is especially impressive. Even with the optional £1150 magnetic suspension switched off it doesn't pitch or roll when cornering.
The only bad news for the TT 3.2 quattro comes in financial terms. You'll pay an extra £4600 compared with the 2.0-litre turbo, and the cost per mile difference is almost 11ppm thanks to heavier depreciation that will eat up most of the bigger engine's initial price premium. Servicing is also more expensive. The TT 3.2 does, though, come out pretty much neck and neck for CPM against its biggest rival, the BMW Z4 Coupe Sport.
Overall, the car seems to have grown up, losing a little of the sparkle in return for a more capable vehicle that addresses the criticisms of the first generation's driving qualities. But although the 3.2 is a better package, it's not quite the all-round business proposition of its smaller-engined sibling.