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The first-generation TT literally stopped traffic. I remember it well from the privileged position of the driver's seat. The British fell hard for its cute, rounded design, desire became demand and produced great RVs and still, 15 years later, Audi sells more TTs in the UK than any other world market.
Two generations and 500,000 global sales later, the mk3 TT can no longer bank on new-ness, but it is banking on the inherent rightness of the original design. The new coupe has the same basic silhouette but with a longer wheelbase for shorter overhangs, bigger front air intakes to express sportier aspirations and angled lights with distinct vertical LEDs.
The interior is a bigger leap. Aiming for simplicity, its designers have dispensed with a central screen and tucked all the driver information - from revs to speed to satnav - directly in front of the driver within what Audi dubs its 'virtual cockpit'. The UK-standard 12.3-inch digital screen can be operated via an improved MMI controller atop the transmission tunnel, steering wheel controls or voice control.
The latter method didn't work well on our test, but the former two are slick and more than suffice, although passengers will find it hard to assist the driver with destination inputs or musical choices as all the visual info is further from them. Either way, they'll certainly admire the top-notch fit and finish, enjoy the neat rotary air vents with in-built controls and appreciate the subtle combination of leather, Alcantara, rubber and metal.
Under the bonnet considerable focus has been given to making the mk3 TT better to drive too. Weight has been cut by up to 50kg, power boosted and handling sharpened. We drove the rapid 230hp 2.0 TFSI quattro plus the ultra-rapid 310hp 2.0 TTS quattro (due in March 2015), both in paddle-shifting S tronic auto guise, and enjoyed every moment of their free-revving, easy handling and grippy drives.
The TFSI auto's 149g/km and 44.1mpg figures are great for a petrol unit, but the business reality is that up to four-fifths of the expected 25-30% UK fleet sales will be taken up by the 184hp 2.0 TDI Ultra. Offering a class-leading 110g/km and 67.3mpg the diesel is gutsy and swift but newly refined with it, and the six-speed manual gearbox is a joy to use - light years better than the clunky Mk1's.
Space up front is great and while rear seats will only squeeze in the odd child or child seat, they fold to create a surprisingly useful 712-litre boot space.
No other maker can touch the diesel TT's ppm. Just beware the extras tally: satnav and internet connectivity costs £1795 and rear-parking sensors are extra too, so that headline sub-£30k P11d price is unlikely to remain that way.