A review of the 2012 Audi TT 2.0 Quattro: driving Germany's affordable sports coupe
The Audi TT was introduced in 1998 with a small, curvy design that met the world with excellent reviews but as time went on, the TT’s rounded styling was pinned as being more feminine – a problem that was resolved when the current generation of the TT was introduced for the 2006 model year. While the exterior designers were tasked with making the TT larger and more masculine, drivetrain engineers were perfectly the art of making better use of the available power while also improve fuel economy while the folks responsible for the interior made sure that the TT was unmistakably a German luxury car – even if this luxury is fitted in a smaller frame than the majority of the European luxo-sport models.
On the outside, the 2012 Audi TT 2.0 Quattro Coupe looks pretty much the same as the rest of the second generation TT models which began back in 2006. This design is more angular with a layout that makes the TT look wider and lower than the previous generation while the hard angles help to make this a more masculine sports car than the original TT Coupe.
Across the front end, the Audi TT still has a very rounded form with a front fascia that flows smoothly from the ground, up across the hood and into the greenhouse. This roundness is broken up by hard angles around the lower fascia openings, in the grille and in the lines running up each side of the low, wide hood while the headlights are fitted into the body in such a way that the lenses perfect follow the lines of the front end – giving the TT a slippery look and improving aerodynamics. The large central grille opening has a collection of thin bars with one large bar running across the middle – with this area finished in gloss black while the lower fascia opening is finished in matte black. The emphasized lines around the lower fascia blend into the pronounced wheel flares, giving the car a much more aggressive look than the model that this generation TT replaced. The headlights combined a high tech projection style low beam with a traditional Halogen high beam unit with a row of LEDs that serve as daytime running lights trimming the bottom of the headlight housings and projection fog lights mounted low on the front fascia – all of which work together to provide excellent clarity when driving at night.
Along the side, the 2012 Audi TT has large wheel flares around the front and rear wheels that help to give this compact sports coupe a wide, low look. Furthering that effort is the low profile roofline that peaks just past the windshield; angling down quickly to the rear end of the TT to create a very fast hatchback design with a roofline that offers incredible aerodynamics. The short windshield and nearly non-existant roof quickly gives way to a massive rear window that stretches from the top of the car all of the way back to the integrated rear spoiler that can be controlled by a button inside or when the car gets up to speed. This spoiler is subtle but provides improved downforce at high speeds – plus the wing is just plain fun to play with when driving around. Body colored door handles and mirrors add to the sports car feel while the upper and lower body lines give the TT the look of motion even when it is sitting still. As you can see in the images on the right, our TT was fitted with the S-Line package that adds those great looking 19” split spoke wheels and for my money – I would consider the S-Line package to be a must-have as it adds some great looking features inside and out.
Across the back end, the Audi TT has a set of rounded tail light covers that conceal square LED lights that are impossible to miss even in the brightest sunlight while also looking great. The back end of the TT is more fluid than the rest of the car with the only real hard angles coming in the form of the body line that runs through the middle of the rear fascia while a contrasting grey lower fascia area looks sporty in housing the polished silver exhaust tips. The back end is simple – but that doesn’t make it any less attractive and although the front end and side lines are more aggressive, the rear end complements the rest of the TT nicely.
The 2012 Audi TT has an angular, aggressive design that makes this car much less “bubbly” than the previous generation TT with lines that bolster aerodynamics while also making this one great looking sports coupe. The TT draws looks everywhere you go and when coated in the Volcano Red Metallic paint displayed in the gallery on the right – this is one of the best looking small sports cars on the market today.
The 2012 Audi TT is a compact sports car and the interior is exactly what one would expect from a small sports car. This includes a layout that features a cockpit design with all of the controls well within reach of the driver without having to move around in the driver’s seat. As part of the S-Line package, our TT test car was equipped with a flat bottomed sport steering wheel that contains both buttons on the front to control the sound system while the back of the wheel offers shift paddles to control the 6-speed dual clutch gearbox. Audi’s Navigation Plus system includes a large touch screen that is easy to use while driving whether the driver is changing the radio station or adjusting the navigation program while the HVAC system is controlled by a set of big, easy to use knobs mounted just below the infotainment screen. Beyond the sport steering wheel is a bright gauge cluster that holds two large gauges on the outside (speedometer and tachometer) with two smaller gauges inset above the small driver information center.
While the interior of the 2012 Audi TT is clearly designed to bolster the sports car experience, this is an Audi so the interior is very clearly laid out to preserve the luxury form that you would expect from this automaker. This begins with an almost all black interior from the dash to the seats to the door panels to the carpeting with leather covering much of the interior while contrasting stitchwork holds everything together and adds a touch of class. In addition to the dark design, the TT features bright silver accents on the center shift console, around the HVAC vents, around the gauges, on the pedals, across the top of the glove box and on the door panels in the form of the inside door handles and the grab bars – with these silver accents providing an upscale look with the stark contrast to the black leather. As a part of the S-Line Package, our TT wore a set of high back sport seats clad in a mix of black leather and black Alcantara with deep bottom and side bolsters that provide comfort and added grip during periods of spirited driving. These are seats that pull you in and seemingly wrap around you – keeping you snug as a bug in a rug no matter how hard the driver is hammering the curves. Whether the driver and front passenger are 4’10” or 6’5”, there is plenty of headroom, elbow room and leg room – an impressive feature of this compact sports car.
The biggest criticism of the Audi TT would be the lack of rear seating space as - while this car technically has a back seat – it is tiny and is not somewhere that most adults will want to sit for very long. The nfast roofline doesn’t have any impact on front headroom but rear passengers will feel a bit squished unless they are under 5 feet tall. That being said, the back seat offers plenty of room for a small child or for a child seat so this interior is great for someone with a small, young family but this isnt a car that is going to comfortably seat more than two average sized adults. However, we should keep in mind that many sports cars (both of this size, and larger) do not have a back seat at all so this small back seat is better than what is offered by many of the competitors. You may not be able to put an adult in the rear seat very comfortably but at least there IS a seat back there when you are in a bind and need to get yourself and two adults from point A to point B.
The small back seat aside, the Audi TT has a loaded luxury interior that is as inviting as it is great looking. The sound system is easy to use and provides great sound quality even in standard form while the Audi navigation system is as wonderfully user friendly as the system found in the rest of the Audi lineup with a great voice command system for safe, hands free usage. A sports car should have a cockpit design and that is definitively one area where Audi has achieved perfection as there is really nothing more that I could ask for in the interior of the 2012 TT.
When you look at the specifications of the 2012 Audi TT 2.0 Quattro Coupe on paper, it might cross your mind that the turbo 4 packed under the hood may not pack enough power to make this a true, fun to drive German sports car. The 2.0L turbocharged engine produces 211 horsepower and 258lb-ft of torque with that power channeled to all four wheels via an S-Tronic 6-speed dual clutch gearbox. This is a small car but as all wheel drive sports cars go – 211 horsepower seems awfully light. Luckily, any concerns about the Audi TT being underpowered are put to rest as soon as you rip away from the first stop light with 0-60 times in the low 5 second range and a very reachable top speed of 130 miles per hour.
The key benefit of a dual clutch transmission over a traditional fluid driven automatic transmission is that it is more efficient, swallowing up less power between the crankshaft and the wheels which improves performance and efficiency – and this transmission is a big part of why the self-shifting Audi TT is so much fun to drive with the diminutive 2.0L TFSI engine. 211 horsepower and 258lb-ft of torque make the new TT significantly less powerful than most of the cars on sale in the American market but the lightweight design of the TT coupled with the high tech all wheel drive drivetrain makes this compact coupe one heck of a lot of fun to drive.
As a part of the S-Line package, the 2012 Audi TT gets a sport steering wheel with paddle shifters that allow incredible control of the 6-speed dual clutch gearbox (DCG) both when upshifting and downshifting. This drivetrain doesn’t like preloading when preparing for a good, hard launch but when you rip the TT out of the hole from just above idle – this car pulls harder than any 211 horsepower car that I have ever driven. The Quattro all wheel drive system affords perfect traction on a hard launch whether the surface is wet or dry; pavement or loose dirt/mud and while I didn’t have a chance to drive the car in the snow, I suspect that the Quattro system is every bit as competent in the winter weather. As you speed away from a stop, the S-Tronic DCG provides crisp, hard shifts whether the shifting is left to the computer or if the driver is directing the gear changes via the steering wheel mounted shift paddles. Acceleration is very smooth from start to finish with no real “lag” coming from the turbocharger so unlike some other turbo cars that take a second to get moving – the TT is more willing to provide strong low end acceleration. More importantly, the 2.0L TFSI engine provides instant output across the power band and at almost any speed so whether you are blasting away from a stop light or soaring around slow moving traffic on the highway, the TT performs much better than one would expect from a car that “only has 211hp”. Also, the TT is very capable of offering 30 miles per gallon on the highway when not being driven hard – although I had a very difficult time not driving the TT hard as this is a car that is just constantly begging to be opened up. During my time with the TT, I averaged 25.1 miles per gallon so while I failed to hit the 26mpg predicted by the EPA, I suspect that I was driving the TT a bit harder than the stuffed shirts from the Federal government.
The other positive attribute of all wheel drive sports cars is the ability to handle the corners and the Audi TT Quattro Coupe delivers on that area just as well as it does basic acceleration. Our 2012 Audi TT Quattro test car was fitted with the Audi magnetic ride control system that is activated with the push of a button and like the rest of the Audi lineup – this suspension system stiffens the ride and sharpens the handling. When the TT is left in standard (non-dynamic) drive mode, this compact German sports car handles very, very well but when you button your way into sport mode, the TT offers a true sports car ride that allows the driver to feel the road and dominate the corners. Whether you are tearing around a long, sweeping highway turn at 100 miles per hour or hammering through the corners of a country road – the magnetic ride control system gives the TT the feel of a car that can be thrown into any corner without any concern about coming out safely. While some folks will complain that the ride is stiff, any true lover of sports cars and performance oriented driving will appreciate the fluid combination of ride quality and excellent handling capabilities.
I said it above and I will say it again – the Audi TT 2.0L Quattro is one of the most entertaining vehicles I have driven with “so little power”. The 211hp and 258lb-ft of torque looks light on paper but you and leave those papers on your desk when you go for a drive as the “seat of the pants” dyno would lead most drivers to believe that this car has way more power than that. Ultimately, the TT is a blast to drive in every condition so whether you are cruising on the highway or cutting through a canyon road – this compact sports coupe delivers on every aspect of the Audi heritage that a driver will expect.
The Final Word
The 2012 Audi TT 2.0L Quattro S-Tronic Coupe combines all of the strong points of the German brand and combines them into a compact, efficient and low priced sports coupe that is styling inside and out while also being tons of fun to drive. The TT is civilized so it can make for a comfortable daily driver while it still embodies the power and handling attributes of the best of the Audi lineup. The sharpened, more angular exterior styling makes for a more masculine exterior while still distinctly displaying the modern Audi design language from front to back and the interior – while being small – offers true German luxury in a cockpit layout that enhances to the driving experience. With a price tag starting under $40 (our loaded up test vehicle was priced right around $49k), this is a car that offers lots of driving excitement and luxury with an impressively low price for a German sports car so if you are shopping for a sports car that offers solid fuel economy, great driving dynamics and a plush interior – the Audi TT could be the car for you.