Quick Drive: 2012 Audi TT 2.0T

By Winding Road Staff

January 05, 2012

This base-level Audi TT is a pretty desirable sports coupe, but it does require a buyer that’s slightly more interested in luxury, styling, and/or overall image than performance. Don’t misunderstand me; I’ve quite enjoyed every TT driving experience that I’ve had, including this 2.0T. And, within the narrow TT universe, the base car is actually a smoking bargain (the higher spec cars get expensive quickly). But in terms of the always difficult to assess “thrills per dollar” metric, there are certainly better options.
The roughly $38,000 starting point for the TT will almost get you into a Boss 302 Mustang, for instance; leave you a lot of change from a faster Mazdaspeed3, or, if you need AWD, will put you squarely in the market for a face-melting Subaru WRX STI or Mitsubishi Lancer Evo.
With all of that said, none of the (admittedly more intense) cars above deliver what the TT delivers: a quick, sexy, design-rich coupe that tells the world, “It’s not really a question of money, this is simply the car I choose to drive.”
I’m 33 years old, the editor of a car enthusiast publication, and even I can envision getting tired of 20-somethings gunning their chipped Eclipses when I pull up next to them at a stop light in a 302 (for instance). The Audi TT is grownup fun, suitable for enthusiasts who have more available zeros on their paycheck, and far fewer local autocross trophies.
—Seyth Miersma, Editor-In-Chief
Ever since Audi bumped the 2.0-liter turbocharged four in the TT up from around 200 pound-feet of torque to the current car’s 258 pound-feet, we’ve been dying to get into the svelte two-seater. It was worth the wait.
This is at the same time a much more usable car in day-to-day driving, and a much more fun car when being pushed on a twisting road. The combination of a 1600-rpm torque peak, the six-speed dual-clutch transmission snapping off quick gear changes (with a delightful little burp from the exhaust on hard upshifts), and the stability and grip of Quattro make for a truly thrilling experience when taking off from stoplights or exiting corners with speed.
The only thing that could make the experience better is the inclusion of a manual gearbox. I don’t really get VW/Audi’s position here, as the TT is based off of the same platform as the Golf R and GTI. Both cars feature six-speed manuals and the same 2.0-liter, turbocharged four found in the TT, and in the Golf R’s case, it even has an all-wheel drive system. So if we can get a six-speed in an all-wheel-drive hot hatch, why can’t we get one in our full-blown sports cars?
—Brandon Turkus, Online Editor
This car has grown on me over the years. Every time I drive one, it reveals some new thing it’s really good at, whether it’s providing feedback about grip, or switching weight from side to side in a series of corners, or accelerating strongly from various points in the rev range. It’s somewhat subtle, but with the right coaxing, the TT will reveal its secrets to you. This, of course, encourages me to drive it over and over. I don’t see myself growing tired of this vehicle.
While we had the TT at our office, an acquaintance of mine (and I’m sad to say I can’t recall who, as I’d like to return to the topic) mentioned something along the lines of it being a sort of feminine car. Every once in a while, automakers will, when talking about market demographics, say a particular car is likely to have a higher take rate among women. In my head, most cars don’t seem particularly masculine or feminine, and the Audi still seems very gender-neutral to me. But, heck, it could have chrome everywhere and only be offered in pink (or camouflage, or neon green), and I’d still want to drive it.
To me, it’s not male or female, and the TT seems even less personified and more “machine-y” to me than average. Its soundtrack is robust, and very cleanly mechanical. Interacting with the steering wheel and transmission reinforce the stereotype of it being a complex piece of German driving technology engineered very precisely, and, in turn, responding very precisely and obediently, the way a good robot should. Driving provides a pronounced feeling of man interacting with machine, which is, when done right as with the TT, delightfully satisfying.
—John Beltz Snyder, Senior Editor
With peak torque available at such low revs, the engine’s power is very usable
Response to steering input is precise and accurate
This is the sort of styling, inside and out, that makes Audi products so desirable
DSG is good, but we want a stick. It’s a two-seat sports car, so where’s the manual gearbox?
Might as well not even have a back seat
Drivers over six-feet tall may find these quarters a bit close