• Wednesday, July 24, 2024
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BusinessDay

Audi TT Roadster with poise, poignancy

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Audi has been building stunning cars that have been the toast of many generations for a very long time. And for two generations, the Audi TT Roadster super racer car has been an important tool to help management keep its most-valued employees.

Now it’s time for a third-generation convertible to play the staff-retention role, and it gets off to a good start by looking like a shrunken R8 supercar. Shunning a folding hardtop roof for a lightweight fabric one, the TT’s roof now folds in just 10 seconds at speeds of up to 43 kilometers per hour.

Built on the same platform as the latest Golf, the new car loses its old, exotic, part-aluminium structure, but Audi has reined in any weight increases by making the TT shorter, narrower and lower. Under the bonnet there is the choice of a 230hp and a 310hp version – badged TTS – of the 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol plus a 184hp 2.0-litre Ultra diesel.

Inside, like the coupe, the vehicle offers the best interior in its class with a novel and slick, full 12.3-inch wraparound ‘virtual’ dash that sits directly in front of the driver. There are also innovative air vents that neatly incorporate their digital controls.

Audi freaks believe that whatever the model, it feels like a special, well-made place to spend time. There is more good news behind the wheel. Despite having its roof hacked off, the TT Roadster is now among the best in its class to drive, showing little signs of any wobbliness over bumpy roads.

But the best of the bunch to drive is, unfortunately, the most expensive TTS. Coming standard with Audi’s all-wheel drive ‘quattro’ hardware, it scorches to 62mph in just 4.9 seconds and feels every bit as quick as that.

It is also the most engaging of its siblings to drive, although its raucous exhaust note can sometimes sound a little too like a diesel at times, and that is at odds with its paltry 40.9mpg average fuel consumption.

The 2.0 TDI, meanwhile, looks tailor-made for business use even as it averages almost 66mpg while emitting just 114g/km of CO2. This means it slots into the 18% benefit-in-kind tax band – all this from a car that can still sprint to 62mph in 7.3 seconds and moves on to a top speed of 147mph.

It’s a good engine, too, providing effortless pace and a quiet cruise once you’ve turned off the unnecessary noisy exhaust function. Against its rivals like the Mercedes SLK and Porsche Boxster, the Audi TT can hold its head high. It might not be quite as involving to drive as the Porsche, but it oozes desirability, is cheap to run, still good to drive and feels special.

The front-wheel-drive 2.0 TFSI Sport is the best TT model for its blend of performance, refinement and value. The 2.0 TDI is punchy, but because it costs virtually the same as the faster, more refined petrol, it makes sense only if fuel economy or CO2 emissions are an absolute priority.

Most people will want to add the Technology Pack, which includes sat-nav, and the Comfort pack for its rear parking sensors and climate control. You’d be wise to add the wind diffuser, too, because without it there’s a fair bit of wind buffeting at speed.

The quattro four-wheel-drive versions are worth going for only if you regularly drive in very poor weather and on low-grip surfaces. The four-wheel-drive TTS is hard to justify given the stronger competition it faces, not least the similarly priced Porsche Boxster. Even so, if you’re after scorching performance and all-weather traction in a convertible, the TTS could be precisely what you’re after.

MIKE OCHONMA