FEB 05th 2015

Driven: Audi TTS – all‑wheel‑drive roadster proves its worth in rainy Spain

The MA-11a. It’s been mentioned here before, the ladder of hairpins climbing up and over the peaks of Soller, Mallorca, rather than taking the short-cut through the tunnel. It’ll save you a toll, and leave you with a wide grin. It’s been climbed, in order, in a Cayman R, a Boxster GTS and a Cayman GTS, heavy on Pork, but today it’s all about the Audi TT Roadster. The sensible diesel proved it wasn’t all about CO2 and mpg here, being front-wheel drive, having 280lb ft and dealing with a surface resembling a river today it was feisty. The 230hp 2.0-litre TFSI quattro amused, but it’s the turn of the TTS, with its 310hp version of Audi’s four-cylinder turbocharged petrol unit.

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The weather’s biblical, torrents of water are cascading down the hill as the TTS Roadster climbs up it. There’s sleet at the top, too. Being the range-topper, the TTS has quattro as standard, the traction it’s finding here being extraordinary. In the lesser 230hp TT quattro it’ll power out in such conditions with surprising amounts of corrective lock on but in the TTS it’s a bit more polished. Occasional four-wheels spinning aside – softening off the magnetic ride suspension to comfort helping here – it bites then simply catapults itself the short straight before a heavy brake, paddle-shift down change, turn, floor and repeat. Honestly, short of a competition car it’d be difficult to get up here quicker in these conditions. There are more powerful, four-wheel drive sports cars out there, but the TTS’s advantage here is its relatively small size.

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The engine’s specification might not read as exotic – it isn’t, being a turbocharged four-cylinder – but it sounds more so. There’s a growl that’s more multi-cylindered in its voice, the muscular delivery it brings hoodwinking you, too. Mated here to the paddle-shifted twin-clutch S tronic transmission it’s quite ridiculously effective at getting the TT S up the hill. If the roof were down there might be a better opportunity to hear it too, but the promise of more auditory pleasure ruined today thanks to the stair-rod rain. Significantly, the loss of the coupé roof seems to have done nothing to detract from the TT’s ability.

“This is a TT that’s amused, on a level deeper than merely design integrity and a glorious interior and that’s very significant indeed”

Still, all that water makes for a more interesting surface, and a hell of a drive in a car that’s often derided as style over substance – at least where it concerns driving, the interior a quite stunningly conceived and built environment to sit. Today, right here in these conditions, on this road, I’d take it over its Boxster rival. In the dry it’d be a different matter, though it’d be quite ridiculously capable, if perhaps a bit too clinical in the way it goes about its business.

There’s not a great deal of steering feel, even if its accuracy cannot be faulted, while all that traction and mighty grip would get you up here quickly, but you’d have more fun elsewhere. You’d arguably have more fun in the less potent TT 2.0 TFSI Sport, even if it doesn’t sound, or look quite as good, or offer the S’s mighty grunt. Still, it’s a TT that’s amused, on a level deeper than merely design integrity and a glorious interior and that’s very significant indeed.

Power to weight: 210bhp/ton
0-62mph: 4.9 seconds
Top speed: 155mph
Engine: Four-cylinder 2.0-litre turbo petrol
Power: 310hp at 5800-6200rpm
Torque: 280lb ft at 1800-5700rpm
Transmission: Quattro four-wheel drive with a six-speed dual-clutch S tronic automatic transmission.  
Wheels: 8.5J x 18 light-alloy
Tyres: 245/40 R18
Economy: 40.9mpg
CO2: 159g/km
Price: £42,455
On sale date: Now

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