For most cars, styling is just one aspect of the overall package, but the 2014 Audi TT is all about drawing stares. From its flashy LED accent lights to its Porsche-like rear haunches, the TT cuts a striking figure. The interior, too, is pleasing to the eye, especially with the available baseball-glove leather upholstery.
Naturally, you'll want to know whether there's substance behind it all. Well, that depends on how picky you are. Fans will point to the TT's energetic turbocharged engine, standard all-wheel drive and nimble handling. Foes will retort that the TT's platform is closely related to that of the Volkswagen Golf, so it's "not a real sports car" (whatever that means).
We can see both sides, but there's no doubt the 2014 TT looks good enough to clinch a sale on appearance alone. Add some solid fun-to-drive points to that equation and we'd say the 2014 TT is sitting pretty despite its advancing age.
What's New for 2014?
The 2014 TT is offered in a single well-equipped trim level that approximates last year's Premium Plus trim but includes new standard features such as extended leather, Bose audio and S line styling. The adjustable magnetic dampers are no longer available, however.
What We Like
Distinctive looks; premium interior; standard all-wheel drive; fun to drive; 2.0T engine stronger than it used to be
What We Don't
Surprisingly pricey; iPod connectivity isn't standard; more power and handling sharpness offered by many rivals
The TT is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine rated at 211 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. The drivetrain features Quattro all-wheel drive and a 6-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission.
Fuel economy is 22 miles per gallon city/31 mpg hwy, which isn't stellar for a relatively lightweight car with 4-cylinder power.
Standard Features & Options
The 2014 Audi TT coupe and convertible (Roadster) are offered in a single well-equipped trim level.
The coupe ($40,795) comes with 18-inch alloy wheels, S line sport exterior trim, xenon headlamps with LED accents, fog lights, a power-retracting rear spoiler, power front seats with adjustable lumbar, extended leather/Alcantara upholstery, a 3-knob climate system with automatic temperature control, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel with shift paddles, voice controls, Bluetooth connectivity and a 12-speaker Bose audio system with SD-card compatibility, an auxiliary input and satellite radio.
The Roadster ($43,795) deletes the coupe's vestigial rear seats and adds a power-operated soft-top.
Notable options include the Navigation package (comprising Audi's 6.5-in MMI screen, a DVD-based navigation system, iPod connectivity and rear parking sensors), Nappa leather upholstery, baseball-glove-style leather upholstery, heated front seats and 19-in wheels with summer performance tires.
The TT coupe technically has a back seat, but it's one of the least useful of its kind. We'd probably leave it folded down most of the time to take advantage of the coupe's hatchback convenience and 24.7-cu ft maximum cargo capacity (compared to 13.1 cu ft behind the rear seats). The Roadster has only two seats and a trunk capacity of 8.8 cu ft.
As for the Roadster's soft-top, it raises and lowers quickly, and Audi says the top can be operated at speeds up to 31 miles per hour. The Roadster also comes with a power-operated wind deflector.
The 2014 Audi TT comes with standard stability control, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes and six airbags (front, front side, front knee).
The TT has not been crash-tested in the U.S.
Behind the Wheel
Our interior evaluation of the TT revealed top-notch materials and an intimate, cockpit-like driving position that's enhanced by the driver-ward cant of the central control panel. The front seats provide satisfying lateral support in corners, a welcome departure from Audi's norm. Although the TT is a tiny car, we've found that tall folks have no problem getting comfortable behind the wheel, thanks in part to the tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel and the standard power height adjustment for the driver's seat.
The wheel has a cool race-inspired flat-bottom design, and behind it are a classic analog tachometer and speedometer rendered in Audi's distinctive font. Ergonomics are surprisingly sound: The climate controls, notably, eschew Audi's typical 2-knob digital setup in favor of a simpler 3-knob setup that actually lets you adjust the fan speed without going through an extra step or two.
The TT's 2.0T engine is the same one that's standard in the A4 sedan, but it has less mass to motivate here, so there's enthusiastic acceleration on tap whenever you goose the throttle. The automated manual transmission is even more impressive, upshifting instantaneously and downshifting smoothly thanks to precise rev-matching. Of course, there are much faster cars available for similar coin, but no one would ever accuse the TT of being slow.
On winding roads, the TT may not be a serious performance car, but it's pretty fun to drive anyway. Grip from the Quattro all-wheel-drive system is tenacious, and the engine and transmission complement the chassis nicely. Predictably, the ride is firm, but it's never harsh, and the optional magnetic dampers make the TT even suppler. If you're drawn to the TT's unique sense of style, you'll probably be quite pleased with how it drives.
Other Cars to Consider
Ford Mustang GT -- Hey, don't laugh. The Mustang has strong styling credentials of its own, both coupe and convertible, and the GT model's delectable 5.0-liter V8 blows the TT's turbo four into the weeds.
MINI Cooper S Coupe/Roadster -- MINI now offers 2-seat versions of its turbocharged Cooper S: a coupe and a roadster, just like the TT. Although the MINIs are front-wheel-drive only, they're a riot to pilot, and they're a lot cheaper, too.
Volkswagen Eos - The Eos may have relatively staid styling and a less powerful version of the 2.0T engine, but it also boasts a power-folding hardtop and a lower base price.
We think the TT coupe's fastback profile is a big part of the car's aesthetic appeal, so we'd skip the Roadster and get the coupe instead. We'd want the optional 19-in wheels, though. The TT just doesn't look quite right without them.