Here's the lowdown on the 2015 Audi TTS: It's basically a regular TT with 54 more horsepower, a slightly sportier suspension and a heftier price tag.
And here's the question we'll try to answer: Are these improvements just window dressing, or are they significant enough to justify the extra $8,000 or so that Audi's charging?
On the one hand, the TTS is undoubtedly quicker in a straight line than the regular TT. Thanks to the additional hp, the TTS leaps forward when you squeeze the throttle. The TTS's ride height is also lower by 10 millimeters, which sharpens the car's athleticism. Moreover, the TTS offers unique exterior styling cues that signal its special "S-ness" to observant passersby.
On the other hand, the regular TT delivers most of the TTS model's pleasures for considerably less cash.
Nonetheless, if you love the TT and want more than the regular one has to offer, the 2015 TTS will surely have you eagerly anticipating each drive. The TTS may be mighty similar to the regular TT, but our roads can always use more cars with style and performance to spare.
What's New for 2015?
The TTS gains an optional Competition package that adds a smattering of aesthetic upgrades.
What We Like
Distinctive looks; premium interior; standard all-wheel drive; zesty acceleration
What We Don't
Rivals offer better performance
The TTS is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline 4-cylinder that generates 265 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. Quattro all-wheel drive is standard, as is a 6-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, TTS drivers can expect the same fuel economy as regular TT drivers: 22 miles per gallon in the city and 31 mpg on the highway.
Standard Features & Options
The 2015 Audi TTS is offered in a single trim level as either a coupe or convertible (Roadster).
The TTS coupe ($49,595) comes standard with 19-inch alloy wheels, an electronically adjustable magnetic-ride suspension, adaptive xenon headlamps with LED accents, fog lights, a power retracting rear spoiler, interior LED accent lights, leather upholstery, heated power front seats with adjustable lumbar, a 3-knob climate system with automatic temperature control, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel with shift paddles, Bluetooth connectivity and a 255-watt Bose audio system.
The 2-seat TTS Roadster ($52,595) ditches the coupe's already tiny rear seats and adds a power-operated soft-top.
The Navigation package adds parking sensors, a 255-watt Bose audio system and Audi's Multi Media Interface with a 6.5-in display screen, a dash-mounted control knob, navigation with real-time traffic, a 6-CD changer, two SD-card slots and iPod integration. Special Nappa leather upholstery is available in either 2-tone or baseball-glove style. The new Competition package bundles the baseball-glove upholstery with a fixed rear spoiler and special alloy wheels. The Black Optic package adds a gloss black grille, matte black exterior trim, black interior inlays and exclusive 19-in wheels with a titanium finish.
In terms of interior functionality, the TTS coupe's back seat is one of the least useful in the world, on par with the 911's for passenger-carrying futility. 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. of maximum cargo capacity (compared to 13.1 cu ft. behind the rear seats). The Roadster has only two seats and a cargo capacity of 8.8 cu ft. The Roadster's soft-top raises and lowers quickly, and Audi says the top can be operated at speeds of up to 31 miles per hour. A power-operated wind deflector is standard.
The 2015 Audi TTS comes with standard stability control, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes and six airbags (front, front-side, front-knee).
Like the rest of the TT family, the TTS has not been crash-tested in the U.S.
Behind the Wheel
The 2015 TTS's interior has state-of-the-art materials and design, as well as an intimate, cockpit-like driving position that's enhanced by the cant of the central control panel. The front sport seats, which are essentially carry-overs from the regular TT, provide satisfying lateral support in corners. Although the TTS is a tiny car, tall folks fit just fine thanks to the tilt-telescopic steering wheel and the standard power height adjustment for the driver's seat.
The steering wheel has a cool race-inspired flat-bottom design, and behind it are a classic analog tachometer and speedometer with numerals rendered in Audi's distinctive font. Ergonomics are unusually good for an Audi; notably, the climate controls 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 outdated previous-generation MMI system, however, is not particularly user-friendly.
Under the hood, the 2.0T turbo four is basically the same engine that's in the regular TT. It makes the same amount of torque, and the horsepower gains have more to do with software programming than anything else. Nonetheless, let's give credit where credit's due: The TTS is a pretty quick little car, and the dual-clutch automatic is always on time with a smooth, precise shift.
The TTS model's standard lowered suspension -- by 10 millimeters -- is something you can't specify on the regular TT, and it gives the TTS a handling edge. Also, the standard magnetic dampers (optional on TT) strike a solid balance between comfort and body control, and you can choose between normal and sport modes depending on what kind of driving you're up to. Grip is tenacious thanks to quattro all-wheel drive, making the TTS good, safe fun on tight roads.
Other Cars to Consider
BMW Z4 -- BMW's hardtop roadster is available for about the same price as the TTS Roadster, and we find the Z4 better to drive and (thanks to the retractable hardtop) safer to park.
Porsche Cayman -- The Cayman is certainly more of a driver's car than the TTS coupe, but they're both beautiful in terms of style.
Mazda MX-5 Miata -- For a fraction of the Audi's price, the admittedly slower Miata offers rear-wheel-drive dynamics and a manual transmission that's a joy to operate. There's even a version with a retractable hardtop.
Styling sells, and the TTS model's fastback profile in coupe form is a major selling point that sets this car apart from its rivals.