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2019 Audi TT/TTS: New Car Review

Thank goodness the 2019 Audi TT/TTS sports cars exist. At a time when roads are becoming clogged with crossovers and pickups, these compact coupes and convertibles represent a different path, one where style and involvement are important considerations. Any member of the TT family would look right at home in front of the swankiest hotel, yet also on twisting canyon roads frequented by enthusiasts. This car is for people who put aesthetics on the same high level as driving pleasure.

It’s no coincidence that the current TT’s styling evokes the Audi R8 supercar. The R8 is a fantastic machine, but way of out most people’s price range. The TT can bring some of that brilliance into the hands of more drivers.

The coupe is referred to as a 2+2, which means a pair of seats for normal people up front with accommodation for two elves behind them. We could put "ridiculously small back seat" in the "What We Don’t Like" section, but the TT has been in existence for around 20 years, so it’s not like it’s some big unpleasant surprise.

Over those years, the TT has gone from being a touchstone for car stylists while not holding much sway among driving enthusiasts, to something that drives quite well but losing some design mojo in the process. With this third-generation model, Audi aims for both targets at the same time.

The ultra-sporty TT RS coupe is reviewed separately.

What’s New for 2019?

All TT models now have a 7-speed dual-clutch automated transmission. That’s one more gear than last year’s model. Audi has also changed how it measures horsepower, so the figures below are slightly lower than before (torque is unchanged). Wireless charging and a phone signal booster are also newly standard across the range. The regular TT is eligible for an "S line competition package" that includes aluminum door sills and an upgraded 3-spoke/flat-bottomed steering wheel, plus 19-in alloy wheels.


The higher-performance, coupe-only TTS model gains a Sport mode for its Virtual Cockpit, and is now offered with a new Competition options bundle featuring Nappa leather-covered seats and a simulated suede-covered 3-spoke/flat-bottomed steering wheel, red brake calipers, rear wing/side mirrors finished in high-gloss black and 20-in high-gloss black-finished alloy wheels.

What We Like

Sharp design; sharp handling; sharp acceleration

What We Don’t

No TTS Roadster version; cup holders are small; no convenient cubby for a cellphone

How Much?

$45,895-$54,795

Fuel Economy

Regular TT models use a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that develops 228 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. The transmission is a 7-speed automated manual (it can be used just like an automatic, or the driver can get more involved with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters) that Audi calls "S Tronic" and all-wheel drive is standard (as always, Audi calls this Quattro).

The TTS has the same engine, but output is boosted to 288 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque. The transmission is also the same.

At the time of compiling this review, there were no Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fuel consumption estimates for the 2019 TT and TTS. But we can still use 2018’s figures as a guideline (despite the new transmission). The regular model achieved 23 miles per gallon in the city, 30 mpg on the highway and 26 mpg in combined driving. That’s for both the coupe and the slightly heavier convertible. The TTS returned 23 mpg city/27 mpg hwy/25 mpg combined.

Standard Features & Options

The 2019 Audi TT comes in coupe or 2-seater convertible (Roadster) form. The 2019 Audi TTS is available solely as a coupe.

The TT coupe ($45,895) has 18-in alloy wheels, full LED lighting, an automatic rear spoiler, dual exhaust tailpipes, heated windshield washer nozzles, keyless entry/ignition, selectable driving modes, automatic climate control, a flat-bottomed steering wheel, rain-sensing wipers, parking sensors front and rear, heated front seats, leather/simulated suede (Alcantara) upholstery, heated/power-folding/self-dimming side mirrors, a self-dimming rearview mirror with digital compass, a rearview camera, Audi’s Virtual Cockpit 12.3-in digital driver information display, 8-way power-adjustable front seats, 50/50 split/folding rear seats, ambient LED cabin lighting, storage drawer under front passenger seat, wireless charging, signal booster, Bluetooth and a 9-speaker audio system with HD/satellite radio, two USB ports, two SD card slots and an auxiliary input.

The TT Roadster ($49,395) comes with essentially the same equipment (minus the two rear seats), but naturally has a power-operated soft top, plus a powered wind defector, rollover hoops and a microphone in the seat belt for voice control of the infotainment system.

An "S line competition package" includes 19-in alloy wheels, a TT RS rear spoiler, an upgraded steering wheel, some cosmetic additions and a Sport mode for the Virtual Cockpit. Other options include leather upholstery. The convertible also offers a neck-heating feature using warm air.

The TTS coupe ($54,795) comes with 19-in alloy wheels, adaptive suspension, quad exhaust tips, sportier front seats and the more powerful engine.

The TTS is eligible for its own Competition package (mentioned above), plus a Black Optic package that adds a black grille, black mirror housings and titanium-finish 20-in alloy wheels. The TTS is also eligible for the Technology package that includes navigation, blind spot monitoring, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration and a Bang & Olufsen 680-watt/12-speaker audio system.

Luggage space in the coupe is 12 cu ft. Those small rear seats fold to create a little more cargo area. The Roadster’s trunk measures 7.5 cu ft., so stowage space is not one of the TT’s strength, but that comes with the high-style territory. If someone really wants to play golf, perhaps they should look at another car.

Safety

All TT variants have mandatory safety equipment like traction control and anti-lock brakes. The airbag count includes protection for the front occupants’ knees as well as front side airbags. The coupe also comes with side curtain airbags, while the convertible has specific rollover protection.

To date, no version of the 2019 Audi TT/TTS has been crash-tested in the U.S.

Behind the Wheel

It isn’t just the look of the cabin, which is great, it’s also the precision feel of the switches. Ergonomics play a big part in the experience, as well. It’s easy to slide one’s knees under the flat-bottomed steering wheel and sink into the supportive sports seats. Space for the front occupants is not an issue.

There’s no center console. The infotainment system and navigation (where applicable) are all part of the Virtual Cockpit. This 12.3-in display is right in front of the driver, where the usual dials would be in less advanced cars. It’s all configurable, but there’s a shortcut button on the steering wheel to snap back to the full-size speedometer and rev counter.

The TT enjoys a smooth engine, superb grip, precise handling, a relatively quiet cabin and a ride quality that’s obviously sporty, but not jarring. The TTS amplifies those qualities just as it amplifies engine power. The TT and the TTS are fully qualified to compete with sporty compact coupes (and convertibles) from BMW and Porsche.

Other Cars to Consider

2019 BMW 2 Series — The 2 Series (coupe and convertible) has arguably less visual impact than the TT, but it’s so rewarding from the driver’s seat.

2019 Mercedes-Benz SLC-Class — A retractable hard top means not having to decide between a coupe or a convertible. The rear-wheel-drive-only SLC (née SLK) also comes in 385-hp SLC 43 AMG form.

2019 Mini Cooper S — The front-drive Cooper S is quick and has more interior space than the TT to accompany its inimitable style.

2019 Porsche 718 Cayman — The regular 718 Cayman coupe comes with 300 hp and starts at about $58,000, so it’s more of a TTS rival both power-wise and cost-wise.

2019 Porsche 718 Boxster — The base 2.0-liter Boxster soft-top is a true sports car. And it gives away few (if any) fashion points.

Autotrader’s Advice

This is one of those "want" purchases rather than a "need." The good news is that whatever TT a buyer wants is a fine choice and we wouldn’t dissuade you.

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