The third-generation Audi TT Roadster has been revealed six months after its coupe sibling, and one week ahead of its world premiere in the metal at the 2014 Paris motor show.
Pitched as offering “purity in its most beautiful form”, the topless Audi TT is the second member of a range poised to include additional derivatives such as a four-door family version and potentially a Shooting Brake-style crossover wagon, a la the growing Mercedes-Benz CLA family.
The TT Roadster picks up all the signature design elements of the Coupe — a review of which you can read here and in TT S form here — and is shorter, lighter, more aerodynamic and importantly, more rigid than the second-generation ragtop version still on sale.
Inside the cabin, as per the coupe, is Audi’s ‘virtual cockpit’ with a 12.3-inch digital display embedded in the instrument cluster ahead of the driver, a simplified MMI multimedia system centred around six hard buttons, a rotary dial and a touchpad atop, and its advanced voice control system.
A new-from-the-ground-up model, based on the Volkswagen Group’s MQB architecture as with the Audi A3, Skoda Octavia and Volkswagen Golf, the TT Roadster with its aluminium componentry weighs 1320 kilograms in base form (dry), about 90kg more than the coupe.
This is largely down to the measures Audi has taken to bolster body rigidity, part of its drive to boost the dynamic credentials of its style statement. The Ingolstadt marque claims that struts in the underbody and body “considerably improve” both the torsional rigidity and ride comfort.
For instance, compared with the coupe, the body of the Roadster has aluminium A‑pillars that each conceal a second steel pillar in their interior — which in turn houses a solid steel tube — and steel struts underneath the engine compartment, luggage compartment and connecting the axle carriers.
As with all Audi cabriolet models, the new TT Roadster and hotter TTS Roadster also feature an electric fabric top — no folding steel item here. With parts made from magnesium, aluminium, steel and plastic, the soft top weighs 39kg, down 3kg on the outgoing car.
While opening, the top forms a Z shape (like the new A3) as it folds together into a flat package. When is stowed in the aluminium tray, it does not encroach on the 280-litre luggage compartment, apparently. It can open or stow in 10 seconds and speeds of up to 50km/h.
The re-jigged ‘acoustic top’ has improved thermal insulation and, depending on frequency, the noise level in the interior has been reduced by up to 6 dB compared with the predecessor.
At 4177 millimetres long, the two‑seater is 21mm shorter than its predecessor, but the wheelbase has grown by 37mm to 2505mm. The front and rear overhangs are correspondingly shorter. At 1832mm wide, the new TT Roadster is also 10mm narrower than its predecessor and has a height of 1355mm (down 3mm). Its drag coefficient is a class-leading 0.30Cd with the top closed.
The design is familiar from the Coupe, with the new wide and flat single-frame grille, similar in ways to the Audi R8 supercar, and generally sharper front design leading into more masculine edges and straight lines throughout the still evolutionary body.
At the rear, the diffuser incorporates the tail pipes. At speeds of 120 km/h and above — clearly a feature more for Europe than Australia’s low-speed roads — a spoiler is electrically extended from the luggage compartment lid to provide additional downforce on the rear axle.
Two vertical lighting elements are positioned in the sleeker new headlights, including the standard DRLs. Audi (optionally, of course) will offer full LED headlights and, shortly after launch, its new powerful and precise active Matrix LED technology with a variable high-beam produced by small, individually controlled diodes.
Fans will note, also, the hat-tip to the revolutionary first-generation version of the 1990s, with touches such as the front wheel-arch breaking through the bonnet joiner harking back. The cabriolet also has signature rounded-edge rollover bars behind the pair of seats.
Under the bonnet of the entry TT models are one of two turbocharged four-cylinder engines, a 169kW/370Nm 2.0-litre TFSI petrol and a 135kW/380Nm TDI diesel that uses 4.3L/100km.The flagship TT S gets a 228kW/380Nm unit that can dash from 0-100km/h in 4.9 seconds, two-tenths slower than the coupe.
Available globally are either six-speed manual or six-speed S tronic dual-clutch auto transmissions, channeling power to either the front wheels or all four via the redeveloped, variable torque distributing quattro permanent all-wheel-drive system (standard on the TT S).
The third TT generation is also the first in which the permanent all‑wheel drive is integrated into the Audi drive select steering system that adjusts the steering and throttle response, and also accesses a series of optional features including the Audi magnetic ride adaptive damper control (fitted as standard on the TTS Roadster).
The all-round independent suspension has a high proportion of aluminium components to cut down on unsprung weight. Audi claims cornering is improved also by a body lowered by 10mm on the TTS Roadster, in conjunction with the S line sports package and Audi magnetic ride.
In Germany, sales of the new TT Roadster will begin this month. The TT S Roadster will follow at the start of 2015. Australian sales of the coupe will commence in the new year, with the TT S to follow a little later. Expect the Roadster to arrive a few months after the first coupes.
CarAdvice has contacted Audi Australia for more specific local launch times.
Update: Audi Australia spokesman Shaun Clearly has told CarAdvice the convertible TT will launch in mid-2015, with the TT S a few months behind.