A select group of lucky Sydney-siders were let loose in the all-new Audi TT at the recent launch held by Audi Centre Sydney.
The third-generation sports car remains decidedly similar looking to the previous generations released in 1998 and 2005, though the rounded edges have been sharpened, giving it more aggressive lines.
Over the years, Audi have remained loyal to the design of the original concept vehicle that made its debut two-decades ago at the 1995 Frankfurt Motor Show.
CarAdvice attended the official Australian launch held in Tasmania earlier this month (read the full 2015 Audi TT Review), which was closely followed by the local event providing the opportunity for Audi customers, potential customers, fleet buyers and media representatives to get behind the wheel.
Multiple two-hour sessions were held throughout the day and each consisted of a presentation by Steve Pizzati, head driver training instructor at Audi Australia’s driver academy, then a short drive followed by light entertainment including tunes from a DJ set up in the boot of an Audi and three different liquid nitrogen ice-cream stands.
While there wasn’t a lot of time to pour over the car in detail, it was certainly enough to whet the appetite.
Our test car was the Tango Red (because it goes faster) 2.0-litre TFSI four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine producing 169 kW of power and 370Nm of torque, with Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive and six-speed S tronic dual clutch automatic transmission (full pricing and specification details here).
It had black leather S line interior and a few options – 19-inch five-spoke blade design wheels, Matrix LED headlights, privacy glass, anthracity interior element and Bang & Olufsen sound system. My party of three was expecting it to be punchy, loud and nimble.
I have to admit, I’m not a fan of the shape and look of the older TT‘s. It’s too soft and round, reminding me of a turtle, which is – without question – not the impression Audi would have been going for.
The new TT is edgier with more attitude, with those straight up and down side panels, wheel arches jutting out and side-skirts that are almost flat adding a lot more character in my opinion.
The session started with a short presentation that outlined some of the major changes to the new TT and for me, there were three standout features – the Matrix LED headlights, Virtual Cockpit and the air-vent controls.
New ideas and technology have been integrated into the cabin and the Virtual Cockpit is a driver focussed, fully digital instrument cluster that shows all the relevant information in a clearly laid out and customisable format.
The usual location of the instrument cluster is now the home of a 12.3-inch TFT display that shows the speedometer, tachometer, navigation and infotainment. There are a number of layouts to choose from including a panoramic map view.
It’s not so convenient for the front passenger if they want to see the screen to change the radio station for example, but in my opinion it’s far better for them to turn their head and lean to get a better view, than the driver to have to do so.
I love this idea because it reduces driver distraction, a glance down toward the steering wheel is all that’s needed to keep an eye on everything.
The air-conditioning vents are worth pointing out. There are five across the dash – one each on the driver and passenger side and three spaced out in the centre.
Rather than then having extra dials and buttons on the dash, the controls are integrated into the housing of the vent. Clever!
Audi’s Matrix LED headlight technology is seriously cool (read the full explanation here). Basically it allows high beam to be constantly on, while an ultra light sensitive camera detects oncoming cars and distributes the high beam light around them, blocking out that blinding high beam glare.
After being shown around the vehicle and checking out examples of the previous generations that were on display, it was time to test it out.
The drive-loop was short and involved two driver changes, but I had the opportunity to put the foot down and hear it snap, crackle and pop.
Because we had three people along for the drive, we all had the opportunity to test out the back seat. Yes, there are two seats squished under that sloping roof-line and it’s as uncomfortable as you’d expect.
I’m 5’8″ and had to duck my head and twist to the side to fit in, and there was very little leg room. The rear seats are for small, small children or short drives when you have no choice than to try and convince your passengers that it could be fun to play sardines.
Needless to say, not one member of our group was happy spending much time in the back seat!
But it was worth it, the TT puts a smile on your face. The interior is impressive and its technological features are game changing and we can expect to see the Virtual Cockpit, Matrix LED headlights and air-vent controls across many more Audi models in the future.