By Aaron Bragman on March 5, 2014
Competes with: Porsche Boxster, BMW Z4, Nissan 370Z, Mercedes-Benz SLK
Looks like: Same iconic TT, with more angularity
Powertrains: 230 hp or 310 hp, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, six-speed manual or dual-clutch automatic, front- or all-wheel-drive
Hits dealerships: TBD
Audi made waves when the first-generation TT sports car arrived in the late 1990s. It looked like nothing else, eschewing the traditional styles of sports cars for something that seemed like a cross between a gym shoe and squashed Volkswagen Beetle, and it became a style icon. At the 2014 Geneva International Motor Show, Audi has unveiled its third-generation TT and TTS, bringing more refinement and technology to its entry-level sports car, but there is no date set for when it will go on sale in the U.S.
You'd be forgiven for thinking not much has changed on the outside, for at first glance, it doesn't look like much has. The styling updates are subtle: a new front end with a hexagonal grille, angular headlights with new LED pattern, and a similar treatment out back with rear daytime running lights and a third brake light that runs the width of the rear trunk lid.
The TT's side profile view is still intact, but this is the car's largest iteration to date. Its length is nearly the same as its predecessor, but the 2015 TT is 1.4 inches longer in the wheelbase, meaning the front and rear overhangs are shorter. It's also the lightest TT to date, roughly 110 pounds lighter than the previous generation, which was almost 200 pounds lighter than the first car.
The headlights feature an Audi technology first: adaptive Matrix LED lighting that ties in with the car's navigation system to automatically light up approaching curves in the road before the driver even steers into them. Out back, an integrated spoiler automatically deploys at 75 mph to aid in high-speed stability. You can differentiate between TT and TTS models by their tailpipes — TT coupes get two, while the more powerful TTS model gets four exhaust tips.
Audi has kept a lot of the distinctive style of the previous-generation TT models intact in the cabin. It's a minimalist approach that has taken a rather unusual twist: There's no touch-screen display in the dashboard.
Climate control is done through the round vents themselves, with controls in the central dial of each one, but radio, navigation and other systems are displayed only on a massive LCD screen that sits in front of the driver and replaces traditional gauges. It's a novel approach, but one that may prove frustrating for the passenger who has no access to these ancillary systems. Often the front passenger in any given vehicle is performing audio or navigation duty while the driver is driving; that is simply not an option in the new TT. It will be interesting to see how this impacts customer satisfaction scores and spousal relationships.
Three powertrains will initially be available for the TT, two of which are likely to come to the U.S. A 184-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter diesel will be offered, but likely only for European and global markets. The U.S. is instead slated to get a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder gas engine making 230 hp for the TT and 310 hp in the TTS. This shoots the base front-wheel-drive coupe with a standard six-speed manual transmission from zero-to-60-mph in 6.0 seconds, dropping to 5.3 seconds when equipped with all-wheel drive and the six-speed dual-clutch S tronic automatic transmission. Those numbers improve even more in the TTS, dropping to 4.7 seconds to get to 60 mph in the high-powered version, which also comes standard with the manual transmission and a launch control function on the automatic transmission.
The latest version of Audi's magnetic suspension also will be available, allowing the driver to select from a variety of modes to suit road conditions. Audi drive select also offers driver adjustability for a number of systems from steering feel to exhaust noise; it's optional on the TT and standard on the TTS.
As with most modern Audis, the TT will come with an array of electronic safety equipment. Optional equipment includes lane keep assist, radar-based blind spot warning, automatic parking assist and more.
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Detroit Bureau Chief Aaron Bragman grew up in the Detroit area, comes from an automotive family and is based in Ann Arbor, Mich. Email Aaron