All-New Audi TT looking good ... and that's what counts
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Listen up, you trend-setting progressive Aucklanders, Audi’s hot new TT sports coupe is just the car for you
Looks count when it comes to potential customers for the new Audi TT sports coupe. After its international launch in Spain in September last year, the third-generation TT has just gone on sale in New Zealand.
First in the showrooms is the $91,800 front-wheel-drive TT with a 2-litre, four-cylinder TFSI petrol engine producing 169kW of power and paired with a six-speed S Tronic transmission.
It sits on 18in tyres and has the option of an S-Line interior package for $4000.
The Quattro TTS with the 228kW 2-litre engine will arrive in May and will be priced from $122,900, and the roadster ($96,800 for the TT and $127,900 for the TTS) will go on sale later in the year.
The latest version of the sports coupe is a more masculine one than the rounded second-generation Audi TT. It takes many styling cues from the Audi R8 and uses Matrix headlights technology from the Le Mans-winning cars.
The wheelbase has been extended to 2.51m, the overall length is 4.18m with shorter overhangs and, by using a combination of aluminum and composite steel, the new body of the TT is 1230kg, 50kg less than the previous model.
At the local launch, Audi New Zealand's general manager Dean Sheed said that for many customers, the look of the TT was more important than performance of the sports coupe.
Sheed said that in an Audi AG global survey, 38.5 per cent of people rated exterior design as important, while 23 per cent rated performance.
The TT's clean, easy-to-use controls and the virtual cockpit display (below) are the way of the future.
Sheed expects Kiwi customers to also appreciate the look of the new sports coupe.
He is expecting to sell 80 units this year, with 60 per cent of initial sales of the front-wheel-drive TT.
"We find sales of the higher performance vehicles later in the life cycle of the vehicle," said Sheed.
He also predicted customers would be "trend-setting progressives" and Auckland would be the major market.
Those buyers who opt for the TTS on 19in alloys will also get the impressive magnetic ride adaptive system with lower suspension.
The TT's clean virtual cockpit display is the way of the future.
Having driven the TT and TTS at the Spain launch, I found the Quattro suspension system produced a more assertive drive, especially with cornering.
That doesn't mean the TT front-wheel-drive is a slouch when it comes to performance. On the motorway segment of the Auckland launch, the coupe easily slotted into sixth gear and moved comfortably at speed.
Turning off to take in some country open roads, I flicked the transmission into manual and used the steering wheel paddles to power through tight corners.
During Driven's week-long first drive of the TT, not only did the car prove what a great city vehicle it is but had many heads turning thanks to the styling.
And while the exterior is a cosmetic step up, it's the interior that is most revolutionary and a 10 out of 10 for fans, like me, of clean, simple design factors.
Audi says many of its customers rate good looks ahead of performance ... and the new TT has plenty of both.
Gone is the centre stack with infotainment screen, air con controls dials etc. Instead, the MMI (Multi Media Interface) is in front of the driver in a 31.2cm curved display called a virtual cockpit.
It creates a clean cabin without the hassle of a screen plonked on the dash, and it works superbly.
You can set the display to suit you with the speedo and rev counter in circles on either side and radio, cellphone or my favourite - a map or navigation - filling the rest of the screen. In classic configuration, the speedo and tachometer are in the foreground, with the infotainment mode (such as the radio setting) in the background.
You can control the information in the MMI with steering wheel mounted buttons or a large round joystick in front of the power brake. To use it you write on the surface of the joystick, push it to accept your instruction, and pinch or flick the surface to expand your view.
The air vents have also had a makeover. The five of them resemble aeroplane turbines, and the middle houses controls such as heated seats, air con temperature, and fan speed.
A few days after seeing the interior at the international launch last year, I was interviewing BMW Group's head designer Adrian van Hooydonk at the Paris motor show.
I suggested that he should visit the Audi stand to check out the virtual cockpit in the TT that was on display. He declined.
Shame, because the clean dash and the virtual cockpit is the way of the future, I reckon.