Marbella, Spain – It’s hard not to be giddy getting out of Audi’s latest iteration of its sporty little coupe, greeted by the warm sunshine in Spain’s southern Andalusia region. We are here ‘testing’ Audi’s new TT, set to arrive next year as a 2016 model, bringing with it sharpened design, dynamics, and a great leap forward in its Virtual Cockpit.
The original Audi TT stormed onto the scene as a design study made available to the public, and while it has evolved into a much less distinct design in the second and now third generations, it has been a positive change. The 2016 TT isn’t much of a departure at all from the second generation, the lines, angles and creases becoming sharper again, only the profile and cross section retaining the rounded, bubbly personality of the original.
While the original broke the mold with its baseball-mitt leather and stitching treatment, Audi has since discovered a more delicate touch with fine, quilted leather seats in grey or black, with tight, fine stitching and a dramatic dash with three large turbine-inspired vents with the climate controls integrated into their hubs. The materials are all Audi premium, the dash soft to the touch, the leather convincing and the switchgear finely, firmly damped. Every little thing you touch feels right.
Audi has named their integrated infotainment and gauge cluster Virtual Cockpit, and it’s so epic that we must cover it in depth, at length, exhaustively in a column entirely to itself. The basic layout can feature large or small digital speed and tach gauges (with TTS models also offering a central tach setup) framing the info screen that would normally be housed atop or in the centre stack. Information can be accessed via thumb scrolling and buttons on the left spoke, the large dial with hand-writing recognition on the console, or voice command that Audi claims is more natural – that we’ll have to test when it lands on our shores. We found it a brilliant leap forward, the menus and layout we’ve gotten used to in our A3 long-term tester made even more easily and quickly accessible right in your line of sight.
2016 Audi TT, TTS, TT dashboard, TTS Virtual Cockpit. Click image to enlarge
Though overall length has increased by only 2 mm, now stretching 4,191 mm, the wheelbase gains almost 40 mm, its 2,505 mm (the shortest wheelbase of any cars using the MQB architecture underpinning VW group vehicles such as the Volkswagen Golf, Audi A3 and more) allowing for rear seats that look no more inviting than those in a Porsche 911, though officially there is more room back there for your torture victims and potted plants. Those rear seats fold down, expanding the default 305 L to 712 should you be transporting many duffel bags or groceries – the height of the compartment precludes steamer trunks and even small refrigerators. Width has increased marginally, as have front and rear track and height reduced (centre of gravity also reduced by 10 mm), boding well for handling.