You know, there seems to be something about me attending car launches, and the weather. Take a few weeks ago; I fly into Jerez in the south of Spain for the Ford Kuga launch, and what do I get — torrential rain. So, it should come as no surprise that, having left a gloriously sunny Stansted at the Godforsaken time of 6.45am, I should land 90 minutes later in Munich for the first drive of the new Audi TT TDI … and discover it’s absolutely tipping it down!
Like the Kuga though, the conditions proved ideal for putting the turbo diesel-powered TT coupe through its paces in conditions akin to what we would accept as a miserable driech Scottish winter’s day.
Thankfully, the TT TDI — powered by Audi’s latest 2.0-litre, four-cylinder TDI engine with ultra-efficient common rail fuel injection incorporating piezo injectors, and which made its debut in the recent A4 — is paired with the German company’s stunning quattro four-wheel-drive technology.
What’s even more fun is the car’s two-stage ESP system allows you to set the car to allow you to drift the car through corners before all the electronic gizmos kick in and square you up, avoiding the impact with the nearby hedge.
I have to admit, I long been a fan of the TT — which was first launched 10 years ago — but it’s taken this length of time for diesel technology to progress to the stage where Audi felt comfortable enough to squeeze the oilburner into what is, without question, a sports car.
That diesel technology, it should be added, is what has powered Dumfries racer Allan McNish’s Audi R10TDI to glory in the American Le Mans Series and which hopefully will land him the Le Mans 24-Hours title in June.
The figures from the TT TDI are impressive. Not only can it reach a max of 140mph
(where legal, of course!) but it hits 62mph from standstill in just 7.5secs and returns a whopping 53mpg on the combined cycle.
Pumping out 170bhp, the TDI unit churns out 350Nm of torque at just 1750rpm — more
than even the 3.2-litre V6 petrol model can muster — meaning there’s bags of oomph when you power out of a corner.
The test model I drove was fitted with the standard six-speed manual gearbox — an
S-Tronic auto box is a 1400 quid option — and the shifts were not only precise, but enjoy a very short through between gates.
We found a brilliant narrow country road — with a super mixture of tight, twisty sections and long, flowing bends — south of Audi’s Ingolstadt factory to test the car; and boy is it good!
Working seamlessly with the quattro system, the TDI will surprise many: it is a true sports car.
Firmly planted through corners, the TT never hinted at stepping out of line, even when
hustled through the tightest bend. The steering is beautifully weighted — slightly
heavier than the petrol models — resulting in great feel which in turn allows you
to position the car accurately mid-bend.
But don’t think this is a a car just for blasting round corners. On the derestricted
autobahn, where we hit 220km/ph — that’s about 135mph in real money — the TT TDI
not only remained surefooted, but proved itself a relaxed cruiser capable of gobbling
up the miles.
Outside and inside, the rest of the TT is essentially the same as the petrol models with
impeccable build quality and class-leading ergonomics. It’s a very tactile cabin with
everything you touch oozing quality.
The standard TDI comes with 17-inch Trapez alloy wheels, leather and Alcantara-upholstered sports seats, electronic climate control and an MP3-compatible 140-watt Audi Concert audio system with single CD drive. The boot is capable of being increased from the standard 200 litres, to 700 with the rear seat backs folded flat.
Oh … and don’t think that suddenly the TT is capable of carrying four passengers: it isn’t.
Ok, you could maybe squeeze too little kids in, but I think they’d rapidly feel claustrophobic and car sickness wouldn’t be far away. At a push, I guess you could squeeze a mate in for a few miles.
But here’s the best bit: the TT TDI costs only £26,350 (the roadster is another two grand) and though the first cars won’t be delivered until the summer, Audi dealers are taking orders now.
You’d better hurry though. I’ve a feeling there’s going to be something of a rush!