- Published: Monday, 18 December 2017 13:55
Audi’s most modest TT 1.8 coupe shows how being little means you can get away with a lot
What’s the worst thing about driving a fully-loaded family car?
Is it the general cacophony, the varied bladder demands of five to seven individuals? Perhaps it’s the fact that deciding on a place to eat at is more difficult than achieving peace in the Middle East? Chief among them is the fact that Driver’s Privilege - that is, choice of music and driving pace - will always be heavily contested.
The solution is to have a family-mobile for mundane trucking and something else for fun on weekends or whenever you simply need to regain your sanity.
Having two cars isn’t exactly cheap, but at least cars like the Audi TT 1.8 help make your wallet’s hole a little less tunnel-sized.
The fourth-gen TT has been here in Singapore since 2015, but now is the first time we’re seeing the least expensive, least powerful model, namely the TT 1.8 TFSI. As the entry level model, it’s $30k cheaper than the TT 2.0, which has 50hp more, plus quattro and does 0-100km/h in only 5.9 seconds.
On paper, helmsmen looking for an involving drive should opt for the 2.0, but as we’ve found in many Audis - such as the A5 2.0 Coupe - it’s often the lesser, non-quattro models that deliver bigger bang for your buck.
It’s the same case here, as the lesser TT delivers much more than the asking price reflects. Sure, 180hp isn’t a huge amount for a sports coupe, but the TT has always been about making more from less.
The interior is pared down and utilitarian - it’s almost the car interior version of a Braun device done by Dieter Rams. The driver focus is obvious and refreshing, as there’s little of the excess you’d find in a modern crossover. In fact, bickering about what tunes should be playing is easy, since only you have full visual access to a display screen in the form of Audi’s sharp, lag-free Virtual Cockpit instrument panel.
While iconic oval-themed design has evolved into a more modern, figured shape, under the skin the car remains a special platform of its own, a sort of halfway house between mainstream MQB (on the VW Golf and Audi A3) and Audi’s costlier aluminium space frame used in the R8.
It pays off in the fact that the TT 1.8 weighs less than a VW Golf GTI and around the same as a Toyota Corolla Altis, and that’s something the driver benefits from immensely as more feedback, lighter, accurate inputs and improved ride quality.
While the ride is still sports car bumpy, you don’t have to make excuses for its behaviour at all. It’s still a sharp driver’s tool, the low mass and compact dimensions making it bunches of fun rabbiting through bends of all sorts, and at all speeds.
Yet despite its selfishness, the TT has a conscience too. Lightness, an Efficiency mode and start-stop make the TT 1.8 a very efficient car - sub-8.0L/100km scores are easy to achieve in real life, even with a little flogging of the horse.
Put up against broadly similar rivals like the Mercedes-Benz SLC and Mazda MX-5, the TT 1.8 is still more than a match, pace-wise, although the Merc is more expensive, while the Mazda is cheaper.
Both a rear-wheel drive and have strictly two seats, though the Audi boasts a pair of vestigial rear seats that are good for luggage, or discouraging future rides with hangers-on, as anyone above 1.4-metres tall will have their heads scraping the rear windscreen.
To the TT’s further credit, the large and flat 312-litre boot is almost estate like, and expands to a very practical 712-litres with the seats out of the way.
The TT 1.8 isn’t the showiest, nor the fastest coupe around, but it delivers excellent value through a low price, good efficiency and ease of use. A fun and involving compact coupe that’s light in the exact places it needs to be.
Audi TT 1.8 TFSI
Engine 1,798cc, inline 4, turbocharged
Power 180hp at 5100-6200rpm
Torque 250Nm at 1250-5000rpm
Gearbox 7-speed dual-clutch automatic
Top Speed 250km/h
0-100km/h 7.0 seconds
Fuel efficiency 5.9L/100km
Price $219,700 with COE
Agent Premium Automobiles
Verdict Still a sophisticated sport coupe, but now more affordable and one that allows a driver to indulge with little guilt.