Celebrating ten years since Audi’s TT sports car hit the market, the German automaker couldn’t think of a more fitting way to party than introduce a beefier-high performance version, the TTS. It’s the latest effort by Audi to push and pull the TT up the sports car ladder. So, we took the TTS to a proper place to see if it indeed has reached a higher rung.
That proper place is none other than Georgia’s two-mile, nine-turn Roebling Road Race Course. After all, with serious performance intentions, the 2009 Audi TTS has a lot to prove.
To chase down Euro sports car rivals like the Porsche Cayman and BMW Z4, the TTS ups the ante where it really counts: under the hood. There lies Audi’s newest direct-fuel injected turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder. Output is 265 horsepower, an upshot of 65 over the base TT turbo, and 258 pound-feet of torque.
With its S tronic dual-clutch 6-speed transmission and Audi Launch Control, our TTS tester shot from 0 to 60 in 4.9 seconds and finished off the quarter-mile in 13.6 seconds at 104 miles-per-hour. Top speed is electronically limited to 155 miles-per-hour.
Except for some initial turbo lag, we found power delivery to be smooth and strong all the way up the rev band. Shifts were quick, especially with the steering-mounted paddle shifters. The only complaint is a tendency to automatically upshift whenever you ease off the throttle a bit.
But power alone does not make for a great track experience. Here, cornering prowess blooms as Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive system grabs the asphalt. It’s been customized for the TTS with faster response times, and connects via standard 18, or optional 19-inch ultra-low profile performance tires. Numerous lightweight aluminum components in the MacPherson front suspension and four-link rear setup. Further enhanced by Audi’s magnetic ride adaptive suspension system which lowers the chassis by 10 millimeters. There are two driver-selectable damping modes: normal and sport.
The TTS took to Roebling extremely well. It stays flat into the corners, ready to lay down the power and sling shot out. Understeer is mild for an all-wheel drive car. Ditto any fun-stopping interference from Electronic Stability Program.
Although the TTS is over a 100 pounds heavier than the TT, the extra weight makes a positive contribution to its overall balanced feel. In typical Audi fashion, the TTS is comfortable but not sporty stiff on normal roads. But, when pushed hard on the track, it does prove its moxie. It’s also very easy to get tuned into. Within a couple of laps, you’re driving hard and feeling pretty relaxed doing it.
To clamp down on momentum, there’s a high-performance braking system with black-painted calipers. Large front vented disks and ABS resulted in short stops of 115 feet on average, in a fade free, arrow straight manner.
We also found this little rocket to be pretty socially responsible with preliminary Government Fuel Economy Ratings of 21 city/29 highway on premium gas. We saw 25.1 miles-per-gallon in real-world driving. The Energy Impact Score is a modest 14.3 barrels of oil consumed per year, with a small Carbon Footprint of 7.7 annual tons of CO2 emitted.
Available as both a 2+2 coupe or a two-seat convertible, the TTS’ go-fast looks begin with Audi’s Xenon headlamps and R8-inspired daytime LEDs. These flank a model-specific grille with the TTS emblem.
Other unique body treatments include bumpers, rocker panels, and side mirror housings. The TTS then underscores its performance acumen with dual chrome exhaust pipes on the left and right.
The TTS cabin features a cockpit molded to fit the driver like a glove. The sporty design and clean, artful lines make for a superior space from which to helm this street racer. Our tester’s deep-set sport seats were outfitted in optional Silk Nappa leather upholstery. The Premium Plus package also included seat heat and 10-way power adjusters up front.
And to accurately point the TTS, a thin go-cart-like flat-bottomed steering wheel, perfect for high-speed dancing.
Safety comes from six airbags including two knee bags up front. Although the coupe’s rear seat is too tight for adults, it does offer a split folding feature, which takes cargo room from 10.2 cubic feet to a useful 24.7.
Base pricing for the TTS starts at $46,325 for the coupe and $48,325 for the roadster, which places it in between the out going BMW Z4 and the pricier Porsche Cayman.
Though we counted on a competitive drive, we never expected the TTS to own the track the way it did. We admit it surprised us.
More powerful and expertly tuned, it offers all the balance and bravado a true driving enthusiast could ever hope for in one of the most stylish packages on the road today. The high-performance TTS is a brilliant way for Audi to celebrate 10 years of TT success.
Engine: 2.0-Liter 4-Cylinder
Torque: 258 Lb Feet
0-60 MPH: 4.9 Seconds
1/4 Mile: 13.6 Seconds @ 104 MPH
60-0 MPH: 115 Feet
EPA: 21 MPG City/ 29 MPG Highway
Mixed Loop: 25.1 MPG
Energy Impact: 14.3 Barrels Oil/Yr
CO2 Emissions: 7.7 Tons/Yr