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Audi TT Coupe 1.8 TFSI Sport review (2012 onwards)
Model: Audi TT Coupé 1.8 TFSI Sport, £24,075 (£25,905 as tested)
Bodystyle: Three-door coupé
Engine: 1.8 turbo petrol 4-cyl, 160hp @ 4,500-6,200rpm, 184lb ft @ 1,500-4,500rpm
Transmission: six-speed manual, front wheel drive with electronic differential lock
What is it?
This 1.8-litre TFSI Coupé is the entry point into the Audi TT range. Tested here in the standard Ibis White paint and with only a smattering of options to enhance the base-level Sport specification, it is literally as pared-back a TT as you can get.
Until recently, the 160hp turbo petrol under the bonnet was only offered in the pricier Roadster bodystyle. But with the rising cost of fuel and the imminent arrival of new back-to-basics coupés from Subaru and Toyota, Audi has dropped it into the fixed-roof variant as well.
The result is a compact, relatively lightweight sports car that's over £4,000 cheaper than its equivalent diesel sibling - and gives away just 10hp and one tax band in the process. Already you can probably see the appeal.
But can 160hp possibly be enough?
Where does it fit?
As the entry-level Audi TT, the 1.8 TFSI is some 51hp short of the 211hp offered by its 2.0-litre turbo petrol big brother, while the 2.0-litre TDI turbodiesel significantly out muscles the 1.8 petrol for torque. So it's definitely the junior.
Yet that doesn't necessarily make it inadequate. And certainly there are other small coupés on sale with similarly modest motivation, including variants of the Hyundai Veloster, Volkswagen Scirocco, Peugeot RCZ, MINI Coupé and the BMW 1 Series.
On the other hand, the TT is more expensive than all of the above - including the more powerful BMW 120i. If you also take into account the £25k starting price for the 200hp Toyota GT 86 and Subaru BRZ, the £24k Audi is asking begins to seem a little steep.
Is it for you?
Even on 17" wheels it still turns heads
Confident pricing implies a quality product - and from the fit and finish inside the cabin to the way it handles a twisting road, this TT never suggests you're getting anything less than full value for money.
Being front-wheel drive only it's less likely to appeal to drivers attracted by the lairier, arguably more involving responses of rear-wheel drive machines like the BMW, Toyota and Subaru. But the Audi remains a very neatly balanced alternative.
Above all, however, the TT has that super-strong Audi brand image and bags of style. Even on the standard 17" alloy wheels - which look tiny compared to most on this model - it still turns heads. And that's despite a basic body shape originally introduced back in 2006.
What does it do well?
The sweet, revvy 1.8 turbo is one of our favourite versions of the TT Roadster - but we weren't at all sure if 160hp would cut it without the added wind in your hair thrills. We needn't have worried.
The Coupé has a surprisingly fruity exhaust note for starters, avoiding any sense that the smaller engine is going to leave you feeling emotionally underendowed. It then backs this up with deliciously brisk responses, with the maximum 184lb ft of torque waiting to be tapped all the way from 1,500 to 4,500rpm.
You won't feel guilty about letting it loose
160hp, meanwhile, means it isn't the absolute fastest thing in the world. Yet 0-62mph in 7.3 seconds is hardly sluggish, and the go you get with every right-hand pedal press is measured out so precisely it leaves you feeling immensely satisfied, whatever the outing.
Goldilocks would approve: whether it be popping to the shops, shooting up the motorway or hammering along a back-road, to us this TT always felt "just right". And because its performance limits are more accessible, you won't feel guilty about letting it loose every once in a while.
What doesn't it do well?
However, this very accessibility does mean you may find yourself tiring of the car's limitations within a relatively short space of time - if you get your kicks from huge performance hits, this particular TT probably isn't for you.
The way the chassis works is interesting, too. The front end almost feels too sharp to start with, and you have to recalibrate the point at which you would usually turn in, leaving it until later in the corner.
This is hardly a fault, though, and once you're used to the car moving as one rather than front followed by back you can flick the TT through a series of turns with a swift, wristy action. There's little body roll, either - so it carries plenty of speed all the way through.
Keeping the car so flat in the corners requires stiff suspension, and you will occasionally experience this to its full uncomfortable conclusion over rutted and bumpy tarmac. That said, the smaller wheels and more compliant Sport chassis makes this particular TT much more cossetting than an S line alternative.
What is it like to live with?
As all of the above suggests, this TT works best with a neat and tidy driving style - in contrast to the showboating exuberance of more flamboyant rivals, especially those with rear-wheel drive.
But with a crisp, six-speed manual gearbox fitted as standard, convincingly robust brakes and Audi's usual unflinching interior build quality this is a great car for simply getting on with life. It feels solid, dependable - yet retains a certain sense of the special that seems deeply ingrained.
From a practical perspective you aren't going to find many adult friends willing to spend time as passengers in the back. But the boot is big enough for a weekly shopping trip - whether that's at the supermarket or shopping centre - and visibility is just fine.
How green is it?
With the six-speed 'box, Audi reckons you'll see 44.1mpg combined - which is equivalent to 149g/km CO2. Specify the seven-speed S tronic automatic transmission and you can improve this slightly, at the cost of some driver involvement.
The front-drive TTs are so nimble and lithe
The (much) pricier TT diesel manages 53.3mpg with 139g/km in manual guise, 51.4mpg with 144g/km CO2 with a six-speed S tronic - dropping into the same £135 annual car tax band. It does however come with the added grip (and economy sapping friction) of quattro four-wheel drive.
Unless you live in an area particularly susceptible to winter snowfall we can see only limited value in plumping for a four-wheel drive TT, though, especially since they demand a substantial price premium. The front-drive alternatives are so nimble and lithe.
And since petrol is so much cheaper than diesel right now, if economy is your major concern the 1.8 petrol makes plenty of sense. On longer motorway runs you should easily see in excess of 40mpg - just don't expect the same when blasting along a b-road.
Would we buy it?
The Audi TT 1.8 TFSI Sport is a car that excels in making the most of what it's got. It proves you don't need mega amounts of power to have a good time, and it exudes a kind of cool, calm, confidence that puts the driver at ease in every situation.
So, just in case it's already not clear, it's very much our kind of car. Far more than a mere exercise in engine downsizing, it presents itself as a very well rounded product - a vehicle that seems completely satisfied with its lot.
It is far from being the cheapest "entry-level" coupé option on the market. And if you're after the kind of performance that will put your passengers in fear, then you need to look elsewhere. But for us, in this package, 160hp is totally enough.
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