Now those of you who have been in this area will know there are some pretty good driving roads around there. But some of those roads have fallen into a state of disrepair and the resultant potholes can damage a car quite severely – and you can’t safely test a car’s limits on a public road in good conscience either.
Although this was the case, the Audi TT still promised quite a bit and I was looking forward to giving this car a proper workout. As fate would have it, the BMW Car Club of Gauteng was having one of their very popular track days at Kyalami and I decided to go along to do a few laps on this historic track before it is upgraded and changed later this year.
This was the perfect environment to test the capabilities of the TT, as Kyalami is a fast track with a few long corners mixed with tighter ones to properly test the chassis and level of grip on offer from the Quattro-driven machine.
The first trick in going fast is to have a light car and here the TT does not disappoint. The car weighs in at a very decent 1 300kg, which is about 50kg lighter than the previous generation. The second-generation Audi TT featured an Audi Space Frame (ASF) body made from aluminium and steel, and for the new car Audi has systematically taken this composite construction principle even further and used lightweight form hardened panels in the areas subject to the most structural stress.
The side sills and roof frame are made of extruded aluminium profiles integrated into the structure using cast aluminium nodes, along with the bonnet and boot lid, which results in a very rigid chassis that is just perfect for attacking a track or your favourite mountain pass.
Gone is that horrible understeer you may remember from a few of the older performance Audis of the past. You have a front suspension based on a McPherson system with aluminium components and a four-link rear suspension doing duty at the back, along with a Quattro system that has been consistently advanced and optimised and runs software that determines precisely the possible torque distribution between the front and rear axles.
This completely new development means you can turn the car aggressively and wait a fraction of a second for it to rotate to the correct point, then simply stomp on the accelerator and the car pulls hard towards the apex and out to the exit point, making the most of the grip available without any fuss.
As added bonus, when you make use of Audi drive select – where you can adjust the all-wheel-drive properties to suit your requirements at a push of a button – you can slip out of race mode and into one of the other modes, like “comfort”, and drive on in a leisurely and easy manner.
For what it’s worth, I managed to do a 2.04:4 lap time around Kyalami. Those who know what this means will agree this is quite brisk. But to put this into perspective, this time was done on normal Yokohama Advan Sport V105 street tyres as fitted to the car as standard, not semi-slicks, and was about five seconds quicker than I could muster with the substantially more powerful new Subaru WRX on the same day. So I tell you: dismiss the Audi TT as a hairdresser’s car at your own peril.
I am not going to make any excuses, but I might have shaved a few tenths off that time if not for the six-speed S tronic gearbox which, as good and smooth as it is on the road, does not offer a complete hold the gear manual shifting option you would like on the track. In some of the corners where I would have preferred to hold a higher gear and use the torque on tap to power smoothly and quickly out of the corner, the box would shift down a gear as you floored it and cause a fraction of hesitation mid-corner before unleashing the power to the wheels.
This is a small-track-focused criticism and not really relevant to what is an out-and-out road car, but I do wish the S tronic and DSG sibling gearbox would offer a complete manual mode for the hardcore enthusiast.
Back to the positives. The Audi TT makes the most of a relatively conservative amount of power in the form of 169kW and 370Nm from its four-cylinder 2.0 TFSI turbocharged engine and also impressed when put against the clock at the Gerotek test facility.
The car got to 100km/h in just 5.77 seconds, while crossing the quarter mile in 14.06 seconds at 162.41km/h and going through the 1km mark at 204.60km/h and only stopping at 255km/h true. These are numbers that see the Coupe do battle with many a hot hatch on the road today.
By now you all should know very few cars these days come close to their claimed fuel consumption figures and the TT is no different. Audi claims an average fuel consumption of just 6.5 litres per 100km, but my test average came in at 9.6 litres per 100km, which is more realistic and still very good for a car that offers this level of performance.
So the dynamics are out of the way. What about the rest? Well, the styling is, as you can see, evolutionary rather than revolutionary and it works for me. But it is the interior that impresses just as much as the dynamics and is the place you are going to find the most changes.
Exterior, horizontal lines and surfaces emphasise a clean and neat interior, while clear and purist lines are said to underscore both the lightness and the uncompromising sportiness of the Audi TT’s interior along with a first-of-its-kind instrument panel, where the instrument cluster and the MMI screen have been combined to form a central, digital unit called the Audi virtual cockpit.
In addition, the controls for the air-conditioning system are positioned directly in the air-conditioning vents. Seat heating, temperature, direction, air distribution and air-flow strength controls are located at their centre, while the setting selected is shown on small displays in the airconditioning system, and this feature – along with the usual Audi quality and spec you have come to expect – wraps up a very comprehensive and sporty package in the Sports Coupe segment.
The new Audi TT Coupe Quattro is priced at R642 000 and comes standard with the five-year/100 000km Audi Freeway maintenance plan.