By on February 24, 2015

2015 Audi TTS Coupe CompetitionPerhaps it’s age or jaded eyes. Maybe it’s a desire to move the conversation forward. It might even be experience. One way or another, I’ve become increasingly less likely to allow exterior styling to garner more than a passing mention in my reviews of cars, trucks, SUVs, crossovers, and minivans.


• USD Price As-Tested: $54,595

• Horsepower: 265 @ 6500 rpm

• Torque: 258 lb-ft @ 2500 rpm

• Observed Fuel Economy: 16.9 mpg


But after feasting my eyes upon a second-generation Audi TT sitting in my driveway – even in 90s yellow; nearly nine years after we first saw the second-generation TT and some 16 years since the first TT went on sale; with the third-generation TT already revealed and about to go on sale – how can my lips be silent?

This 2015 TTS Coupe Competition convinces me that the second TT is the most attractive of Audi’s three TT iterations. I grew to dearly love the first, but it could be faulted for looking the same coming and going. The forthcoming Mk3 TT seems somehow more formal, more serious, and less visually distinct from the (handsome) Volkswagen Scirocco.

2015 Audi TTS Coupe Competition yellowThis, however, is a visual stunner in both overall form and in detail. From the bulging fenders to the artfully arched roof and the properly proportioned grille, it’s deserving of credit for its general aesthetic alone. But the aluminum-finished mirrors and rear wing struts are eye-catching details, the 19-inch wheels are conversation starters, the strakes that lead into the foglights bring further cohesion to the front end. Moreover, the design as a whole testifies to the fact that new cars don’t all look the same. And though it originally went on sale around the time Peyton last won a Super Bowl, the Mk2 Audi TT appears wonderfully current.

At least on the outside.

You’ll use a key to start the car. There’s no backup camera or much of the on-alert safety gear (there are backup sensors but no blind spot monitoring, for instance) you now expect in $35,000+ mainstream sedans, let alone premium brand cars costing around $55,000. The navigation screen, which works with a less than impressive version of Audi’s MMI, is a bite-sized 6.5 inches. The cabin certainly doesn’t rank among the quietest I’ve encountered in the last number of months, either.

2015 Audi TTS Coupe Competition rearNone of this is unexpected for a car which traces its design back to the era of the sixth-generation Chevrolet Malibu. (Yeah, it’s that old.) But no matter how good the TTS looks outside, and no matter how high the material quality is inside, these specific elements recall a bygone era, and not in a nostalgic way.

What the outgoing TT lacks in modernity it ultimately makes up for by consistently providing a memorable experience. Granted, the TT, even in this special edition one-of-500 TTS Competition guise, is not among the purest driving sports cars. Yellow baseball stitching and a freaky rear wing can’t make it so. The steering lacks feedback. The brakes may be slightly overservoed in grand Audi tradition. The ride is ultra-stiff when sport mode is engaged and just plain busy when left in normal.

2015 Audi TTS Coupe Competition rear wingYet with less than 3300 pounds to cart around, a quick-shifting dual-clutch 6-speed transmission, and all-wheel-drive traction, 265 horsepower is a far larger number than it initially sounds. The TTS Coupe accelerates to 60 mph in five seconds, shifting more intelligently and promptly the harder it’s driven. It’s a delightfully compact package, and with torque to spare, it darts through traffic like an 80s French hot hatch on nitrous.

While not quite as practical as an 80s hot hatch (or a current Volkswagen GTI, for that matter), the TT does feature a (barely accessible) rear seat, a useable 13.1-cubic-foot cargo area, and the ability to send power to all four wheels. The BMW Z4, Mercedes-Benz SLK, and Porsche Cayman can not make the all the same claims.

Our test car, supplied by Audi Canada, rang in at CAD $65,295. In the U.S., the departing TTS starts at $49,595, an $8350 jump from the base TT. The Competition package adds $2500. Audi’s navigation package adds another $1950. The total climbs to $54,595, or $1400 less than a base Corvette.

But the Corvette chases a different market, right? Sure, in the sense that the Corvette is intended for a buyer who still exists.

2015 Audi TTS Competition interiorSee, the TT’s market may have moved on, not just from the TT but from its compatriots. Oh, the arrival of a new TT will produce a short-lived spike in demand. But is it any wonder BMW’s own sales boss, Ian Robertson, questioned whether the sports car market will ever fully recover from post-recession lows?

Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Porsche combined for more than 40,000 TT, Z4, SLK, and Boxster U.S. sales in 2003 but only 15,000 TT, Z4, SLK, Boxster, and Caymans last year. While the Corvette was roundly outsold by the aforementioned quartet in 2003, Chevrolet sold 34,839 Corvettes in 2014.

Corvette vs. TT? Hey, if I’m the self-appointed final arbiter on the subject of Audi TT styling, shouldn’t I also be the one to decide which car to buy when all 500 global copies of the Coupe Competition are snatched up?

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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41 Comments on “Capsule Review: 2015 Audi TTS Coupe Competition...”


  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    This is a nice car, but the first-generation TT was nicer on the inside; it was artsy; this one is generic-Audi.

    • 0 avatar
      Davekaybsc

      Yup. The first one was unique inside and quite elegant, this one is basically a parts bin special culled from the A4. Speaking of which, considering the TT has never been *that* nice to drive, the case for it over the S4 has always been really weak. It’s a car that sells entirely on looks.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        The TT is basically a squished Beetle, chassis-wise, so yes, not as nice as the A4 by quite some ways.

        I’d have said parts-bin A3.

      • 0 avatar
        Featherston

        @ psarhjinian & Davekaybsc – Agreed 100%. It’s worth noting that the first generation was penned in an era when designers didn’t feel compelled to make everything “masculine” and “aggressive.”

  • avatar
    319583076

    There are superior choices for performance, style, luxury, or any other metric for $55k. I don’t see why anyone shopping that price range feels compelled to buy *this* car.

    • 0 avatar
      carguy

      I can’t think of any reasons anyone would choose this over a Golf R, Audi S3, BMW M235 or even CPO Cayman.

    • 0 avatar
      PJmacgee

      Beat me to it. $55k for this smallish, but still kinda heavy, not-even-a-convertable, drab interior car with only 260hp/tq. wtf. $20k seems like a high premium for a slightly less dorky but way less practical alternative to a Golf R.

  • avatar
    energetik9

    In a small way, I do really like this car, partly because I’m just glad Audi makes it. All this coming from a guy that is not a huge Audi fan. The problem is that it is just far too expensive compared to some fantastic competitors in this price range. The RS even more so.

  • avatar
    ...m...

    …tired as it may appear to modern eyes, the debut TT was an exercise in high-concept design made real as a production car, fitted from what was at the time an ultra-modern class-leading world car platform…nevermind how that platform subsequently played out in a real-world duty cycle, at the time the TT was rightly lauded as emblematic of the twenty-first century’s burgeoning automotive potential..

    …the second-generation TT?..it may drive, handle, and hold together classes better than its forebear, but from a design perspective it completely forgot its entire raison d’être, and in so doing abandoned its former market to go find something better to buy instead…when i see a second-generation TT on the road, if i notice it at all i may as well be looking at an eclipse or celica GTS…

  • avatar
    sproc

    I’ve never quite got this car in any of its generations. I love small cars, I generally love Audis, but it’s always looked too soft, too cute and too Beetle like for me. It gets really ridiculous in -RS trim, like a poodle with a spiked collar.

  • avatar
    chiefmonkey

    Gosh, I almost forgot the TT existed. I think it’s been a victim of neglect. Still a beautiful car after all these years, but definitely outdated and especially in terms of interior trimmings.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    When an auto exec says, “ever”, he means before his next promotion.

  • avatar
    Fred

    It’s a nice car, but across the aisle is the Porsche dealer I’m pretty sure I can get a Boxster for the same price, maybe a used Cayman?

    • 0 avatar
      ccd1

      You might be happier with a used TT RS. Porsches, except in turbo or GT guise, tend to lack torque which has great value on public roads. Looked at 911s and Caymans before getting the TT RS and have NO regrets.

      This car appears to be a carbon copy of the RS with the exception that you have the 4 banger with less hp and the dual clutch transmission.

      Never ceases to amaze me that the car attracts the attention that it does

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        The TT RS is where it’s at. I will bag on this version of the TT, but the RS is a special car. Maybe I just have a thing for five cylinder cars (well not anything with the GM I5).

      • 0 avatar
        energetik9

        Where in the world do you get this “Porsches tend to lack torque” info? Never in my life have I heard someone call a car with 300+ lb-ft of torque “lacking”.

        • 0 avatar
          ccd1

          Porsches tend to lack low end torque, take a look at the torque curve. What matters is not only the amount of torque, but where it kicks in. The turbo, of course, is the exception.

          • 0 avatar
            energetik9

            “Porsches tend to lack low end torque, take a look at the torque curve. What matters is not only the amount of torque, but where it kicks in. The turbo, of course, is the exception.”

            I drive a 911. I’m typically in the 3-4k range most of the time and that’s not spirited driving. Torque is generous and instantaneous. If you’re running around 1500rpm then fine. But to say it’s lacking just shows me how little you know about a 911. The Turbo is NOT the exception, but just another model in a line of 911’s that have fantastic performance or torque. To say they lack torque is just silliness.

      • 0 avatar
        SunnyvaleCA

        If the Porsche has a PDK (which is the only way this TTS comes?) then do you really care about torque? You’re just a fraction of a second away from a no-effort downshift or two. The base Porsche 981 PDK is pretty close in the acceleration department. A modern base 911 has similar torque/weight ratio even without a turbo and will run away from the TTS in any straight line race lasting more than 2 or 3 seconds.

        The TT RS, on the other hand, is a whole ‘nuther beast. But, then again, a whole ‘nuther price point too. And still no stick shift in the US.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    The way you described the interior, I expected it to look much worse than it does! I think it looks fine, even though the screen is indeed a bit small. Now when I say fine, that’s not very high praise for a car at the $50K mark – and a German vehicle at that. This means it would never be a contender for new money, and I’d end up with a BMW or Mercedes perhaps.

    But I wonder if judging based on the special nature of this one (yellow, TTS, Competition, LTD Ed, etc) is not quite fair. This isn’t the one which 95% of people buy, and I can guarantee you it’s less comfortable than a normal one as well.

    Go ask Audi for a regular version, so you can drive it and stack up against this too-expensive-flashy one.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      I think it’s too expensive for the base version too. The Golf R looks like a downright bargain in comparison. Even me, hater of Camaro, would rather have a Camaro SS than a TT.

  • avatar
    hubcap

    It seems like the TT has always been a niche within a niche. It’s certainly a nice car but there are just too many other options especially for the 54k as tested price.

    A CPO Cayman/Boxster would fit the bill as would a 427 Corvette. A Golf R would be right up my alley and significantly less expansive.

    If I’m looking to maximize my fun/practicality dollar, a GTI combined with a motorcycle (R1, Z1000, FZ-09) would be where I’d go and is the decision dearest to me.

  • avatar
    ccd1

    I really wonder if those of you who have found the TT wanting in comparison to the 911 and Cayman Boxster have actually driven these cars. I drove the 997 Carrera S and the 987 Cayman S before purchasing the RS. The TT has far more space which is easily available (just leave the worthless back seats down) than any of these cars. It has far more torque that kicks in low in the rev range and makes the car far more entertaining to drive on public roads. Now if you track your car, the Porsche is your weapon of choice.

    The real competition for even the best TT is the C7 Vette. Lots of easily accessible space thru the rear hatch with tons of hp and torque. But the Vette feels like a much bigger car than the TT. Also, the Vette lacks the analogue feel of this generation of the TT.

    Now given a choice between spending $55K for this particular TT versus spending a few grand more for a year old C7? The Vette would get my money

    • 0 avatar
      energetik9

      I get you own this car and you like it, so more power to you. But the Corvette and the 911 are in no way a competitor to this car. No one breathes those two in the same sentence. It’s probably more like a Z4 or SLK.

      I get the feeling you are implying that the Carrera S and Cayman S have less torque and are therefore less “entertaining”. Even if the Porsche were slower, and it isn’t, I’d gladly take a better handling car.

      • 0 avatar
        ccd1

        No one breathes them in the same sentence because they always compare them on the track. If you don’t track your car, they ARE comparable.

        The Porsche is the better car on the track and the better handler at the limits. However, in everyday driving on public roads, the RS is more entertaining. The power in Porsches tends to be higher in the rev range which is fine on the track, but not nearly as useful as low end torque you can actually use on public roads.

        The Porsche would be faster around a race course, but on public roads, the RS feels noticeably faster. I’ll bet you’ve never actually driven the RS.

        • 0 avatar
          energetik9

          If you think they are comparable, that’s fine. I don’t believe it. And I do like the TT RS. I have driven other TT’s, but not that variant.

          My 911 is a daily driver. To claim one is more “entertaining” is purely subjective and if you think the RS is, then awesome…seriously. To state the Porsche is less so because of the torque curve just shows you don’t really know that much about 911’s. On average driving, I’m run around 3-4k rpm, which is exactly in the peak of RPM for my 911. I also don’t experience the lag you do, it is the most responsive engine I have ever owned. Don’t confuse power with the energy that comes from a turbo kicking in. I’m glad you find you’re RS noticeably faster, but the 911 S has the advantage both in 0-60 and 1/4 mile.

          The RS is a great car, but be factual in your comparisons.

          • 0 avatar
            ccd1

            Let’s agree to disagree. Entertaining is subjective and I was trying to explain why I found the RS more entertaining for me. By the way, you assume there is turbo lag because the RS is turbo charged but there is no noticeable lag, at least to me. This car has around 300 lb ft of torque or more from around 3500 rpm to the rev limit, not just 3-4k rpm (I assume you meant peak torque, not peak RPM) I prefer the RS torque curve which is also why, if I got a Porsche, it would likely be a 997 turbo (with a manual). As for a base 997 or 997 Carrera S, I’d personally prefer the RS. The same would be true of all Caymans/Boxsters with the exception of the GT4

            I bought the RS after test driving a Cayman S (987.1), 911 S (997.2) and 911 4S (997.1). If you get a chance, I encourage you to drive the RS. It may not be your cup of tea, but you might understand my position much better.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    I much preferred the original. Pretty car, but drove like what it was, a Golf.

    Way, way, way too expensive for what it is. What it isn’t is a sports car in any way.

  • avatar
    lon888

    Why in the world are they bringing over a special limited-edition model? In January they sold 3 – yes 3 TT’s in the U.S. A great month for TT sales is 100 cars a month – for the entire U.S.!! These guys are nuts.

    • 0 avatar
      ccd1

      You know why: everyone knows the new car is coming out so how do you sell the existing one without staging a “fire sale?” One way is to try to sell exclusivity: you get 1 of only 500 made. But as your comment already shows, TTs are already “exclusive.”

      Perhaps not nuts, but desperate to move units. This is hardly the first time you have seen special editions as a model bows out.

  • avatar
    SilverCoupe

    I had an original version TT for a decade. I was looking for a sporty car with all-wheel drive and hatch back versatility for a daily driver, and little else fit the bill. The Mitsubishi 3000 GT VR-4 I test drove felt very heavy and no bigger inside compared with the TT.

    I was basically happy with the car for a decade (never had any problems in the snow at all), but with only 180 HP, it was too slow for my taste, coming as it were from a Toyota Supra Turbo (Mark III), though that car was sometimes difficult in the rain, and impossible to drive in the winter without snow tires.

    But I only paid $30K for mine (1 year old with 15,000 on it, in 2001). At 54K or even 47K, it would be a much different proposition.

    Ultimately, when it came time for me to make my once a decade trade, the A5 won hands down. It was faster, more attractive (to me)and actually had usable rear seats, even if it was the first non-hatchback I have had since the ’64 Riviera.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      The TT fits our needs as well. Thus a used TT is most likely my wife’s next car after her Volvo C30 T5 Version 2 is used up. After our VW Passat 1.4T experience I’m a little worried about another VAG product, but how many attractive, quick, semi-fancy, hot hatches are on the market? Almost zero. So in a few years this should fit the bill nicely. When was the last year you could still get a 6 speed manual in the TT?

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    That rear end looks a lot like the yawn inducing Pontiac GTO from 2004 – sans the round taillights – complete with goofy spoiler.

  • avatar
    fozone

    It looks obese and difficult to see out of.

    Auto stylists have really lost the plot over the past decade (remember when the Aztek was considered aggressively ugly? To my eye it is now no worse looking than a typical CUV, and would barely raise a blip on the ugly-o-meter if released today….)

  • avatar
    05lgt

    I’m pretty sure I could do better for only 40k. I don’t need VAG though.

  • avatar

    Nice-looking, although the last edition really tops them all. Btw, can’t wait to see the latest statistics on GoodCarBadCar.net, and in particular whether GM was able to hold its U.S. market share in 2014.

  • avatar
    JGlanton

    I’ve always looked at the TT as a girl’s car.

  • avatar
    z9

    The new TT’s interior is quite stunning at least in photos and harkens back to the show car that somehow went into production look of first generation. It certainly has a design coherence lacking in the second-generation interior.

    I think there are a few people left in the world who care about how cars look more than anything else. The TT is for this crowd. But we are a diminishing crowd, particularly those of us who could afford to act on their design fantasies. Furthermore, great product design is not limited to automobiles these days. It’s now everywhere and for a fraction of the price of a TT I can have a beautiful pen that I write with far more of the time than I could ever spend suffering stuffed into a noisy harsh-riding bathtub with antiseptic steering feel. I will love the car from afar I guess.

  • avatar
    PeriSoft

    BLIS, rear view cameras, and pushbutton start are the domain of $35k sedans? Someone needs to tell Hyundai, because my ’15 Sonata came with BLIS, cross-traffic, rear view camera feeding an 8″ touch screen, proximity entry, and a keyless trunk for around $21k out the door…


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