By on June 20, 2017

2017 Audi TTS profile - Image: © Timothy Cain

2017 Audi TTS

2.0-liter inline-four turbo, DOHC (292 horsepower @ 5,400 rpm; 280 lb-ft @ 1,900 rpm)

Six-speed dual-clutch automatic, all-wheel drive

23 city / 27 highway / 25 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

10.3 city / 8.6 highway / 9.5 combined (NRCan Rating, L/100km)

25.3 mpg [9.3 L/100 km] (Observed)

Base Price: $53,450 (U.S) / $64,895 (Canada)

As Tested: $58,375 (U.S.) / $71,535 (Canada)

Prices include $950 destination charge in the United States and $2,195 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can’t be directly compared.

As an automobile journalist, I’m supposed to qualify certain statements.

This car is gorgeous, I might say, but only with an asterisk that denotes beauty being in the eye of the beholder. This car is gorgeous, I might say, but not as gorgeous as its predecessors, and then I’d draw your attention to the fine print where I describe my lack of a fine arts degree.

Whatever.

The 2017 Audi TTS is gorgeous. Even more stunning than the exterior is the interior.

Yet just because the third-generation TT continues to major in the arts doesn’t mean Audi completely forgot to educate the TT in the modern STEM curriculum.

The Audi TT has always been focused more on style than substance. But the 2017 TTS is more than just a pretty face.

2017 Audi TTS grey - Image: © Timothy CainPRETTY FAST
Fitted with the 2.0-liter turbo from the Audi S3 and Volkswagen Golf R, the TTS serves up 292 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque. That’s 72 more horses and 22 more lb-ft of twist than the basic TT’s 2.0T, but 108 fewer horses and 74 fewer lb-ft of torque than the 2.5-liter turbo inline-five of the 2018 TT RS.

292 horsepower sounds like plenty of power for a 3,220-pound sports car — and it is — but you’ll be forced to truly ask the Audi to deliver it if you want to feel like the TTS possesses something other than a Golf 1.8T’s powertrain.

The TTS’s throttle needs a proper prod, and the Audi Drive Select’s Comfort and Auto modes mask some of the 2.0T’s otherwise abundant resources. Nought to sixty requires significantly less than five seconds (the TT RS will do the deed in under four) but the TTS doesn’t feel nearly that urgent in routine driving.

It’s as though the fries are ready, but the counter staff at your local McDonald’s needs to be reminded if you’re to be served promptly.

Further emphasizing the speed is the TTS’s six-speed dual-clutch, the only transmission available, that in Dynamic mode shifts with enough ferocity and incites enough brap to engage even jaded auto writers. Find a twisty road where speeds fluctuate between 45 and 75 miles per hour and the 2.0T/six-speed DSG combo comes into its own, punching out of corners like it’s grown a pair of extra cylinders. A manual would be great, sure, but the TTS is a ruthless way to make forward progress.2017 Audi TTS grey front - Image: © Timothy CainPRETTY NIMBLE
You’ll be punching the 2017 TTS out of those corners earlier than you expected, too, especially if you’re accustomed to cars that don’t send high levels of bhp to four driven wheels. The TTS is hip-deep in grip. 255/30ZR20 Pirelli P Zeros stick like honey to a toddler’s fingertips.

Again, the TTS’s Audi Drive Select Dynamic enhances this sensation. Instant steering response and an ultra-stiff suspension work with those wide, flat tires to create an extremely tossable car. Smack it around from corner to corner like it’s a ping pong ball being hammered from racket to racket and the TTS just keeps asking for more.

Do not ever let this rally end.

This is where the problems begin, however, because the TTS’s ability to accept whatever the road throws its way doesn’t extend to the quality of pavement. There is no such thing as a smooth road with the 2017 TTS, not on these 20-inch wheels, not even in Comfort mode.2017 Audi TTS gauge cluster - Image: © Timothy CainDespite my slim frame, I’m squeezed between kidney-embracing side bolsters. I’m attempting to see out of a car with less glass than the outside of a Kingdom Hall. As if I’m in Stig Blomqvist’s WRC Audi Quattro, the undercarriage amplifies the sound of every fleck of gravel the sticky tires pick up. The tires themselves drone and hum and chatter on and on like a CNN political panel. Why do all four tires — and all nine panelists — have to talk at the same time?

But above all, the TTS’s suspension is so stiff that smooth pavement no longer exists.

I drove the TTS down a fresh patch of pavement around the corner from my house on multiple occasions. Even there, the TTS just cannot settle down.

This much stiffness could be acceptable. Maybe. Perhaps. But pair the TTS’s poor ride quality with the excessive noise — in a high-priced Audi — and my desire for a more sedate S5 begins to grow. The 2017 Audi TTS is not too rough that fun can’t be had, but it’s rough enough to severely limit the car’s appeal as a daily driver.2017 Audi TTS grey rear - Image: © Timothy CainPRETTY SIBLINGS
The answer here is not to replace the TTS you so desire with one of its platform partners, the Audi A3 or Volkswagen Golf R. The prototypical prospective TTS buyer isn’t interested in a small premium sedan or a mainstream-brand hatchback.

But the dynamic behavior of those cars, particularly the Golf R with a manual transmission, would be more than welcome in the TTS. The Golf R possesses almost all of the TTS’s outstanding dynamics, but it does so in concert with a more sedate, refined, and luxurious ambience when you’re not caning it.

Making matters worse, the TTS’s stiffness masks much of the Volkswagen Group MQB platform’s ability to communicate. The TTS is, for a car that becomes rather raw in Dynamic mode, also somewhat inert.

Although the Audi TTS never stops communicating, it’s always the same message: I can go faster. Filtered out is almost every other communiqué.2017 Audi TTS interior - Image: © Timothy CainPRETTY EXPENSIVE
The price for performance isn’t cheap. While a regular 2017 Audi TT starts at $44,450, the move up to TTS requires an extra $9,000.

Add premium paint, Audi Lane Assist, big wheels, red brake calipers, and a suite of tech and safety gear and this Audi Canada-supplied tester’s U.S.-market price jumps to $58,375.

That’s not cheap. In fact, it’s $2,025 more than the least expensive Porsche 718 Cayman money can buy. (Not that such a $56,350 Cayman exists in the real world.)

PRETTIEST ON THE INSIDE
It’s difficult to consider any other relevant factor once you’ve taken your seat in the 2017 Audi TTS’s driver’s perch.

Audi somehow managed to infuse a minimalist design with an array of eye-catching detail. Removing the central screen so pervasive in the luxury market — MMI is controlled through a large screen in the gauge cluster — reduces visual clutter.

The climate controls are gone, too, or rather, they’ve been replaced by smaller controls in the middle of each vent. It’s so sensible you wonder why it’s not standard practice.

Material quality, from the floor mats to the steering wheel to the dash top, embarrasses a whole host of high-end machines.

True, the TT’s interior isn’t an ergonomic masterpiece: the centre armrest is too low; the volume control knob is a distant reach beyond the shifter. The rudimentary rear seat only works for humans with no legs. Or dogs, I suppose. The cargo area’s opening is vast; the cargo area itself is not. But none of that matters: this is an interior for the ages.

This 2017 Audi TTS costs $58,375, but the cabin feels as though the TTS could be priced at $98,375, even if the exterior is beginning to grow stale, even if the hilariously quick powertrain doesn’t always feel quick, even if the aggressive handling is married to punishing ride quality.

[Images: ©2017 Timothy Cain/The Truth About Cars]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and Autofocus.ca and the founder and former editor of GoodCarBadCar.net. Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.

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29 Comments on “2017 Audi TTS Review – Still More Style Than Substance, But What Style...”


  • avatar
    ajla

    Seems like a tough sell over an S5, RS3, or M2.

  • avatar
    Opus

    Apparently you saw one that had a completed paint job, rather than this primer-only ugliness in the photos. “Gorgeous”, “Pretty”, “Premium paint”?? Not seeing it. Just ugly, bland gray.

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    The ride, is it rough compared to all cars, or rough compared to sports cars? In other words, if a man was used to riding around in a sports car, say, an S2000, would he get in a TT and so “holy crap this is rough” or would he not notice?

  • avatar
    deanst

    I can’t wait for some Chinese manufacturer to come out with a clone for this car. (Or have they already?). Probably a bit slower, but a better ride for one third of the price.

  • avatar
    e30gator

    Am I the only one who can barely tell the difference between a 2017 TT and a 2006?

    I love sports cars and have an old Z3 Roadster in my driveway, but for some reason these never did anything for me. I guess they’re nice enough looking cars, but I can’t really put my finger on why they don’t move the needle.

    • 0 avatar
      statikboy

      They are the Karmann Ghia to the original Beetle of the new (new) Beetle. No matter how much nicer it is, how different the styling, it still resembles a flattened, rebodied Golf.

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      I love ’em, especially this gen, but I don’t think of it as a sports car. More like a mini-GT, or a small personal luxury coupe with all-weather capability.

      I’ve also heard that switching to Pilot Super Sports tames the road noise and ride quite a bit.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      I’m probably a minority, and generally like the look of Audis, but I honestly prefer the new Civic Coupe to this one.

  • avatar
    tylanner

    The only flaw is the price…and probably the resale value…but I love these things…especially the TTRS. As this car has evolved the influence of the R8 is becoming more and more obvious, which is always a good thing.

    I feel as though Audi, more so than other manufacturers, has put their focus on refining and perfecting their car designs rather than trying to innovate or experiment.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    Hard to see how this will move the sales needle upward in the dismal sports car market. A pure style variant of the Golf platform, which can be had for a fraction of the price as a lightly used version since the style hasn’t changed much across the 3 generations. A sporty Golf give you almost almost all the same driving thrills, but a much more practical package and lower price. For this money you are also looking at loaded very hot Mustangs, Camaros, and BMW 2 series that are also more livable/practical, equally fast or faster, and offer equal or better styling. I predict a dismal failure on the sales front.

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      But the flip side of this being a restyled Golf is that it’s likely pretty cheap to make. So sales are low, but potentially so are expectations, and costs.

    • 0 avatar
      06M3S54B32

      “For this money you are also looking at loaded very hot Mustangs, Camaros . . .” Nobody looking at this car cross shops mullet driven cars like those you mention.

  • avatar
    TTCat

    I have owned mk1 TTs since 2001 and really enjoyed the cars – a truly fantastic ownership experience for me, and while the mk3 is technically a far, far better car than the mk1s and the dismal (IMHO), mk2s that followed, when the time finally came to step out of my TT this year, the test drive of the mk3 (both TT and TTS), left me sorely disappointed – the car felt aloof and isolating, and well, had no stick available – so I wound up in a CPO 2014 Cayman – guess I will have to change my account picture…

    • 0 avatar
      stingray65

      TT – excellent choice and since Porsche is now a fully integrated member of the VW group it doesn’t make much sense for Audi to sell a Cayman competitor. On the other hand, a well-equipped TT in the $30-40,000 range would reach a non-Porsche segment.

      • 0 avatar
        TTCat

        stingray – as much of an Audi and TT fan as I am, the value proposition of of a $50K+ TT(S) just wasn’t there for me.

        I agree that a loaded TT at around the $40,000 dollar mark (with an available stick), would be very attractive indeed and would have most likely gotten me into my third one, but when I could score a very lightly used (< 20,000 miles), well equipped Cayman for under the MSRP of a new base TT, the decision was pretty easy…

        • 0 avatar
          SunnyvaleCA

          >>> score a very lightly used … well equipped Cayman for under the MSRP of a new base TT <<<

          And, if said Cayman had the CPO warranty, it might even have a better warranty than a new TT or P-car.

          The newer Caymans have a more plush and feature rich interior than the older ones, but the up-level TTS does look nice on the inside.

          If you don't need the nearly worthless (for humans) rear seats of the TT, the Cayman's frunk + hatchback design gives much more and more versatile storage. With a bit of bungie chord to hold down the rear hatch, I've become a bit of a legend at the local Lumber Liquidators and Home Depot.

          • 0 avatar
            SilverCoupe

            I can’t speak for the current models, but my 2001 TT had much better cargo capacity than a Cayman of that era. The Cayman had a high brace area over the rear axle, while the TT had a flat floor. I was able to bring home a 42″ TV loaded flat in the back of my TT.

          • 0 avatar
            TTCat

            Oh yeah, my TT’s were virtual pickup trucks – it was absolutely staggering what I fit in those cars, but I still also have my old TJ Wrangler to take up that duty, so the Cayman won’t ever see that kind of cargo, but living in Colorado, I am going to miss the Haldex AWD…

          • 0 avatar
            philipwitak

            re: SilverCoupe / June 20th, 2017 at 1:47 pm

            “I can’t speak for the current models, but my 2001 TT had much better cargo capacity than a Cayman of that era.”

            there were no caymans ‘of the 2001 era’ – first cayman came out in 2006.

    • 0 avatar
      SilverCoupe

      You can keep your account picture. I still wear my TT cap, acquired during the decade I drove my 2001 TT.
      I like my current A5 S Line more than I liked my early TT (which was underpowered), but somehow an A5 cap just doesn’t cut it.

      • 0 avatar
        TTCat

        Even though it is a totally different car, the A5 was on my short list since it is a coupe, AWD and could be had with a stick – honestly, it was a very near thing, but I had never had a chance to own a Porsche before, so I decided to dive in before I got too old – but it remains to be seen who will own whom in the end…

  • avatar
    Menloguy

    The big wheels and the flared fenders make this TT look like one of those wind-up penny racer cars from my youth.

    • 0 avatar
      nvinen

      Yes, I think the wheels are way too big and make the car look stupid. Swap some smaller, chunkier wheels with thicker tyres on there and it would look a lot better.

      I still don’t think I’d describe it as “pretty” though. It looks too much like a shoe for my tastes.

  • avatar
    John R

    “…sports car” Whoa. Slow down there, Champion.

    A hotted up Golf does not a sports car make. Sports coupe is fair game, though.

  • avatar
    Jeff Zekas

    Audi: beauty without reliability means you have a very expensive paperweight.


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