By Keith Buglewicz
With an all-new third generation last year, the 2017 Audi TT gets a few updates to keep it at the forefront of buyers who might cross-shop against the BMW 4 Series and Z4, Infiniti Q60 and Porsche Boxster. But the additions complement an already excellent package that combines superb turbocharged 4-cylinder engines, Audi's road-gripping quattro all-wheel drive and the cutting-edge "virtual cockpit" -- an entirely digital instrument panel that relays everything from driving data to Google Earth satellite maps. The result is a car that's brilliant fun when you're pushing its limits, especially in high-performance TTS form. Yet despite its sleek 4-passenger coupe or 2-passenger roadster form, the Audi TT is practical, offering generous room in the front seats and, in coupes, plenty of cargo space, too.
The 2017 Audi TT and Audi TTS offer a driving experience that's uniquely Audi thanks to its style, technology and all-wheel drive. On top of that, with its starting price of around $44,000, the 2017 TT is a surprisingly sensible indulgence for a luxury sports car.
All-new last year, the 2017 Audi TT coupe and roadster get only modest upgrades. A rearview camera is now standard equipment, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are now available in the Technology Package. A new Black optic package punches up the TT and TTS exterior styling.
For its first two generations, the Audi TT straddled the line between sports coupe and sports car: fun, but not quite up to the bar set by Porsche...
... and BMW. For this generation, Audi says its goal was to create a true sports car, even going so far as to call it a "baby brother" to the R8 supercar. While that might be a bit of a stretch, there's no doubt that the 2017 Audi TT and TTS are the real deal. It's a joy to drive on almost any road, with its 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine delivering 220 turbocharged horses to all four wheels, helping fling the Audi TT from 0-60 mph in 5.3 seconds (5.6 for the roadster). In corners, the quattro all-wheel-drive system is like adding gravity, keeping the car pinned to the pavement in hairpin turns. Normal driving is equally pleasurable, even quiet and relaxed.
This is a must-get for modern Audis. Instead of physical gauges, the instruments are a 12.3-inch display running at 60 frames per second, powered by an NVIDIA quad-core computer processor. It displays a multitude of information, letting the driver focus forward instead of having to glance sideways for, say, map directions.
We associate Audi with its quattro all-wheel-drive system and for good reason. Its abilities were proven on rally cars worldwide, and even if you aren't amusing your inner Michele Mouton, you'll appreciate this system's grip on slick roads during inclement weather.
If you can tear your eyes away from the Virtual Cockpit, you'll see that the rest of the 2017 TT cabin is just as impressive. The air vents, for example, are simple and elegant vents, climate readouts built into the vent dials, and a twist of the housing adjusts temperature, seat heat and more. The TT's front seats offer great ergonomics and comfort, and as for the Coupe's rear seats, just forget them and fold them down to take advantage of the Coupe's 25-cubic-foot cargo capacity. Our biggest gripe: The TT's sun visors don't extend to fight the sun.
The only vestiges of the original Audi TT's upside-down bathtub styling on the 2017 Audi TT are the prominently rounded wheel arches and middle-positioned exhaust outlets. But this is still a distinctive car. In coupe form the sloping rear hatch door blends neatly into the tail, while the roadster's fabric roof opens and closes in 10 seconds, at speeds up to 31 mph. The squat, muscular shape of its immediate predecessor remains, but the taut lines, big trapezoidal grille and full LED headlights set it apart. As with the last-gen model, the Audi TT's body is made from aluminum.
New on the standard-equipment list for the 2017 TT is a rearview camera, along with power-folding and automatically dimming heated exterior mirrors. Otherwise it's much the same, offering the excellent virtual cockpit digital display and MMI touch-based control system, a 9-speaker/155-watt AM/FM/CD/HD Radio with two USB inputs and Bluetooth connectivity, automatic climate control, and full LED headlights. Also standard is leather upholstery with 12-way power-adjustable heated front seats. The 2017 TT Roadster features an electric wind blocker along with its power-operated top. The higher-performing 2017 Audi TTS comes with magnetic ride control, bigger wheels and tires, and TTS-specific exterior and interior aesthetics.
Added to the options list this year is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Both are now available as part of the Technology package, which also adds navigation, Audi Connect 4G LTE service with Wi-Fi, and a side-assist blind-spot monitoring system. An audio deal comes in the form of the 12-speaker/680-watt Bang & Olufsen sound system -- $950 has never sounded better. Other options include Nappa leather seating, 19-inch wheels and, on the roadster, a neck-level heating system. A new Black Optic package adds a unique grille surround, black exterior mirror housings, and unique 19-inch wheels (20-inch on TTS) in a titanium finish.
The 2017 Audi TT offers two versions of the same 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. In the standard TT it makes 220 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, and it's a wonder, rushing the TT from 0-60 mph in 5.3 seconds with plenty left at the top end. The Audi TTS uses a retuned version of the same engine that puts out a whopping 292 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque. It blasts the 2017 TTS from 0-60 mph in just 4.6 seconds. All 2017 TT and TTS models come standard with quattro all-wheel drive (AWD) and Audi drive select, which lets you adjust the car for sportier or more relaxed driving styles. Power gets routed through Audi's excellent 6-speed dual-clutch S tronic transmission.
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 (TT coupe & roadster)
220 horsepower @ 4,500 rpm
258 lb-ft of torque @ 1,600 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/30 mpg
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 (TTS coupe)
292 horsepower @ 4,500 rpm
280 lb-ft of torque @ 1,600 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/27 mpg
Note: Due to changes in EPA testing to more effectively reflect real-world conditions, some 2017 models show slightly lower fuel-economy scores than their 2016 versions.
The base Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price for the 2017 Audi TT Coupe starts at about $44,500; the TT Roadster jumps off at just under the $48,000 mark. If you want more speed the higher-performing TTS Coupe's opening price is about $53,500. This is already an attractive price for all the performance, technology and brand cachet of an Audi TT, and even a nicely equipped TT Coupe comes in around $50,000. At these prices the TT undercuts sports cars like the Porsche Cayman and Boxster and BMW Z4, and is more in line with the Lexus RC350, Infiniti Q60, BMW 4 Series and Mercedes-Benz SLK roadster. Before buying, check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying. The Audi TT's resale value has traditionally held up very well over the years.