Powering the Audi TT is a turbocharged 2.0-liter, four cylinder engine that produces a smooth 220 horsepower and 258 pound-feet (lb-ft) of torque. Peak torque is available at a low 1,600 revolutions per minute (RPM), so the car never feels slow and accelerates strongly – just not like a bull, that's what Lamborghini is for.
Audi pairs the turbocharged motor with a six-speed, S Tronic dual-clutch transmission (DCT) with paddle shifters for fast shifts. The TT is a DCT-only affair, so if you want to row-your-own gears with three pedals, this is not the Audi you're looking for.
In my younger days, I would chastise Audi for not installing a proper gearbox in the TT, but I've spent too much time in stop-and-go traffic to be bothered by the lack of a third pedal. Plus, the DCT shifts faster than I ever could, and the paddle shifters respond quickly.
Power is sent to all four wheels via Audi's Quattro all-wheel drive (AWD) system. The TT features a front-wheel-drive-based (FWD) AWD system from Haldex that is primarily FWD until you lose traction. When front wheel traction is lost, it can automatically divert up to 100% of power to the rear wheels seamlessly.
All North American TT's are only available in AWD, but our friends in Europe have the option of FWD with a six-speed manual, if they desire. Personally, I don't know why you'd buy an Audi without AWD – just pick up a Volkswagen – but to each their own.
Audi's Drive Select is standard on the TT, which lets you choose between normal, comfort, efficiency, dynamic or a customized individual mode. I always set the Drive Select to dynamic as soon as I start the car during most of my driving. The different Drive Select modes alter steering and throttle response in the TT. I prefer the quicker and precise response of dynamic mode for my aggressive driving style.
The TT test car came with winter tires from Audi, because winters in the Pacific Northwest are dreadfully wet and there's the occasional snowfall. I found the TT quite enjoyable to drive. The fairly light, 3,100-pound curb weight, short wheelbase, precise throttle and steering and outstanding traction from the Quattro AWD system makes it a lot of fun and competent in the rain and snow.
Even with the winter tires and sportier suspension, the TT is quite comfortable, too. The suspension lets you feel the imperfections in the road, but dampens them enough so they don't hurt.
There isn't much snow where I live, so I packed the wife and kids to head up to Mt. Rainier to find some. The roads leading up to the mountain base were windy and wet, but the TT didn't break a sweat or traction at any point, because Quattro is a wonderful feature to have.
Unfortunately, the mountain roads were mostly plowed, and the only snow I could drive on was an iced-over parking lot. However, with Quattro and winter tires, I didn't have to pull over and put chains on the car, which is required by 2-wheel drive cars as soon as you enter the park.
Living with it
The Audi TT has a back seat, but it isn't really designed to be a family car – or have anyone in the back seat, for that matter. But that didn't stop me from trying. Since I'm only 5 foot, 7 inches tall and my wife is shorter, there's a little bit of legroom behind the front seats.
There isn't enough for a grown adult, but I still managed to install a pair of child seats in the back of the TT. The back seats have lower and upper LATCH anchors for car seats. I usually stop by the Diono offices for car seat fitment, but I reserve that for fitting three car seats in the back seat.
My first attempt installing a car seat was with a Diono Radian RXT. The car seat physically fit, but the belt buckle and LATCH mounting locations made it impossible to secure, unfortunately. I had to break out my Chicco NextFit car seats, which are significantly larger than my Radian RXT.
Let's just say it was annoying trying to shove the Chicco NextFit into the little space available with the front seats pushed forward. However, I was successful and managed to secure both Chicco NextFit's in the TT using the lower LATCH anchors.
It's a tight fit, but my 4- and 2-year-old girls fit and didn't complain about comfort. They kept asking me to go faster, but that's a whole different conversation altogether.