Audi TT review

A sports car for all seasons that satisfies techno-lust

Audi TT

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The Audi TT isn't a practical car by any sense, but the same could be of any sporty car with two doors. It has a niche appeal, so I won't hold it by the same standards as I would a mainstream mid-size car, like the Kia Optima, Toyota Camry or Hyundai Elantra. No one shopping for a family car will cross shop for an Audi TT, and vice versa.

We liked

Audi's virtual cockpit is phenomenal and by far the best use of an LCD gauge cluster I've come across. Some companies use LCD displays to visually replicate analog gauge clusters, which I dislike, because what's the point of going digital if you're just going to make it look analog. It's overcomplicating a simple part of the car for absolutely no reason.

The virtual cockpit tosses out what we know about analog gauge clusters and reinvents it with a modern take that looks fantastic and is easy to adapt to. The system takes some time to get used to, but when you do, it becomes second nature.

Part of the awesomeness of the virtual cockpit is the Google Earth map overlays that show realistic details instead of plain colored maps. I can look at the overlays all day long and still be amazed by how pretty it looks. The overlays are still shown, even with turn-by-turn navigation zoomed in all the way, too.

The Bang & Olufsen premium sound system was just the icing on the cake that completes the TT experience, so it looks and sounds brilliant. I always find something to dislike about premium sound systems, whether it's not enough bass or sounds too bright. The B&O system in the Audi TT strikes a good balance of vocal details, punchy mids and tight lows without causing fatigue after many hours of listening. It's one of the few systems I'd be perfectly happy with, as is.

Most of what I like about the TT revealed itself before I even shifted into drive and mashed the gas pedal. Driving the TT was quite satisfying. It feels balanced and capable with responsive steering, excellent road feel and a comfortable suspension. But all of this is expected, considering Audi's racing heritage and performance pedigree.

We disliked

Android Auto and Apple CarPlay would've made the TT's infotainment system perfect. But I don't fault Audi for this too harshly, as the third generation TT came out last year. Audi is only starting to include Android Auto and Apple CarPlay on two 2016 model year vehicles. There's also the issue of having a single LCD for the gauge cluster and infotainment system, meaning neither were feasible while the TT was in the final stages of development.

I haven't seen Android Auto or Apple CarPlay in an LCD gauge cluster of a production car yet, but QNX demonstrated the capability in reference demo vehicles at CES 2016. We may have to wait until a mid-cycle refresh to see it in the TT, though.

It always puzzles me when automakers try to integrate apps into the infotainment system, because they're never as fast or usable as they are on a smartphone. Audi Connect is no different. It's slow, and that's enough for me to avoid it, especially when it's quicker to take out my phone and swipe my Google Now cards.

My last gripe for the Audi TT is the lack of ACC. Sure, the sporting nature of the TT demands you to drive it, but not all drive routes are shaped like Laguna Seca. Most of the time, you're stuck in traffic, which gets tedious and annoying. The TT already has an electronic parking brake, Audi should offer full-speed range ACC for those times when it's actually unpleasant to drive.

Final verdict

If you're in the market for a small and sporty car that can satisfy techno-lust, the Audi TT impresses with its LCD gauge cluster infotainment system, and the car is a hoot to drive. There's a backseat, which makes it a family car, too, or so I keep trying to convince my wife.

The Quattro AWD system makes the TT a fine car for those that enjoy snow sports or live in the snow belt of the US. It's ready for all weather environments, meaning it's an ideal daily driver, not a garage queen that you only take out in nice weather.

Ultimately, I'm absolutely smitten with the Audi virtual cockpit, and the TT it's attached to is OK, too. Audi shows it knows how to design a modern infotainment system and interior without sacrificing the main purpose of a sports car, but adding a few more driver assists wouldn't hurt.