2015 Audi TT and Audi S3 – first drives

We get a first taste of the all-new Audi TT and high-performance S3 at the Dubai Autodrome

By Shahzad Sheikh

2015 Audi TT and S3 first drive in Dubai

Recently at the Dubai Autodrome, we had a chance to grab some first drives of two new models now available in the Middle East – the 2015 Audi TT and Audi S3, priced from AED149k (US$40,555) and AED150k (US$40,833) respectively.

2015 Audi TT and S3 first drive in Dubai

Audi S3

Let’s tackle the S3 first – that’s because I’ve been waiting to try this ever since I found myself surprisingly taken with the Audi A3 1.8 when I drove it last year (review here).

2015 Audi TT and S3 first drive in Dubai

So why should the S3 be even better? New single frame grille, tailpipes, diffuser, aluminium look wing mirrors and 18-inch wheels.

2015 Audi TT and S3 first drive in Dubai

More importantly Quattro with sports suspension, progressive speed sensitive power steering and six-speed dual clutch tranny. Most significantly however – a 2.0-litre engine putting out 296bhp! That gives it a 0-100kph time of just 5 seconds. Oh, and as an added bonus there’s a 700 watt sound system.

S3 Video Review

How the S3 drives

It’s everything I like about the A3, but turned up to 10. More power, more performance, more grip, more go. Not being a big car, it’s immensely chuckable, and you can scrub off and push through the understeer remarkably quickly. Like all the Audi Quattro systems you have to have faith in it and to find the grip-and-go.

2015 Audi TT and S3 first drive in Dubai

Plus of course it’s imminently practical, looks like a sensible little saloon (although the S does look a little meatier) and is a great size for darting about town in.

2015 Audi TT and S3 first drive in Dubai

Audi TT

This is the all-new Audi TT – and whilst it may look familiar, nothing is carried over. In fact even the chassis is different, now with hybridised steel bits in its aluminium structure to make it more rigid – but it’s still lighter (less than a Mini 5dr in fact), losing 50kg compared to the previous car (although that was 90kg lighter than the first TT).

2015 Audi TT and S3 first drive in Dubai

And compared to the previous TT this one is wider by 10mm, has a 40mm longer wheelbase and is the same height. Inside there is a completely new cabin design, and they’ve borrowed an idea from Lamborghini Huracan in this car: there is no central screen, instead all the infotainment info shows up on the massive 12.3 inch instrument panel display in front of the driver when required. Neat, but I do think there is sometimes just too much going on in front of the driver

2015 Audi TT and S3 first drive in Dubai

It also made using the Drive Select modes more fiddly, because as soon as you’ve selected one it goes off that screen and you don’t have an option to try a different setting without going back into the menu again.

2015 Audi TT and S3 first drive in Dubai

The cars we tested didn’t have GCC Sat Nav – but that will become available from July – and otherwise the cars were  beautifully finished inside and out and well equipped with dual USB and SDI slots. The cleverest detail inside is the swtiches for the climate control actually embedded into the middle of the circular vents, making for a very clean dashboard.

TT Video Review

How the TT drives

The cars we drove came with the 2.0-litre 230bhp engine which with Quattro, makes them good for 0-100kph in 5.3 seconds (they’re also available with front wheel drive only and the acceleration time slows a fraction to 6 seconds).

2015 Audi TT and S3 first drive in Dubai

Driving it back to back with the S3, the TT felt lighter and livelier for sure. But being down 66bhp on power was somehow more apparent than I expected it to be. The TT wasn’t as punchy, but still certainly a quick car for a 2.0. It’s unfair to compare it to the more performance-orientated S3 in terms of its go-juice though.

2015 Audi TT and S3 first drive in Dubai

Being of less mass and a sportscar, I was also expecting it to be a keener and more entertaining drive. And sure enough it was certainly an enjoyable car to chuck around the Autodrome and satisfying to peddle about town on the brief road drive. However I have to say that whilst I can’t really fault the car in any particular area, it didn’t really excite me the way I was hoping it would – though perhaps I need more time with the car in isolation.

2015 Audi TT and S3 first drive in Dubai

Verdict

I really don’t want to say that the TT was a disappointment, because it is a lovely looking thing and definitely a more faithful understudy of the iconic original TT. Plus the interior is clever and enticing, if a little too clever, and there’s more than enough performance and nimble dynamism to keep most owners in a happy place.

2015 Audi TT and S3 first drive in Dubai

To me, however, it didn’t quite feel special enough as a sports car. Instead it came across more as a very stylish and desirable commuter car for those wanting to make a statement, rather than a driver’s tool for those wanting to hammer it occasionally.

On the other hand the Audi S3 had me salivating from the mere thought of driving it, and lived up to my expectations after track time, autocrossing it, and a brief blat on the roads.

2015 Audi TT and S3 first drive in Dubai

As mentioned, it’s not really right to compare these cars, and the juxtaposition was probably unfortunate.

But then I learned that they both cost about the same money, give or take a thousand dirhams. I couldn’t help but come away with the sense that as stylish and new as it is, it would be foolish to pay out on the TT, when I could have the S3 instead (a car both more hard-core and practical than the TT).

2015 Audi TT and S3 first drive in Dubai

 

2015 Audi TT 2.0 230bhp – The Specs

Price: AED149k (US$40,555)
Engine: 2-litre four-cylinder 230bhp @ 4500rpm, 273lb ft @ 1600rpm
Performance: 0-100kph 5.3secs (Quattro) 6.0 (FWD), 250kph, 6.4L/100km
Transmission: 6-speed auto, four-wheel drive
Weight:  1230kg

2015 Audi S3 – The Specs

Price: AED150k (US$40,833)
Engine: 2-litre four-cylinder 296bhp @ 5500rpm, 280lb ft @ 1800rpm
Performance: 0-100kph 5.0secs, 250kph, 6.9L/100km
Transmission: 6-speed auto, four-wheel drive
Weight:  1450kg

Let us know what you think of the 2015 Audi TT and Audi S3 in the comments below

 

2 responses to “2015 Audi TT and Audi S3 – first drives”

  1. Tammam says:

    so the audi TT or the Nissan 370z even though there is almost a 100 hp diffrence in between them but damn that TT is quick and at the same price! light weight is winning here, isn’t it?

    • admin says:

      [Shahzad] For me the 370Z – it just feels like a proper meaty sports car and is still rather special, even though it’s a whole generation behind the TT now.

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