Stop rubbing your eyes, folks. Yes, this is an Audi TTS quattro, and yes, it is currently on sale in Malaysia by its official distributor. Back in October 2015, Audi Malaysia slipped its first-ever full-fledged “S” model into the country, pricing the TTS at a relatively affordable RM389,900 — considering that its class competitors are typically priced RM100k higher.
I’ll be the first to raise my hand in saying that the additional RM105k you’d have to cough-up for this over the standard model isn’t necessary by any normal means. I say this on the opinion that if you wanted a very fast, very good looking coupe, you needn’t look further than the regular TT itself. At RM285k, the Audi TT 2.0 TFSI features all the latest and greatest bits from the brand, like the Audi Virtual Cockpit, latest-gen MMI infotainment system and it looks every bit the part.
On the other hand, the Audi TTS here must be one for the uneasily appeased. Breaking it down, it is obvious that you get all the bells and whistles of the regular TT, and then some. Being the “S” model, there aren’t many options left to tick either. You could opt for the full-on Matrix LED headlamps for an additional RM5k, but a rear-view camera (RM2,500) in such a compact car isn’t quite necessary.
What you do get on the TTS is a full S-exclusive exterior kit which adds a more aggressively-shaped front bumper with larger air intakes, chrome-finished front grille slats and wing mirror covers, signature S quad exhaust tips and a more purposeful rear diffuser.
Full LED headlamps are also equipped as standard here, with the car wearing a gorgeous set of 19-inch, five parallel-spoke “Star” design alloy wheels wrapped in 245/35 Bridgestone Potenza S001 rubbers.
The TTS looks remarkable. The third-gen model itself may have retained the second-gen’s silhouette and curves, but the subtle enhancements (if you really could call them subtle at all) radically improve this coupe’s curb appeal. What more with the S exterior kit which is the right icing for an already tastefully-finished cake.
Personally, I prefer reserving my opinions about a car’s aesthetic design in a review – leaving the measure of its beauty to the eye of its beholder. But recalling that the Audi TTS sits in a class that includes the Mercedes-Benz SLC (formerly SLK), BMW Z4 and the Porsche Boxster, I must say that I do fancy the TTS’ looks above the rest – perhaps bar the very new 718 Boxster, which I’ll reserve judgement for until I see it in the metal.
The TTS’ cockpit remains largely identical to the regular TT, save for a few extra “S” badges on the backrests of the seats, steering wheel, gear knob and scuff plates. The sport seats get S-exclusive cross-stitched Alcantara inserts and leather sides.
Other standard items that the TTS gets and the TT doesn’t are the 680-watt, 12-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system and MMI navigation plus – RM3,000 and RM9,500 options, respectively, for the regular TT.
Audi Virtual Cockpit is a common feature now to all latest-gen Audi models — first introduced on the TT, then on the Q7 SUV, and next on the coming B9-gen A4. The 12.3-inch fully digital instrument panel display screen looks fantastic and operates even better than it looks.
Visuals on the display screen are highly customisable, allowing you to select your preferred primary, secondary and tertiary displays. You get to choose where and how you want the in-car Google Maps-powered navigation, telemetry and other items like the audio player to appear.
As mentioned, Audi’s latest-gen MMI navigation plus infotainment system is standard fare in the TTS, and offers all the right mobile device and audio connectivity options (USB, Bluetooth, etc.) as well as a touch-sensitive rotary dial on the centre console.
The touchpad makes inputting addresses in the navigation easy – you literally write out the alphabets with your finger, swiping backwards to delete or forwards to space, as the system voices out your inputs. If you don’t mind the lack of traffic information, the in-car navigation is actually quite handy.
The MMI interface itself is a major improvement from the outgoing version. As also available in the Q7 SUV, it certainly doesn’t take long to figure out how to configure every possible feature on your car. We’ve had our gripes about the previous-gen’s four-corner logic, but this is much more user friendly.
The same can be said about the TTS’ clutter-free centre console, thanks to the clean MMI controls and cleverly positioned climate controls which are on the air vents itself. There’s actually a good amount of usable storage space in the centre console for your mobile phones, keys, wallet and what not.
For fit and finish, there’s really no faulting the TTS. The brushed aluminium trim pieces ooze quality. Every button “clicks” in typically unique Audi fashion, leaving little room to negatively criticise the craftsmanship.
Presentation wise, you could argue that the RM390k spent here should at least get you a leather-covered dash, but that’s not the case here. Seatbelt extenders would have also been greatly appreciated. As it is, getting in and out of this coupe isn’t a very graceful affair, what more having to awkwardly stretch backwards to reach for your seatbelt – physical limberness is a prerequisite to driving the TTS.
Once inside, I must say that the coupe did well to accommodate my 182 cm-tall self, apart from the centre console roughing up the outer side of my left knee. This is more than likely to be a personal issue, given my height and preferred seating position.
Speaking of which, I did notice that just as in the Q7, the TTS’ steering wouldn’t tilt upwards enough for my personal preference, nor was it possible for the seats to go low enough for me. Again, these observations are made purely based on my personal shape – others are likely to fare differently in the driver’s seat.
The rear seats are as good as pointless to the average-sized adult. With some squeezing, you could fit a child or two back there, but by right they’d have to be in child safety seats, most of which wouldn’t fit. The boot has a solid 305 litres of space available — perfect for a weekend’s luggage, but not much more.
Getting around to driving the TTS, the first thing you’ll probably notice is how much the car wills you to drive it with more pace than you normally would. The steering feels excellent in your hands and the seats are firmly sculpted to hold your upper body right in place, fending off any lateral forces.
Despite being front-wheel driven, the regular TT itself is a very decent car to drive. It’s not the most thrilling car out there, but it offers loads of traction and refuses to give in to understeer. The TTS here is of course on another level. Audi’s proprietary quattro all-wheel drive system comes into play, along with the Audi magnetic ride suspension system – both items are included as standard.
The rear-biased quattro all-wheel drive system keeps all four wheels in check via a Haldex clutch system that’s similar to what’s available in the Mk7 Golf R. Unfortunately, unlike the Golf R, I’ve not had the privilege of driving the TTS on a circuit to find its limits. I can only tell you that the thing is obviously far more capable and willing to be driven hard than a regular TT – far more even than my talents could or would attempt.
In hindsight, that’s actually a good thing because on public roads is where I reckon most TTS owners would spend the majority of their time anyways. Let’s be honest and admit that if you really wanted a regular track hero, a much more affordable Renault Megane RS would probably be your cup of tea.
The Audi magnetic ride system offers adaptive damping, and generally has three settings to choose from – Comfort, Dynamic and Auto. Unfortunately, Comfort mode isn’t very comfortable at all — a forgivable aspect considering the nature of the beast. The seats do well to relieve some of the harshness, but those 19-inch alloys wrapped in 245/35 rubbers do just the opposite.
Set it to Dynamic mode and the TTS’ ride naturally becomes uneasy on our horrid Malaysian roads. When you do find a clear, smooth spot to attack some corners, the firmed-up chassis appears a lot more communicative, and you can feel it shrug off lateral G-forces – this thing corners as flat as it gets.
The best thing about driving the TTS has to be its steering. Not only does the wheel itself feel good in your hands, the quick, electrically-assisted rack behind it is even better. A common item to many of the Volkswagen Group’s hotter models, the quick steering ratio on the TTS requires minimal input to achieve your intended directional changes – there’s almost no need for hand-over-hand driving in any instance.
The TTS doesn’t have the best turning circle, but because of the quick rack, making three-point turns (if ever necessary) is easily done. There are those who gripe at the steering feel, though, saying that it doesn’t communicate well. I personally appreciate the progressive response, feel and weightiness — there’s just enough to keep you in touch with proceedings without you needing to break a sweat.
Allowing you to exploit the TTS’ high levels of grip is its very powerful 2.0 litre TFSI engine that offers 286 hp between 5,300 to 6,200 rpm and 380 Nm of torque from 1,800 to 5,200 rpm. Sprinting from zero to 100 km/h in the TTS takes just 4.7 seconds, while its top speed is limited to 250 km/h.
Informed readers may have noticed the lower-than-usual power output here, but Audi Malaysia explains that for the TTS to perform well with our grade of fuel and hot climate, the TFSI engine had to be detuned slightly from the original 310 hp (torque remains the same). A six-speed wet dual-clutch S-Tronic automatic shifter is standard fare.
As the technical details suggest, the engine needs to be revved hard if you want to get the most out of it. Even still, there’s a massive amount of grunt available even at its lower rpm range. Either way, the Audi Drive Select system gives you five driving modes to choose from (Auto, Comfort, Dynamic, Efficiency and Individual), manipulating throttle, transmission, steering and ride comfort to suit your demands.
When you look at it on paper, the RM 390k TTS offers far more power than its class competitors in Malaysia. A comparable BMW Z4 sDrive28i M Sport is priced at RM488k, but makes just 245 hp. Mercedes-Benz Malaysia’s SLK 200 is from a level below with just 184 hp, but is still priced at RM460k. The current Porsche Boxster here (pre-718 generation) is listed at RM450k, but makes just 265 hp from its 2.7 litre flat-six.
The Audi TTS’ only vice in the country takes the shape of a Mercedes-Benz CLA 45 AMG. Priced negligibly RM3,000 more than the TTS, the RM392,888 CLA 45 monsters the Audi with a 355 hp/450 Nm engine and four doors. Or, if you don’t mind its boring, unimaginative looks, there’s always the cheaper Mk7 Golf R.
Nevertheless, the Audi TTS is a much newer model with the appeal of the car maker’s latest and greatest tech – much newer than the CLA which has been around since 2013. So unless your pure concern is for power alone, the TTS is still somewhat ahead of the game. Mind you, the updated CLA 45 will soon offer even more power – 381 hp and 475 Nm – just like the facelifted A 45 AMG.
All things considered, and while I do have my reservations about two-door coupes in general, I feel the TTS is one of the more sensible sports coupes money can buy in the country right now. It is a great weekend getaway vehicle that’s cheaper than its competition, and would be just as competitive on a track.
It out-dos the regular TT in many ways. There may be a lot of other cars worth looking at for the RM390k price, but none that does what the TTS was made to do so well – as long as you treat it as a pure two-seater, that is.