2.0 TDI quattro
cars that appeal to both
your heart and your head are few
and far between. Audi, however,
does have one for you the
just happens to be one of
the coolest tax savers around...
IT'S ALL TOO EASY, in the current economic climate, to get depressed
and talk doom-and-gloom about low new car sales, stalled house sales and depressed
high street shopping conditions. But for many it's an opportune time
to 'buy smartly'. There are definitely bargains to be had, and
the right cars to buy whether you are a retail or a business customer.
For business motorists buying or leasing, the right company car is even more
important now if you want to send the right signals to clients. Turning up for
meetings in a 'dog' of a downmarket car isn't the brightest way of keeping or
getting new business. And even if you are a private car buyer, your motor says
much about you and your lifestyle so think smart.
The desirable Audi brand seems to be withstanding the downturn in new car sales
in the UK. Whilst the market is down by 8.7 per cent so far this year, Audi
sales, while not as buoyant as they were, are up by 1.3 per cent so heading
in the right direction.
You wouldn't think their iconic and sporty TT range could appeal in these frugal
times, but the new TT Coupé 2.0-litre TDI quattro is actually the perfect answer
to 'recession mania'. The two-door Audi TT range has two-seater Roadster models
with an electric folding soft-top or the more practical 2+2 Coupé hardtop versions
and there are now TDI turbodiesel variants in both body styles.
In addition to the oil-burning powerplant, both TT model styles are available
with the choice of petrol direct injection 2.0-litre TFSI (197 or 268bhp) engines
and a 3.2-litre V6, 247bhp petrol unit. Prices start from £25,460 for a Coupé
and £27,500 for the Roadster. TT TDI 168bhp quattro models are priced at £26,600
for the Coupé and £28,600 for the drop-top.
Due to its higher price, the Roadster TT TDI incurs 20% Benefit in Kind tax;
the Coupé variant 18% all cheaper than their petrol counterparts. Road
tax for the diesel models is a reasonable £120 a year 2.0-litre petrol
models £170 or £210 a year depending on the power output and the 3.2-litre variants
cost £400 in road tax.
Apart from the tax advantages, the new TT TDI is also such a good buy because
it offers diesel fuel economy, a brilliant torquey engine and quattro permanent
all-wheel drive. And, be honest, if you want to create the right image about
you and your business, the TT looks great especially in its Coupé form
flash (in the nicest possible way) but not too over-the-top in the current economic
Competitors? Well, the Nissan 350Z, Mazda RX-8, BMW 1-Series Coupé, Alfa Romeo
Brera and Porsche Caymen are all obvious rivals to the TT Coupé; and the Alfa
Romeo Spider, VW Eos, Nissan 350Z Roadster and Porsche Boxter equally so for
the TT Roadster.
In either body form, the Audi TT is undeniably a style icon. There is really
nothing else like it on the road today; it cannot be mistaken for any other
car. Since it was first launched in 1999, the design has stood the test of time
and today, through the various subtle styling changes made, the TT still stands
out from the crowd.
My test model was the TT TDI Coupé priced at £26,600 but, as usual, it came
with lots of extra-cost options which added £10,000 to that! Smart buyers will
not go down that road. Certainly the £1,150 driver-adjustable magnetic ride
option is not essential as in all settings other than 'Comfort' mode the ride
is too hard. The heated front seats option would be good to add at £250, as
would be cruise control for high-mileage users and that adds another
£215. Rear parking sensors cost £300. I could also make a case for spending
£650 on the satellite navigation system. Company car drivers, however, should
be aware that all these extras cost the driver more when added to their Benefit
in Kind car tax.
In its standard guise, the beautifully crafted TT TDI Coupé has as standard
17-inch alloy wheels, concert audio system, front sports seats, split folding
rear seats, 3-spoke flat-bottomed sports steering wheel, aluminium detailed
interior trim, climate control, electric windows and heated mirrors, quattro
all-wheel drive with traction control, anti-lock braking, electronic stability
control, halogen headlights, front and rear fog lights, retractable rear spoiler
and twin exhaust pipes.
The major missing item and I cannot see it listed as an option
is a rear wiper system for the tailgate which to my mind is a must. Being so
steeply raked forwards it just lets the dirty water lie on the rear window and
when it's frosty there is no wiper to help remove the ice quickly. Although
the door mirrors are heated they didn't seem to want to thaw ice or dry water
very quickly either.
The TT's interior quality is superb, as is the design, and I felt very at home
in this Coupé whether driving for business or driving for pleasure. A word of
warning: the rear seats are miniscule a handy place to put a map or coat
but little else. However, there is a good-sized boot with 290 litres of space;
fold those token rear seats forward and the total load area is increased to
As to performance? Compact sporting coupé with a diesel engine a great
idea as the high torque characteristics are ideally suited to the quattro system.
The 2.0-litre, 168bhp, four-cylinder common-rail turbocharged and intercooled
engine produces 258lb ft of 'grunt' from just 1,750rpm. Exhaust gas recirculation,
a particulate filter and a catalytic converter keep CO2 emissions down to 139g/km
and that, as mentioned earlier, helps the pocket because road tax is an affordable
£120 a year.
The official combined cycle fuel economy is 53.3mpg (urban 40.4; exta-urban
65.7mpg). My car returned an excellent 47mpg, and that included long periods
of traffic crawl on the M25/M40 motorways plus some fun cut-and-thrust driving
around the Cotswold roads.
There's a great deal to like about this diesel-powered TT but it's not quite
perfect. Things some drivers might find irritating are the miniscule rear seats,
the lukewarm heated door mirrors and the fact that while it could really do
with a tailgate wiper, there isn't one (to be fair, hardly any of today's sporting
coupés have one). Headline plus points include image, performance, fuel economy,
high build quality and tax friendliness.
And, of course, the TT's diesel powerplant. This latest common-rail diesel engine
gives it immediate accelerative response because it revs so freely. And because
it delivers its maximum torque from low engine speeds, it is ideal in the mid-range
with loads of punch for fast overtaking. In town traffic it is flexible and
smooth, and in 'the cruise' it's relaxed and quiet. The six-speed manual transmission
is crisp and precise and the quattro all-wheel drive system gives loads of grip
in the rain, mud, ice and snow of Winter and in Summer the adhesion is just
as relevant for fast driving conditions. With its 50:50 weight distribution,
the balance of the TT Coupé is just about perfect. Top speed is 140mph and it
takes just 7.5 seconds to accelerate from standstill to 62mph. Impressive. All
in all, a fistful of reasons to smile in the recession. David Miles
Audi TT Coupé 2.0 TDI quattro | £26,600
Maximum speed: 140mph | 0-62mph: 7.5 seconds
Overall test MPG: 47mpg | Power: 168bhp | Torque: 258lb ft
CO2 139g/km | VED Band C £120 | Insurance group 16