Tom Crosby: 2016 Audi TT Roadster stirs emotional responses

Tom Crosby

Roadsters rule the roost when it comes to on-road envy and driving pleasure, often with the convertible top down and wind tousling the hair of driver and passenger.

A Tango Red 2016 Audi TT Roadster 2.0 quattro S tronic, our test-drive, captured the essence of the roadster experience, both with on-road performance that spiked adrenalin and thumbs-up by drivers at red lights and on the highway.

The TT Roadster and four-seater TT Coupe are all new for 2016 with a uniquely functional 12.3-inch display behind the steering wheel as part of what Audi calls its “virtual cockpit.” Gone is the center dashboard screen. Drivers now see circular rpm and speed gauges bracketing a screen with information and entertainment chosen via a center console knob and small capacitive touch screen, steering wheel controls or voice commands. The gauges shrink when gathering information or using the navigation system but graphics remain sharp and source retrieval is speedy via Audi’s highly praised Multi Media Interface.

A total of $7,375 in options made our Audi more palatable and included navigation, sport seating, Bang and Olufsen sound, blind spot monitor, 19-inch wheels, a parking system with rearview camera and the paint job. The newly chiseled look replaces the previous round TT profile, with sculpted hood, flared wheel arches, side character lines, upward sweeping LED headlights and a flatter, sleeker, leaner look. Audi’s addictive pleasure is behind the wheel, with the quattro four-wheel drive hugging curves with glue-like tenacity, and steering almost intuitive with its safety-conscious straight ahead bias. The twin-turbo engine responds with only a minor hint of delay and when needed, brakes grip crisply. A 300-mile highway trip averaging just under 70 mph yielded a 31.7 mpg average, more than EPA’s 30 mph rating.

Inside, the Nappa-leather equipped cockpit is ergonomically pleasant, although the single cupholder is too deep for small cups. Paired rotary bezels control air flow and interior LED lighting adds panache. The top tucks away in under 10 seconds and a raised wind blocker allows hair to be tousled and not whipped. The trunk is shallow but deep, ample enough for four soft luggage bags. There is a spare tire. Voice recognition for navigation failed but manual input allowed us to find our way. Selecting Sport mode or Dynamic driving mode and pressing steering wheel mounted paddles elicited pleasing engine growl.

LIKES: Luxury, snug cockpit, power, ride, handling, envious looks

DISLIKES: Tire thrum, voice recognition

BOTTOM LINE: So much fun to drive, parking feels like breaking up


2016 AUDI TT 2.0 quattro S tronic

Base price w/destination fee: $47,325 ($54,700 as tested)

Curb weight: 3,186 pounds

Wheelbase: 98.6 inches

Length: 164.7 inches

Width: 72.1 inches

Engine specs: 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder, 16 valve, turbo-charged, direct injection

Horsepower: 333 hp at 5,300 rpm

Torque: 325 lbs.-ft. at 2,900 rpm

Transmission: speed automatic with Triptonic

EPA rating: 23 city, 30 highway

Range: 14.5 gallons, premium fuel

Performance: 0-60 in 5.3 seconds

Tom Crosby is a former journalist and communications director for AAA Carolinas. He has been reviewing cars since 1996, and has been active in traffic safety issues for more than 30 years.