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Review of the 2016 Audi TTS: Righting wrongs yet again

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On: Tue, May 24, 2016 at 10:08AM | By: Lou Ruggieri

Review of the 2016 Audi TTS:  Righting wrongs yet again

We have to admit when we are wrong. Granted, it doesn't happen often (or so we'd like to believe); there are, however, times when being wrong can be humbling, humiliating, embarrassing, and even downright infuriating. But sometimes, just sometimes, being wrong can be a good thing; one such case began in 1998 when Audi debuted the TT. In truth, we did not think for one minute that this funky-looking, not-quite-a-sports-car, quasi-coupe, pseudo-VW-Beetle, ladybug-ish bubble would last more than a couple model years at best. However, here we are some 18 years since that infamous decree, and its time that we got out our fork and knife and ate our words. The Audi TT has had a very long and successful production run that is still going strong. As proof of that fact, we bring you the 2016 Audi TTS.

The new TTS comes to play with the same very family quirky design, yet it has a much sportier look to it. Credit the angrier-looking headlight design and the large front grille and air ducts, or maybe the more squat and poised stance that makes this generation (beginning back in 2014) seem a bit more on the sporting side than in previous years. For those new to the German car game nomenclature, the 'S' version of the TT debuted back in 2008, and is essentially Audi's answer to BMW's M division or Mercedes' AMG line. The new TTS gets the same basic treatment as a standard A3 gets to make it into an S3.

For starters, the soul of the car gets some performance tweaking. The iron-block/aluminum head 2.0-liter turbocharged and intercooled, DOHC direct-injected inline-4 pumps out 72 more horsepower than the base TT, for a total of 292 ponies. It also chimes in with 22 more pound-feet of torque for a total of 280, which does, unfortunately, come later in the power band at 1900 rpm, which is 300 rpm further up than the base model. And while those numbers may sound lackluster in a world with 300 horsepower Hyundais, 500 horsepower Camaros, and 700 horsepower Challengers, the TTS may just surprise you.

The TTS is still an "S-Line" car and does well to live up to its name in performance, if not in raw numbers. But let's face it, what counts is what a car can do, not what the build sheet hints it can do. In terms of pure acceleration, the TTS utilizes its famous Quattro all-wheel drive and either its S-Tronic dual-clutch six-speed automatic or slick-shifting six-speed manual gearbox to rip off to some very impressive numbers. The little Audi runs from 0–60 mph in only 4.2 seconds, 0–100 mph in 10.7 seconds, through the quarter mile in 12.8 seconds @ 108 mph on its way to an electronically limited 155 mph top speed. Around the track, the TTS makes the most of its squat stance and posts a very impressive 0.98 g around on the skidpad. To put things in perspective, those numbers are in league with the 405-horsepower C5 Corvette ZO6. Thanks to its svelte curb weight of only 3220 pounds, the TTS has an 80-pound advantage over its S3 sibling making it two-tenths of a second faster and more than half a second quicker through the quarter mile than the last version TTS. Even at the pump, the Audi performs reasonably well for being able to put down such impressive numbers: 23/27 city/highway. You won't confuse it with a Prius, but then, why would you want to?

Driving the TTS, you realize pretty quickly that it is purpose built. The magnetic-ride shocks, well-weighted steering, and quick turn-in give very informative, direct-if-sometimes-excessive feedback from the road. The interior is driver-centric, with all of its aluminum-trimmed gauges and HVAC controls slanted towards the car's controller. The infotainment system is colorful and seems very high quality with its very intuitive touch-pad interface. The back seat is essentially for show, but becomes much more useful when you fold the seat down and use it to stow luggage or four-legged friends.

The starting price for a 2016 TTS comes in at $51,900. Which, depending on your viewpoint, is either a great deal, or not-so-great. On one hand, you can have a certified Porsche-killer on your hands for just over fifty grand that also rivals the Boxster's fit and finish. But, on the other hand, you have what could be considered a glorified Golf that you do have to drive like you hate it to really glean any of those marvelous numbers it can post. But what isn't an argument is the fact that the TTS is a serious sports car that might be a little bit on the quirky side, but is still selling extremely well and has progressed and evolved over the last (not quite) two decades. And while we have to admit we were wrong about the TT and the TTS, we can freely admit that being wrong has never felt so good.

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