With two seats, a spacious trunk and an acoustically insulated, fully automated top that goes down in about 15 seconds, the 2016 Audi TT Roadster is a great car for Southern California weekend getaways. Weighing in at just over 3,000 pounds and sporting Audi’s 2.0T engine cranking out 220 HP and 260 LB FT of torque, the newest version of the TT Roadster is a whole lotta fun in a small package. From the right angle outside, or inside, sitting in the diamond-stitched, Nappa leather sport seats, you just might think you were in a small R8. As someone who has had the distinct pleasure of driving various R8 models, I can see the comparison is not accidental.
To give the TT a proper getaway roadtest, I headed out on the 10 freeway towards Palm Springs and the luxury of The Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage. The resort is discreetly located in the mountain foothills overlooking Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley. The drive to The Ritz-Carlton provided a few hours of freeway driving, followed by some street driving through Palm Springs and then up the windy road to the resort named for longtime Rancho Mirage resident Frank Sinatra. After returning home, I put the TT through its paces in the canyons around Los Angeles.
On the freeway, the TT is well behaved and quite docile with the S tronic transmission in the standard D mode. When some fun is desired, a quick nudge into S mode or a downshift with the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters greatly changes the car’s personality. The shifting and driving become much more aggressive and in the right hands, the car becomes a 911-eater. Interior touches like metal-faced pedals, a flat-bottomed, Formula One-inspired steering wheel and optional S Sports seats add to the serious driving experience.
The power, regardless of the speed, is quite accessible and always available. From 0-60 (and beyond) the car pulls hard and evenly, a benefit of quattro all-wheel-drive. When you punch the accelerator on the freeway when already going 70, there is a also a nice power band to easily get you into both triple digits and trouble with local law enforcement. Audi’s smooth ride and suspension provide a good balance between sport performance and a luxurious, comfortable ride. Audi’s great drive select feature allows total control over various aspects of the car’s performance, for a true personalized driving experience.
It’s all about the power to weight ratio. The TT weighs just over 3,000 pounds, while cars like the Audi Q5, some models of which also use the 2.0T engine, weigh 1,000 pounds more. Looking beyond performance at fuel economy, with careful driving, 30 MPG is possible, another key component making this a great road trip car.
With near-perfect weight balance almost feeling like a mid-engined car, Audi’s quattro all-wheel-drive system and the 6-speed S tronic transmission deliver the power effortlessly to the road. In that S sport mode, you get some great high shift points, approaching 7,000 RPMs and other performance features like a little accelerator chirp before it downshifts. Under heavy acceleration, the exhaust note is also quite wonderful through the dual exhaust. For even more serious power, there is an Audi TTS model, which wrings 292 HP out of that same 2.0T engine.
The TT includes Audi’s proven MMI driver infotainment system and navigation was also user friendly with the full digital dash, called the “Audi Virtual Cockpit”. The dash features a large map when in the navigation mode, powered by Google Maps. The TT doesn’t have the separate info screen other Audi models feature, all the MMI info is displayed on that Virtual Cockpit.
Upon returning to Los Angeles, it was time to give the TT a workout in the canyons. Up and down Mulholland, over Benedict Canyon and Beverly Glen as well. The small size with that well-tuned engine and taut suspension, made it a joy to throw around. The speed is intense and it just rockets around and out of corners. That aggressive exhaust note is also quite wonderful to have as the soundtrack for all the fun and revels the TT’s true performance origins. You can also put the TT into D mode, put the top down and just enjoy a luxurious, relaxed driving experience.
The interior is a great place to be, with the test model featuring the optional S Sport seat package. The seats are crafted from fine Nappa leather with diamond stitching, providing the visual and touch appeal of an exotic car interior like that of the R8. The optional Bang & Olufsen sound system provides flawless sound top-up or top-down. The trunk is larger than one might expect for a two-seater and easily accommodates weekend getaway luggage for two.
This is a car I would buy, a car that would make me smile each time I took it out, whether to the grocery store or on a road trip . And after all, isn’t that what a sports car should provide? As optioned, this 2016 Audi TT Roadster 2.0T quattro S tronic goes for just over $54K with TT Roadster prices starting at $46,400.
Follow luxury travel writer Freddy Sherman on Twitter – @luxuryfred