It’s hard to believe that this year marks the 20th anniversary of the Audi TT. Since the ground-breaking sports car was
launched in 1998, around 600,000 examples have been built. We’ve come to the Isle of Man – home of the famous Tourist Trophy (more commonly known as ‘The TT’) motorcycle races – to try out the latest version of the TTS Coupé, which arrives on UK roads this winter.
Audi’s connection with the island goes back almost a century, when NSU and DKW motorcyles – both Audi ancestor companies – competed regularly in the TT. In fact, 2018 is the 80th anniversary of German bike racer Ewald Kluge’s Lightweight TT victory aboard a 250cc DKW machine, so the setting for our test of the new TTS could hardly be more appropriate, especially when you remember that many of the Isle of Man’s spectacular roads have no speed limit.
The updated TTS is powered by Audi’s familiar 2.0 TFSI engine, which, in this guise, produces a healthy 306PS. This is actually slightly less than its predecessor, but an extra 20Nm of torque means this new version can accelerate even harder. The 0-62mph sprint is over in just 4.5 seconds – a tenth of a second quicker than before. Power is sent to the road via quattro all-wheel-drive and a slick-shifting seven- speed S tronic transmission.
Our orange Pulse example, parked up on picturesque Marine Drive, just outside the island’s capital, Douglas, elicits admiring glances. This new car has certainly retained the now-iconic TT styling: a host of subtle styling enhancements give the TTS a more aggressive look, including a wide singleframe front grille, a full-length front splitter rear diffuser. Settle into the car’s comfortable and supportive S Sports seats and you’re greeted by Audi’s excellent Virtual Cockpit display, which now features an additional Sport display as standard. This can relay power and torque outputs, plus G-force readings to the driver.
As you may know, the Isle of Man TT course is made up entirely of public roads, meaning you can easily drive an entire lap of the circuit, following in the wheel tracks of countless bike-racing legends. During our visit to the island, a 10-mile section of the circuit between the Ramsey Hairpin and Creg-Ny-Baa has been closed to all other traffic, giving us a chance to thoroughly test the performance and handling of the new TTS – an enormous privilege and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Thanks to some valuable advice and local knowledge from our ‘guide’, former TT race winner and Manxman Richard ‘Milky’ Quayle, we’re able to use all of the road and take the racing line through the Mountain Course’s numerous blind and extremely tricky corners, fully exploring the car’s limits. Select dynamic mode via the Audi Drive Select menu, knock the gear selector into manual and it’s time to drive one of the world’s most famous roads.
We set off from Creg-Ny-Baa and the TTS immediately feels at home. Performance from the 2.0 TFSI engine is impressive as I accelerate away from the startline to start my run on the Mountain Course, flicking up through the gears via the wheel-mounted shift paddles. Carrying as much speed as I dare subject it to through the corners, the TTS remains beautifully balanced, and, thanks to Audi’s famous quattro all-wheel-drive system, it’s perfectly stable through the road’s eye-wideningly quick curves. Traction on the way out of slower, tighter corners is mighty and the brakes deliver superb stopping power – comforting when I notice that much of the road is lined by sheer rock faces on one side, seemingly endless drop-offs on the other. You couldn’t ask for a better companion when tackling one of motorsport’s most fearsome and hallowed stretches of tarmac.
Words by James Clark.