Audi TT 2.0TDI Ultra03 | 11 | 2014Scotcars rating

    Venturing into the unknown with the all-new Audi TT as weather causes chaos

    THERE ARE DAYS WHEN, despite the best laid plans, Mother Nature just decides to scupper everything. After months of preparation, I was all set to drive the famous Rest and Be Thankful military road with former World Rally champ, and 1984 Scottish International Rally winner Hannu Mikkola in the new Audi TT.

    But when an estimated 270 tonnes of rock and soil slid from the hillside to block the modern-day stretch of the A83 after 36 hours of torrential rain on October 27, the former rally stage was put into action as the 'official diversion'.

    And while I'd been looking forward to going sideways with the 72-year-old Finnish rally maestro — who pioneered Audi's quattro system in the WRC — on the old closed-off military road, the prospect of doing so sharing the road with tankers and logging trucks didn't really seem attractive.

    Worse still: the road was closed at Tarbert, so we couldn't even get there from our base at Mar Hall on the south side of the Erskine Bridge.

    Instead — on one of the worst days you could imagine for driving, as the leaden grey skies chucked down millions of gallons of water — I took one of the new third generation Audi TT models to Callander.

    Then, despite warnings of potential additional road closures, carried on to Crianlarich before turning south and heading back down the west side of Loch Lomond. Boy there was some seriously impressive flooding.

    This new TT — the third since the original broke cover in 1998 — is based on VW Group’s MQB platform and retains the Audi Space Frame aluminium and steel hybrid construction of previous models. It's also lighter, more efficient and faster than ever before.

    There are two trim levels — Sport and S line — and a choice of 227bhp 2.0-litre TFSI petrol or 182bhp 2.0TDI Ultra diesel engines.

    Related: Roadtest — Audi S3 Cabriolet

    The petrol is offered with a six-speed manual gearbox matched to front-wheel drive, or quattro all-wheel drive with S tronic dual-clutch transmission; while the impressively frugal Ultra diesel is exclusively offered in front-wheel drive with the manual gearbox, and emits just 110g/km.

    Surprisingly, while the TDI in the second generation was available with four-wheel drive quattro — and was one of the biggest sellers in the range — we're going to have to wait around two years before the third gen diesel gets quattro.

    Prices start at £29,770 for the 2.0TDI Ultra and rise to £35,335 for the 2.0TFSI quattro. Order books are open now, with first deliveries in December. A Porsche Cayman-rivalling 305bhp 2.0TFSI TTS quattro will arrive next Spring, starting at £38,790.

    Anyone expecting significant visual changes to the new TT's styling will be disappointed. Blink and you'd struggle to spot the difference between this and the second gen model.

    Look closely and you'll notice a new grille, plus the fact the famous four circles now sit proudly on the nose of the bonnet, identical in design to its bigger brother, the R8.

    The newcomer's all smooth, gentle, rolling curves — an evolution of the original Bauhaus concept — and is unmistakable as a TT. You just can't miss the rounded wheelarches, curved windscreen pillars, a bold shoulder line and sloping rear tailgate.

    And while Sport models get 18in alloys as standard, and come with Xenon headlamps and LED running lights, S line versions get a sportier look with 19in wheels, deeper side sills, unique bumpers and a gloss black grille.

    Inside the TT's classy cabin? Well, it's a whole new world. In fact, it's an Audi 'Virtual' world.

    The stunningly designed interior is focused around Audi’s all-new Virtual Cockpit system. The 12.3-inch high-resolution LCD driver display replaces both the conventional dials and centre stack screen, and delivers a sleek minimalist dash design that’s both sporty and class-leadingly upmarket.

    Related: Roadtest — Audi A4 Ultra 2.0TDI

    The display can be switched between Classic View – with prominent speedo and rev counter — or Infotainment View, which brings functions like the navigation map to the fore. Telephone, media, trip and car settings functions all appear on the Virtual Cockpit screen and can be controlled using both the touch sensitive MMI controller or the multi-function wheel. Despite initial skepticism, it was actually a joy to use, boosted by the clarity of the screen combined with the dual-functionality of the controls.

    Go for the optional Technology Package and you get navigation with features like Google Maps traffic information, music streaming and internet access. The Virtual Cockpit also means a dealer updating the software can add it at anytime. All cars come with DAB radio, leather seats and climate control.

    There is though a 'Marmite' aspect to the interior. The top of the centre fascia is now populated by three large, circular air vents with the control function and display for the air conditioning integrated into them. You'll love them or loathe them.

    On the road, all three versions — front-wheel drive and quattro petrols, and the front-wheel drive diesel — deliver in abundance.

    All are quick — the 2WD petrol hits 62mph in less than six seconds, the quattro takes just 5.3s, while the TDI hits the benchmark in 7.2s — and I found the pick of the bunch, again, being the diesel.

    It handles just as well as either of the petrols, and is further boosted by having bucketloads of torque, plus it returns 67.3mpg and emits just 110g/km.

    The TDI's almost too good to be true. Not only is it cheaper to buy and run than both its petrol counterparts, but expect it also to hold on to its value better; so all-round it makes perfect financial sense.

    And whether you're cruising the motorway or blasting down your favourite narrow back road, I guarantee you'll have a smile on your face … no matter what the weather's like.

    Related: Audi reveals new Q7

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    Jim McGill


    Quick Stats
    Price OTR/As Tested £29,770
    Engine / Power: 1998cc diesel turbo / 182bhp
    How fast?: 7.1sec; / Max 150mph
    How big/heavy?: L4177mm W1832mm (excl mirrors) H1353mm / 1265kg
    How thirsty/CO2?: 67.3mpg combined / 110g/km CO2
    InsGP/Road tax: n/a / n/a
    Alternatives: BMW 220d, Peugeot RCZ

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