2015 Audi TT and Audi S3 | First Drive
It was a day I’d long been looking forward to, the day I’d finally have my hands wrapped around the steering of the 2015 Audi TT and the equally exciting S3. Having flirted with both at the 2015 Qatar Motor Show, there wasn’t any need for formal introductions, the exchange of pleasantries or pointless chitter-chatter, just some proper driving to be done.
What started out early in the morning with basic track driving techniques, evolved into doing a number of gruelling, tire screeching laps around the Dubai Autodrome in both, the seductive TT and the phenomenal S3. Once completed, we headed out onto the isolated roads of Al Qudra and Al Lisaili to gauge their performance in the real world, and truth be told, they genuinely didn’t disappoint.
2015 Audi TT
Since its inception in 1998, the Audi TT has won hearts over with its design; the design that to a certain extent, has been credited for spearheading the brand’s efforts at creating some truly spectacular vehicles ever since. Seventeen years later and in third generation guise, the 2015 Audi TT retains the DNA of its predecessors, but amps up its style quotient significantly. Linear contours and sharp creases lend the new-gen TT a scowling expression upfront, one that starkly contrasts the curvaceous rear end, but results in a truly elegant outer shell nonetheless.
Inside, the German coupe pays homage to its predecessors with circular A/C vents and a flat-bottom steering wheel, but ditches the bulky dashboard for one that seems to grasp the concept of minimalism a lot more willingly. With A/C controls integrated into the air vents themselves and Audi’s virtual cockpit replacing the traditional instrument binnacle, it’s all rather innovative. A testament of the times, I suppose.
Taking refuge under the sculpted hood of the TT, is a 2.0 litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine that whips out 230 horsepower at 6,200 RPM and 370 Nm of torque at 1,600 RPM and onwards. Directing its power to all four wheels through a six speed dual clutch automatic transmission, the TT carries its 1,260 kg weight to the 100 km/h mark in 5.3 seconds and onto a top speed of 250 km/h.
With a wider track and improved suspension setup, the new TT remains better grounded than its predecessor and allows for higher speeds to be carried into corners – something that’s made more enjoyable once you’ve got a hang of the liberal traction control system. The only gripe, however, would be the TT’s unwillingness to hold gears in manual mode once the RPM needle begins to bounce on the rev limiter. A downer when you’ve got a bit of hooning in a seductive coupe on your mind.
2015 Audi S3
The Audi S3 on the other hand, hasn’t spent nearly as much time as the TT in the brand’s lineup, but the performance inclined variant of the A3 has long earned its reputation for being the thinking man’s sports car. Opting for a more calm and composed persona, the S3 isn’t as rollicking as its TT sibling, something that’s apparent from its rather understated styling.
Around the cabin, a plethora of stitched leather, silver trim, and soft padding restate the brand’s commitment to luxury, while also playing a significant role in the S3 tipping scales at nearly 1,505 kilograms. With seating for five and a boot measuring 425 litres, the S3 proves its practicality and everyday usability, making it just that tad easier to convince the missus.
On the performance front, the S3 gets its grunt from a 2.0 litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine that ushers 286 horsepower and 380 Nm of torque through a six speed dual clutch transmission to all four wheels. Put the pedal to the metal and the mental German will pin you to your seat, before sprinting to 100 km/h in 5.0 seconds and onto an electronically limited top speed of 250 km/h.
With a whooshing turbo and snarly exhaust system fulfilling the aural aspects, the S3 is ironically faster and to a certain degree more enjoyable to drive than the TT. However, if there is one thing that needs to be fiddled with on the German sedan, it’d be the braking system. The current 13.4 inches upfront and 12.2 inches at the rear are decent, but to a great degree, unsettle the S3 when pushed hard.
At the end of the day, the TT and S3 both hail from the sportier side of Audi’s lineup, yet, they are very different vehicles. If it’s track day aspirations that you hold, then by all means the AED 210,000 Audi TT is the one should you should be considering. But if it’s sheer power and the capability to terrorise public roads that you’re after, then the AED 169,000 S3 is the one you should be signing on the dotted line for. Either way, you’ll be turning a lot of heads.