2012 Audi TTS
  • 2012 Audi TTS
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  • 2012 Audi TTS
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  • 2012 Audi TTS
  • 2012 Audi TTS front 3/4 view

  • 2012 Audi TTS
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  • 2012 Audi TTS
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  • 2012 Audi TTS
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Learning To Love The TT Middle Child



Before we get started down this rabbit hole, I feel obligated to come clean. I love the Audi TT RS. I love the top-tier TT the way nose bleeds love blow. The high-strung five-cylinder has carved out a warm nook in my bitter black heart because, at the end of the day, the TT RS is physical manifestation of what I thought the entire TT line should have been from the very start. When the first-generation model bowed in 1998, it did so as a powder-puff poser penned more to capitalize on the machine's Auto Union heritage than it did the performance lust of buyers looking for an all-wheel drive heathen. Here was a car with inarguably iconic styling saddled with all the pulse-quickening performance of someone else's cold oatmeal.

The TT has grown up considerably since those early days. Its lines have evolved from precise architectural arches into the organic curves of a well-toned body, and the TT RS supplies that skin with the kind of muscle that can scoot the coupe to 60 mph in a mere 4.1 seconds. If you're counting, that's within spitting distance of the same time laid down by the mighty R8.

So, with a base model happily capable of catering to the style-minded consumers of the world and the TT RS more than willing to serve under the heels of hardcore performance-oriented buyers, why bother offering the TTS at all? Because there's always something to be said for the middle ground.
2012 Audi TTS side view2012 Audi TTS front view2012 Audi TTS rear view

The Audi TTS is set apart from more common models with a range of aesthetic and mechanical tricks. Those start with the addition of a matte-chrome version of the corporate single-frame grille, but also include a more aggressive front fascia to match. The changes wear well on the TTS and help give the machine a leaner, sportier look compared to lower trims. The larger air inlets nestled down low, attractive fog lamp bezels and handsome LED daytime running lights are all suitably Audi, and the heavily contoured sheetmetal of the clamshell hood and flared fenders help integrate the new bumper cover nicely.

TTS guise affords the coupe a few other special touches, including a pair of aluminized side-view mirror caps and a set of very handsome 19-inch tri-spoke wheels. Move to the coupe's rear and expect to be met with a reworked valance. The bumper cover accommodates a set of quad exhaust tips designed to hint at the uprated turbocharged four-cylinder under the hood. As always, the speed-actuated rear spoiler stays on as a bit of functional eye candy. The driver can coax the mechanized wing up or down via a push of a console-mounted button as he or she sees fit. Kids love it.

2012 Audi TTS headlight2012 Audi TTS wheel2012 Audi TTS rear spoiler2012 Audi TTS exhaust tips

Pressing the TTS into Sport mode turns the coupe fiercely rigid in a way that would make the minds at Viagra blush.

As much fun as entertaining the traffic around you with an electro-mechanical puppet show can be, the center console also offers up a much more interesting switch for your operating pleasure. Get handsy with the "Sport" button, and the optional Audi magnetic ride suspension will go taught with a quickness. At 10 mm lower than the standard TT, the TTS is far from a coddling machine to begin with. Stiff springs and aggressive damping are both standard equipment, and even in "Comfort" mode, the TTS is better poised for mountain canyon carving than luxurious grand touring. Pressing the TTS into Sport mode turns the coupe fiercely rigid in a way that would make the minds at Viagra blush in a rare moment of modesty. While we're more than happy to send the TTS bashing over expansion joints on our way to dispatch a particularly flirty onramp, we have a hard time imagining most buyers getting familiar with the S button on the console.

That's a real shame, too. Clicking the switch sharpens the electric power steering nicely and turns the S-Tronic six-speed dual-clutch transmission properly playful. The shift logic twists with rpm blood lust, holding gears all the way to redline and downshifting with enthralling blips that send those quad pipes barking. The TTS doesn't need any help growing horns, but the S button is certainly glad to lend a hand.

2012 Audi TTS interior2012 Audi TTS gauges2012 Audi TTS climate controls2012 Audi TTS seat stitching

While the standard TT has evolved into a very attractive machine outside, the interior lacks much of the flare we've seen from more recent Audi models. Whereas the company's A7 serves up what could very well be one of the nicest mass-consumer cabins we've laid our hands on in recent memory, the Bauhaus coupe soldiers on with a slabish dash and uninteresting center stack. Like the TT RS, this continues to be a sore spot in the TTS, though tricks like a flat-bottom, contoured and leather-wrapped steering wheel certainly help give the machine an air of prestige. Our tester also came with the $1,000 optional Baseball Optic Leather package, which saddles the seats with massive leather stitching. In the flesh, the sizable hide strips are gorgeous and do much to make the interior feel like it belongs in a $52,000 luxury coupe. If the rasp of my jeans across the leather is any indication, however, I would hate to see it in 10 years.

The base Audi TT serves up 211 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque from a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, and the TTS tune squeezes an additional 54 hp from the same lump. The full 265 hp pours on at a heady 6,000 rpm. Curiously enough, the engine's torque rating remains unchanged at 258 pound-feet and continues to arrive from 2,500 rpm all the way to 5,000 rpm, and at full pull, the turbo shoves 17.4 pounds of boost into each combustion chamber. Power gets hustled to each wheel via a very-precise six-speed dual-clutch transmission and Audi's trademark quattro all-wheel drive system.

2012 Audi TTS engine

Now, 265 hp in an all-wheel-drive coupe that weighs 3,219 pounds is nothing to dismiss. In fact, Audi says the combination is good enough to launch the TTS to 60 mph in a scant 4.9 seconds. Judging by just how willingly the two-door will clip past the triple digit barrier, we're inclined to agree. But if there's a dark cloud looming over the TTS, it takes the form of one very troublesome consonant: R. Buyers who can manage to take the leap to the TT RS get to enjoy life with an additional cylinder at their command. The 2.5-liter turbo inline five cylinder throws an extra 95 horsepower and 85 lb-ft of torque at the driver, clipping around .8 seconds from the 0-60 dash.

If there's a dark cloud looming over the TTS, it takes the form of one very troublesome consonant: R.

The straight-line sprint hardly tells the whole story, though. On most tracks, the TT RS is as quick as the $114,200 R8, which makes the $6,850 price differential between the two TT siblings seem awfully slight. Alright, "slight" may be a bit of an overstatement, especially for buyers who aren't accustomed to ponying up supercar money, but get excited with the option sheet on the TTS and the price split between the two narrows substantially.

That's some tough luck for the TTS, as the four-cylinder coupe delivers a surprising amount of grip. Get off the interstate and head toward your favorite stretch of abandoned back road, and the kidney-bashing suspension comes into its own. Engineers worked to keep weight down in whatever way they could, swapping a number of steel suspension components with aluminum for better response. With a deliciously-rigid chassis and the miracle of the coupe's magnetic-ride suspension, the TTS is capable of some impressive feats of handling. The quattro all-wheel-drive system never feels heavy or prone to understeer, serving up a planted, confident driver that's about as difficult to upset as Mr. Rogers after a Valium.

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The 2012 TTS comes down from speed courtesy of 13.4-inch vented discs up front and 12.2-inch pieces out back, and the hardware delivers a firm, linear and confident pedal with good initial bite. We never saw any fade during our time with the car, even during short stints of abuse, though we were left with the feeling that the discs wouldn't stand up to a serious day's worth of track thrashing. Audi solved that issue with the TT RS by throwing an additional 1.2-inches of diameter at the front discs.

Our optioned-up model narrowed the financial gap between it and the TT RS to just $4,605.

If there's a nail in the TTS coffin, it has to be the fact that Audi has only made the model available with the company's S-Tronic dual-clutch six-speed transmission. While the gearbox is plenty entertaining, even offering very quick shifts courtesy of the stubby, wheel-mounted paddle shifters, it comes up well short of the driver engagement served up by the six-speed manual found in the RS. Make no mistake, we thoroughly enjoyed our time with the middle-child TTS, but every moment behind the wheel was shadowed by the nagging inclination that the car could be so much more fun with a stiff clutch and an honest stick. Call us old fashioned.

Of course, the sticker on our tester didn't help matters. At $52,245, including an $875 destination fee, our optioned-up model narrowed the financial gap between it and the TT RS to just $4,605. That's scant coin for substantially more machine. True, our Solar Orange bruiser came swaddled in Prestige trim, complete with navigation, a Bose surround sound system, heated front seats and other tricks, but we would feel comfortable sacrificing those goodies if it meant putting ourselves behind the wheel of the turbo five-cylinder in the TT RS.

2012 Audi TTS rear 3/4 view

Looking outside of the Audi family, the TTS comes up against some heavy competition as well. Wander over to the BMW lot and you'll find a 1 Series M Coupe with an additional 70 horsepower at its command for just $46,135. Despite putting its grunt to half the wheels of the TTS, the lithe Bimmer skips to 60 in 4.7 seconds and can be had with a manual gearbox, serving as a much better performance buy. The TTS does come across as a bit more mature than either the mean little 1 Series or TT RS, and that very attribute may be the model's saving grace.

As enthusiasts, we have a hard time conceiving of anyone ponying up more money for less car mechanically, but there's an entire subset of luxury coupe buyers who simply want a machine that feels quick and looks sharp. In this arena, the TTS does well against other stylish options like the $55,400 Mercedes-Benz SLK350 Roadster. Would we put our money down on the barrel head for a 2012 TTS? No, but we certainly wouldn't begrudge anyone who does, either. If you have no intention of really beating on the coupe, have no need for an extra 95 horsepower and all the heroics the power entails, the middle child of the TT line isn't a bad place to spend time.

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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 54 Comments
      sloturbo
      • 3 Years Ago
      It’s not $4k or even $7K difference between the S & RS. Come on, let’s match the TT options (apples to apples) and then you can choose what you’re willing to pay for performance. TT RS approx $65k 360hp 6 speed manual TTS approx $52K 265hp 6 speed dct TT approx $41K 221hp 6 speed dct FYI: VW Golf R Approx $36K 256hp 6 speed manual
      simianspeedster
      • 3 Years Ago
      As others have pointed out, the TT-S is no bargain, but it's not as close in price to the TT-RS as it looks on paper. Very few TT-RS models came to America without the Technology Pack and a couple other minor options which bumps the price to $62-63K. Take out the strange baseball leather in the TT-S and it's about $51-52K loaded. The real differentiator is the transmission. The TT-RS is manual only, the TT-S is dual-cluth automatic only. There may be some cross shopping of the two, but considering these hard rules and the $10K difference, they appeal to two different niche markets. As for the author mentioning the 1M -- it's a great car, but they've been sold out for over a year now, so it's a pointless comment if one is shopping for a new car. And lastly, for the person that asked whether the TT-S is just a TT with cosmetic improvements, the answer is not really. Yes, there are a lot of cosmetic changes, but the TT-S has a more powerful engine with a significantly different character (more peaky/high end power whereas the TT has more low-end grunt and runs out of breath far earlier), bigger brakes, a lower and stiffer suspension and standard magnetic ride (optional on the TT). It's not night and day, but all the changes really add up.
      Autohoor
      • 3 Years Ago
      Let's see... it's ugly, underpowered and way way overpriced! I'll take a Mustang GT over this joke any day!!
        Jon
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Autohoor
        Not at option for those of us in snowy climates, but thanks. And I won't talk about the obvious differences in interior quality. You're simply comparing apples and oranges (or in this case, Fords and Audis).
          NightFlight
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Jon
          You might want to: 1. Try snow tires just once. A friend has a Mustang with dedicated winter tires and it is nearly unstoppable. 2. The new Mustangs interior really isn't bad at all, the only poor piece is the arm rest.
          1STH
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Jon
          LOL @ nightflight talking about Mustang traction in the winter......completely delusional. it's amazing what the jealous do to try and back up their low-budget options....and their low knowledge arguments.
          A P
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Jon
          The interior in the TTS is pretty drab....hopefully this will ruin the myth that Audi has the best interiors in the business. Also the Mustang will be much more reliable than the garage queen TTS.
        NissanGTR
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Autohoor
        The cheap mustang will fall apart going 150mph and you lose your warranty. This wont.
        1STH
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Autohoor
        LOL @ comparing a Mustang to a finely made, well tuned, more fun to drive, TTS. if you think what you've said is true....then you're more delusional than you think, mate.
          kingrat001
          • 3 Years Ago
          @1STH
          From the Audi's my friends have had the "pleasure" of owning/leasing, there's not much "finely made" about them. A Mustang is a better bet to stay away from warranty claims. And after warranty? Wow, just wow.
          A P
          • 3 Years Ago
          @1STH
          Finely made???? ROFLMAO...Audi has some of the worst reliability ratings in the business...FAR below Ford.......look it up snob.
          kcroc10077
          • 3 Years Ago
          @1STH
          I love the RS but I would definitely consider a BOSS. Here's a more pertinent question. Audi RS or the upcoming Porsche Cayman S?
        KaiserWilhelm
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Autohoor
        Something about apples vs oranges comes to mind...
          moorewr
          • 3 Years Ago
          @KaiserWilhelm
          Is it the searing "Solar Orange" paint on the TTS that does it?
      Radioactive Flea
      • 3 Years Ago
      Overpriced.
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      chronoso
      • 3 Years Ago
      While I cannot disagree with the idea of skipping this model and going straight to the RS, what about any way in which it is an improvement over the standard TT? Same torque, seemingly the same equipment (aside from the multi-setting suspension), and some extra exhaust pipes...does it feel faster than a TT? Is it in any way significantly better driving experience, or is it just a 10k price increase for a different fascia?
      edselfanboy
      • 3 Years Ago
      In Europe, within 6 mos., VW will show it's latest Golf R with about 300hp. Based upon the new Golf and packing an updated all-wheel drive, the R will finally position itself as a real bargain in the "Sporty" car segment.
        Patrick
        • 3 Years Ago
        @edselfanboy
        Can you send that over to the states please
      HAL
      • 3 Years Ago
      Beautiful car.
      ucvideo
      • 3 Years Ago
      At less than 10 grand to the TT RS? This middle child will surely be ignored by anyone with a brain.
        moorewr
        • 3 Years Ago
        @ucvideo
        There are people who will pick a TTS over a TTRS because they don't want the manual, and others who want a convertible more than the better engine and tranny... that's not mentioned here but I am pretty sure the TTRS is coupe-only.
      Indubitably
      • 3 Years Ago
      over $50k...
      carguy1701
      • 3 Years Ago
      TT has never struck me as a drivers car, even with the 2nd generation.
      Awhattup
      • 3 Years Ago
      Nice, but I'm taking the SLK 350 for that price.
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