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TT IS STILL TOPS

" You wouldn't put a moustache on the Mona Lisa?."

The curt reply to my opinion that the all-new TT doesn't actually look that different to the second generation.

Don't tell me it's the old "evolution rather that revolution pap again?" I retorted.

But as the door swung open I knew a large dose of humble pie was on the menu with an interior worthy of true sports car status.

Granted, Audi designers have muscled up the iconic roadster with crisper lines and creases and hardened up the nose with the removal of the four rings from the grille - giving it the A8 treatment by placing them on the bonnet.

But it's the interior and what lies under the hood that will really thrill the senses.

Now, Audi cabins are synonymous with build quality and luxury but this is a real game-changer.

From the time you slip into the half leather bucket seats and wrap your mits around the thick, flat bottomed three- spoke steering wheel you just knew this was gonna be something special.

Then there are the space age jet engine air vents with the controls sunken into the centre where you can adjust the temperature, fan or direction.

Housed in the driver and passenger vents is the button for the heated seats (neither are standard).

The centre console has been completely decluttered and replaced with a stunning new virtual cockpit.

The high definition 12.3-inch panel sits in front of the driver and is home to all the car's infotainment system.

The state of the art digital display is crystal clear and is home to the speedo and rev counter (which you can make big or small) sat nav (which uses Google earth) Bluetooth, music streaming and all the car's vital stats.

The real beauty here is the software can be updated or added to at any time and it even comes with a scribbling pad on the control mouse to prompt names in your phone book.

Available in two trim lines, the Sport and S-Line, standard kit is generous and includes the virtual cockpit, MMI touch, Xenon or LED headlights, music interface, drive select, half-leather sports seats and cruise control.

Equally stunning is the power available in the TT and TTS with three four-cylinder turbocharged engines (two petrol, one diesel) ranging from 184bhp to a blistering 310bhp.

We tested what will be the most popular here - 2.0 TDI ultra model, which is equipped with a manual gearbox and front-wheel drive.

And it didn't disappoint with a sprint from 0- 100kmph in 7.2 seconds and a top speed of 234kmph, yet it has supermini economy of 62mpg (4.2l/100kms) and record low emissions in its class of 110 g/km and road tax of just €190.

Thanks to the greater use of aluminium in the body and steel in the chassis the new TT is 50kgs lighter and has a lower centre of gravity which literally glues it to the tarmac.

Couple that with Audi Drive Select which in Dynamic mode sharpens the throttle, tightens the steering and adjusts the gear ratios to give the feel of a true sports coupe.

The drive is nothing short of spectacular with pin-point precision from the front wheels and not an ounce of torque steer.

Launch it into corner after corner and it never misbehaves while on the straight the suspension, while stiff, is never choppy.

A remarkable improvement on the last one and if this is the runt of the litter, we can't wait for the TTS Quattro.

The new Audi TT is priced from €47,550.


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