The mid-cycle updates to the third-generation Audi TTS may be subtle, but it highlights just how well its design is ageing. Necessary emissions regulations see a small drop in power, but it hasn't affected performance according to Audi, ensuring the medium-strength coupe is still more than fast enough for its place in the world.
In the metal
Revisions to the exterior styling help to give the Audi TTS a more aggressive look and tie-in better with the car's performance over the standard model. A new front bumper section features more pronounced air intakes and a full-length front splitter in gloss black or bright aluminium-like silver. Above that, the 'singleframe' grille gets a more three-dimensional look. Meanwhile, the side sills get some remodelling, as does the rear diffuser. You still get the quad exhausts with two on each side. New design elements include the faux vertical vents beneath the rear lights. They might not serve any real purpose, but they visually break up the rear and emphasise the car's width.
If you want to take it a step further, the Black Edition gains a fixed rear wing from the more potent TT RS in place of the movable spoiler as a no-cost option. For this version, the standard wheel sizes move up an inch to 20-inch rims. Audi is also adding more vibrancy to its paint palette in the form of the Pulse Orange you see here, along with Cosmos Blue.
Some new colour options for interior elements give buyers more choice, but the overall cabin design remains unchanged. Though the 12.3-inch all-digital instrument screen gets an additional sport display, which provides the driver with information regarding the engine output, torque and g-forces.
If there was one thing the Audi TTS never lacked, it's traction - something that was clear from our test drive of this car's direct predecessor. Increasingly stringent vehicle emissions regulations mean that this latest TTS now gets a petrol particulate filter resulting in a small decrease in peak power output from 310- to 306hp. We very much doubt that anyone will notice the difference, but if it helps to alleviate any doubts prospective buyers of this version may have, rest assured, it's still faster. An increase of 20Nm in torque, along with minor gearing changes, results in the shaving of a tenth of a second off the 0-100km/h dash, bringing it down to 4.5 seconds for the coupe.
Where the TTS feels most adept is on a fast-flowing road, so what better way to put this latest version through its paces than on a closed mountain section of the Isle of Man's TT course? The car's launch control creates something of a mini-Group B rally car moment as its revs flutter on the limiter before you release the brakes. The TTS sprints away and letting the engine rev out until the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission automatically slots in the next ratio with an audible crack from the exhaust certainly induces a grin. Distributing drive to all wheels is a revised quattro four-wheel-drive transmission. While it is capable of shifting the balance of power delivery between the axles, you don't get much of a sensation of it happening. In extreme situations, all of the power can go to just one axle. For the most part, it's splitting the power in a reasonably even fashion, so you get to enjoy what seems like never-ending levels of traction. Only when you start to ask too much of it will the front start to indicate that you're pushing your limits.
Audi fits the TTS with progressive steering that alters the ratio (i.e. the directness) on the fly. At high speed, it reduces the directness to make the car more stable and less twitchy, while at slower speeds, the steering feels highly agile and light when negotiating slower city traffic. Its flat-bottomed steering wheel provides enough feedback to your hands, but aside from the car's pace, the overwhelming sensation is the prodigious levels of grip it appears to possess, even accepting that its 20-inch wheels were shod in 255/30 Pirelli P-Zero tyres.
Cycling through the standard Drive Select feature does noticeably change the car's character, but also the ride quality. Audi fits the TTS with its magnetic ride adaptive suspension setup. Additionally, you can choose to lower both the S line and Black Edition models by a further 10mm. In its Dynamic mode, the TTS's suspension is unyielding, and anything other than a billiard table smooth road will soon make the ride feel jarring, although the larger wheels and thinner tyre sidewalls compound this. Switching to the Comfort mode softens the car's suspension up enough for it to be considered for daily driving purposes and, as the Manx roads prove similar to ones in Ireland, it gave us a more accurate feel on how the car will perform here. The driver can also choose an Individual mode and set the car up to suit their preferences.
For the times that you're not in time attack mode, the Efficiency setting dulls down the throttle response and when coasting along off throttle will slip the transmission into a freewheel mode temporarily to further help reduce fuel consumption.
What you get for your money
The Audi TTS comes well-equipped, including big-ticket items like adaptive dampers and LED headlights as standard. Optionally Audi will offer a version of its Matrix LED lighting, which provides a dynamic spread of high beam light without dazzling other road users. Buyers will also be able to specify Matrix OLED rear lights that feature a more distinctive design to set them apart. When Audi Ireland announces the pricing for this TTS, we will update this section of the review.
The updates to the Audi TTS may be mild, but they enhance what is already a good base. If you're looking for a sports coupe that doesn't compromise too much on practicality and can still deliver a safe but thrilling driving experience that flatters the driver, then step this way.