2023 Audi TTS Coupe Review: Departing with dignity

Tim Stevens

To mark 25 years of the Audi TT and commemorate its final year in production, we drove this final 2023 TTS coupe for one last road test. Click here to read about our drive of the original Mk1 TT, and click here for a design deep dive with insight from designer Freeman Thomas. -Ed.

Even at its most recent peak near the turn of the millennium, the market for little sports cars has never been huge, especially for the models that came with premium price tags. For 25 years, Audi’s TT has been a mainstay in the sports car world, and one of the space’s most original-looking. Though not as pure a driver’s car as some of its competitors over the years, the TT instead focused on comfort and livability. Engaging and fun, yes, but practical enough to be viable at least as a second household car for daily use.

With this year marking the end of the road for the TT, we’re here to take a last look at Audi’s little coupe. The 2023 Audi TT comes available in three flavors, all powered by variations on the same theme: a 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder mounted up front and directing power to all four wheels through a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox.

Opt for the base, $53,290 TT—available in both coupe and Roadster guise—and you get 228 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. Go for the $62,995 TTS, the car you see pictured here, and you step up to 288 hp and 280 lb-ft. The roaring turbo-five-cylinder TT RS went out of production after 2022.

Specs: 2023 Audi TTS Coupe

• Price: $62,995 / $65,790 (base/as-tested)
• Powertrain: 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, seven-speed dual-clutch
• Horsepower: 288 hp
• Torque: 288 lb-ft
• Layout: All-wheel-drive, two-door, four-passenger liftback coupe
• EPA-rated fuel economy: 23/31/26 MPG (city/hwy/combined)
• 0–60 mph: 4.4 seconds (est.)
• Competition: Porsche 718 Cayman, BMW 2 Series, Toyota Supra 2.0

The car you see here is coated in Tango Red Metallic, a beautiful, simple crimson with just a hint of sparkle. That’s one of eight hues to choose from. The red pairs nicely with the $2200 Competition Package, which blacks out many of the exterior details, including mirrors and wing, and adds darkened 20-inch wheels. The all-black grille area helps the angry front facia look a bit more muted, too.

All that aggression at the nose dominates the visual experience, which we’d argue distracts from TT’s overall shape. That roofline has endured fundamentally since introduced in 2008, but in recent years the TT has suffered a lot of add-on styling cues that have diluted its purity. However, the new car’s design still largely consists of a few simple arching lines, and in traffic with hordes of SUVs it still looks quite fetching.

That Tango Red continues in the interior. It splashes up the center console, runs up either side of the seats, and even frames the five, large, circular vents punctuating the TT’s abbreviated dashboard. All that plus the red stitching and the generous use of carbon fiber appliqué creates an interior that’s racy and purposeful but still comfortable.

Comfortable, that is, if you’re sitting up front. Yes, the TT coupe still includes a pair of hopelessly useless back seats, which will accommodate only legless passengers who don’t mind getting concussed every time the rear hatch is closed. The best feature of those seats is that they fold flat, creating a deeper-than-expected parcel shelf for a weekend getaway.

Front seats plush yet supportive and adjustable in all the right directions. While the cockpit is snug, there’s plenty of headroom and the deep, microfiber-wrapped steering wheel with its tiny, plastic shift paddles has enough adjustability to get exactly where you want it.

Pressing the engine start/stop button doesn’t produce a lot of fanfare, with the 2.0-liter, turbocharged engine popping rather than roaring. Left to its own devices, the TTS doesn’t really make much in the way of sound until you explicitly toggle over to Dynamic mode, which produces a richer exhaust note. Dynamic mode sets the engine and transmission to their most aggressive ends of the spectrum, the latter holding gears longer and shifting quicker. Suspension damping is also tightened, and the Haldex center differential increases torque bias to the rear axle.

With everything in its sportiest setting, the TTS doesn’t exactly morph into a different beast, but it does feel more willing to be driven hard. Even in Comfort the suspension is quite firm, however, though never punishing to the point where the car is upset by mid-corner bumps.

The steering likewise firms up considerably in Dynamic (arguably too much) but Individual mode lets you dial that back to a more livable weight while maintaining the powertrain and suspension changes. The steering is never especially lively or talkative, but its response is always quick and precise, regardless of the chosen setting.

2023 Audi TT engine bay
Tim Stevens

The engine, though, can sometimes require a little extra coaxing. To get 288 horsepower out of just two liters calls for just shy of 20 psi of turbo boost, which often takes a moment to build. Adding to the delay is a transmission that, even in Dynamic mode, can be a little reluctant to downshift.

The solution here to push the tall shift lever over to the right, dropping the car into manual-shift mode. There’s still no clutch pedal here, so gear changes are controlled via the shift paddles behind the steering wheel. There’s still some automation here, however, as the car will proactively upshift before you get to the redline. No banging against the limiter, but the feature does at least ensure you’ll have the right gear most of the time.

2023 Audi TT side profiile
Tim Stevens

The interior is clean, if a bit sparse, which is largely a consequence of the entire user interface living in the 12.3-inch gauge cluster. No center display whatsoever, which is something unique in the Audi lineup to the TT and the R8. The TT was one of the first cars on the market to really perfect the all-digital instrument cluster, which Audi dubbed Virtual Cockpit. The infotainment comes across as a bit limited and dated now, but it’s intelligible, even if operating it requires a fair bit of navigating through menus to find what you want. You get used to it, and the voice commands are good enough that you can often rely on them while keeping your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are included, both requiring a wired connection.

While lacking the edginess of a Porsche 718 Cayman, chassis balance of a BMW 2 Series, or light weight and balance of something like a Toyota GR86/Subaru BRZ, the TTS has its charms as a sports car. It’s handsome, comfortable, and all-wheel drive gives an extra layer of control in wet or cold weather. Thirty-one mpg on the highway doesn’t hurt either, and I averaged 27.5 mph over a week in the one you see here. Believe me, we were not hypermiling.

Sadly, all sports cars are struggling to make a compelling business case, and the industry-wide pivot to electric power means high-volume/high-margin models are the ones getting early investment. No matter how good-looking or evocative of its predecessor, the TT’s time seems to have passed. What started as a mini-bombshell back in 1998 is, unfortunately, going out with a whimper. A quarter-century is a good long life for any model, let alone a sports car, so the TT leaves us with dignity. We’ll remember it fondly.

2023 Audi TTS Coupe

Price: $61,900 / $65,790 (base/as-tested)

Highs: Still-unique looks. Good, clean fun in an accessible package. Impressive fuel economy. Striking interior, even seven years later.

Lows: Noticeable turbo lag, competitors feel sportier, rear seats are useless.

Takeaway: A striking, lively, yet livable little sports car that delivers fun more than it thrills.




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