A sports car that can be as laid-back and sensible as it is entertaining to drive.
Performance Coupe / Convertible
With coupe and convertible body styles on offer, and no shortage of selection, the latest generation of Audi’s popular TT sports car landed at Canadian dealers in 2015 for its third generation.
A used TT might make a great choice for the shopper after a fun-to-drive sports model that’s everyday-friendly, offers decent fuel mileage, decent cargo storage, and a rear seat for the kids (or shorter adults). Quattro AWD adds all-weather confidence, and numerous options, packages, and special-edition models could be specified to tailor the TT to virtually any taste or budget.
Feature content included navigation, Bluetooth, premium lighting and stereo provisions, heated and chilled memory seats, automatic climate control, and more. By and large, the TT combines core Audi attributes and technologies into an everyday-friendly sports car that’s distinctive, and easy to live with.
Engine choices included a variety of turbocharged four- and five-cylinder units. Standard models ran a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder, good for 220 horsepower. The sportier Audi TTS ran a higher-performing 2.0-litre turbo four, good for nearly 300 horsepower. The top-dog Audi TTRS packed a five-cylinder turbo engine, good for nearly 400 hp.
What Owners Like
Most owners report that their TT is a sports car that’s easy to use, without any second thought, any day of the year. Space is adequate for two adults, at-hand storage is decent, ride quality and fuel efficiency are good, and feature content is typical of a high-end car. This is a sports car that can be as laid-back and sensible as it is entertaining to drive.
What Owners Dislike
Standard complaints apply, however. The TTs’ cargo space is relatively generous as coupes go, but fills up fast. Some owners wish for a softer ride, depending on the model selected. Rear seats are tight, and best left for the kids. Finally, some owners wish for a little less wind and road noise.
Pro Tip: How Much Power?
Which TT is right for you? The average shopper will likely find the standard-offering TT Coupe or Roadster to strike a nice balance between sporty thrills and fuel efficiency, and the TTS is popular for its enhanced firepower while still maintaining a pleasing easy-driving character. The hardcore TTRS is designed for the enthusiast driver, who might accept some added harshness, noise, and fuel consumption in exchange for the fastest TT variant going. Just note that fuel, insurance, maintenance, and other running costs may increase proportionally with the performance level of the used TT you’re considering.
Pro Tip: Check the Drop Top
If you’re considering a TT roadster, some additional checks and attention are advisable, around that model’s convertible roof system. Here’s a useful link to some additional information about checking the roof of a used convertible, before you buy. If in doubt, have a dealer check it out.
Pro Tip: Avoid Mods
The average owner is likely best to avoid a used TT that’s been modified with non-factory parts or engine control software. In some circles, the TT is a popular candidate for owner modification – though some modifications can cause problems, and many relating to the TT’s engine will void any remaining warranty coverage. Sticking to a “stock” model that’s never been modified is a great idea for the typical shopper.
The Test Drive
The Service Records
Ask the seller to prepare all service records for the used TT you’re considering, before you arrive. You’ll want to check the maintenance and care section of the TT’s owner’s manual against the current mileage on the odometer. Ensure service records are available to prove that each past-due servicing has been completed. If full records are not available, ask the seller to have the servicing dealer provide them (assuming the unit has been dealer-serviced). Buying a used TT without full service records is not advised – mainly because a failure to properly and continually maintain the model, as outlined in the owner’s manual, can compromise or void any remaining warranty coverage and decrease the life of the vehicle.
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Assumptions to Save Money
When approaching any used TT you’re considering, assume it needs new tires and new brakes, all the way around – until you or a technician confirms otherwise. Now’s the time to find out if the seller is trying to pass an upcoming repair or replacement on to you. If that’s the case, call it into your pricing negotiations. Note that tires and brakes tend to wear out more quickly on sportier models like the Audi TT, though many factors are also at play.
Now’s also a good time to check the wheels for signs of damage or wear, possibly caused by curb damage suffered during parking.
Double Check the Brakes
Based on several reports like this one, shoppers of a used TT are advised to have the braking system carefully inspected by a trained technician, ideally at an Audi dealership, and especially if the model in question may have been previously used in a motorsports setting. Use of an Audi TT in a motorsports setting is no cause for alarm, provided the vehicle has been properly maintained – though numerous owners report that the factory-equipment brakes may suffer rapid wear and other issues when used in a track-day setting. If you’ll be visiting the track for some weekend lapping in your new TT, be sure to have the brakes inspected frequently for signs of wear, cracked or damaged brake pads, or issues with other components.
Here’s some more reading on premature brake component wear.
Dash Vent Rattle
It’s a fairly rare and minor problem, but the TT’s enthusiastic owner’s community has done a good job of documenting it – along with a solution. If the TT you’re considering exhibits a buzz, click, or rattle from one of its dash-mounted climate control vents, give this discussion a read. In some cases, a broken retaining clip can cause some looseness in the mounting of this part, resulting in a rattle. Some owners remove the vent and apply some double-sided tape, or soft felt, to absorb the rattle. Others have had the part replaced under warranty.
Warning Lights and Battery
Be on the lookout for warning lights and error messages, including a Check Engine light (CEL) in the instrument cluster of the TT you’re considering. Continued illumination of one or more such indicators is your sign to have the vehicle inspected by an Audi technician before you buy. Hundreds of different problems can cause warning light and CEL activation, and technicians have diagnostic equipment to quickly track down the source of such problems. Attempting to correct or “reset” one or more warnings by disconnecting and reconnecting the vehicle’s battery is not advised as it may cause issues with other vehicle systems.
Scrutinize the Seating
Give this discussion a read, and make plans to carefully scrutinize the seating in the TT you’re considering before you buy. This well-documented issue may see the plastic lower mouldings around the base of the seat begin separating from the body of the seat. The driver’s seat is the most susceptible. It’s unclear if and when this problem was corrected at the factory, though some owners report luck in having dealers replace incorrectly manufactured seats.
A Note on the Engines
Interestingly, the TT from this generation is largely free of owner reports of problems with the engine, transmission, or driveline. Relatively low sales volumes and the relatively low-mileage driving habits of many owners may play into this, but according to my research, there’s nothing glaringly obvious to look out for in terms of mechanical problems.
Still, note that proper and ongoing maintenance is key to the long life of any engine. Also, since the entire TT engine lineup is direct-injected, strict adherence to maintenance regarding oil changes, fuel type and quality, filter changes, and (perhaps especially) ignition system maintenance is key to avoiding future problems. For the greatest peace of mind, stick precisely to the maintenance requirements set out in the manual, and change spark plugs early.
Other Useful Checks
For best results, work with an Audi dealer to ensure that any outstanding software updates for the TT you’re considering are applied sooner than later. Software updates can optimize or correct various vehicle systems, improving refinement, durability, performance, comfort, and more. Sometimes, software updates can improve the operation and smoothness of the vehicle’s transmission too.
Here’s a list of recalls. With the vehicle’s VIN in hand, a dealer service advisor should quickly be able to determine which, if any, recalls are outstanding.
Help it Last
If you’ll treat yourself to a used TT and hope to keep it for years to come, consider budgeting a few extra dollars to protect your investment. Professional paint and leather cleaning, treatment, conditioning, and sealing can go a long way towards maintenance of the TT’s good looks, inside and out. A battery trickle charger is also a great idea to hook up to your TT during periods where it will be parked for more than a few days, to fend off unwanted battery drain. Finally, if you’ll only drive your TT on occasion, consider having a quality tire inflator and pressure gauge at the ready to check and adjust tire pressures before each drive.
The ease of use of this generation TT, combined with minimal reports of severe or worrisome problems, make it worthy of investigation by a wide range of used sports car shoppers. Finding a healthy used TT is largely a function of searching out a unit with full service records, and ideally, one that’s familiar to a local dealership. Focus on maintaining the TT to the letter, as outlined in the owner’s manual, and minimal problems can be expected. Just note that buying a used TT without a PPI at a dealer, or one that’s been heavily modified, is not advised.