New Audi TT shows up with a techie twist

Audi showed off the 2015 TT at the Geneva auto show, retaining the car's sporty flavor and adding the Virtual Cockpit, a new paradigm in cabin electronics.

Wayne Cunningham Managing Editor / Roadshow
Wayne Cunningham reviews cars and writes about automotive technology for CNET's Roadshow. Prior to the automotive beat, he covered spyware, Web building technologies, and computer hardware. He began covering technology and the Web in 1994 as an editor of The Net magazine.
Wayne Cunningham
3 min read

Watch this: 2015 Audi TT

GENEVA -- The attractive and costly little Audi TT works as a weekend toy for the wealthy or a symptom of midlife crisis, a sports car usually out of reach of the average backroad flogger. That niche must work well for Audi, however, as the 2015 TT, launched at the Geneva auto show, holds the line on this formula.

Looking toward techie wealth it seems, Audi adds a substantial tech twist to the new TT in the form of its Virtual Cockpit.

Styling updates to the new TT are slight, showing in a slightly less rounded roofline and a single-frame grille, which comports with Audi's current design language. An automated rear spoiler deploys at 75 mph. As a hatchback coupe, the TT only has two doors, and rear seats that can hold a couple of French Bulldogs comfortably.

Subtle changes for Audi TT at Geneva (pictures)

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One of Audi's big tech themes of late are LED headlights. They can be had optionally on the TT, although Audi's more advanced Matrix LEDs, which use the navigation system to dynamically aim into turns, won't be available in the U.S. until the Department of Transportation changes its outdated regulations concerning headlights.

The Virtual Cockpit is an extraordinary cabin electronics interface, and almost seems like an experiment on the part of Audi. Eschewing a central LCD which can be viewed by driver and passenger, Audi instead merely uses a 12.3-inch LCD for the instrument panel. It shows virtual gauges, maps for navigation, audio selection, and phone screens. It's as if Audi built the TT for a very self-centered clientele.

Check out CNET's detailed look at the TT's Virtual Cockpit, which was previously on display at CES.

Beyond the electronics, Audi has done some nice work on the cabin appointments. Helping to justify the price of the car, which is likely to hit around $40,000, the interior shows a minimalist design. The existing switchgear, a row of toggles on the dashboard, and the cabin electronics interface controller, use metal in their construction for a solid feel.

2015 Audi TTS
The Virtual Cockpit replaces analog gauges with a 12.3-inch LCD. Josh Miller/CNET

One of the toggles switches through the car's different DriveSelect modes, which include Efficiency, Auto, and Dynamic. Depending on the how the car is equipped, these settings effect throttle tuning, adaptive suspension, and Quattro all-wheel-drive.

The standard TT will be offered with a 2-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine, using direct injection and a turbocharger to produce 230 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. That model will only come with Audi's S-tronic six-speed dual-clutch transmission.

There will be a TDI version, all this model is not confirmed for the US. Its 2-liter diesel engine rates 184 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. That model will come with a manual transmission, and will be front-wheel drive.

The 2015 Audi TTS will get a 2-liter gasoline engine, also using direct injection and a turbocharger, but it will produce a whopping 310 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. It will come standard with Quattro, DriveSelect, and buyers can choose either the S-tronic dual clutch transmission with launch control, or a six speed manual.

Sweetening the tech in the TT, Audi will offer lane keeping assist, which can turn the wheel to prevent drift, and automated parallel parking.

2015 Audi TT
Climate controls sit on the vents, and a row of toggle switches line dashboard below. Wayne Cunningham/CNET

Although a fully optioned 2015 Audi TT or TTS is likely to come in well over $50,000, it will be an undeniably fun and good-looking car. It's interior dimensions don't speak to practicality, but it's hardly a family car. The power output of the available engines will make for an exhilarating drive in even the standard TT, while the TTS should make for a good track day car.

Quattro and Audi's adaptive suspension will contribute to excellent handling, and the DriveSelect feature makes for a more versatile ride.

The extreme nature of the Virtual Cockpit gives the TT a techie flair that could make it a darling of Silicon Valley, possibly displacing even the Tesla Model S among the more focused drivers. It will certainly appeal to those who already have a larger Audi for the family.

Pricing and availability for the 2015 Audi TT in the US have not yet been announced, but it should hit dealer showrooms by fall.

CNET's full coverage of the Geneva Auto Show