How do you follow up an instant classic? The first Audi TT was just that—a styling home run, even if it wasn’t a true sports car.

Since then, Audi’s been pushing the TT into sports-car territory, more focused on speed than looks—more a rival for cars like the SLK, the Z4, even the MINI Cooper.

Does the third-generation TT live up to that sports-car hype?

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Sports cars have to look great. The new TT has taut, athletic lines like a sports car should. It even borrows some details from the R8—these LED lights, the sharper front end.

The cockpit flaunts a new calling card—the Virtual Cockpit layout. The TT’s gauges have been swapped for a reconfigurable screen that shows everything from the tachometer to navigation. It’s a futuristic touch, and can be distracting at first—but it frees up the dash so it’s clean and simple, like a sports car.

The TT’s a small car, but seating isn’t cramped. Leg and headroom are fine in front—but we wouldn’t put adults in the back.

However you define a sports car, performance matters. The TT has it covered. Its turbo four checks in with 220 horsepower—or 292 horsepower in the TTS. Power runs through a dual-clutch gearbox to all four wheels, with a variable torque split front to rear. Audi says the TT hits 60 miles per hour in 5.3 seconds; the TTS does it in 4.6 seconds.

With seat time in both, we think the TT feels just as quick and lively in the real world as the TTS. Torque peaks early, and the dual-clutch snaps off shifts with authority. The turbo four even sounds good—some of the sound piped in electronically from the engine bay.

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The TT feels light and lean—like a better looking Golf R, to be blunt. It’s balanced and predictable, and the ride is good even with big wheels and the base suspension. The TTS has adaptive dampers—great—but we’re bigger fans of it because it’s quieter and more comfortable.

Steering is the one thing that limits our love. The TT understeers less now, and the electric power steering has good, progressive feel, but gets darty...almost times. There’s not much feedback.

The TT’s safety and luxury touches really stretch the sports-car definition. The slick features include full LED headlights; the virtual cockpit and a controller with a touch-sensitive control pad; and fantastic Bang & Olufsen sound.

Prices start at about $43,000. This one’s right at $50,000—and we haven’t even seen a TTS with a Monroney yet.

What’s the bottom line with the Audi TT? It’s not a traditional sports car, pure and basic. But for anyone who wants an inspiring ride with loads of tech, the TT is the right kind of fun.


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