The Audi TT Diesel Roadster has always been an exciting car. A playful scamp on the road, it’s not too expensive and looks fantastic. And because this is the drop-top version of the TT, it comes with that wind-in-the-hair experience that so many of us crave.
Just two seats are all you get but that also means Audi was able to ensure that its styling flourished. Easily one of the best looking cars in this sector, it might only be small but it also packs a powerful punch.
OSV takes a closer look at what it’s all about with our 2018 Audi TT Diesel Roadster review.
On The Road
Audi has added a fair amount of new equipment and tech this time around but they’ve also managed to keep the TT’s weight down. It’s no heavier than last time, with the roof actually weighing less.
That said, this Roadster version is heavier than the TT Coupe by some margin but there’s not much difference in the way the two drive. Both feel settled in bends where stability and composure are good, and body lean is kept to a minimum.
If you add four-wheel-drive, the car feels even more stable but lacks the excitement of, say, a BMW.
Its suspension setup is, unsurprisingly, on the firm side but the TT does a decent job of smoothing out surfaces. However, opting for the S Line model means you’ll end up with the S Line suspension, which might be a tad unbearable for some. Audi will let you specify the standard suspension setup for no extra cost if you’d prefer.
In terms of the engines, the sole diesel engine can’t compete with the quickest petrol, which can dispense with 0-62 in just 3.9 seconds. The sole diesel is a 2.0-litre unit that develops 181bhp and it’s a decent engine. It feels fairly sporty, accelerates hard and doesn’t make too much noise.
The manual gearbox it’s paired up with as standard isn’t the most responsive, but if you add Quattro four-wheel-drive, you get an S Tronic automatic transmission as standard instead. It’s faster than the manual TT and can complete the 0-62 dash in 7.0 seconds flat. The manual diesel completes the same sprint in 7.3 seconds.
One snag, though: The automatic, Quattro TT Diesel Roadster is considerably more expensive.
The Roadster is distinguishable from the Coupe thanks to a few different features. It has no rear seats and gets rollover hoops and a flat boot deck. It looks fantastic, whether the roof is down or up.
All models get the brands Virtual Cockpit as standard and it’s a highlight of the interior. For one thing, it removes any unnecessary clutter from the dashboard and is easily the best ‘driver info’ system in any car at the moment.
It’s essentially a 12.3” high-def screen that replaces the usual dials that used to be found in cars like this. All your driving data, infotainment and sat-nav info are gathered together in one place, and while it looks a bit complex, you’ll soon get used to it.
Interior quality is, as ever with an Audi, excellent, and other highlights inside the cabin include leather trim and a very contemporary design.
Refinement is decent but you might notice some wind whistle when the roof is up, while tyre noise kicks in on the motorway.
Is the Audi TT Diesel Roadster practical? There are no rear seats but the ones in the Coupe are hardly going to keep adults happy on longer trips anyway. And while the TT Roadster’s boot is smaller than the Coupe, 280-litres is still decent for a convertible. It’s fairly long and its opening is small.
Wide-opening doors make accessing the front seats easy, while storage spaces include slender door pockets, a few storage cubbies here and there – but just one cup holder.
Equipment & Safety Of The Audi TT Diesel Roadster
There’s just a pair of trim levels to choose from, starting with Sport and ending with S Line. The Sport model gets bright xenon headlights, leather and Alcantara-trimmed seats, Bluetooth, a digital radio and 18” alloys.
The S Line model adds rain-sensing wipers, automatic LED lights, sports seats with electric lumbar support and 19” alloys.
In terms of how safe the car is, it hasn’t been crash tested by Euro NCAP yet, but we’re expecting it to score the same as its stablemate, the Audi TT Coupe, which was only awarded four stars.
That’s a tad disappointing and a lot of the Roadster’s safety kit is optional, such as traffic sign recognition, parking assistance, lane keeping assistance and blind spot monitoring.
Costs Of The Audi TT Diesel Roadster
Prices for the new car start out from around £30,600 and rise to £54,200. For more information on our leasing deals, check out our page here.
In terms of its running costs, the 2.0-litre TDI Ultra diesel engine is the most frugal. It develops 181bhp and because it’s front-wheel-drive only, it manages to keep costs down. The engine returns 61.4mpg while emitting 121g/km of CO2.
If, on the other hand, you quite fancy the four-wheel-drive, non-Ultra diesel, you’ll be returning around 52.3mpg. That hardly means you’ll be paying through the nose for your diesel top-ups but it’s a significant drop in the economy.
The smaller diesel sits in insurance group 33, while the bigger engine sits in group 34.
Pros and Cons Of The Audi TT Diesel Roadster
The TT is easily one of the best-looking convertibles on the market by a long shot.
Virtual Cockpit Comes As Standard
The brand’s excellent Virtual Cockpit frees the dashboard of clutter and brings together all kinds of important driving info into one 12.3” high-def screen.
The smallest diesel returns over 60mpg economy. That’s not bad at all for an Audi TT.
Noisy on the Motorway
Tyre noise and wind whistling will kick in on the motorway.
It’s not a huge boot anyway but its lack of depth might cause problems.
Audi TT Diesel Roadster vs Vauxhall Cascada Diesel Convertible vs Mercedes SLC Diesel Roadster
Let’s see how the car fares against its rivals in the comparison section of our 2018 Audi TT Diesel Roadster review.
Audi TT Diesel Roadster vs Vauxhall Cascada Diesel Convertible
The new four-seater Vauxhall Cascada Diesel Convertible won’t necessarily be at the top of many peoples’s shortlists but there’s enough here for it to surprise a few people.
However, it can’t compete with the Audi TT for handling prowess. Unlike the TT, the Cascada does a poor job of hiding the extra weight that comes with the roof and as a result, it’s nowhere near as fast as you’d hope.
On the other hand, its agility impresses us and its ride quality is comfortable and supple. But you’re always aware of its weight and this will be a problem for buyers who buy cars like this to have some fun. It’s good in bends and boasts strong brakes and direct steering, however.
Vauxhall has also added advanced suspension technology to the Cascada in a bid to stop the steering wheel from wriggling in your hands if you put your foot down.
Running costs? A 2.0-litre diesel is the most frugal engine in the range, and it returns as much as 54.3mpg economy, which we think is pretty good for a car of this type. It emits 138g/km of CO2, but most buyers will probably think the more powerful BiTurbo diesel represents a better deal. It also returns 54.3mpg but has more performance to offer, and can complete the 0-62 sprint in 8.9 seconds.
Inside, because Vauxhall has put together a cruiser as opposed to an out-and-out sports car here, the Cascada is comfortable and does a good job of smoothing out most bumps and lumps. However, all models are fitted with sports seats as standard and they’re not the comfiest seats you’ll ever sit in. Thanks to their short bases, you might feel a bit achy after too long.
Refinement, meanwhile, is pretty good but adding the optional acoustic hood is definitely recommended.
Is the Vauxhall Cascada Diesel Convertible practical? Its boot measures a very impressive 380-litres, a size you’ll be hard pushed to find anywhere else in this market. It’s versatile too, and you can touch a button to flip the rear seat back for more space. However, a narrow opening and high lip will make things awkward.
Head and legroom is fine up front but a bit tighter in the rear but, unlike the TT, the Cascada has four seats.
Audi – £30,600 – £54,200
Vauxhall – £28,010 – £34,105
Audi TT Diesel Roadster vs Mercedes SLC Diesel Roadster
The two-seater Mercedes SLC Diesel Roadster is efficient, well-equipped and makes for an effortless cruiser. But is it as exciting as the TT?
Out on the road, it isn’t. It’s competent enough but it’s not fast and doesn’t deliver many thrills and spills. It’s been designed for relaxation more than anything else, but its Dynamic Select system ensures it’s fairly agile.
Body roll is kept to a minimum, there’s plenty of grip on offer, but lumps and bumps will present a problem and it will judder.
The steering is perhaps our biggest criticism – it’s just too numb, light and vague.
In terms of its engines, a turbocharged 2.1-litre unit is the sole diesel unit in the range. It’s been around a while, develops 201bhp (despite being named the SLC 250d) and can get you from rest to 62mph in 6.6 seconds.
That makes it faster than Audi’s diesel, but both engines are outdone by some distance by their petrol siblings. And for convertibles at this price point, you’d expect them to go faster.
The Mercedes’ diesel certainly has a decent amount of punch but it’s noisy on startup.
Running costs? The Mercedes SLC Diesel Roadster is impressively economical and thanks to fuel-saving tech, it’s able to return 64.2mpg economy while emitting 114g/km of CO2. It sits in insurance group 41.
Inside, there’s always a lot to like about a Mercedes interior, but like a lot of its stablemates, the SLC is now starting to feel and look dated. It’s got just the two seats, there are plenty of metal and leather finishes and soft-touch materials here and there, but its design and centre console could do with an update. Its dashboard also looks cluttered, especially when compared with the TT.
There’s no arguing with the quality, however, while a brand new, bigger infotainment screen dominates the dashboard.
Is the Mercedes SLC Diesel Roadster practical? Its 335-litre boot is generously sized, and because it’s wide and low, it’s really usable whenever the roof is lowered. That said, lowering the roof will cause you to low 110-litres of boot space and the opening becomes a lot smaller.
When the roof is up, the car feels spacious enough. The glovebox is a decent size, there are two cup holders (in contrast to the Audi’s one), but the door bins are a tad too small.
Mercedes – £32,439 – £48,045
Verdict Of Our 2018 Audi TT Diesel Roadster Review
Always a bit of a head-turner, the new TT has added more engagement to its arsenal, as well as more onboard tech. In fact, everything has been dialled up, from interior quality to economy to sharper handling. The new Audi TT Diesel Roadster should continue to be the first name on your shortlist.