The biggest complaint about the Audi TT from enthusiasts is its front-wheel drive-basedchassis. Whether or not that makes the Audi TT inferior to those cars is up for debate, but some fans just feel that way. So EVO magazine put the Audi TT up against some of its rear-wheel drive competition, the Mazda MX-5 and Toyota GT86.
Admittedly, when it comes to being a lightweight sports car, the Audi TT is quite compromised in this test. Its two rivals, the MX-5 and GT86 are both considerably lighter, are rear-wheel drive and designed to be sports cars through and through. While the Audi TT is a great driving car, it’s front-wheel drive, by far the heaviest in the group and is packed with a bunch of technology to supplement its lack of purity.
On twisty back roads, the Mazda MX-5 shines. Its steering is light and direct, with tremendous feel and feedback, while its chassis is light and chuckable. Its 2.0 liter engine doesn’t have that much power, 158 hp, it can still kick its rear end out through corners and is one of the most fun and easy cars to slide around. Its six-speed manual gearbox is also a gem and the best in the test to use. Its interior is also really quite nice for its price range and is both better made and better to look at than the Toyota’s.
The Toyota GT86 is still a very good car, despite being the oldest in the test. While its 2.0 liter boxer four-cylinder engine has more power than the Mazda 197 hp, it’s actually slower to 60 mph, doing it in 7.7 seconds compared to the MX-5’s 7.3. Thank its extra weight for that. Its steering is heavier and sportier, but its front end isn’t as accurate and its tail isn’t as likely to slide around. This makes it feel more safe and confidence-inspiring but not necessarily more fun. The GT86’s cabin feels cheap and looks too boy-racerish. And that giant wing doesn’t help.
On the flip side, the Audi TT is a completely different animal. With a turbocharged 2.0 liter engine, the TT makes 227 hp and is by far the fastest in the group, getting from 0-60 mph in 6.1 seconds. Its front-wheel drive doesn’t allow it to slither about like the other two, but it provides far more grip than expected. While it’s also much heavier than the other two, it’s still a ton of fun to drive, especially when you start pushing harder. It also makes a good noise. The Audi TT is also by far the most expensive but it also feels the most premium and luxurious.
Unfortunately for Audi, the TT comes in last place here. It’s far more premium and expensive than the other two, but it just can’t match the fun and excitement of them. It’s a great everyday car, thanks to its extra comfort, technology and luxury, but as a proper sports car it falters to its rear-wheel drive rivals.
The Toyota GT86 comes in second place. Its a great driver’s car but lacks a bit in the fun department and is seriously compromised on interior comfort. It also looks like something a teenager would draw up. However, it’s still more dynamic than the Audi TT.
That leaves the Mazda MX-5 as the best car in the test. Its blend of near-perfect chassis dynamics, brilliant steering and great looks make it the most fun car you can buy for the money, and even fire a lot more money. While the Audi TT is a great car, it just isn’t the best drop-top sports car on the market.