Can The Audi TT Be A More Premium MX-5 ?

We recently discussed that new Audi TT Coupe is a far better sports car than people thought it was going to be, and how it’s a proper sports car now. It’s true, the new Audi TT is the car that everyone hoped it would be. But that was the Coupe, what about the Roadster?

The king of fun roadsters is the Mazda MX-5. As cheap as it might be, in comparison to the Audi TT Roadster, the MX-5 is the car to beat for any roadster trying to be fun. So naturally, comparisons between the TT and the MX-5 are going to pop up, despite the price and class difference. Being that the MX-5 is the benchmark for roadster fun, let’s take a look at how the Audi TT Roadster stacks up to it and maybe we can discern if the TT could be looked at as a premium Mazda MX-5. Don’t be fooled, that would be an extreme compliment.

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2016 Mazda MX-5 Club
2016 Mazda MX-5 Club

It starts with weight. The Mazda MX-5 weighs around 2,600 lbs. That’s a feather to the cinder block that is today’s standard of car. The MX-5 might only have 150 hp, but it’s incredibly low weight and close-ratio 6-Speed manual allow the Club Edition MX-5 to get from 0-60 mph in 5.8 seconds, only two tenths behind the 220 hp Audi TT Roadster with its 7-Speed dual-clutch transmission. But the ultra low curb weight doesn’t only help straight-line speed. Being that the MX-5 weighs so little, it’s able to cling on to corners with an almost absurd level of grip. It can carry so much speed through corners that it is actually faster around a track than much more powerful cars. And when the tail finally does kick out, it’s easy and controllable, making it a breeze to hold the slide and real it back in.

The Audi TT is a light car for its class, but it’s no match for the featherweight MX-5. The Audi TT Coupe weighs in at around 3,100 lbs, but the Roadster tips the scales at around 3,300 lbs. That’s a 700 lb difference between the TT Roadster and the MX-5. That would be like sticking a Harley Davidson in the trunk of the MX-5. So the TT Roadster doesn’t have the extreme weight advantage. However, it is built on a very stiff and relatively lightweight chassis, has considerably more power than the MX-5, with even more torque, and has Quattro all-wheel drive. So it should hand with the MX-5 on track and most likely beat it. But will it be more fun? That’s the important question.

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Roadsters are inherently compromised, in terms of performance, as removing the roof worsens structural rigidity and adds weight, therefore making them less capable handling cars than their coupe counterparts. So outright performance is never the real concern with a Roadster. Fun is. And the MX-5 is as fun as cars get. So can the TT Roadster be as much fun? I think so, actually. Journalists are already raving over the Audi TT Coupe and how well it handles and how quick it is. Chop the roof off and you just amplify the experience. Sure, it’s a little slower and and sure it’s a little heavier. But that grip, the excellent chassis and the extra power will make the TT Roadster just as fun.

Right now, the Mazda MX-5 is the roadster that people are raving about, but I think once more people get a taste of the Audi TT Roadster, they’ll be raving about a something new.

Nico DeMattia

I've been in love with cars since I was a kid, specifically German cars. Now I get to drive them talk about them on the internet.