In Geneva, Audi TT acquires inner glow

When the Audi TT debuted in concept form in 1995, its Bauhaus-inspired lines sent a mild tremor through the world of automotive design.

The sleek new TT that debuted at Geneva may lack the original car's ability to shock and awe, but the car retains its zeal for clean, uncluttered styling. It just happens to carry that ethos on the inside now.

The 2015 TT seeks to rein in the excesses wrought on automotive dashboards, cluttered as they are with video displays glowing like cyclopsian eyes. The TT eliminates this blight via a soothing expanse of leather and wood between steering wheel and passenger door, without so much as a trap door for a screen to emerge from to cloak the cabin in a garish blue glow.

Instead, the TT uses a virtual display for its instrument panel, directly in front of the driver, that can display analogue gauges as well as turn-by-turn navigation information and other relevant data as needed. It puts this important information directly before the driver’s line of sight, obviating him or her from glancing away.

The 12.3-inch TFT display uses the brainpower of an Nvidia Tegra 30 graphics processor to deliver performance in convincing fashion. (The day when graphics engines achieve equal billing to internal-combustion engines is clearly nigh.)

Audi sees the use of such technology, along with its signature Quattro all wheel drive, as helping the brand set itself apart from its corporate siblings in the Volkswagen Group family, according to Ulrich Hackenburg, VW supervisory board member responsible for technical development at Audi.

Likewise for the car's Matrix LED headlights, which illuminate potential obstacles while keeping light out of the eyes of oncoming drivers. That technology, alas, has not met with US regulators’ approval, so it remains unavailable in places like Silicon Valley, where many such wonders are made possible.

Power plants include a 184-horsepower 2-litre turbodiesel four-cylinder engine, a 230hp 2-litre turbocharged gasoline four-cylinder and a 2-litre 310hp turbocharged gasoline four-cylinder in the TTS performance model.  That hottest specification sprints from zero to 60mph in 4.7 seconds, Audi claims, and all models are limited to a top speed of 155mph. No word yet on an even hotter TT-RS.

Front-wheel drive is standard on the base TT, with Quattro all-wheel drive as optional equipment. A six-speed manual transmission is also standard, with a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission a tickable extra.

As has been the case with many desirable VW Group products such as the Volkswagen GTI, the 2015 TT’s introduction to the North American market will lag its arrival in European showrooms by nearly a year. Look for the TT in North America about this time in 2015, with pricing to be announced later this year.