No longer a pseudo-sportscar

Celebrities, city bankers and IT girls around the world have, apparently, started buying Cocaine cut with Strawberry milk mix. Doubtless they have been told the fruit flavour found its way in by more exotic means, but it’s their own fault for being so gullible.

They want the fashionable connotations of drug taking and a mild hit, but don’t want to burn their already surgically altered noses, especially at breakfast time, when most of us can only contemplate coffee.

People that buy into that kind of fad are the kind that buy the Audi TT in droves, people that wanted the sportscar looks without the real hit. They are estate agent men that are a little too feminine or the girls that drive from the gym to the manicurist. They don’t need raw power and pace, but like the image it conveys. The original TT wasn’t a great car, nor was it lightning quick, but it looked fast and that was enough.

The new one has so much more potential, it has the chance to break free of that pseudo-sportscar world and embrace the petrolheads. Not only does it come with a meaner look, it has also had serious surgery under the skin as it no longer sits on the platform of the turgid Golf MK IV. So it’s actually a good car.

Now the TT’s dinky size makes it the ideal start point for a go-kart, and Audi has clearly worked hard on the driveability side as the new model is keyed into the road in a whole new way. It was a far more exciting base prospect, for us and tuners alike.

MTM made the best of a bad job with the last TT, creating the famous twin-engined, 800bhp+ Bimoto that arguably made its name. They don’t do half-measures, so took one look at the 2.0 TFSI engine with its paltry 200bhp and set to work on a turbocharger upgrade, engine remap and new exhaust. That created 310bhp of pure venom in its most extreme form, with 290lb/ft of torque to back it up. You can have less, for far less money, but that would be selling this whole thing short.

It hammers to 60mph in 5.1s, which puts it right up there with the likes of the Porsche Cayman S. Of course the small engine can only give so much and it will run out of steam just shy of 170mph, so it needs to be kept in the right rev band, too, drop off it and the car huffs and puffs its way back to its natural territory. But keep it in the sweet spot and the MTM300 flies

A 310bhp go-kart of this size is enough to take on the likes of Porsche and BMW’s Z4M. It’s not a big dog, more a rabid terrier that will carve round corners and take all the momentum through bends that anyone can handle, holding on through sheer force of will rather than Physical probability. But for a front driver that is quite astounding.

MTM have dropped the new car on to fully adjustable suspension, taking time to dial out the understeer that festooned the last incarnation of the TT and still forms an integral part of this one.

Now it has all been tuned to hold the apex in a Caymanesqe way, but due to its pocket-rocket dimensions it feels even quicker. There’s no pitch or roll, just a rock solid approach. Stiff cars slide out at the back, of course, but with a new differential to mop up the spills this thing should be a joy to drive hard and loose.

Without total freedom of the actual track at the day arranged by German PR firm Mediatel, there was no way to see how it behaved beyond the limit. But anyone with a fair imagination could accept a little rear end slip and tyre smoke as it went round any bend on a quarter-turn of opposite lock. That’s how much better it feels than a moderately fast coupe that slips on to the approved company car lists and the only strange thing would be the smoke emitting from the fronts – rather than a conventional rear-wheel drive powerslide.

And that would take serious speeds to achieve in any case, as this car changes direction like a cornered housefly. Only my passenger, the lovely Karla from MTM, burying her foot on an imaginary brake pedal, managed to calm the approach speed into bends. So I am not sure what it would have taken to loosen up the back end of this lithe 1295kg creation, I only know we never came near it.

Under braking this thing will leave supercars wondering what happened, too, another legacy of its lightweight frame and the near race units installed in the front. Once again MTM do a series of options, but when there is a box that says 380mm x 34mm front discs with eight-piston callipers and you have the money then you just have to tick it. Strong brakes, allied to tyres that can cope with the stopping force, are the fastest way to improve a car.

And when combined with the ContiSportContact 3-wrapped 19 x 8.5” MTM wheels, the sure-footed Audi feels like a fighter jet stopping on a catch rope with just a gentle squeeze on the middle pedal. There is nothing worse than an underbraked car as they end up slithering to a stop in random directions, this one never veered from the line no matter how clubfooted the approach.

When MTM unleashes the 3.2-litre V6 Quattro they have truly messed with then the world may never be the same again, and the Z4 Coupe that remains the most bullish car in the class may be found cowering in a corner. But this one, with its simpler drivetrain and reduced weight in the front end may still be the handling gem of the bunch.

The new Audi TT was a revelation on its own, trading in a powderpuff reputation for a bullish new approach.

In this form it’s too much car for the estate agents and celebrities, but true driving nuts will love it. Sportscar nuts please check out the plucky front drive TT before your next buy, and if it’s not quite enough then remember MTM are there to remove any strawberry milk mix and give it that added kick.

Gallery: WCF Test Drive: Audi TT by MTM

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