Let's forget for a moment about the stupid long-winded name, and call this car what it is: the next Audi TT. "Say what?," we hear you ask? And you’d have a point. It’s not quite the next TT. We’re not expecting the next TT to have a high ride height, the "allroad" lower body cladding or a shooting brake body style. But if you can half shut your eyes, strip away the grey, drop the car 30mm and replace that estate roofline with a coupe, then you'll see it.
Audi didn’t even seem to be that upset about people saying so at the Detroit Motor Show this week either. And given that this concept contained the same interior that was being actively proclaimed as the new TT interior in Vegas last week at the Consumer Electronics Show, why would you think any different? Certainly the face, front lamps, rear lamps, shoulder line, body section and details are all very TT - and all very predictable it is too.
We are fans of the TT, but the car just gets a bad rap. We've overheard people calling it anything from "not a true sports car", an "expensive design bauble", through to "a Golf in drag". But the reality is, TTs have always looked good on the road, felt special to sit in, and the last one was better to drive than almost anyone cared to credit. To live with, there’s little else out there that can touch them.
The Allroad Shooting Brake concept suggests that the new car will be more aggressive than before, which we think is a shame. It looks a little more Audi and a little less TT in our view - which might reduce some of its special, or more standout qualities. Still, you can hardly blame Audi for choosing to just gently evolve a winning formula. The company doesn’t really know any other way and its customers don’t seem upset with the approach.
The concept car does bring in future tech though: a plug-in hybrid drivetrain gains it the e-tron branding. We would not expect Audi to make an electric or hybrid version of the new TT available from the get-go, but the concept car powertrain does suggest that there might be a green version of the car within the model lifecycle.
However, the big news is the interior. This seems like a theme of this year's Detroit show. We covered the new TT interior last week, and it’s the same thing just situated in a full car here. That means a radical re-think of the displays, with a fully re-configurable digital gauge pack in front of the driver. This means the more traditional secondary centre screen has been entirely done away with.
The second big deal are the air vents and climate control system. Audi has binned the traditional set of controls for heat/cool and fan direction in the centre stack, and instead relocated the controls into the vents themselves. Simple, logical and cool. All very Audi. Finally, you’ll get the latest generation of Audi's MMI navigation system, with the touchpad topped centre control knob, as first seen in the A3.
It’s all rather beautiful in that stark, German way - and certainly looks likely to be the biggest departure from the outgoing car.
We expect to see the "real" new TT at the Paris Auto Show in October. It will have conventional petrol and diesel engine options, the option of Quattro four wheel drive, much more tech than before and the signature, dropping coupe TT roofline.
We would be surprised if Audi chose to make a shooting brake body style version of the car. It's a theme that the company has dabble in before - if you look back in history, to the Tokyo Motor Show in 2005, you’ll find a shooting brake concept version of the outgoing TT design. The body style never made production. But if it did this time, it would be really rather cool – and yet another niche for Audi to add to its growing range of model typologies.