Fraser Macleod with his Audi TT

Fraser Macleod's Audi TT

Fraser Macleod with his Audi TT
Fraser Macleod with his Audi TT

At Changing Lanes, we're keen to uncover motoring stories from around the world. This week we travel (virtually!) to Northern Ireland to meet Fraser Macleod, a car enthusiast and an owner of the latest generation of the Audi TT Coupé. In Turbo Blue!

The Audi TT is a modern design icon with a silhouette that is instantly recognisable and arguably as influential as the Volkswagen Beetle and Porsche 911. Fraser describes how he felt when he saw the first generation of the car unveiled back in 1998. It left a lasting impression on him, so much so that 21 years later, he bought a Mark 3 TT with the memory and the influence of that encounter with the Mark 1 on his mind. Great cars have that effect on people. Like great people, they leave impressions that last a lifetime.

Journalists laud the Audi TT for its driver focused cabin, exemplary quality, engaging drive and every day usability for a sports car. But what about the TT from the owner's perspective? What's it actually like to live with?

In this new feature, Fraser Macleod tells us what it means to be an Audi TT owner.

1. Can you introduce yourself in a few sentences?

I’m Fraser Macleod, a 48 year old Scotsman, married and living in Northern Ireland. I’ve lived and worked all over the world with my previous career and I’m a total car fanatic.

2. What car do you drive?

I drive a 2019 Mk3 Audi TT Turbo Blue 40 TFSI Black Edition. It’s fitted with a tuning box that takes my power from 194 BHP to 243 BHP.

3. Why did you buy this car?

I’ve always loved the TT ever since it first came out. I managed to see a brand new Mk1 in Germany just after launch and was extremely impressed. At that point I was totally hooked, therefore I have always wanted to own one. I love how it has evolved, how different it looks and that you can have a unique looking sports car that’s still practical. I’ve never had a chance to own a Mk1 or 2 but maybe some day I’ll own a Mk1 as well.

The iconic silhouette carried through three generations of the Audi TT
The iconic silhouette carried through three generations of the Audi TT

4. What do you like about it?

I like to have a car that is different, so I love that my TT stands out. I really like the colour and combination of the gloss black and the styling - the 20” alloys, fixed rear wing (I love seeing it in the rear-view mirror) and the more aggressive front end. I love the interior and how minimalist it is. The super sport seats in leather and alcantara are fantastic. For me, the driving experience is amazing and the smile it gives me is wonderful. I get a lot of people stop and ask about it or look when I drive by.

5. Is there anything you would change about it?

I would love to have sat nav installed and/or Apple Car Play. Unfortunately the sat nav is an expensive addition and Apple Car Play was only fitted to the TT Vorsprung Edition. It’s a shame as the Virtual Cockpit is fantastic and these would have been an excellent addition. I have to use my phone for sat nav, not ideal but the smile I get from driving my TT outweighs these issues.

6. What’s in the glovebox?

I have the user handbook, a pen, leather care wipes, hand wipes (there’s limited eating in the car lol), Autoglym bird dropping wipes and a wee bag with some Euros in it for paying the tolls when my wife and I are visiting the South of Ireland.

7. Favourite memory of the car?

It would have to be collection day at Belfast Audi. It was really overwhelming seeing the car sitting in the handover bay and the reality that it was my new car. I was so happy, and the drive home was very special. It was a long one as I didn’t want it to end. This car constantly makes me smile.

8. Three words to describe your car?

Thrilling. Striking. Blue.

Thank you to Fraser for taking part in this interview! You can follow Fraser and his Audi TT on Instagram here.

The Audi TT remains a modern classic
The Audi TT remains a modern classic

At Changing Lanes we did manage to spend some time with the sporty Audi back in early 2017. We drove a Audi TT 1.8 TFSI S Line and this is still a popular review on our site.

Audi TT 1.8TFSI S line Review

The Audi TT is one of the most recognised and most coveted sports coupés on our roads. Since its launch back in 1998, the TT has cemented its status as a modern design icon. But there has to be more to the TT than just style and for this third generation, Audi has reengineered the car with a lightweight construction to improve acceleration, handling and fuel consumption.

The third generation of the Audi TT coupé retains the classic silhouette but with a bit more aggression and chiselling all round that from afar makes it more like a mini R8. Xenon lights come as standard, with full LED lamps front and rear on S line models. Together with big alloys (18” on base, 19” on S line), the TT looks muscular but sensuous, with curves in all the right places.

Inside, the TT has a suitably plush interior with some beautiful design elements like the circular air vents that also house the controls for the heating and air conditioning. It’s a very distinct interior and it’s completely focused around the driver, devoid of anything such as a centrally mounted touchscreen, so common in new cars these days. That would just completely spoil the clean brilliance of this cabin. Instead, Audi’s virtual cockpit gives the driver full control of all the car’s functions through some simple swipes and selections from steering wheel mounted controls or from a rotary dial on the centre console, with information displayed in the driver’s line of sight. This is standard across the range.

The TT is described as a 2+2 coupe but normal sized adults will struggle for space in the back so those seats are probably best considered for very, very occasional use. The boot opens like that of a traditional hatchback so the space is easy to access and quite practical for daily use. The rear seats can also be let down for more space.

Audi TT Coupé Review Ireland
Interior of the Audi TT Coupé with virtual cockpit

The Audi TT is available with a 1.8TFSI turbo petrol engine with 180hp, a 2.0TFSI with 230hp or a 2.0TDI diesel with 184hp. There’s manual and automatic gearboxes. Standard models are front wheel drive, though there is the option of quattro four wheel drive on the 2.0-litre petrol for extra grip.

In terms of pricing, Sport models with the 1.8TFSI have an on the road price of €45,350, while S line models have an on the road price of €48,850, or €51,450 with the S-Tronic automatic gearbox. So this is an expensive little piece of kit. Standard equipment on Sport models includes 18” alloys, alcantara and leather sports seats, electric parking brake, flat bottomed steering wheel, the virtual cockpit, air con and cruise control. S line models add a lowered sports suspension, sportier bumpers, side sills, rear diffuser, 19” alloys, LED lights front and back, electric lumbar support and auto lights and wipers.

The Audi TT does not disappoint on the road. You are slung low in the car with all the controls at your fingertips so there is a pure driving thrill to the TT. This car is very much the kind of sports car you could easily drive every day because the comfort and refinement of the car is just as good as any of Audi’s more mainstream models. This is no tempermental diva of a car.

Audi TT Coupé Review Ireland
The third generation of the Audi TT Coupé retains the classic silhouette

Yet it would be a waste just to cruise around in this car. Once you find a stretch of deserted rural road and you start pushing this car, it really does come alive. Naturally the centre of gravity is low so it is perfectly flat and balanced through corners at speed with what seems like neverending levels of grip, even in standard front wheel drive form. The steering is quick to respond to inputs and it really is a lot of fun to throw this car through a series of corners.

My test car had the 1.8TFSI and will cost €280 per year to tax, while 40mpg seems achievable in every day driving with a bit of care. This engine is down on power and torque compared to the 2.0-litre petrol, but it can still move quickly sprinting to 100kmh from a standstill in 7 seconds, accompanied by a meaty growl. The automatic gearbox is quick and seamless to shift gear and you can make the car a bit sharper and more responsive by selecting the dynamic mode from the Audi drive select system that comes as standard on S line models.

Audi TT Coupé Review Ireland
The Audi TT Coupé is not cheap but it is hugely desirable

The Audi TT coupé is not a cheap car to buy but it’s a top quality product, with a stunning design inside and out. You don’t buy an Audi to slum it and this is a very Audi sports car. After spending time with the TT, I find this car has an emotional appeal, the ability to seduce all who come across it. Yet it’s not all about style and the Audi TT is a true, driver-focused sports coupé - from the way you are positioned in the car and how you interact with the controls, to the fun and rewards this car gives when you let it loose on a back road. Fashions may change, but the Audi TT remains a classic!

Thanks to Audi Centre for providing the car for review.

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Audi TT 1.8TFSI S-Tronic S line
RRP €50,600, OTR €51,450
7 seconds
Claimed Economy: 
CO2 emissions:  
Motor tax:
€280 per year

Ford Fiesta ST

8 Cars To Beat The Winter Blues

1. Porsche Macan

The Macan is included on this list for aspirational reasons – everyone needs something to aspire to, especially in winter, and if you’ve got a spare €70,000+ down the back of the sofa you could do worse than put your money on Porsche’s compact SUV. It’s the 4x4 that handles like a sports car.

2. Renault Captur

But if you can’t stretch to a Macan there’s always the Captur. Right so this is quite a comedown. It’s not set up for pace or performance or any sort of sharp handling, but it will trudge quite affably with the family on board. There are some great colour combinations to brighten up your life and I’m feeling hot already with the thoughts of Arizona Orange or Miami Blue.

3. Fiat 500

The 500 is a real feel-good car. It’s all about the style and it’s unashamedly cute with those big, round headlamps. Some of the interior colour schemes verge on the feel of the toy car you had when you were five.  What’s not to love about that? And it’s cheap thrills with prices starting at just €13,450.

4. Ford Fiesta ST

If you have a budget of around €26,000 and you don’t need a family wagon, then I think the 182bhp Fiesta ST is the car for you. It’s a super car on the road, and both the look of that body kit and the sound of the engine is going to get your heart going. Just imagine how great you’re going to feel in that Recaro seat.

The fast and capable Volkswagen Golf R
The fast and capable Volkswagen Golf R

5. Mazda MX-5

Low, light and fast - Mazda hasn’t strayed too far away from a predictably hot formula, and whether you’ve got the roof up and the heaters on full blast or roof down wrapped in a duvet watching the stars on these frosty nights, there are few cars that evoke such legendary status as the Maxda MX-5.

6. Volkswagen Golf R

You could buy the ultimate Golf to beat the blues. The Golf R has got four wheel drive as standard so it’s well up for winter and will make all the difference when you attempt to put the 300bhp to the road on a crisp January morning. I reckon that’s going to be fun.

7. Opel Adam Rocks

The Adam Rocks bristles with attitude. He’s a tough little guy on the outside and you can spend those dark winter nights having loads of fun on the configurator making Adam Rocks your own. When you finally get on the road in your creation, let the explosive 1.0-litre turbo loose and you’ll soon realise that you’ve got a very tidy hot hatch on your hands.

8. Audi TT

A blast along some back roads in the Audi TT is sure to blow away the January cobwebs. It’s low slung and sexy, and there’s pure artistry in the design.  An expensive treat, and not very practical but you’ll be the envy of everyone.

Caroline Kidd