A revolutionary new instrument cluster and climate controls highlight the 2016 Audi TT (I give it three out of four stars), an otherwise evolutionary new edition of the luxury brand’s stylish little sport coupe.

The TT’s exterior design has always been one of the most modern on the road, with proportions and a clean design that seemed unchained from the traditions that limit other automakers’ designers. The all-new 2016 model extends that aesthetic independence inside the cabin.

The TT, available as a coupe or convertible, competes with sports cars like the Alfa Romeo 4C, BMW 228i, Cadillac ATS coupe, Ford Mustang, Jaguar F-type, Lexus RC 350 AWD and Porsche Cayman.

There’s not a loser in that bunch, but the TT’s looks, fuel economy and all-wheel-drive have won it a loyal following.
The TT’s price is at the low end of the range. I was disappointed my car – at nearly $50,000 – didn’t include memory for the driver’s settings, but the TT’s all-wheel-drive and other features are good value.

Prices for the 2016 Audi TT start at $42,900. All-wheel drive and a 220-horsepower 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder engine and a six-speed dual clutch automatic transmission are standard. Prices for the soft-top TT roadster start at $46,600. The roadster is identical to the coupe, save for the lack of a rear seat.

I tested a well-equipped coupe with navigation, a backup camera, eight air bags, Bang & Olufsen audio, 19-inch sport wheels, summer tires, and leather and Alcantara interior.

The TT’s EPA fuel-economy rating of 23 mpg in the city, 30 on the highway and 26 combined falls in the middle of the pack. The Audi’s 220 horsepower is the weakest output in the group. Its 258 pound-feet of torque tops the four-cylinder BMW and flat-six Cayman but trails the other vehicles’ four- and six-cylinder power plants.

Alfa’s little 1.8-liter engine produces more horsepower and matches the TT’s torque.

That’s disappointing, because the VW group was one of the pioneers of the combination of turbocharging and direct gasoline injection that led to the current generation of powerful and fuel-efficient four-cylinder engines.

The TT’s power and fuel economy have been exceeded by small turbo fours from Alfa Romeo, BMW, Cadillac and other luxury brands. Even mainstream sport coupes like the Ford Mustang and 2016 Chevrolet Camaro offer small turbos that outdo the TT.

While the car’s power is unspectacular, the TT’s handling remains invigorating. The car’s short wheelbase, wide track and performance-tuned all-wheel drive deliver excellent handling and grip.

The TT’s exterior styling is a more sophisticated version of the second-generation TT.

The interior design is clean and simple, thanks in part to the new instrument panel and climate controls. The instrument panel features a video display that can project a navigation screen, audio options, information about phone calls and speed, engine rpm and performance data.
It’s a far cleaner design than the screens other automakers mount in the center stack. I did not find it distracting.

Audi’s new climate controls are equally revolutionary. The automaker moved controls for fan, temperature, air distribution and heated seats to dials in the center of four vents spaced across the dashboard. Like the new instrument panel, the system is convenient and easy to use.

The TT’s dash and doors are wrapped in soft materials. The sport seats in my car had diamond-stitched Nappa leather. There’s not much interior storage; the cupholders are barely adequate, and the rear seat is better suited for grocery bags than people.

The TT’s unique controls, sleek modern design, value and all-wheel-drive offset those shortcomings. The latest edition of Audi’s little sports car is a welcome addition.

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