Roadster Duel: AUDI TT 2.0 TFSI versus MERCEDES SLC 300

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The Summer is almost over. Time for one last hurrah to open top motoring. And another test with the hot new Mercedes SLC. Now, Auto motor und sport pits the SLC against the Audi TT Cabrio.

SLC, SLC. C and K not, this can not be so hard – and yet we become accustomed slowly to the changed nomenclature accompanying the Mercedes-facelift. Beyond the new name, the SLC gets mainly a redesigned front, the rest is almost intact: metal folding roof, all-weather performance and daily comfort. The focus of the Auto Motor und Sport test is the SLC 300 (245 hp). The four-cylinder turbo makes quite an impression acoustically. It is in good company with the Audi TT 2.0 TFSI (230 hp), which rumbles in with a penetrating turbo whistle.

The standard sport exhaust makes all the difference, turning the SLC 300 into a babbling bass. The exhaust helps the turbocharged two-liter not just make more noise, but amplifies low frequencies so that they produce a cylinder mirage. Some listeners interpret only one or two, even individual four cylinders, depending on the load condition and the selected driving mode.

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Still, this psychoacoustic gimmick is compared with the switching bang of the TT rather harmless. The faux firecrackers that occur during gearshifts under load are wonderful; others evaluate it as annoying, because they’re too loud.

The gearbox in the TT can manage the torque in only six-steps, being rather jerky at doing that too. Also in the SLC, the gearbox is erratic sometimes – in the city during unmotivated switching. The Mercedes comes with nine gears including wider spread: on the highway this reduces engine speed noticeably and the permeability of the drive only increases. Unfortunately, the fully automatic transmission is not the most sporty here; Calls to power off, then it sorted cumbersome long gears, all in conjunction with the slightly higher consumption. Especially when a secluded road curls through the countryside, you are obliged to take over the transmission in manual mode if you want to get the best out of your SLC. (best mode “Sport Plus”) – via the steering wheel paddles.

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Let’s go on to the roofs. The mechanism works up to 40 km / h, but needs to start the operation (unlike the Audi) on standstill. When folded, the roof is claiming quite a signifiant portion of the trunk, but extends the SLC’s breadth of abilities to cope with any weather conditions. It also holds the wind better away and helps the SLC get a larger window area for a slightly better clarity. When the wind deflector is mounted (in Audi it extends electrically) and the side windows are up, the draft is barely noticeable, even at highway speeds.

The Mercedes offers the better comfort here, especially over transverse joints which are soaked up better by the adaptive shock absorbers of the SLC than those of the Audi, which acts nervous at high speeds. The TT’s suspension articulated almost hastily, remained unmoved at the apex – transmits noticeable impulses in the steering. You will not be so completely free of torque steer as in the rear-wheel driven SLC.

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It is the classic conflict of front and rear wheel drive, because the Audi does not occur here in Quattro form. While the TT acts as a little top-heavy, the SLC wags its tail. Not amazingly, fun ends faster in the TT, maybe because its tires seem less inclined to offer paragon traction. Long, much longer the SLC remains thrusting on the track. The test car is actually equipped with the Dynamic Handling package; it puts the two-seater ten millimeters closer to the ground and comes with a more direct steering ratio and variable dampers.

Despite performance disadvantage the lighter competitor can not shake the SLC off its tail. The TT looks artificially trimmed to agility. Among the laboratory conditions of the test track as well as on the handling course of Boxberg it is faster, but provides little information about the perceived driving pleasure – here the SLC is simply the better, sportier car because the Mercedes drives analog and natural in feeling, all in a positive sense. The SLC is pure old school fun.

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CONCLUSION. The Audi TT Roadster 2.0 TFSI wins the test with its significantly lower price and good brakes, but is only 4 points ahead of the stellar new SLC. The TT has to admit defeat on the most critical chapter: driving fun. Comfort has always been paragon for the SLK, the SLC can however be also dynamic and emotional. Only stumbles on costs.

Technical Data
Audi TT Roadster 2.0 TFSI Mercedes SLC 300
Base price 40.500 € 46.380 €
Dimensions (L x l x h) 4177 x 1832 x 1355 mm 4134 x 1817 x 1303 mm
Luggage volume 280 L 225 L
Engine 1984 cm³ / L4 turbo 1991 cm³ / L4 turbo
Power/Torque 230 PS / 370 Nm 245 PS / 370 Nm)
Max. Speed 250 km/h 250 km/h
Acc. 0-100 km/h 6,0 s 5,8 s
Consumption 6,5 L/100 km 6,0 L/100 km
Test consumption 9,2 L/100 km 9,6 L/100 km