Buying used: Audi TT vs BMW Z4

Buying used: Audi TT vs BMW Z4
Buying used: Audi TT vs BMW Z4

We test the outgoing Z4 against its TT arch rival. Which two-seat roadster gives the best open-top motoring for sensible money?

Looking for a premium drop-top roadster like the BMW Z4 or Audi TT, yet can’t afford something brand new? Let someone else take the financial hit by buying second-hand. That way, you’ll get the best of both worlds: you’ll save more than 50 per cent off the original purchase price but still benefit from stylish looks, great quality and a fun open-air driving experience. We try a 2012 version of the outgoing Z4 against its TT archrival to find out which is king of the second-hand roadsters.

Driving

Audi TT Roadster 2.0 TFSI 211 Sport

Engine: 2.0-litre petrol
List price when new: £29,120
Price today: £13,500
Power: 208bhp
Torque: 258lb ft
0-60mph: 6.3sec
Top speed: 143mph
Economy: 42.2mpg
CO2 emissions: 156g/km

This generation of the Z4 will soon be replaced, which means used prices will be keener than ever. Its 181bhp 2.0-litre petrol turbo pulls well from low revs and provides a decent amount of muscle. Despite being a sports car, the BMW’s handling and ride are reasonably comfortable, and it has limpet-like grip even if there is some body lean. The steering could be more communicative, however.

That’s not a complaint you could level at the TT, whose steering is in a different league. This helps you feel when you’re pushing the Audi into oversteer, which is easy to do if you give it too much throttle mid-corner. The 208bhp engine and a 200kg-lower kerbweight than its rival sees its performance beat the Z4 in most circumstances.

A firm but compliant ride helps the Audi take the overall handling win, as the BMW errs on the side of comfort over control when you’re really pressing on.

Interior

BMW Z4

Engine: 2.0-litre petrol
List price when new: £29,480
Price today: £13,000
Power: 181bhp
Torque: 199lb ft
0-60mph: 6.9sec
Top speed: 137mph
Economy: 41.5mpg
CO2 emissions: 159g/km

The cabins are both as premium as you’d expect at this level, with first-class design, materials and execution. A slight amount of offset in the pedals and steering wheel set-up gives the driving comfort crown to the Audi, however. Both cars have just two seats, while lowering the drop-top impacts upon boot area. The BMW’s larger load space sacrifices half of its capacity with its hard-top roof down, while the Audi’s loses less to its soft-top but is smaller to begin with.

Costs

There’s plenty of choice on the used market, particularly of the bigger-selling Z4. Purchase prices and those for petrol and servicing are broadly similar, with the TT slightly cheaper, and annual road tax is £190.

However, despite both these models being premium makes and prices, their manufacturers don’t impress when it comes to reliability. Audi and BMW sit at the very bottom of the JD Power Vehicle Dependability Survey, averaging 187 faults per 100 vehicles for the former and 198 for the latter. Shocking really! At least by this stage of the TT and Z4’s respective lives, any major issues should have already been sorted under warranty.

The hard-top BMW is a fine car. It combines open-top driving thrills with the reassurance of a folding hard-top, even if the roof does take up more of the load area when its dropped. The interior is smart and stylish, and the Z4’s attractive exterior lines help make it a great buy.

The drawbacks of the Audi’s fabric top include reduced security and more noise on the road, while the cabin isn’t as jazzy as the BMW’s. But you don’t worry about such things on the open road, where the TT is more fun and more convincing. For this reason, the hugely talented car wins here.

Price today is based on a 2012 model with average mileage and full service history, correct at time of writing

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