Audi TT versus Volvo C30
November 20, 2011 2:42 PM   Subscribe

We're choosing between a used Audi TT coupe and a used Volvo C30 hatchback - anything we should consider? Do you own either of these cars? Hate them or love anything in particular about them?

We've narrowed our choices in used hatchbacks to the coupe version (actually a hatch) of the 2008-2011 Audi TT and the Volvo C30 from the same years. We've test-driven examples of both and just can't make up our minds.

Here is our thinking so far on the Audi:
+ more luxurious interior
+ we prefer the looks
+ great handling / road noise balance
+ better gas mileage
- more expensive ($25k+ range)

And the Volvo:
+ roomier interior
+ more practical
+ less expensive ($20k+ range)
- slightly worse gas mileage
- not as pretty (but we still very much like the look)

Help us decide!
posted by letitrain to Shopping (14 answers total)
The C30 is a rebadged Ford Focus. It is based on quite an old design but is a good chassis and reliable engine. I wouldn't though. Better spend your money on a newer Ford.

The Audi will be expensive to maintain. It is not that much car for quite a lot of money - a lot of the underpinnings are shared through the VW group. It is the better car, but you pay a lot for the name.

Consider: a nearly new Audi A1 if you want a bit more space (which is itself a rebadged VW Polo) - fun to drive and lots of poke in the 1.4+ engine range; a nearly new Scirocco - bullet proof Golf underpinnings and a decent car. Also: the newer Fords from this year are supposed to be very good.
posted by MuffinMan at 2:53 PM on November 20, 2011

The Audi will be less reliable.
posted by twblalock at 3:06 PM on November 20, 2011

The Audi is a Golf GTI in an expensive, if pretty party frock. Parts are seriously more expensive than VW and main dealer servicing will be fierce. I'd consider a Golf or a Focus as you are looking at cars derived from their drive train.

The TT is seriously good fun to drive though...
posted by dmt at 3:10 PM on November 20, 2011

Response by poster: Thank you for the answers so far. I'm aware of the TT's VW Golf drivetrain, and the Volvo's Ford/Mazda parts bin sharing. It doesn't really bother us. The details and form of the car are just as important as the frame/engine.

MuffinMan, I'm U.S.-based, and the A1 and Scirocco are not available here (cool cars, though!).
posted by letitrain at 4:36 PM on November 20, 2011

The TT is a really hard car to work on. Everything is packaged so tight it takes extra time to do anything and by the averages it will need to be worked on more often than most cars. Despite their reputation a well cared for BMW three or even 1 series would also be a good choice. If they are maintained they are actually pretty reliable. If i was going to get an audi I would get one of the S types, probably an S4. Every kind of European car is expensive to just maintain well however. For the same money you can get a new Subaru WRX that is as fast, handles as well and has an acceptable interior. Or you can wait a year (if you can) and get the new Toyota/Subaru sports coupe that looks quite promising.

In a tossup between these two I would get the Volvo, I do all my own maintenance and most of my own repairs. Dealing with a Volvo is worlds easier than a very tight Audi, and driving a slower car just as fast is more entertaining than the faster car at the same speed. I also like quirky little cars. Until an unbeatable deal on a 5 series BMW fell in my lap I was going to buy a new Nissan Juke. YMMV.
posted by bartonlong at 4:50 PM on November 20, 2011

A few years ago I was shopping for cars in which the TT and C30 both figured. The TT is a very small sports car (even the hatchy ones), and the C30 is basically a funky looking VW Golf 2.5. The TT uses (usually) the 2.0L turbo that the VW GTI has, and a 2DR GTI is really a better comparison to the C30, spacewise. The TT is really more for the 2-seater world, like Miatas and BMW Zs. So, if you want to be able to carry friends with some spark in the engine, get a GTI with leather and navigation, or a 2008 R32.
posted by rhizome at 5:03 PM on November 20, 2011

Response by poster: rhizome, we actually looked at that exact model: a 2008 R32 with low miles, available locally. The fuel mileage was just too poor for us to justify.

We drive pretty gently 95% of the time, so we figured we'd probably be able to average 30 mpg in the Audi, a little less in the Volvo. The R32's V6 is overkill for us and would be pretty tough to get above low 20s.
posted by letitrain at 5:35 PM on November 20, 2011

I'm 6'0" and fit in my mom's (used) 2002/3 (not sure) TT just fine, but my dad, who's about 6'4" has serious problems in it.

Handling is freaking awesome. The interior seems to have held up pretty well, but they've had some problems with the convertible top not triggering some sensor to indicate that it's fully locked. Not a big deal to me, but it drives my mom crazy.

They've had a lot of work done to the car, to the tune of around $5,500. Mostly clutch work and CV (or something like that) joints.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 7:20 PM on November 20, 2011

OK, well then you can get a GTI, which like the R32 has the space of the C30 and the engine of the entry-level TT. Not the most exciting-looking car, I'll grant, but a fine zipper. What about an Eos? Hard-top convertible, short for easy parking, and I imagine the 2.0T is available. The BMW 1-series is worse than the R32 for your purposes. Suffice it to say, there's really not much choice in the "nice & small" category in the US. There's that new Mini Cooper Countryman, as well. I'm sure you've been through a lot of this already. :)

And because I love it and it's in your price range, be sure to check out the Fiat 500.
posted by rhizome at 8:25 PM on November 20, 2011

A friend's parents had a TT (not sure what year), and while it was great fun to drive, it was also in the shop every other month, and as several have already mentioned the work got quite expensive. I have no experience with the other model you mentioned, but based on anecdata and some reading I did on the TT at the time I wouldn't recommend buying it unless you enjoy throwing money away.
posted by the luke parker fiasco at 8:28 PM on November 20, 2011

My engineer husband loves his Audi cabriolet convertible. I find it to be annoyingly over-engineered. Take the cup holder. There is 1 pop out cup holder that (inadequately) holds a Starbucks sized cup. You want to Big Gulp? Too bad. The car's only cup holder isn't going to allow that. But it pops out of the dashboard so there's that.

I have a ton of little complaints about the Audi because I think it's over-engineered. Don't even get me started about having to go into the Ski Holder pocket to manually lower the roof. Of course all those over-engineered parts break and are wildly expensive to repair.

That said, Mr. 26.2 loves that car and it's nifty gadgetry. Lots of Audi drivers are just like that. (When they used an Audi in IronMan, I thought it was perfect marketing. The superhero of gadgets drives the gadgety car.)

There's something of a personality to the Audi's. If you dig the engineering, then you'll love the car.
posted by 26.2 at 11:18 PM on November 20, 2011

Best answer: The Volvo (actually a last-generation Euro-spec Ford Focus), being a Ford Focus, will go for a gazillion miles with regular maintenance, and when things do go wrong, parts are cheap and easy to find. The Audi TT is a VW Golf that's made more fragile than usual to get more performance and interesting interior appointments crammed in... it's gonna break your heart and leave you on the side of the road. Parts are going to be shocking in price, and delivered by a slow boat from Wolfsburg as everyone in the US is out of stock.

Also, the Volvo has a very usable hatch space - it's very versatile and comfortable, and good at doing car things like going for groceries or fitting small humans or large dogs in the back seat. The Audi looks nice, but is less competent at schlepping things or people.
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:32 AM on November 21, 2011

Best answer: Assuming this is a US Volvo, the reason that the fuel economy is lower is the engine -- the otherwise stellar 2.5l T5 engine, 230HP@5000RPM, 236ft-lb torque @ 1500-5000rpm, and if you want more silly, there's the new Polestar ECM upgrade that will up that to 250HP@5000rpm and 273lb-ft@3000rpm (but still a very flat torque curve) while maintaing mileage and dealer warranty/service (it's installed by Volvo.)

However, this is a somewhat silly amount of power in a hatchback. A "hot hatch" usually runs about 180HP, this is well above that. The C30 is possibly the worst Volvo to drive in the snow, if that's a factor for you.

I drive a C70, which is the hardtop convertible variant built on the S40 chassis, weighs almost half a ton more than the C30, and it has no problem getting out of the way. I'll be the T5 C30 is a bunch of fun.

And, as said, it's a nice variant of the Euro Focus, one of the great cars of the world.

Finally, if this particular C30 has the premium sound option, it's one of the best sounding car sound systems on sale today. If it has the built in nav system, well, it's not one of the best in the world today.
posted by eriko at 7:21 AM on November 21, 2011

Response by poster: I'm a little surprised that so many have had numerous mechanical problems with the Audi, but I'm very glad to hear that pre-purchase.

eriko, I agree that the power in the C30 is silly, and a strange decision by Volvo to offer only one engine choice. Snow is not an issue for us. Thank you for mentioning the nav system sucks, because I was trying to find one with that option (I like the clean, fold-down look).

Thanks everyone - we're going to go for the Volvo.
posted by letitrain at 9:45 AM on November 21, 2011

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