When Audi unveiled the TT coupe as a concept car in 1995, public reaction was so ecstatic that a production run was ordered, though in the event this was delayed by tooling problems. By the time the neatly rounded Audi TT 2+2 fastback coupe appeared in late 1998 —soon joined by an equally pleasing two-seater roadster — there was a long waiting list of eager buyers.
The cars were named after the famous Tourist Trophy motorcycle races on the Isle of Man, where Audi predecessor NSU had excelled over the years. When they finally arrived, the TT cars were based on the Volkswagen A4 platform used by the New Beetle, Golf and Skoda Octavia (amongst others). There was a choice of two transversely mounted, turbocharged 1.8 litre engines with different power output (a 3.2 litre Volkswagen VR6 was added in 2003). The less powerful 1.8 came with Audi’s famous quattro all-wheel drive system or standard front-wheel drive, with the meatier engine having the quattro option only. The gearbox was five- or six-speed manual, with automatic and fast DSG (Direct-Shift Gearbox) as later options.
The delight of early buyers who finally got their Audi TTs to play with turned to dismay when they discovered the car could become dangerously skittish at high speed — a fault requiring the company to issue a recall so the cars could be modified with a rear spoiler and ESP (Electronic Stability Programme) to improved handling.
The second generation TTs were introduced in 2007, with a rear spoiler that deploys automatically at speed and a choice of fuel-injection engines, plus options like Audi Magnetic Ride active suspension. There’s even a diesel-engined TT available for green speedsters. For the money, the Audi TT has always been a machine that offers a great driving experience, with crisp handling and impressive performance.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
Germany (built in Hungary)
FIRST MANUFACTURED: 1998
1,781 cc Straight Four Turbo; 3,189 cc Staggered Six
Varied according to engine minimum top speed of 137 mph (220 km/h); 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 8.1 secs
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
A limited-edition performance model was released by Audi in 2005 – the TT Quattro Sport (in the UK, Club Sport in Europe) had a super-tuned version of the 1.8 engine, uprated suspension and brakes plus a special two-tone paint job. These are both scarce and desirable.