/ 8 July 2023

Audi stands on the TT’s brakes

A Timeless Design Icon: The Audi Tt Turns 25
Sporting chance: The Audi TT RS coupé iconic edition (above left) and the Audi TT coupé show car (right).

After thriving in a relatively niche market for more than two decades, the Audi TT has finally reached the end of the line. 

This two-seater coupé has caught the attention of a broad range of drivers from hairdressers to youngsters to car enthusiasts. As the world bids farewell to the iconic car, we pay tribute to it.

The Audi TT was unveiled in the form of a concept vehicle at the Frankfurt Motor Show in Germany in 1995. Audi introduced it as encapsulating its new vision. It was aesthetically unlike any other, designed to fill a void in the brand’s line-up and provide customers with a more affordable sports car.

This rather odd and, well, “round” car appeared to have garnered some interest. However, the story of the TT wasn’t a “lights out and away we go” kind of story — it only picked up momentum three years after the initial unveiling of the concept.

The first generation of the TT appeared in 1998, ready for the turn of the millennium. Concept cars-turned-production units have a history of being duller and less inspired than the original. This wasn’t the case for Audi, since the all-new TT maintained its small, rounded shape, with a unique appeal.

It had the futuristic sports car looks but did it have the punch? Fortunately, it did, and it also had a simpler motor, for those who chose it mostly for the style aspect. 

The first generation came with a 1.8-litre in-line four-cylinder turbocharged motor. Another option was adding the brand’s infamous quattro all-wheel-drive system to improve the car’s performance.

But, in 2003, the TT got the engine that gripped the interest of enthusiasts around the world. The TT received the 3.2-litre V6, which was shared with the VW Golf R32, making this little coupe a rather hot addition to Audi’s TT line-up.

To end the Mk1 TT and celebrate the success of their new sports coupé, the boffins at Audi tuned up a 1.8-litre turbocharged motor, strapped it into a lighter body, and made another 799 units. 

This limited-edition model was named the TT Quattro Sport, and produced 176kW, but this one was lighter and it was a fitting send-off for the Mk1 TT.

In preparation for the Mk2, Audi emphasised the importance of maintaining the TT DNA while improving its sporty nature and pushing evolution. What they came up with was another brilliant vehicle. 

Audi TT RS Coupé
The interior of the Audi TT RS

This time, it was slightly larger, it had a more refined look and sported another VW motor — the 2.0-litre turbocharged engine from the fifth-generation GTI. 

Audi launched the roadster version of the TT in 2007, which garnered some initial popularity. 

However, it surprised customers the following year by introducing a diesel engine option for the sports coupé. Despite some complaints from enthusiasts, the marque was proud to be one of the first to offer a sports car with a diesel motor.

This year also brought a fresh and exciting collection of powertrains to the sports car. The first was the TT S, followed by the TT RS in 2009. 

The TT S again used a 2.0-litre petrol engine with an added power bump of 45kW, bringing the power output to 200kW. 

The groundbreaking news, however, came in the form of the TT RS and its new 2.5-litre five-cylinder motor. 

This significantly increased the power by 50kW over the S, allowing the TT RS to produce 250kW, and finally allowing this sports car to compete in the big leagues.

The third generation of the TT, which graced the world in 2014, saw a massive improvement in the cabin environment and technology. The introduction of an infotainment screen and a digital instrument binnacle was near revolutionary. 

The Mk3 TT came with a TT S and TT RS model alongside the traditional petrol and diesel variants. 

The TT RS was given yet another power bump, bringing the gorgeous-sounding five-cylinder engine to 295kW. Paired with the Audi quattro system, the TT RS could do 

0 to 100km/h in an impressive 3.7 seconds, allowing it to be recognised as a toy that can play with the supercars.

This brings us to the present. This is the year we will see the last edition of the TT. 

The Final Edition will sport exclusive paint colours, and additional features, and will undoubtedly go down as a piece of history. 

The TT was a polarising sports car — some people loved it, while others hated it. 

It was a car for a particular taste, encompassing fun driving and individualism. Whether you have the diesel for economical daily driving or the supercar-equivalent RS, the TT is a car that will be missed.

We remain fond of the TT and the third generation of this iconic sports car achieved some remarkable feats, pushing the boundaries of digital interactive tech, for one. 

Will it leave room for another new coupé in Audi’s range? Probably not, given that more and more traditional cars are seeing the chopping block with the surge in the popularity of the SUV. 

With the TT gone, the question is which icon will see the chopping block next.