The cars we loved.
The TT was one of those rare cars that caused a small sensation in the automotive and design worlds, not just because it’s name inspired giggles from kids. Fresh from penning the modern classic New Beetle, J. Mays and team designed the TT in California for Audi. First shown at the 1995 Frankfurt Motor Show in 1995, it went into production a few years later almost unchanged.
Under it’s Museum of Modern Art exterior was some advance technology, like the first production car application of a direct shift gearbox (DSG). The interior had a distinctive stitched leather accented design reminiscent of a country western spaceship.
Offered in two door coupe and convertible versions, the TT was based on Volkswagen’s A4 platform. It’s name comes from NSU’s (the company that eventually became Audi) participation in the British Isle of Man TT motorcycle races. NSU used the TT designation in the names of many of it’s racing cars.
The first Audi TT’s may not have inspired racing with it’s 1.8 litre turbocharged 4 cylinder engines. They were available with 178 hp initially, then 222 with the quatto (all-wheel drive) versions. Despite positive reviews from the press, the car’s reputation suffered a small snag due to high speed stability issues incurred in Europe where drivers were much more likely to drive at speeds over 100 mph. The problem was solved by Audi with the addition of a small rear spoiler and some other modifications that improved stability.
The snafu was not enough to damage the cars reputation overall, as it found a place on Car and Driver’s 10 best list for 2000 and 2001. A steady stream of improvements made the car much more dynamic from a performance and aesthetic perspective. Volkswagen’s potent VR6 engine was added and power output eventually went up to 247 hp. A redesign in 2006 produced the best looking TT ever with a design strongly influenced by Audi’s Shooting Brake concept car from 2005.
For performance beyond the quattro, buyers were offered was the RS in 2009. Developed by Audi’s high performance subsidiary GmbH, the TT RS featured a new 2.5 litre 5 cylinder turbocharged engine making 335 hp. Other visual cues distinguishing the RS from other TT’s were it’s optional 19 inch wheels and lower ride hight and agressive ground effects. With a top speed of 174 mph and a 0-60 time of 4.6 seconds, it was as fast as a Lamborghini Murcielago LP-640!