The story of the Audi TT begins with thunderous applause. The “Audi Coupé Quattro TT” was a celebrated star at the 1995 IAA. Visitors crowd around the concept study and the trade press celebrates the rounded shapes of the design. But it was to be another three years before the Audi Board of Management was able to bring itself to bring the compact sports car onto the road as a production model. Since the Audi TT shares the same technology as the Golf IV, the cost skeptics on the Audi board give their place and let the vest pocket athlete roll onto the road.
Applause rains down on the newcomer again. "Auto Europe", the largest car magazine group on the continent, chooses the 1999 Audi TT as the best new release of the year. When the roadster completes the model duo in the same year, the success story seems complete. But the blessing of the puristic design language proves to be a curse in certain driving situations. There is no downforce on the rear axle. The consequence: At higher speeds, the rear develops a dangerous life of its own as soon as the driver takes his foot off the accelerator. After some TTs made acquaintance with the guardrail while rushing through winding curves on motorway sections, criticism of the driving characteristics in the limit area, which are difficult for normal drivers to master, was voiced.
First of all, the Ingolstadt car manufacturer chose the famous wall tactic and pointed out with a certain arrogance that the TT is just a sports car that you have to get along with. But the number of drivers who are overwhelmed, according to Audi, is growing and unfortunately there are also fatalities. Now the topic can no longer be discussed away. As rally icon Walter Röhrl himself, he described the Audi TT with the words “not bad, but too dangerous for normal people. If he takes his foot off the gas at 200, he drives backwards” attests a problematic life of its own, the manufacturer must act and retrofit the vehicles that have already been delivered.
The package consists of new wishbones on the front axle, thicker stabilizers, tighter dampers and a small spoiler at the rear. He then calls the design critics on the plan, who see the lines of the model destroyed by the stubs. The driving behavior improves, but the measures cannot completely tame the wedged-out rear end. So the next de-escalation stage must be triggered. In contrast to the tuning work, this represents a major technical intervention. From March 2000, Audi offers the installation of the ESP anti-skid system, which specialists assemble in a hall specially equipped for this purpose. Audi charges a fee of 650 marks for the over 20,000 vehicles eligible for this safety net, which corresponds to the additional costs when ordering a new Audi TT.
When it comes to drives, the Audi TT (internal code 8N) offers almost everything that the carmaker's technology shelf has to offer. Starting with front-wheel drive with 110 kW / 150 hp up to supercharged four-cylinder engines with up to 176 kW / 240 hp in the TT Quattro Sport. The top of the food chain for the first TT generation is the 3.2 Quattro with a six-cylinder and 184 kW / 250 hp and a six-speed DSG. Despite the difficult birth, Audi sold exactly 178,765 coupés and 90,733 roadsters by August 2006. Today, the first generation of the athlete is considered a design milestone for the Ingolstadt-based manufacturer.
All good things come to an end and so the sequel will appear in autumn 2006. The design of the Audi TT (8J) is based on that of its predecessor, but is more modern, taut and stretched. The impression is not deceptive. The second generation increases in length by a whopping 13.7 centimeters and brings it to 4.178 meters. In terms of width, the increase is still 7.8 centimeters to 1.842 meters. The new TT is therefore more solid than before. With the model change, a lot is also happening technically. The VW PQ35 platform is used in the VW Golf V, the Audi A3 8P and the Touran. With the new edition, the technicians drew the corresponding conclusions from the problems of the first generation and installed a dynamic chassis with a newly developed MacPherson front axle and a multi-link rear axle, which has shed the bitchyness of the predecessor by being designed with slight understeer. Adaptive Magnetic Ride dampers, which circulate tiny magnetic particles, are available as an option. In order to increase the rear-wheel drive when driving faster, a rear spoiler automatically extends from 120 km/h on both the convertible and the coupé. The body consists of 69 percent aluminum and 31 percent steel.
When it comes to drives, the variety is initially reduced to two 2.0 l TFSI engines with 147 kW / 200 hp, optionally with the Quattro all-wheel drive or as a classic front-wheel drive and the 3.2 l V6 with 184 kW / 250 hp, which is only available as Quattro there. The 1.8 TFSI will come later as an entry-level unit with 118 kW / 160 PS, the TTS version with 200 kW / 272 PS and later the five-cylinder 2.5 TFSI in two expansion stages with 250 kW / 340 PS as the TT RS and with 265 kW / 360 PS as a TT RS plus including all-wheel drive. From April 2008, a 2.0 TDI with 125 KW / 170 HP will also be hammering under the hood of the Audi TT. With the facelift in 2010, TT drivers have to say goodbye to the 3.2-liter V6 and the 2.0 TFSI with 147 kW, which will be replaced by more powerful variants or the five-cylinder units. Despite all the technical improvements, the Audi TT II does not reach the sales figures of its predecessor: Audi sells 89,684 coupés and 48,808 roadsters.
With the appearance of the third and final generation, the Audi TT experienced a heyday. At the Beijing International Automobile Exhibition 2014, the Ingolstadt carmaker is presenting the Audi TT Offroad Concept, a crossover with 300 kW / 408 hp and a plug-in hybrid drive. At the Paris Motor Show in the same year, it was the Audi TT Sportback Concept, a TT coupé sedan with four full-size seats and the 2.0 TFSI with 294 kW / 400 PS. Both ideas never get beyond the status of a prototype. Another concept, the exciting Audi TT Clubsport Turbo, which with its 441 kW / 600 hp, which is generated by a turbo with an electrically driven compressor, enriches the 2015 GTI meeting at Wörthersee. Appropriately, Audi is launching a one-make cup with the TT Cup.
When hostesses pull the cloth from the third generation of the TT (FV) at the Geneva Motor Show in 2014, no one suspects that the Audi athlete's twilight will begin. After all, this TT is also quite handsome and with the digital operating concept (“virtual cockpit”) was also technically up to date. When it comes to engines, there is also something on the menu for every taste. Starting with the two-liter diesel with 135 kW / 184 hp and the well-known 2.0 TFSI units (up to 228 kW / 310 hp) to the top model TT RS with the famous five-cylinder and 294 kW / 400 hp.
The executioner who announced the end of the Audi TT at the carmaker's annual general meeting in 2019 is called Bram Schot and is the head of the carmaker at the time. At the end of 2023, the last model of the Ingolstadt athlete will roll off the assembly line in Györ, Hungary, after a quarter of a century. Before that, there is a special edition limited to 100 copies called the Audi TT RS Coupé Iconic Edition, which says goodbye neither visually nor acoustically.