20 Years of the Audi TT
Audi’s popular sports car celebrates its 20th Birthday this year. We take a look back over three generations of TT
Time flies when you’re having fun and so it might come as a surprise to Audi TT owners that the nameplate is now 20 years old. The popular sports car has evolved over the decades and now even offers performance that treads on the toes of some supercars.
Our first glimpse of what was to come came in 1995 with the Audi TT concept car that made its debut at the Frankfurt motor show. Described as 'an enthusiasts' car with great charisma' the concept represented a close to production design that was very well received.
The first generation Audi TT arrived in 1998 and struck a remarkable resemblance to the modern concept car seen three years prior. There was scarcely a straight line on the car with its body being rounded and smooth like a riverbed pebble. Compared to over sports cars of the day the TT was a revelation that soon found an audience of buyers wanting to make a style statement. A convertible model further boosted the TT’s appeal.
The interior was just as bold, swapping cluttered switchgear for clean surfaces and premium materials. Coupe models offered a pair of rear seats for small occupants as well as a surprisingly practical hatchback opening for luggage.
However, not all was rosey for this first generation car. Early in its life a few curious high speed crashes warranted further investigation. It became clear that the TT’s unusual shape could cause instability at speed, particularly if the car made a sudden change of direction. The fix was a relatively simple one with Audi voluntarily recalling cars to fit an electronic stability program and a rear wing.
Entry-level cars made use of a front wheel drive layout but it was possible to option Quattro all-wheel drive for added traction. Later in 2005, a more potent limited edition performance model dubbed 'TT Sport Quattro' was made available and brought 240bhp to the table. This performance model could complete the 0-62mph sprint in less than six seconds.
Today you can pick up an original Audi TT for as little as £1000 making it a bit of a bargain, so be sure to check out our used buying guide.
The second generation continued the lineage but put an even sharper focus on handling with a predominately aluminium construction. Its suspension was also more accomplished thanks to an independent multi-link setup the new platform provided. If you wanted the ride to be even more civilised, buyers could option 'Audi Magnetic Ride', which allowed you to stiffen or soften the dampers.
Just like its predecessor, it could be had with front or all-wheel drive, and as a coupe or convertible. Something new was a TDI Quattro model introduced due to high diesel demand and Audi’s success with the fuel at Le Mans. A high-performance TT RS was available from 2009 with 335bhp and standard Quattro all-wheel drive. If that wasn’t enough for you, the 2012 TT RS Plus boosted the engine to 355bhp and dropped the 0-62mph time to just 4.1 seconds.
The Mk3 Audi TT was launched in 2014 and has proven just as popular. It’s the most complete TT proposition to date, balancing its sports car roots with a premium luxury feel. Today there’s a TT for everyone thanks to a wide range of engine variants and power outputs. The 394bhp TT RS has performance not too far off its bigger R8 supercar brother!
Audi is also launching a special 20th-anniversary model to mark its birthday. The car comes with Nappa leather seats and black 'Baseball leather' upholstery throughout the cabin, harking back to the original car. Matte finish Audi badging, stainless steel tailpipes, and Matrix OLED rear lights complete the 1 of 999 car. Proof that the Audi TT formula is still a success 20 years on.
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