At its debut as a concept car in 1995 and finally a production reality, the Audi TT was one of the most dramatic cars to come out in the mid-to-late 1990s. Its organic and symmetrically styled front and rear profiles contrasted with slab-sided flanks to create a look unlike anything Audi had ever done before. Meanwhile, the TT's handsomely executed interior left no discernible traces of the car's rather humble VW Golf roots.
Named after the Tourist Trophy motorsports event held on the Isle of Man (in which a predecessor of the Audi brand competed), the Audi TT is not quite a sports car, not quite a sport coupe or roadster. In essence, the front- or all-wheel-drive TT is a two-seat GT. True, the coupe has a pair of seats in the back, but they are best left for little kids or used as an upholstered package shelf. The TT has the low-slung look and feel of a sports car, but its dynamic personality is closer to that of a luxury sport coupe.
Regardless of year and trim level, the TT is respectably fast, but with some first-generation versions weighing more than 3,600 pounds and suspension tuning that prioritizes touring comfort over all-out cornering prowess, it won't be the first choice for hard-core enthusiasts. Those zealots seeking a harder-edged driving experience would be better served by more finely focused sports cars. The greater majority of consumers, however, who desire a sporty coupe or roadster with energetic performance and a heavy accent on style, should be more than happy with the Audi TT.
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Current Audi TT
The Audi TT is available as a 2+2 hatchback coupe or a two-seat roadster convertible. Only one trim and engine are available, the latter being a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that produces 200 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque. Those interested in more power should check out the Audi TTS. Quattro all-wheel drive and a six-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission (S tronic) are standard.
This lone engine is punchy enough, but it's also the least powerful engine in this segment. Handling is commendable, but hardly anything that'll remind you of a Porsche Boxster or Cayman. The optional magnetic ride suspension improves the TT's capability in this area without making the already firm ride unbearable, but we doubt many buyers will feel it's worth the price premium. Nevertheless, the TT is ultimately more about its unique style, a comfortable ride and its all-wheel-drive system that provides the sort of all-weather traction that few small coupes offer.
One of the TT's most notable assets is its superbly crafted interior, which entices with a look that is sleek and modern. Standard features include leather/faux suede upholstery, Bluetooth and satellite radio, while items like heated 10-way power seats, a navigation system, a Bose stereo and nifty baseball glove-style leather stitching are options. Though the coupe's rear seats aren't suitable for anyone taller than 5 feet, they fold down to create a substantial 23 cubic feet of cargo space.
Past Audi TT Models
The current Audi TT was redesigned for the 2008 model year and represents the second generation. The general look is the same as its predecessor, though character lines are crisper and the nose adopts Audi's now signature single-frame grille. Although longer and wider than the first TT, the latest version is lighter (by nearly 200 pounds in the case of the roadster) thanks to increased use of aluminum in the body structure. It also offers a more powerful four-cylinder engine.
Prior to 2010, the TT could be equipped with different powertrain options, specified as the TT 2.0T (the same as the current model) and TT 3.2. The TT 3.2 featured a 250-hp V6. This was a lively engine and certainly offered more grunt than the turbo-4, but its added weight was a detriment to handling. Both engines came standard with a six-speed manual, while the S tronic transmission was optional. Quattro was always standard on the TT 3.2, but was optional on the otherwise front-wheel-drive TT 2.0T for 2009 and not available at all for 2008. The equipment list was also added to and subtracted from during the current generation's lifespan.
Introduced for the 2000 model year and initially available solely as a hatchback coupe, the first TT was powered by Audi's peppy 1.8-liter, 180-hp turbocharged inline-4. Buyers could choose either front- or all-wheel drive (Audi's Quattro system). A five-speed manual was standard, while a six-speed manual was optional. Along with its low-slung, avant-garde styling, the TT boasted an equally unique interior that featured polished aluminum accents, impeccable fit and finish and, unfortunately, a few ergonomic glitches such as a CD changer mounted behind the driver seat and counterintuitive climate controls.
After a highly publicized recall to fix the twitchy handling characteristics of early TTs, a roadster and a 225-hp Quattro version debuted the following year. In 2003, an automatic transmission (with six speeds) became available. But the biggest news for this generation came in 2004, when the 250-hp 3.2-liter V6 and Audi's superb six-speed automanual gearbox became available. The latter, dubbed DSG, provided rapid yet jolt-free manual-style gearchanges that put a Ferrari's F1 transmission to shame. The Audi TT stood pat through 2006, the last year of this generation.
Potential buyers should know that, although potentially fast in a straight line, this TT was never considered a true sports car due to its potentially heavy curb weight and softly sprung suspension. Still, the TT should satisfy those who prize comfort, style and all-weather capability in their sport coupe or roadster.