1 May 1999
AUDI’S diminutive sports car became one of the defining designs of the 1990s – and an icon of style well into the next decade.
Springing from the 1995 Frankfurt Motor Show concept, the production version employed VW’s ubiquitous Golf IV platform and drivetrains, although Audi did significantly alter the latter for its sportier application here.
Initially a 132kW/235Nm 1.8-litre turbocharged 20-valve four-cylinder engine mated to a five-speed manual gearbox powered the front-wheel drive Coupe (really a three-door 2+2-seater hatchback), while a more powerful 165kW/280Nm all-wheel drive Quattro Coupe version using a six-speed manual transmission was also offered.
A furore was averted when Audi agreed to fit (and retrofit) minor changes (including a rear lip spoiler) to stop early TT's flipping over at high speed following a series of accidents on Europe’s high speed freeways.
That the model survived this potentially career-killing scandal is testimony to both the excitement and influence these cars created.
Meanwhile the 165kW 1.8 engine also motivated the two-seater TT Roadster from May 2000.
From March 2003 significant mechanical revisions saw a six-speed automatic gearbox option arrive in the 132kW 1.8 Coupe, while this engine was also fitted to a new entry-level Roadster version.
But perhaps the most exciting TT Mk1 came in the form of the 3.2 Quattro Coupe of January 2005.
Besides boasting 184kW V6 power (and a healthy 320Nm of torque), it brought with it Audi’s highly acclaimed DSG dual-clutch automatic gearbox, bringing the TT closer to the sports car ideal it has always hankered for but never achieved.
A second-generation TT – built on VW’s Golf V base – was unveiled in 2006.