The original Audi TT of the 1990s was just part of a blast of creative energy from the VW Group California studio, which also created VW’s New Beetle. It’s a stunning design that still looks modern well into the twenty-first century.
The first generation TT was assembled in Gyor, Hungary and is very much a VW Group A world car, sharing its underpinnings with the Audi A3, New Beetle, Golf Mk IV, and Skoda Octavia. Peter Shreyer’s design changed very little from concept to production, merely gaining rear quarter lights and re-profiled bumpers.
The entry-level Audi TT featured a front-engine, front wheel drive layout, with a 1.8-liter, 20-valve, turbocharged four-cylinder engine generating 180 bhp through a 5-speed manual gearbox. It could manage 0-60 mph in 8.6 seconds and had a top speed of 136 mph.
A high-performance version of the same engine featured a larger turbocharger, two inter-coolers instead of one and increased boost from 10 psi to 15 psi. That resulted in 225 bhp, delivered 0-60 mph in 7.4 seconds and gave a top speed of 143 mph. Audi’s all-wheel drive Quattro system was optional on the 180 bhp model and standard with the 225 bhp package.
The Audi TT technically offered a rear seat, but it was more of a parcel shelf. Even so, the hatchback design did offer useful storage, with 13.8 cubic feet available, or 24.2 cubic feet with the seat down. Naturally, the available TT convertible model came with less room, and the Quattro system took up some rear space as well.
Press was generally positive for the Audi TT, and it made Car and Driver’s 10 best list. The TT got a facelift in 2003 and a 6-speed dual clutch transmission arrived on the options list. Called the Direct-Shift Gearbox (DSG) it cut shifting times sharply, and was paired with stiffer suspension. Volkswagen’s excellent 3.2-liter VR6 engine was also offered in 2003, with 247 bhp and standard Quattro AWD.
For 2005 Audi introduced the TT Quattro Sport, built by its high-performance division. The 1.8-liter Turbo’s power was boosted to 240 bhp and the car’s weight cut by 165 lbs. The net result was 0-60 in 5.9 seconds and a governed top speed of 155 mph. Larger brakes from the V6 were fitted along with stiffer suspension and unique 18-inch 15-spoke alloy wheels, with wider rims at the rear. The TT also received the 3.2-liter’s body kit.
Sport TT models can usually be distinguished by their two-tone paint. The roof, pillars and mirrors were painted Phantom Black Pearl, paired with Avus Silver, Misano Red or Mauritius Blue. However, buyers could also opt for all-black.
The Audi TT was extremely popular, selling double the number of units as the rival Porsche Boxster. While numerous good examples exist, the TT did not suffer abuse gladly, and complete maintenance records should be readily available before proceeding with any purchase.
Make sure the timing belt and water pump have been replaced, as original pumps had plastic splines. Scheduled DSG maintenance is also essential, and listen for suspension clunks and rattles.