While I knew it was always a decent seller, still I was surprised to learn that Audi built as many as 662,762 examples over the three generations. And that the UK market took more than 157,000 of them. Not a bad result for a niche product.
Every TT was manufactured by Audi Hungaria. Twenty five years ago, the Győr plant – a major source of engine production – also had what was then just a modestly-sized car building facility. It’s fair to say demand for its first model outstripped supply for quite some time. And why wouldn’t it when the original TT looked, well, perfect? But it did, didn’t it?
Even better than the concept
The original series production hatchback was even better proportioned than the 1995 TT Coupé design study, a key change being the addition of a little window in each C pillar. And the spoiler plonked onto the bootlid didn’t damage its gorgeous lines either. Not sure I would say that about the wing attached to some of the final cars – they’re better without it.
I also wasn’t the biggest fan of the second generation TT. But you had to feel for the design team tasked with trying to improve upon the 1998-2006 shape hatchback and convertible. And it did sell quite well, so what would I know?
For me, generation three – launched in 2014 and produced until 10 November 2023 – has always appeared to be more comfortable with itself. Unlike the cars it replaced, each mark one was referenced but not slavishly. And the interiors of both coupe and roadster were and remain a triumph; way lovelier than any contemporary Audi, with the exception of the R8.
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Still sexy nine years later
It had been some time since I drove a TT and straight away, the basic shape of the car had me running eyes over every detail. Then you open a door and immediately think “wow, I forgot there’s no screen on that dashboard” and “oh yes, the great little digital display ahead of the driver is all you need”. And so it proved, me becoming even more fond of everything about the car as each day went on.
Where some of us get frustrated with repeating voice commands and slow touchscreens, the Audi’s beautifully logical HMI is how cars should be again. Alas, they are not.
One of Audi’s best interiors
Just as appealing as the MMI controller system in the TT is how lovely everything looks. And when your fingers interact with these plastic parts, there is delight too. Wish to let someone in to a traffic flow? Simple: twist the headlights switch (yes, there is one!) off and on. In almost all new cars, people instead pull the full beam wand, blinding the intended recipient of what becomes the opposite of a kind act.
Other sadly now binned components include those five gorgeous jet-like vents with their ingeniously-sited centre buttons. Activate seat heating? Simple: that’s on the ones closest to the doors. Temperature and fan speed? The three in the middle of the dashboard. Direction of air? Again, easy-as: twist, and enjoy satisfying clicks.
The steering wheel has multiple clearly-marked buttons, including one to start and stop the engine, while there are logically-sited controls to change the instrumentation read-out. Even pulling or pushing the automatic gearbox lever through P-R-N-D/S makes you wish for the not-so-long-ago days when many other German cars had interiors this good.
But doesn’t it feel its age when you drive it?
In some ways I was reluctant to request a TT loan, wondering if perhaps it would feel outdated. So if the almost unimproveable inside had more than stood the test of time, would the same apply for how the car drove? After all, generation three might have been evolved over a long production run but its development must have taken place in the long ago late 2000s and early 2010s.
Available with quite a few engine and gearbox choices over its long model life, the press test car lent to me packed a 145 kW (197 PS) and 320 Nm 1,984 cc turbocharged four-cylinder engine. If that doesn’t sound like much power, remember no TT has ever been a heavy car, so this one will hit 151 mph and reach 62 mph in 6.9 seconds. Kerb weight is quoted as 1,370 kilos, Combined consumption is 40.4 mpg and the CO2 average is 159 g/km.
A dynamic delight
Beautifully weighted steering, hardly any body-roll, a low centre of gravity, brilliant roof-down visibility and even a lovely-raspy exhaust note each make this such a fun car. Just as great, lane-keeping assist stays in its box, while grip from the front tyres and the general level of dynamics are way better than you might think for a car of this vintage.
The Roadster may be a looker but there’s one downside to choosing the open car compared to the hatchback: boot volume. Maybe 280 litres is enough though, particularly when the available space is sensibly shaped and the opening far from narrow?
With the heating set high and roof lowered, at the wheel of the TT is a very agreeable place to be. Yes, even in autumn, and, I would argue, in winter too. You can snuggle down into what is already a snug seat, even lowering the windows as there’s hardly any buffeting. Also, the car is so compact that it’s easy to place it exactly where you would wish to in corners. Some might claim that this isn’t a true sports car. They’re wrong.
Final cars now heading to dealerships
Audi is probably doing the right thing by winding up production, ensuring the TT goes out on a high. No-one will say officially if this is the final generation but given the equity in the model name, why wouldn’t there be a fourth one, perhaps to be previewed by a concept in 2025 or 2026?
An electric generation four?
If SAIC’s MG Cyberster manages to meet with success in 2024, and it’s looking as though it might just do, Audi could easily return to the segment with a rear-drive EV. And how sublime would it be if such a car went retro, referencing the best bits of the first, eternally classic TT?
The Audi TT Roadster S line 40 TFSI S tronic is priced from GBP43,995.