After twenty-five years and three generations, the small sports car from Audi has matured like wine, but in Ingolstadt they switched to electromobility, and a compact gasoline car with questionable practicality does not fit into their portfolio. Four years ago, they decided to quit this year. The last pieces can still be found, but the configurator no longer works.
Just look at Audi models from the 1990s to get an idea of how important the first TT was. In 1998, the more or less angular era saw the arrival of a car so consistently rounded that even the bumpers were not allowed to protrude from the arched silhouette.
Together with the Beetle from Volkswagen, it started the era of retro cars, a category unknown until then. But while the New Beetle referred directly to a specific car, the TT drew design inspiration from Auto Union’s pre-war supercars. By the way, both cars, so different at first glance, stood on the same chassis platform. Along with Golf and Octavia.
From the very beginning, the TT attracted media attention. Already because the car company transported the finished bodies from Ingolstadt all the way to Györ, so that the Hungarians could assemble them there with the rest of the car. Nobody did it like that at the time.
But there was also unwanted publicity. Newspapers were filled with photographs of wrecked cars over which their drivers had lost control. The rounded stern without a clear breakaway edge lost stability at high speeds. Walter Röhrl, multiple rally champion, summed it up succinctly at the time: “I drove it for one lap on the circuit. It’s not a bad car, but it’s too dangerous for a normal driver. When you take your foot off the gas in the 200, you go backwards. And in short, only one can do that man in the world, a certain Röhrl.” At that time, the carmaker reacted quickly and invited all manufactured cars to the service center in order to additionally install a pressure wing.
After all, this remains the model to this day, although the third generation at the end of its cycle looks quite different from the TT a quarter of a century ago. It appears sharper, flatter, although it still adheres to compact dimensions. During its long life it has grown by fourteen centimeters and at 4.2 meters it is still slightly shorter than the Golf. Conjuring up an elegant sports body on such a small surface is not an easy task. Especially nowadays, when pedestrian protection regulations command car companies to build high noses.
But the outgoing TT is not the car of today, which can be revealed, for example, by the missing touch screen. The control center is the old familiar MMI circular controller, which, in combination with the digital shield under the steering wheel, reliably replaces the central display. There aren’t even state-of-the-art assistants that drivers pull the steering wheel out of their hands or beep every time they exceed the speed limit. They can be purchased for an additional fee, but is anyone missing them?
Photo author: Jakub Stehlík
Designer Jiří Král: Honest craftsmanship with unnecessary decoration
The Audi TT is a car that is interesting from every angle. It can dazzle the viewer so perfectly that they forget about some minor imperfections. For example, the rear window of the trunk lid should properly end with the edge of the side door. But it would be complicated in terms of production, and even then, few people would notice. On the interior, I appreciate the position of the steering wheel in relation to the seat, so the driver can find his place very quickly. I also really appreciate how well it is visible from the car. The shape of the front pillars is just perfect. It fulfills its function, at the same time it does not hide anything important from the driver. Somewhat at the last minute, Audi gave the bumpers today’s trendy vertical air intakes. In the case of TT, they have no function and, moreover, here they seem a bit violent, disharmonious. Like a decoration that doesn’t really decorate anything.
On the other hand, here we find the well-known rear bench, where just enough children can sit comfortably. Then also the tuned exhaust, whose hoarseness sings on the border of legality. And seats low to the ground, hugging the body in turns. Of course, there are brakes with pleasant dosage and a sharp point.
The two-liter four-cylinder with 245 horses seems to be just right for the car, it does not impose its performance on the driver, but at the same time offers it when asked. With a light foot, it can drive on seven liters and does not seem to feel uncomfortable in any rev range.
But the idyll ends here, there are also a few inconveniences. The car lost its manual transmission some time ago, only the seven-speed S-tronic remained in the offer. It behaves appropriately in most situations, but occasionally hesitates, usually when the driver least expects it.
If someone imagines that the TT with the S line sports package will play the role of Gran Turismo for them on long trips, they will probably be surprised by its tough nature. Driving slowly along the interlocking paving, the crew can identify each individual tile.
Audi TT Coupe 45 TFSI quattro
Engine: turbocharged four-cylinder, 1984 cm3
Power: 180 kW / 245 hp at 5250 – 5500 rpm
Torque: 370 Nm at 1600 – 4300 rpm
Top speed: 250 km/h
Acceleration 0-100 km/h: 5.1 s
Combined consumption: 7.9 l/100 km
Volume of the luggage compartment: 305 – 712 l
Price: from 1,279,900 CZK
There is one more thing in which “auntie” is innocent. Those who experienced driving with the first generation years ago will probably recognize that, after years, it is no longer as easy to get into the flat body as it used to be. And that accepting road challenges from tuned-up Golfs isn’t so much fun anymore.
In short, some things change over time, so even here it is true that it is best to stop. Remembrancers will certainly not avoid nostalgia, while Audi will invent something new for the young.
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