This year Audi revealed their Mk3 TT at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show, and whilst this is exciting news for the masses, I couldn’t help but notice next year marks Audi’s 20th anniversary of revealing their TT concept (pictured below) at the 1995 Frankfurt Motor Show.
The TT concept eventually hit the market in 1998, a car that has since evolved and gained so much popularity, it has allowed the German company to branch out with more models and surpass rivals BMW and Mercedes in UK sales. From raiding Volkswagen’s parts cupboard and building a car infamous for its high-speed instability and well-publicised crashes, Audi persevered and created a sophisticated and agile machine.
To drive, the Audi Mk1 TT was a glamorised VW Golf, not too fast and comparable to the “big old boat” cliché when tackling the bendy stuff. But if you wanted a sensible and reliable car with both sporty and original looks, the TT was the car turning heads at the time.
Because of this original styling, the TT attracted customers from all walks of life – whilst young businessmen bought the 3.2-L 4WD VR6 Quattro and dreamed of the 911, hairdressers and airhostesses admired their reflections in shops windows from their 1.8-L turbo convertibles.
In 2006 and staying with the TTs signature shape, Audi gave the Mk2 a more serious appearance by making it wider and throwing some angles into the mix – because the original styling was all curves and semi-circles, many felt this new design compromised its originality. However, beneath this sleeker skin lurked Audi’s multi-link fully independent suspension – all of these tweaks and revisions, including better weight distribution and a revised rear spoiler – were Audi’s answer to the critics claiming the TT wasn’t a proper sports car.
The critics were quickly silenced; the Mk2 TT was a completely different animal to its predecessor, boasting stealthy looks and a lot of bite to go with its bark. Despite the increased hp, the mechanical upgrades underneath allowed for a taut and reassuring ride – you could now buy a TT and be taken seriously!
So with that brief glimpse of TT history of the way, we can head to the 2014 Geneva Motor Show and Audi’s third evolution of the TT.
Aesthetically, the transition in design from the Mk2 to the Mk3 isn’t as drastic as the changes made to the Mk1 – whilst the Mk1 was no track animal, it did possess real style, and some say this was lost when Audi tightened everything up in the quest for a more dynamic sports car.
The Mk3 manages to take one step into future thanks to its nod to the Audi R8 and one foot in the past retaining its classic coupe shape.
Comparing the Mk3’s performance stats to that of its grandfather only shows how far technology has come over the last two decades. Using a different variant of the Mk2’s 2.0-L turbo engine, the Mk3 TTS Quattro boasts 310-hp and can hit 62-mph in 4.7 seconds – that’s more impressive than the Mk1 and Mk2 3.2-L Quattro.
This new power technology is complimented with a mix of exotic metals, including a lightweight aluminium spaceframe on top of a high-strength steel chassis. Although this sophisticated technology gives the car a stiffer chassis, it actually weighs in 50-kg less than the Mk2 and a whopping 140-kg less than the iconic Mk1.
So after Audi created a design classic and tuned and tinkered with it, is the TT a “Legend In The Making”?
Before I offer my two cents, I’ll quickly mention the other car lined up alongside the new TT on the Geneva show stand. It was the TT Quattro Sport concept. This stripped-out, lightweight coupe possessed 414-bhp from a 2.0 TFSI engine running 1.8 bar of boost. Once this has been transferred to all the wheels, a mighty 450-Nm of torque will rocket it to 62-mph in 3.7 seconds – from a 2.0-L engine!
Because the TT has allowed Audi to create, develop and fill a certain niche in the market, I think it has already gained legendary status. If Audi continue to evolve and develop and present cars like the future TT Quattro Sport, the automotive world will be an exciting place.