The TT Helped Transform Audi’s Image, But Its Successors Never Lived Up To The Promise Of The Original

The R8 is credited with boosting Audi’s image, but that transformation stated eight years earlier when the company introduced the original TT.

Previewed by the 1995 TT and TTS Roadster concepts, the model was named after the Isle of Man’s Tourist Trophy and was an instant hit thanks to its retro-inspired styling which was designed to recall the “rounded shapes of the pre-War racing cars and post-War sedans of Auto Union.”

Looking far sportier than any of Audi’s sedans, buyers snapped up TTs at an impressive rate. During its first year on sale in Europe, the company sold 36,836 units. The model was also popular on the other side of the Atlantic as buyers purchased 12,027 units in 2000 and 12,523 units in 2001.

While some critics dismissed the TT as a ‘hairdressers car,’ it was available with an assortment of engines producing between 148 hp (110 kW / 150 PS) to 247 hp (184 kW / 250 PS). The TT was could also be equipped with quattro all-wheel drive and the company’s new S tronic dual-clutch transmission.

Encouraged by the popularity of the original model, Audi approved a second-generation coupe and roadster. It arrived in 2006 with a sleeker design which was criticized for not being as charismatic as its predecessor.

The redesign got a mixed reaction, but Audi focused on making the TT a legit sports car. As part of this effort, the company introduced an S variant with 268 hp (200 kW / 272 PS) and an RS model with 335 hp (250 kW / 340 PS). A TT RS plus arrived later with 355 hp (265 kW / 360 PS).

The third and final generation of TT was introduced in 2014 and given a facelift in 2018. The redesign helped to reinvigorate sales, but the boost was short lived. Carsalesbase data shows Audi only sold 1,289 TT in the United States last year and 9,943 units in Europe.

Also Read: Audi Is Killing The TT, Will Replace It With An Emotional EV

Given the declining sales, it’s not surprising that Audi has decided to phase out the model. Mercedes made a similar decision about the SLC earlier this year and that’s unfortunate as we’ll lose two sporty Germans at roughly the same time.

The news isn’t entirely bad as Audi Chairman Bram Schot has confirmed the TT will effectively be replaced by a “new emotive model in the same price range.” It will be an electric vehicle, but there’s no word on whether or not the will be offered as a coupe and roadster like the TT.

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  • europeon

    Yup, MK1 is one of the most iconic automotive designs of all time.
    Still baffles me how they got away with so many deaths and accidents on the early production cars, but I guess it was a different era back then.

    • vanquishvantage

      thats my point sure it looked good but it was a horrible car and its performance wasnt great either especially given the cars it was supposed to compete with. It was always more form than function

  • TheToadPrince..~~ToadSquad

    boy we come a long way

  • Adilos Nave

    Bought a new 2012 TT in Oolong Grey with the Optic Leather Package (baseball glove stitching.) Sure, it wasn’t a TTS or anything wild but it sure looked good and was an absolute blast to drive. Always seemed like people thought it cost a lot more than it actually did. Treated that car like a true garage queen for its entire life until dumbass slammed into it on the highway. Miss it dearly. The adjustable spoiler was always neat to watch too.

  • vanquishvantage

    Not sure about never lived up to the original…..each version of the TT after the first was a MUCH better car and sports car. The issue is the styling became derivative though the TT in higher grade trims is very nice looking it never pushed the envelope or concept the 2nd gen was less distinctive and the third looks like a mix of the first and second but still isnt as unique as the 1st gen. It also never really made sense it was essentially a sexy Golf with less 0 practicality and a high price tag its certainly a I love the styling purchase and as much as i love its looks the actual driving experience is far to close to what Offer offers for half the money

  • I LIKE THE BASEBALL GLOVE LEATHER IN PIC 17, THEY WENT A LITTLE OVERBOARD WITH IT IN PIC 53.

  • javier

    please , what a load. The tt was a joke. ie he hairdresser express

    • Matt

      It was a design icon and very influential. It’s not famous for being a sports car… nobody said it was.

    • KRogers86

      Wow, such smart and witty commentary from you, as usual…

  • YUDHA BAGASKARA

    the TT fell out once Cayman came

  • no25

    i used to see the first generation a lot and i decently see the third (current) generation around. BUT honestly, I have never seen the second generation on the roads ever. Im surprised the third generation was able to even make it to market (and no, Im not judging it solely based on me seeing them – I dont think many people have seen them on the road). anyways, good little car. I may be one of the few that will miss it.

    • Nordschleife

      It’s funny because I can’t recollect seeing the third generation at all.

  • Nordschleife

    Though divisive overall the MK2 TT was my favorite. I preferred its more refined look. This saddens me just like the demise of the SLC.

  • Six_Tymes

    I owned a first gen TTS, and added an after market chip to it, it sure was fun to drive on twisty roads, I still miss it. But I miss my old 944 Turbo S even more. Audi produced a fun little car, it was great fun while it lasted. Times are changing, and suv craze no doubt was part of buyer not wanting these anymore

  • Shtekeris

    Lol, I didn’t even know first one came in yellow and red. All I see is silver everywhere with occasional black, exciting buyers back then. First one with turbo was a blast, love it. Though I’ve heard that it needs a lot of maintenance.

  • Pelopidas Georgiadis

    I’ll borrow a very famous movie title, namely the “They shoot the horses, don’t they?” one, starring Jane Fonda.
    Problem is, Audi didn’t kill an old horse.
    Trying to remain both polite and politically correct, I’ll have to remind to AUDI AG that there are always more than one alternatives to managerial or design problems they think they faced with Audi TT.
    And in case they really can not improve, or better what Peter Shreyer did with the original Audi TT, it’s not the buyers fault, it’s theirs.
    Long story short, if they think they’re a failure then they’re either close shop, or they can start – finally – getting better!

    • Jason Clairmonte

      I’ve read your comment twice and I am not clear what you are trying to say. Are you saying that they could have kept the TT and bettered its design?

      • Pelopidas Georgiadis

        The original Audi TT was designed by Peter Shreyer.
        And as we know the external design is always consistent with – or implied – by the mechanicals is holds / covers.
        Now, Audi says that they are going to axe this model. Why?
        Because the successors never lived up to the original? If that’s so, then what did Audi do in order to anull that, or to improve on the newest models.
        It’s not only the external design, it’s everything!
        Could Audi do better? Yes, definitely yes!
        Their marketing department magically stoped functioning, or did they have a problem into communicating which changes should occur over the next – supossedly imporoved – generation? Did Audi engineering department, or their Research & Development, could not provide a better car, over any next generation? And the questions can continue rolling.
        Surely, it was not customers’ fault.
        So, if the TT model was a failure, it is Audi’s fault. What they can do about that is either improve themselves, or – understanding they can not improve themselves – close the company!

  • Ary Wisesa

    I think, what fails latest generations of TT is that it lost its charm. The 1st gen Audi TT was truly a head turner and a (very close to) game changer. It exuded sexiness, sportiness and very unique. It looked like no other car on the road in its time. I think it’s because of its curvaceous and bubbly lines. People didn’t really care if it’s actually share the same platform with much boring VW Golf. They didn’t even care if it lack practicality, because its sexiness alone could erase all its shortcomings. Anyway, it’s never intended as family car with high practicality. It’s make for showing off and attention seeking, and it’s pretty successful at those duties.

    The 2nd gen still somehow retained the sexiness from its predecessor. I think it’s largely because it’s design still employed a lot of curves and bubbles.

    Then the 3rd gen came, with much more angular lines that simply destroyed the charm of the TT. Just look at it, I think it lose all the elements that made the 1st TT looked hot. It’s no longer unique. It sadly has become another coupe on the road. No longer a head turner.

    The reason why Porsche 911 can sustain its iconic status (aside from its excellent performance and handling which almost unparalleled in its class) is its iconic design. Can you imagine a Porsche 911 with too much angular lines? No way! People would hate it. That’s why Porsche never dares to make abrupt changes to its icon.

  • Mike anonymous

    You know… I feel as though this article is based (or ‘inspired’) by the post I recently made on the previous story regarding the TT officially receiving the boot.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/eab927b991d4c7f617ca3e771fce8b54b07249cbf1b1ba624326d5a071866c74.png

    • Jason Clairmonte

      I second your input, Mike. They did not put the effort. I was always disappointed with the design of the third generation. Not innovative enough. And I think it is reasonable to say that about a few of the current models in comparison to the previous. Something you said really hit the nail on the head. They did not try to make the best car they could. I feel the punches were pulled, especially in styling. The interior is a masterclass, but we need the exterior. The TT was always a stand out model. It did not have to follow as closely to the design language of the overall brand. And they should have explored that, providing a more striking design in this vehicle. After all, what was going to compete with it in Audi’s lineup? But I also reiterate my point above. Part of the problem all of these cars will have is that, if you want to call yourself a performance car, you’re going to have to be an EV. So I think Audi’s direction is correct. I just hope that when they unveil the replacement, that it is as emotive as the suggest.

  • erly5

    With the original being so iconic, I wouldn’t have blamed Audi if they have gone down the evolutionary route a la 911 and MINI with the styling of future TTs. Maybe then it wouldn’t be getting the chop!

  • DHG2605

    I never could warm up to the styling of the TT, it’s like they finished the front then just stuck it on the back as well.

  • Kyle Newberry

    The first gen TT was ugly as heck. Such lazy styling, just a more rounded VW bug. The current gen looks great. Too bad it’s too expensive.

  • Jason Clairmonte

    This is NOT about the fact that sportscars are a dying breed due to SUVs. This is about two things. 1. The design of the third generation was not desirable enough. They pulled their punches and made something with a nice interior, but a slightly boring exterior. 2. And this is going to become more and more obvious from hereon out, if you want to be considered a serious performance car, you are going to HAVE to be an EV. Simple.

    Audi’s direction to replace with an emotional EV sports car is perfect. Just do me one favour, Audi. Pull no punches with the new/replacement to the TT. Make it the best you can, while remaining in the price category you have decided to target. And if it has to be a little expensive in order for it to really stand out, for God’s sakes, go for it!!!

    • Da Only Skid

      The problem with serious sports cars is they cost serious money. Granted I make a measly 86k/year, buying a new car is within reach regardless of brand or style. In my instance it comes down to reliability and sale-ability. No one want to be racked over the coals because a car mfg sucks at reliability. Here in is the issue.

  • Da Only Skid

    So, IMO, the first gen looked really nice. The last model looked the best. However the problem with autos, we all know, price goes up. At the later period of its life the cost to benefit ratio exceeded expected outcomes. A sexy car, no doubt. And let’s be honest about all things German or British, depreciation is a bit.c.h. Unless you want to be that “person” that has all things new then why even purchase a new vehicle from this/these mfg’s?

  • DM

    The thing that gives me hope is that all of these changes are happening because of trends, and trends come and go. In a decade or so when more cars become EVs and battery powered boxes, people will start craving “real” fun cars again.

  • SteersUright

    The TT was very fresh and unique, truly one of the very first few “concept cars” for the road much like the Plymouth Prowler and that weird Chevy Truck that came out (forgot name). However, it was never a good looking car to my eyes, looking the same in front and in back, dainty, and driving like an economy car did it no favors either. Never quite understood the TT. To me it just took up the spot in the lineup that should always have gone to a little brother for the Audi R8, like so many of the concepts they teased us with.

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