RE: Long goodbye for iconic TT | PH Footnote

RE: Long goodbye for iconic TT | PH Footnote

Friday 25th November

Long goodbye for iconic TT | PH Footnote

While the new RS Iconic Edition isn't really that iconic, the Audi TT is. We should all be sad it's going ...


I’ve never permed, dyed, or blow-dried anyone. Just for your information. I haven’t got a problem with people who do, I should add, I'm just saying that I don’t fit the stereotype. I am not a hairdresser, and yet I like the Audi TT. There you go, I said it. I liked the original from 1998 because of its clean, uncompromised style. It was one of those rare cars that stayed pretty much faithful to the concept – the Bauhaus-inspired concept that appeared in 1995 – and was, therefore, pretty.

I say ‘pretty much faithful’ because it wasn’t completely uncompromised, of course. The production version added rear quarter windows for a start – although, if anything, that made it prettier still. And later it sprouted a rear spoiler because the TT had a propensity to turn into a sledge. More than a few ended up on their roof after a high-speed lane change, so the spoiler was added to keep it sunny side up.

There was a problem, though. Only people with their ankles dry in the shallow end of life focus solely on looks. Imagine if Keira Knightley had the personality of Keir Starmer. Would she be as likeable then? No. Well, the TT was a bit ‘Keir Starmer’ to drive. It was dull, basically. It was based on the PQ34 platform, and that didn’t do the Mk4 Golf GTI any favours, so it was never going to spawn a feisty sports car. And this was brought into even sharper focus by the fact that, 150 miles away in Stuttgart, Porsche was building the Boxster. That was beautiful and brilliant.

When the second-generation TT came along, I stopped admiring them from afar as well. It was a little better to drive, because it was now based on the same platform as the Mk5 Golf GTI, but for me it had lost the purity of the original. I had no desire to buy that one, either. Then along came the third generation. The current one. Now this one I do like, for all the right reasons. Firstly, it looks great. Not in the purist mould of the original, true, but it plays nicely on the TT design theme while, at the same time, going its own way. The Mk3 is chiselled, sharp and well proportioned. All the hallmarks of a great-looking car.

Then you step inside the thing. Well, if anyone needed proof that Audi in 2014 had money to burn, just sit in a third-gen TT. The quality is off the scale, bearing in mind this was a relatively affordable sports car. The materials are just fantastic. There are sumptuously soft and squidgy plastics, and not just in a few key places. They’re everywhere that you’re likely to touch and continue down to the places you probably never will. There are real metal trims, not cheapo bits of sprayed plastic, and the kind of top drawer, micro-switched buttons that most manufacturers in the TT’s price range haven’t even heard of, let alone used.

It's also a beguiling piece of design inside. A piece of modern art, almost, worthy of those concept-car features of the original. Just look at the integrated switches within the air vents, which are genius, and the air vents themselves that look great and rotate with an equally desirable, well-oiled slickness. And unlike most modern cars, it isn't saddled with a big infotainment screen in the middle of the dashboard. That's integrated neatly into the driver display, which leaves the interior feeling uncluttered and classic.

Then there's is how it drives: impressively, which goes for all this generation of TT, even the entry-level 1.8-litre TSI. I remember doing a twin test once. It was a TT 2.0 TSI Roadster against the then-new (and still current) BMW Z4 30i. The TT walked it. The Z4 felt like someone had signed it off blind: the throttle mapping was wrong, the gearbox disjointed, the brakes over assisted, the ride uncontrolled and the engine sounded like a low-wattage hairdryer. It was bordering on awful.

Compared with that the TT felt like an engineer’s obsession. Okay, with a 2.0-litre TSI isn't the most invigorating four-cylinder, but it’s smooth and properly tuned. It’s the suspension that impressed me the most. I remember how it dealt with imperfections of any kind – big or small, sharp or smooth – so brilliantly that it transcended the humble sports car. The damping and compliance were not far off a supercar’s, and that went hand in hand with its beautifully balanced, neutral chassis. Okay, it doesn’t provide that last element of rear-drive finesse that a Boxster does – there are limits to its front- or four-wheel-drive layout with the engine in the front – but that accepted, it’s really very accomplished.

So I am a touch sad. I’ve been driving the TT RS Iconic Edition, which is the last hurrah of the TT. A celebration of the last 25 years, after which the TT will cease to be. Why? Because it’s all about SUVs, these days; few people are bothering with small sports cars, unless they are made by Porsche. I think the world will be poorer without the TT, and all the other cars like it that have similarly exited stage left. I may even miss the bad ones, as it happens, and the TT isn't one of those. Is the TT RS Iconic Edition a fitting tribute, then?

Not really. The Audi people talked a lot about how ‘iconic’ and ‘emotional’ the car is, but when it comes down to the nitty gritty, all they’ve done is stuck some bits of plastic and carbon on it. And in my humble opinion that rather misses the point. If the TT’s iconic status is largely down to its purity of design, then sticking on more stuff is surely something of a no-no. Painting the wheels black and dying the seatbelts yellow doesn’t make it any worthier, either. Other than dubious styling, there are no mechanical updates to add some substance, and guess how much they’re charging for it? £87,000. Who on earth would burn that kind of cash on a TT? Well, there’s always one, or in this case eleven ones, because that’s the UK allocation and Audi UK has sold the lot. Apparently, the rest of the world is more discerning: there are still some of the 100 worldwide production slots available if you want?

With all this cynical marketing still ringing in my ears, I took off in the TT RS Iconic Edition feeling a bit miffed. That didn’t last long, though. Why? Because despite all the plastic frippery, the fundaments are still fab. I was driving it near Seville – funnily enough, along many of the same roads I drove the Ferrari 296 GTB on back in February. Even in that illustrious company, I think the TT acquits itself well. Not as quick, obviously, but still bloody fast and therefore fast enough. And here’s the clincher: arguably that 2.5-litre five-cylinder sounds better than Ferrari’s 2.9-litre V6 when you wind it up.

It's not all about the engine, though. As I’ve said, there’s a strong chassis underneath you as well. The damping really is teetering on the verge of exquisite. It’s adjustable, of course, but most of the time the softest setting is perfect. If you require a more belt-and-braces approach – over a decidedly awkward stretch of road, say – the firmest setting has you covered, and even then it's not rock hard. Then there’s the steering. Anyone who tells you that all Audis are anodyne is a nitwit. They’re not all great, of course, but in the EPAS era Audi has really shone, with way more hits than misses. The TT is one of the former. It steers beautifully, and one of the Iconic Edition’s good additions is its Alcantara steering wheel. The synthetic suede feels great to hold and it’s just the right thickness. It also sparkles away in the palm of your hands, even in a straight line, and, when you keep it in the lightest of the three settings available, it’s delicately weighted, too. I mentioned earlier that the TT isn’t a rear-wheel-drive slider, but the TT RS does go sideways. It’ll do so off the throttle – in a predictable and useful way that rotates the car into a corner – plus it’ll do it with a bit more flamboyance on the way out in the right circumstances.

The TT RS is a great grand tourer, too. The five-pot is a touch laggy low down, which actually makes it a bit more interesting to drive, but there’s still plenty of torque to make leisurely drives relaxing. And at high speed, there’s much less road noise than you get in any of Stuttgart's sports cars, with very little wind noise as well. As I said, this was from an era when Audi had money and, to its credit, when you spend time in a TT you realise that it spent it on the things that mattered. The TT’s even practical. Did you know, for instance, that if you lay the back seats down you can fit a bike in the back when you remove the front wheel? Come on, that's impressive for small coupé. Not that I ride bikes, mind, but the good news is it’ll fit other things as well.

None of that makes a TT worth nearly £90,000, of course. Not long ago that was R8 money, and the TT – as good as it is – isn’t a supercar. It was always meant to be the smart sports car for the masses, only now the masses have moved on. Left behind this proper little sports car in favour of some fake, plastic-clad SUV. Such a shame. Especially because I could get my head around paying £60,000 for a regular TT RS. Driving this one reminded me just how good the TT RS is, and so is the entry-level car at £34,000 for that matter. I'd pay that for one of those without a second thought. Wouldn't you? If so, here's a cheery note to end on: you still can. Both those models continue on, for now. So whether you're handy with a pair of scissors, or shouldn't be let loose with them, I'd snap up a TT before it’s too late.


Specification | 2022 Audi TT RS Iconic Edition

Engine: 2,480cc, five-cylinder, turbocharged
Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch auto, four-wheel drive
Power (hp): 400 @ 5,850-7,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 354 @ 1,950-5,850rpm
0-62mph: 3.7 seconds
Top speed: 174mph
Weight: 1,475kg
MPG: 31.0 (WLTP)
CO2: 207g/km (WLTP)
Price: £87,000

Author
Discussion

GreatScott2016

Original Poster:

440 posts

72 months

Friday 25th November
quotequote all
Always thought these things looked odd but no denying that engine!

Edited by GreatScott2016 on Friday 25th November 04:35

EmailAddress

9,075 posts

202 months

Friday 25th November
quotequote all
They always remind me of having jelly for tea as a nipper.


Orchardab

214 posts

110 months

Friday 25th November
quotequote all
Looks a bit odd with all of them plastic extras.
Will probably be a mega drive though.

VR6 Eug

452 posts

183 months

Friday 25th November
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The TT is a modern day Ford Capri.

stavr0ss

127 posts

112 months

Friday 25th November
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I’ve got a soft spot for the TT, considered buying a mk2 V6 manual about a decade ago, but I can’t imagine spending almost £87 on this, especially in a world that includes alpine, and where a zero options base 911 is £89k…

Mysstree

310 posts

30 months

Friday 25th November
quotequote all
Often considered one but never sure on the looks. The high window line and low roof line gives very little glass side on, it just looks bulky rather than a svelte sports car.
Having had an A1 and A3 which were nicely built, relatively quick but awful steering, it was the Audi dealership that i found most frustrating along with the high cost of everything.
I would still consider a TTS but there’s always a Cayman on the horizon albeit a lot more expensive for a same year model.

soad

31,686 posts

160 months

Friday 25th November
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I like these, call it a guilty pleasure. hehe

F20CN16

10,550 posts

182 months

Friday 25th November
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The mk1 is iconic. The others, not really.

biggbn

16,305 posts

204 months

Friday 25th November
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Love that, what a machine

bencollins4

794 posts

190 months

Friday 25th November
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Erm….718 GT4 for that money please. Or base 911 if tiny rear seats required.

Loved the original - saw one just after launch and it looked like some sort of space ship in 1999! Shame it didn’t drive as good as it looked.

Pflanzgarten

1,476 posts

9 months

Friday 25th November
quotequote all
The success of the TT was down to the same as the 911, the tiny but useful back seats. Any aspirational buyer could swing it as being potentially practical for the few times you needed to carry passengers/little people.

Obviously it had to be beautiful as well (which it was).

My old boss had one (ironically a hairdresser) and I used to borrow it for work, keeping an eye on his other businesses. It's still the only car I've ever driven that gave me back ache-the seats were awful.

It did genuinely feel like driving something special back then, his was one of the first. Someone else in town had a launch spec Boxster in silver with boxster leather, it looked even more special but the TT the cooler of the two.

coppice

7,611 posts

128 months

Friday 25th November
quotequote all
F20CN16 said:
The mk1 is iconic. The others, not really.
The most over used word in the car world (and many others )- but the sublime first TT might just merit icon status , I think. All its successors have done , in styling terms , is to dilute and corrupt the purity of the original . But I guess that is what car buyers want - this year's model , visually as well as mechanically .

Other parodies of iconic originals included the silly Mini 1275GT , the increasingly porcine and scrappy looks of the MINI and 911 and the obese and fussy looking E-Type V12.

dxg

6,982 posts

244 months

Friday 25th November
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£90k!!!!!!!!! (At least, after options).

Good Lord.

dimots

2,244 posts

74 months

Friday 25th November
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This could have been great. Taking influence from the 911 gt3 touring or 911 Sport Classic and making a hot version with classic TT styling touches - Baseball leather, flat spoke alloys, integrated duck tail spoiler - would have been lovely. Preferably in orange yellow or blue…not a glossy grey techno paint.

CoolHands

16,122 posts

179 months

Friday 25th November
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It seems that virtually every petrol model from every manufacturer is going to have various exclusive run out models at exorbitant prices until we’re finally fully ev.

Court_S

9,239 posts

161 months

Friday 25th November
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I really like the MkI TT. It was a striking car when first released.

Never liked the second generation at all. It was just a bit blobby.

The third generation is pretty smart though and I love the 2.5 five pot. It’s a great engine which makes a fab noise. I’d struggle to drop that much on one though and the stick on bits are a bit OTT.

Overall it’s a shame that small couples are falling by the wayside in favour of SUV’s.

biggles330d

1,184 posts

134 months

Friday 25th November
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We've had several TT's, Mk 2 and Mk 3 and all diesels. As a solid and well engineered thing they have been great, their compact size is useful but the hatch is practical, I think they are sharp looking and really made of great materials - particularly the Mk 3. Have to say though, if you could get all of those solid fundamentals for under £40k in the diesel, Audi are pulling pants down to want £90k for this edition. I haven't driven a TTRS but struggle with the idea it's got £50k + worth of engine and suspension fitted in it.


cerb4.5lee

24,942 posts

164 months

Friday 25th November
quotequote all
Court_S said:
I really like the MkI TT. It was a striking car when first released.

Never liked the second generation at all. It was just a bit blobby.

The third generation is pretty smart though and I love the 2.5 five pot. It’s a great engine which makes a fab noise. I’d struggle to drop that much on one though and the stick on bits are a bit OTT.

Overall it’s a shame that small couples are falling by the wayside in favour of SUV’s.
This is how I feel about them too. I've always liked the Mk1 and I've driven the V6 and 225bhp 4 cylinder versions. The third gen is my favourite to look at out of all of them, plus who doesn't like the 2.5 turbo 5 cylinder engine?!

Had a Mk2 TTS brand new back in 2012 and there were lots that I liked about it(performance/size/weight/nimbleness), but I struggled to get on with the overly light steering and its tendency to understeer though. However it was lovely to sit in/live with. Covered 67k miles in it(it was kept standard because of the warranty), but for some odd reason the engine felt like it was starting to really feel those miles though(especially in comparison to other engines I'd experienced).

So it was moved on for a F13 640d after that, and because the engine didn't feel very durable for such a new car it has put my missus right off Audis now, but I'd still be happy to gamble on a TTRS though! driving

Some pics. smile





Edited by cerb4.5lee on Friday 25th November 08:50

Wab1974uk

460 posts

11 months

Friday 25th November
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I've always liked the TT, but never owned one. Always needing more seats for a daily, yet it was never special enough for a weekend toy.

The TT has always had the best interiors of any car on sale IMHO.

The TT-RS was the car that killed off the V8 R8, as it was much quicker.

£90k for this is just silly though. Who is going to pay that?

Mark-C

3,878 posts

189 months

Friday 25th November
quotequote all
F20CN16 said:
The mk1 is iconic. The others, not really.
This ...