23 July 2022

More than an old car #196: Audi TT

Through my time in spotting old cars, I have noted that Audis tend not to be that popular among classic car enthusiasts. I am not privy to the opinions of why this is so, and thus being able to see this 2000 Audi TT Roadster (8N) was a really nice treat!

Development of the TT began back in 1994 at the VW Group Design Centre in California, helmed by Peter Schreyer. Inspired by the Bauhaus design philosophy of 'form follows function', it featured simple geometric shapes without elaborate decorations and a minimalist interior. The overall product was something simple yet pleasing to the eye, and it was even recognised as one of the most influential automotive designs in recent times. 

A prototype coupe was exhibited at the International Motor Show at Frankurt in 1995, followed by a roadster variant. The positive reception from the public led Audi to develop the prototype with only minor changes. It used the VW Golf Mark IV platform as a cost-saving measure and was officially launched in 1998, with the roadster appearing a year later. Its name is taken from the successful motor racing tradition of NSU in the British Isle of Man TT (Tourist Trophy) motorcycle race: NSU was merged into the company known as Audi today. Another interpretation of TT was proposed to stand for 'Technology and Tradition'.

Despite the relatively small size of the car, the cockpit was comfortable enough for the front passengers. All the TTs were made in the Gyor plant in Hungary: its chassis number begins with T instead of W (for Germany). Early TT models received much press coverage following a series of high-speed accidents during abrupt lane changes or sharp turns. Furthermore, there was a tendency for the rear wishbones to break and this led Audi to recall all units in 1999. They were subsequently fitted with a rear spoiler, electronic stability program and a better suspension system which was made standard for future units. 

The TT was facelifted in 2000 with changes such as a different bumper. A larger 3.2 litre engine was also available in 2003 and power outputs were also increased for the existing ones. Initially available only in manual transmission, an automatic version was made available in 2003. In 2005, a limited-edition model known as the TT quattro Sport with a two-tone colour scheme and weight-saving measures was also released.

The TT Roadster was powered by a 1781 cc 20-valve turbocharged i4 engine, allowing it to reach a top speed of 214 km/h with an acceleration of 8.9 seconds [0-100 km/h]. With dimensions of 4041 x 1764 x 1349 mm and weighing in at 1335 kg, it could still pack a punch despite being on the heavier side. Its fuel consumption of 8.2 litres / 100 km was a respectable figure among its competitors.

Production of the first-generation TT ended in 2006 where it was replaced by the 8J generation. TTs were first sold here by Premium Automobiles in 2000, retailing at a rather steep S$200,000 with COE included. About 5 units still remain on the road and this roadster is believed to be the only one left. Despite its age, it retains a modern look with its curves. While it may not be easy to identify it as a classic car, there is something about its design that establishes its age. 

As of the time of writing, this car is currently for sale at S$83,000 with about 8 years left to its current lifespan. This would be an interesting choice to stand out from the usual classics on the road, and perhaps you may be the lucky owner to preserve a piece of our automotive heritage for others!

10 July 2022

More than an old car #195: Toyota Corolla Spacio

Family-friendly cars have always been a top favourite among car owners, as circumstances dictate the need to transport children, pets and groceries alike. While multi-purpose vehicles (MPVs) remain firmly in the public consciousness, you would be forgiven for not knowing that this 1998 Toyota Corolla Spacio was an ancestor of your slick MPV today...

Introduced in 1997, the Spacio was a compact minivan version of the E110 Corolla. It stood out from the other Corolla variants because of its curved shape, and it was the only one fitted with a digital speedometer. Its name is a variation of the Italian word 'spazio', which means 'space'. 

Different seat layouts were available along with trims such as Standard, L Package, G Package and Black Sports Package. A facelift in 1999 saw changes such as a front spoiler and a separate tachometer, and an 'aero tourer' version fitted with an aero kit was also available.

The Spacio was powered by a 1587 cc 4A-FE i4 engine. With dimensions of 4135 x 1690 x 1620 mm and weighing in at 1190 kg, it was on the heavier side but it could sit up to 6 adults depending on the seat configuration.

Production of the 1st-generation Spacio ended in 2001 where it was replaced by the E120 version. Interestingly, this is 1 of 2 that still exists here (at the time of writing): it was not a popular car when new and it is amazing to know that 2 people have still decided to hold on to this relative obscurity. Spacios were sold here by Borneo Motors, the official Toyota dealer in 1998, and retailed for $97,998 for the 5-seater variant. 

This particular unit is noted to have a lifespan of up till 2023, where it has to be scrapped or exported after that. While it may have been pretty unknown even when it was around, I hope that this may be something new you have learnt today...hopefully you will be able to see it before it's gone!