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!

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