14 Nov 2014

Has The Audi TT Mk1 Finally Become Acceptable To Petrolheads?

For too long the Audi TT has been maligned as a hairdressers car or a Mk4 Golf in fancy clothes but it finally seems to have come of age

Audi TT Mk1 3.2 V6

Clarkson did one of his typical hatchet jobs when he reviewed the TT V6. If he doesn't like a car he'll find some reason to trash it, and this he did with the TT, understeering it round the Top Gear test track and spending half the review deciding what to wear.

And in typical fashion that set the standard. Car enthusiasts said the TT was rubbish. So it was, wasn't it?

Well, no it wasn't. OK in standard form with 150bhp and front wheel drive it didn't have a great deal going for it aside from its looks (which still look fresh 16 years later) but with quattro four wheel drive and either 225bhp 1.8T or 250bhp V6 the TT is a fantastic car. And any car will understeer at the TGTT if the driver wants it to - I know I've driven it.

But nobody knew because Uncle Jezza said it was a car for people who don't like cars.

The TT has several things going for it.

It was launched in 1998 but looks great inside and out even today, in fact the design influenced Audi for years and some Audis still carry design cues from the Mk1 TT. The engines are all good, even that 150bhp 1.8T is reasonably lively.  The interior is practical, it has +2 rear seats and a large hatchback boot. It has four wheel drive which makes for supreme grip in all weathers.

It has all the toys you'd expect from a premium car. It is so well built it doesn't often go wrong and it has no (OK, well one*) inherent faults. It is based on a VW chassis and has VW engines so parts are cheap. And it's bloody fast.

The TT doesn't have the steering feel of a Porsche Boxster of the same era but then again it doesn't have the same catastrophic engine problems the Boxster does.

So why is the TT coming back into fashion? Why are people saying they secretly liked TTs all along?

Nowadays you can buy a TT 225 for £2,000. That is within the budget of a motoring journalist, amongst the least well paid of professions. But a very influential bunch of people.

I've seen at least five car journos openly discussing Mk1 TTs on social media or magazine blogs, talking about how they'd like the special edition TT Sport but can't stretch to that so a 225 will do instead, or even a V6 but you'll need to shell out around £5k for a decent one.

This chatter spreads, to forums, to car enthusiasts on Twitter and Facebook and now everyone likes TTs.

It also helps that the TT Mk3 is getting such good reviews. Good news filters down.

The Audi TT Mk1 has finally come of age. No longer is it for hairdressers and women. People have realised, 16 years after it first went on sale that the Audi TT is a damn fine sports/GT car you can drive every day of the year - and therefore doesn't need to be kept just as a second car for the summer months.

Someone who's known this for years is Speedmonkey's Col - my brother. He had a 225 in 2005 and bought a TT V6 last year.

I liked it so much I bought one myself.  I've written about it several times in my 'fleet' updates.

The moral of the story is that you shouldn't always listen to what others are saying. Some journalists write bullshit reviews and, as they're only human, they are sometimes influenced by what others are saying.

The TT was always a good car, it's just that no-one was brave enough to say so.

Audi TT Shootout – Mk1 3.2 V6 vs Mk2 2.5 RS

* the one inherent fault in the TT Mk1 is the DSG gearbox. Not many last beyond 100,000 miles without some expensive fault. The 6-speed manual is excellent though, and reliable.
@SpeedmonkeyCol with his and my TT V6s

By Matt Hubbard