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History of the Audi TT

Ever since the Audi TT coupe first went on sale back in 1999, Audi’s TT has been an extremely popular car. And as a nation, we can’t get enough of it - we buy more TTs than any other country! Let’s take a look at the history of the Audi TT…

California dreaming

The distinctive looking style was first dreamt up in 1994 at the Volkswagen Group Design Centre in California. There was enough of a good idea to show it as a concept car the next year at the Frankfurt Motor Show where design was credited to J Mays and Freeman Thomas.

They clearly knew their stuff; J went on to become Group Vice President of Global Design and Chief Creative Officer at Ford Motor Company and Freeman has since designed cars for Porsche, Volkswagen Group, DaimlerChrysler and Ford.

You name it

The Audi TT name is inspired by the British Isle of Man Tourist Trophy (TT) motorcycle race. This is likely because NSU competed in the TT back in 1911, NSU later merged and the resulting company was Audi! Some also say the TT name has been attributed to the phrase “Technology & Tradition”.

Rocky start

The production model was launched as a Coupe in 1998 and then followed in 1999 by a Roadster. But unfortunately for Audi, the early TT models gained press coverage following several high speed accidents in Europe. The crashes occurred at speeds of over 110 mph when the vehicles encountered sharp turns or quick lane changes.

Both the coupe and roadster models were recalled and subject to rigorous testing and changes. The changes included Audi’s Electronic Stability Programme, a rear spoiler and various suspension modifications. These changes were kept in place for all future TT versions.

Refining

Even once the major issues were fixed, the TT has undergone plenty of changes in the name of improved performance.

In 2000 Audi released two different versions: the base model and the Quattro. They were largely identical, except the Quattro featured some nifty little extras including an all-wheel drive and a rear-wheel ABS.

In 2003 Audi decided to offer a version with automatic transmission. This wasn’t available on all models, just front-wheel drive models.

Audi have also created several special editions of the TT, often featuring cosmetic differences that set them apart from the standard models. In 2006 the Tourist Trophy race was celebrating its 99th race, so Audi released the 2006 SE to celebrate it.

A good sport

It’s not an entirely consumer life for the Audi TT! The Istook’s Motorsports team entered an Audi TT in the Grand-Am KONI Sports Car Challenge Street Tuner Class and in 2009 an Audi TT RS was used in the 24 Hours of Le Mans race (albeit it as a safety car).

The current situation

Audi revealed the third generation TT at the Geneva Motor Show 2014, the model uses the Volkswagen Group MQB platform and is available with a choice of either TFSI or TDI engine. As for the design, it successful blends the iconic original with the sporty second generation model. 

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published: 15/12/2015 09:10:08

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