With show car looks underpinned by proven Volkswagen Golf mechanicals, the original Audi TT is a canny used buy
7 November 2016

Only a few concept cars keep their looks into production after the market researchers and accountants have done their worst. The Audi TT Mk 1 (1999 to 2006) is one of them. It emerged blinking into the daylight in coupé form pretty much as motor show goers remembered it and was an instant hit.

Its secret was the way Audi blended the TT’s retro-styled aluminium body with proven Volkswagen Golf-sourced mechanicals. It sat on the Golf Mk4 platform and was powered by a choice of 1.8-litre turbocharged petrol engines, badged 180 and 225 in PS-speak (178bhp and 222bhp). Both were quattro four-wheel drive.

The quattro’s intelligent Haldex coupling feeds power to the rear wheels only in extremis so the TT is a front-driver in most conditions, which means it’s grippy, generally predictable and doesn’t trash tyres.

Depending on the model, gearboxes were a five or six-speed manual or a Tiptronic auto, with 0-62mph times ranging from 6.4sec to 8.1sec and economy hovering around the early 30s to the gallon.

A series of high-speed crashes soon after launch prompted Audi to recall cars to have ESP and a rear spoiler fitted. In addition to that first update, cars built between 1999 and 2000 were recalled for possible seizure of the rear axle ball joints.

In 2001 the Roadster, in 180 and 225 quattro forms, arrived. The next big moment in TT history was the launch in 2003 of the 247bhp 3.2 VR6 quattro Coupé and Roadster. It came with the Volkswagen Group’s radical new DSG dual-clutch automatic gearbox, which changed gears at lightning speed. The following year a six-speed manual was offered. With both ’boxes, 0-62mph took a shade over six seconds but, more important, the TT had grown into a genuine, long-distance GT car.

Unfortunately, that couldn’t be said of the cut-price, underpowered 148bhp (150PS) front-drive Roadster that arrived around the same time. The next year, another front-driver appeared in the shape of the wellequipped (Alcantara, no less) 180.

Was the TT going soft? Fortunately, not. In 2005, the 237bhp quattro Sport hove into view, shorn of the token rear seats and with two lightweight Recaros in the front. Distinguished by its two-tone body, it blitzed the 0-62mph dash in 5.7sec. Only around 800 made it to the UK, and if any TT has ‘future classic’ written on it, it is this. From 2005, the 150’s power was tweaked to 161bhp (163PS) and the 180’s to 187bhp (190PS). At the same time, the 225 bit the dust, leaving the VR6 and the Sport to fly the performance flag.

Standard equipment throughout the TT’s life included alloy wheels, cloth trim (partial leather on some), traction control, air conditioning and sports seats. Leather was the most common upgrade.

The Mk1 TT is tough and timeless and, with so many crowding the used car market at bargain prices, there’s never been a better time to buy one.

An expert’s view...

MARK MCMANUS, MDM TECHNIK

“I’ve been working on TTs since 2000, when I started out as an apprentice Audi technician. They’re bulletproof. There’s a W-reg TT 225 with 170k miles for £1250 in the classifieds at the moment. If I had a use for it, I’d buy it. The TT is tough and rust-resistant and fairly simple. It’s a heavy car, though, and hard on the suspension, so expect the front wishbones and anti-roll bar to need replacing at around 60,000 miles. My favourite TT is the 237bhp quattro Sport. Expect to pay around £6000 for a good one.”

Audi TT problems - buyer beware…

BODY

It’s aluminium so rust isn’t an issue, but damage is expensive to repair. The underside is so well protected that corrosion isn’t a problem there, either.

ENGINE

It’s strong but check it has been fed a diet of Castrol fully synthetic 5W-30. Look for oil leaks from the cam cover gasket and timing chain tensioner gasket. The cambelt needs changing at six years or 60k miles. The water pump should be changed at the same time.

GEARBOX

Manuals are tough and clutches last up to 100k miles. DSG ’box needs an oil and filter change every 40k miles.

TRANSMISSION

Haldex four-wheel drive system needs an oil change every 20k miles.

SUSPENSION

At 100k miles, expect leaky shocks, broken springs and anti-roll bar collars, and perished front and rear bushes. Even a low-mileage one might need work. Few aftermarket bits are available so you’re looking at OE prices.

TYRES

The TT is quite light on rubber.

INTERIOR

The firm suspension causes rattles and squeaks. The fuel gauge can fail — the needle often packs up at the quarter-full mark. You can get the instrument cluster refurbished. 

ELECTRICS

No real issues save for occasional window motor problems.

Also worth knowing...

Regardless of your TT’s age but so long as it has done fewer than 100k miles, you can buy a 12-month Audi warranty at audi-extended-warranty. co.uk. Enter the car’s age and current and forecast mileage, choose ‘all’ or ‘selected’ component cover and your excess. A 2005, 55-reg 1.8T TT with 84k miles is £998, or £83 per month (all component cover, 10k miles per year, £250 excess).

Audi TT prices - how much to spend...

£1000-£2499

Mainly 1.8 T 180s (but some 225s) from 1999 to 2002 with up to 180k miles.

£2500-£3499

Some cheap high-mile 2003-2004 225bhp cars plus low-mileage early TTs, such as £2995 for an X-reg Roadster with 64k miles. Clean 2004 150bhp cars, too.

£3500 -£4499

Very tidy 1.8T 180s and tidy 225s with fair mileage on 03 to 05-plates. £4500 -£5500 Lots of tidy 55 and 06-plate 180s and 190s, very tidy 225bhp cars on 04-05-plates and nice but leggy V6s.

John Evans

Check out some used examples of the Audi TT here at Piston Heads Classifieds

Our Verdict

The third generation Audi TT
The first generation Audi TT was launched in 1998

Can the juggernaut sports coupé roll on to even greater success?

Join the debate

Comments
9

7 November 2016
Especially as they all seemed to be silver. I see an immaculate early TT that's like a light primer grey colour complete with the baseball glove interior from time to time. That looks cool.

7 November 2016
So the TT is bullet proof. Apart from shocks, whishbones, most of the suspension and although it not mentioned here the well known dash pod issue.

TTs are well known for expensive coil pack issues as well.

Personally I would be interested in a cheap TT as a 'fun' garage car but I think your piece need to be tempered with 'some are bullet proof but buy carefully or face big bills. And your roadster is likely to leak'

7 November 2016
As a former owner I miss my mk1 tt (a 225) in which I covered 100k in 5 years . It's almost certainly a 100% guaranteed future classic with those looks and that fab interior. Having said that I spent £6k in running repairs over that 5 years , as Jon says the suspension was very fragile , all the electrics were iffy and my dash pod failed. The performance dropped off on my one at the end (mass air flow switch I think) and the last straw was having to spend a thousand on all new brake pipes. The handling was a bit iffy too , the old style Quattro was slow to transfer power , my golf diesel is much safer and more predictable. Having said all that I miss it, that cockpit alone is a very special place to sit , the sport is definitely the one to go for if 2 seats is all you need. I had a shot of a dog 3.2 but that felt much heavier and oddly slower than my 225.

7 November 2016
The TT was and still is one of my favourite cars of all time, 4 wheel drive, fast, affordable, still modern looking. As for reliability just look how many 15 year old ones are still used day to day (they appear rust free) and shine like new. Check ebay out non-believers and you're see usable ones with 150,000 miles and the most I've seen is 210,000 miles.
Mark of a CLASSIC, If you'd brought one new 16 years ago and kept this icon you'd have had a great car for less money than several secondhand Corsa VXR's and Fiesta XR's over the same period. Wish I'd done it.

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

7 November 2016
. Look for oil leaks from the cam cover gasket and timing chain tensioner gasket. The cambelt needs changing at six years or 60k miles. The water pump should be changed at the same time.

Does it have a timing chain or belt?

It is definitely a modern classic, I wouldn't mind one but having read so many horror stories regarding expensive repairs I doubt I could afford it, another classic case of affordable to buy but not necessarily to run, shame as now is the time to snap up a good one as they will start disappearing as people buy them and let them perish due to the expensive maintenance meaning there will soon be fewer about and prices will climb.

7 November 2016
Had a brand new 225 back in 1999 (V) and ran it for 4 1/2 years - turned out to be the most unreliable car I'd ever had. Warranty issues - 2 cracked windscreens (body flex, not chips or impacts), faulty rear wheel bearing, faulty air mass meter (causing over fueling and rough running), faulty reader coil on immobiliser (left me stranded 3 effing times), intermit fuel guage (never reported) and mottled wheel centre caps on alloy wheels. And in the middle of all this it went back to Germany for the rear spoiler and suspension mod (which it definitely needed - I nearly lost the thing on the A46). And just as I was selling it the drivers window refused to drive up into it's seal when closing the door. And they call JLR......

7 November 2016
I like these, the interiors are great, it would suit my needs, but I daren't buy one. Every other article I read on used TTs (Honest John for example) lists a string of well-known reliability issues, all of which seem to cost a small fortune to rectify. Anything but 'bullet-proof' appears to be the common consensus.

Wide cars in a world of narrow.

7 November 2016
"Manuals are tough..." Really??
Google '02M gearbox faults, problems' and see what appears.
In its infinite wisdom / Mk4 Golf cost-cutting era - the TT uses the Mk4 platform - VW decided to *rivet* the 1st-to-2nd-gear selector forks, rather than go to the epic expense of a Nylock nut 'n' bolt.
Consequently, the forks detach and fall into cogs, with the obvious consequence of a costly rebuild.
Coil packs will give no problems if the OE spec items have been replaced by latest spec supplied from a VW Group dealer.
Interesting article, shame about the lack of research.

9 November 2016
Shame on you Autocar!

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