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.