« Back
Group Icons

The Audi TT MK1

The Audi TT MK1

An icon: a symbol of innovation and creativity that resonates with its audience.

It’s certainly a fitting description for the Audi TT, and we can throw in revered and adored for good measure.

It’s why when our guest contributor Jack was asked to pick his Group Icon, he could have scarcely made a better choice to get this feature off the starting line.

But what is it that makes this cool coupe such an iconic vehicle? Well as Jack says, “it was a head turning car that got people talking.”

It certainly achieved that when first launched back in 1998. Designed by the Volkswagen Design Group in California, it was first shown in 1995 as a concept car at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Roll on three years and the concept car was made real as it moved into production with only minimal deviation from its original form.

The Audi TT was the rarest of automotive ideations – a mechanical and design vision that retained all the beauty of its original beholder. It was the show stopper that actually translated into showrooms.

There are many reasons for its appeal. Much of it comes from the way Audi mixed its retro-styled aluminium body with proven Volkswagen sourced mechanicals.

Sitting on a Golf Mk4 platform, it was powered by a choice of 1.8 litre turbocharged petrol engines, with 180bhp and 225bhp versions both available. It had good outright pace and was certainly nippy enough to live up to its TT moniker – a tribute to NSU’s Tourist Trophy racing pedigree.

Mechanically, the standout features that helped mark it out from the crowd were the Quattro four-wheel drive system and its dual clutch six-speed Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG). First made available in 2003 in the 3.2 litre VR6 addition to the range, the DSG took the TT to a whole new level, offering lightning fast gear changes and acceleration. Stunning looks on the outside were matched on the inside, with design touches and flourishes that exuded quality and finesse. The baseball glove stitching on the seats was among the stand-out features.

With accolades that included ‘What Car? Coupe of the Year’ for five consecutive years, the Audi TT Mk1 has truly earned its place in the automotive hall of fame.

As Jack says, “it was an aspirational car, a cool, funky machine that people noticed.” Well it certainly made people take notice 20 years ago and has been doing the same ever since. In fact, you could say it’s the stuff that icons are made of.

Jack Lankester-Bell, Vindis Group Head of Business, and former TPS Cambridge Centre Manager, is our first guest contributor to choose a Volkswagen Group Icon. Jack has selected the Audi TT Mk1 – a car celebrating its 20-year anniversary this year and still looking as good as ever.

Utilising Audi’s classic Quattro technology, the four-wheel drive system delivers enhanced acceleration, cornering, and stability, particularly in cold and wet conditions.

An array of finessed finishing touches include baseball glove stitching in the seats, a small silver metallic short shift gear stick and silver chrome dashboard.

Framed in an aluminium body, meaning no rust, that boasts sleek and sporting curves and with a well-protected underside that minimises corrosion issues.

Along with the slightly reprofiled bumpers, the rear quarterlight windows behind the doors were the only features added to the car from the original design.

First introduced on the 3.2 litre V6 version, the dual clutch six-speed DSG offered on the UK variants was the world’s first dual clutch transmission configured for a right hand drive vehicle.

It’s based on the Volkswagen Group A4 platform as used for the Volkswagen Golf Mk4, the original Audi A3, Škoda Octavia and others.