In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the Audi TT was untouchable. There was nothing on the road quite like it, with its beautiful, extremely curvy profile, optional all-wheel drive, and tiny proportions. More recent iterations of the TT haven’t quite been as legendary, and sales have been waning. Now, in a recent interview with Autocar, Audi’s CEO Bram Schot implied that the car may be on the chopping block. And that’s sad.
Though I own a bunch of Jeeps these days, and even went into engineering so I could design Jeeps, the first car I ever loved was, in fact, not a Jeep: it was the first-generation Audi TT.
Growing up in Germany in the early 2000s, it was impossible not to love the thing, as, at the time, it was one of the hottest cars on the road, with its beautiful fastback profile (or the convertible with the sweet roll hoops), lovely round front and rear fascias, big silver gas filler door, and an overall appearance that exuded style and fun.
I used to take photos of TTs with my disposable camera from the back seat of my family’s Chevy Astro van. If I had to guess, I probably took over a hundred snaps of Audi’s little sports car over a two years span between 2000 and 2002. I recall my dad asking a gentleman at a gas station if I could sit in his TT; the owner said yes, but I was too nervous, so I looked at the interior from the outside. I remember the shiny silver pedals. In my eyes, the car was perfect.
Anyway, back to the news. Here’s what Audi’s CEO Bram Schot told Autocar when asked if the once-beloved TT would live on:
“That’s a very good question. I think there’s a future for an [Audi] icon but I don’t know if it’s a TT. My heart bleeds when you ask that question!”
“I’ve got some things cooking which could replace TT, though not necessarily directly.”
He then told the car website about how Audi is focusing on electrification, which requires some heavy investment. “I cannot afford to be in every country, in every segment,” he said.
A new, refreshed Audi TT showed its face last year, and Autocar says it’s expected to stick around until 2022. After that, who knows. But there have been some rumors floating around about the TT reinventing itself as a four-door.
In some ways, that’s blasphemy, but at the same time, I’m not sure the TT has ever lived up to the standard set by the first generation, even if it’s improved in many quantifiable ways (like handling and power). As my boss Patrick put it in his article, the value really isn’t there:
There’s also the issue of price and performance. The last TT I reviewed was $50,650, and it was nice and very fun to drive, but a lot to ask for a four-cylinder car with Volkswagen Golf underpinnings. The five-cylinder TT RS is a far more compelling proposition, but in general there are much better deals to be had elsewhere. The TT also has never looked as good as the one that debuted in the late 1990s, a design I consider to be among the all-time greats.
It’s sad to lose a stylish little sports car, but at the same time, Craigslist is ripe with cheap first-gen TTs. And let’s be honest, that’s the TT you want, anyway.