Normally the Audi TT has never been associated with proper car people. Utterly gorgeous for sure it is characterized by a unique styling that made it one of the most desirable cars from Ingolstadt to date. Needless to say it: when it was presented to the public in 1998, it looked like the best part of the Noughties. It was a sporty coupè that looked like a breath of fresh air from Audi that took the world by storm. Small, compact and interesting under every angle, the TT 8N (also knowns as MkI) was as cool and as fresh as a German car could get.
Despite the massive success and the sales record, it never quite cut it with car enthusiasts: it looked good but has never felt like a proper sportscar. Its bland character on the road and the fact that it also offered with TDI engines and front wheel drive, made it feel exactly like every other German utility vehicle. Despite its gorgeous appearance, it never showed a real sporty attitude: even the more desirable 1.8T and 3.2 V6 Quattro AWD versions, which were all predominantly front-wheel drive oriented, never shown a proper “driver’s car” attitude.
Sad though, especially when you have a car with that unique cab-forward styling that looks much better than it drives. Its gentle rounded shape looked like a re-interpretation of the wonderful and interesting Quattro Spyder and the Avus Concept cars, which were presented at the 1991 Frankfurt Auto Show. The success of the TT was simply because it looked like the brain-child of these two cars that you could buy and drive every day. It also came out in a very good period for Audi, as the R8R, the first of the successful LMP1 cars, was beginning the Marque’s successful history in endurance racing.
The TT has always been an excellent 2+2 daily driver, but its “algid” behaviour between corners, not-so-great aerodynamics and high price tag made it an easy target for almost any other car of its segment. Feeling like no different than a shortened Golf, it was perfect for those who wanted sportiness but had no interest whatsoever in automobiles.
For us petrolheads, it never seemed that the there was a TT model that could satisfy our lust for “great drives”…or was it? Unknown to many, the Quattro Sport Edition could be it. Unknown to many and incredibly rare to find in LHD form, it was 75 kg lighter than the regular 1.8 T and it came clad with the V6’s gorgeous wide-body kit. Also, it was developed by Quattro Gmbh’s and assembled at their facility, making it a related cousin of the original 2007 R8. Its turbocharged engine was tuned to produce 240 hp and the car’s handling benefited from stiffer suspension and anti-roll bars. The two-tone color options were Avus Grey and Misano Red with Phantom Black roof, which increased the dynamic looks of the car. The interior equipped with a pair of wonderful RECARO bucket seats, plenty of Alcantara and leather and a roll bar at the rear induces you to think that this is a more serious TT.
How is it to drive? Feels like an Audi on steroids for sure, but the less weight makes it more interesting on the road. Still, you cannot turn off the traction control completely, so you still cannot take advantage of the playfulness of the chassis 100%. The behaviour is unmistakeably of a Quattro equipped car, with a pronounced front-end push as soon as you step early on the throtte. Still it is great in fast direction changes, well planted, precise and ultimately…more fun than a regular TT! There’s a certain numbness in the steering wheel, but that was expected: sadly, all Audis seem to have the same Achille’s heel. Nevertheless, it’s quite a remarkable little automobile that makes you think that sometimes enthusiasm can be found also in Ingolstadt. Still not entirely 100% of what we all would like, but definitely a car that will make you forget about the “hairdresser car” definition for a while.
Also, it’s a pretty interesting buy if you’re considering a fun contemporary motorcar that is completely away from the spotlight.
Many thanks to “Premoli Automobiles“