Audis sports car debuted in the spring of 1999 as a front-drive, four-seat coupe. In the spring of 2001, a two-seat roadster, a more potent engine and all-wheel drive join the coupe. Audi is the luxury division of Volkswagen, and the TT is based on the design used for the New Beetle, Jetta, Golf and the Audi A4, though it sports unique rounded styling.
Most Audi dealers have waiting lists for the TT, especially the new roadster and all-wheel-drive versions, which are 2001 models.
The attention-grabbing round shape of the TT carries the basic styling themes of Audis sedans to an extreme, with the only straight lines found along the sides between the front and rear wheels.
A manual soft-top that stows behind the seats and has a glass rear window with defogger is standard on the roadster, and a power top is optional on the front-drive version. A power glass windbreak shaped like the roll bars behind the seats raises when the top is down to reduce turbulence in the interior.
Substantial body English is required to negotiate the sloping roof pillars of the coupe and drop into the low-mounted seats. The rear seat is a token gesture not a serious attempt to accommodate passengers and the interior has a cramped, claustrophobic feel.
The dashboard is dominated by circular shapes and is a blend of contemporary and art-deco design elements. Leather upholstery is standard on all models. Optional on the roadster is red amber leather upholstery with unusual baseball glove stitching along the seams.
Under the Hood
The front-drive roadster and the coupe come with a standard 180-horsepower 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, which also is used in the Audi A4 and several VW models. A fortified version of that engine that belts out 225 hp is standard on roadsters with Quattro all-wheel drive and is optional on the Quattro coupe.
With either engine, you have to shift for yourself in the TT. The 180-hp engine comes with a five-speed manual, while the 225 hp engine teams with a six-speed manual. An automatic transmission will not be available until 2001 or 2002. Audi recalled all TTs in late 1999 following complaints in Germany of high-speed instability, and the company installed anti-roll bars and a rear spoiler.