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Progress Report: 2024 Audi TT MkIII vs 1999 Audi TT MkI

Nearly a quarter of a century separates these two cars, though one thing unites them

Published: 14 May 2024

The nineties called, it wants its car back...

Ah yes, a time when public discourse focused on the optimism of what a new millennium might bring! But also the unbridled fear of what a new millennium might bring! Good times.

There was a partial reset, mind and... yep, you can see this coming a mile off. The reveal of the TT Coupe concept in 1995 heralded a new chapter for the brand mit der four rings. Before this handsome two-door strutted into view, Audis were generally very worthy, very respectable cars, but not exactly desirable.

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How did one car do all that? 

US designer Freeman Thomas – under the guidance of then-Audi design boss Peter Schreyer – unveiled a car that screamed Bauhaus from the rooftops. Or whispered it, actually, owing to the philosophy of Bauhaus being the whole ‘less is more, form following function’ thing.

Still, much to shout about. Such was the reception to this car – “rapturous”, Audi explains – and so clean were its lines and form, it was greenlit for production and went on sale pretty much unchanged from the concept. Successful car for Audi, too: across the car’s eight-year lifespan, over 56,000 MkIs found their way into UK ownership.

But cold hard numbers don’t explain the impact it had on the rest of the range, and on Audi’s image. And here in 2024, there’s no denying the MkI TT still looks superb. What we have here is a 1999 1.8-litre turbo TT (so named after the Isle of Man race) with 222bhp and just over 200lb ft of torque sent to the front wheels via a 6spd manual gearbox. Like the lines this car carries, it’s a very simple setup.

What's the old timer like to drive in the world of 2024? 

There’s more give to its suspension setup versus its hulking 2023 sibling, TT MkI breathing with the road a little more, its ride a little more forgiving. Though it does feel... floaty, a little vague, a little turbo-laggy. There’s a sense of it not fully being dialled in, of being more of a boulevardier rather than a point-to-point champion, and that’s... really very fine, actually. As a cruiser, it’s spot on.

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And the new boy? 

The MkIII? It feels very glued down compared with TTs of old. The steering is leagues more direct, the suspension leagues stiffer. But the sense of simplicity remains, both in design and its overall demeanour. Yes, it looks a lot angrier versus the optimistic eyes of its MkI predecessor, but the clean, uncluttered lines remain.

We’ve obviously got a soft spot for old Nineties coupes, and a used MkI TT would make for a cracking buy. We reckon this MkIII will age just as gracefully before Audi resets the model line completely for the new age of electricity, and the optimism/fear that brings with it...

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