SOMETHING that has always fascinated me about cars is how a new model can translate successfully from motor show concept to garage forecourt.
That is one heck of a leap of faith. But for Audi and its TT compact sports car — this week’s drive — the gamble paid off.
“Purists” who loved the original TT when it first appeared at Frankfurt in 1995 (introduced in the UK in 1998) might argue that the 2014 Audi TT is too sophisticated: the original had historic racing car attributes and the first production cars embodied this basic ethos certainly in the way the car looked.
I have to say I was a great fan of the style of this early production TT, which resembled a living facsimile of a racing car of the past. I wasn’t so sure about the TT as it evolved into today’s much more sophisticated motor car.
However, driving the Audi TT Coupé 1.8 TFSI Sport this week I could not help but admire how it has become a car of sublime attraction.
The Dakota Grey of the test car only added to its oh-so-subtle nature: the 1.8 Sport version allows the kind of performance that complements an ever-maturing look.
On that note, an all-new, third generation production TT was announced at the Geneva Motor Show last week together with one TT version — the four-cylinder 2.0 TFSI-engined Audi Quattro Sport Concept — which will be capable of 0 to 62mph in an astonishing 3.2 seconds. No doubt a concept that will become a startling reality.
I imagine there might be occasions when you would need to get away that quickly but I think the Geneva announcement shows how far the TT has come since someone had the bright idea of adapting charismatic racing lines in a 21st century car available to the buying public. Really, the Audi TT has not looked back. And the TT proves a salient point for carmakers: creating new models from classic influences even by starting with a rose-tinted view of our motoring heritage is a good lesson for designers.
I can only think that there must be more references to great classic cars that might influence new models: retro is very much the thing at the moment in all facets of life, especially fashion.
People love their cars but they like to be excited by a new model. Sure they want reliability, economy and comfort but they also want that indescribable “wow” factor from cars.
There is a danger that some models, whatever make, are becoming too much alike — some might unkindly say banal — to be at all appealing to new car buyers. But excite the buying public’s imagination and back it up with sound production values and you could be on to a winner.
Audi has been on to a winner with the TT for getting on for two decades (first designs of the TT go back to 1994). The car has received the plaudits of the trade: it topped the Coupé category for the seventh consecutive time at the 2013 What Car? awards, to name but one accolade.
And when you drive the TT and enjoy the comfort, handling and car-building prowess that surrounds you as you sit at the wheel, you do so in the knowledge that the next TT is likely to be an even better car.
TT Coupé 1.8 TFSI Sport (160PS) six-speed manual
– Price: £28,555
– Colour: Dakota Grey
– Interior: Black Leather Alcantara
– 18in x 9J “five-arm Dynamic” design alloy wheels
– Adaptive headlights
– Interior light package
Technology package includes:
– Satellite Navigation system — DVD-based
– Mobile telephone preparation — Bluetooth interface
– Audi Music Interface
– BOSE surround sound system