Audi TT Used Car Buyer’s Guide: Intro
Introduced to North America in 1999, as a 2000 model, the Audi TT was a revelation of design. The Audi’s rounded shape resembled that of the ancient Egyptian scarab, while its interior was an amalgam of circles and aluminum trim deftly blended into an avant-garde design. Though it was based on the Volkswagen Golf’s platform, the Audi looked nothing like the car from which it was derived.
The TT was first shown as a concept car at the 1995 Frankfurt Auto Show. For those of you who don't know, Audi does not use the name of the car to draw attention to a certain aspect of the female anatomy. The initials TT stand for Tourist Trophy, a very rigorous and highly technical road race held on the Isle of Man.
Difficult to classify, the Audi TT—while definitely a two-seat automobile, isn't really a sports car. The Audi is really more of a sports tourer. Yes, it offers commendable handling, and yes it offers a distinctive style. However, with its comfortable ride, high style, and Quattro all-wheel-drive system, the Audi is more about comfortable long distance travel at high speeds than it is out and out curve carving.
Offered in both coupe and convertible formats, and with either front– or all–wheel drive, there have been two generations of the Audi TT since it was introduced. A complete redesign hit the market in 2008.
Audi TT Used Car Buyer’s Guide: 2000 – 2006
While the Audi TT came to North America in 2000, the model had been on sale in Europe since 1998. Shortly after it was introduced to the US, the Audi was recalled because of an aerodynamic problem.
During abrupt lane changes, or while making sharp turns at very high speeds, it was reported the TT would go out of control. To correct this, a fixed rear spoiler was added to the car, its electronic stability program was recalibrated, and the suspension system was modified.
Available with front- or all-wheel drive, a 180-horsepower, turbocharged 1.8 L in-line four-cylinder engine making 173 foot-pounds torque was the only engine offering. A five-speed manual transmission was standard equipment. In fact, it was the only equipment. At launch, there was no automatic transmission available, it would be another three model years before a self-shifting gearbox would find its way into the Audi TT.
Audi TT Used Car Buyer’s Guide: 2000
For the 2000 model year, the Audi TT was introduced in two states of trim, “Base” and “Quattro”. The first car of its type, absolutely nothing before or since looks like an Audi TT. Although, there have been some comparisons to the Volkswagen New Beetle, with some saying the Audi looks like a squashed New Beetle.
The primary difference between the base TT and the Quattro TT was the all-wheel drive system. Standard equipment for the base model included; a pair of bucket seats, a center console with storage, fog lights, a set of power operated heated exterior mirrors, a keyless entry system, and power brakes.
Also included in the base price of the TT were a rear window defroster, tinted glass, 16-inch alloy wheels, a clock, a tachometer, traction control, and four disc brakes with ABS. Driver and front passenger airbags, front side airbags, an antitheft alarm system, leather upholstery, cruise control, power steering by way of a tilt and telescopic leather-wrapped steering wheel, and a remote trunk release can also be found on the standard equipment list.
An automatic climate control system, intermittent windshield wipers, power windows and door locks, and an AM/FM/cassette-based audio system rounded out the standard features offerings.
Base model options included a compact disc changer, heated front seats, a performance/handling package, a trip computer, cloth upholstery, xenon high-intensity discharge headlights, a Bose audio system, and a cellular phone.
Standard equipment on the 2000 Audi TT Quattro included all of the above plus; all-wheel drive, a lighted entry system, a locking differential, traction control, and rear-wheel ABS.
The Quattro's options list was identical to the base model’s.
Audi TT Used Car Buyer’s Guide: 2001
For the 2001 model year, Audi debuted the TT Roadster with an orange leather upholstery treatment featuring baseball glove-style stitching. The company also responded to comments the TT could use more power with a 225 horsepower version of the 1.8 L turbocharged engine. This powerplant delivered 207 foot-pounds of torque and was exclusively paired with Quattro and a six-speed manual transmission.
The 225 horsepower engine was installed in both coupe and convertible models.
With this development, there were three coupe models for 2001; “Base”, “180hp Quattro”, and “225hp Quattro”. There were also two convertible models; “Base and “225hp Quattro”.
The standard feature-set for the Base 2001 Audi TT Roadster included; a rear spoiler, 16-inch alloy wheels with performance tires, variable intermittent windshield wipers, a manually operated convertible roof, a rear window defogger, and height adjustable leather upholstered driver and passenger seats. There were remote door locks, heated power adjustable exterior mirrors, and a pair of one-touch power windows.
Cruise control, front cupholders, a remote trunk release, and power steering by way of a tilt and telescopic leather wrapped steering wheel were also standard equipment. The base model Audi TT Roadster retained accessory power when the engine was shut off, and its climate control system included interior air filtration.
There was also a trunk light, aluminum alloy and leather trim on the center console and doors, aluminum alloy trim on the dash, a pair of front floor mats, and a pair of dual vanity mirrors. The audio system used seven speakers, a 120W amplifier, and an AM/FM stereo head unit—with a six-disc CD changer.
The safety and security suite included four-wheel ABS, front head airbags, dual front side-mounted airbags, roll-over hoops, child seat anchors, a remote antitheft alarm system, ventilated front/solid rear disc brakes, fog lights, high-pressure headlight washers, a passenger airbag deactivation switch, front seatbelt pre-tensioners, stability control, traction control, and electronic brake force distribution.
The 2001TT 225hp Quattro convertible used all of the above, plus; 17-inch alloy wheels, a power operated convertible roof, a mechanical center differential, and a six-speed manual transmission.
Coupe models were similarly equipped and a navigation system was optional for all trims.
Audi TT Used Car Buyer’s Guide: 2002 / 2003 / 2004
Audi TT Used Car Buyer’s Guide: 2002
For the 2002 model year, Audi offered a limited run of 1000 ALMS (American Le Mans Series) commemorative edition TT Coupes. There were offered in two color schemes; a red interior with a silver exterior, or a silver interior with a red exterior. Essentially equipped identically to the Quattro 225, the ALMS Coupe went the 225 Coupe one better with 18-inch wheels.
Audi TT Used Car Buyer’s Guide: 2003
For 2003, Audi finally deigned to offer the TT with an automatic transmission. However, the six-speed unit could only be had with the front-drive 180 hp coupe and roadster. The 180-horsepower Quattro coupe was dropped. The optional Bose audio system incorporated that company’s AudioPilot noise canceling technology enabling it to compensate for outside road noise.
Audi TT Used Car Buyer’s Guide: 2004
Based as it was on the Volkswagen Golf’s platform, it was only a matter of time before a VR6 powerplant found its way into the Audi TT’s engine bay. A 250-horsepower 3.2 L version of the engine capable of 236 ft-lbs of torque was prescribed for model year 2004. The six-speed direct shift gearbox paired with the engine gave drivers a choice between automatic operation and manual shifts. The 3.2 L engine was installed in both coupes and roadsters—but only with Quattro.
Also, Xenon headlights became standard fare for all TT models in 2004.
Audi TT Used Car Buyer’s Guide: 2005 / 2006 / 2007
Audi TT Used Car Buyer’s Guide: 2005
Satellite radio was offered.
Audi TT Used Car Buyer’s Guide: 2006
A run of 198 Special Edition Audi TT's (99 coupes and 99 roadsters) celebrating the 99th anniversary of the Tourist Trophy race—held on the Isle of Man—the inspiration for this two-seat Audi's name, marked the end of the run of the first generation of production of the by then iconic model. The 2006 Audi TT SE was distinguished with a unique paint job featuring a black roof, two-tone 18-inch wheels, Quattro (of course) and the 3.2 L VR6 engine.
Audi TT Used Car Buyer’s Guide: 2007
The TT was not produced for model year 2007, if anyone tries to sell you a 2007 Audi TT they either don't know what they're talking about, or they're trying to rip you off. Either way, they should be regarded with suspicion.
Audi TT Used Car Buyer’s Guide: 2008 – 2012 (current model)
Longer, wider and taller than the original iteration of the car, the second generation TT looked sleeker and more firmly planted to the ground. The suspension system was completely redesigned, and the model gained electric power steering.
It also became more luxurious, with a broader raft of standard equipment. However, even with the added gear, the TT lost weight because the 2nd generation model made extensive use of aluminum in its construction. This simultaneously made the car lighter and more rigid, which equated to better handling, as well as better fuel economy.
While the original TT was a revolutionary design, the revised model was more of an evolution of the original. Still immediately recognizable as a TT, the 2nd generation model was considerably more masculine in appearance.
Audi TT Used Car Buyer’s Guide: 2008
At launch, the all-new 2008 Audi TT was offered with two engines, which also served to designate the nomenclature of their trim lines. The 3.2 L VR6 was carried over from the previous generation of the TT. The turbocharged four-cylinder engine was an all-new power plant with 2.0-liters of displacement.
This engine powered what was essentially the base model 2008 Audi TT and was offered with a six-speed direct shift gearbox (DSG). Fitted only to front-wheel-drive models, the engine made 200 hp and 207 foot-pounds of torque.
Standard equipment for the TT 2.0T included 17-inch alloy wheels with low-profile performance tires, variable intermittent windshield wipers, a rear window defogger, front-wheel drive, height adjustable seats for the driver and front passenger upholstered in leather and suede, remote power door locks, heated exterior power mirrors, and two one-touch power windows with remote operation capability.
Cruise control, a front console with storage, front cupholders, front door pockets, and 12V front power outlets were also included in the base price. The 2008 Audi TT 2.0T retained accessory power when its engine was shut off and its electric speed proportional power steering system was controlled by way of a tilt and telescopic steering wheel. Further, the Audi’s automatic climate control system employed an active charcoal air filtration system.
The 2008 TT 2.0T also had a cargo area light, alloy and leather trim on the center console and doors, alloy trim on the dashboard, and a leather wrapped steering wheel. There were front floor mats, turn signal repeaters in the exterior mirror housings, and dual illuminating vanity mirrors.
The audio system used nine speakers, a 140W amplifier, and an AM/FM–single CD player/CD–controller with CD MP3 playback capability. Its volume control was speed sensitive and the head unit employed the radio data system (RDS).
The 2.0T TT’s optional Premium Package added a multifunction steering wheel, powered and heated front seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and a six-disc CD changer.
The safety and security suite was comprised of four-wheel ABS for all four disc brakes, emergency braking assist, electronic brake force distribution, brake drying, tire pressure monitoring, stability control, traction control, dual front airbags with head protection chambers, side-mounted airbags, passenger airbag occupant sensing deactivation, and a post collision safety system. Other safety features included child seat anchors, a remote antitheft alarm system, an engine immobilizer, fog lights, an emergency interior trunk release, and front seatbelt pre-tensioners.
The 2008 Audi TT 3.2 Quattro featured all of the above equipment plus; rain sensing windshield wipers, all wheel drive with a mechanical center differential and a center limited slip differential, heating and power adjustments for the driver and passenger seats, a universal remote transmitter for garage doors and security gates, transmission controls and audio controls on the steering wheel along with leather and alloy trim, and an electrochromatic inside rearview mirror.
Options for the 2008 TT included 18-inch wheels with high-performance tires, Xenon headlights, a navigation system, a dedicated iPod interface, Bluetooth connectivity, magnetorheological adjustable-suspension dampers, rear park assist, satellite radio, and upgraded leather upholstery. There was also an S-line package with aerodynamic styling enhancements, 19-inch wheels, and for the manual-transmission equipped TT 3.2, a short-throw shifter.
The Roadsters were equipped largely like the corresponding Coupes with manual operation for the 2.0T’s softtop (unless the Premium Package was offered) and automatic operation of the roof for the TT 3.2 Roadster.
Audi TT Used Car Buyer’s Guide: 2009
The 2.0T engine was paired with Quattro, hill-hold assist, steering-wheel-mounted controls, an auxiliary audio input jack for portable players, and satellite radio were added to the standard equipment list for all TT models.
The TTS debuted in both coupe and convertible formats with 265 horsepower and 258 ft-lbs of torque churning out of its turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine into a six-speed dual-clutch automated direct-shift gearbox transmission. Structural changes made it lighter than other TT models as well.
The TTS used a version of the TT’s magnetorheological suspension system that set its ride height 10mm lower than the standard TT models. Further, it got a different version of the Quattro AWD system, one capable of responding to driver inputs more quickly than the standard system. A bigger brake package was incorporated as well.
Audi TT Used Car Buyer’s Guide: 2010
Front drive was dropped, as was the 3.2L V6, and the manual transmission. For the first time since its launch, the standard Audi TT model did not have a manual transmission offering. Further, this left only the 200-horsepower 2.0T engine to power the standard version of Audi. However, the TTS model remained in the lineup with its 265-horsepower version of the 2.0T, which could also explain why the six-cylinder version was finally killed off.
Though reduced to only one trim line, the TT 2.0T got an abundance of additional standard equipment; this included 18-inch wheels with low-profile performance tires, an automatic rear spoiler, foglights, a 50/50 split-folding rear seatback, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, leather/faux suede upholstery, automatic climate control, Bluetooth, and a nine-speaker CD/MP3 stereo with satellite radio and an auxiliary audio input jack for portable devices. The roadster inherited a power soft top, a power wind deflector, and a cargo pass-through with a removable ski bag.
Opting for various packages improved the content level of the 2010 TT 2.0T considerably; the Premium Plus package brought Xenon headlights, rain-sensing windshield wipers, a pair of heated 10-way power front seats with power lumbar and an auto-dimming electrochromic mirror. The Prestige package added a version of Audi’s Multi-Media Interface (MMI) electronics interface controller (dash-mounted), a full interior lighting package, a DVD-based navigation system, and an upgraded 12-speaker Bose stereo with a six-disc CD changer.
The standalone options list contained an adjustable suspension system with magnetorheological dampers, a unique set of 18-inch wheels, and more lavish leather packages including the orange leather upholstery treatment with baseball glove-style stitching introduced with the original Audi TT Roadster.
The TT 2.0T’s 2010 S line Package added a set of 19-inch alloy wheels, more aerodynamic S line bumpers, a set of sport seats, an S line special upholstery treatment, a unique sport steering wheel, and a set of headlight washers.
The six-disc CD changer could be substituted for an iPod interface on Prestige Package-equipped cars.
Meanwhile, the TTS remained unchanged.
Audi TT Used Car Buyer’s Guide: 2011
The 2.0T’s output was bumped to 211 horsepower and 258 ft-lbs of torque and the standard wheel diameter was increased to 19-inches. The TTS model’s styling was tweaked a bit to make it reminiscent of the Audi R8. A sport button was added to the TTS to quicken its steering, advance its suspension system’s firmness, and open its exhaust system for freer breathing; all on demand by the driver.
Audi TT Used Car Buyer’s Guide: 2012 (current model)
There were no significant changes to TT or TTS for 2012, however, the limited production Audi TT RS was introduced to North America with a 360-horsepower turbocharged 2.5-liter inline five-cylinder engine producing 243 ft-lbs of torque. The only 2012 TT model to use a six-speed manual transmission, the TT RS also featured 19-inch alloy wheels with low profile performance tires, automatic Xenon headlights, LED daytime running lights, a rear spoiler, heated power adjustable exterior mirrors, automatic rain sensing windshield wipers, and an automatic climate control system.
The TT RS also featured 10-way power adjustable leather sport seats, an electrochromic auto-dimming rearview mirror, cruise control, Bluetooth, a lap timer and a nine-speaker audio system featuring a CD player, satellite radio and an auxiliary audio input for portable devices.
Like the TTS, the TT RS used a Sport button program to advance throttle calibration, suspension settings, steering response, and the exhaust system.
To plush it out even more, buyers could opt for the Tech package, which added a GPS navigation system with real-time traffic information and updates, full iPod connectivity, a Bose audio system, rear parking sensors, adaptive Xenon headlights, and ambient LED interior lighting.
For an added edge to the TT RS, buyers could order the Sport Exhaust Titanium package to get a free-flowing sport exhaust system, teamed up with a unique grille and distinctive alloy wheels.
A la Carte TT RS kit included heat for the front seats, a set of power-folding carbon-fiber exterior mirrors, and ultra-grippy Alcantara/leather upholstery.
Audi TT Used Car Buyer’s Guide: Summary
More of a sporty car than a sports car per se, the Audi TT is a singularly distinctive automobile with a remarkably unique appearance. Simply put, nothing else looks like it. Blessed with Audi’s outstanding fit and finish and attention to detail, the Audi TT is a remarkably handsome car with a premium feel.
All but the most hard-core high-performance enthusiasts will find something about the way the TT drives to love. However, if all-out handling, acceleration, and braking rate highly on your must-have list, you might be better off looking at one of the challengers from BMW, or Porsche. (Unless your budget will permit you to spring for a TTS or a TT RS.)
If you’re a younger person, you’ll want to get an insurance quote before you buy a pre-owned TT to make sure you can afford the premium. Audis are considered prestige cars, and the TT is a sporty model besides, so the insurance tab is bound to be a bit spendy.
Most forums recommend focusing your first-gen search on the 225hp models, as they are the most problem free versions of the car. Whatever you decide, spend some time here on the ‘Net in the various Audi TT forums to get an idea of what you might be getting into. All in all, the TT seems to be about average in terms of reliability as a used car purchase, so judicious due diligence should net you a good clean driver.
There have been recalls, so you’ll want to research those to learn which apply to your model of interest. When you’ve found the car you think is the one, run a vehicle history report against its VIN to get an idea of how well it has been cared for and whether or not the car has been subjected to undue trauma, like salvage or floods. If it passes that sniff test, turn the TT over to a trusted professional independent Audi mechanic for a very thorough pre-purchase inspection.
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