The term ‘iconic design’ is often misused, but the Audi TT does deserve the accolade. It first appeared as a concept design at the 1995 Frankfurt motor show, having been developed at the VW Group’s California studios. The simple, curved, styling theme was generally thought to have been influenced by pre war German engineering (especially the Auto Union D-Type race cars) and the ‘form follows function’ philosophy of the Banuhaus design school. Perhaps just as impressive was Audi’s achievements in bringing the three door TT to produce, especially as it was mostly based on the MK4 Golf platform. A two door cabrio with the cloth roof was the only other bodystyle produced. Inside, the interior design was just a fresh and simple, marked out by the four large, silver rimmed air vents. The drivetrains were also lifted from the Golf and Audi A3. The entry level engine was a 1.8 liter turbocharged unit in various states of tune from 180 bhp upwards. Top range models were equipped with the notably smooth and powerful 3.2 liter V6 engine. Both engines could be had with a part time four wheel drive system badged Quattro, although it differed from the system used in bigger Audis. Despite eight years of success, the TT almost fell at the first hurdle. Not long after the launch the car was involved in a number of high speed accidents, usually involving a loss of control on bends.
Audi engineers figured that the TT’s smooth rump was to blame, causing rear end lift if the driver lifter off the throttle a high speed or braked, causing the nose to dip. The TT was recalled and fitted with a small boot spoiler (to break the flow of the air over the tail) as well as modifications to the suspension tuning.