Back when the first-generation “Mk1” Audi TT was new, it wasn’t exactly beloved. It looked great and its interior impressed most enthusiasts but its handling and performance left a lot to be desired. That last fact has been lost as of late, as enthusiasts are looking at the TT, and its wonderfully-aging styling, through rose-tinted glasses. So it’s interesting to see what most enthusiasts felt about it back when it was new.
In this clip from a very old Top Gear, we see Jeremy Clarkson testing out the Mk1 Audi TT while it was still on sale. It wasn’t just any old TT he was testing, though. It was a TT V6 with a DSG gearbox. That’s right, before it appeared on cars like the Audi RS4, the Mk1 TT V6 was available with a six-speed dual-clutch “DSG” ‘box.
Back in the early ’00s, this was high-tech stuff and unheard of on a car in the TT’s segment. Surprisingly, it’s the only sort of “flappy-paddle gearbox” that Jeremy Clarkson seemed to like at the time.
Sadly, he wasn’t impressed with much else about the car. He hated the way it looked, hated its interior and hated the way it handled. While the former two points are typical Clarkson curmudgeon-ry, that last bit is quite an objective truth. The first-gen TT wasn’t a great driver’s car and that was only exacerbated by the heavy V6 over its nose. So it understeered pretty miserably, if I’m being honest, and that’s evident from The Stig’s track lap (fun fact: this episode is so old, they didn’t even have the “Some say” segment for The Stig yet).
In fact, its lap time was barely better than that of the Volkswagen Golf R32 of the era, which had the same engine but more weight. So the Audi TT wasn’t as great as we remember, it seems.
Does that make it less desirable? Maybe but it shouldn’t hurt it too much. The TT is still a cool car nowadays, especially if you get the 225 horsepower 1.8 liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with a six-speed manual and all-wheel drive. That’s the most fun configuration and one you can have some inexpensive fun in. But if you’re looking for a first-gen Audi TT to get your thrills, you might want to look elsewhere.