Now that the Audi TT has officially been axed, this third-generation will be its last. While that’s initially upsetting, we can take solace in the fact that a fully-electric sports coupe will replace the TT, at least in spirit. Still, it’s a bit sad to see the TT go.
There have been three generations of the Audi TT and each one of them has been a mix of both good and bad. Despite their flaws, though, they’ve always been cool little sports cars that fans actually like quite a bit. The TT has never been the sharpest sports car in the segment, nor the fastest or most exciting. However, it’s always looked great and it’s always been an affordable way to get a stylish sports car.
So now that it’s gone, which generation of Audi TT is best?
Mk1 Audi TT
Let’s start at the beginning, with the Mk1. While it looked like a sleek and stylish sports car, it was actually based on the same platform as the Mk4 Volkswagen Golf. So despite its mid-engine looks, it was actually a front-engine, front-wheel drive-based sporty-ish car. It also wasn’t brilliant to drive. While it was fun, don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of sports cars in its segment that were more fun.
Having said that, there were, and still are, plenty of reasons to love the Mk1 Audi TT. For starters, it looked great and it still looks great today. In fact, I think it’s aged incredibly and gets even better with age. Its Bauhaus, almost mid-engine look make it such a unique and iconic car. It also had an awesome interior that separated it from the rest of the Audi lineup.
The pick of the litter, though, was and still is the Audi TT Quattro 3.2 with a manual gearbox. If you bought that, you had a 3.2 liter VR6 with around 250 hp, a manual gearbox and all-wheel drive, all packaged into one of the most unique looking cars on the road.
Mk2 Audi TT
When it came time to replace the Mk1, Audi was under quite a bit of pressure. The first-gen TT was a very popular, very successful car and one with styling so unique it would be hard to replace. However, Audi did a great job, as the second-gen Mk2 Audi TT was a very good looking car, one that was even prettier than its predecessor, even if it wasn’t as iconic. Again, it still looks great today.
It was also better to drive than the first car. It was a bit sharper, a bit more nimble and it had better engine options, with more power and better performance. Though it was criticized for not having the same character as the first-gen car, it still looked the part and was objectively better than the car it replaced. Plus, its interior was a high-water mark for sporty Audi coupes, in my opinion.
Mk3 Audi TT
Here were are in present day. The Mk3 Audi TT is the one you can currently buy on dealer lots with a brand-new warranty. Not for long, though, as this is the end of the line.
This third-generation Audi TT is probably the best, objectively speaking. It’s the fastest by far, in any iteration, it has the best tech and it’s the sharpest to drive. Being built on Audi’s new MQB architecture means it shares its underpinnings with cars like the Mk7 VW Golf. That’s a compliment, though, as though, as the new Golf is brilliant to drive. The new TT is quite fun, too.
It also has a great interior, with a ton of tech. It was the first Audi to get the now famous Virtual Cockpit and it also has some of the coolest climate controls in the business, even after a few years of being on sale.
However, despite being objectively better than the other two, it’s become pretty clinical. It lacks a lot of the emotion that its predecessors had. Sure, they were more flawed cars but they also had more character.
So Which is Best?
This is a tough one, because they’re all great, but flawed, cars. Each one also has its strengths and weaknesses. But I think if I had to choose just one, I’m going to go with an unpopular choice — the Mk2 Audi TT. Personally, I think it’s the best looking of the three, it has great direct-injected engine options and it’s relatively cheap at the moment.
I can completely understand why any Audi fan would choose the Mk1, as it’s an icon and one of the most unique looking cars of the modern era. For me, though, if I’m using my money, I’m gonna pick the Mk2 Audi TT Roadster 2.0T Quattro with a six-speed manual. That way, I get a direct-injected turbo-four with a ton of tuning ability, a proper gearbox, all-wheel drive, gorgeous styling, a fantastic interior and infinite headroom.