Audi recently announced that the TT will not be replaced in its current form. It’s been a staple of Audi’s range for 21 years, and has given generations of buyers that feel-good sportscar vibe with very few of the compromises and challenges that often come with low-slung, stiffly sprung cars.
Back in 1998 it was a rare thing – a sporty car that knew how to appeal to a mainstream audience. It put style above track-ready handling, and daily usability ahead of delicate, highly strung performance engines. And it sold well, going on well into three generations and evolving to become lither, tougher-looking and higher tech than ever.
But soon Audi’s TT production line will switch to other cars – and it’s a shame.
We recently ran a series of DriveTribe polls off the back of a few pieces of editorial to find out whether our audience ever really connected with the TT. After all, this is supposedly a car whose appeal lies outside of a core petrolhead audience. So surely we’d see a spike in people quite happy to speak out against the TT?
Erm, not quite.
When asked whether they ‘get’ the TT, around 80% of DriveTribers said they understand the car and that it’s not shooting for a pure petrolhead market. They agreed that it’s a car for certain people and driving habits. A whopping 75% said they will miss it.
A flick through the comments on both pieces suggests people liked the fact that Audi was a ‘normal’ volume car manufacturer with the vision (and resources) to have an attainable sports car in its range. Who else does that?
Porsche has gone about things the other way around – it’s a sportscar manufacturer that has diversified by adding SUVs and family friendly sedans to its 911-shaped bow. Nissan still has the 370Z, but it was showing its age in 2014 when the third-generation TT came out. These days it’s a total dinosaur – not without its charms, but surely it won’t find itself on the same daily-driver shopping list as the TT will.
It feels like the end of the everyman sports car age. Unless a manufacturer absolutely requires a sportscar as a core pillar of its brand (a la Porsche), then it feels as if it’s harder than ever to justify the R&D costs to make one.
Toyota could only justify building the new Supra by sharing development costs with BMW. Without that partnership, the world’s largest car manufacturer couldn’t justify making a sportscar. Likewise the Toyota GT86 – a car designed to appeal to petrolheads – could only be built with Subaru footing part of the bill.
Sadly the decision to cull the TT is likely indicative of sportscar market that’s shrunk beyond the point where even some of the world’s biggest brands can justify the R&D costs by having an attainable sporty halo model. The TT did more for daily driver sports cars than many other more ‘internet famous’ sports cars. And we’ll miss it.