With the first two incarnations of the Audi TT selling more than 500,000 between them, the pressure is on the latest third-generation model – and, as ever, the design will be crucial to its success.
So Auto Express brought together all three TT generations, with Dany Garand – Audi exterior project designer – to talk us through the evolution.
Such was the radical look and immediate success of the TT when it was launched back in 1998, this new model was never going to stray too far from its foundations, despite being 157mm longer and 150kg lighter than the original.
Garand showed a clear appreciation of the first-generation TT, and he was quick to defend the latest model amid accusations that its design hasn’t changed enough.
“I wouldn’t say the design is evolutionary,” he told us. “I’d say it’s a respect of the icon, a revival of the icon.
“There was a very clear intention of readdressing the styling strength and architectural clarity of the first generation. We looked at different styling, but the perception of the car was no longer as a TT. You change a few elements and people lose the link to the TT.”
Garand wanted the car to remain very much its own model, explaining: “There are a few design features on the TT that’ll never appear on another Audi. You don’t see this styling approach anywhere else in the line-up today, and we feel it should stay that way.”
Lines on the flanks and rear haunches are sharper, the creases are more prominent and Garand told us putting tension in the body was a vital part in creating a legitimate sports car. “The way the car looks must translate into its dynamic potential,” he said.
“You can see similar lines from the first model. Because it was such a design statement, people understood it. We wanted to bring the TT back to life as a modern interpretation.”
But with Audi promising to add 11 new models to its range by 2020, can we expect an extended TT family? “We are probing many different variations, but the TT is very specific.
"A true TT will be the TT Coupé,” claimed Garand. “To make a business case with more variations, I guess time will tell.
“If people want to see something like the TT Shooting Brake, I’d say why not? It’s a very interesting mix of sportiness and off-road, but as far as I’m concerned the TT is a sports coupé.”
Exciting times ahead, then, but it’s clear from speaking with Audi’s designers that the TT remains sacred. The technology that goes into it will keep improving, yet the design itself will continue to be influenced by the original, introduced 16 years ago.
It’s a formula that works for Porsche, and it looks like a formula that’s set to work for Audi, too, with the brand having already taken 3,500 pre-orders ahead of the car’s launch in the fourth quarter of the year.