It is a surprise. At Jelle Talsma in Leeuwarden we come across an Audi TT 1.8 5V Turbo quattro from 1999. The long-established dealer has been a Frisian stronghold for Italian brands (and Jeep for several years now). You don't expect an Audi TT in stock there so quickly. But the explanation for this is simple. The car was traded in by the first owner on a Alfa Romeo. Johan Dijkstra bought the Audi on behalf of Talsma. And he was happy to cooperate with our request to make a report with this unique Audi, not least because we have known each other for years. It was a memorable day with the Audi.
This quattro version is the version with 180 DIN hp, and is completely original except for the light-alloy wheels of a later series. Because of the infamous cornering behavior of the 1998-2000 series, it got an improved chassis and rear spoiler. And those were exactly the things that took the life-threatening edges of the TT. Certainly the quattro versions could sometimes unpleasantly surprise at high speeds in bends because of a suddenly occurring oversteer. In addition, these versions later received a modification for the wishbones, which could get stuck. From 2000, the first TT generation was also equipped as standard with safety-enhancing items (including ESP and ASR) and the modified rear wishbones. Incidentally, the reportage car has long since ceased to have to contend with the cunning traits. It's ready for a mighty ride, and will prove itself as an absolute phenomenon later in the day. Such a phenomenon, which settles deep in the fibers of your body.
Recurring design touches
The design of the Audi still causes a stir almost a quarter of a century later. That is explainable, because there is almost no straight line, and inside the design of the round racy fuel cap with bolt holes in many applications (poke console, outlets on the dashboard) returns. It compares nicely to the bars that you find at the center console and with which you close the doors. The latter is the signal for a wonderful driving adventure. And if you want, you can take what you need with you. Because under the long tailgate is a very decent (and low) luggage space, so that you can really take the necessary with you on the way to the sun destination or winter sports. The small seats in the back are less usable, but that should come as no surprise with this TT, which is actually mainly designed for two occupants.
When the doors are closed, the black interior with aluminum accents completely engulfs you. The high frame line and the black leather-covered and heated front seats enhance that experience. The sturdy furniture provides excellent support on all sides, partly thanks to the thick side bolsters of the seats. The driving position is directly in front of each other and activates you, as it were, to start making the meters in a very attractive and dynamic way. You also do this in a tinge of luxury, because on board you will also find the cluster of the separate automatic air conditioning, which does its job excellently and can be dosed well.
Weighty and clean sports car
This Audi, ready to drive, weighs more than 1400 kilos, but it really is a sports car made of the purest water. You are quickly out of place. Initially you should be wary of the short one and two and the fierce clutch. If you want to leave quickly, you will be launched. But even in calmer waters there is no man overboard, even then the technology in the Audi responds adequately and shows the performance potential. Which is very nice: when you switch you are treated to a resolute and short poker movement that is accompanied by a wonderful sound, which fits with the great driving experience in this Audi.
Addictive intermediate acceleration
Yet the rapid acceleration from a standstill is not the biggest attraction. The big performance secret lies in the intermediate acceleration in four and five. That is delightful, and partly a result of the long-term availability of the maximum torque, which moreover already occurs below 2000 rpm. You don't even have to floor the accelerator to accelerate from a leisurely pace to 140/150 kilometers per hour in no time. It happens in a straight line, and that is addictively delicious. And to think that this is the 180 DIN-hp version. There were also TT quattro versions with even more power. But don't worry: also our version is already good for tons of driving pleasure.
Absurdly good in corners
The cornering behavior is of an absurdly high level. You can feel what the power-assisted and very firm-feeling steering is doing. You control it with a wonderfully thick and superior tackling steering wheel. The Audi pulls you energetically, powerfully and very confidently into the corner. And you don't take your foot off the accelerator in a madman. On the contrary. You just go deeper into it. With results. Because the TT eats corners in a way that I have rarely experienced.
The grip is fantastic, and at no point does the graceful butt of the Audi move a millimeter to the side. The excellent chassis does its job in combination with the quattro technology with Haldex clutch, and also excels in straight line in balance. The gas-filled dampers work very firmly, the spring characteristic is precisely tuned thanks to the chassis modification of the past so that you can feel the difference between hard and dynamic comfortable. And the latter is the case with this Audi TT, which as a result turns out to be a very fine touring car.
Definitely a future classic
The Audi TT is one of the classics of the future. That has been clear to me since its introduction in October 1998. He offers an experience that will last for a long time. This will certainly not let you go quickly after more than two hundred kilometers of steering. Because this is a magnificent car. An extraordinary car in every way, which entered my top 10 on a beautiful Wednesday. And secretly, secretly I want him.
Many thanks to Jelle Talsma Autobedrijven in Leeuwarden (www.jelletalsma.nl)