The Audi TT is well-deserving of its legend status. When it arrived as a 1999 model (2000 for the US), the Bauhaus-inspired TT was little more than a Volkswagen Golf in spiffy duds, yet it became one of the most popular sporty coupes of its time thanks to its gorgeous, avant-garde styling. And before long, genuine performance became part of the TT story.
That first generation spawned two pretty hot trim levels. In 2003, Audi added a 3.2-liter VR6 to the stable, mated exclusively to a then-revolutionary dual-clutch DSG transmission. Then, in 2005, the not-for-US TT Quattro Sport arrived, wearing the aggressive bodywork of the Quattro 3.2 but with a hotted-up, 240-horsepower version of the regular car’s 1.8-liter turbo four. The second-generation Audi TT RS went even harder when it arrived in 2009, with a throwback turbocharged 2.5-liter inline-five making 350 hp under its curvaceous hood. A six-speed manual was available, as was a seven-speed DSG.
Gallery: 2023 Audi TT RS Iconic Edition
After 25 years on the market, the Audi TT will head off into the sunset after 2023 – at least before it returns as an EV if the rumors are true. But at least the Four Rings will send it off with a bang thanks to the 2023 TT RS Iconic Edition. Confined to Europe, the Iconic Edition also gets a 2.5-liter five-pot, but it makes 395 hp and comes exclusively with a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox.
That brings us to the subject of the latest Carwow drag race: all four vehicles mentioned above. Mat Watson and his team of merry misfits are helming this who’s-who of “Tourist Trophy” coupes, although it really promises to be two different drag races happening concurrently. The 240-hp Quattro Sport and 250-hp 3.2 Quattro are fairly evenly matched, with the VR6-powered car weighing more but benefitting from nearly instantaneous dual-clutch upshifts. Meanwhile, the second-generation, six-speed TT RS is less powerful than its third-generation successor, but again, there’s less power on board.
In addition to a standing quarter-mile drag race, the Carwow team also subjected the Audis to a 25-mile-per-hour rolling half-mile and a 50-mph rolling half-mile, as well as a hard stop from 100 mph. We won’t spoil the ending, but your author was surprised by some of the race’s results, particularly involving the least powerful vehicles in the group. Have a watch and then let us know in the comments which Audi TT you’d most like to take home. That first-gen styling is looking more and more tempting every day.