2013 Audi TT RS Final Edition

Once in a while, a truly special package comes along and is seemingly gone in the blink of an eye. The TT RS was that package for Audi, marrying the fantastic 8J chassis with the outrageous 2.5 liter turbocharged inline-5 and a 6-speed manual. With 360 horsepower on tap driving all wheels and a sticker price below $60,000, it was Audi’s answer to the BMW 1M, and it was a good one. Though the driving experience perhaps wasn’t as “pure” as the Munich monster, the TT RS was a potent alternative that was on par with the competition, if not better. It was a Porsche killer at a fraction of the price.

But it was short lived, only being available for the 2012 and 2013 model years. On its way out, around 30 of the RSs were handed over to Audi Exclusive. Painted special Nimbus Grey Pearl Effect and optioned with the bi-color leather interior, they were also heavily optioned with the Titanium Exhaust package treatment which came with the titanium exhaust, black optics grill and titanium “Rotor” wheels. A special “RS” shift knob was also present, and the total package (which included the Tech Package, as well) upped the sticker price to over $70,000. Today you can have a basically new one for a seeming steal at some $20,000 less:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2013 Audi TT RS Exclusive on eBay

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2001 Audi TT 225 quattro

1I went to college in London in 2000, about the same time that the first generation TT started to appear on British roads. Because my dorms were in a posh part of town, there were always a few of these parked nearby. The car’s styling struck me as extraordinary. It captured something of the millennial zeitgeist: a minimalist, Bauhaus-esque design that artfully blended lines and curves on the outside, with a bespoke-feeling cockpit on the inside featuring splashes of brushed aluminum and baseball-glove stitching on the leather seats. Back then, I had ambitions to become a lawyer, and this was the perfect car, I thought, for a young single man about town. The perfect yuppie’s car.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 Audi TT 225 quattro on Albany Craigslist

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1972 NSU Prinz 4L

While I usually try my best to focus on bang for your buck cars, today’s 1972 NSU will have difficulty fitting in to that category. It’s not that superminis aren’t valued as there are many who highly prize and collect the diminutive car class. But I’m talking about literal bang, or lack thereof. At 30 horsepower, the .6 liter single overhead cam inline-2 wasn’t the most powerful engine available, but the Prinz 4 was intended to break into markets where the barrier to automobile ownership was not only entry cost, but tax brackets. Namely, this was problematic in the U.K., where the original Mini reigned supreme. The Prinz 4 offered an alternative, albeit a slow one – even weighed down with only around 1,250 lbs, the two cylinders struggled mightily to motivate the car. Acceleration curves depended on what you had eaten for breakfast, but figure it was the strong side of 35 seconds to reach 60 m.p.h.. But this car was about affordability and economy rather than speed, and threw a dose of more upscale-looking class into a segment dominated by quirky designs:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1972 NSU Prinz 4L on eBay

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2008 Audi TT Roadster 3.2 quattro

VAG’s decisions on who would be able to shift their own gears have always been a bit confusing, but the period of the 3.2 VR6 is really where this came to a head for U.S. customers. In 2004, Volkswagen brought their hottest Golf (finally!) to our market, featuring the singing VR6 in 6-speed manual only form with the R32. Great, but Audi offered the same platform in slinkier TT 3.2 Quattro form. However, fans of manual shifting were overlooked as Audi opted to bring the top TT here only with DSG. This carried over to the A3 model range, where you could get a 3.2 quattro but only with the DSG box. When it came to the next generation, VAG opted to change this formula. As it had been a fan favorite, you’d assume that the R32 would retain the same layout. But no, Volkswagen removed the manual option and the Mk.5 based R32 became DSG-only. So that would hold true in the bigger budget, typically more tech-heavy TT too, right? Wrong, as in the 2nd generation, Audi finally opted to allow buyers to select a manual in either Coupe or Roadster form:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2008 Audi TT Roadster 3.2 quattro on New London Craigslist

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Two For T: 2001 and 2002 Audi TT 225 quattros

I’ll get this out of the way off the bat; not everyone likes the Audi TT, and yes, it’s not really a sports car. But excusing that it’s not a 911 although it’s similarly shaped, is it really that much of a pretender? Tight body curves that were really avant garde in the late 1990s reveal a beautifully crafted interior with lots of special details to let you know you were in a premium product. Under the hood, in its most potent form the 1.8T was quite capable as well, with 225 horsepower resulting in mid-6 sec 0-60 runs in stock form and punchy delivery. And while the Haldex-driven but “quattro” branded all-wheel drive wasn’t as slick as Audi’s other all-wheel drive systems, it works just fine in most conditions. So let’s take a look at two nice examples of these budget sports coupes:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 Audi TT 225 quattro on eBay

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2005 Audi TT 180 Roadster

While the Audi TT isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, I really respect the company for launching what was – at the time – a huge departure from it’s standard lineup. Remember, it was nearly 21 years ago that the TT Concept launched at the Frankfurt Auto Show. For perspective, while the Coupe quattro was long-gone from these shores, the B4 Coupe was still in production when the TT was first shown to the public. And when it launched way back in 1998, it was nothing short of a revolution compared to the outgoing model. Amazingly, Audi managed to keep nearly every aspect of the show car for the production model and the TT Roadster replaced the quite long in the tooth but pretty B4 Cabriolet. The new TT Roadster was offered in two configurations initially – hairy-chested 225 horsepower quattro and more hair-dresser 180 horsepower front drive form. Later, the 3.2 VR6 would be added in DSG dual-clutch quattro form only and it was this run that would round out Mk.1/8N TT production a decade ago next week. On its way out, the TT got even a bit more shouty when the company introduced a new color – Papaya Orange – to the lineup:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2005 Audi TT 180 Roadster on Providence Craigslist

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2008 Audi TT 3.2 quattro

An interesting transposition occurred in the fast Golf-based platforms between the Mk.4 and Mk.5 chassis. In the Mk.4, the theoretical top of the heap was the Golf R32 and TT 3.2 quattro – both with 250 horsepower on tap from the rev-happy and sonorous VR6 motor, effectively twins under the skin – except for one significant difference. In the R32, in the U.S. that setup was available only with a manual 6-speed, while Audi opted to offer only the new DSG dual clutch transmission. When it came to the PQ5 revisions, it was expected that this would continue – but VAG threw us a loop, because the R32 suddenly became DSG-only and while that gearbox was available in the TT, you could now opt for a 6-speed manual in the 8J. True, the 3.2 was no longer King of the Hill for Audi, a crown that would later be placed upon the impressively outrageous TT RS. And long term, truth told the TT RS is probably the most collectable of the 8Js, but if you love the TT and you’d like something to tide you over until prices become more reasonable in the used market, it’s worth scouring the internet for a 6-speed manual version of the TT 3.2 quattro:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2008 Audi TT 3.2 quattro on San Diego Craigslist

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Honorable Mention Roundup

Time for another Honorable Mention Roundup of the cars we just didn’t have a chance to get to this week. In addition to a few reader submissions in this edition, I found a few affordable performance options that caught my eye. Which is the one we should have spent more time on?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2004 Audi TT 3.2 quattro at Coventry Motorcar

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2000 Audi TT Neiman Marcus Edition

It’s hard to fathom, but it’s been a full 20 years since the launch of the TT Concept design in 1995. I remember thinking that, along with the Aluminum Space Frame concept car from the year prior, it was going to be fairly unlikely that we would ever receive a production version of the slinky coupe. Styling was inspired by pre-war Auto Union record setting race cars, and inside was a revolution that hinted at some of the stellar interiors that Audis would henceforth be equipped with. It was pretty shocking, then, in 1998 when Audi announced that you’d be able to buy nearly the identical car to the show version. Initially available pre-mass production through the Neiman Marcus catalog in Christmas of that year, the first 100 Audi TTs were all identical. They were 180 horsepower front drive 5-speeds all colored Nimbus Grey with Moccasin Red baseball leather interiors and chrome 6-spoke wheels. Mostly an appearance package with no performance changes, they were nonetheless immediately collectible and in hot demand as the first of a new generation of Audis that hinted at a paradigm shift in the company:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2000 Audi TT Neiman Marcus Edition on eBay

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2013 Audi TT RS

There are two ways to look at the TT RS. Either it’s a very expensive and over complicated Golf, or it’s a really cheap Porsche. Which camp you fall in to probably relates back to your general feelings about Audi’s engineering and platforms, but the VAG group has done a masterful job of filling nearly every conceivable niche with a specific model which suits the needs of a seemingly minuscule group of buyers. Consider, for just a moment, the number of 911 variants that Porsche offers. Not including color and interior variations (and forget Porsche’s individual program for a second), there are 21 variants of the 911 for sale in the U.S. right now. 21. That’s nuts. But that’s about on par with what Volkswagen has done with the Golf – producing not only the many Golf models, but also the Golf-based Jetta, A3, S3, Q3, Tiguan, Touran, Passat, several European Skodas, Seats, and – of course – the Audi TT. But while there are hot versions of the Golf available in a few different flavors, Audi took the TT RS to the next level, replacing the typical 2.0T motor with a 2.5 liter turbocharged inline-5 that hearkened back to the great 1980s designs. Sure, the motor was now transverse, and you can complain about that all you’d like. But the performance of the TT RS is undeniable – 0-60 in 3.6 seconds (with the DSG box), nearly 1 g on the skidpad and seemingly endless acceleration up to 175 m.p.h. from the 360 horsepower 5-pot. And, all of this was available for around $60,000. You also got a revised exterior with go-faster grills and plenty of special looking accents both inside and out. With only around 1,000 imported, exclusivity was guaranteed and these TT RSs are fan favorites already that are likely to retain a strong value in the marketplace:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2013 Audi TT RS on eBay

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