Shows off rear wheel arch extenders and extended rear spoiler: looks smart still but there are a few paint bubbles, one rear scratch and scars from my two+ years ownership
Now showing 91,000 miles and used a lot more regularly than was pandemic-possible, our run-out first edition Audi TT quattro sport is showing distinct promise as a useful, stylish and enjoyable 4x4 braced for winter’s worst. A lot of work and over £1,500 have pampered our TT since our last running report, because I enjoy it. Plus, values of this limited production model are constantly boosted by media reports saying how cheap Mk.1 Audi TTs are!
To recap, quattro sport owners club website report my final edition of 2005-06 Audi TT was chassis numbered 911 of 1,186 manufactured for Europe. Between 800 and 900 were delivered to RHD UK, where it is reported that under 500 currently remain DVLA-roadworthy. A November 2021 peek at the DVLA site, How Many Left? displays 494 licensed and 181 SORN from a peak of just over 755 licensed when new.
Key features of the quattro sport model covered reduced kerb weight (1,390kg) and modestly enhanced horsepower. The 1.8litre 4-cylinder with 5-valve per cylinder technology reported another 15 hp bonus, totalling 240hp. Yet it is the strong torque that delivers excellent pulling power between 2000 and 5000 rpm that is an attraction on British roads. This version of TT was credibly credited with 0-62 mph in 5.7 seconds and 155 restricted mph. I usually average 31 mpg, but short runs cut that to 26-27 mpg and a longer outings with elongated speed limits permit 35-36 mpg from this 15 year-old.
Externally, additional front and rear aero and body panelling was sourced from the V6 version of Audi TT, which is also showing some value increases currently. Topping off the exterior showtime are retro roof/ lower body duotone paint, plus alternative black tips to the twin exhausts. This TT’s Specific 18-inch diameter wheels are now phenomenally expensive to replace. Fortunately, ours were decently refurbished some years before purchase—these multi-spokes carrying 18x8 inch fronts and half inch wider rear rims (8.5 inch), which legally required modest back wheel arch spats.
Next job, shortly after 90,000 miles were completed, was to bring the braking back to slightly better than production standards, ready for a track day. There were some maintenance issues which meant that both rear discs and a rear calliper were replaced, plus the front discs were stripped out and a cleaning operation to counteract corrosion commenced which covered the calliper carriers. Front and rear disc brake pads were replaced with Brembo items, HP200 and Xtra compound performance respectively. Tired brake fluid was flushed out and AP Racing DoT 51 selected instead. Since a track day was anticipated a fortnight later, I also took seriously the condition of the pinch bolts and lock nuts on the front struts and a second one joined another that had been found worryingly damaged.
In the event, I was lucky enough to be loaned a 1973 3-litre competition Capri and webmaster Peter Osborne’s MG TF for the track sessions at Castle Combe, so the Audi TT got a rest. However the braking—never the strongest weapon in TT’s armoury—is now improved significantly, albeit at a total cost of £606. Certainly betters the format which I used for a tight track outing in Oxfordshire a year earlier.
Limited edition TTs offer a stronger cockpit visual identity via Recaro Pole Position race-seats, or the option of Comfort (production) seating; mine had the Recaros. More detail dietary moves deleted the rear seat, added a simple brace bar and boot-mounted large capacity battery. Internal quattro sport cosmetic modifications extended to light grey Alcantara cockpit trims for steering wheel, gear knob, handbrake and seat inserts, delivering a unique specification, but the Alcantara wears badly on well-used gear lever and steering wheel locations. A furry life revival for that soft Alcantara finish around steering wheel took a lot of search time, ranging from online Sweden and Germany to visiting UK sources. I did travel to another leather specialist on Bicester Heritage site and they were extremely friendly and the workmanship fabulous. Yet I wanted to keep it simple and Bicester craftsmen had wanted me to select and order Alcantara, plus remove and send steering wheel to them.
I visited several more premises as I just could not get a return to cleanliness/proper finish, whatever proprietary specialist Alcantara treatments applied. Finally it was booked nearer home, into specialists Piper Leather outside Yeovil, who I had used on my £1000 BMW Z3 to revive the Individual leather trim. That meant joining a three and half month waiting list, fuelled by the shortage of skilled workers and consistent demand for the Piper family leather automotive and household furniture trimming.
Wait time elapsed, it took just over two days and was admirably completed at estimated cost, some £100 less than overseas sources. It had been important (for me) to keep original wheel and airbag, plus the Piper company are 25 minutes from home. The £200 (plus £40 VAT) wheel result is that TT almost has the feel of a new car—untouched by multiple previous owners. The fit and finish has been even been complimented by picky trade specialists. Worth the wait!
Next big job was to tackle the front suspension, which had one leaking front strut and the ‘crashy’ ride of 90,000 miles on the factory’s comparatively hard, low ride height, sports settings, tuned to German smooth road tastes. I begun by tracking down the original specification struts and was quite pleased to find they were from Bilstein as–apart from many competition cars—I had bought them for my own road cars in a variety from Honda CRX to BMW 528. The UK importers were pretty helpful in confirming that the sport model had the appropriate sports set Bilstein of two choices, but they were on back order with no fixed delivery dates.
I scrabbled around various suspension specialists until I found one that had two such struts in stock at discount and arranged for them to be shipped to the Auto Services premises. The same process applied to the Sachs front coil springs, which were also to the original specifications and bought at cost under a New Old Stock [NOS] deal. Together these items cost £321.82, significant but low compared with many retail suspension updates/uprates.
However, we did not stop there, it seemed just common sense to renew the front top mounts and bearing races that fit within, especially as they are comparatively cheap at less than £70. There was also an MoT advisory on the state of the front anti-roll bar drop links, so they got replaced, costing a sniff over £50 for the parts. Now we had a total of £443.60p for parts, £144 for labour and the wounding 20% VAT to produce a final £705.12p bill.
Was it worth it?
Yes, I took TT back over the pockmarked but very inviting open roads of Wiltshire that I had run immediately before the work could be completed. It is still hard in the Teutonic sports manner below 40 mph on rumpled UK roads, but above 40 mph it begins to smooth out. This TT became a revelation at 50 over bumps and crests, downright enjoyable thereafter with a controlled ride into licence loss zones.
The only other minor move was to replace a remote control battery on the plimper fob as performance became erratic.
Today I enjoy this TT so much that it even brought a smile to my face in a week of Covid and flu injections, plus a blood test!
To return to Part 3 of JW’s Audi story click