Look, some cars only exist to be beautiful. Nothing else. They’re slow, they’re dead behind the wheel, they’re not efficient, practical or a good value. They’re just gorgeous. The first-generation Audi TT is one of these cars. In fact, it’s perhaps the archetype, because I’m not sure any automaker has ever committed to the “it only does pretty” bit harder than Audi did with this car.
Consider, for example, that the TT is built on the same front-wheel-drive platform as the Volkswagen Golf, but is of course much heavier. That’s always a recipe for thrill, right? Buying one, especially as we get further and further away from the first-generation’s 1999 launch, is an objectively idiotic financial decision, what with the list of misery that could beset the engine and electrical system.
But I don’t care, because have you ever seen this car’s heated seat dial? It’s genius. Same goes for the stitching on its leather seats, the design of the shift lever, every piece of exterior lighting, the monoblock five-spoke wheels and all that aluminum trim. Explain to me how aluminum trim — which has aged so horrendously in every other car from this time period — still manages to make the original TT look like an artifact from the future? I don’t get it, but life is about the little things, and Audi knew that when it made this car. God help you if there’s one in your garage.