Last year, we attended the UK unveiling of the new Audi TT. We were one of a handful of journalists in attendance – the rest were celebrities, from members of boy bands to actresses.
They were all there, not just for the free alcohol and to show off to the paps waiting outside Audi’s City London showroom, but because they wanted to be among the first to take a look at this desirable coupe.
And, in a similar way to Fiat’s 500 and BMW’s MINI, Audi now thinks its time to cash in on that image. Purists will hate it (is there such thing as a TT purist?) – but surely a TT-based crossover is essentially a licence to print money for the Ingolstadt brand.
That doesn’t mean Audi isn’t being careful, however. It’s teasing us with its ideas of broadening the TT range in the form of a number of concepts – two of which, we’ve just had the opportunity to drive.
It’s also said that one – and only one – will make production. Whereas BMW would just go ahead and build every confusing variant it could in a bid to create niches we didn’t even realise we wanted, Audi doesn’t want to damage the TT’s image.
The first concept is the TT Offroad, which we first saw at the Beijing Motor Show 2014. OK, cards on the table, we didn’t actually get to drive this one. It was raining, and it’s fragile, so we only got as far as touching it. It’s a similar size to its Q3, but a little less practical, and with its TT-esque image and badging, more desirable. Yeah, taking an SUV and making it less practical in a bid to make it more alluring… that’s a very German way of going about stuff, isn’t it?
The second is the TT Sportback. It really just an Audi TT but longer, with two extra doors. It’s based on the same MQB platform, but it’s been stretched by 29cm. Love your TT but want something a teensy bit more practical? This’ll be perfect. It’s powered by Audi’s 2.0-litre TFSI engine, which produces a more-than-OK 400hp.
MR drives TT Sportback concept
The fact that both cars can actually be driven means Audi’s taking them very seriously. Many concept cars lack an engine – some even lack an interior. Our brief drive (between rain showers – they’re yet to get wipers) told us little about the car. But with Quattro four-wheel drive, it’s going to handle precisely how you’d expect a four-door TT to drive.
A business case could be argued for either of them. In fact, we reckon a business case could be argued for both of them. BMW would no doubt already have them on sale with a confusing model name.
Audi’s being very cautious as it doesn’t want to confuse punters. Will people be horrified when walk into a showroom and are presented with a TT SUV? Or will they be won over by its increased practicality (over the regular TT) and place their deposit on the spot?
The company insists it hasn’t decided which car it’s going to make. We think there’s a strong business case for each – but which one you prefer to see on the roads? Let us know, and we’ll pass on your comments to Audi.
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