Old vs. New: Is a First-Gen Audi TT a Better Investment Than a New One?

1999   2019 Audi TT

As we say farewell to the Audi TT this year, we thought about how it’s evolved over the years and wondered — would happen if you compared the best-possible 2002 Audi TT to a no-frills base 2022 model?

In this day and age, automotive design fluctuates constantly. Two vehicles of the same model may appear unrelated from one another from one generation to the next. It’s proving more and more difficult to produce designs truly timeless, where the same fundamentals remain unaltered since the car’s inception. But the Audi TT proves the exception to this rule.

Today’s TT is, without a doubt, a descendant of the original in looks and function. They share the same silhouette, drive configuration, engine layout, and more. With so relatively few alterations between the parent and child, it follows that both vehicles should feel and drive very similarly. Especially when one considers that premium models of the past had as much (or sometimes more) power as the current base model’s 288 peak horsepower.

So, with today’s car market, and with the Audi TT soon exiting the Audi lineup, we couldn’t help but wonder which Audi TT is the better deal — a top-of-the-line Audi TT from 20 years ago, or a brand-new base model?

Which one would YOU rather own???
Let us know HERE in the forums!

2022 Audi TT: The End of the Line

2022 TT

The Mk3 TT began life in August 2014, an impressive longevity for a current-production vehicle. However, because it’s confirmed to be the last generation TT, this marks the final role-call for those who want one with that new-car smell. But let’s say you’re on a budget. You’re itching to get your hands on one before they’re gone. You have enough either to lease the last brand-new base-model TT’s, or to purchase the best-equipped Mk1. With a base price of just over $50 grand, the new model’s certainly a hefty investment. So, what advantages does the latest model hold over its predecessor? Let’s take a look.

  • New car warranty: Audi USA’s policy of four years or 50,000 miles remains the same regardless of trim level. Likely the most important fine-print money-saving device, a factory warranty’s easily one of the greatest advantages of purchasing new.
  • Quattro Generation VI: The latest Quattro 4WD system distributes power smoothly and predictably, providing superior launch and handling while adding more safety.
  • Standard interior features: Audi certainly doesn’t skimp on luxuries. Bang & Olufsen sound, MMI navigation package, Nappa leather, and more come standard.
  • Interior dimensions: The rear seat actually comfortably seats passengers, a noteworthy feature for a 2-door 2 2 compact.
  • Modern chassis: With a better suspension, 18-inch rims on 245-wide tires, and a stiffer construction, the modern TT outperforms 2002 handily in terms of handling characteristics.

2002 Audi TT ALMS Edition: Still Going Strong

2002 Audi TT

But how does an old TT stack up? Well, in terms of price, it’s an absolute no-brainer. For this comparison, let’s look at the top-of-the-line 2002 ALMS-Edition Quattro. For that, you’re looking at about $15,000 for a used model with decent mileage, up to $25,000 for a pristine example. In much the same way as the 2022, let’s say you finance the best model and now own a low-mileage 2002 TT. How much car do you get for your money by comparison to the new one? While you’re certainly not getting the new infotainment packages, the car does come remarkably well-equipped.

  • 225 horsepower 1.8T: Only three horsepower shy of the new TT and backed with tested pedigree, the early EAs are well-loved as bulletproof, reliable, and tunable. Plus, the lighter weight means a better power/weight ratio.
  • 6-speed manual: This remains a subjective point. But for those seeking a more involved driving experience, a manual transmission can either make or break a deal.
  • Well-equipped for modern roads: You’ll find the 2002 comes with a host of modern safety features. It’s got traction and stability control, electronic brake force distribution, side-mounted airbags, and more.
  • Solid design: The Mk1 TT retains an individual aesthetic separate from most other vehicles from its era, raising its likelihood of attaining classic-car status. If investing is your thing, an old TT’s not a bad shout.
  • Modification potential: The EA113 engine and suspension feature a thriving aftermarket community. Mk1 TTs are common sights on track days and swap meets. With a body begging to be customized, this car readily accepts modifications without breaking a sweat.
  • Depreciation. The best thing about buying an older almost classic is that it’s likely at or near the bottom of its depreciation curve. Which means, in some markets, you might even be able to enjoy it, drive it, and sell it for the same as, or more than, your purchase price.  To be clear, cars aren’t great investments — but they do offer a few perks over a bank account.

A Final Look

2022 TT

Choosing a new versus used car isn’t easy for a car like the Audi TT, where each has clear advantages. Overall, the fit and finish of a new car certainly outdoes a 20-year-old car for obvious reasons. You’ll get an infotainment center, a comfortable premium leather interior, no dings or scratches, and all the features you want. In addition, other safety features now come standard on every model such as blind spot avoidance, child seat anchors, self-leveling headlights, and more. In terms of modern comforts in a sporty package, a brand-new TT absolutely nails the mark. The old TT won’t accept most of these features without costly modification, either. So if you require that sense of modernity, the new car remains an easy choice.

2002 Audi TT

However, a 2002 ALMS-Edition Audi TT remains a solid choice for a multitude of reasons. If what you’re after is a sportier, more involved experience without sacrificing leather and power everything, then this’ll have you covered. It’s physically smaller and lighter, lending a more nimble feel in spite of being less refined. And the thriving aftermarket community’s happy to oblige if you feel it’s lacking in the performance department. Plus, there’s something to be said about the quintessential “first” car. The original TT remains an iconic, well-known design. Even among non-car people, it appears sporty and purposeful. That’s not to say that the latest one looks bad by comparison. But rather than owning a car with such a recognizable image helps resale value and investment potential in the future, certainly with niches like 2 2 sports cars.

With such compelling arguments one way and the other, a final decision’s ultimately a toss-up. But regardless of the decision you make, as is mentioned before, the TT never altered its original philosophy. Today, both vehicles remain equally viable, comfortable, and usable modern 2 2s.

Photos by Audi MediaCenter

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I’ve been an automotive aficionado since I had baby teeth. My path was set when I first leaned on my grandfather’s classic Porsche as I learned how to walk. One of my first memories was my mother sitting me behind the wheel of her Pontiac and talking me through the instrumentation and controls. Even though I was a mere three or four years old, I was instantly sold, and filled notebooks with technical drawings, sketches, and collections of manuals of all sorts of cars. I’ve actively tracked developments in automotive and motorsport technology for well over 20 years, and pride myself on being intimately familiar with the functions and history of a wide range of vehicles.

My primary goal as a writer and enthusiast is to equally learn and share what I’ve learned in a constructive and interesting way. I maintain connections with people from around the world and can read technical manuals in Italian, Japanese, and Spanish, granting me access to a wide array of resources. My primary focuses are deep-dives into historical topics, motorsport discussion, and learning about the complex mechanical elements of such vehicles. As such, my research is never perfect; as anyone into cars will attest, the more you learn about cars, the more you realize how little you actually know. Therefore, I always welcome fresh knowledge and corrections to help me better my work in the future.