1999 North American Auto Show, Detroit, MI
Notes & Quotes
By: Jason Teller

This information highlights Audi's press conference at the 1999 NAIAS

Audi sports coupe makes North American debut

After debuting at last year's show in concept form, the TT Coupe made its North American debut in production form Tuesday, Jan. 5 at the 1999 North American International Auto Show.

"What makes this car so rare is that it has made it from concept car to production car with so few exterior and interior changes," said Len Hunt, the new vice president in charge of Audi of America. Hunt replaces Gerd Klass, who is now in charge of all Volkswagen and Audi operations in North America.

The TT Coupe takes its name from the early 20th century Tourist Trouphy race on the Isle of Man, one of the century's most enduring legends of motorsports. It represents a return to the pure sports car themes of functional simplicity and honesty. The interior features metal, not wood and looks as though everything was screwed together by hand. "It conveys the original idea of sports car design: distill the idea of driving to its essentials and eliminate everything else," said Hunt.

The short TT -- 159 inches long -- features bold, curved surfaces that all evolve from the wheels housed in strictly geometrical arches. The exceptionally short body overhangs and reduced glass area add to the sense of crouched stance ready to spring into motion.

The TT is powered by Audi's 180-hp 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. It goes on sale in the late spring of 1999 in front-wheel-drive configuration for a price between $30,000 and $35,000. Later in the summer a quattro version will go on sale. A roadster version will appear late in 1999 or early in 2000, as will a 225-horsepower version of the coupe.

Hunt also announced that the company would introduce the A6 4.2 in 1999, a 300-hp version of the A6 sedan, powered by a five-valve V8 engine. Audi will also campaign two Audi R8 specially prepared race cars in this year's 24 Hours of LeMans.

In sales figures, Audi experienced its fourth straight year of double-digit growth in 1998, with sales up 39% over the previous year. Audi sold 47,517 cars in the United States. In Canada, sales topped 3,600, up 40%. U.S. projections for 1999 are 20 % growth, or 60,000 units.

"By the turn of the century," said Hunt, "we expect to reach and exceed our high-water mark from the mid-80s when we made 74,000 sales in 1985."

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