The TT in Audi TT Surprisingly Doesn’t Stand for Twin Turbo

The Audi TT is the luxury brand’s true sports car. While their sedans and coupes do well to provide performance and comfort, they don’t quite offer the same handling experience. Of course, you could spend a fortune buying the brand’s supercar, the Audi R8, or you can go for the more modest but still capable Audi TT. With Audi, you can tell a lot about the car from the names and badges. A Quattro edition, for instance, tells us that the car has the coveted Audi all-wheel-drive system. It seems logical that the name TT would stand for, well, twin turbos, but that surprisingly isn’t the case.

The smaller sports car

Audi produces sedans and coupes with enough performance to make you feel as though you are driving a sports car, and the Audi TT seems to get pushed to the back burner. The Audi TT can be found on the used car market for a very affordable price, but the 2021 models can range upwards of almost $73,000 in price. It has just about everything you could want from a new sports car, too, but the name might deceive you into believing the car is boosted by twin turbochargers.

A low-angle rear 3/4 view of a black 2002 Audi TT Roadster with its top down and radio antenna up
2002 Audi TT Roadster low-angle rear 3/4 | Cars and Bids

The Audi TT — Tourist Trophy

While you can find the Audi TT turbocharged, the name is more so a nod to a European racing event. The Isle of Man, a small country most people don’t often think of, sits between Ireland and England, and for two weeks out of the year, it is host to the Isle of Man TT, short for the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy, takes place on 37.73 miles of curvy mountain roads — similar to what we see her at the Tail of the Dragon, one of the nation’s most dangerous roads.

According to Autoweek, a forgotten company named DKW was building motorcycles to compete in the Isle of Man TT in the 1930s. They had completed the race with a 250cc engine consisting of a single combustion chamber with two pistons and won with that very bike in 1938 with driver Ewald Kluge at the handlebars. DKW was later part of a merger that absorbed the company into Audi. So really, the TT nameplate came from motorcycle racing, rather than cars or twin turbochargers, as many people believe.

A 2012 Audi TT on display at an auto show
An Audi TT Roadster on display | Kathryn Scott Osler/The Denver Post via Getty Images

An underrated sports car

To me, the Audi TT has always looked like a young version of the brand’s flagship supercar, the Audi R8. The smooth styling of the body lines do well to compliment the car while separating it from the designs of competitors that feature sharper angles and more dramatic body stylings. These small, light-weight sports cars are masters of handling, and they are uncommon enough to maintain a certain ‘cool factor’ even if you may get asked a few times if that car is twin-turbocharged just because of the name.

2020 Audi TT Coupé | Audi
2020 Audi TT Coupé | Audi

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So, the TT part of the Audi TT name might not refer to any cool twin-turbocharger set up sitting under the hood, but rather a nod to a part of the company’s history in a subtle and thoughtful way.