AUSTIN, Texas - The Audi TT Coupe is built off the same platform as several of its siblings and cousins: the Audi A3 and the Volkswagen Golf and New Beetle. Yet the exotic-looking sports car is quite different from its relatives in appearance, performance - and mission.
Audi's challenge was to create a unique identity for the brand-defining TT while controlling costs through platform sharing.
It is true that 20 percent of the TT's components can be shared with the New Beetle or the Golf, said Marc Trahan, Audi product planning manager. But that leaves 80 percent that are TT-specific.
For example, Trahan said, 'we can take a steering gear that's utilized in a new Golf or a New Beetle, and then we can put about 20 percent more development into it and come up with a brand-new steering gear which is unique to the TT and has a much quicker steering ratio.'
Trahan said, 'We can reach cost efficiencies that allow us to put a little bit more development into the things that the customer sees and feels, the things that impart personality, like all the aluminum in the interior.'
Len Hunt, vice president in charge of Audi of America, cooked up this analogy: If Audi were to design a kitchen, it could have, say, the same heat source as other kitchens. But the Audi kitchen would exhibit sophisticated design in every detail - the lemon squeezer would be brushed aluminum.
'It'd look perfect,' Hunt said. 'But just think what our sister brand would do. If Volkswagen had a kitchen, there'd be eggs flying around the place. It'd be a fun place.'
The challenge in creating an Audi kitchen would be to develop something with a more serious, progressive feel. Said Hunt: 'That's the clever bit.'