Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Audi TT vs Porsche Targa

Hi there,
I am facing a difficult decision and all my pleas and calls on Click and Clack’s voicemail have until now remained unanswered… My problem is a rather comfortable one to have, nevertheless it eats me up and I’m looking for your advice:

Let’s say I am facing a mid-life crisis and I’m looking for automotive remedies. So I’m thinking I’ll be a happier person if I bought myself a convertible or other selfish car.

For years I have been thinking about owning an older (say mid 80’s) Porsche Targa. I think it’s an excellent car, timeless and classy design and still today a car fun to drive. The targa top would allow me to cruise without a roof when the weather allows.

I test-drove one and the gears shifted quite poorly. I’m used to driving stick-shift, but that was beyond me. I don’t know if this was this particular car or if that can be expected from 35 year old cars, no matter how brilliantly designed at that time. (Any comments?)
Also, to my knowledge the targa top can’t be stored in the car when driving. So a commute in the morning would be fun, but what if it rained in the afternoon? On top of that I don’t own a garage, so I’d have to store the car for the winter someplace else, never mind of just being able to use it for say 8months / year.

For the same amount of money I could get a say 2004 Audi TT roadster convertible. This car would have obvious advantages, making it a daily driver even. Everything works with the push of a button, the roof is always there. I do like Audis and they may be my most favorite brand these days. However, I had an Audi before and that one wasn’t cheap to maintain when it got older.

The question boils down to: That sweet Porsche, with quite limited funcionality, or that neat but not awesome Audi TT?

Thanks in advance for your comments.

  • Sebastian

Mid 80s is really an antique. And they’re known for very cranky gearshifters. I’d go mid 90s for a 911. Another site had a long term test on an '85, read about it here:

Personally, I’d rather get a new Miata.

You’re talking about cars that were not known for their stellar reliability to begine with, and they have enough time on them to have been beaten into the ground. Unless you have deep pockets and no need for reliability, you’d be better off with a new Miata. No car is any fun sitting in the garage waiting for a diagnosis or a part.

I agree with the same mountainbike. Either that or an S2000 or maybe even a mid-90’s MR2 turbo with T-tops (which will store behind the seats - they even have their own little seat belts for this).

You might try out the '12 Mustang convertible with the 300 hp V6. You’ll be surprised at what a great car it is, handling included.

Good suggestion, but I think a new Stang is gonna be a lot more than a 10 year old TT. :wink:

True. But it could be his only car, instead of a ‘fun’ car. 4 will (tightly) fit.

You can count this as another vote for either a Mazda Miata or a Honda S2000.
Both are nimble, fun to drive, and light-years more reliable than either a 25+ year old Porsche or an 8 year old Audi.

I know a woman who used to own a TT of that vintage, and to say that the car was a nightmare of weird, hard-to-diagnose and even-harder-to-fix electrical problems does not adequately describe the problems that she had with that car. After about a year or so, she just dumped it.

I have an '04 T’bird convertible, so I understand. Keep looking and drive a few more Porsche’s. I think you drove a car with a problem. A Porsche might not be the best daily driver, so when you find one you like plan on making it your second “fun” car.

Then get a 5 or 6 spd Honda Civic for your daily driver. I enjoy my '03 Civic ES 5 spd manual 4 door. It is pretty much a sports car, with a back seat and a surprisingly big trunk!

A 911 would be fun, but first, get a 911 buyers guide to become familliar ( and second, I’d get a '86 or newer one, '85 and older have a very cranky transmission.

Edit - and third, and MOST important, I’d find a good Porsche mechanic to inspect anything before I bought it.

The 2002 Boxter is about the same price as a 2004 TT roadster. Test drive one and see if you like it.

Thank you all for your input.

I’m a bit surprized that no-one jumped in to defend th TT, but I guess that has good reasons. (Last chance anyone?)

The car would be my 2nd car, besides a 3 yr old Passat wagon. That car though I will soon have to share with our Au-pair and I’m not sure how much she’ll actually need it when I do. It could be that need an extra daily driver, maybe not.

I think I will test another 911, '86 or younger, to get a better feel for it.

It seems I should also check out the Miata and the other car mentioned. I know I should keep my mind open about these options, so maybe testing them will give me the warm and fuzzy feeling that right now I don’t have when I think of those cars. One has only one midlife-crisis, right? Arrgh, happened again - must keep mind open!

It could be that the one you drove shifted poorly because in the past someone has thrashed the transmission or the clutch is dragging.
I know it’s hard to think of someone whaling on a 911… :slight_smile:

That being said, the 911 series cars are my dream cars. I’d love to have a GT3 RS but a 140 grand gives me heart murmurs… :slight_smile:

Well, the Audi TT is a very well done AWD version of the FWD Golf. The older ones, especially, are not on the list of top sports cars. Fun, yes, serious sports car, not in my opinion.

As someone else mentioned, a used Boxster is an excellent alternative to a much older 911, some consider it the better sports car.

I agree with texases’ assessment. The TT is kinda fun, but there are a lot of cars out there that are better, faster, cheaper, better looking (subjective, I know) and more reliable.

I’d definitely check out the Boxster. It doesn’t have the ye olde classique aura of the 911, but is more affordable, won’t get you rained on, and many think it handles better. The 911 just screams mid-life crisis, too, where many Boxster drivers are younger.

My favorite recent roadster for styling is definitely the S2000. It still catches my eye with its perfect proportions and simplicity. Neat straightforward interior, too, very clean. I wish more carmakers would put controls right by your hands instead of putting 100 identical buttons on the center stack. It sold well to start but was probably a bit too hard core for many potential buyers, with an engine that needs a lot of revving for serious performance and a stiff suspension. The later years had a slightly larger, torquier engine and a revised suspension.

The TT is a pretty car but was faulted for having the inconvenience of a sports car without offering much performance. Or reliability, it seems.

I’m surprised you aren’t considering the other two Germans, the BMW Z3/Z4 and the Mercedes SLK. The Z3 was also considered mildly inadequate by sports car fans, being based on the previous generation of the 3-series, but it’s at least as sporty as the TT, if not as stylish. It’s just a straightforward modernized roadster, a German Miata made in South Carolina. It uses many standard BMW parts, and the engine isn’t inaccessible, so repairs may cost you a bit less than the Porsche. Roof comes standard, too. Its replacement, the Z4 may be out of your price range, or maybe not. It’s rather aggressive overstyling limited its appeal, but it’s still a classic mid-life crisis car, and its sports car credentials were improved over the Z3, as was the interior.

The first SLK was another almost sports car, more like the TT than a Porsche. The proportions were odd, extremely wedgy with a hood too long for the car, but they were popular because they were the first to offer a folding hard top, perfect if you have to tangle with rain or park on city streets. The second generation was a much more attractive design, with the wedginess cut by some curves. This is a seriously nice car, inside and out. If it has one problem for a mid-life crisis car it’s that it has always been popular with women. That may be a good thing if you’re single, having your date like your car. It just doesn’t spew testosterone like a Porsche, so good for the evolved metrosexual.

However, the reliability of these cars is nothing like a Honda or Mazda. Expect expensive repairs.

Saying a Civic is almost a sports car is pretty funny, and this coming from a former Civic owner.

Why not go old school for your midlife crisis? Was there any vehicle from the 50s or 60s you loved but could never own? A 68 Mustang convertible or Charger? Hemi Cuda? Bel-Air?

Personally, the only thing I consider timeless about Porsche’s looks is that they haven’t really changed the design since the early Beetle it came from.

Really funny to hear a 911 called brilliant !! A triumph of development over design .
A Boxster is a better car and should have been in the Porsche lineup for decades .

Weren’t the older 911’s kind of squirrely in corners due to the engine being so close to the rear? I forget when they finally fixed that but it might be something to consider if you like the twisties.

I have to agree with the others regarding the Boxster, it might not have the history of the 911 but I think it has better lines. And you can drop the top going 30mph! =P I also agree about the Honda S2000 and Miata - they would be my first choices. The Miata because you can get a folding hardtop and the Honda because of its engine and design.

Besides reliability you might consider a more modern car for safety reasons also. A car would have to be seriously old and/or rare for me to drive it around without side airbags etc., especially these days.

Anyway, just my two cents. Good luck with your new ride!