The Audi TT RS has some very healthy numbers on its side. Let’s start with the 2.5 litre turbocharged inline five cylinder that produces 250kW of power and 450Nm of torque. That torque is all yours from a low 1600rpm, as well. The TT RS is only available with a six speed manual transmission and Audi reckon it can reach 100km/h in 4.6 seconds.
Nice numbers aren’t they. Then, consider the TT is one of the best looking mid-sized sports coupés on the market and you soon realise Audi could have a real knock out winner on its hands.
A catch. There must be a catch, right?
RS purists will bemoan the fact the TT RS uses a Haldex all-wheel drive system and not a Torsen-based setup, which does have genuine roots to the rally-bred Ur Quattro. They might also have hoped Audi pushed the envelope a bit on the body styling. Where are the beefed up and flared guards seen on other RS models, such as the highly acclaimed B7 RS4?
Take your seat behind the wheel, though, and you soon get a sense this car is something special. There’s the race-inspired Recaro seats, a thick and beautifully styled steering wheel and, of course, all housed in another class leading interior from Audi.
Turn the key, fire up that engine and senses are further heightened by the glorious five-pot growl that lies deep inside the TT RS (listen to the audio sample below).
This is all well and good, but is its bark bigger than its bite? The only way to find out was to head out to AUSmotive’s favourite test route and see how the TT RS fared.[audio:http://www.ausmotive.com/audio/Audi-TT-RS-Drive-Thru.mp3]
First impressions from the TT RS were good. Very good. Almost immediately it was clear the power delivery from the turbocharged engine was linear and strong. That said, even with a flat out standing start, the TT RS never really grabs you by the collar and pushes you back in the seat. Mind, there was no reason to doubt Audi’s 0-100km/h claims.
Make no mistake, this is a quick car. If you were being really greedy, though, there are moments where you wouldn’t say no to a bit more poke. Perhaps that is because the TT RS inspires so much confidence. It begs you to push harder, it wills you closer and closer to the limit.
Like any car with a Haldex all-wheel drive system you will experience under steer. However, the point at which that happens in the TT RS is, generally speaking, far beyond what is considered acceptable on public roads. Moreover, the TT RS offers so much enjoyment prior to that limit, that driving the car within its capabilities is still very much a rewarding experience.
Beside the gear stick is a little S button. It doesn’t make the seats hug you tighter as in the RS4, but it does improve the note from the exhaust, as well as activate the car’s standard magnetic ride suspension.
Sharpening these aspects of the TT RS did improve the driving experience too. The noise, oh the noise! Hearing the five-cylinder symphony bouncing off rock walls made me feel like a kid in a candy store. Gee it sounded good!
Whether flinging the TT RS through a series of esses, or flying through fast open sweepers the car felt composed and planted at all times. The steering was well weighted and there was no cause to complain about the feedback offered. The brakes were able to answer any questions asked of them and the grip provided through the 19” alloys was exhilarating.
It was clear to me that the bite of the TT RS did match its bark. During my time in the car it was hard to fault it. Even when trying to wring its neck to unsettle the car, the ESP was able to calm things down without screaming “Achtung!”.
Handing the keys back for the TT RS was a hard thing to do. It had just put a massive grin on my face and it was one of the most fun driving experiences I’ve had for a long while.
Which brings us back to the question I raised earlier. What’s the catch? As I see it the biggest flaw in the TT RS is its price. With a drive away figure of around $145K that’s probably a fair ask in the context of the Audi range. But that’s not the issue here. If you’re in the market for a fast, well-sorted coupé then that kind of money introduces some pretty serious competition. I reckon the TT RS could probably see off the challenge posed by the BMW Z4 sDrive35is. However, the required budget also puts you right in Porsche Boxster S territory. The Cayman S, too, is within reach. Hmm.
In isolation the TT RS is a fantastic car. It excites the senses like this type of machine should. If the TT RS is the only car in this segment you’ve got your eye on—relax—you’ve just hit a home run. But if you want to consider the competition, well, it’s game on!
Thank you to Audi Centre Canberra for their assistance.