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First drive: Audi TT RS. Image by Audi.

First drive: Audi TT RS
Audi TT RS bangs out the numbers, but do they add up?

   



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Audi TT RS

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5

Audi's new TT RS turns up for the class fight with a bazooka; it's big on bang, but limited on the subtleties.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Audi TT RS Coupe
Price: 51,800
Engine: 2.5-litre five-cylinder turbocharged petrol
Transmission: seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch automatic, quattro four-wheel drive
Body style: two-door, 2+2 coupe
CO2 emissions: 187g/km (Band J, 265 per year)
Combined economy: 34.4mpg
Top speed: 155mph (174mph optionally)
0-62mph: 3.7 seconds
Power: 400hp at 5,850- to 7,000rpm
Torque: 480Nm at 1,700- to 5,850rpm

What's this?

A TT that wants your attention. The RS heads the range, and Audi has armed it with a set of numbers that give the handsome coupe the performance to trouble the class above, never mind its natural rivals. Under the bonnet there's a new five-cylinder turbo engine producing 400hp and 480Nm of torque, and it evokes Audi's glorious five-cylinder history with its charismatic throbbing off-beat tone. The huge oval tailpipes out back crackle with a rich, melodious intensity too. The TT RS is not shy about announcing its intent.

Visually it's more striking too with the deeper air intakes up front, 19-inch alloy wheels (20s optional), the many-surfaced, coloured lower wing, the honeycomb-filled grille and large spoiler sitting atop of that familiar backside; the TT RS isn't going to be mistaken for a P11D fleet-purchased TDI version any time soon. That more sporting bent is translated to the interior with a steering wheel pinched from the Audi R8 that is equipped with Drive Select and the engine start button. Behind it sits Audi's 'Virtual Cockpit' with its many-layered, often less than perfect interface, though the rest of the interior benefits from a lack of buttons because of it. Sitting in deeper sports seats, it's a more obviously sporting TT then, as you'd anticipate with something wearing the RS badge on its shapely arse.

How does it drive?

Push that big red button on the steering wheel and if you've any memories of Audi's rallying history then they'll come flooding back. Even more so if you push the button to liberate a bit more sound from the optional sports exhaust. The noise is pure Quattro, specifically the Group B monsters with their turbocharged five-cylinder engines. There's none of the turbo wastegate chatter, but the bass-rich blare, overlaid with a metallic shriek is something to be truly savoured. As a foil to Porsche's blaring flat-four turbocharged boxer in the 718 Cayman and 718 Boxster rivals it's a very, very convincing one. That's at idle, too, and the sound gets even better when it's under load, which, given the 2.5-litre unit's appetite for revs, is a very good thing indeed.

That sizeable peak output is developed high in the engine's rev range, so the TT RS is brisk to about 5,000rpm, but then chases the redline with enthusiasm. It keeps you pretty busy, though not necessarily in a good way, as the low-rev response can be a touch flat, necessitating a stabbing right hand for a lower gear at the paddles of the quick-shifting transmission to sustain corner exit speeds. Get it right and the speed that can be carried is genuinely remarkable, the grip huge, traction similarly assured, though there is some push-on understeer present if you ask too much of the front axle on turn in. You'll be doing well to, as the RS requires serious provocation to do anything interesting dynamically, even if you've selected Dynamic mode that pushes more drive to the rear of the quattro four-wheel drive system. Even so selected, the steering fails to deliver any real information as to what those front wheels are doing: the RS is not a necessarily a blunt tool, but instead a mute one. Learn its limits and the TT RS is devastatingly quick, enough to have it outrunning its key rivals, though drivers of slower Porsches, BMWs and Mercedes-AMGs will be having significantly more fun.

Audi has yet to finalise the options pricing, but there's talk it'll bundle its magnetic dampers in with the sports exhaust. That'd be a mistake, as the standard passive damper set up rides better all the time than the magnetic ones do on even their Comfort setting. We'd like to have tried the standard brakes, too, as the optional carbon ceramic items struggled in the 30-degree heat of Spain, squealing in protest after a fast road drive and only lasting a few laps of track work before going long in the pedal, too.

Verdict

Big numbers, huge grip, mighty traction and a sensational soundtrack promise a lot for the new Audi TT RS, but the reality doesn't add up to a class-leading package. Indeed, we'd struggle to justify the additional cost over a TTS, let alone suggest it as a genuine rival for cars like Porsche's 718 Cayman S or the BMW M2.

4 4 4 4 4 Exterior Design

4 4 4 4 4 Interior Ambience

4 4 4 4 4 Passenger Space

2 2 2 2 2 Luggage Space

4 4 4 4 4 Safety

4 4 4 4 4 Comfort

3 3 3 3 3 Driving Dynamics

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Powertrain

Read an Irish market review of the new Audi TT RS Coupe


Kyle Fortune - 14 Sep 2016



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