Road Tests

Spiritual successor: Audi TT-RS

Time 12 years ago

audi_ttrsSOME 100 years after it started, Audi is still making fine cars. There’s a reason why you see so many TTs on the road, after all.

It’s a great motor. Car buyers can’t get enough of them and Audi dealers know there’ll always be a market.

But as any brand expert professes, to continue this success, car ranges need to evolve. And thus, a few years after its launch, we have this: the Audi TT RS. A car that just so happens to be the closest recreation of the mighty Audi Quattro yet…

We say this for one reason above all: its five-cylinder engine. Sourced from a US Jetta, the new motor produces an impressive 335bhp – better than a Porsche Boxster S, and even BMW’s new turbocharged Z4 sDrive35i.

You can’t argue against the performance. Throttle response is instantaneous and the torque prodigious, so that at any speed, in any gear, the TT RS powers past traffic. The zero to 60mph sprint time of 4.6 seconds is impressive. Audi dealers can even remove the 155mph limiter, giving a 174mph max.

It sounds a bit like the original Quattro too, with a sonorous five-cylinder burble that’s heightened when you press the Sport button. This opens a valve in the exhaust, making it even meatier. Shame the gearbox can’t hit such highs. Lacking DSG, even as an option, the six-speed manual is imprecise and tiresome.

Suspension is 10mm lower and means the TT RS corners flat and very hard. Levels of grip seem unbreakable – while you will breach the limits if you turn off the ESP, often all that’s needed is an extra tweak on the steering wheel.

Shame it isn’t more driver-focused. The TT RS has the involvement of a computer game. A very good, latest generation, Xbox 360 game certainly, but one where ultimately you feel impressed rather than excited.

Even the interior isn’t that exciting; flat-bottomed RS steering wheel and Nappa leather sports seats apart, it’s hard to distinguish from lesser TTs. Mind you, fuel economy shows a rational side – it can average 30mpg, and emits just 214g/km of CO2. In contrast, the price is a bit irrational.

Although Audi reckons on selling just 400 examples of the RS in a full year, it still kicks off at an ambitious £43k for the coupe, and another £2k for the roadster. That’s a lot, even for a mighty halo car such as this.

It will sell, of course. Lots of intelligent engineering and computer trickery make it impressively fast, while the enhanced styling and lower suspension means it has just enough kerbside appeal to stand out.

However, it takes more than this to bring soul and excitement into a driving experience. So, is it a reincarnation of the original Quattro? No. But, a very capable and fast, albeit expensive car, that’s going to be much in demand.


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Clive Sutton, Clive Sutton Cars

‘I’m very excited by the Audi TT RS. It is a move upmarket that the high-image car can fully carry off. The company has been subtle with the styling changes, but it’s just enough to mark it out as something special.

‘The performance is excellent, and I’d say it’s competing in a strong marketplace – I can see it appealing to ‘downtraders’, who are stepping out of a Porsche to save some cash, but still want something special.’

James Baggott's avatar

James is the founder and editor-in-chief of Car Dealer Magazine, and CEO of parent company Baize Group. James has been a motoring journalist for more than 20 years writing about cars and the car industry.

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