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Audi TT RS review – a five-cylinder quattro coupe, what’s not to like?

Huge performance and a mesmerising soundtrack, but the TT RS can't capture true sports car greatness

Evo rating
Price
from £52,450
  • Devastatingly quick, sounds great
  • Adjustability is not the TT RS’s thing

If big power figures and impressively fast acceleration times get your adrenaline flowing, then the Audi TT RS will be the sports coupe of choice. This second generation TT RS (the very first TT didn’t get an RS model, the stripped-out Sport was the most extreme version) has almost 400bhp from its five-cylinder turbo engine and we’ve recorded it hitting 60mph in a supercar-rivaling sub-3.5sec. Whether it’s in Roadster or Coupe form, the TT RS is not a car to be messed with.

Well in a straight line, that is. Although the all-wheel drive coupe has strong grip and almost limitless stability, the TT RS doesn’t sparkle or excite as you point it through a set of challenging bends. It’s more alert than its predecessor, it’s undoubtedly effective and will make prodigious progress over any roads, but we’d instantly trade some of that pace for some meaningful adjustabilty in a corner. The Porsche 718 Cayman S need not worry, then.

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Audi TT RS: in detail

  • Performance and 0-62mph time > The TT RS may be based on fairly humble underpinnings, but it accelerates like a scalded cat, officially getting to 62mph in an insane 3.7sec
  • Engine and gearbox > The jewel in the TT RS’s crown is its engine. Unlike four-cylinder rivals, the Audi’s 2.5-litre in-line five-cylinder is dripping with character, has huge mid-range torque and almost sounds like the iconic Audi Quattro of the 1980s
  • Ride and Handling > Audi doesn’t have a great track record when it comes to exceptional handling but, while it still trails the Porsche Cayman, the TT RS is a far more dynamically sorted machine than its predecessor
  • MPG and running costs > The trade-off for the high performance is pretty average economy. The 34.4mpg combined cycle figure is unlikely to be matched in the real world; especially when the acceleration is so addictive
  • Interior and tech > Not just another excellent interior, the TT RS is genuinely brilliant inside. A masterclass of subtlety, the TT RS adds a raft of details which help make it feel worth every penny of its £50k asking price
  • Design > The design tweaks made to turn the standard TT into an ultra sporty RS one add complexity that spoils the car's lines a little
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Prices, specs and rivals

The price of a TT RS, £52,450, is almost double that of the basic TT on which it is based. And that basic TT, in turn, is built on the same architecture as the VW Golf (the MQB-platform). In spite of humble beginnings the hottest TT is fit to bare the RS badge and the big price tag largely thanks to an outstanding drivetrain and classy interior.

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To further justify its price, it’s also festooned with lots of hi-tech kit as standard; Audi Drive Select (switchable drive modes), LED headlights and tail lights and Virtual Cockpit are just a few highlights. You can still spend big on options too with expensive paint finishes, larger wheels and carbon trinketry available.

RS Sport suspension with Audi Magnetic Ride and ceramic brakes elevate the TT RS’s abilities further, the former a worthwhile add-on at £1k, the extra bite of the carbon stoppers perhaps less good value at almost £5k. The Matrix LED headlights have a great throw and duck under four-figures so that’s another box we’d tick.

The Porsche Cayman S is quite a bit cheaper than the RS and it offers a very different experience. The finely-tuned chassis makes for a sublime steer which the Audi simply can’t compete with. The Porsche’s supremacy isn’t all-conquering though, the turbo-four isn’t a patch on the Audi’s warbly five-cylinder. The Porsche’s motor sounds dull in comparison and feels a backward step from the 981 generation flat-six engines. Not only that, the Cayman is the sparser of the two and would require almost £10k of options to match the Audi for equipment.

The BMW M2 fails to shake-off its humble origins with a lackluster interior, but it is some £7k less than the TT with similar equipment. However, the BMW makes up for its ordinary insides with an involving and entertaining chassis, typical of an M-car, a muscular turbocharged straight-six engine (although not as sonorous as the TT’s) and some aggressive looks. Admittedly, it isn’t as fast as the TT, however, when the M2 Competition is launched later this year, with its twin-turbo 414bhp engine, it might have the firepower to worry Audi.

The new Alpine A110’s attitude couldn’t be further from the TT RS’s. The French coupe trades big power for low weight and massive traction for accessible limits; it’s delicate and malleable where the TT displays brute force. It might be far slower than the TT on paper, but the Alpine is truly captivating to drive.

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