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Audi TT RS Iconic Edition 2022 review

Though undoubtedly pricey, the limited-run Iconic Edition is an appropriate way to mark the TT’s 25th year

Evo rating
Price
from £87,650
  • Accessible performance, five-cylinder remains a gem
  • Interior design is showing its age, price

Can the Audi TT really be approaching its 25th birthday? Well, given we featured it in the launch issue of evo back in 1998, the answer to this rhetorical question is a somewhat unsettling ‘yes’. Time really does fly.

The TT RS Coupe Iconic Edition is a celebration of this landmark anniversary. Based on the impressive 400bhp turbocharged 5-cylinder TT RS, the Iconic Edition is finished in Nardo Grey and features an extensive exposed carbonfibre aero kit along with edition-specific gloss black 20-inch rims. Other colours and trim are available through the Audi Exclusive personalisation programme at extra cost.

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Just 100 will be sold in Europe with only 11 of those coming to the UK, making it an extremely rare car. Priced at £87,650 it’s very much aimed at diehard TT fans, but its lavish specification and comprehensive package of upgrades go some way to justifying the premium. Whether such rarity means it becomes a bona fide investment grade collector car of the future remains to be seen. For now though let’s see how it drives…

It’s hard to overstate the TT’s impact when it first appeared. Audi was a brand in the ascendancy and the TT, complete with its bold Bauhaus-inspired styling, had a true concept car vibe. Like the vast majority of coupes the driving experience didn’t quite live up to the styling, but it had solid performance, tidy handling (at least once the aero was sorted) and - all-importantly - projected a futuristic image which captured the mood as we approached a new millennium. Unsurprisingly it sold like hot cakes.

Over the decades the TT matured from innovator to icon, fast establishing itself as the default choice for style-conscious car buyers. Coupe segment sales have slowed since the onslaught of SUV crossovers, but the TT remains popular amongst those who want a sports car that doesn’t ask too much from them.

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Viewed in 2022 the TT is something of a throwback. It looks and feels compact - always a good start - but the lumpy aero kit seems at odds with the TT’s design purity. The interior design is very much from the pre-touchscreen age. This dates it but the interior still looks good, and thanks to the proliferation of buttons and switches is wonderfully simple to engage with. In Iconic Edition spec the interior mirror’s the exterior’s strong colour themes, with jet grey and black Nappa leather and Alcantara upholstery lifted by the tasteful use of contrasting yellow stitching. It feels premium and sets the right tone for this kind of special edition.

The 2.5-litre 5-cylinder engine is a real force of nature in whichever Audi you find it. It’s particularly at home in the TT RS, its big-hearted character and mellow warbling note are engaging but not overbearing at modest speeds, but gain an edge as you work it hard through the gears. Satisfyingly muscular when you’re just making progress, its genuinely ferocious when you really extend it. If you love the small-car-big-engine recipe the TT RS still hits the spot.

There’s a lightness to the controls that makes this 400bhp, near 175mph machine feel surprisingly approachable. Senior hot hatch handling traits and an easy precision thanks to direct but not artificially quick steering make it immediately enjoyable to thread along an entertaining road. There’s some very mild torque steer from a standstill as the Haldex all-wheel drive system grapples with all that grunt, but for the most part the RS feels planted at all times. At 1475kg it’s not too chunky, especially given the power and torque on-tap, and with plenty of grip from those big boots and all-wheel drive you really can deploy a lot of performance with very little effort. 

The brakes are a fraction sharp, but you can compensate sufficiently with soft inputs at low speeds. At higher speeds there’s no doubting their power, and combined with the smooth-shifting 7-speed DSG gearbox it makes for a car that’s both quick and confidence inspiring to hustle.

On smooth Spanish tarmac the magnetic adaptive dampers work well. In fact you find yourself firming them up via the Drive Select system for that little bit of extra control, though you’ll want to back things off again at low speeds. Experience of the RS on UK roads suggests a different story - our Fast Fleet long termer can be a real bucking bronco at times - but on the launch route we’re driving it’s undeniably quick, keen and very happy to romp down the straights and slice through curves with enough sparkle to make it memorable.

It’s very strong money for what is an ageing model, but whatever you think of Audi’s ubiquitous coupe, the TT’s 25th birthday deserves marking with something special. For the hundred superfans who secure their spot in the order book, the TT RS Iconic Edition will doubtless be worth every penny.

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