What is it?
This is the new Audi TT RS, the good-looking Audi coupe that’s been to the RS finishing school. Under the bonnet, you get a 2.5-litre, turbocharged five-cylinder engine that’s pretty much the same as the one found in the RS3. And, as in the RS3, it generates 400 bhp. That’s a lot in a car the size of a shoe. As a result, the TT RS offers genuinely supercar-like performance. It’ll do 0-100 km/h in 3.7 seconds, and go on to a (limited) top speed of 250 km/h. It may cost just a smidge over AED 300,000, but put simply, it’s impossible to go faster for less.
How does it drive?
The plaudits that the TT RS has earned as the “Baby R8” are well-deserved. This is a fighty, aggressive, and quick little monster. Even with the Audi drive selector set to ‘comfort’, the engine barks and snarls, and the exhaust rattles and pops. This thing wants you to know that it’s a racer – and it behaves like one all of the time. It’s almost like it’s railing against years of derision that the TT is for people who care more about style than performance. A hairdresser’s car, this is not.
Indeed, if you’re looking for a car with which to cruise about looking good, the TT RS isn’t the one for you – you’re better off going for the regular TT. Sure, the RS looks great (particularly with that pointy front end and mega grille), but this isn’t a relaxing car to drive. The suspension is stiffly tuned, the brakes are bitey and squeal at low speeds, and you have to really push on the accelerator to gain access to a decent chunk of power – and accept all of the drama and noise and speed that comes with doing so. Going over speed bumps or cobbled streets is a wince-inducing experience, and on the highway, the tyre roar makes for a less-than-ideal cruising atmosphere.
Really, then, the TT RS is for those who want a supercar experience – and of all of the baggage that comes along with that. Happily, Audi has done a stellar job when it comes to the dynamics of the TT RS, meaning those buyers won’t be disappointed.
Let’s start with the outright speed of the thing. Stick the drive selector into ‘dynamic’, and you’re in for a mind-baffling ride. Floor it from a standstill, and the TT RS drop-kicks your stomach half a mile down the road, while bombarding your senses with a whirlwind of noise and excitement. The outside world becomes a blur as you hurtle towards the horizon, seeing off the national speed limit in seconds. And all the while your ears are pounded by the incredible soundtrack of that rally-bred five-cylinder engine. It’s shouty on the upshifts, and spiky and poppy on the downs. The noise is stellar.
As is the handling. Thanks to the Quattro four-wheel-drive system, you won’t be pulling any drifts in the TT RS, but the traction you get beggars belief. Previous generations of the TT RS were a little nose-heavy and safety-conscious, so they tended to understeer if you were taking corners too quickly. Not so in this new one. The engine is mounted relatively far back, which helps the weight distribution, and the whole package is lighter than it was before. All of which means that the TT RS simply devours any corner at any speed. Grip is monumental, and that stiff suspension keeps you flat and planted. The steering, while lacking much feel, is at least light and direct, meaning you can really place the car at the apex of every corner. It would be phenomenal at a track day.
Complaints? Well, there’s a slight dead zone at the top of the throttle. To get at any meaningful amount of power, you need to apply enough grunt to get the turbo spooled up. It’s simply a question of adjusting your driving style, but similar cars from other brands (and indeed other Audi RS cars) do offer a more immediate throttle response. And it bears mentioning again that the TT RS is always in shouty race mode, meaning it can be a little draining if, say, you just want a quick run to the shops for some milk.
Other than that, there’s very little to criticise the TT RS’s drive over.
Interior quality and tech
No surprises here – the TT RS provides as sleek and pleasant interior as any of Audi’s best cars. There are a lot of plastics around the cabin, but they’re of a high quality and juxtaposed against swathes of leather and Alcantara. The steering wheel is a real thing of beauty, housing a red start-stop button and the drive selector. We’d prefer bigger and more tactile paddle-shifters, but that’s a small complaint.
Tech-wise, the TT RS is bang up to date as well. The third-generation TT was actually the car that introduced the world to Audi’s Virtual Cockpit – a digital instrument cluster that can be totally customised. It’s so integrated into the TT that there’s no screen above the centre console – everything you need is controlled through the Virtual Cockpit, and mostly via buttons on the steering wheel.
This is, on the whole, a good thing, making for less of a distraction when you’re on the move and providing all the information you need at a glance. But that’s provided you’ve set the system up how you want it before beginning your drive. Delving into the car’s functions is fiddly and attention-sapping when you’ve only got the instrument cluster to navigate through.
Elsewhere, it’s worth mentioning that the TT RS is more practical than you think. The back seat behind the driver is completely useless. We’re not exactly tall, and there was no legroom whatsoever for the left-back seat. But you could easily get a kid in the seat behind the passenger, so long as your passenger’s happy to sacrifice a little bit of leg room. In fact, by really squeezing, we managed to fit six people into the TT RS. Okay, one was in the boot, which will swallow either a human, or two suitcases. Important consumer advice, that.
This is a seriously fast, small sportscar, so you’re going to pay a lot for insurance. Budget around AED 7,600 for a fully comprehensive policy. Fuel-wise, though, the TT RS is better than you think – you should get around 650 km from a full tank, even if you’re constantly flooring it. This car will also hold its value pretty well, so long as it’s well looked after.
The TT RS is so much more aggressive than the standard coupe that it’s a wonder it exists at all. But because of the violent way in which it goes about its business, and the extreme speeds it’s capable of reaching, there isn’t really anything like it at this price point. It may cost around AED 300,000, but it provides the thrills of a supercar three times its price. That makes it something of a bargain.