The latest from Ingolstadt is the souped-up TT. Audi’s RS badge brings with it some pretty cool credentials and claims. The completely reworked 2.5 litre 5-cylinder engine under the hood is the star of the show. But we will get to that. The RS comes in both coupe and roadster, and the cars are nearly identical. I spent considerable time with both in the beautiful countryside outside Spain’s capital Madrid.
The metal or carbon fibre finish on the mirrors and bumper inserts, cooler alloys, the different front grille, the RS badge, the sports exhaust finished in chrome or glossy black, and the fixed spoiler – are all very obvious giveaways that this car carries the RS trim. It makes the car look a little bit different from the regular TT.
The car also sits about 10 mm lower than its stock alter ego. The car also gets the latest technology innovation from Audi. The new OLED or organic LED lighting on the taillights is a first for any Audi production model. The OLEDs do away with the need for reflectors in the cluster, and offer sharper, clearer graphics, while maintaining brightness and great visibility for the lights. The design is pretty sweet too!
But looks aside, is it fun? Instantly so! The TT RS uses Audi’s 7 speed dual clutch gearbox that’s nice and quick. And yes the Bavarian carmaker’s experience with its Quattro all-wheel-drive really shines on this car. Power is up significantly from 360 bhp in the last TT RS to a big 400 now. Torque is also generous at 480 Nm now and the engine delivers its peak torque at 1700 rpm – so fairly low down and plateaus at that peak level all the way to 5850 rpm. So for most part of the performance band, and also almost from word go – its great torque available to the Quattro system. Having drive select on this car is also great, with the comfort mode sending more power up front, while in dynamic the split can be 50:50.
The car’s ride – especially in dynamic mode – is rather stiff, and while that worked beautifully well on the gorgeous Spanish roads I drove on, it may not do so well on desi ones. The car is 36 kgs lighter than its predecessor, and most of that weight reduction comes from the reworked 5 cylinder engine unit. An aluminium crankshaft, magnesium sump and many more changes have brought this about. All of this mattered most when testing the true performance quotient of the TT RS. I did get the chance to do just that at the famous Jarama Circuit – and it was naturally the coupé that had to get on the track to really understand the car’s capability. Once the home of the Spanish Grand Prix until the 1980s the circuit is still an active motorsport hub and I enjoyed the 3.85 km track immensely. The car had a lot to do with that! The TT RS handles rather well. Though with more than 50% weight up front the tail cannot come out as much as you may want it to! So its not as much fun on a track as a rear wheel drive car can be. And that is because despite the Quattro system being capable of sending half the power to the rear wheels, the front wheels maintain a bias pretty much throughout. Steering is excellent though and very much more linear in comfort mode. Which was best saved for when I got back on the open road.
I drove both the coupé and the new roadster on the road – on both highway and country roads. In pure performance terms the coupé did feel a bit sharper though the engine is identical on both. The coupé is what I expect we will get in India, though it will be many many months from now, and will cost a bomb! The TT RS will allow Audi India to play against the Mercedes-AMG SLC and also some of the Porsches, but we all know it’s a niche market restricted to a few.
After a few more kilometres in the coupé, I got greedy and wanted to enjoy some more of the gorgeous weather and countryside we had and soon was back in the roadster. A lot of work has gone in to making the car’s engine a delicious 5-cylinder symphony. It’s a big takeaway of the TT RS driving experience for me! And yes that theatre comes alive when the top is down! The beautiful, twisty, winding mountain roads, sunshine, thick clouds with a gorgeous blue sky – all that enhanced it for me no doubt! Yes the countryside outside Spain’s capital in the Madrid region is spectacular as you can see in the accompanying pictures! The car has a slightly distinct character when you drive it on the road as compared to when you drive it on the track. And it adapts to your driving style and the road conditions in most part by itself – though you can fiddle around with drive select in individual mode of course. The steering feels very direct and precise, but in dynamic has a slight two-step feel, while is more linear in comfort as I said. Cornering is sharp, and really makes for an enjoyably dynamic experience with the car.
Audi has done very well with the new TT RS. The engineers should be proud because this isn’t just a more powerful TT. They’ve taken an already well-built, fun and dynamic car and made it a little monster – ever ready to take on what you throw at it. The last generation car sold just about 4000 units worldwide, I expect this one will do much more than that. With a few single or may be even double digit purchases at best contributing to that cause from India.