Audi has been doling out test units as part of its expansion plans in the SA market (read more here). As a result we recently spent time in an Audi TT RS and share our thoughts here.

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The Audi TT RS is currently the most cost-effective way to get into Audi RS ownership, that is until the RS3 twins make their debut here in 2022. It feels as though the TT has been with us for some time, and it has. In 2019 the company gave it a slight nip and tuck to keep it fresh and in line with the styling aesthetic of its stablemates.

Keeping fit

A few subtle tweaks differentiate the newer version from the original. Air inlets in the front bumper have been enlarged, and are divided by vertical strips on the inside and outside. A continuous front spoiler gives the new models a motorsport-inspired look. LED headlamps are standard. A newly designed fixed rear wing with end plates is the biggest change at the rear. Vertical design elements are now visible on both sides above the new RS-specific diffuser. All in all it is a handsome proposition that benefits from a bright colour (avoid silver or black if you can), maybe just not one as leery as the Kyalami green of the test unit.

Check out our Audi R8 Spyder V10 driving review here.

Rally inspired

Under the bonnet is the firm’s well-known 2,5-litre turbocharged inline five. This engine configuration assured its place in the annals of motoring history as it provided the soundtrack to one of the most evocative rally cars of all time, the Audi Quattro. The Group B rally monster slipped and slid its way through the world rally championship accompanied by the warbly sounding motor punctuating gear shifts with wastegate flutters.

In the refreshed Audi TT RS the motor remains pretty much unchanged. Peak power is rated as 294 kW along with 480 N.m of torque. As with all Audi performance models, drive is channeled to the ground by a quattro all-wheel-drive system. Sending power to the drivetrain is a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. Thanks to grip provided off the line by the all-wheel-drive system Audi says the TT RS will blast from rest to 100 km/h in a sportscar-rivalling 3,7 seconds. Flat out it will do a license-busting 250 km/h, or a lock-you-up 280 if you wish, and have R25 200 to spare. 

Wind it up

Our time with the  Audi TT RS was slightly curtailed thanks to inclement weather dished up by the Mother City at the peak of a wet winter. We did venture out as much as the weather conditions allowed us to explore the junior sportscar in a safe manner.

The motor of the Audi TT RS has that same warble that we’ve become accustomed to from the, now, novel cylinder layout. It fires with a flare of revs and burbles smoothly on idle. In normal circumstances the engine is refined and can maintain muted tones. When you really need to fire up the road there is a definite time delay between throttle input and building full power. This sensation can be alleviated by banging down a few gears. Doing so sends you surging along at an elevated rate of knots on a wave of torque, the motor revving out nicely to the upper reaches of the tachometer making you feel like rally legend Herr Walter Rohrl in the mid-1980s (see video at the bottom of this post).

Lacking finesse

One can learn to live with the power delivery characteristics of the inline five. Less impressive is the manner in which the TT RS responds and feeds back to the driver. There is an abundance of grip from the all-wheel-drive layout. Arrive at a corner carrying too much speed and the transversely mounted motor makes its mass felt by gently pushing the nose wide of your chosen line.

There isn’t much finesse to the driving process in the TT RS. Arrive quick, scrub off speed, lean on the throttle heavily and drive out on the quattro’s grip. One can’t adjust the balance of the car with your right foot, especially with the turbocharged power delivery. This makes it an extremely effective point to point machine, in even less-than-skilled hands or ideal conditions. However, it doesn’t deliver driver engagement, adjustability or finesse in the same way that a Cayman or BMW M2 does. 

Summary

Audi’s junior sportscar is a great entry point to the brand. It has oodles of character and a unique powertrain. Plenty of power from the turbocharged mill is effectively handled by the all-wheel-drive system, which provides a level of confidence in almost all road/weather conditions. For those who are stepping into a two-door coupe, from perhaps a hatch or sedan, for the first time will enjoy the pace and roadholding. For those who prefer less theatrics and more nuance from their sportscars may feel a little shortchanged.

Model: Audi TT RS

Price: R1 062 000

Engine: 2,5-litre, inline five turbocharged

Transmission: seven-speed automatic, AWD

Max power: 294 kW

Max torque: 480 N.m

0-100 km/h: 3,7 sec

Top speed: 250 km/h (280 km/h optional)

Fuel consumption: 7,9 L/100 km