2016 Audi TT RS review, test drive
22nd Sep 2016 10:44 am
Audi's TT RS could be the perfect sportscar for India.
What is it?
The RS suffix to the name makes it amply clear that this is the fire-breathing version of Audi’s junior sportscar. Headline numbers include 400hp and a 0-100kph time of just 3.7 seconds! So, this is a serious, serious car. It looks so too. If the sexy Catalunya Red doesn’t get you, the RS bits will. Though the basic shape is the same, the hexagonal grille is all black here, the front bumper has vast airdams and there’s a nifty spoiler at the rear too. 20-inch rims (19-inchers are standard) and a 10mm-lowered ride height help complete the transformation from girl next door to ramp- scorching supermodel.
There’s enough new inside the cabin too to tell you this is no ordinary version of the TT. The steering wheel is from the R8, replete with buttons for the starter and Drive Select system. There are exquisitely finished sports seats that can be adjusted for bolstering and also lots of carbonfibre- and body-coloured detailing elsewhere. What carries on into the TT RS is the brilliant Virtual Cockpit digital instrumentation that was put to full use to display our sat-nav route in high-res clarity on the drive event in Spain. Other TT hallmarks like excellent visibility and a genuinely user-friendly cabin also helped us keep our focus on the serious job of driving.
What is it like to drive?
Now to the parts that really elevate this TT to the next level. The TT RS debuts Audi’s latest five-cylinder petrol engine. The carmaker has been building five-pot motors for 40 years and the latest 2.5-litre engine marks the next chapter for the increasingly rare configuration. The all-new engine is 26kg lighter than its predecessor (the engine in question has won its category at the World Engine Awards for seven years straight!) and is also a whole lot more powerful. Peak power is up to 400hp between 5,850-7,000rpm and max torque of 480Nm available between 1,700-5,850rpm. In a car that weighs in the region of 1,400kg, these numbers add up to a lot. Of course, there’s the Quattro too though the system is patently front-biased. Further, there’s launch control too. Full bore launches are really easy and even your grandma will be able to smoke a supercar at a drag meet should the opportunity ever arise. And that’s not all. The TT RS is one of those cars you can just get in and drive fast. We had a few laps at the Jarama race track outside Madrid and getting up to speed quickly on the twisty circuit was easy. The overall feeling is that the all-wheel-drive system always has your back. Yes, purists will find a better steering in a Porsche Boxster/Cayman but the TT RS’ entire setup is more friendly and well, idiot proof. That is to say, it won’t bite your head off if you screw up and always gives you some margin to tidy up the mess. Make no mistake though because this is still a hardcore car. The RS’ turn in is sharp, quick and immensely poised and better than all Audis this side of the R8. It’s good on braking too, especially with the optional carbon ceramic brakes (told you, it’s hardcore) the track test cars came with. A firm ride was only to be expected but the RS wasn’t back-breaking on the speed breakers outside the race track.
Over to the engine which is a bomb. Performance is frantic and it’s incredible what the motor can make the clean-cut TT do. In Dyanamic mode, the engine revs to 7,000rpm with such ferocity, you can forget you’re sitting in a TT. There’s power on demand everywhere you need, and Audi’s seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, as ever, is party to the plans. It was only once in a while that in full auto mode the gearbox couldn’t decide if a shift was needed or not. Nothing that a tug at the gearshift paddles couldn’t resolve.
Audi says the TT RS can max out at 280kph. But whatever be the speed, what you are guaranteed of is an exceptional soundtrack. The engine’s firing order gives it an unusual note – there’s a gruffness to the rorty sound that colours the bass at low revs and shriek in the top end – and it’s really good. You can further press down on a button near the gear lever that opens a flap in the exhaust system to increase the volume. Yeah!
Should I buy one?
The TT RS has just gone on sale in Europe, so the India launch would be well into 2017. Rough calculations also suggest it won’t be cheap. Think in the region of Rs 80-90 lakh (estimated, ex-showroom). That’s a long wait and a lot of money. But the TT RS could just be worth it. Because while the standard TT is a good junior sportscar, the TT RS is a great junior supercar. It looks hot, it's fast and it sounds wicked. But crucially, it is setup in a way you can actually exploit the performance. It’s a car you could drive fast every day of the year. And that’s exactly what makes it special. A junior R8? In more ways than one.