The Audi TT has always been a snappy dresser with a peppy personality you would not mind spending a long winding-road day with, but add a cylinder and half a liter of displacement? The sprightly coupe turns nearly satanic. All new for 2018, Audi TT RS drops some weight, gains more power, offers additional technology and sees new design elements. Harking back to German automaker’s successful motorsports history, TT RS is the latest model to join the brand’s new Audi Sport lineup, which not only includes R and RS models but also extends to customer racing and performance parts.
5 is an uncommon number of cylinders for a modern day engine. Cars on road today generally feature piston chambers in pairs, 4, 6, 8, 10, but 5? What would that even sound like? Glorious would be the answer. Not wheezy or anemic, like many inline fours, or obnoxiously angry, like those of V-shaped variety. No, turbocharged 5 cylinder that is the heart of the TT RS and RS 3 models bellows a strange yet melodic rumble. If you are not aurally satisfied, then your waxy ears are choking from a lack of soul. Featuring an all new 2,5 liter TFSI 5 cylinder engine, TT RS offers a smile carving 400 hp and 354 lb-ft of torque, both up from the previous generation’s numbers of 360 hp and 343 lb-ft of torque and thanks to its lightweight aluminum construction, maximum torque band is between 1,700 and 5,850 rpm, but what really gives the engine its unique voice is 1-2-4-5-3 firing order of cylinders. This alternating between adjacent cylinders and those farther apart creates that distinctive Audi only song. Add optional RS sport exhaust for an even more thunderous howl from the 2 large tailpipes. Additionally, engine itself is more compact at less than 20 inches in length and weighing 57 pounds less than previous generation. More than 40 pounds of weight savings is due to aluminum engine block and upper part of oil pan being made of magnesium. Fuel economy is EPA rated at 19 city, 29 highway and 22 combined mpg. Coincidentally, even with weight savings, the 0 to 60 mph time of the TT RS remains identical to the previous model at 3,6 seconds. We are complaining about the gearbox.
Slow a no-go
As with the rest of the TT lineup, TT RS also is now a single transmission car, equipped with only a 7 speed dual clutch transmission. Rest in peace, 6 speed manual. The Volkswagen Group knows its DCTs, which have proven to be quick shifting and smooth. Standard paddle shifters are not dinky “sporty looking” play things either but provide ample manual-shifting enjoyment. While not same as having a left foot pedal participant and a right hand gear rower, TT RS is a hoot to drive. Featuring standard quattro all-wheel drive along with 19 inch wheels and summer performance tires, TT RS seemed almost bored when going slow. Effortless in acceleration and poised in composure, performance coupe acted as if fast was only speed it knew. AWD provided grounded traction, instilling more confidence than you actually had. TT RS features specifically tuned progressive steering, which provided great driving feedback. On track test also were equipped with Dynamic plus package, which adds performance-oriented features such as carbon ceramic front brakes, an RS fixed sport suspension, a carbon fiber engine cover, OLED taillights, a direct tire pressure monitoring system and a 174 mph top speed limiter.
While top speed wasn’t attained, TT RS felt planted on track, getting to speed quickly, sticking to off-camber corners, and cutting along chicanes with ease. Out and about through town, coupe proved to be a smooth operator. The brakes are solid whenever unexpected quick and blind turns popped up along our otherwise pleasant drive route. As clean and functional a design as exterior is, TT RS cabin offers complication bordering on excessive. For example, while cozy coupe does have seat belts for 4 passengers, rear seats are ample enough to comfortably accommodate only the 4 legged, fits in a purse kind of friend. More exasperating is climate control being integrated into the air vents. Each vent includes a knob responsible for a specific setting. The 3 center vents, from left to right, control fan speed, temperature and mode. Outside vents control seat heat settings. There are also 2 outer turn rings. The inner ring adjusts directionally based on vent angle preference while outer ring features a wattle-type knob to open or close vent and digital readouts become almost indiscernible when wearing polarized sunglasses.