TT RS – fast and/or friendly?
Audi TT RS: The fast and the friendliest?
In last month’s piece the Audi TT RS was introduced as my chosen test car to answer the question of whether or not all-wheel driven sports cars are underrated. There’s a problem though, I’ve accidentally chosen a car with a layout that puts it at an immediate disadvantage.
You see, most sports cars have their engine in the middle of the car which is a layout designed to please that diva, Lady Physics. Unfortunately for her, the Audi TT was never really meant to be this serious about performance, and the engineers mounted the engine over the front axle, meaning that the weight is the wrong place for optimum performance. Lady Physics will probably not be happy about this at all.
Audi knows this isn’t ideal, so its engineers have used lots of aluminium in the engine in order to make it as light as possible. It’s actually 26kg lighter than the old TT RS engine, and every little weight saving helps when it comes to trying to make that nose lighter. The engine is a real star by the way – 400 horses, 400Nm of torque, and a soundtrack to die for. A grumpy, throaty roar from the engine is backed up by the raucous exhaust system to produce a hugely exciting audio experience – especially during launch control – using which will catapult the little TT RS to 62mph in just 3.7-seconds, or 3.9 in our roadster variant.
Just in case you don’t know how moving that fast feels, it feels violent. You’re thrown back into your seat and pinned there until you decide to lift off the throttle. Launch control in the TT RS is a brilliant way to show off the genuinely incredible performance that it is capable off. Nobody will be teasing you about the ‘hairdresser’s’ TT after they’ve experienced that. The combination of the engine, 7-speed automatic, and yes, the AWD system combine to produce spectacular acceleration.
Power isn’t everything when it comes to sports cars, there needs to be a rewarding feel to the whole thing too. TTs of old had a tendency to feel a little sluggish on corner entry, but the new RS has a quick, agile front end that is happy to turn in and go apex-hunting at very short notice. It’s really a very easy car to drive very,very fast in, and it will hold onto corners with a real sense of desperation. You can overwhelm it, but you have to be going some serious speed to do so, speeds that you probably shouldn’t be even attempting on a public road. When that happens, the understeer we’ve come to expect from an Audi Quattro system comes to the fore, but I’m still not convinced that’s worse than the alternative.
At no point driving the TT RS did it ever feel like what was needed was some rear instability. There is a balance and agility to it, but it’s about travelling from point A to point B as quickly as possible and I’ve a hard time believing Porsche’s Boxter and Cayman would be faster on the average B-road in the hands of the average driver.
Perhaps the TT RS is more of a mace than a thrusting sword. You can certainly handle it with a degree of force, and being able to occasionally wield it with a disregard for finesse is perfectly acceptable. Unless you’re going to be on a racetrack, there is as much fun to be found here as there is in the adjustability and subtleties of a rear-wheel driven rival.
The new TT RS is a long way from the dull, clumsy feeling Audi sports cars of the past, so write it off at your peril.
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