THE AUDI TT RS
AS WE DISCOVERED IN SPAIN, AUDI’S UPCOMING TT RS IS A PERFECT BLEND OF BAUHAUS DESIGN, SCIENCE-FICTION TECH AND SUPERCAR SPEED.
Normally it’s a joy to see people dancing in the streets. And, when those people are madly and muddily celebrating the first precipitation they’ve seen in more than three months in this corner of Spain, at the end of the most brutal summer in memory, it’s tempting to join them in their rain dance. That is, unless you happen to be in town to drive a new Audi TT RS that’s so powerful it produces its own thunder. In that case, it’s possible to feel slightly put upon by the weather, particularly when a glance at the forecast suggests the next week will return to blazing sunshine. The real shame of it is that the roads we’d been belting along (before raindrops the size of kittens started falling) are so fantastic. There’s a real sense of being in the desert here, with sparse mountains of mottled red rock and actual tumbleweeds blowing across our path as the wind picks up. That means you can see through the corners, which wind in a seemingly endless series of ‘S’ and ‘U’ bends, as far as the eye can see. Or you would be able to – were it not pelting with rain.
Still, it’s at moments like these that one really respects Audi’s insistence on all-wheel drive for its sportier machines – a major point of difference from competitors like BMW’S M2 and Porsche’s Cayman. That all-paw grip – which gives us the confidence to push on, even on slippery roads – also allows the TT RS to steal a significant margin on the rear-wheel drivers when it’s dry. Basically, this new, second-generation TT’S party trick is speed – and we’re talking supercar levels of the stuff. One generation back, in 2013, Audi’s beastly R8 could belt to 100km/h in 4.3 seconds with its V8 engine, or a properly super 3.6 seconds with the Lamborghini-sourced 5.2-litre V10. Those figures give some proportion to how outrageous the performance of this all-new, 2.5-litre, five-cylinder engine is, because it can roar its way from zero to 100 in just 3.7 seconds. That’s almost half a second faster than the car it replaces.
Constructed with large amounts of aluminium and magnesium, the new engine is 26kg lighter than the previous 2.5-litre, which helps the balance and handling of the car; yet it makes 29kw more power, with 294kw, and 15 more torques, at 480Nm. Apply the bonkers launch-control feature, and all four wheels rip into the road then fire you at the nearest corner in a genuinely alarming fashion, made all the more exciting by the uniquely bronchial blast of the fivecylinder configuration, also making hilarious farty bangs when you get off the throttle. It’s that torque, however, that you really appreciate – all of it’s available from just off idle, at 1700rpm, right up to 5500rpm. It provides a crazy surge of acceleration that truly puts the TT RS in the supercar class. Indeed, while it competes on price with the Cayman (about $145,000 when it arrives mid 2017), it’s closer to the Porsche 911 on pace. With its zero-to-100km/h time of, at best, 4.7 seconds, a Cayman will be lucky to do more than stare at a TT RS’S backside. Levelling the playing field is the fact that sports cars need to be about more than just pace – G-force-inducing corners are more fun than straight-line speed. There’s no arguing with the Audi’s efficiency, or point-to-point pace, but it’s slightly lacking in the kind of tail-wagging joy you get from a rear-drive M2 or Porsche. Perhaps the biggest failing of the TT RS is that its steering is so effortlessly light that it feels a tad cold compared to the muscular warmth of its competitors. You might be faster in your Audi, but you’d probably be smiling more in one of the others. In the end, unless you’re talented enough to notice the differences in grip and feedback at maximum attack, it’s a choice that will largely come down to style – and with its Bauhaus proportions and angry RS wings and bumps, the Audi’s a clear choice in that regard. Step inside, fire up the ‘Virtual Cockpit’ and the choice might become even clearer, because this really is the best, and most Minority Report- ish interior in the business. Audi deserves plenty of plaudits for the engineering genius of this car, and its sheer eyeball-squashing speed. And there will be plenty of buyers who find its supercar numbers irresistible. audi.com.au