GQ (Australia) - - INSIDE GQ -

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.

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