Audi TT RS

Fe­ro­ciously fast style icon is easy to like, but hard to love


WE ALL know That Guy. Up at 5.30am for a quick 50km bike ride and a swim, knocks out 50 push-ups be­fore swill­ing a wheat­germ smoothie and pour­ing him­self into the most per­fectly cut suit ever to go to his glass­walled of­fice. And yet, no-one re­ally knows who he is. That guy, folks, is the Audi TT RS, the per­for­mance car that no-one re­ally knows about.

On pa­per, it’s got the wood on a lot of gen­uine per­for­mance cars – 0.4sec quicker to 100km/h than a Mercedes AMG C63 S, any­one? – for less money, but it’s al­most like it wears a cloak of anonymity. It stands out in the 2018 PCOTY field a bit, though… but then again, without Lam­bos and Fer­raris clut­ter­ing the place up, that’s eas­ier to do. Once re­garded as Audi’s de­sign en­fant ter­ri­ble, the TT moved ever closer to A4-es­que ter­ri­tory with the launch of the third ver­sion last year, and in so do­ing gave away some of its charm.

Charm is not what we’re here to mea­sure, though. The TT man­ages to beat its 3.7sec 0-100km/h claim by a tenth or so on the way to a siz­zling 11.75sec 400m and third in class be­hind the NISMO and Merc – big hit­ters, you’ll agree.

Around the track, it typ­i­cally leads with its Haldex AWD-equipped nose, but it han­dles di­rec­tion changes very, very well. There’s lots of mumbo supplied with gusto, too, from the lat­est ver­sion of Audi’s amaz­ing 2.5-litre straight-five, com­plete with al­loy block. What a mo­tor – ur­gent, an­gry, seam­less and so, so strong around the short chutes of Win­ton.

On the road, though, it comes over as very clin­i­cal, de­spite that fab­u­lous five-pot sound­track fright­en­ing wildlife into steril­ity. It still doesn’t cop left-foot brak­ing if there’s even a mil­lisec­ond of over­lap be­tween throt­tle and brake, either, and that’s quite an­noy­ing from a com­pany with so much ral­ly­ing DNA.

It also demon­stra­bly uses up its tyres a lot quicker; a damp start to the hill­climb­ing ses­sion plays right into its hands, but as the day warms and the sur­face dries, the front tyres aren’t fans. At all. It def­i­nitely feels very front bi­ased in the man­ner of all Haldex-based sys­tems, too, and is per­haps a bit too safe and planted for a car with a rel­a­tively short wheel­base and this much per­for­mance. It needs a Fo­cus RS-style Twin­ster setup.

So de­spite its po­ten­tial, sixth place is the best it can muster, with judges mark­ing it down for live­abil­ity across the board, and a cou­ple (Morley, New­man) ham­mer­ing it for a lack of dy­namic abil­ity to match that pow­er­train. It’s a some­what sur­pris­ing re­sult given its stats, but while ev­ery­one likes the TT RS very much, it’s too hard to love it. –

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