:10 Jonny Lieberman: Senior Features Editor Is there a cooler engine on planet earth than the TT RS’ burping, snarling, turbo five-cylinder?”
Talk about a contrast in style— America’s Corvette blusters with noise, tire smoke, fear, and slightly disappointing track numbers, while Germany’s technical Audi TT RS delivers assured competence, sensible understeer, and surprisingly quick lap times. Multiple editors on Route 198 wondered aloud whether all 400 horses were hitched up and pulling (answer: yep). After his lapping session, Randy Pobst was shocked to hear he’d run within about a second of the Porsche 718 Cayman GTS “sweep vehicle” (page 43).
Although its lap times were quicker than they felt from the driver’s seat (within 1.5 seconds of the Aston and almost 4.0 seconds ahead of the nextquickest Alfa), they’d have been quicker still with better brakes and more performance-oriented all-wheel-drive tuning. “The car wouldn’t stop,” Pobst recalled. “There wasn’t enough bite, and the pedal was kind of soft. I think I lost a lot of time because I didn’t trust the brakes. It needs more power to the rear wheels to balance it.” He also found the shock damping inadequate and generally felt the RS badges wrote checks this chassis wasn’t cashing. “When I see ‘RS’ on an Audi, I have really high expectations. The TT RS is a huge disappointment. The compromises for comfort slow it down on track.”
Our judges agreed. Chris Walton wished the Audi was more amenable to lift-throttle rotation. Jethro Bovingdon concurred: “The balance is one-dimensional with almost zero throttle adjustability.” But Mark Rechtin
found this trait reassuring. “Once you set your steering angle,” he said, “a grenade couldn’t throw it off its line.” Scott Evans postulated that its “super-consistent behavior and response” would be “perfect for beginners.” Still, in a head-to-head, Evans quipped: “Would I buy this over a Cayman at the same price? Not a chance.”
Everybody loved the Ur-quattroreminiscent five-banger’s snarl, though Erick Ayapana wished “the volume was cranked to 8—it’s at about 3.”
In short, the TT RS left us all wanting more … something. “It doesn’t actually need more power,” Ed Loh said. “But it needs to feel more powerful, sharper, more directed. Where’s the danger?”
MULTITASKER This compact cockpit looks super clean by incorporating HVAC switches in the vents and the infotainment screen in the main instrument cluster. Bravo.