A fa­mous five is revived

More power and less thirst are key traits in Audi’s re­design.

The Courier-Mail - Motoring - - Prestige - John Carey re­ports

HIGH-pow­ered fives made Audi’s early rep­u­ta­tion. Five­cylin­der en­gines are be­com­ing rare but the brand is not about to give up on the lay­out.

The Ger­mans have just re­vealed a prac­ti­cally all-new five-cylin­der turbo, in an equally new ad­di­tion to the range.

En­gi­neers worked for four years to de­sign and de­velop the 2.5 TFSI of the sporty TT RS. This wasn’t cheap and Audi aims to re­coup its in­vest­ment. This takes time, which means Audi in­tends to keep five-cylin­der en­gines in pro­duc­tion for years, per­haps even decades, to come.

In time, the up­dated five is also sure to be in­stalled in mod­els cur­rently us­ing the older ver­sion, the RS3 Sport­back hot hatch and RS Q3 small SUV.

The changes made are ex­ten­sive as well as ex­pen­sive. New parts in­clude the cylin­der block (alu­minium in­stead of cast iron), crank­shaft, sump (mag­ne­sium in­stead of alu­minium), cylin­der head (vari­able ex­haust valve tim­ing added) and tur­bocharger (larger tur­bine and im­peller wheels). Audi’s en­gi­neers aimed to cut weight and fuel con­sump­tion at the same time as in­creas­ing power and re­spon­sive­ness.

The re­sult­ing 2.5-litre five thumps out 294kW, pre­cisely dou­ble the peak power of the turbo 2.1-litre five-cylin­der used in the orig­i­nal Audi Qu­at­tro road car of 1980. This square­cut coupe pro­vided the ba­sis for a se­ries of spit­ting, snarling and down­right scary all-wheeldrives that were hugely suc­cess­ful in top-level ral­ly­ing in the first half of the ’80s.

The new TT RS road car is su­per-fast yet it’s not daunt­ing to drive. Sim­ply en­gage Launch Con­trol, press on the brake pedal and push the ac­cel­er­a­tor to the floor, then wait a mo­ment for en­gine revs to sta­bilise be­fore re­leas­ing the brakes.

The TT RS leaps for­ward with­out wheel­spin, blares through first gear in a tur­bo­boosted flash, then up­shifts to sec­ond so smoothly the gearchange is more heard than felt. From stand­still to 100km/h takes just 3.7 sec­onds, which only a few years back was the realm of only ex­otic su­per­cars.

None of the ob­vi­ous ri­vals, need­less to say, is any­where near as quick as the TT RS. That this amaz­ing per­for­mance is so easy to tap into points to the ex­cel­lent soft­ware that con­trols the stan­dard seven-speed dou­ble-clutch trans­mis­sion, the all-wheel-drive and the en­gine — you don’t need the skills of an old-time rally ace such as Stig Blomquist or Michele Mou­ton to get the most from the TT RS.

Its lighter en­gine — the re­design shaved 26kg from the turbo five — en­dows bet­ter han­dling than the out­go­ing car.

It’s still not a great en­ter­tainer — the steer­ing is too numb, for a start — but its amaz­ing cor­ner­ing grip, great poise, su­perb trac­tion and strong brakes make it wor­thy of big-time re­spect. And the raspy ex­haust note that only a five can pro­duce is mu­sic for the ears.

Audi chose a great Span­ish race­track, Jarama, for the in­ter­na­tional launch. The car punched out of this tech­ni­cal cir­cuit’s slower cor­ners like a heavy­weight champ.

Later, on pub­lic roads in heavy rain, the Audi was as grace­ful as a prima bal­le­rina. Its huge tal­ent puts it in a dif­fer­ent league from any po­ten­tial pre­mium-grade com­peti­tor.

In­side and out, the TT RS also looks the part. With its big wheels, broad rub­ber, low­ered sus­pen­sion, rear wing and chis­elled snout, it oozes a very classy kind of vis­ual drama.

The cabin is spe­cial, too. It comes with the same steer­ing wheel as Audi’s R8 su­per­car, a sporty ver­sion of the bril­liant Vir­tual Cock­pit in­stru­ment dis­play, snug-hug­ging sports seats and one of the best dash de­signs in the busi­ness.

Audi Aus­tralia aims to price the TT RS Coupe at about $145,000. There’s a lit­tle vague­ness be­cause the car won’t reach show­rooms un­til the mid­dle of 2017, and some de­tails are still to be de­cided.

Un­der dis­cus­sion is whether to also im­port the com­pan­ion soft-top Road­ster (pic­tured above), which would be a lit­tle more ex­pen­sive than the Coupe and a lit­tle slower.

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