THE PROS & CONS
- What’s Best: Ultimate TT performance in the top-of-the-line RS model. With the unique raucous roar of the trademark five-cylinder.
- What’s Worst: Sticks to the road like snot on a screen door but, with the sport-tightened suspension, you might want to rethink that takeout coffee…
- What’s Interesting: Standout minimalist design that centralizes all vehicle and infotainment readout to the driver’s view. And that Start Button on the steering wheel is awesome.
There are vehicles you approach slowly, like a hunter stalking dangerous prey.
Or maybe it’s more a gesture of respect, of taking lingering pleasure in the details with anticipation of the raised level of performance potential.
This was the 2018 Audi TT RS, after all, the fastest TT ever, the ultimate expression of one of Audi’s sports car icons.
Granted, a design cynic might snort that the TT, pretty well all Porsches and, in fact, most sports cars of Teutonic ilk look much the same, reminiscent of squashed VW Beetles that something big sat upon.
It’s an image not helped in this case by a Nardo Grey paint job, a monotone shade with all the ambiance of a set of high school lockers.
Bah, there are only minor stumbling blocks in the way of my admiration for the TT’s sporty style.
The lines somehow are edgier than the original and there’s an overall sum total of combined design elements – the curvaceous clamshell hood above oversized air intakes bracketing a single-frame honeycombed grille with quattro logo, the low front spoiler, the sleek LED lights, the aggressive stance dropped 10 mm lower than a regular TT.
I slip into the snug cabin confines, my diamond-stitched Nappa leather RS seat powered all the way back, practically butting up against the minuscule second row which, as in all 2+2 coupes, is both a hilarious joke and a claustrophobe’s nightmare.
It’s more of a parcel shelf than a back seat, really.
But who cares about back seats in sports cars anyway? The show is up front with a driver-centric cockpit, almost Spartan in its simplicity.
There’s nary a thing to be seen from the passenger’s point of view except for a few scant buttons and HVAC controls cunningly built into vents that are rimmed in red, the accent colour for this dark, leather wrapped cabin, also showing up in red stitching on the seats, shifter boot and steering wheel.
All of the instrumentation readouts – speed, tach, even navigation – are bundled within the 12.3-inch digital virtual cockpit readout facing the driver.
A special RS screen displays performance info – boost, horsepower, torque, g-forces and more. A shifting background colour prompts upshifts when in manual mode. And there’s a long list of mod cons, apps and all the amenities you’d expect in a premium performance sled.
I hadn’t had my morning coffee yet, my excuse for briefly fumbling around the dash and steering column for a start button when, hey presto, it was right in front of me all the time.
Start buttons are cool.
A red start button on the steering wheel is way cooler. Stab it and the beast awakes with a snarling rumble.
The TT RS harnesses a 2.5-litre gasoline direct injection (GDI) DOHC engine with turbocharger and intercooler. The unique five-cylinder layout pays tribute to Audi engines of the past that dominated rallying, IMSA and Pike’s Peak trials.
This latest aluminum version (26 kg lighter than its predecessor), comes with a rating of 400 hp and with 354 lb/ft of torque coming on strong from 1,700-5,850 rpm. That works out to 60 hp more than its predecessor for a 17 percent increase in power, resulting in a 0-100 km/h acceleration time of 3.7 seconds and a potential top speed of 280 km/h.
Engine muscle is translated through a seven-speed S tronic DCT automatic transmission putting power to the pavement through all four wheels via Audi’s quattro all-wheel-drive system.
Opposite the red start button on the right side of the steering wheel is a black Drive Select button on the left that controls four driving modes – Comfort, Auto, Dynamic and Individual.
If you’re feeling frisky, select Dynamic, stab the sound control button on the console to open the exhaust flap, and the engine starts to sing with even more gusto.
With your foot to the floor, using launch control if you like, you’re off to the races, literally.
Or, if that’s all a little too boy-racer for you, choose to cruise smoothly with the engine note just a subtle background moan behind the music crooning from the premium Bang-Olufsen sound system.
A final aside on fuel economy, not an important consideration in a pricey performance car, but better in this latest-gen engine with a rating of 12.3/8.2L/100km (city/hwy).
I noticed on the readout, however, that previous drivers had averaged a vigorous 14.9L/100km (comb) while my numbers worked out to a paltry 10.3L/100km (comb).
I blame snowy winter conditions and a whole lot of highway driving. Given a spring or summer test, I swear I could do much worse.
I can just picture pushing that Drive Select button into Dynamic mode, pointing the TT RS in the direction of track lapping, or maybe a windows-down winding mountain road.
And punching that gas pedal.
I think I’d be gone for a long, long time.
2018 Audi TT RS
BODY STYLE: Premium performance sports car.
DRIVE METHOD: Front-engine, quattro all-wheel-drive.
ENGINE: 2.5-litre turbocharged DOHC five-cylinder (400 hp, 354 lb/ft) with S tronic seven-speed automatic.
CARGO VOLUME: 305 litres
FUEL ECONOMY: 12.3/8.2L/100km (city/hwy); As tested 10.3L/100km (comb)
PRICE: $72,900; As tested $85,700 incl Carbon Ceramic Brakes ($5,800), Sport Pkg ($1,750), Tech Pkg ($1,450), Carbon Fibre Inlays ($900), 20-inch Anthracite Wheels ($900), Sport Exhaust ($850), Black Optics ($750), Red Brake Calipers ($400). Freight ($2,095) not incl.
WEB SITE: Audi.ca
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