The third-generation TT has been gracing streets with its unique looks since it launched locally in early 2015, but it has taken nearly 18 months to arrive at this, the full fat TT RS performance flagship.
Its engine has gained an extra cylinder, interior and exteriors have been RS accessorised and its 294kW five-pot turbo is enough to get from zero to 100km/h in just 3.7 seconds. Until a TT RS Plus arrives, this is the most powerful vehicle to roll on the MQB platform alongside the RS3 Sedan, which has the same engine.
- Compared with the entry-level Audi TT the RS flagship costs an extra $63,950, but its five-cylinder engine sound alone is worth almost every cent of the extra investment. In addition to the weirdly intoxicating exhaust report, the engine produces some theatrical turbo sounds from the front end too.
- Acceleration is energetic and the 0-100km/h figure of 3.7 seconds is entirely believable. Traction off the mark is virtually infallible in all conditions thanks to the trademark quattro all-wheel drive system.
- The same transmission also allows impressive pace through corners. Body roll is minimal especially in Dynamic Drive Select mode and grip levels are far too high to fully explore on public roads.
- Like almost everything in the Audi stable, the TT’s interior is the industry standard. Top quality materials meet beautiful design that also manages to be understated and unpretentious.
- The Virtual Cockpit instrument cluster is the centrepiece of the cabin and unlike other Audi models that have adopted the fully digital instrument cluster, a second central screen is not located in the dash. That allows a pure and uncluttered dashboard layout without compromising on functionality.
- Boot space and practicality is surprisingly good. The large tail gate allows easy access of the contents and, for weekends away with just two on board, the folding second row of seating allows the luggage area to be expanded to a very generous 712 litres.
- As a blank canvas the TT is a handsome starting point, but the RS enhancements add a healthy dose of visual aggression.
- With a little more budget, the $3000 optional Advanced Lighting package is well worth it. On full beam, the Matrix LED headlights are intensely bright and the auto-dipping function is eerily impressive. Add to that the intriguing organic LED tail lights and dynamic indicators all round, and the package is our must-have option.
- While the quattro all-wheel drive system is hugely grippy and the chassis is sharp, the driving experience is not as rewarding as some sports cars in the segment. As a machine for getting places in a hurry, there are few that can match the TT RS’ pace, but a little more character would be welcome.
- Huge 20-inch wheels are standard but overwhelm the TT’s elegant proportions and contribute to a very firm ride.
- Expansive rear window and elegant rear roofline is pure coupe but standing water on the boot lid is allowed to pour into the luggage area when opened.
- Distant windscreen positioning is integral to the TT’s good looks but exacerbates A-pillar intrusion on your forward vision.
- Cabin space is adequate for front row occupants but storage cubbies are limited. While door pockets, centre console and glove box are give options for covered storage, each is on the slim side and limit the type and number of objects that can be stowed.
- Second row seating is more a gesture than a practical proposition. While adults can be accommodated with the front seats wound forward, it is not a solution for four-up roadtrips.
- With a heavy right foot, the TT RS’ tiny 55-litre fuel tank needs replenishing with frustrating frequency.
ANY RIVALS I SHOULD CONSIDER?
Porsche’s Cayman S offers an excellent two-seater coupe for the driving enthusiast in the same price bracket as the Audi with only 37 fewer kilowatts. Its engine is in the middle as opposed to the front-engined TT, and it sends power to the road via the rear wheels only.
If you are after a more traditional sports car recipe of front engine and rear drive, Jaguar’s F-Type Coupe is on offer in mid-range V6 S guise. Like the Porsche, Jaguar’s offering is available with either manual or automatic transmissions, while the Audi is strictly dual-clutch auto only.