Car reviews - Audi - TT - RS
Striking appearance, strident engine acoustics, supreme quality, individual appeal
Room for improvement
Dynamics aren’t as playful as they could be, very firm ride, cabin lacking in storage
Updated Audi TT RS scores racier styling, extra spec to see out its twilight years
21 Jul 2020
AUDI’S TT RS has made a comeback to the Australian market, returning in facelifted form after homologation issues overseas and other factors conspired to keep the sportscar out of local showrooms for more than a year.
It charges back in with the familiar fire-breathing 294kW 2.5-litre five-cylinder turbo-petrol engine. And while that is no bad thing, there is a suspension upgrade among the equipment overhaul that in overall terms adds a load of extra value to the flagship of the TT range.
With the TT in its final throes of its current lifecycle and not entering a fourth generation – at least, not as we know it – this new RS, now priced from $134,900 plus on-road costs, looks to be the last roll of the dice.
Is it worth the gamble?
As the global penchant for sports coupes continues the wax-and-wane trend that has characterised the category for decades, so too are the fortunes of the Audi TT.
Now deep into the latter years of its third generation, the TT seemingly refuses to succumb to rumours of its impending demise, or indeed the pressure of iconic sporting rivals like the Porsche Cayman.
Audi sold just 79 TTs in Australia last year – exactly half the Cayman’s tally – and numbers in Europe (11,079) and the US (just 1334 sales in 2019) aren’t what you’d call rosy either.
Yet Audi maintains that it’s situation normal for the evergreen and ever-stylish TT, even though this global update for the range-topping TT RS has taken more than 12 months to reach Australia.
This 2020 refresh is all about the beefing up the look and adding value. Audi says the updated TT RS is the most “masculine” TT yet, with its more aggressive front bumper, broader air intakes, chunkier side sills (with gloss-black inlays) and meatier rear diffuser manning up the TT’s svelte form.
And that’s in conjunction with a new grooved rear bumper featuring air-extractor-vent details on either side, as per the updated TT S.
Park the buff new TT RS alongside its 2016-19 predecessor and the earlier car almost appears a little bit tame.
But underneath that amped exterior lurks the same beautifully crafted chunk of German engineering, with an identical mechanical package.
That means a 294kW/480Nm 2.5-litre turbo-petrol five-cylinder engine, mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, just like in the new RS Q3.
But the benefit of stuffing that muscular five-pot across the nose of a TT coupe is a weight saving of 265kg compared to its SUV application, and a serious dose of performance.
Audi claims 0-100km/h in 3.7 seconds, which it says is faster than any sportscar below $160,000.
The other great advantage in the TT is that the five-pot’s RS sports exhaust system delivers more acoustic menace, with a bassier thrum, a louder bark and more gratuitous crackle.
And its character is beautifully integrated with the seven-speed dual-clutch’s all-round slickness.
Along with a formidable braking package (370mm front discs with eight-piston callipers, and 310mm rear discs), Australia’s TT RS also scores standard ‘sports suspension plus’ with adaptive magnetic dampers and seven-spoke Audi Sport 20-inch alloys wearing 255/30ZR20 tyres.
In terms of rapid turn-in, all-weather purchase and corner-exit punch, the TT RS is a scorcher, though it’s always been more of a grip-and-go straight shooter rather than a playful entertainer.
There’s so much traction from its quattro all-wheel-drive system that tail-out theatrics are the domain of disabled stability control and deliberate provocation in extreme situations.
And while the trick magnetic dampers promise a broad range of suspension control, the reality is that even ‘comfort’ delivers a very firm ride.
Maintaining the TT RS’s youthful exuberance isn’t difficult when the blinding colour palette includes fluoro shades like Kyalami Green, Pulse Orange and Turbo Blue.
But now that we’re used to the prevalence of electronic screens in contemporary Audi interiors, there’s no doubting the age of the TT’s six-year-old cabin.
Back in 2014, having a colourful, configurable ‘Virtual Cockpit’ instrument screen seemed like the duck’s guts.
Today, it presents a not-so-dazzling integration of a bunch of functions that exclude wireless Apple CarPlay, although the latter is wired in.
Cabin storage remains limited but the TT RS’s overall interior aesthetics and design details are exquisite, and its feeling of quality is never questioned.
Adding to that haute-couture aura for 2020 is the addition of a 12-speaker, 680-watt Bang & Olufsen stereo as standard, along with wireless phone charging and carbon-twill trim inlays.
And the Aussie TT RS already features pretty much every European option as standard, including Nappa leather trim with hexagonal stitching, and leather-covered door armrests, door pulls and centre console trim.
The flat-bottomed steering wheel gets Alcantara side sections and there’s a pair of circular buttons hanging off it – a black ‘drive select’ one on the left and a bright red ‘start/stop’ button on the right.
And it’s these details that garnish the TT RS experience to perfection.
Audi Australia says the 2020 TT RS offers $6500 more value than the previous model, including standard metallic paint and Matrix LED headlights with sequential indicators.
And while none of that will turn the TT RS into a purists’ Porsche-beater, it will definitely please anyone who takes pleasure in automotive design and craftsmanship.
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