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First drive: Audi TT’s arresting proposition

High five: The flagship Audi TT RS packs a turbo five-cylinder engine, punching the coupe to 100km/h in 4.7 seconds.

Audi harks back to past glories with TT performance flagship

15 Dec 2009

AUDI has gone back to the 1980s with an inline five-cylinder turbocharged all-wheel-drive flagship version of its TT style icon.

On sale now from $133,700, the TT RS is meant to evoke the company’s most loved car, the ‘Ur’ (German for ‘original’) Quattro produced between 1980 and 1990.

‘Evoking’ is the word, though, as the TT RS is neither technically nor visually like the classic old Audi.

Under the bonnet is a transversely mounted (rather than longitudinally as in the Ur-Quattro) Volkswagen-derived 2480cc 2.5-litre twin-cam 20-valve five-cylinder common-rail direct-injection petrol TFSI engine delivering 250kW of power between 5400rpm and 6500rpm and 450Nm of torque from 1600rpm to 5300rpm.

“It has a firing interval of 144 degrees and a firing order of 1-2-4-5-3, alternately between directly adjacent cylinders and cylinders that are far apart,” Audi states.

Fuel consumption is rated at 9.2 litres per 100 kilometres – a fine result, crows Audi, for the amount of oomph on offer. The 0-100km/h time is a Porsche Cayman S-slaying 4.7 seconds (versus 4.9s for the Zuffenhausen sports car) while top speed is electronically limited to 250km/h.

Like the Quattro, the TT RS sends power to all four wheels via a manual gearbox, but the modern-day sports car’s is a six-speeder unit (from the Volkswagen T5 Transporter range) rather than a five-speed manual transmission.

7 center imageDon’t go searching for any S-tronic DSG dual-clutch technology, though – apparently there is none for now that can quite handle all the Audi’s prodigious performance.

Another big difference is that the TT RS’s transverse engine application means it cannot employ the Torsen Differential four-wheel drive hardware that helped the Ur-Quattro dominate motorsport and change the way sports cars are configured.

Instead there is a derivation of the Swedish Haldex electronically controlled and hydraulically actuated multi-plate clutch system that Audi says still provides permanent four-wheel drive “in milliseconds” if the front wheels begin to slip. Like all TTs, the RS is built off a version of the PQ35 platform that underpins the Mk5/6 Volkswagen Golf and current Audi A3, among a whole host of other Volkswagen Group products.

However, far from being a Golf in drag, the TT is 68 per cent aluminium in the front and 32 per cent steel out back, thanks to Audi’s aluminium space frame technology pioneered in the A8 limousine.

While leveraging aluminium helps the RS achieve a commendable 1450kg kerb weight, steel provides much needed rear weight to help better balance the TT at high speed, an Audi insider tells us.

The front track measures up to 1555mm and houses a pair of MacPherson struts with a triangular lower wishbone arrangement and plenty of aluminium parts, while a four-link rear axle (on a 1546mm track) employs high strength steels and is rigidly attached to the TT’s subframe for “optimum handling characteristics”.

Audi fits newly developed springs and dampers, and after exhaustive testing at the Nürburgring, slammed the RS down 10mm compared with regular TTs.

Aussie-bound cars are equipped with Audi’s lauded magnetic ride system that uses synthetic hydrocarbon containing tiny magnetic particles to help stiffen (Sport setting) or soften (in Comfort) the pressures as needed. Audi reckons there is virtually no lateral roll in the former mode.

Brakes are via 370mm front and 312mm rear discs, using a set of aluminium four-piston callipers, and include perforated front friction rings for maximum heat dissipation. Specially recalibrated ESC stability control software results in no engine traction intervention in Sport mode as well as later than usual brake interference.

Wheels wear 9Jx19 alloys with 255/35 section tyres.

All Australian-bound TT RS vehicles will include these 19-inch alloys as standard, along with DVD-based navigation system, special RS bucket seats in ‘Fine Nappa’ leather trim, the aforementioned magnetic ride technology, a hill start assist feature, and Xenon high intensity discharge headlights.

The latter include daytime running lights with 12 LEDs, to help give the RS some visual differentiation from lesser TTs – as do the flared side sills, matt aluminium mirror housings, redesigned bumpers, integrated rear diffuser, twin oval exhaust pipes and fixed spoiler.

Audi quotes a very 1980s drag coefficient rating of 0.32. Other interesting RS figures include a body-in-white weight of 206kg (140kg aluminium and 66kg steel), an engine weight of 183kg and pistons and rings that each tip the scales at only 492g.

The RS is the sixth Audi to adopt the RS nomenclature after the Porsche-built B4 80-based RS2 of the 1990s, as well as a pair of A4-based RS4 and A6-derived RS6 models over the last decade.

Audi expects to sell around 80 units a year in Australia, according to managing director Joerg Hofmann.

“Our RS models, while niche, are always very popular for buyers wanting the ultimate in performance. The TT RS offers superb, pure sports car styling with exceptional grunt. It is without doubt – a very fun car to drive,” Mr Hofmann said.

“However, the appeal of the TT RS doesn’t end there. The new generation TT is larger, longer and lighter than its predecessor, and even with its superb performance, the TT RS still manages to offer efficient driving and low CO2. These traits will certainly appeal to Australian buyers.”

Audi unveiled the TT RS at last March’s Geneva motor show.

2010 Audi TT 2.5 RS pricing:
TT 2.5 RS $133,700

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