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Driven: Audi’s supercar-slaying TT RS lands

RSpect: 294kW/480Nm from a turbocharged 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine ensures both the Audi TT RS Coupe and Roadster will sprint from zero to 100km/h in less than four seconds.

Sub-$140K price for Audi’s TT RS Coupe, while Roadster version lands at $4000 more

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Audi logo26 May 2017

By TUNG NGUYEN

AUDI’S flagship TT RS has landed in Australian showrooms priced from $137,900 before on-roads for the Coupe and $141,900 for the Roadster, with both versions powered by the car-maker’s new 294kW/480Nm turbocharged 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine.

While the Coupe is cheaper than the outgoing TT RS Plus by $2000 and the new-generation Roadster marks the first time a drop-top RS-badged TT has been offered in Australia, Audi’s new sportscar is expected to be significantly more expensive than incoming, and yet-to-be-priced, RS3 Sportback and sedan – which share the same engine and MQB vehicle platform.

Audi Australia general manager of corporate communications Anna Burgdorf said that there will be some cannibalisation of TT RS sales from the more practical RS3 offerings, but asserted that style-conscious customers are still drawn to the two-door model.

“In some aspects, yes, there might be (cannibalisation),” she said. “There might be people who are looking for a small performance car that might say, ‘well I would choose an RS3 sedan over a TT’, but in general, TT drivers are drawn to the design and they’re drawn to that sportscar nature.

“They don’t feel the same to drive – it’s the same engine, but they don’t feel the same and they certainly don’t make you feel the same as a driver.”

Ms Burgdorf said that buyers of a TT RS or RS3 were likely prioritising different things in a new vehicle purchase.

“I think what the TT says about its owner is that it’s a person driven by design and driven by that really hot sportscar performance, only in a small package,” she said.

“It’s such an emotional decision when you are buying a car, and often when you’re buying a sportcar it’s even more emotional and it’s about how it makes you feel as much as it is about what it says about you when you’re driving it.

“I think the RS3 will be an incredibly popular car because it is also versatile and you can seat more people more comfortably, but I think what the TT is, and always will be for us, is that real design icon that we first saw back in the late 90s that really changed the face of the brand.”

However, sales have slowly been trending downwards for the whole TT range, including the base Coupe and Roadster and hotter S versions, since launching over two years ago.

Last year, Audi recorded 545 new registrations for its TT range, a 16.3 per cent year-on-year decrease, while 45 have found homes in the first four months of 2017, a 73.6 per cent drop over the same period last year.

Ms Burgdorf recognised the slowing sales of the TT model, but said the launch of the flagship TT RS would give the sportscar range a shot in the arm.

“The trend with a car like the TT is that it is always strongest in the first year, then it tends to just taper a bit and usually it’s pretty steady,” she said.

“I think TT RS will give it a boost, we’ve certainly had strong interest so far in this car with about 60 orders in the system, which is good for a really niche model like this.”

A first year sales tally of 100 units is being targeted, according to Ms Burgdorf, with an expected split of 15-85 between Roadster and Coupe.

“I think we’ll go at least 80, maybe to 100 – 100 would be great,” she said.

“We’ve planned on around 80, but we can get production for more, and that’s the critical thing for us, we’re not limited if we’ve got interest.

“The Roadster is new for us so we don’t really know what level that will sell at, it will be niche, but it’s great to have that opportunity to have that lifestyle aspect in such a potent small car.”

The Audi TT RS also marks the Australian debut of the new all-aluminium five-pot, with the launch of the facelifted RS3 Sportback and new RS3 sedan scheduled for next month.

Shoehorned under the svelte bonnet of the TT RS, the 2.5-litre five cylinder produces its maximum 294kW from 5900 to the 7000rpm redline, while peak torque of 480Nm is available from 1700 to 5850rpm.

The new engine utilises aluminium in its construction to save 26kg over the older engine block, contributing to an overall weight saving of 35kgs, with the Coupe tipping the scales at 1440kgs and the Roadster at 1530kgs.

The drop-top’s added weight is attributed to the fabric roof’s folding mechanism, which will open or close in 10 seconds and can be operated at speeds up to 50km/h.

While the first-generation TT RS was available with a manual gearbox, the new version arrives exclusively with a seven-speed S tronic automatic transmission sending power to all corners via Audi’s Quattro all-wheel-drive system.

From a standstill, the TT RS Coupe will hit 100km/h in 3.7s – quicker to the landmark time than the Mercedes-AMG GT S and Porsche 911 Carrera 4S, and only 0.2s slower than the Audi R8 V10 – while the drop-top version will clock 3.9s.

Top speed is limited to 250km/h, while ticking an option will raise the cap to 280km/h.

Fuel consumption is 8.4 litres per 100km for the Coupe with the drop-top 0.2L thirstier at 8.6L/100km, while carbon dioxide emissions are 192 and 196 grams per km for the fixed-roof and Roadster respectively.

Easily distinguished from its more standard TT siblings, the flagship version wears an eye-catching bodykit with Quattro-badged honeycomb front grille, larger air intakes, redesigned front splitter and prominent rear diffuser.

A fixed rear spoiler and signature RS oval exhaust pipes also give away the TT RS’ sporting intentions, while 20-inch wheels available in three different colour finishes are wrapped in 255/30 Pirelli P Zero tyres at each corner.

Tucked behind the big hoops are 370mm ventilated and perforated steel disc brakes at the front with RS-branded eight-piston callipers, while the rears feature smaller 310mm monoblock discs.

Track-intending customers can opt for front ceramic brakes when ordering for an additional $8900, which also replaces the standard red-coloured callipers for grey.

As standard, the TT RS comes with Audi’s selectable four-mode driving system, able to switch between comfort, auto, dynamic or individual to adjust settings including suspension and dampers, steering, and engine performance.

However, the TT RS’ exhaust can be switched from standard to sport independently of driving mode.

Heated RS sports seats are also standard, as is Audi’s 12.3-inch virtual cockpit instrumentation display – which made its debut on the current-generation TT over two years ago – and a part-Alcantara sports steering wheel.

Satellite navigation, digital radio, Bluetooth connectivity with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility are included, but if buyers want a bit more oomph in their sound system, Audi will include a 12-speaker Bang & Olufsen system for an additional $1150.

The Coupe will swallow 305 litres of luggage while the Roadster only has space for 280L to accommodate the folding soft-top.

By default, the TT RS is finished in Nardo grey, but for $650 customers can have their cars finished in Vegas yellow, while $1300 will open up Catalunya red, Glacier white, Mythos black and Daytona grey, and $2000 will net buyers Ara blue or Panther black.

Both cars can be optioned with new headlight and tail-light designs for $3000, with the standard front LED lighting signature replaced with Audi matrix LEDs and the rears with OLED 3D lights.

Two interior colour option packages can also be ticked, each costing $1900, which will change the air vent surrounds, front seatbelt highlights and floor mat stitching to either red or grey.

Standard safety equipment includes front, side and head airbags for driver and passenger, hill start assist, tyre pressure monitoring system, lane keep assist, reversing camera, front parking sensors, blind spot monitoring, cruise control and automatic high beams.

2017 Audi TT RS pricing*
Coupe (a)$137,900
Roadster (a)$141,900
*Excludes on-road costs

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