Audi Set to Impress Yet Again with TT RS
By Zlatan Stankovic on September 22, 2017
Over the years, there has been some car manufacturers that immediately grab the headlines when news is released regarding a new model and Audi has earned a place on this list. As soon as you couple this with two very special letters (TT, of course!), the excitement builds even more and this is what we have with the news of the 2018 Audi TT RS.
Back in 2014, we saw the debut of the third generation of TT models and they set the world alight. However, there comes a time in every product lifecycle that we start to think about ‘the next one’. With mobile phones currently, we have a prime example because everybody wants to know about the next iPhone or Android device just months after the release of the most current model. For us, and all fans of TT, this was very much the case as we reached the middle of 2016 and we hit the two-year anniversary of the 2014 release.
For some time, we’ve been waiting patiently - not all of us have been patient, you social media users know who you are! - for even the smallest piece of news and now we’ve been rewarded handsomely with the TT RS. In fact, we managed to get ourselves behind the wheel of this awesome machine just recently and this means we can give you all the information you need (and more) regarding performance, how it looks, how it feels, etc!
The BasicsBefore we launch into any tremendous detail, we should first discuss the basics since you may not have seen any details regarding the TT RS. If you’re reading this, you probably keep up-to-date with industry news but we can never be too careful. Compared to the 2014 model, we’re looking at something that’s lighter, more powerful, and on a whole new level. In fact, the TT RS will have nearly twice the amount of power as the base model. How is this the case? Over the years, Audi has been working on a five-cylinder model and now we finally have the result.
Entering the market at a little over $65,000, we should confess that this is just the base model and you’ll be paying closer to $80,000 with all the toys and added benefits. For example, the Technology package is worth a stunning $3,500 and will contain an improved infotainment and audio system. In terms of performance, $1,000 on top of the selling price will introduce a sports exhaust and this is perhaps one of the best investments of the lot. Elsewhere, the Dynamic plus package is set to cost around $6,000 and it provides a fixed setup as opposed to the magnetic suspension; the upgrade will also add front ceramic brakes and the top speed of the model should increase to nearly 175mph.
In terms of raw performance numbers alone, the base TT RS comes in already ahead of the M2, Cayman GT4, and the 718 Cayman S and this is impressive in itself.
Sitting Behind the WheelJust recently, we were lucky enough to sit *almost* behind the wheel as we were driven around a test track and, if we had any doubts previously, they soon disappeared because we could feel the power vibrating through the base of the car. With 400 horsepower underneath the throttle, we could feel every single one of them get to work but not in an uncomfortable way. Compared to some experiences we’ve had with sports cars, the Audi remained in control at all times and it wasn't the sort of nasty vibration you get with some models. Instead, it was just letting us know that it had control and was going to treat us to an enjoyable experience.
After being driven around a few fast-paced corners at the test track, we could tell that Audi Sport is taking the US market more seriously than ever before. With the five cylinders just waiting to create an experience that hasn't been seen before, they’re providing a road car that wouldn't be out of place on a rally track. In Europe, they’ve been lucky enough to see the RS name used for the past few years and much of North America has been left outside like a child looking in on all their friends through the window.
At this point, you might say ‘well, what about the R8?’ and you’re right; we are extremely lucky to have had such a stunning car for so long. However, there’s just something different about models that have never been sold within the United States before. With Audi next year, not only do we have the 2018 TT RS but we also have the RS3 Sedan and we think it shows where Audi Sport is going in the years ahead. More than anything else, the German brand has ARRIVED in the US and we don’t see how they could ever pull back again.
With the new approach the company is taking to developing the RS models, these two cars should provide the most integrated RS packages that we’ve seen so far. For this reason, we have extremely high hopes and we know for a fact that many Audi fans here in the US do too. For many years, Audi engineers would be limited in their reach because the hardened version would only be created once the base car had settled. From 2018 and these two models, the Audi Sport team will be at the forefront of the process and the inefficiencies that once existed will disappear.
The Ultimate ExperienceJust recently, we saw the ‘Nardo Gray’ color and the best way we can sum it up is by telling you it won’t be for everyone. At first, it looks similar to the cement-like colors you might see on a building site but it actually soon grew on us and we walked away much happier than we were when we first caught a glimpse earlier in the day. With the Black Optic package, this adds character and a darker appearance on the outside.
On the inside though, it’s a different story and the leather seats are a little lighter with accents in all the right places; the ignition button built into the steering wheel within the spokes is also a fantastic feature. Immediately, this made us feel as though we were in a mini R8 and this isn't necessarily a bad thing.
As we twisted around the tight bends of the test track, the handling was phenomenal. Whenever you want to throw caution to the wind and give it absolutely everything, the dynamic drive mode can be selected before then nudging the shifter back one to activate the ’S’ mode shifting. Once this is ready, you’ll break all speed limits in record times but what’s most impressive is that the Audi clings to the road and this level of grip is phenomenal for the speeds we were driving. At times, it almost felt like a scalextric set and that we were slotted into the ground because the grip kept all four wheels where they should be rather than squealing, getting excited, and moving around all over the place.
As you might imagine, the titanium exhaust was enough to keep our ears ringing for a while afterward and the crackles that come with the downshifts will make you want the windows down. When on the hardest setting, you’ll notice the magnetic ride suspension but this is what we love about the TT RS; the settings and opportunities to customize the driving experience depending on what you need.
In terms of steering, we could see that it worked a treat and, even though you feel as though you’re offending it in some way, shuffle steering around the slower corners works just fine and this is actually a worrying test for some models. Often, the manufacturers spend so much time worrying about the speed and performance that they forget slow corners and handling as a road car but the Audi excels (as if we were expecting anything different!).
Under the HoodTo finish, the five-cylinder turbocharged 2.5-liter inline engine feels right for this model and it suits the RS badge while living up to the name. If you’re wondering how the odd number of cylinders works, it almost creates music and, the higher the revs go, the more melodic the sound becomes. Rather than a shrill sound you get with the four or even the meaty hum of the six, the five cylinder seems to create a perfect balance we didn't even know existed.
With a gun-drilled hollow crankshaft, 57 pounds can be saved immediately compared to the 2014 model and the 150 horsepower per liter perhaps puts into context the genius design and performance of this model. With the Quattro system attached, the power can be sent anywhere you like and the launch control model allows 100% to be sent to the rear wheels which creates a 0 to 60mph speed test of around 3.6 seconds; just in case that didn't register, that’s quicker than the first generation R8 supercar!
RS3So, we’ve talked for long enough about the TT RS but what about the RS3? Well, for starters, it has the same motor, seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, suspension, and is $10,000 cheaper. What’s more, the Quattro system remains so can it compete? Unfortunately, the short and most accurate answer to this question would be ’no’.
However, it’s available in stunning Ara Blue Metallic and you’ll also have two more doors for good measure. If the model meets your needs, there’s no reason why you can’t investigate a little further and end up choosing this option. If you’re all about the speed and performance though, one of the biggest considerations to keep in mind is the extra 300 pounds of weight. Sadly, this has a huge impact and is what really separates the two and can add half a second to the speed test.
SummaryDon’t get us wrong, both are absolutely outstanding. With both, they have phenomenal amounts of grip, the performance is enough to leave you smiling, and the design looks stunning. For us though, the TT RS shines brightest and we can’t wait to see it in action more and more as time goes on!
Image source: www.autoblog.com