Audi TT RS review – the Porsche Cayman S beater?

evo staff
2 Oct 2017

New five-cylinder engine delivers huge performance, but the TT RS can't capture true sports car greatness

Evo Rating: 
Devastatingly quick, sounds great
Adjustability is not the TT RS’s thing

This is the second generation of Audi TT RS (the very first generation of TT didn’t get an RS model, with the stripped-out Sport being the most extreme version). It is available in both coupe and roadster forms. The launch of the RS also coincides with 40 years of  five-cylinder engines. 

Thanks to an all new engine, lighter MQB based chassis and quattro all-wheel drive system, the TT RS boasts some pretty impressive figures and is ready to make the latest four-cylinder Porsche 718 Cayman S a little nervous.

> Click here for our review of the new Audi RS3 Saloon

Audi TT RS: in detail

Performance and 0-62mph time > The TT RS may be based on fairly humble underpinnings, but it accelerates like a scalded cat, getting to 62mph in an insane 3.7sec.

Engine and gearbox > The jewel in the TT RS’s crown is the engine. Unlike four-cylinder rivals, the Audi’s 2.5-litre in-line five-cylinder is dripping with character, has huge mid-range torque and almost sounds like the iconic Audi Quattro of the 1980s.

Ride and Handling > Audi doesn’t have a great track record when it comes to exceptional handling but, while it still trails the Porsche Cayman, the TT RS is a far more dynamically sorted machine than its predecessor.

MPG and running costs > The trade-off for the high performance is pretty average economy. The 34.4mpg combined cycle figure is unlikely to be matched in the real world; especially when the acceleration is so addictive.

Interior and tech > Not just another excellent interior, the TT RS is genuinely brilliant inside. A masterclass of subtlety, the TT RS adds a raft of details which help make it feel worth every penny of its £50k asking price.

Design > The design tweaks made to turn the standard TT into an ultra sporty RS one add complexity that spoils the car's lines a little. 

Prices, specs and rivals:

It costs just over £52k so being sceptical of the Audi TT RS is understandable. That price tag is almost double that of the basic TT on which the RS is based, and that basic TT, in turn, is built on the same architecture as the VW Golf (the MQB-platform). In spite of (very) humble beginnings the hottest TT is fit to bare the RS badge and the big price tag largely thanks to an outstanding drivetrain and classy interior.

We’ll delve into the mechanical upgrades applied to the TT to produce the RS a bit later. Now it’s about the the lengthy inventory of standard kit: Audi Drive Select (switchable drive modes), LED headlights and tail lights and Virtual Cockpit are a few highlights. You can still spend big on options too with expensive paint finishes, larger wheels and carbon trinketry available.

RS Sport suspension with Audi Magnetic Ride and ceramic brakes elevate the TT RS’s abilities further, the former a worthwhile add-on at £1k, the extra bite of the carbon stoppers perhaps less good value at almost £5k. The Matrix LED headlights have a great throw and duck under four-figures so that’s another box we’d tick.

The Porsche Cayman S is priced on par with its distant group relative but offers a very different experience. The finely-tuned chassis makes for a sublime steer which the Audi simply can’t compete with for speed or engagement. The Porsche’s supremacy isn’t all-conquering though, the turbo-four isn’t a patch on the Audi’s warbly five-cylinder. It sounds dull in comparison and feels a backward step from the 981 generation six-pots. Not only that, the Cayman is the sparser of the two and would require almost £10k of options to match the Audi for equipment.

The BMW M2 fails to shake-off its humble beginnings in a similar way to the Audi, lacking the special high-end sports car feel and exotic engine-note, but it is some £7k less with similar equipment levels. Behind the wheel though, the BMW entertains with typical M-car character.

Possibly one for the purist when it arrives will be the mid-engined Alpine A110. We have a sneaking suspicion the revival of the famous nameplate will be worth it, with the promise of an impressively low kerb weight and pricing around the £50k mark.

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