Audi TT RS coupe
"With huge performance, loads of grip and a gorgeous interior, the Audi TT RS is a supremely quick car that’s usable every day"
- Characterful engine
- Huge performance
- Great to drive
- No manual option
- Expensive to buy & run
- Not as sharp as a Porsche Cayman
Previous iterations of the Audi TT RS haven’t been quite as sharp to drive as the class-leading sports coupes, relying instead on the muscle provided by a turbocharged 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine.
In this latest model, not only is there even more power, with 395bhp on tap, but it’s more fun to drive thanks to sharp steering, huge grip from the quattro four-wheel-drive system and very little body lean in corners. While not quite as involving and rewarding as an Alpine A110 or Porsche 718 Cayman S, the TT RS is still fun to drive and hugely confidence-inspiring for drivers in almost any weather.
The engine delivers absolutely astonishing performance, taking the TT RS from 0-62mph in less than four seconds, while an electronically limited 155mph top speed is well short of its potential – you can pay extra to raise it to 174mph by ticking an options box. Allied to this is an even spread of pulling power across the rev range, with mind-boggling acceleration as the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox fires through gears. The engine dominates the entire driving experience.
For all that performance, however, you have to pay handsomely in other areas. This includes the fuel bills that come with 30mpg fuel economy – and if you use all the TT RS’ performance, it’ll drink considerably more petrol.
Aside from its deep bellowing exhaust, the TT RS stands out from lesser TTs thanks to a muscular bodykit, including flared wheelarches, side skirt and a deeper front bumper. This is home to gulping air intakes and vents, while the boot serves as a platform for a conspicuous rear spoiler. It also gets 19-inch alloys, large oval exhaust pipes, a rear diffuser, silver trim in the front bumper and silver mirror caps.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Compared to the rest of the TT range, the RS model is by far and away the least efficient and, consequently, the most expensive to run. Fuel economy of up to 30.7mpg isn't too bad, though, considering the near-supercar levels of performance on offer and compared to rivals. You'll need to drive very carefully to get this number, and enthusiastic road or track driving will result in a much lower figure.
You’ll pay £150 a year in road tax (with a £325 surcharge in years two to six), and it sits in the pricey 37% Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) company-car tax band. Jaguar F-Type owners will be spending more time at the pumps, though, due to fuel economy of 26.7mpg from the 444bhp model. Meanwhile, the TT RS’ other major rival – the Porsche 718 Cayman S – should sit between the two. This is because it can manage fuel economy of up to 31mpg.
In terms of maintenance, you’ll have to get your Audi TT RS serviced every year, alternating between a basic oil-change service and a full inspection every other year. Like most other Volkswagen Group cars, the TT RS comes with a three-year/60,000-mile warranty, although you can extend this to four and five years (75,000 and 90,000 miles respectively) for an extra charge. This is slightly less generous than either Porsche or Jaguar offers. Both companies’ warranties last for three years, but neither burdens the owner with a mileage limit.
Engines, drive & performance
Although the Audi TT RS is a very good all-rounder, it's the 395bhp turbocharged 2.5-litre five-cylinder petrol engine that really dominates proceedings. Quite simply, this is an astonishingly fast car. It’ll do 0-62mph in just 3.7 seconds – matching the much more expensive Porsche 911 Carrera S – and such is the spread of power, in-gear acceleration is just as explosive, too. As standard, the TT RS comes with a top speed of 155mph, but adding the Dynamic Package Plus raises it to 174mph.
It’s not just the performance on offer, however, but the distinctive noise that makes this such an evocative engine to work hard. There’s a distinctive off-beat growl that’s full of character – something the four-cylinder Porsche 718 Cayman S lacks.
Power is sent to all four wheels through Audi’s now-familiar seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, which is just as happy loping about in automatic mode as it is racing up and down through the gears under hard acceleration and braking. The quattro four-wheel-drive system produces titanic grip, while the car’s steering is quick and accurate, too, meaning it feels nice and agile. It’s not quite as sharp or enjoyable as the Alpine A110 or Porsche 718 Cayman, but it’s not far off.
You can also specify RS sports suspension, which includes adjustable magnetic ride suspension costing around £1,000. In its stiffest setting, it does limit body lean in corners impressively well, but we’d stick with the softer setting on the road, as the ride stays more compliant and doesn’t have too much of a negative effect on the way the car drives.
In fairness though, While fast Audis of old were notoriously uncomfortable over bumps, the TT RS copes well with potholes and broken tarmac. There’s no doubting it's suitably sporty and stiff, but on roads that are in need of some TLC it’s civilised enough to be driven every day. Unlike most cars, we'd also recommend spending the extra £1,000 on Audi's RS sports exhaust system because the soundtrack is such a fundamental part of the driving experience, and it's likely subsequent owners will also want it fitted, boosting desirability.
Interior & comfort
We’ve become accustomed to Audi making some really rather lovely interiors in recent years and the TT RS continues that fine tradition. For the most part, it’s pretty much unchanged compared to the standard coupe and that’s no bad thing.
There are, however, some upgrades. You get figure-hugging front ‘super’ sports seats upholstered in Napa leather, while the steering wheel is trimmed in leather or suede-like Alcantara. This steering wheel now also features the stop/start button as well as the driving mode selector, in a nod to the mid-engined Audi R8 supercar.
Standard equipment includes a 12.3-inch digital instrument display with unique readouts for the RS model. You also get sat nav with voice recognition and smartphone connectivity, while a 680W Bang & Olufsen sound system upgrade is optional. Styling packs are also available for the interior, while a racing-style Alcantara steering wheel costs just shy of £200.
Opting for the Audi Sport Edition adds 20-inch alloy wheels, while the TT RS Coupe Vorsprung has Matrix LED headlights and adds Audi’s ‘Magnetic Ride’ to the suspension.
Practicality & boot space
Despite its additional performance hardware, the Audi TT RS is just as practical as the standard TT Coupe. It’s still got four seats – although those in the back are strictly for small children – and the fronts are easy to get in and out of, too.
You don’t pay any penalty when it comes to boot space, either, as the TT RS has the same 305-litre load bay as the standard coupe. Drop the rear seats and this expands to 712 litres. Granted, it’s not the most usable of boots, but it’s enough for a couple’s weekend away and is still more than you’ll find in either the Cayman or Jaguar F-Type
Reliability & safety
Even though the Audi TT is supposed to be a sporty, reasonably low-volume car, it’s still slightly disappointing that it could only manage four stars for safety when crash-tested by Euro NCAP. It’s based on the same platform as the likes of the Volkswagen Golf, SEAT Leon and Skoda Octavia, all of which managed the full five stars.
It’s not as if it’s particularly lacking safety kit: cruise control is standard, as is the mandatory stuff like tyre-pressure monitoring, electronic stability control and anti-lock brakes. You also have the added security of four-wheel drive in slippery conditions, while automatic wipers and lights are also standard. The fact that it only comes with two airbags (both for those in the front) may have counted against it, though, and it lacks some of the latest active safety devices which help avoid collisions.
Looking at the manufacturer rankings in our 2020 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey, Audi came a middling 21st out of 30 brands and a slightly worrying 20% of owners told us they experienced one or more faults within the first year of ownership.