Audi TT RS Roadster convertible
The TT RS Roadster boasts incredible speed, grip and poise – and better exposure to that fantastic engine note
- Effortless performance
- Characterful engine
- Class-leading interior
- Poor fuel economy
- Not as fun as some rivals
- Expensive options
The Audi TT RS Roadster is the convertible version of the TT RS coupe and much like its roofed sibling, it’s a high-performance sports car with huge straight-line speed, buckets of grip and fantastic all-round build quality. The coupe is a direct rival to the Porsche 718 Cayman S, BMW M2 and Alpine A110, while also challenging lower-powered versions of the Jaguar F-Type; similarly, the TT RS Roadster goes up against the convertible versions of those cars where available.
The TT RS is powered by a 2.5-litre five-cylinder petrol engine that puts its 395bhp through a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox and Audi’s trademark quattro four-wheel drive system. In the real world, performance is effortless, with plenty of low down power allowing effortless overtaking.
Elsewhere, the TT RS shares much with the rest of the TT range, which is no bad thing. The interior is best-in-class, with a focused, uncluttered design, great quality materials throughout and Audi’s excellent Virtual Cockpit digital dials taking the place of a centrally-mounted infotainment touchscreen. Sports seats and a steering wheel shared with the R8 supercar are among the sporting additions inside, while aggressive bodywork and unique alloy wheels set it apart on the outside.
If you value speed and all-weather ability over outright involvement and don’t might paying the price to run one of the most characterful engines on sale today, the TT RS Roadster makes a fine alternative to the Porsche Boxster. It’s slightly heavier and not quite as refined as the TT RS coupe, but that’s a small tradeoff when the Roadster is so capable of immersing you in that wonderful exhaust note.
MPG, running costs & CO2
The powerful 2.5-litre engine under the TT RS’ bonnet is thirsty; official combined figures of 34 and 33.2mpg (for examples fitted with 19 and 20-inch alloys respectively) are optimistic, especially if you can’t resist the temptation of the engine’s remarkable performance.
CO2 emissions are quoted as 189 or 194g/km, with the higher figure accounting for the larger wheel option. First-year road tax (usually rolled into the on-the-road price) will be £830 for versions with 19-inch wheels or £1,240 for those fitted with the 20-inch wheels, while the car’s hefty list price means it qualifies for a £310 surcharge (payable in years two to six of ownership) over the flat-rate £140 payment This means your yearly tax bill (after the CO2-weighted first year payment) will be £450 for a total of five years.
As with all Audis, the TT RS Roadster is offered with a three-year warranty with unlimited mileage in the first two years and a full mechanical and electrical warranty up to 60,000 miles in the third. There’s a three-year paint warranty and a 12-year anti-corrosion warranty, along with three years of roadside assistance and recovery in the UK. Any accessories purchased with your car will also be covered by a three-year warranty, or for two years if bought separately.
Engines, drive & performance
The Audi TT RS Roadster is powered by an impressive 2.5-litre five-cylinder petrol engine with 395bhp. It uses a dual-clutch automatic gearbox and Audi’s sophisticated quattro four-wheel drive system to put all of that power to the road with remarkable efficiency – the resultant 3.9-second 0-62mph time is just 0.2 seconds off that of the lighter coupe version, while the top speed is electronically limited to 155mph, or 174mph if you pay for the limit to be increased (a £1,600 option).
Come to a set of corners and the car’s dynamic suspension (fitted as part as the optional Audi Sport pack, which we recommend) and tuned four-wheel drive system do an impressive job of optimising grip and traction – it’s likely you’ll run out of bravery before the TT RS lets go of the road, even in wet conditions. In a class mostly inhabited by more playful rear-wheel drive rivals, the TT RS Roadster stands as one of the most forgiving.
Despite its incredible performance, the TT RS Roadster is approachable and easy to drive. Its steering is direct and accurate but not especially communicative – but this will only be an issue for the fussiest of sports car enthusiasts. Backed off into its more relaxing driving modes, the car even cruises comfortably, even if the ride is always on the firmer side.
Interior & comfort
One of the TT RS’ greatest strengths is its high-quality, well-designed interior. It’s much the same as you’ll find in the standard TT, albeit with some sporty additions to help set the mood – a set of excellent ‘Super Sport’ seats are the most obvious addition, along with a sporty steering wheel that’s almost identical to that found in the Audi R8 supercar. Aluminium trim is standard, as is leather and Alcantara upholstery.
It’s easy to find a good driving position despite the car’s sporty edge, and the TT’s cabin is still a comfortable place to spend time. There’s a touch of elevated wind noise at motorway speeds with the roof up when compared to coupe models, but otherwise the Roadster is fairly refined on the move. Opt for RS Sport suspension with Audi Magnetic Ride and you’ll benefit from three selectable modes; ‘Comfort’ offers a smoother ride for longer journeys.
Infotainment is excellent and easily managed thanks to the the logical 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit display that replaces traditional gauges behind the steering wheel. There’s no central screen as you’d find on most cars, so the driver has complete control over all functions, either via steering wheel controls or the MMI controller on the centre console. The system is clear and easy to navigate, while the screen itself is amongst the best of its kind on any car on sale.
Practicality & boot space
Buying a convertible sports car means compromising on practicality. Thanks to its folding roof, the TT RS Roadster offers less load space than its coupe sibling, with 280 litres. However, t’s well-shaped and quite deep, with enough space for a couple of weekend bags. It’s worth noting that the Roadster loses the two small rear seats found in the coupe.
The TT RS’ closest rival is the Porsche 718 Boxster S, which offers a total of 270 litres of load space split between two boots; the TT’s more conventional layout should prove more useful in day-to-day use.
A useful feature on the Roadster is its electrically operated folding roof, which can be folded and unfolded at speeds of up to 31mph in just 10 seconds – great news if you find yourself caught out by British weather. The roof’s design does create quite large blind spots to the rear however, so it’s worth taking a test drive to check these out.
Reliability & safety
The Audi TT RS Roadster didn’t feature specifically in our Driver Power survey in 2018, but Audi finished 18th overall out of a total of 26 manufacturers, with a relatively high rate of owners (18.6%) reporting issues with their cars.
Euro NCAP has yet to test the Audi TT Roadster, but it tested the coupe version in 2015 and awarded it a four-star rating (out of a possible five). A 81% adult occupant protection score is respectable, as is the 82% pedestrian score, but lower scores across the other two test categories let it down: child occupant (68%), and safety assist (64%).
Optional safety features include a rear-view camera (around £500), lane-change assist with blind-spot monitoring (named Audi Side Assist and costing around £600) and traffic-sign recognition (around £160).
Price, value for money & options
If you’re in the market specifically for a four-wheel drive convertible with around 400bhp, the Audi TT RS Roadster presents as something of a bargain: it’s noticeably more powerful and quicker than a standard Porsche 911 4S Cabriolet, and you’ll need over £100,000 to buy one of those.
The TT’s more direct rival is the Porsche 718 Boxster S and while the performance gap is slimmer, the Audi still trumps it in the power and performance stakes. The cheapest Jaguar F-Type is a few thousand pounds more expensive than the TT RS Roadster and yet is less powerful and not as fast, and it’s the same story anywhere else in the class. If you want to go as fast as possible with the roof down, there aren’t many better options than the TT RS Roadster.
Standard equipment is generous but there are some must-tick boxes on the (rather pricey) options list: we recommend the stylish 20-inch alloys (roughly £1,400-£1,700 depending on finish) and the Audi Sport Pack for around £1,700, which adds RS Sport suspension with Audi Magnetic ride, a tyre pressure monitoring system and the all-important RS Sport exhaust system. A Comfort and Sound Pack is also available, adding a rear-view camera, keyless entry and go, plus a 12-speaker Bang & Olufsen stereo for £1,295.