Review: the new 395bhp Audi TT RS

That’s a burly looking TT…

Yup, it’s the new Audi TT RS. All 395bhp, 174mph and £51,800 of it. Pretty senior figures, but then this is as fast and luxurious as factory TTs have yet been.

And there’s a number capable of grabbing even bigger headlines: its claimed 0-62mph time is a mere 3.7 seconds, and with launch control engaged you might just beat that, too. It’s not an awfully long time since Premier League supercars struggled to boast this kind of pace.

How does a little TT manage it?

In a very typically Audi way, with a slick seven-speed paddleshift gearbox and Quattro all-wheel drive both standard. For the first time, the latter can be altered through the car’s Drive Select system, which continues to define steering weight and drivetrain responses, too.

So in Comfort mode, the car will typically send 80 per cent of the engine’s output to the front axle, while when you’re in Dynamic mode the split can be up to 50:50. The RS’s power spread is never rear-biased, though a brake-based torque vectoring system is fitted with the aim of sharpening up the RS’s responses.

And the engine?

It’s the 2.5-litre five-cylinder turbo that arrived with the original TT RS back in 2009, and which has added a bit of magic to Audi’s smaller RS models since. Here, though, it’s been on a small diet.

A whole 26kg has been removed from the engine bay, 18kg by an aluminium crankcase alone. It’s the largest contribution to a 35kg weight saving overall compared to the previous (and 60bhp skinnier) RS, the new coupe tipping the scales at 1,515kg (the open-top Roadster adds 90kg).

Audi has put real effort into making it sound good, too. The cylinders sit in a line but don’t fire in consecutive order, to ensure its noise is offbeat, and the RS is loud and childishly amusing with or without the optional Sports Exhaust. Thus activated, it’s just plain naughty. And clichéd as it sounds, there’s plenty of R8 in this TT’s soundtrack, the littler car’s cylinder-count a nice round multiple of the V10 supercar’s, after all.

How fast does it feel?

Very. Its pace is relentless yet completely effortless, and backed up by the kind of aural drama that can’t fail to raise a smile, even, perhaps, if cars aren’t your thing.

And thanks to that AWD setup, you’ll have complete confidence to access rather a lot of the performance, rather a lot of the time. Which is a double-edged sword. That lighter front end turns sharply, with understeer not really an issue at road speeds. You can sustain what feels like unbeatable pace on challenging stretches of tarmac.

But the rear axle is only ever assisting with mighty traction out of corners, never playing a starring role. The RS’s tremendously vocal engine may be a heap more enjoyable than that in the newly four-cylinder Porsche 718 Cayman, but the TT still wants for fun in a handling comparison. Even if it does make the process of building and maintaining speed uncommonly easy.

It’s a fast Audi. How’s the ride?

We’ve only tried it in Spain thus far, in a region whose roads are largely in a nicer state than the UK’s, but it wasn’t perfect. The RS rides 10mm lower than a standard TT, and comes with two options: a standard, passive setup, and a circa-£1,000 magnetic damping system that is adjustable through Drive Select.

In Dynamic mode, it’s blooming firm, yet it still proves fidgety in Comfort, and will telegraph particularly bad lumps and bumps in the road in a stark manner. Full judgement is reserved for a UK drive, but it feels like another stiffly sprung RS product.

Enough road testing. What’s it like inside?

The materials are terrific and there’s plenty of tech, with the TT’s famed Virtual Cockpit instrument screen getting a big fat rev counter in the centre – with a scale of colours at its upper reaches that act like racecar shift lights – as well as the ability to link to a smart phone app that records lap times and performance data should you take your RS on circuit. The fact your passenger has little ability to join in with nav inputs or music selection remains the form-over-function chink in its armour, mind.

The options list is strong, with the ability to squeeze in 12 speakers and 680 watts of Bang & Olufsen stereo, your choice of Alcantara-trimmed steering wheels and some excellent quilted leather sports seats, which you can even have in a similar brown hue to the very first TT Roadster concept of two decades ago. Brown is cool these days, don’t forget.

What about the Roadster?

It will set you back an additional £1,750, at £53,550, which buys you an acoustically insulated fabric hood that raises or lowers in ten seconds, at 30mph and below. It’s 90kg chunkier than the coupe; the roof weighs 39kg, with another 51kg taken up in the strengthening required to keep the car taut.

There’s not a notable difference in handling, with the biggest differentiator between closed and open tops being your heightened awareness (and probably enjoyment) of the TT’s five-cylinder tunes with the latter. With that in mind, it’s a wonder Audi expects only 15 per cent of buyers to go topless.