Ian Lamming enjoys a brush with Audi’s latest TT RS.
SOMEONE had the temerity, the sheer audacity, the gall to dismiss the Audi TT as a hairdresser’s car.
Well, if this is a hairdresser’s car (a cutting remark, I’m sure, though I must admit I don’t really understand what that means), then the said coiffeuse must surely be Edward Scissorhands.
There is most certainly nothing demi-wave, light perm, or blue rinse about the RS variant of this classic coupe.
Why? Because it can cut it with the best and would give a Ferrari a run for its money, that’s why. Let’s have a quick look at the statistics. Engine? A 2.5 litre, five-cylinder, turbo. Power output? 400PS. Weight? Just 1,450kg – that’s an automotive soufflé. Shove the power through a legendary all-wheel-drive system called Quattro and it mashes most of the opposition only trailing a Ferrari to 62mph by 2/10th of a second, while the top speed of 174mph falls just 26mph short of a Portofino’s terminal velocity.
RS makes a lovely noise too, even more spine-tingling if you press the button marked with a tailpipe moniker on the central transmission tunnel. That’ll be the tuned exhaust making the most of the glorious off-beat refrain from the wonderful five cylinder – it’s such a lovely engine.
Bolt on a super-quick shifting seven-speed S-tronic automatic gearbox, add the mid-range stomp of the All Blacks and the hull-hugging ability of a barnacle and RS is more than enough to silence the doubters.
TT is breathtakingly quick cross-country, not because it constantly flouts the law, but because it seldom gets stuck behind the slow movers. There are those who will take it on the track to enjoy the full force of its performance and handling and once there they will appreciate it is cutting edge dynamics. It is stunning to drive.
Audi has embarked on gentle evolution since the very first TT blew us all away and the RS remains a stunner, enhanced by deep sexy grille, massive pinstriped alloys, huge tailpipes and rear spoiler. It is a head-turner extraordinaire, especially in Tango Red metallic livery.
Inside is sumptuous, clever and beautifully crafted. At first glance it appears minimalist and clutter-free. Where is everything? Then it begins to reveal its brilliant design. The heated seat controls are in the centre of the lovely, tactile outer airvents, while the centre-three roundels house more switches.
The satnav/infotainment/trip computer is straight ahead in the virtual dash and the controls are on the perfectly shaped flat-bottomed steering wheel or a mouse on the centre consol. After that there is just carbon fibre, leather and touches of red piping on the stupendous sports seats, all hinting at the devil lurking below.
All that power and yet the RS is incredibly easy on the wallet. I saw 37mpg on the trip computer on the school run and, unbelievably, TT is more practical than you would think. It is gentle and easy to drive at low speeds down narrow country lanes and in an urban environment. It has a good sized boot and there are rear seats which will accommodate an increasingly leggy 11-year-old without too many complaints from the boy.
The more initiated have spotted that the TT RS is a poor man’s R8 and just as impressive to drive. It’s a fraction of the cost of most supercars too so you could say it’s a bit of a snip.
Audi TT RS Sport Edition
Engine: 2.5 litre five-cylinder turbo
Top speed: 174mph
Combined MPG: 30.7
Transmission: seven-speed S tronic
CO2 g/km: 181
Price: £56,335.00 (£67,120.00 with options)