What is it: The Audi TT RS is a compact track weapon that is more than enough fun on or off the circuit. The TT got a bad rap early on in its life because of its shared platform with the Beetle and understated styling, but the current TT RS is no “hairdresser’s car,” unless you dress hair at a race track.
Key Competitors: Porsche Cayman, Nissan 370Z, Jaguar F-Type
Base Price: $65,875 As-Tested Price: $80,200
Highlights: With the TT RS, you get a turbocharged I5 that makes 400 horsepower. You also can go full track rat with ceramic front brakes and a carbon fiber engine cover — because the few extra ounces from the normal engine cover would surely upset the balance. More importantly, the TT RS has a fixed sport suspension that stays flat under heavy loads during cornering and braking.
The 2018 Audi TTRS comes with Audi’s digital cockpit and heated napa leather S sport seats with diamond stitching.
Our Opinion: The Audi TT RS is something special. Sure, it shares most of its goodies with the RS3 sedan, but it still feels more special. While the regular Audi TT is a fun car to drive, and certainly no slouch when it comes to performance driving, the TT RS is leap above. The turbocharged I5 spits 400 horsepower through the dual-clutch transmission and sounds incredible. The burble from the sports exhaust sounds perfect under light loads and under heavy acceleration. There are a few snaps and crackles, but not enough to annoy. Also, the exhaust is active, which means if you get tired of sounding like a boy racer, you can punch a button and have a relatively quiet experience.
Inside the Audi, the front seats hold you tight when cornering. They might be snug if you have a wider frame, but average builds should feel tucked in nicely. The rear seats exist in theory — I wouldn’t suggest making anyone sit back there since rear legroom is effectively non-existent. The dash — sleek and stylish. With Audi’s digital cockpit, there isn’t an extra media or infotainment screen — everything is built into the gauge cluster. That makes for a wide expanse of a dashboard.
In terms of driving, I had more fun in this Audi TT RS than I’ve ever had in an R8. Sure, it’s way down on power, and it’s not as flashy, but you can drive this car on public roads without losing your license and still enjoy doing so. Hell, I might even pull some power out of it; I think it would be more fun to drive. But on a race track the 400 hp will come on smooth and rocket you up the straights. The chassis is excellent at managing corners and staying flat but doesn’t do much for the backbone when going over awful midwestern streets. The brake feel is there in sports-car form — the pedal is like stepping on the hockey puck you left on your floor — there isn’t a lot of give, but there is a ton of response.
One thing I wish that the TT RS had, which the RS3 does, is a manual transmission. I get it — the DCT is faster, and it’s a great transmission, but the manual will be more engaging around the city. I did slide the gear selector over to the manual mode, and then used the paddle shifters to keep the tach needle pointed north to better hear that I5 scream, but a real manual transmission would make it even more fun.
Options: Dynamic Plus Package with carbon fiber engine cover, direct TPMS, front ceramic brakes, OLED taillights, RS fixed-sport suspension, 174-mph top speed ($6,000); Technology Package including Audi MMI navigation, Audi connect online services, Audi side assist, premium audio ($3,500); Black Optic Package including 20-inch black wheels, summer tires, black optic exterior kit, high-gloss mirror housing ($1,750); RS sport exhaust with black tips ($1,000); RS Design Package including leather-covered center console and door armrests, red accents on air vents and seat belts, RS floor mats ($900); carbon fiber inlays ($600); mythos black mettalic ($575)
On Sale: Now
Base Price: $65,875
As Tested Price: $80,200
Powertrain: 2.5-liter turbocharged I5, AWD, seven-speed dual-clutch automatic
Output: 400 hp @ 5,850-7,000 rpm, 354 lb-ft @ 1,700-5,850 rpm
Curb Weight: 3,306 lb
Fuel Economy: 19/29/22 mpg(EPA City/Hwy/Combined)
Pros: The I5 sounds great, performance is on point and the styling is awesome
Cons: The rear seats are laughable. They do work well as a package tray, though.