Words: Sammy Chan
Photography: Sammy Chan
Published: January 23, 2018
The Audi TT RS is a unique specimen in the automotive world, not because it is a 400-horsepower tour de force sitting at the top of the TT food chain, but because of its unique spellbinding five-cylinder engine that sits under the front hood, profounding piquing our curiosity. It is not everyday that you hear about an odd-numbered cylinder engine. You certainly do not see a seven or nine-cylinder engine floating around town, and that is because those arrangements are not inherently smooth or balanced enough for practical use.
The three-cylinder is popular with smaller vehicles like the MINI Cooper, but it is the five-cylinder that remains rare and unique, sandwiched between the virtues and vices of a four- and six-cylinder. The fiver offers smaller packaging than the inline-six, and develops quite a unique auditory ruckus with its off-beat 1-2-4-5-3 firing order. And though scarce, we have seen its use in cars like the Volkswagen Golf and Volvo S60. However, it is Audi that has been slowly perfecting this odd-firing layout since the day that the Audi Quattro was born and took the spotlight in the days of rallying, and the TT RS carries on this legacy forward in full force.
The TT RS utilizes a novel 2.5-litre turbocharged inline-five cylinder engine mounted transversely, the same unit as the outgoing TT RS but is lighter in weight due to its use of aluminum. Boost is up, contributing to a whopping 400 horses and 354 lb-ft (37 hp and 11 lb-ft greater than before), all mated through a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission (no manual here, as the take rate was too low to warrant it).
What is noteworthy is that the TT RS hits 0-100 km/h in an organ rearranging 3.7 seconds (we hear that these are conservative estimates too). To put that speed into perspective, the Audi TTS does it in 4.9 seconds, the BMW M2 in 4.3 seconds, and the Porsche 718 Cayman GTS in 4.6 seconds. It is even quicker than the last generation Audi R8 V10. In this sports coupe segment, the TT RS reigns as king in straight line speed and audaciously punches above its weight into supercar territory.
And it certainly has the aesthetics to back it all up, though there are more hexagons and trapezoidal shapes on this thing than a game of Operation. The sharp cues combined with the classic soap-bar silhouette works well into the design though, making the TT RS appear sporty without looking immature like the WRX STI. Hints that help you tell it apart from the standard TTS include the fixed rear wing, low-profile 20-inch wheels, signature black honeycomb grille, and oval exhaust tips large enough to see into the other side of the wormhole.
But the TT RS is more than just a pretty face. Many enthusiasts have been quick to dismiss this roided-up “Golf” as a serious competitor due to its lack of rear wheel drive and inherent habits of understeer. On city roads and at city speeds, I’d be inclined to agree with them, but the TT RS does carry an unexpectedly neutral stance despite a heavy front nose. Its chassis may not be as balanced as a Cayman’s, but you feel just as confident exploring the upper regions of its skill set, offering predictable behaviour that is easily corrected with subtle steering and throttle inputs. The limits are high with this stylish coupe, with a sign that says “Welcome to the land of speed”, rather than one that says “Trespass if you dare,” which you might get in an R8 or similar supercars pushing similar performance numbers.
The TT RS offers relentless yet forgiving acceleration, and a sublime build up of speed. Despite its unnerving 400-horse output, I never felt like I was struggling with a pitbull on a leash like I would a BMW M4 or Mercedes-AMG C 63. With four-wheel traction and a snappy-quick dual-clutch transmission, it felt more like taking a seat and chugging along on a railed rollercoaster, and just when I thought I reached the glass ceiling, it kept surprising me with friendly yet thrilling straight line speed. Imagine a Golf R on Adderall with the same amount of approachability and leniency. That’s the TT RS.
And the same goes for cornering too. Like the Golf R’s 4MOTION, the quattro system is technically full-time AWD, meaning it sends power to all four wheels all the time, but most of the power by default is sent to the front wheels. Enthusiasts may bemoan this, but the TT RS can in fact send 100% of that power to the rear, and it does so willingly, just not often, adding to the car’s divine traction on slippery surfaces. Even with a blanket of fresh snowfall on the road, this Audi bites down without any hints of wheel spin and carries on its business as if the roads were dry. Getting it sideways takes a little bit of work but after adding some extra throttle mid-corner, its short wheelbase will happily oblige, rewarding you with grin-inducing drifts.
Our TT RS had the optional Sports Package, which replaces the superb Magnetic Ride Control adaptive suspension with a fixed one. While normally I would avoid this, the fixed suspension was surprisingly smooth and supple over the smooth tarmac, though hitting bumps and potholes on the road will jolt you awake faster than a shot of espresso. I think the standard adaptive suspension will suit most buyers looking for the option of customizing their ride quality, especially if they are planning to use the TT RS as a daily driver. The smaller 19-inch wheels might fare better for ride comfort than the 20s as well.
Our tester came equipped with the optional front carbon ceramic brakes along with standard eight-piston calipers, which are huge, have great stopping power and astounding pedal feel, but totally unnecessary if you are not taking it to the track. Another point I would like to bring up is the 7-speed DSG transmission, which like the Golf R that also utilizes this unit, lags a little on upshifts. My theory is that it was done to smoothen and flatten out the shifts for a creamier transition between ratios. Happily, downshifts remain just as rapid, and I do like how holding the downshift paddle skips to the lowest gear possible without going sequentially.
Where the TT RS has a distinct advantage over its competitors is with the exhaust noise. With the poor Cayman relegated to a measly four-cylinder engine, it sounds like a warbling WRX gargling a cupful of motor oil, while the SLC 43 AMG sounds hollow and soulless in comparison. The TT RS instead offers music that will sing to an enthusiast’s ears. It is the ASMR of the automotive symphony, and burbles with that signature five-cylinder song. It does not have the top-end howl of a six-cylinder, but it does not sound like a four-pot either. There are no artillery fire burbles like an F-Type or M2, but rather more calculated and precise pops never lasting more than a second. Downshifting from second to first gear at low speeds sounds especially lethal. This fiver hits the sweet auditory medium, and if there was one reason to warrant the premium hike of the RS over an S, it would be this.
Audis are commonly lambasted for their clinical and overly precise interiors to the point of boredom and sterility, making them feel like a barren bunker rather than a luxurious automotive cabin. But I think the minimalist design cues work well with the TT RS image, offering a clean shaven and simplistic interior that does not detract the driver from the real focus of this coupe: the driving experience. That means there is no center screen for the infotainment - it has all been relegated to the Virtual Cockpit in the driver’s gauge cluster, leaving a clutter-free and roomy dashboard. The same goes for the HVAC controls that have been integrated into the circular vents.
That being said, the TT RS does offer some eye-catching goodies, like the sleek 12.3-inch driver’s display, wheel-mounted start button in red, two-tone seatbelts, and a dedicated exhaust button. The R8-styled steering wheel remains the centerpiece, and is almost worth the money alone, wrapped in leather but with alcantara inserts on the 9- and 3-o’clock positions. It is much easier on the eyes than the wheels in the RS3 and RS5, and looks the part of a purpose-built speed machine.
I do have a few gripes with the TT RS though. Without a center screen, the rear view camera display pops up in the driver’s instrument cluster. However when you are turning the wheel to park, the wheel spokes will occasionally block and hinder your view of the camera, leaving you blind and forced to park the “old-fashioned” way. Furthermore, having a dedicated exhaust button is nice but it does not light up to tell you if it is on or not. The only way to tell is to either listen to the exhaust or hit the button again to force up the display. The amount of blank buttons under the vents bugs me a little too, especially considering our TT RS is fully loaded, and though I am usually a fan of halo colours that launch of sports cars, this Catalunya Red paint doesn’t tug at my heartstrings the way that Nardo Grey or Vegas Yellow do, and those standard paints don’t cost an extra penny.
The TT RS has been labeled by many as a baby R8, with half the cylinders but with just as much verve and vigour, and I’m inclined to agree. With the unique and mighty concoction of a five-cylinder engine, brilliant chassis, unrelentless AWD traction, and trademark drumbeat, the TT RS sings itself into the top of the ranks, providing us with that desperate link of man and machine that many automakers strive to build but fail to create.
型号 Model: 2018 Audi TT RS
顏色 Paint Type: Catalunya Red
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $72,900
試車售價 Price as Tested: $88,685
引擎 Engine: 2.5-litre TFSI turbocharged inline-five
最大馬力 Horsepower: 400 hp @ 5,850 - 7,000 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 354 lb-ft @ 1,700 - 5,850 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 7-speed DSG
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
油耗 Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway ) L/100km: 12.3 / 8.2
油耗 Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 12.3
輪胎尺碼 Tires: Pirelli Sottozero; 255/30ZR20