Audi TT RS Coupé long-term review

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  • 2.5-litre TFSI Audi TT RS Coupé engine
  • Nic Cackett driving the Audi TT RS Coupé
  • Audi TT RS Coupé side profile
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Our Verdict
Audi TT RS
Audi TT RS

Audi Sport drops a sub-4.0sec-to-60mph bomb into Porsche Cayman territory

  • First Drive Audi TT RS Coupé long-term review
    The Audi TT RS has the looks, a vociferous engine and the supercar-baiting performance, but is it too uncompromising to use as a daily driver?
  • First Drive 2016 Audi TT RS Roadster review
    TT RS Roadster adds roof-down sensory delight to the brutish package of the coupé but still plays second fiddle to Porsche
Nic Cackett
16 February 2018
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Why we"re running it: To see if the most hardcore TT is preferable to the cooking versions and a genuine alternative to a BMW M2

Month 1 - Month 2 - Month 3 - Specs​

Life with an Audi TT RS: Month 3

Where you should - and shouldn"t - save money – 14 February 2018

Speccing a modern car is baffling, and the TT RS is no different. I reckon there’s a chunk that could be saved from our car’s £61,080 astested price. Keeping the standard wheels knocks off £1300, while ditching electric seats and forgoing the OLED rear lights saves another £1600. But the sports exhaust, at £1000, is money very well spent.

Mileage: 3116

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Life with an Audi TT RS: Month 2

The squeaky anchor rumours are true – 31 January 2018

You might have heard that the TT RS’s brakes squeal. The observation was made recently in a high-profile corner of the internet, although I am inclined to agree. It doesn’t happen all the time and, if you are playing Sister Morphine loud enough, you won’t hear it anyway. But it is there occasionally, distant and irksome. And that’s unarguably too often.

Mileage: 2054

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Life with an Audi TT RS: Month 1

Fussing with the TT’s Virtual Cockpit display – 17 January 2018

Christmas ought to have been the ideal opportunity to get to know the TT RS a little better, but in recollection it feels like I spent most of the time fussing with settings and screens and other peripheral nonsense.

Some of this fumbling was inevitable, of course: like any other expensive German car, the RS is only slightly less adjustable than a Tempur mattress.

Long gone are the days when getting the seat and steering wheel in the right place was the bulk of the job. I spend about a million times longer simply concerning myself with whether I want the seat to default to either the first or second of its three heat settings. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

In the TT, Audi’s devotion to its Virtual Cockpit system is total. The decision to sacrifice the additional pop-up screen on the centre stack (as you’d find in the current RS3) is mostly about accommodating the swoopy dashboard and its trademark vents.

And as good as the instrument cluster-based 12.3in display is, it does take some getting used to – especially if you’ve become accustomed to fiddling with the infotainment system by means of the dial that lives beneath your left elbow.

I suspect the omnipresence of such controllers is the reason why Ingolstadt has retained one because it is almost redundant on the TT, the steering wheel-mounted buttons offering all the functionality you really need.

The upshot is that you very rarely find your eyeballs moving further south than the middle of the steering wheel, which is plainly to the benefit of your general road awareness.

It does, however, mean that (if you’re me) you rather obsess about what’s on the screen in front of you. Audi will let you choose between two basic displays: one that relegates the rev counter and speedometer in favour of the infotainment system and one that puts an oversized rev counter front and centre and sidelines any other media to the left-hand portion of the screen. The latter seems the more natural choice for the RS, but selecting it means putting up with two dials that incessantly chart the engine’s power and torque output as a roving percentage.

As ever, this is the kind of readout that makes interesting viewing for about a nanosecond, and thereafter serves only as a distraction. And unlike the left side, which allows you to scroll through the available options, the right is as immutable as a Teletext page.

The only solution is to have a destination constantly running on the sat-nav, which replaces both meters with on-screen directions – but when the destination is mostly my folks’ house on Christmas Day, this is far too tedious.

So instead I’ve spent the last few weeks staring at a real-time graph of what my right foot is doing.

On top of all this, there’s the inevitable tinkering with the car’s drive modes to be indulged.

In the main, the preset Comfort setting is going to be shouldering most of the everyday burden – partly because the five-pot is fiery no matter what, but mostly because the RS is easily taut enough to make its more aggressive suspensions setting all but redundant on UK roads.

The same reasoning rather takes the edge off the all-guns-blazing Dynamic mode, leading to an ongoing fuss over which bits best fit Individual for when you’re in the mood.

Right now, I’ve opted for Auto for the engine and gearbox (taking for granted that the powertrain recognises what sliding the latter into paddle-shifting manual means), kept the suspension in Comfort and gone with Dynamic for the steering, quattro system and sound.

As far as the steering is concerned, this was unexpected; Neckarsulm tending to over-egg the resistance when asked to try harder.

Not here, though: the mode only being slightly stickier than Comfort and therefore a marginally superior foil for the more stringent diff setting. Or at least that’s what I think at the moment.

Mileage: 1658

Welcoming the TT RS Coupé to our fleet – 03 January 2018

Many moons ago, Steve Sutcliffe – our one-time editor-at-large – ran a TT RS.

It was the second-generation model, already equipped with the 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine but based on the older, weightier, stuffier PQ35 platform.

It was fast, of course, and very well made and easy on the eye. Yet it was acutely unrewarding to drive – or so we all thought (and said so in the contemporary road test).

Steve, though, despite being endowed with the kind of God-given talent that had no earthly need for quattro’s help, loved it – and repeatedly said so in print.

This was all mildly embarrassing at the time, and although it changed no one’s mind about the car in question, it did always leaving me wondering what the quickest TT was actually like to live with over an extended period.

Now, half a decade later, I’m about to find out.

Naturally, the RS in question is a generation removed from Sutters’ car; based on the MQB platform and endowed now with a preposterous output that qualifies it as a supercar-worrier.

Nevertheless, my early encounters with the model – on the international launch, in fact – have followed a familiar pattern: my respect for and appreciation of its extraordinary straight-line gusto are slowly superseded by indifference for what it does when not heading very quickly for the horizon’s vanishing point.

Consequently, the most pressing question was not whether I’d like the car in six months, but whether I’d be sick of it within six minutes.

I needn’t have worried. If there’s one thing you can count on, it’s Ingolstadt’s gift for shrouding you in a haze of expensively wrought contentment.

I didn’t spec our car – we let Audi UK’s experts do that for us – but I can’t imagine needing anything more from the cabin: the heated ‘Super Sport’ seats are clad in leather and are excellent and there isn’t a surface or switch in the RS that doesn’t groan with perceived quality.

The kit list is decent without being precisely generous, the standout feature being the standard inclusion of both MMI Navigation Plus and Audi’s Virtual Cockpit system, which means there’s no centre console screen to become distracted by at all.

Our benefactors have thrown in the smartphone interface (£250) and the wireless charger (£325), worthy additions but slightly wasted on someone who doesn’t like Apple CarPlay and (as a lowly iPhone SE user) can’t charge his device remotely.

Given the choice, I would likely have opted for the Comfort and Sound Package (£1295), which delivers the rear-view camera, the Bang & Olufsen sound system and keyless entry.

But it would be churlish to claim dismay at the RS’s interior: it’s a perfectly wonderful place to spend half the year.

The exterior is admirable, too, although it would likely have been more so in a slightly more sympathetic colour, the Catalunya red metallic (£550) being slightly too scarlet for the TT’s diminutive body.

Naturally, Audi has selected the largest possible alloy wheels: 20in seven-spoke rotor design in matt titanium-look diamond-cut finish, to be exact. I’d have been no slower in shedding the stock (and suspiciously uninspiring) 19in rims, but only the bravest soul would regard the lack of tyre profile on the (£1695) replacement and not ponder the subsequent effect on ride quality.

I suspect this concern ranks higher for me with each passing year.

Once, the prospect of an unyielding and pimply chassis was about as consequential as the saturated fat content of my breakfast cereal. But times change. I don’t eat cereal at all any more (it contains too much sugar) and I don’t like to have my spine compressed by anything other than a qualified medical professional.

Consequently, the solitary spec-based question I asked of Audi before taking delivery of the car was: “Does it have Magnetic Ride?”. This is the £995 tick that buys you adaptive dampers and, more important, access to a Comfort setting on the Drive Select system. This is desirable on any Audi, and all but essential on RS models, which are typically set up to jostle the wiring from a pacemaker.

Happily, this was also deemed the first thing on Audi UK’s list – along with the RS sport exhaust system (£1000) and matrix LED lights front (£945) and back (£800). It is the dampers, though, that have ensured my first week or so with the TT has been thoroughly agreeable.

Sure, it has been almost exclusively motorway miles thus far – but not testing your sanity between home and work is the bedrock upon which all long-term test cars stand or fall. And although those wheels make it fantastically noisy on the concrete section of M25 in Surrey, the ride is on the acceptably firm side of pliant.

Throw in the patently ferocious mid-range shove of a five-cylinder engine that makes overtaking an emphatic affair even allowing for the faint out-of-box tightness that comes from having covered less than 300 miles, and it’s fair to say that – thus far – it’s rather hard to fault the RS in any meaningful terms. That will come later. Surely.

Second opinion

The TT has the dual role of showing that RS models can be keen driver’s cars rather than hot rods, and that the TT itself is not simply a case of style over substance.

A tough ask, one short blasts have yet to convince me of, but nothing a long-term test can’t answer once and for all.

Mark Tisshaw

Audi TT RS Coupé 2.5 TFSI quattro specification

Specs: Price New £52,450; Price as tested £61,080; Options 20in ‘7-spoke rotor’ alloy wheels in matt titanium-look diamond-cut finish (£1695), front RS logo red brake calipers (£325), RS Red Design Pack (£895), Matrix LED headlights and dynamic front and rear indicators (£945), Audi Smartphone Interface (£250), RS sport exhaust system (£1000), RS sport suspension with Audi Magnetic Ride (£995), Electrically adjustable front seats (£800), Matrix OLED tail-lights (£800), Audi Phone Box with wireless charging (£325), Catalunya red metallic paint (£550)

Test Data: Engine 5cyls, 2480cc, turbocharged petrol; Power 394bhp at 5850-7000rpm; Torque 354lb ft at 1700-5850rpm; Top speed 155mph; 0-62mph 3.7sec; Claimed fuel economy 33.6mpg; Test fuel economy 26.4mpg; CO2 192g/km; Faults None; Expenses None

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