You have to wonder exactly what Audi know that most of the other motoring manufacturers don't. Just when you thought the Audi model line-up couldn't get any better (or madder) here comes the TT RS. More powerful than any TT before it, it's definitely an extreme TT. Its actually one of the most powerful cars in the sector, only the Mercedes SLK 55 AMG has slightly more bhp. I got the chance to test drive this monster both in Coupé and Convertible versions, to say neither disappointed would be an understatement.
So how's best to describe the look of the newest TT on the block? For those of you that have ever played the 'Need For Speed - Undercover' computer game, you've probably created this monster yourself in the game, by 'modding 'the hell out of a regular TT lol. For those of you that haven't played the game (one of the best driving games in the world!); imagine big tail-end spoiler, side skirts to the floor and front and rear bumpers that are more aggressive than drag queen in a bad mood. You can see from a mile off this is no ordinary run-of-the-mill TT; this ones got more muscle than your average steroid-popping gym bunny, a big attitude and an even bigger body kit to match. It's also got colossal performance and handling to match its 'are you talking to me' looks. It's also got one of the best 6-speed manual gearboxes I've ever used, the short-shift ratios, and mean supercar-esque lightening changes up and down the box, helping harness all that power.
So how have Audi managed to get 337bhp and a 0-62mph time of 4.6 seconds out of a 2.5L turbocharged engine? Without getting too technical! Firstly they chopped a V8 engine in half and created an all new and unique 5 cylinder engine, then they found a turbocharger lying around and bolted that on to it, then they put the engine in the wrong way round! That's right instead of the engine being mounted facing front on; the TT RS's is mounted running from side to side. So if an arse about face engine wasn't enough, Audi then tuned it up to deliver performance and handing more akin to the TT's big brother the R8. For good measure, and to ensure you can use all that power, the RS comes as standard with Audi's magnificent Quattro permanent four-wheel-drive system. This ensures that pressing the sport button and planting your foot into the shag pile, doesn't sit you kissing trees on the first corner you encounter.
Now the sport button does many different things, in my case; rarely get clicked off! By activating the sport button the driving dynamics of the already insane two door changes significantly. You get a more direct throttle response, and at the same time, activate the exhaust system flaps, giving you a beefy and richer exhaust note. This also works alongside the ESP stability control. Audi have put some thought into driving characteristics. Rather than just a simple 'on/off' system, the ESP has a two stage de-activation. Press 'Sport' and the ESP system disables the ASR traction control and raises the ESP control to a higher threshold so intervention takes place later, giving you a more thrilling drive and putting you more in control of the car. The second stage totally disables the ESP completely, which means its just you, the car and the road (hopefully not including 'the hedge, the tree, the ditch, the A&E, the morgue').
This is a car that's all about performance and handling so the RS team have tuned just about everything up to ensure it doesn't disappoint, and it doesn't. They've also lowered the TT RS suspension for a meatier ride, and a beefier sporty profile.
To drive it's a dream (a wet one), it clings to the road like Jimmy Carr to old jokes, cornering is just breathtaking. I really pushed the little Audi on my test and I couldn't make it faultier from its poised handling. I even partook in a bit of a race with Vikki Butler-Henderson (one of the best female drivers in Europe), who happened to be on the launch as well. Granted due to her immense driving skills every now and then she lost in me corners and on twisting rain soaked country roads, but I caught her up (never passed her lol) and truly pushed the TT RS to its limits. Everything about the TT RS is right, drive it hard and it loves every minute, but it's also practical and spacious enough to use as an everyday car. So whether you're hacking round a track or pop down to the shops and fitting your weeks shopping in the boot, you'll be grinning from ear to ear.
I have to say I'm so impressed with the TT RS, yes the Coupé starts at just under forty three grand and the Convertible at just under forty five, but it's worth every penny. If you want one, get ordering it now, as over half of this year's stock is already sold. Audi are only making 600 of these little monsters between now and 2010, ensuring that this will remain a sought after motor for years to come.