The Audi TT-RS has been on our list of long term favorites. Two years ago we drove the stock version and a tuned model by German specialist MTM. It then proved to be capable of achieving a lot, adding to the highly desirable feeling it left us with. At that time only the six-speed manual system was available, and no automatic was on offer. Over the past year this has changed and the new TT-RS handed to us by Audi has finally been equipped with the long-awaited seven-speed S tronic double clutch automatic gearbox.
So what’s deal here? You get the 2.5 liter TFSI engine producing a whopping 340hp between 5,400 and 6,500rpm and 450Nm of torque between 1,600 and 5,300rpm. The combination of direct injection and turbocharging does the trick in keeping the fuel consumption feasible even though it is the fastest in its class.
The engine is linked to the new seven-speed gearbox providing a 0-100km/h acceleration time of just 4.3 seconds. This makes the new model three-tenths quicker than the six-speed manual TT-RS. Incredibly, Audi says it is also 0.3 of a second quicker than the Audi R8 4.2 FSI. The TT-RS’s top speed is limited to 250km/h, but if requested they can adjust that to 280km/h. Of course it isn’t free and you still have a limited vehicle, but you get 30km/h extra.
The automatic dual-clutch system allows drivers to choose between two fully automatic shift modes and a manual mode with gears changed using either the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters or with the gear lever. The seventh gear is configured as a high-geared overdrive, reducing engine speed at highway speeds. The S tronic also includes a launch control function. This has been designed to deliver maximum power with minimum wheel spin.
Inspired by the sporting legacy of 1980s Audi Quattros and their high performance five-cylinder turbocharged engines, the TT-RS with S Tronic gearbox is still a high performance private subsidiary capable of reaching levels of excitement and performance you cannot find elsewhere in the Audi model lineup. Seriously, the whole business of building rapid forward momentum seldom gets easier, or more accessible, than this. Not even the R8 nor the RS5 are as refined and joyful as this little RS.
The new gearbox provides the TT-RS with linear handling. In manual mode power delivery is impressive to say the least, but in auto mode it feels slightly clunky with no trace of lag. The transmission does hook up cleanly and pretty instantly when taking off from standstill. On the run, the first three gears miss the illegal speed limit by a hair’s breadth and there are four more to go. We instantly choose manual or S-mode and only swapped to D-mode in dense city traffic. The up and downshifts were utterly addictive and fueled by the special sports exhaust system fitted to our car.
But did we love the automatic TT-RS more than we did the manual? Yes we did. Why? It is brilliantly easy to drive, goes like a bullet, and the cornering speeds feel higher because you constantly focus on your lines instead of searching for the right gear via the long and vague manual setup. For us it is either a short shift variant of the manual or this two-pedal model. Luckily, the later is on the option list and the first one is not easily applicable without changing the gearbox drastically.
So it’s the Audi TT-RS with S Tronic please. Any other wishes? Yes, we would like to opt for another color than this Daytona grey with pearl effect and the convertible would be a nice choice as well.