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New 2012 Audi TT RS review

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    The TT RS costs $139,900 - a whopping $74,450 more than the entry-level TT 1.8 TSFI that shares the body.

Neil Dowling road tests and reviews the new 2012 Audi TT RS with specs, fuel economy and verdict.

Fun has a distinct aural signature in Audi's hot TT RS. There's an exhaustive sigh, almost a quick gasp for air as an athlete would take in mid-step, as the TT RS's dual-clutch box senses a corner and picks up a lower cog. It arrives as a brief "blat'' and disappears as the other gear enters the drivetrain and the coupe squats for the apex. Other cars do this.

Even, mysteriously, the Toyota Aurion Sportivo which has the sporty prowess of a gerbil. But in the TT RS it is part of the chemistry of a car that since 1998 has refocused a shy Audi and singularly responsible for putting the marque on the shopping list.

VALUE

The TT RS costs $139,900 - a whopping $74,450 more than the entry-level TT 1.8 TSFI that shares the body. In fact, even the hot TTS is $98,900 - a $41,000 reduction - and you can have almost as much fun as the RS. Where's the value?

Possibly the leather-trimmed cabin - including embossed leather sports seats that cosset the body - and the prominent fixed rear wing, the 19-inch alloys, the sat-nav and the bi-xenon headlights's washers. More likely the extra 50kW/100Nm over the TTS, the different gearbox and the Porsche-crunching acceleration. Definitely that rousing exhaust roar.

DESIGN

The jelly-mould shape is less pregnant than the first generation (1998 to 2006) but just as distinctive. There is a third-gen coming in 2014 which keeps the same exterior dimensions but more tightly wraps the skin, so the current car serves duty in between. It's undoubtedly attractive in a purposeful way - though the fixed rear wing interrupts the TTS's roofline flow - and though it looks compact, seats two adults low and within an airy cabin.

It sits on beautiful five-spoke alloys that showcase the 450mm dinner- plate front discs (425mm at the back) and enclosed by thin ribbons of rubber. Leather-scalloped rear seats are only for children but best served folded flat to expand the luggage area. Cabin work is excellent even though you may be searching for "hidden'' switches.

TECHNOLOGY

The all-wheel drivetrain is unique to this part-aluminium space-frame car, with a 250kW/450Nm 2.5-litre five-cylinder turbo-petrol with intercooler that pumps maximum torque from 1600rpm. The gearbox is a dry-clutch singl e-disc unit with seven gears, unlike the two wet clutches and six cogs in the TTS.

The brakes are bigger, the wheels up to 19-inch, the steering and suspension get a "sports'' button that also sharpens the throttle response and pulls the box down by one ratio. The car weighs 50kg more than the 2-litre TTS but the engine is so strong it wipes almost a second off the 0-100km/h time at 4.3 seconds.

SAFETY

Only two airbags but the coupe gets a five-star crash rating, showing airbag numbers aren't the only factor capable of saving lives. The TT RS copies the TTS safety gear, from the full suite of chassis and brake electronics to auto levelling for the headlights and suspension. There's also front and rear park sensors but no spare wheel.

DRIVING

The RAC Driving Centre track is as tight in places as a go-kart track yet opens to a 160km/h-plus straight. Its deceptive size and close-arc corners trick newcomers to WA's annual Targa West event where the track hosts the prologue. It befriends  smaller cars and smiles kindly on all-wheel drives, so the TT RS feels at home. Press the sport button, pull back the gearshifter to the "S'' position and go. The coupe picks up the scent, launches forward and seamlessly drops into a higher gear when the tacho hits 7000rpm.

The electric-assist steering firms in the sport mode, ignoring any inherent vagueness with these systems. The engine pumps from just off idle and it's its seamless flow - without lag or slump - that makes it such an easy car to push hard.

Handling is ever-so confident with the car able to be gently moved from oversteer to understeer by throttle control. The same strengths of confidence translate to the street. If it stumbles, it may be in driver visibility. While park sensors help parking, the low seat position, big C-pillars and small rear glass can hide some traffic.

VERDICT

Sensational car that is as benign as a Polo yet able to turn into a feral Porsche Cayman eater.

AUDI TT RS

4 stars
Price: $139,900
Warranty: 3 years/unlimited km
Resale: 55 per cent
Service interval: 15,000km/12 months
Safety rating: Five star
Spare: none
Engine: 2.5-litre 5-cyl turbo-petrol 250kW/450Nm
Transmission: 7-speed DSG dry-clutch auto; AWD
Body: 4.2m (L); 1.8m (w); 1.3m (h) Weight: 1475kg
Thirst: 8.5 1/100km; 95 RON; 285g/km Co2 

RIVALS


BMW 335i M SPORT - compare this car
Star
: 4
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Engine: 3-litre, 6-cyl bi-turbo petrol, 122kW/197Nm
Trans: 7-spd dual-clutch auto, rear drive
Body: 2-door coupe
Thirst: 8.4L/100km, 98 RON, CO2 196g/km


LOTUS EVORA 3.5 S IRS - compare this car
Star: 3
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Thirst: 9.2L/100km, 95 RON, CO2 244g/km

 

PORSCHE CAYMAN S - compare this car
Star: 3.5
Price: $152,800
Engine: 3.4-litre, 6-cyl petrol, 235kW/370Nm
Trans: 7-spd dual-clutch auto, rear drive
Body: 2-door coupe
Thirst: 9.2L/100km, 98 RON, CO2 221g/km

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