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Audi TT 2020 review: RS

EXPERT RATING
7
You'd be hard pressed to find a better horsepower for money sports car than an Audi TT RS, but while it has plenty of grunt is it missing something else?

When the Audi TT first arrived in 1998 it looked cute… seriously cute, like a car-version-of-a-koala cute. Then over the next couple of decades it grew out of that cuteness into something more menacing looking and the RS versions were well, Google 'drop bear' and you're pretty much on the money.

Now the new TT RS is here looking more grown up and angrier than ever, but does it have the mechanical mumbo to match the aggro appearance? Does it have back seats? Or even a boot? Could you drive one every day without buying your chiropractor a new Porsche? Actually, why wouldn't you just by a Porsche yourself, I mean a 718 Cayman S costs about the same?

Read on to find out.

Audi TT 2020: RS 2.5 Tfsi Quattro
Safety rating
Engine Type2.5L turbo
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency8.4L/100km
Seating4 seats
Price from$134,900

Is there anything interesting about its design?   8/10

Let's start with the looks, seeing as I went on about them so much in the introduction.

This update has seen changes in all the places you'd expect a facelift to cover. There's a new front-end design with a new mesh grille, even larger supercar-like air intakes, a redesigned front splitter and sleeker headlights.

There are also new side skirts, while the rear of the car has more contoured styling and a beefier diffuser.

There’s a new front-end design with a new mesh grille, even larger supercar-like air intakes, a redesigned front splitter and sleeker headlights. There’s a new front-end design with a new mesh grille, even larger supercar-like air intakes, a redesigned front splitter and sleeker headlights.

The tough styling is part of what sets an RS model apart from its more domesticated siblings in the range. There are also the wheels - regular TTs come standard with 18- or 19-inch alloys, the TT RS has 20-inch rims with red RS brake calipers. If you're still uncertain if you're looking at a TT RS then you can be sure you are if it has a fixed rear wing.

Then there's RS engineering which we'll get to in the engine and driving sections. But let's dive into the cabin which has also been updated with a new RS steering wheel, there's the leather RS seats, with the door and console trimmed in leather and aluminum with carbon twill inlays.

The lack of a central media screen means all media, phone and nav menus and displays can only be viewed on the digital instrument cluster. Audi calls this a driver-focused cockpit, I call it marketing spin. I mean a Porsche 911 has a central media screen and you don't get much more of a driver-focused car than that.

The rear of the car has more contoured styling and a beefier diffuser. The rear of the car has more contoured styling and a beefier diffuser.

I do like the air vents which have the climate control modes within them. I also like that there are back seats – but more on the practicality later.

The TT RS looks bigger in photos than it really is. End-to-end it's only 4191mm long and just 1344mm tall but at 1832mm across it has a wide, planted stance.

The lack of a central media screen means all media, phone and nav menus and displays can only be viewed on the digital instrument cluster. The lack of a central media screen means all media, phone and nav menus and displays can only be viewed on the digital instrument cluster.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   9/10

The 2.5-litre five-cylinder turbo-petrol engine in the TT RS is one of my favoruite Audi powerplants and calls the RS 3 and RS Q3 home, too. It's loud, energetic and churns out a whopping 294kW of power and 480Nm of torque. That's enough to get the TT RS from 0-100km/h in 3.7 seconds.

Is the engine in the front or the back? Not such a silly question when you look at the design of the car and you're new to TTs, but the engine is in the front.

The 2.5-litre five-cylinder turbo-petrol engine in the TT RS is one of my favoruite Audi powerplants and calls the RS 3 and RS Q3 home, too. The 2.5-litre five-cylinder turbo-petrol engine in the TT RS is one of my favoruite Audi powerplants and calls the RS 3 and RS Q3 home, too.

Audi's 'S tronic' seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission shifts fast sending the drive to all four wheels.

It's not the most powerful engine in the RS model line-up, but I can tell you having driven the TT RS back-to-back with Audi's R8 super car it's one of the most fun powerplants.

You can mash the accelerator pedal on a straight bit of road and not fear that the TT RS will snap and bite you – it's not too much power in that it's controllable with superb all-wheel drive traction.

What's it like to drive?   8/10

Well you already know I love that five-cylinder engine – seriously you could put it in a loaf of bread, and it'd probably be awesome to drive.

Yes, sure the front end in the TT RS felt a bit heavier than I remembered and the nose didn't have that light pick-up-and-point feeling many sports cars have, but on the hill climb section of the test route especially, this coupe was seriously adept through the switchbacks.

There’s enough feedback through the cabin and the seat to give the driver a good connection with the road. There’s enough feedback through the cabin and the seat to give the driver a good connection with the road.

Our convoy of test cars included everything from the Audi R8 and new RS Q3 to the RS 7 and RS 6 Avant motherships. And while nothing nails a great road like the R8, the TT RS was eating up the twists while the RS 7 and RS 6 freight trains were struggling with the physics of mass, size, and velocity in those tight corners.

The TT RS felt tight, stable, but agile as it scampered and weaved its way up hills. I'd like the steering to have more feel. Still there's enough feedback through the cabin and the seat to give the driver a good connection with the road.

Is it comfortable to drive? No. I found the standard RS seats too snug for me (to be fair I'm not race-car driver petite), and the ride over the typical Aussie course bitumen and pot-holed country roads made the cabin shake and rattle, along with my bones.

The TT RS felt tight, stable, but agile as it scampered and weaved its way up hills. The TT RS felt tight, stable, but agile as it scampered and weaved its way up hills.

The ride comfort though is what you can expect out of a sports car like this and it's another reason why the TT RS is more than just a sporty coupe with red brake calipers. There's the RS sports suspension with magnetic adjustable dampers, the RS sports exhaust system and big brakes – 370mm discs on the front with eight piston calipers and 310mm discs at the rear which slow things down super quickly.

If you are after something less 'hardcore' there's the TT S or consider the RS Q3 small SUV which has the same five-cylinder engine and can do the 0-100km/h sprint in 4.5 seconds, but has softer suspension for a comfier  ride, while being dynamically impressive in the corners. Oh, and you'll have way more room inside, too. Let's talk about that.

The ride comfort though is what you can expect out of a sports car like this and it’s another reason why the TT RS is more than just a sporty coupe with red brake calipers. The ride comfort though is what you can expect out of a sports car like this and it’s another reason why the TT RS is more than just a sporty coupe with red brake calipers.

How practical is the space inside?   7/10

The TT RS is a four-seater coupe with a hatch tailgate.

I'm 191cm (6'3") tall and there is no way I can sit behind my driving position, but my size is irrelevant here - there's almost zero legroom back there and not even small children are going to have enough space.

Yes, the TT RS isn't a family car, but at CarsGuide we rate all cars for practicality and spaciousness as well as what they're like to drive. That said the TT RS is more practical and spacious than a Porsche Cayman and the BMW Z4 which don't have rear seats at all.

There’s almost zero legroom back there and not even small children are going to have enough space. There’s almost zero legroom back there and not even small children are going to have enough space.

The cargo capacity of the TT RS's boot is 305 litres, which isn't bad at all.

Cabin storage isn't good. The door pockets are small, the centre console bin is only big enough for a wallet but the hidey hole under the dash is useful.

That hidey hole also has a 12V outlet, a USB port and a wireless charger.

  • The cargo capacity of the TT RS’s boot is 305 litres, which isn’t bad at all. The cargo capacity of the TT RS’s boot is 305 litres, which isn’t bad at all.
  • It’s more practical than many of its rivals offering back seats and a good-sized boot for the class. It’s more practical than many of its rivals offering back seats and a good-sized boot for the class.
  • Yes, the TT RS isn’t a family car. Yes, the TT RS isn’t a family car.
  • That said the TT RS is more practical and spacious than a Porsche Cayman and the BMW Z4 which don’t have rear seats at all. That said the TT RS is more practical and spacious than a Porsche Cayman and the BMW Z4 which don’t have rear seats at all.

This is an obvious point, but the TT RS is low to the ground. The good news is the doors are large and the bubble-like roofline means I never hit my head on the A-pillar as I have with many sports cars.

That roofline also means headroom is good for the driver and co-pilot, although, again, your friends in the rear seat are going to have another reason not to invite you over any more.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   7/10

The TT RS lists for $134,900. While that makes it the most expensive TT, when it comes to horsepower, bang for your buck is excellent compared to Porsche's 718 Cayman S which lists for $140,590 and has 257kW.

The 718 Cayman GTS matches the TT RS's 294kW but costs $172K. That said, the BMW Z4 has 285kW and lists for $127,900 and while Mercedes-AMG doesn't really have a TT RS rival it does have the A45 S with 310kW and a list price of $93,600. Also, in that price range is the Z4's Toyota twin – the Supra with 250kW for $94,536. Don't scoff – it's a superb driver's car.

The TT RS has 20-inch rims with red RS brake calipers. The TT RS has 20-inch rims with red RS brake calipers.

Let's get back to the TT RS. What comes standard? Features include 20-inch seven-spoke 'matt titanium-look' alloy wheels with red RS brake calipers, RS sport suspension with magnetically adjustable dampers, there's the RS sports exhaust system, privacy glass, leather upholstery, a Bang & Olufsen 12-speaker sound system, wireless charging and 12.3-inch instrument cluster.

The standard RS seats are Nappa leather, the front ones are heated and power adjustable, there's the leather RS steering wheel, proximity key, front and rear parking sensors, Matrix LED headlights and dual-zone climate control.

There’s the leather RS seats, with the door and console trimmed in leather and aluminum with carbon twill inlays. There’s the leather RS seats, with the door and console trimmed in leather and aluminum with carbon twill inlays.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   4/10

ANCAP gave the Audi TT a rating of four stars out of a maximum of five when it was tested in 2015. The level of child occupant protection was insufficient for a five-star rating and according to the ANCAP report this was mainly due to the limited space in the rear seat.

There are two ISOFIX points and two top tether anchor mounts for child seats in the second row.

Compared with most new cars the TT RS has a low level of advanced safety technology – there's no AEB or adaptive cruise control, nor is there rear cross traffic alert, but there is blind spot warning and lane keeping assistance.

The TT RS has electronic stability control and ABS, and emergency brake assist (this isn't AEB). The safety features in that sentence haven't been mentioned in one of my reviews in years, and that's because there's not much else for me to list, apart from airbags which only cover the front passengers.

This lack of safety equipment especially for a car which lists for $135K is the reason why the TT RS has scored poorly in this section.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

3 years / unlimited km warranty

How much fuel does it consume?   7/10

Audi officially says the TT RS should use 8.0L/100km after a combination of open and urban roads. We'll be able to test that once we have the TT RS in our garage, but either way, that's on the thirsty side.

Audi officially says the TT RS should use 8.0L/100km after a combination of open and urban roads. Audi officially says the TT RS should use 8.0L/100km after a combination of open and urban roads.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   6/10

The TT RS is covered by Audi's three-year, unlimited kilometre warranty which not only falls behind in duration compared to mainstream brands but also its direct rival Mercedes-Benz which now has five-year, unlimited kilometre coverage.

Service intervals are every 12 months or 15,000km with a three-year plan ($2320) or five-year plan ($3420) available.

Verdict

The Audi TT RS is iconic for its design and should be heaped with praise for its dynamic ability, it's also more practical than many of its rivals offering back seats and a good-sized boot for the class. But despite this latest update the TT RS has fallen behind in advanced safety technology and cabin equipment such as the lack of a media screen.

Pricing guides

$108,300
Based on Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)
Lowest Price
$74,700
Highest Price
$141,900

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
2.0 TFSI Quattro S-Line 2.0L, PULP, 6 SP $91,605 2020 Audi TT 2020 2.0 TFSI Quattro S-Line Pricing and Specs
2.0 TFSI Quattro Sport 2.0L, PULP, 6 SP $84,655 2020 Audi TT 2020 2.0 TFSI Quattro Sport Pricing and Specs
RS Quattro 2.5L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $141,900 2020 Audi TT 2020 RS Quattro Pricing and Specs
S 2.0 TFSI Quattro 2.0L, PULP, 6 SP DUAL-CLUTCH AUTO $105,661 2020 Audi TT 2020 S 2.0 TFSI Quattro Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7
Design8
Engine & trans9
Driving8
Practicality7
Price and features7
Safety4
Fuel consumption7
Ownership6
Richard Berry
Senior Journalist

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