Audi TT 2010 Review
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Any Audi with an RS badge is going to be special. I know that before I even catch sight of the latest TT for the first time, or hear the uneven thump of its five-cylinder turbo engine.
The RS4 is one of my favourite drives of recent years and I expect more of the same, but different obviously, as I face up to the funky coupe with the go-faster tweaking from the RS team.
It comes in at $133,700 and that makes it more costly than a range of rivals, right up to the Porsche Boxster and Cayman. Can an Audi, even a TT RS, really be better than a Porsche? Audi Australia is confident, even describing its speedy new hero as an 'ultimate sports car'.
Audi is touting the car’s 250 kiloWatts of 'grin inducing power' and 450 Newton-metres of 'neck snapping' torque. The numbers seem good, with a sprint time of less than five seconds to 100km/h, and a top speed inevitably restricted to 250km/h.
The aluminium-bodied RS is also claimed to hit the right numbers on the green side of the ledger, with economy of 9.2L/100km and CO2 emissions of 214g/km.
But the RS is really about going fast and having fun, dropping in at the top of a TT range that now starts with the 1.8-litre model at $64,900. The model is now into its second generation, retaining its familiar rounded look but picking up everything from a bigger body with more cabin space to improved suspension and mechanical package.
The mechanics in the RS are special, as the five-cylinder turbomotor is new. Audi says it has its roots in the company's competition history and anyone who remembers the eighties will know Audi revolutionised the World Rally Championship with the original five-cylinder Quattro turbo coupe.
The TT RS ticks most of the boxes for a driver-focussed sports coupe, from its powerful engine to grippy sports leather seats, a go-faster bodykit, 19-inch alloy wheels and re-tuned sports suspension.
Cars for Australia — and Audi is only aiming for 80 sales a year — are fully equipped with everything from Audi magnetic-ride suspension to unique alloys, DVD-based navigation, a short-shift gearbox and hill-start assist.
The magnetic-ride suspension is similar to the system used by HSV and the Chevrolet Corvette and the brakes have also been tweaked for better stopping.
Inside, the full-leather cabin has a familiar flat-bottom steering wheel, a giant central display screen and, best of all, a Sport button on the console to unleash the full RS package.
Driving -- PAUL GOVER
There is a lot to like in the TT RS. It has tonnes of punch, crushes corners, and has the right look for the job. It is still a TT, but one which has spent a lot of time in the gym. And looks good in a fitted Boss-style suit.
My first few kilometres reveal the comfort and support of the front seats, the solid feel of the steering and the surprising compliance of the seats. But the engine feels a bit underwhelming and I'm reminded, as usual, of the poor visibility in the TT and the prospect of tough parking.
Then I trigger the S button the console and the car comes alive. The throttle response is instant and impressive, the suspension sits taut and firm, and every gear is a new fun run.
The five-cylinder motor is very quiet but reveals real meat when you head to the redline, which is when the RS shows why you might shop it against a Porsche. It has an incredible top-end thump and keeps eating gears.
The shift is short and impressive, but the test car has some driveline snatch and a nasty differential whine. It does not sound good for long-term ownership in hard use.
The cornering grip and balance is good, and sets a new standard for any TT as well as making a BMW Z4 feel a bit bouncy and nervy. But it's not going to drive away from a Porsche.
The brakes are great, the sound system and satnav are good, and the aircon is great. The finishing in the cabin is best-in-class, as I now expect from Audi, and there is plenty of boot room.
I also like the rear wing, which is obviously more than just a tuner tweak. But I cannot avoid comparisons with Porsche. The TT RS is better than the quickest Z4 and is more refined and enjoyable than the raunchy - and much costlier - Mercedes SLK AMG.
But it costs more than $130,000 and you can get a Boxster or a 2.9-litre Cayman for less. They have less power, and only have two seats, but the TT is so cramped in the back that it's really only a two-adult car and power is not everything.
The RS is a very good car and a fun drive. But would - could - I pick it ahead of a Porsche Cayman? No way.
She says - ALISON WARD
After driving and loving the basic Audi TT and the speedy RS4, I was expecting an enjoyable grunty ride and unbiased appeal to any owner. But I also wanted to know how Audi would do the go-fast job on a car like the TT, which is really a sports car and nothing like the RS4 I love.
Starting up it doesn't have that familiar meaty V8 sound, which is disappointing as I expect that from a fast car. Still, the TT does talk when you floor it in second or third gear. I expect it to be a bit more responsive, but it has what I'm told is turbo lag and I also find the steering too heavy.
Gearchanges need to be done quickly to avoid a clunking sound, although the shift is light and positive. Disappointingly, the sound system is the same as all the other Audis so scores lower on the 'cool-o-meter' for me.
The standard leather seats are comfortable, but only once you're in them. It can be a real squeeze and the back seats are only for tiny tots - even fitting a car seat in the back is a major hassle.
Boot space is excellent for the type of car and I could fit the weekly shopping in the boot. Buyers need to choose carefully on colours, as the gunmetal grey on the car I drive is not remotely sporty.
At more than $133,000 I think the TT RS is pretty expensive, and even more than a Mercedes SLK or Porsche Boxster. However, it's fun to drive - especially if you hit the S button to make it give its best - and is pretty practical. So I like it.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Something very special in the TT family, but runs up against the powerhouse of Porsche.
Audi TT RS
Engine: 2.5-litre turbocharged five-cylinder
Power: 250kW at 5400 revs
Torque: 450Nm from 1600 revs
Transmission: Six-speed manual quattro all-wheel drive
Body: Two-door hatch
Dimensions: Length 4198mm, Width 1842mm, Height 1342mm, Wheelbase 2468mm, tracks front/rear 1555mm/1546mm
Steering: Power assisted rack and pinion
Suspension: Front MacPherson struts; Four-link on subframe rear
Fuel tank: 60 litres
Fuel type: Premium unleaded
Fuel consumption: 9.2/100km combined
Spare tyre: Mobility kit
Brakes: Anti-skid disc
Wheels: 19-inch alloys
Tyres: 255/35 R19
Safety Gear: Dual front, side, curtain airbags, electronic stability control, traction control, LED daytime running lights, electronic differential lock, anti-skid brakes, brake assist, emergency brake distribution, Audi magnetic ride control
CO2 Emissions: 214g/km
BMW Z4 sDrive 35i: 80/100 (from $116,900)
Mercedes-Benz SLK 55 AMG: 76/100 (from $175,000)
Nissan GT-R: 82/100 (from $155,800)
Porsche Cayman 2.9: 84/100 (from $114,000)
Range and Specs
|2.0 Tfsi||2.0L, PULP, 6 SP||$15,400 – 21,670||2010 Audi TT 2010 2.0 Tfsi Pricing and Specs|
|2.0 TFSI Quattro||2.0L, PULP, 6 SP||$18,300 – 25,520||2010 Audi TT 2010 2.0 TFSI Quattro Pricing and Specs|
|3.2 Quattro||3.2L, PULP, 6 SP||$19,400 – 26,950||2010 Audi TT 2010 3.2 Quattro Pricing and Specs|
|S 2.0 TFSI Quattro||2.0L, PULP, 6 SP MAN||$21,200 – 28,820||2010 Audi TT 2010 S 2.0 TFSI Quattro Pricing and Specs|