The winning combination of four-wheel drive and a five-cylinder turbocharged engine helped Audi’s original Ur Quattro become one of the greatest performance cars ever. Now, for the first time in decades, this famous blend of engine and drivetrain can again be found under the skin of another of the brand’s cars. To make that prospect even more tantalising, it’s the classy TT that gets the honour – and it even wears the hallowed RS badge.
Thankfully, the TT RS lives up to expectations, as it has all the traits we have come to expect from a performance Audi. Beautifully built, composed and fast, it deserves its place in our top 20. Larger air intakes, extended sills and a fixed rear wing set it apart from lesser models, while a perfect driving position and near faultless cabin add to the appeal.
What makes this TT special is its performance and its grip in corners. The 335bhp engine is smooth and refined at idle, but emits a tuneful warble on the move. And with masses of torque, real-world pace is superb. The steering is well weighted and the short-throw six-speed manual box fantastic.
Thanks to the quattro technology, traction is pretty much unbreakable, although the traditional Haldex four-wheel-drive system doesn’t transfer the power to the rear in a dynamic manner. And with its front-mounted engine, the TT RS doesn’t have enough agility on the track. Nor does it provide the necessary driver engagement and feedback to really feel like a junior R8.
Lapping the testing Anglesey circuit also left the brakes struggling to deliver enough stopping power to cope with the level of performance.
The RS isn’t a revelation like its illustrious forbear, then. But thanks to its great engine, effortless speed and supreme surefootedness, it’s the fastest TT to date – and a wonderfully appealing performance car nevertheless.