At first glance, it seems as if there’s very little not to like about the S tronic RS. Not only is it easier to drive around town, it’s also quicker and costs less to run than a model fitted with the six-speed manual gearbox. While it’s strange to criticise the S tronic gearbox for being too good, enthusiastic drivers may find themselves wishing for the extra control a manual gearbox offers.
The Audi TT RS
is starting a new shift! As well as the six-speed manual version, Audi now offers a seven-speed double-clutch S tronic automatic – but is it the one to have?
On paper, there’s no question. Thanks to a clever launch control system and gearchanges that take two-tenths of a second, the TT RS can now accelerate from 0-62mph in 4.3 seconds – that’s 0.4 seconds quicker than the manual model.
It’s more efficient too. The manual returns 30.7mpg and emits 214g/km of CO2, while the S tronic cleans up with 33.2mpg and 197g/km. The changes knock £125 off annual road tax.The new gearbox also helps to improve everyday usability. Driving around congested city streets is a breeze thanks to the smooth and seamless shifts.
Our only complaint would be the hesitation before the gearbox kicks down a couple of gears if you floor the throttle – although using the paddleshifters behind the steering wheel can rectify this.
As good as the gearbox is, there are times when you can feel isolated from the action. Occasionally, you’ll find yourself flicking the paddle to select the next gear only to find the car has already beaten you to it.
The good news is the rest of the excellent TT package is intact. The ride is firm but comfortable enough for long journeys, and the 2.5-litre five-cylinder turbo is as good as ever. With 335bhp, the RS feels supercar quick. It isn’t as fun as genuinely exciting Audis such as the R8 but quattro four-wheel drive ensures huge grip and fast cornering.
The biggest highlight, though, is the noise. There’s an off-beat warble that can be amplified by pressing the Sport button to open up valves in the exhaust. The gearbox plays a part, too, adding a ‘pop’ on upchanges and a blip of the throttle on downshifts.
Prices for an RS S tronic start at £47,165 – £1,355 more than a manual version. Good though the gearbox is – and there are benefits for everyday driving, performance and emissions – that’s a lot to pay for a TT, especially one that doesn’t excite as much as its rivals.
Rival: Cayman S PDK
The Porsche is slower and less efficient but holds the edge for driving thrills. It carries a £2,500 premium over the Audi, though.