Audi TT RS Roadster

Top-spec soft-top scores on power, but is it enough fun?

Only the sportiest Audis get to wear the RS badge, so the range-topping TT Roadster promises to be something special. Yet while the boosted power output and tweaked chassis should deliver plenty of thrills behind the wheel, the car’s racy design cues won’t be to all tastes.

Wider sills, chrome mirror covers, a unique front bumper, twin exhausts and a lattice work rear diffuser help give the RS extra visual aggression, but for some buyers the styling could be a little over the top – although they’ll be relieved to hear the ugly fixed rear wing can be removed as a no cost option.

Inside, it’s largely identical to lesser TTs, which is no bad thing, as you get a superbly designed dashboard, great detailing and faultless quality.

The £1,960 sports seats fitted to our car are narrow with stiff bolsters, but the driving position is excellent. The well insulated fabric hood folds in 15 seconds – and doesn’t encroach on the useful 290-litre boot capacity – while an automatic wind break rises between the roll hoops at the touch of a button. Trouble is, it’s not that effective at stopping buffeting, while the more upright seats and screen mean things can get blustery at speed. 

Where the RS really stands out is under the skin. The 2.5-litre TFSI engine has the five-cylinder layout made famous by the original Quattro. Add all-wheel drive, and the TT RS has all the classic Audi performance ingredients.

The engine is smooth and refined at idle and has a tuneful warble on the move, while there’s a lovely flutter from the exhausts on each upshift from the dual-clutch S tronic gearbox. Peak torque of 450Nm arrives at only 1,600rpm, meaning the TT delivers astonishing in-gear pace and does 0-60mph in the same 4.7 seconds as the Boxster S.

The box is fast to kick down in auto mode, but the positive throttle response means it’s equally responsive when you leave the car in the manual setting. Yet despite its scorching straight-line pace and sure-footed four-wheel-drive grip, the Audi disappoints on the road.

The steering is light and accurate and weights up when you press the Sport button. Yet with its heavy engine partly sat ahead of the front axle, the RS doesn’t have the poise, precision and involvement of the Porsche.

Of more concern is the shocking low-speed ride. It’s not helped by the 20-inch wheels, and while it gets slightly better as you up the pace, road noise is always an issue and the suspension thumps over expansion joints. The £1,175 Magnetic Ride dampers would help, but surely they should be standard on a near-£50,000 TT?

Audi has just launched a TT RS Plus, with extra power. But performance has never been an issue – in this company, the car is held back more by the fact it can’t match the Porsche’s engagement and feedback. 

So while the RS is fast, desirable and well built, does it demand too many compromises?

Details

Chart position: 3Why? Top-spec TT RS features quattro all-wheel drive and a five-cylinder engine. We test it with the dual-clutch S tronic gearbox.

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