Words Mike Ryan
Photos Audi Australia
Joni Mitchell famously warbled ‘You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone’. It’s a line that could apply to the vehicle featured, as sports coupes like the Audi TT seem to be in decline generally and hotter versions like the Audi TT RS are definitely on the endangered list.
(BTW, if the Joni Mitchell reference escapes, maybe the Counting Crows cover of the same song is more familiar)
Reports in overseas media are suggesting both the TT and R8 could be in the for the chop in the future, or at best reinvented as electric-powered models. As Audi looks to cut costs, both models have apparently been “under review” for the past few months – never a good sign.
The prospect of losing the TT – and specifically a performance petrol-engined TT - would be a blow for fans of (relatively) affordable European performance coupes, but in the stampede to SUVs and electrification, it's perhaps inevitable. All the more reason to get hold of one while you still can.
Top of the TT Tree
The 2020-model Audi TT RS sits at the top of the locally-available TT range that has been pared back to just three quattro models: the 45 TFSI; TT S; and TT RS. It’s a coupe only lineup locally, too. Roadsters are no more, as are front-wheel drive versions and any TT with a manual transmission. The loss of the roadster and FWD will barely make a ripple, but no manual is a bit of a bummer.
This latest TT, an upgrade on the previous model released here in 2017, was unveiled in February, 2019, but its release to European markets was delayed due to issues with the 2.5-litre turbocharged five-cylinder engine meeting the new WLTP fuel consumption and emission tests (the World Light vehicle Testing Procedure that came into effect from September, 2018, replacing the old NEDC test cycle). A delayed European release meant a delayed release to Australia, too, so the updated model that was expected here late last year only started arriving at the end of July. You can add COVID-related manufacturing and shipping delays as a factor in the late arrival, too.
The good news is that the new TT RS arrives at a cheaper starting price than the old model. Its $134,900 list price is $3,000 below the 2017 version, with Audi Australia claiming the update comes with more than $6,500 of extra value. For the sake of comparison, the TT 45 TFSI lists for $79,900 and the TT S for $99,900.
“The TT RS coupe exudes our rich Audi brand heritage,” said Shawn Ticehurst, Product Planning and Pricing Director of Audi Australia.
“The iconic Audi 2.5-litre five-cylinder turbo is one of the most celebrated engines in motoring, and its combination of power and soundtrack provides a rare thrill for enthusiasts.
“Now with even more high-value features as standard, the Audi TT RS has never been more attractive.”
So, what are those high-value features and what does the extra $35K over a TT S get you?
For starters, the extra dollars get you more power. The larger 2.5-litre turbocharged engine in the RS delivers a maximum of 294kW and 480Nm, compared to 210kW/380Nm in the TT S and 169kW/370Nm in the TT 45 TFSI, both of which run a 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder, matched to a 6-speed transmission.
That maximum power is available from 5,850 to 7,000rpm, while peak torque is available from 1,950 to 5,850rpm. A zero to 100km/h sprint time of 3.7 seconds puts the TT RS on the edge of supercar territory, while the WLTP-mandated engine tweaks have improved fuel economy from 8.4lt/100km on the previous TT RS to 8.0lt/100km for this version.
The engine is matched to a 7-speed ‘S-tronic’ DCT that delivers drive to all four wheels via Audi’s established quattro all-wheel drive system.
Other standard features include an RS sports exhaust with adjustable baffles for more aural enjoyment and four selectable driving modes (under the Drive Select banner) that alter the steering feedback, throttle response, gear shift speed and that exhaust note.
RS-tuned suspension with electromagnetic dampers stiffens the vehicle and drops the ride height by 10mm. That magnetic ride system is also adjustable, with three different settings available to suit different road and driving conditions.
Externally, the RS is identified by a different treatment for the ‘Singleframe’ grille and larger front air intakes, but it doesn’t scream its credentials in the way that some sports coupes do. Sure, it’s no shrinking violet, (especially if you select some of the lairy paint options available), but the underlying Germanic efficiency driving the TT RS means it does all its good things with minimum flair and fuss.
Matrix LED lights are shared with the lower-spec TT variants, but the TT RS can be upgraded to Matrix OLEDs at the rear that feature a 3D design and dynamic indicators.
Other standard kit includes a fixed rear spoiler, 20-inch Audi Sport alloys and 255/30 tyres, 370mm ventilated front brake discs with eight-piston calipers and 310mm rear discs with single-piston calipers. The front calipers are picked out in red and carry RS branding that continues on the front and rear badging.
Inside, the MY20 TT RS features RS-spec sports front seats with a distinctive honeycomb pattern for the squabs and uprights. With head restraints and deeper side bolsters for improved lateral support, these seats are power adjustable and can be blinged up with an optional RS Design Package that adds either blue or red trim to the side frames and includes coloured trim on the seat belts, centre console, air vents and floor mats.
A sports steering wheel is also standard and carries all the usual functions, as well as the engine start/stop button and drive mode select button. Update the interior trim with the RS Design Package and you can also add an optional 12 O’clock marker to this wheel.
Audi’s 12.3-inch ‘Virtual Cockpit’ configurable instrument display is shared with other TTs, but on the TT RS, the bias is towards the tacho, which is larger, with coloured shift lights added, as well as a g-force meter and lap timer.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity is standard, as is Bluetooth, a wireless phone charger and voice control of the MMI Touch navigation system.
The lack of a centre console touchscreen on the TT RS is a bit of an anachronism these days, but it reflects the fact that this is a car for drivers, not passengers.
That driver focus means the rear seating is next to useless. It’s technically a 4-seater, but even describing the TT RS as a 2+2 is generous. Realistically, the back seats are for storage only, or fold them down and you have a usefully large boot – more than 700 litres.
Other interior features include a 680-watt, 12-speaker Bang & Olufsen premium sound system, DAB+ digital radio, deluxe automatic air con, ambient lighting, underseat storage, multiple USB ports up front and a 12V outlet in the luggage area.
Made for the Road
All the standard RS features are honed to make the TT RS an epic drive on winding roads. There is road noise from the low profile tyres and the ride, even in ‘comfort’ mode, can be harsh at low speeds on poorly-maintained suburban roads, but initial testing suggests that the TT RS really hits its stride on the open road.
Acceleration is impressive, and while the bias for the quattro AWD is toward the front wheels, there’s more than enough rear-wheel urge there.
At speed, the RS-tuned sport suspension really comes into its own, too, reducing body roll through the turns, aided by the sharp, progressive steering.
Obviously, the 250km/h maximum speed can’t be exploited on the open road, which makes the TT RS a car you’d want to take to a track day, just to see how far you could push it – and yourself.
Back on the road, there’s a well-equipped safety package that includes ABS with Brake Assist, ESC, Hill Hold Assist, Driver Attention Assist, Parking Assist, rear view camera and tyre pressure monitoring, as well as front, side and curtain airbags for the front seat occupants. Nothing for the rear seat occupants, but as mentioned, the TT RS is best thought of as a two-seat car.
It should be noted that the MY20 TT RS is currently unrated by ANCAP. The nearest reference point is a four-star rating for the 2015 model, so it’d be safe to assume the new TT RS achieves the same standard.
Get it While you Can
As mentioned, cars like the TT RS are in danger of disappearing from our roads, so if you’ve been thinking one would be a sweet addition to your garage, maybe now’s the time to turn those thoughts into actions while you still can.
We can only hope that if they do “pave paradise” in the near future, they put in a nice, twisty road instead of a parking lot!
2020 Audi TT RS specifications
Type: Turbocharged 20V DOHC inline 5-cylinder
Max Power: 294kW @ 5,850-7,000rpm
Max Torque: 480Nm @ 1,950-5,850rpm
0-100km/h acceleration: 3.7 seconds
Top Speed: 250km/h
Power to Weight: 220.7kW/t
Fuel Type: Premium Unleaded (98 RON recommended)
Fuel Capacity: 55lt
Fuel Economy: 8.0lt/100km (claimed, combined cycle)
Type: 7-speed S-tronic DCT w/paddle shifters
Type: quattro all-wheel drive
Body: Monocoque steel and aluminium
Front Suspension: Independent MacPherson strut, RS tune w/magnetic ride
Rear Suspension: Independent Four-Link, RS tune w/magnetic ride
Steering: Electromechanical progressive rack & pinion
Wheels: 20x9-inch alloy Fr/Rr
Tyres: 255/30 R20 Fr/Rr
Front Brakes: 370mm ventilated discs w/8-piston calipers
Rear Brakes: 310mm discs w/single-piston calipers.
Park Brake: Electromechanical
LxWxH: 4191 x 1832 x 1344mm
Ground Clearance: N/A
Turning Circle: 11m
Weight: 1465kg (TARE)
Seating Capacity: 4
Max Luggage Space: 712lt
Spare Wheel: No
ANCAP RATING: N/A
PRICE: $134,990 (+ ORCs)
WARRANTY: 3yr/Unlimited Km
SERVICE INTERVALS: 12mths