ENGINE 2480cc inilne-5cyl, DOHC, 20v, turbo / POWER 294kW @ 5850Ė7000rpm / TORQUE 500Nm @ 1700Ė5850rpm / WEIGHT 1440kg / 0-100KM/H 3.7sec (est) / PRICE $137,500 PARE a thought for the plucky Audi TT. The swoopy little coupe soldiers bravely on, despite globally softening sports coupe sales, serving up a combination of two-door, two-plus (not really)-two laughs and sedately turbocharged four-cylinder goodness for almost 20 years.
There have been a few exceptions to the rule over the years, culminating in the final fling for the second generation TT, 2012ís RS Plus. Thanks to a 2.5-litre 20-valve turbo five-potter boasting some serious heritage, it offered 265kW and 465Nm, and punched out the dash to 100km/h in 4.1 seconds.
Handy. In fact, itís the engine that essentially defines the TT RS; stick a turbocharged four-cylinder under the bonnet and its mojo would be totally gone.
The latest 2.5-litre version owes its existence to the latest 5.2-litre V10 in the Lamborghini Huracan and the R8; the undersquare five- S potter now sports an alloy block, a magnesium sump, lightweight belt pulleys, an alloy oil pump, a hollow crankshaftÖ you get the idea, this is a serious bit of kit. Whenever an automotive engineer can find a 2.6kg weight saving in a modern car, itís a good day. The new engine Ėalso seen under the bonnet of the RS3 Ė now weighs an astonishing 26kg less. Twenty. Six. It now makes more power (294kW) and more torque (480Nm) than the previous engine, too, with a flat torque curve and, unusually for a turbo engine, a high power peak.
Inside the TT RS, itís more special than, say, an RS3, with low slung sports seats (standard on the Aussie car) hugging your love handles, and the flat-bottomed, Alcantaratrimmed wheel positioned just so.
Thumb the red button on the wheel and the five-potter responds with an agreeably strident bark from its dual pipes. Its rich, warm baritone belies its turbo origins, and is made louder by the stock switchable bi-modal exhaust. No artificial augmentation is present Ė or needed.
Slightly too-small alloy paddles are the preferred way to pluck from the seven available speeds, while a drive mode button sits opposite the start button. Automatic mode is supplemented by Comfort, Dynamic and Individual modes.
On a wettish road loop, the TT RS reveals itself as a calm, competent and confident back-road companion with a little bit of attitude. Not a lot, mind Ė the aural theatre of the staccato exhaust and the muscular delivery of the five-pot motor arenít quite matched by the benign, restrained attitude of the TTís MQBbased underpinnings. Itís got loads of ability, sure, but it faithfully awaits inputs and direction, rather than leading from the helm.
A natural understeerer under power, the TT RS performs best when weight shifts are carefully planned rather than haphazardly thrust upon it. The relatively unsophisticated Haldex all-wheel-drivetrain does its best to feed torque to where itís needed, but its outputs are granular and obvious, somewhat negating the TTís low centre of gravity, wide tracks and minimal overhangs.
Push the 20-inch Pirelli P-Zeros too hard and the front end cedes first, electronic intervention stepping in surprisingly late in the game.
At seven or eight-tenths, it matters not a jot, though. The TT RS is a metric crapload of car for less than BMW M4 money, and its blunt, linear 3.7sec-to-100km/h point-to-point pace easily embarrasses a lot of cars that cost up to three times its price.
Its chassis works with you when youíre stroking it along, too, flowing from one turn to the next, with the adaptive dampers crashing only through the sharpest of bumps.
Hell, itís even a reasonable daily driver Ė as long as you donít want to carry anyone in the back. The heavy tailgate reveals a voluminous space, and comfort mode turns the TT RS into a machine even the mother-inlaw canít complain about.
All that, and itís cheaper (and lighter) than the last version of the TT RS. In fact, itís a downright bargain for a sub-four-second allpaw car with 294kW of aural attitude and genuine badge cachet. M
Serious firepower; aural delight; reasonable price
Dynamically hampered; Haldex canít keep up